Is the issue morality, or is it prejudice? Viewers can be the judge when they tune into "Other Mothers," today's "CBS Schoolbreak Special" about a teen-age boy being raised by a lesbian couple. Starring Meredith Baxter, Joanna Cassidy and Justin Whalin, the provocative drama kicks off the series' 10th season at 3 p.m. (Channels 2 and 8).
Whalin plays a boy named Will, whose transition to high school is going smoothly--he earns a place on the basketball team, teachers like him and he's making friends--until it is learned that he lives with his mother and her gay lover. Friends freeze him out, his own sexuality is suspect and the coach treats him with contempt. Will has to decide whether to "tough it out" or consider other options: a new school or leaving his loving home.
Will represents the reported several million children growing up in gay households, and Amy Dunkleberger's script, directed by Lee Shallat, means to convey that a child raised in a strong, nurturing family, whatever the configuration, can blossom.
Where the script strains credibility is by making the two women seem remarkably unconcerned about possible adverse reactions to their homosexuality. Nor does it help that, while Whalin brings a sensitive maturity to his role, Cassidy and Baxter are awkward and forced as a couple.
Is it fair for gay parents to put a child in the position of having to fight their battle for acceptance? Is it realistic to expect society as it exists today to become suddenly tolerant of what is still considered by many to be aberrant, chosen behavior? The program acknowledges these questions and acknowledges, too, that there are no comfortable answers.