Fighting with the Sky

Bones: The Dentist in the Ditch

Posted on: January 29, 2010

Oh, Bones.  In “The Dentist in the Ditch,” a skeleton is found on a civil war reenactment.  It turns out she was a gay dentist who plays football.  Why do I word it like this?  Because the team, primarily Booth, seemed fascinated by the gay football team and gay men playing football in general.  On the side story, Jared, Booth’s brother, is back from his trip to India…with a girlfriend, Rebecca from Greek.  Jared wants to propose but Booth thinks it is too soon as they have only been dating a month.  Then Booth runs a background check on her and freaks out because he finds out that she used to be an escort.  But of course Jared knew this already because they don’t have any secrets.

This episode really bothered me.  I thought that the writers were desperately trying to say “it’s okay to be gay” with this story line, but it didn’t really come off that way.  There were a bunch of comments, mainly from Brennan, about the fact that gay marriage is illegal not being fair and not making sense.  But the fact that they paid soooo much attention to the fact that the victim was gay and based a lot of their investigating on this as well told the audience that being gay isn’t normal, that being gay is a significant factor in an investigation where as they wouldn’t have paid that much attention to the victim’s sexuality if he were straight.

First they thought that the victims hunting ex-boyfriend killed him.  Then it was someone on the victims football team murdered the victim because of “lingering glances” in the locker room that would have threatened a straight man’s masculinity.  But then they found out the whole football team was gay, so they thought it was someone from a rival football team whose masculinity was threatened.  Then they found out about his secret, closeted lover and thought that he killed him.  But in the end, his murder had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that they victim was gay.  So why did we have to focus so much on the victim being gay?  Pretty much no reason other than showing us that being gay isn’t normal and is something that should be considered in a murder investigation.

A lot of this was coming from Booth, but also from Sweets and Hodgins.  It’s not too surprising that these reactions to the victim being gay were from the men on the show, especially the “hyper” masculine Booth.  Then there was Booth who, upon meeting Jared’s girlfriend Padme complimented her on her English because she looked Indian, had an Indian name, and Jared met her in India.  Then she was like “I’m from Virginia” and he felt like a jackass…which he was.

The investigations on Bones are usually what saves it from it’s insensitive self.  But then they went and brought the insensitivity into the investigation.  All in all, I was pretty disappointed with this episode.

But, favorite line of the night: “yeah, I’m gay and I hunt.  Get over it.”

For a different take on the episode, check out meloukhia’s review up at this ain’t livin’.

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2 Responses to "Bones: The Dentist in the Ditch"

I guess I live in another universe because I really liked the show. My feeling watching the show was that Booth’s character was designed to reflect our society’s attitudes (especially those of homophobic men). Brennan was her usual anthropological self. I honestly think that the show does a great job of discussing subjects considered “touchy” by the mainstream of society. It’s the only show on TV that I watch that pokes fun at religion and discusses atheism, which is – at least in my experience – taboo. I love the way that, because of Brennan, Booth is evolving and moving outside his very white bread, mainstream view of the world. Because he respects her, he’s willing to listen to what she has to say and some of it is sinking in. Certainly that’s what happened with Padme and Jared.

Looking forward to your take on the final Dollhouse episode. It brought tears to my eyes. Dushku knocked it out of the park tonight.

Wow, we had totally different reactions to this episode! I had some problems with it, but for completely different reasons.

You do bring up an important point here which I hadn’t really considered, though, with the overt focus on the victim’s homosexuality, and the highly studious, anthropological treatment of it (we don’t, after all, see monogamous het couples treated in the same way, although the show has done the same with other “alternative” sexuality like poly, BDSM, etc.). I feel like the investigation of past lovers/rivals actually wasn’t that out of the ordinary for a criminal investigation, but, yes, there was a certain amount of “ah, yes, let us study this strange and foreign tribe of Gay” going on in this episode.

That said, one of the things I really liked about this episode was the atypicality of the gay men (for television, I mean). They could have done it in a very overplayed stereotypical gay men sort of way, but they didn’t. Instead, they showed that in fact gay men don’t fit into specific stereotypical boxes which make them easy to identify, that they hunt, play football, etc.

This episode was a real mixed bag for me; I thought they did some things really well, and others really poorly.

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