The Shield Television Series
Season Premiere Episode 1 of FX cable TV show “The Shield”
The subject of homosexuality is introduced in episode one during the first season of The Shield, a graphic series about police officers.
A detective is interrogating a man suspected of selling his little girl to a pedophile. In order to make him talk, the detective asks him if he thinks there is something wrong with gay people. He then proceeds by saying that not too long ago the medical community classified it as a disorder, calling it an illness. Now scientists think it is something genetic that makes people gay (said somewhat sarcastically), so if God made them that way, who are we to say they are wrong for doing the things they do?
The detective continues by asking the suspect -- what if scientists discover a gene that pre-disposes some people to be attracted to young girls ?? And if scientists discover that gene, then maybe people won't think it is wrong to have sex with underage girls.
In using this example, it was very obvious that homosexuality was being rationalized by a philosophy that could apply with other behaviors that are not accepted.
The character we are interested in, Julien Lowe, an African-American police officer played by Michael Jace, is introduced into the show as a very moral and ethical rookie police officer who has integrity.
Julien Lowe has been a police officer now for 3 weeks and his religious thoughts are introduced. A fellow officer has been shot and when confronted as to why he didn't come to the funeral, he said he didn't know him and said a prayer for him instead.
Later, his police station all go to a bar and then tell him he is going to be initiated - a girl pulls him outside and proceeds to kiss him and then have oral sex (he being the recipient). He tells her she doesn't have to do it (again, his morals kick in), and when she begins, his face has a look on it of being uncomfortable or like he is holding back tears. When the guys look out the door, they are pleased at what they see and that he has somewhat given in to the feeling.
Here again, it is very obvious to the viewer that Julien has more feelings and integrity than his peers. It is also obvious that he is struggling to fit in with their way of life. He is trying very hard to live a moral life and be ethical in his job.
Julien and his police officer partner pick up a man wanted for writing bad checks. He is put in the lock-up pen with other criminals. After a short time in there, he recognizes Julien and asks -"Haven't I seen you hanging around the Abby in West Hollywood?" Julien replies to the suspect that he has the wrong guy. The suspect confidently replies, "Whatever you say officer." Later on, he gets Julien's attention again by asking for his help in releasing him. The suspect pleads his case saying he has already taken care of the checks, etc. and then asks Julien to look at him and recognize he is not supposed to be in there with "those other guys", implying he could be hurt because he is gay and Julien should know that.
Later on, Julien relents and makes some calls for him and releases him. On walking out, the guy says the only thing he regrets about leaving is that he is doing so without Julien's phone number. He says he would like to return the favor and if Julien wants or needs him to do so, he knows where he can be found.
Julien goes to the suspect’s apartment one night. After the guy opens the door, Julien, who is out of uniform, says "At the station, you implied I was gay." The guy asks, "Aren't you?" Julien replies "no", but unconvincingly. The other guys says "I wasn't gay either until the day I admitted I was" - he then proceeds to put his hand on Julien's face and tell him it is ok and then kisses him. Julien does not resist and when the guy walks back into the apartment. Julien follows his lead and the door shuts with both of them in the apartment.
This episode has the guy who seduced him waiting for him in the police station waiting area. When Julien sees him, he is humiliated. The guy, Thomas, proceeds to act very jealous because Julien has not come around or called again. Thomas also threatens that he will continue to come back until Julien comes to see him. Julien pacifies him by telling him he will come to visit if he will just leave.
Julien is also confronted with witnessing more illegal actions with fellow officers and after struggling with his morals, decides to report it - jeopardizing his job and perhaps his life.
Later on he does go back to the guy's apartment, apparently to end the relationship. The guy apologizes to him for going to the police department and promises not to do it again. Julien says "I cannot be the person you want me to be. I shouldn't even be here tonight." The guy says sarcastically - "Oh, you've never come back, have you?"
Julien says under his breath that this is a stupid conversation and the guy says back "What is stupid are the late night cruises and anonymous hummers (oral sex) in the front seat of your car." Julien is looking very distressed and the guy takes advantage of his vulnerability by saying - "did I read a page in your diary?" Julien says very sincerely, "You don't know anything about me - things I believe in, things that I see." (obviously referring to church and straight friends)
The guy then says "you're a good person" (always trying to convince him he cannot be anything but gay) and Julien says back, "I'm doing a bad thing". Again, trying to be persuasive, the guy says "you deserve to be happy." Julien counters this by saying "You ever read the Bible? - scripture says” .....and then he stops because he sees that it is futile to try and talk to this guy who doesn't want to hear any of this. The guy still convincingly says "you came back, start listening to yourself." With this, Julien turns around and embraces him and they both fall onto the couch and the rest is not shown, but is obvious.
It is a testimony as to how one can be influenced by listening to another who has a selfish agenda. Outside this person's influence, Julien is a man with moral convictions who wants desperately to leave that lifestyle.
Julien's desire to live a right and moral life comes into play again regarding his job. One of his superiors asks why he is pursing the report on illegal activity among his peers - officers and detectives aren't supposed to do that. He replies that while he has to answer to his peers about what he does, he also has to answer to God.
The officer who caught wind of Julien reporting him is silently building his case to blackmail him into retracting his statement. This officer is the main character - Vic Mackey, played by Michael Chiklis.
In each episode, Julien is struggling and determined to do the right thing.
Julien formally testifies against Vic to his commanding officer.
Vic finds out his son has autism and is crushed. When another detective finds a book about it in his car, Vic says it is his wife's book and she wanted to find out more about it because a kid in their son's class has it. The other detective starts to make fun of autism, calling it retardation, etc. Vic is furious and says something very important and powerful - "Before you shoot off your mouth about something, you might try educating yourself about it first."
Later Julien is back in Thomas' apartment - once again it is obvious that he is struggling by just being there. He enters a dialogue with Thomas regarding responsibility and how he takes it in his life but Thomas does not. He starts to criticize his behaviors regarding being a basic bum and says "if this is what you're going to be like, then I cannot be around you." Thomas shoots back with "Well, you're trying to be something you're not. I'll try to be different if you will."
His training officer tries to get out of being his partner because she thinks he is too moral for the job.
Later Julien and Thomas are semi-nude on the couch together, caressing each other. Thomas asks Julien to lie for him on a reference. Julien says no. Again, he is struggling with his feelings and says, "I was taught to believe in things and yet I keep coming back here because I care." Thomas again asks him to keep trying and that he will keep trying to be what each other wants them to be. At this time, Thomas proceeds to kiss him all over and starts to do an obvious sexual act -- when Vic knocks down the door and catches them right in the act (yikes!) and tells Thomas he is there to arrest him for an open warrant. He then looks at Julien sarcastically and says to Thomas - "Don't worry, your boyfriend will lock up the house for you, won't you officer?" Julien is devastated and filled with shame.
Vic broke into Thomas' apartment as an excuse to catch Julien and Thomas together so he could blackmail Julien into retracting his statement about Vic's illegal activity.
This was a very powerful episode because, using autism, it made it clear how deceived people can be about a condition by assuming rather than educating themselves with accurate information. It also shows Julien's obvious struggle to not want the feelings he has for Thomas and how Thomas is so self- serving when he tries to persuade Julien that he cannot be any other way except gay and to just accept it.
Vic blackmails Julien by telling Thomas he will release him without any further prosecution if Julien changes his story about the illegal activity Julien witnessed Vic doing. Vic also threatens Julien that he will reveal his homosexuality unless he recants his testimony.
Julien's training partner sees the obvious stress he is under and urges him to open up to her about what is the matter. He refuses.
Vic again confronts Julien with blackmail if Julien does not recant his testimony, which under much distress, he finally does. After recanting, his supervisor calls Julien's minister, who he knows, and tells him something is obviously wrong with Julien because he has just compromised his morals and ethics by recanting an obviously true story.
Julien's minister visits him and sees his distress - when he asks him what is the matter, Julien replies "What if the man you are isn't the man you want to be?" The minister responds with "You give yourself a swift kick in the ass - what is stopping you?" After seeing that Julien is obviously struggling with a great difficulty, he encourages him to pray without any filters - to completely open up to God and be truthful with Him and not cover anything up.
Later his supervisor threatens Julien with termination and suspension of pay because of his recanting.
In the bathroom, Vic walks in while Julien is there. Vic tells him he did the right thing by recanting. Julien says with conviction "I am not gay." Vic looks at him and sarcastically says "Julien, come on". Then Julien says something very profound. He actually separates himself as a person from his behavior. He responds by saying (struggling and crying) "It's this thing - inside me - I push it down - it goes away and then comes back stronger - I shove it back down until I don't have the strength to push anymore. I am so weak - I hate this thing inside me. I push away everyone - I am so alone." Vic is surprisingly moved and says "You were there for me and I'll be there for you."
At the end of the show, it shows Julien doing what his minister suggested - kneeling down at church at night and praying.
This episode proves the horrible struggle men of conscience have with unwanted feelings of homosexuality and how NO ONE should turn them away when they are asking, and in some cases, begging for help. Even the corrupt detective who blackmailed Julien had a breakthrough in seeing and hearing him.
Julien is confronted again by his supervisor for recanting and seriously is questioned as to why he wants to stay a police officer. He says it is a life long dream and wants to represent what a good cop is.
Vic is now very friendly with and supportive toward Julien - giving him basketball tickets and inviting him to be on the softball team. He also invites him to a retirement dinner with his family. Julien does not take him up on it because his conscience reminds him that this is the person who blackmailed him.
Thomas (Julien's on again, off again lover) is arrested again - this time for stealing CDs. Julien sees him in lock-up and askd him why he keeps doing these things to get arrested. Thomas ignores him because Julien has not contacted him
Finally, Thomas says, "You abandoned me." Julien says, "I never heard from you again". Thomas replies, “Vic told me not to call you again - besides, I'm scared and am going away.” He then tries to have contact with Julien by touching his hand through the chain link fence but Julien pulls away. The inference here is that he will be his friend but no longer wants to be involved in a homosexual relationship with him.
In a very telling segment, Julien is chasing an armed individual and isn't wearing a vest and doesn't have any back-up. He corners the criminal and there is an initial confrontation about surrender. When the suspect says "I will shoot you", Julien tells him to do it - the despair and hopelessness is so evident you can feel it. Julien puts his gun away and is hoping the criminal will shoot him and put him out of his misery. When the suspect surrenders instead, Julien is surprised and relieved.
Later, when he is being commended by his peers for capturing the guy, his training officer pulls him aside and confronts him as to why he put himself in that kind of danger with the possibility of being killed. Julien struggles again with his words and emotions - "I do things that cannot be forgiven and I cannot stop myself from doing them". The woman says "It's not worth dying for - you're gay, stop fighting yourself." Julien replies, "This is killing me - I'd rather die than be gay - I cannot go on like this" At this point he is crying very hard.
This episode shows a couple of important things -- Julien is masculine in all ways, exercises integrity, has morals and ethics, and believes in the power of God. In this episode, once again, someone has asked him to accept his homosexuality and he knows he cannot. The struggle is real, the overwhelming feelings are apparent, and more importantly, the hope for change is never compromised. He never tries to rationalize his behavior and repeatedly says it is wrong, in spite of others trying to get him to accept it as normal.
Julien finally goes to him minister and breaks down - he tells him of his unwanted feelings of homosexuality and how it is ruining his life. His minister listens attentively and then says some very powerful things. He tells him that homosexuality is treatable. He makes a semi-comparison of it to other destructive addictions that people struggle with. He tells him change is possible through reorientation therapy. He then calls up someone and asks him to come over.
Later on in the episode, we see Julien and his minister sitting in the church office. Another man comes in and the minister introduces him to Julien. The man is so genuine, kind, sincere and obviously credible - he says, "Julien, I used to be just like you - I had all the same urges, behaviors and struggle. Today I am a changed man - I am married and we are expecting our first baby. I finally found the happiness I was seeking before and never could find. You can too." The minister adds a couple of thoughts about incorporating faith along with the therapy and how he and this man will support Julien through this.
Season 2 of the FX cable TV show “The Shield”:
The Shield - Second Season
The first four episodes had very few scenes of Julien in them - on several occasions scenes were shown where someone would ask him how his ex-gay "meetings" or "sessions" were going and he would answer "good".
Episode Five had a scene with Julien and his female partner talking in the lunchroom and Julien ssaying "I'm getting married." His partner, Dani, was shocked and said "to who" - Julien told her it was with Vanessa, the girl he asked out in the last episode. Dani confronts him by saying "you can't - you're gay". She also threatens to tell Vanessa unless Julien tells her. Julien tells her he is not gay and that he has made some bad choices in the past that he is working out now. He said everyone has made poor choices in their past and he isn't sure about revealing all of his - at least not yet.
Episode Six has a scene with Julien and a seasoned police officer patrolling a neighborhood. Julien has a totally contentment about him now and tells the officer he is getting married and can the officer offer any good advice on how to have a good marriage because the officer has been married for so long. The officer, who had just had something revealed to his wife from a long time ago, said "Yes, don't keep any secrets from her." Julien respects this man and the viewer can tell he is thinking deeply about how to handle it if he tells Vanessa, his fiancée.
Episode Seven is a very powerful episode - Julien is helping fiancée Vanessa's little boy with his homework in the lunchroom of the police department. Vanessa comes to pick him up and the little boy leaves the room to for a minute so Vanessa and Julien can talk - Julien tells her in the most heartfelt, genuine and humble way he can that the Bible studies he told her he has been attending are really RE-ORIENTATION/ REPARATIVE therapy sessions. She says she doesn't understand that those words mean. He tells her, "You see, I used to be attracted to men but all that is in my past - through this therapy and the grace of God I am overcoming it - I love you and want a family with you." She backs right away from him saying things like "you have had sex with men, my little boy looks up to you like a father, etc." Julien, on the edge of tears, says " I don't want that anymore - I never wanted it - that is why I am going to these therapy sessions. I love you and want you and need you. I am not gay, that is not who I am."
Near the end of the episode, there is another scene -- Julien is eating lunch in the lunchroom and Vanessa comes in - she says she has thought about everything and asks him to kiss her. He stands right up with NO hesitation and passionately kisses her. She says to him, "Don't leave me standing at the altar." They both affirm their love for each other. Vic, the corrupt cop, comes in after Vanessa leaves and Julien tells him he is getting married. Vic says "to who?" After Julien tells him, Vic makes a snide remark. After he realizes this was inappropriate, he says "well, if you have found true love and you are sure this is going to work, then I am very happy for you." He then shakes Julien's hand.
Episodes 9 and 10
Julien has been going to his re-orientation therapy and is obviously relieved and very happy about this decision.
He tells his fellow officers that the rings have been bought and that everything is on for the wedding. He makes a comment to his training officer, who has a difficult time with relationships, that he feels so blessed to have the job he wants, a new promotion, and now a wonderful wife and that her son will be his too. He says "If you ever meet someone who is the right person, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about.”
Julien has married and very happy. There is chatter within the police station that there will be a lay-off and that is the only thing that he is worried about.
Julien’s ex-boyfriend from his gay past, Thomas, shows up again at the police station. Julien tells him he is married now and that their prior relationship is no longer valid.
His wife walks in for lunch at the same time. Julien introduces her to Thomas and refers to her as his wife. After she steps away, Thomas says "You really married a woman --what about what we had"? Julien answers him with "I said good-bye to that part of my life and now I have to say good-by to you." Thomas threatens that he will become a prostitute unless Julien can help him with money. Julien foolishly gives him his credit card just to get rid of him. Thomas tries to hug him and Julien pushes him away and says, "Stay away from me and my wife".
Later on in this episode, Julien asks Thomas to meet him at a restaurant. Julien shows up with his sponsor from his re-orientation therapy. This gentleman introduces himself to Thomas and tells him he has helped Julien as a sponsor, along with his therapist, in the re-orientation therapy. Thomas smirks. Julien tells Thomas to stop calling him at the station, there is no room in his life for Thomas anymore. Thomas asks sarcastically, "Are you kidding?" Julien replies, "I am married now and have a son -- my life now is about them and God." Thomas says, "You can hide behind Jesus all you want but you are not fooling anyone." The sponsor says, "That's enough, you've been warned to stay away." Thomas then punches the sponsor as hard as he can in the eye and runs away.
Thomas is arrested for the assault and brought into the station. He is shouting very vile comments about the sexual relationship he and Julien have had for everyone to hear. He would describe a sexual act they had and then say "That means you are gay." Since only the training officer and Vic knew about his struggle, this comes as a surprise to the rest of the officers.
Later on in this last episode, Julien walks into the station and finds graphic signs with his picture on it and a homosexual act and words. He is humiliated and tears the signs down. Then calls start coming to his home. His new son picks up the phone and they tell him his dad is gay, etc. Julien confronts the station police officers and tells them to say those things to him but to stop hurting his family with the calls.
The last couple of minutes of this last season episode show Julien in the kitchen with his wife -- she washing the dinner dishes, he drying them. The look so happy and content. Julien goes outside to put the trash out and is violently assaulted, has a blanket thrown over him and shoved into a van. It is the same police officers who had harassed Julien for once being gay. The last scene is Julien laying on the sidewalk - his new little, 10 year old son finds him. Julien is completely beaten up and hardly able to breathe. The show ends there.
Although a violent and graphic TV series, The Shield is a powerful show accurately portraying re-orientation therapy, one's right to seek it and change, how coercive and resentful the gay person is who hates it when someone like Julien seeks help to change and leaves him behind, the terrible struggle Julien had with his same sex attractions, how Julien separated himself from his "condition," and Julien’s eventual triumph. The Shield is a Golden Globe award winner for best television series and an Emmy Award winner for best TV series.