How did a show about a boy without a belly button become so intriguing? And I don’t mean because the storylines always contain a nice blend of science fiction and soap opera. I’m intrigued because some of the topics are pretty risqué, especially given that it’s an ABC Family Channel show. For example, past episodes have included pretty frank discussions of teenage sex, pornography, infidelity, pot smoking, alcohol and drug abuse, cancer and even masturbation. Not the typical subject matter you’d expect to find in a Disney produced vehicle. But there it is nonetheless, cleverly mixed in with mystery and adventure, so you don’t notice as much.
Granted, these issues might not be new to network television, but they are somewhat new to family television. Except that ABC touts itself as “a different kind of family,” so I guess that means we don’t have to pretend we’re living in the 50s anymore. But does that also mean that Disney might try to instill this new kind of honesty into their other iconic stories? Imagine an updated version of “Cinderella” where the stepsisters complain about nothing but menstruation and cheating boyfriends. Or a modern day “Pinocchio” where the little wooden puppet is put in jail for executing indecent acts with his nose. And I shudder to think what might happen between Snow White and those seven little men.
Don’t get me wrong. I like this honest approach to such mature subject matter; I’m just surprised the producers haven’t gotten a lot of flack for doing it. Maybe it’s because the show is partly Science Fiction, so the conservative family organizations don’t give it much attention. They figure since there’s no such thing as a genetically created human being, there must also be no such thing as masturbation and drug abuse? Or maybe because Kyle has amazing powers and super-human intelligence, not to mention great eyes and a killer smile, they equate him with another immaculately conceived human being? (Oh come on, you don’t think there are some pretty heavy Jesus overtones in Kyle XY?)
At any rate, I like this show. The various members of Kyle’s extended family have grown on me; particularly the brother, who has matured into a good little actor. Some of the most poignant moments from last season were scenes when he and his “girlfriend” were going through the hardships of talking about her Cancer.
And then there’s Matt Dallas, who is unabashedly charming and innocent as Kyle. He was a good choice for this role, because there is something almost inhuman about him. His line readings are sometimes mechanical, and his facial expressions somewhat limited, but that only lends to his credibility as a manufactured object. Though, for the entire first season, I thought maybe he was wearing a wig because his hair always looked the same. Even in a windstorm, it had that “fresh-out-of-the-package-and-glued-to-the-head” kind of look. But in Season Three, it looks like he’s progressed beyond that style.
Too bad he can’t also progress beyond his annoying girlfriend, whose pouting and prissy personality is as bland as Tilapia. After two years of playing the martyr, I think it’s time she moved to college for good. And took her mean old mother with her.
But until that happens, I’ll still tune in to see what taboo topics the show plans to investigate this year. Maybe Kyle’s female counterpart Jessie will decide she really wants to be a transsexual or a cross-dresser, or both. Or Kyle’s supportive adopted parents will start a weekly “key party,” where they begin swapping more than stories with the neighbors. Whatever the major themes might become, you can bet that Kyle XY will explore them with honesty and integrity. Because that is the key to Kyle XY. The show has heart. And with heart, you can conquer anything.
But that’s just me. What do you think of Kyle XY?