The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) Dec. 1 praised series creator Ryan Murphy, writer Oliver Goldstick, the WB Network and the creative team of Popular for an outstanding episode spotlighting the relationship between a lesbian mother and her high-school-age son.
On the Thursday, December 2 episode of Popular, series regular Harrison John (Christopher Gorham) struggles with public knowledge of his mother's sexual orientation and her romantic relationship with her co-worker. The episode sensitively deals with the reactions of Harrison's friends and family, both to the revelation and to Harrison's initial discomfort with it. Harrison's mother, Robin, is played by Alley Mills, formerly of The Wonder Years; her girlfriend, Sheila, is played by Tracy Kolis.
"Popular's matter-of-fact portrayal of Robin and Harrison's relationship raises several important, rarely-addressed issues," said GLAAD Entertainment Media Director Scott Seomin. "The introduction of Robin brings important lesbian visibility to television&endash;something that has been nearly non-existent this season. Harrison's response to his friends' learning of his mother's romantic relationship feels honest and true, and is all the more powerful for it."
"The fear of being 'different' is not felt only by lesbian and gay youth," said Seomin. "Robin's gentle, compassionate acknowledgement of her son's concerns exemplifies the kind of sensitive parenting that lesbian and gay parents can provide. Popular really broke new ground with a very realistic picture of the complexities of everyday lesbian and gay families."
"I've always felt that Popular reflects real life, real people and real situations," said Popular series creator Ryan Murphy. "Harrison's discomfort with his peers' knowledge of his mom's sexual orientation is not uncommon among school-age youth. Through Harrison and Robin, I wanted to show young people that their parents and friends are there to support them in situations like these, and that what may seem uncomfortable at first can actually serve to make lesbian and gay families stronger."