Who said an old doll can’t learn new tricks? Chucky, the little plastic star of the child’s play franchise, has been a beloved ogre for horror movies for two decades. But his last role in the TV series chucky — continuing the story and expanded continuity that began in the original 1988 film — is perhaps its most unexpected: LGBTQ ally. Since its premiere on Syfy and the US last month, Chucky has emerged as arguably the most bizarre series on mainstream television, with multiple storylines featuring gay and gender-fluid characters.
For example, the show’s teenage hero, Jake (Zackary Arthur), has a serious crush on another boy at school, Devon (Björgvin Arnarson) — feelings that turn out to be mutual. In the second episode, Chucky – whose tiny body is possessed by the ghost of serial killer Charles Lee Ray – reveals to Jake that he is the father of a gender-fluid child, Glen/Glenda, confirming a piece of mythology originally seen in the 2004 episode, Seed of Chucky. “I have a queer kid,” Chucky told Jake in a clip that went viral on Twitter. And when the enamored teen asked the doll if he thought that was “cool,” the killer doll replied with absolute seriousness, “I’m not a monster, Jake.”
Meanwhile, Chucky’s longtime lover and Glen/Glenda’s mother, Tiffany Valentine (Jennifer Tilly) — who joined the franchise in 1998 Bride of Chucky – has her own hot and heavy gender fluid romance going on. In the just-aired fifth episode, it is revealed that Tiffany is breaking up with Nica Pierce, played by Fiona Dourif, the daughter of actor Brad Dourif, who has provided Chucky’s voice since the original. child’s play. End of 2017 Cult of Chucky, Nica was possessed by a piece of the doll’s ghost, and he still inhabits her body for make-out sessions/murder rituals with Tiffany, even as the wheelchair-bound heroine tries to exorcise the demon doll.
For her part, Tilly couldn’t be happier that the franchise has taken such a progressive turn. “I think it’s a gift to the gay community,” she told Yahoo Entertainment, noting that: child’s play creator, Don Mancini, is a gay screenwriter. “Don wanted to write something that was about his experience growing up, so Jake is based on Don. And viewers love Jake and the relationship between him and Devon. It’s amazing how accepting kids are: there’s no backlash.”
In the case of Tiffany’s groundbreaking romance with Nica/Chucky, Mancini also pays tribute to Be bound to, Lana and Lily Wachowski’s 1996 heist film that featured Tilly and Gina Gershon as lesbian lovers outsmarting a group of misogynistic mobsters. “Be bound to was not Basic instinct‘, says the actress about that groundbreaking film, which celebrated its 25th anniversary last month. “Back then, lesbians had to die or be schizophrenic or something else weird. But in Be bound tono one was punished. It was about two people who robbed the mafia and were in love, and they were both women.”
Looking forward to future episodes of Chucky, Tilly teases that Tiffany may begin to feel genuine love for Nica, even as Chucky’s not control over her body. “She loves Chucky, but she also kind of falls in love with Nica, because it’s a perfect amalgamation of the feminine and the masculine. Chucky can also be very abrupt, while Nica is quite nice. It’s really interesting for Tiffany! And Fiona’s such a great actress and a great kisser. It’s so much fun doing steamy scenes with her.”
Glen/Glenda’s proud mother is just as happy that her offspring are finally back in child’s play canon after Universal banished them to the back of the closet next Seed of Chucky. Chucky and Tiffany’s child was originally glimpsed during the closing moments of Bride of Chucky, but in the next film, they were officially labeled as gender fluid — one of several elements that caused the studio to disapprove of Mancini’s script as “too gay.” (The film was later made by Universal’s specialty arm, Focus Features, and distributed by the genre label, Rogue Pictures, which Universal owned until 2008.)
“Universal was like, ‘We can never see that boy again,’ so they disappeared,” Tilly says of Glen/Glenda, voiced by Lord of the Rings star, Billy Boyd. (The name is a tribute to Ed Woods cult film from 1953, Glen of Glenda.) “At the time, Seed of Chucky was the most poorly received film [in the franchise]. Coincidentally, I love it, but it was so campy and so upbeat; I mean, we had John Waters playing a perverted paparazzi! I said to Don, “It’s ahead of its time,” and it was. Now everyone is screaming for Glen/Glenda to come back!”
Even Chucky’s old enemies on screen – Alex Vincent and Christine Elise, who have been part of the franchise ever since child’s play and child’s play respectively – are pleased that the doll’s views have evolved since 2004, when he expressed a preference for having a son. “There’s not much interchangeable about Charles Lee Ray, except maybe his sense of humor,” says Vincent, whose alter ego, Andy Barclay, was just a kid when he first met Chucky 23 years ago. “But it’s refreshing to have this little touch of decency, even if it’s fleeting. It’s a reference that fans have really been waiting for.”
“I’m constantly being notified if Glen/Glenda will be on the show,” the actor continues. For all the shit that Seed of Chucky got from some of the fan base, I think Don knew he was going into the series that [most fans] really connect with that character and really want them to be a part of the show.” And Mancini fueled that fire even more by teasing the imminent return of Tiffany and Chucky’s child. “All I can say is …stay tuned!” he noted in a recent interview.
Even without a Glen/Glenda cameo (yet), Elise – who plays Andy’s foster sister, Kyle – says she’s already been spotted Chuckyimpact on a young audience. “I have a friend with twin boys who are in eighth grade, and one of them is gay,” she says. “He thinks I’m the best person on earth because I’m on a show where the main character is gay! And it’s just being treated as a fact: the whole show isn’t about Jake being gay. I think that’s very useful for society, especially for children who are having a hard time right now.”
Part of both Be bound to and the increasingly progressive child’s play franchise, Tilly similarly has first-hand experience of how movies and TV shows can change public perception. “That’s where media can be very helpful,” she notes. “Chucky has a huge gay audience, a huge straight audience, and a huge kid audience… it crosses all boundaries. So it’s really nice that we can reflect the world as it is, and everyone likes that. I also love that we can say 10 ‘F****’ per episode! I was watching the show last night and one of the kids said, ‘Oh f***.’ It’s great to hear kids talk like kids.”
Chucky airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on Syfy and the US.