Posts like this are the reason why I do this Know Your LGBT History. Once upon a time, it wasn't all Glee and Gaga on television for the lgbtq community.
I was just informed by a favorite site of mine, Box Turtle Bulletin, that this week marked the 37th anniversary of "Flowers of Evil," a controversial episode of the 1970s hit show Police Woman. I had already done a segment on this particular episode, but it warrants a repeat. From Box Turtle Bulletin:
When NBC’s hour-long action drama Police Woman starring Angie Dickinson began airing in 1974, was so popular that even its reruns in the spring and summer of 1975 ranked number one in the Nielsen ratings, making it the first successful police drama to feature a woman in the starring role. Dickinson’s unabashed sex appeal, undoubtedly, played a far greater role in its success than the plot lines themselves. One particularly odious episode, “Flowers of Evil,” had Dickinson’s character, Sgt. Pepper Anderson, investigating a trio of lesbians who run a retirement home where they murdered and robbed their elderly residents. Positive portrayals — indeed, any portrayal — of gays and lesbians were extraordinarily rare, which made this episode particularly egregious. To add insult to injury, the Police Woman aired one month to the day after a similarly negative plot line appeared on ABC’s Marcus Welby, M.D., in which a child molester was portrayed as gay. Police Woman’s “Flowers of Evil” was originally scheduled to air on October 25, but after the National Gay Rights Task Force organized national protests which led some advertisers to pull their commercials, NBC pulled the episode for re-editing. But with the filming wrapped up, the edits were mostly cosmetic. After the episode aired on November 8, TV Guide called it “the single most homophobic show to date.” A week later, a group known as Lesbian Feminist Liberation occupied NBC’s Standards and Practices office overnight, unfurled a banner from an office window reading “Lesbians Protest NBC.” Advocates continued to negotiate with NBC for several more months, and NBC finally agreed in 1975 to not rebroadcast the episode and withhold it from syndication. The “Flowers of Evil” episode re-appeared again, but this time in the Season 1 DVD box set after more than thirty years had passed, where in today’s context it can be safely viewed as a historic and cultural artifact.
I just happen to have a copy of that DVD box. However, for your edification, you can view the minisode of the episode above. And yes, it's ain't pretty.
Past Know Your LGBT Posts: .