* * * * *SPOILER ALERT - If you haven't seen all of Torchwood yet and don't want to know, don't read this post* * * * *

For all its flaws (and they are legion), Torchwood will always hold a place in my heart as the first show I've seen to completely normalize same-sex relationships. Generally, when we think about shows that normalize queers we think of things like Queer as Folk or The L Word. But QAF and The L Word aren't really shows about anything. They're not mysteries, or medical shows, or sci fi, or cop shows, or anything. They're personal dramas, about relationships and sex and love and friendships and rivalries. They're shows about gay people being gay. And that's fine as far as it goes, but Torchwood takes it a step further. Torchwood is a science fiction show about a group of people who work for an alien-watching organization, and that is *really* what the show is about. They have adventures and fight aliens and screw around with advanced technologies they have no business touching and open tears in the fabric of space and time, and *that* is what drives the plot. But, like any remotely decent show, the primary characters have personal lives beyond the main focus of the show and we see depth and development in their interactions with each other. And not a single one of them is entirely monosexual.

The main character, Gwen, is primarily straight. She has a steady boyfriend and there are strong indications that this is not an exception for her, but there is one episode that has her making out with a girl under the influence of alien pheromones and, while this may not be something she does every day, there is nothing in her manner to suggest that she finds it shocking or disgusting after the fact.

Captain Jack, as many of us know from Doctor Who, is just a good old-fashioned slut. He'll sleep with anything pretty enough, it doesn't even have to be human, and he likes it that way. This fact seems totally fine with the rest of the Torchwood staff.

Owen is, for the most part, a womanizing jackass, but if the boyfriend of the woman he is currently, um, izing, kicks a fuss, Owen is more than happy to arrange to bring them both home with him in order to keep the peace.

We see many indications throughout the show that Toshiko is pining after Owen, but when the right woman comes along, Tosh falls head over heels. Although things don't work out for them (the woman ends up being a murdering alien in disguise, in love with Tosh but also using her to get inside Torchwood) and Tosh's colleagues suggest that maybe falling for a murdering alien isn't the best course of action, the fact that the murdering alien was also a woman doesn't enter into it. And in fact, Gwen specifically tells Tosh that she shouldn't let this put her off relationships, because "love suited [her]".

And finally, Ianto, who we know is Jack's at-least-occasional lover, we find out also has/had a girlfriend who he is madly in love with.

In addition to having all these wonderfully queer characters, another thing that the writers, etc. on Torchwood do right is how they write their same-sex relationships. It's done respectfully and realistically, with the relationships varying, depending on the situations and the personalities of the participants. There are no archetypal gay or lesbian couplings to be found. We are not banged over the head with any "look, this character is gay, GAY!!!" stereotyping, nor are we subjected to idiotic are-they-aren't-they? ambiguities a la early Willow and Tara or late Xena and Gabrielle. The same-sex sex scenes are shown every bit as explicitly as the opposite sex ones (which is to say not very) and the characters' interactions are as complex or superficial as one would expect from a straight couple in a similar situation.

I know that British television is a lot more willing to push the envelope with this sort of thing, but for those of us exposed mostly to North American media, this is downright revolutionary and, crappy writing and acting be damned, I want the show to continue and, if it hasn't already, air here.