“Triple Banana, Bitch”: Or, McDanno and the Challenge to Heteronormativity

1. Introducing the Case

[1] Imagine a TV show where two co-workers/friends survived being trapped under a collapsed building and Person A sustained some pretty severe injuries. While trapped, the Person B says “I love you” to them. They are eventually rescued, and the following conversation ensues.

A: When we were in there, you said ah, y’know before you did the thing with the bomb, you said what you said … I want you to know, I feel the same way.
B: How is that exactly?
A: You’re making me say it? (B gives A a look.) Come here. (They hug.) I love you.

Now imagine a couple years later, a mutual acquaintance, Person C, is listening to them discuss Person A’s ex’s upcoming divorce.

B: What about therapy? It worked for us.
C: You two lovebirds have a therapist?
A: (Incredulous scoff.) Yes, we have a therapist.

Around the same time, imagine the couple arguing because Person B found out that Person A had been thinking about retirement without consulting Person B.

B: You didn’t feel the need to include me in the decision for you to retire. I trust you to bring me into big decisions like that.

You’d probably think that was a romantic couple, wouldn’t you? They got together, they expressed their love after a traumatic event forced them to, they’ve worked at their relationship, they still have spats over things like major life decisions.

What if I said that Person A is Detective Danny Williams and Person B is Lieutenant Commander Steve McGarrett of Hawaii Five-0?

2. Maybe It’s A Joke

hawaii-five-0-stagione-3-10.jpgThe thing about Hawaii Five-0 is that they treat Steve and Danny as if they are the lead couple.

And I don’t mean this in an “if one of them was a woman, they’d be together” kind of way, but in a “sometimes you forget they aren’t actually a married/romantically involved TV couple” type of way. In the Season 7 finale, there was a moment where I honestly was confused why Steve didn’t give Danny a kiss before leaving his office.

It’s intentional, maybe not to the extent that I see it. It started out in a wink-wink-but- clearly-a-joke sort of way. Both friends and strangers referred to them as a couple very early on in the show. But, unlike some shows, there haven’t been “no homo” responses (and none as far as I know from the actors). Maybe a little incredulity from Danny on occasion, but that is his response to teasing in general. 

In S1E4, Steve is playing basketball against a guy in prison to try and get information out of him. Steve yells at Danny to shut up to try to get him to stop heckling him. The prisoner he’s playing against asks, “How long you two been married?” No reaction from either of them.

In S1E7, Steve is in a hostage situation while Danny is in the perp’s house. They’re on the phone, and Danny—who looks around to make sure no one is in the room—whispers, “You, uh, you miss me, don’t you?” Steve says, “Of course I miss you.” The retired Navy guy Steve is with asks, “Who are you talking to? Your wife?” Steve replies, “I’m talking to my partner.”

In S2E18, Harry the retired police officer offers them marriage counseling.

They go to a sorority house in S3E12 and one of the women in the house says, without really seeing them interact, “Kelly, your dads are here to pick you up.”  Both men look slightly put out by the statement—but Steve expressly says it’s because he doesn’t think he looks old enough to have a daughter in college.

In S5E17, they occupy a woman’s apartment for a stakeout, and a nosy neighbor assumes they are married. At the end of the episode they leave for couples therapy (no, really) and the woman is confused, because they said they weren’t married, to which Chin says they just fight like an old married couple.

There are numerous other examples of this. A lot of it happens non-verbally, in looks they get from other people or that other people share behind their back, including people who have known and worked with them for years, usually Chin.

In S4E11, Danny calls Steve cheap while the whole group is out, and everyone backs away from their argument, side-eying each other like, “oh the married couple is fighting again.”

So, maybe it’s a joke.

3. More Than Subtext

But maybe it isn’t.

“Ho yay” is a phrase that is sometimes used, meaning “homoeroticism, yay,” to refer to homoerotic subtext in otherwise heteronormative narratives. The history of this has its roots in the fact that you couldn’t put overt mentions of homosexuality on television for a long time. So you had to do the wink, wink, nod, nod. The “roommate” or intimate friendships that most people would interpret as good friends.

There seems to be a conception used in anti-gay rhetoric that homosexuality didn’t exist until the last couple decades and that the liberal agenda intends to turn everyone gay. I would recommend to these people to read any Ancient Greek text (like, any of them), but maybe straight men and women don’t see subtext, because they don’t have to. They’re represented.

Sometimes people use the term “queerbaiting” to refer to TV shows that use homoerotic subtext not in a way to imply that characters are gay, but, rather, to tease the idea that a show has gay characters so that people who want to see that kind of representation on a show watch it, but so that people who are “offended” by gay representation won’t not watch it.

I’m not sure if this happens intentionally, or if it’s just people who are fed up with the lack of representation reading into it, because the big TV demographic that everyone is after is males age 18-34, and the majority of men are heterosexual. So, this is unfortunate, but this is the problem with diversifying television, film, publishing, etc. Straight white men are still the default, so anyone else is a niche market, i.e., a risk.[2]

But Hawaii Five-0 goes way beyond the jokes, and I think even beyond baiting. You can actually watch the show as if they are in a romantic relationship together without squinting. Sure, it’s an open relationship, and you have to read both characters as bisexual (easy to do with Steve, a little harder to do with Danny), but on my reading it’s a relationship that goes outside the usual mapping of two men or two women onto a stereotypical heteronormative relationship tropes.

Maybe they aren’t sexually involved–the jokes and innuendo are almost always about them being romantically involved. And that might help my case.

4. The Evolution of a Couple

But I’m getting ahead of myself, because it takes them awhile to get there. Their relationship really starts out with pulling pigtails. They tease each other about their musical tastes, food likes and dislikes, Danny’s love of New Jersey, Steve’s love of firearms. But then “Sexy Eyes” by Dr. Hook comes on in the car one day (S1E11), which is such a lame song there is no reason why Steve McGarrett would like it, and Steve refuses to let Danny change it. It is my personal belief that Steve McGarrett listens to Supertramp and King Crimson exclusively (I have absolutely no proof of this), so not letting Danny change the song from “Sexy Eyes”? I don’t even know what to do with that.

A lot of friendships (and particularly male friendships) are based on ribbing. But neither Steve nor Danny interacts that way with Chin, Kono, Max, Jerry, or Kamekona. In fact, the only person Danny argues with the way he argues with Steve is with his ex-wife. And Steve doesn’t even remotely interact with any of the characters the way he does with Danny. He gives Lou a hard time on occasion, but he never really teases anyone else. The more I think about it, the more I think he is one of the most earnest characters on television. Steve does have a very close friendship with Chin, and in later seasons with Lou, but they’re more serious with each other. The care and support are there, but the playfulness isn’t.

In the first season, Steve and Danny have pet names for each other. In S1E6:

Steve: When I say, “Book ’em, Danno,” it’s a term of endearment.
Danny: OK. Do it every day. I like it.

Danny first refers to Steve as “babe” in S1E10. He says it’s a Jersey thing, but he never refers to Chin as “babe” or Kono (who would probably shoot him for it). Sometimes Steve parrots back with a “babe” of his own. They do this in front of other people who don’t know them, usually men, usually men who look like they have no idea what to do with these two crazy cops.

Kono calls Steve “boss” or “McGarrett” and Danny is always “Danny.” Chin calls them by their first or last names. No one calls Danny “Danno” except for Danny’s children, because it’s a nickname Grace bestowed on him.

They flirt. See S1E13:

Steve: We’re gonna tear into this guy’s life and we’re gonna rip it all apart.
Danny: I have never liked you more than in this moment right now. It’s beautiful.

Substitute “I have never been more turned on than in this moment right now,” and you’re in an action movie where the guy is hitting on the badass woman.

Or in S2E1:

Danny: Why are you smiling at me?
Steve: You’re not wearing a tie. It suits you.

There was also the thong incident. While in a party bus investigating a case (S4E6), Danny finds a discarded g-string, he holds it up to show Steve, and Steve says, “You gonna get an evidence bag, or are you gonna put that thing on?” For a second you can see on Danny’s face that he thinks Steve might be serious.

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They know each other in ways that you only people you are intimate with. Danny has a catalog of Steve’s looks. Meanwhile Steve catalogs Danny’s tones of voice. Hell, Danny knows Steve’s favorite kind of frosting when he surprises him with a birthday cake. They open up to each other about their pasts in a way that we don’t (or rarely) see them do with anyone else. They communicate with each other non-verbally. They read each other. By Season 7, they recognize each other’s moods and use that knowledge to encourage them to talk about what’s on their mind.

This certainly could be best friend behavior. Or it could be the result of their couples therapy (really).

Like I said, maybe they don’t have a sexual relationship, but they also touch each other a lot.

They don’t do this with other characters that they are friends with. Sometimes Steve will put his hand on Chin’s shoulder. Everyone on the team is a hugger. They’re all close. They’re ohana. But it’s different.

danny-steve-couch-gif.gifSteve and Danny sit really close to each other on couches. In Season 3’s Halloween episode (S3E5), they watch The Notebook together on the couch. Steve’s girlfriend Cath is on the opposite end, Grace next to her. Then Danny. Then Steve on the end. He puts his arm around the back of the couch and Danny snuggles next to him. (It was apparently Scott Caan’s idea to do this.)

In S2E8, Steve shows up at Danny’s apartment, puts his arm around the back of the couch behind Danny and they watch Enemy Mine together.

They almost always sit next to each other when the whole group is together. They danced together at Kono’s wedding (S6E1). Not a group dance, this was arms around each other, holding hands, dancing like a couple. I have never seen two straight males friends do this, and I know plenty of straight men who are openly affectionate with their male friends.

steve-danny-zip-ties-0403.gifOne of my favorite moments happened in S4E3 where they are in a warehouse after a shootout, and Danny needs zip ties, so he walks toward Steve, who just lifts his arm as he crosses the warehouse in the other direction to give Danny access to the pocket on his tac vest. Danny grabs the zip ties while they both keep walking. It’s a practiced dance of bodily familiarity. Again, this could be because they work together closely. Steve and Kono have a silent language sometimes when they’re taking down bad guys, but they share a certain cold-blooded killer instinct that Danny and Chin don’t, but it’s not the same as a physical familiarity.

Danny knows Steve’s blood type. He gives Steve part of his liver in S6E25 (after he goes on a cold, uncharacteristic, ballistic rampage against the guy who shot Steve). They will put their lives on the line for the other and directly in harm’s way. They will go all over the world to find the other at all costs.

  • Danny went to North Korea to rescue Steve (S2E10). Because Jenna knew that Danny was Steve’s person to call in an emergency. She could have called HQ. She didn’t. She called Danny.
  • Danny went to Afghanistan to bring Steve back after he is captured by the Taliban and rescued by the Army, who didn’t know he was there (S4E20). And Danny gets super defensive when the Army officers who hold Steve try to get him to leave the room. Steve is surprised Danny is there, he asks Danny why he came, and Danny says, “I had to make sure you were okay.” Steve looks so touched in that moment, because it was the first time anyone done something like that for him.
  • Danny goes with Steve to a random location in the Cambodian jungle to dig up a grave, because it gave Steve a clue into his mother’s identity and past that is haunting Steve (S4E18).
  • Steve went to Colombia to with Danny to try to find Danny’s brother (S5E4) and later to get Danny out of Colombian prison (S5E18). He gets on a fundamental level that Danny has to get revenge for his brother, and he knows that it’s going to hurt Danny.

My point is that they really seem like a couple.

Danny goes with Steve to a doctor’s appointment in S7E20. He is in the exam room with Steve while the doctor comes in. He asks questions like a spouse. He makes the doctor tell Steve the same thing that he has been telling him in the hopes that he’ll listen to the doctor. They also have a conversation about playing doctor, because Danny is messing around with the doctor’s equipment.

Danny: Now, would you please do me this one favor.
Steve: No, I will not bend over and cough with your cold hands.
Danny: It’s not that kind of test.

Note that Steve’s objection is the coldness of the hands, not the hands.

Danny enters Steve’s house without knocking. Steve enters Danny’s apartment without knocking. Danny cooks in Steve’s kitchen. And then there was this in S1E24:

Steve: I’ll take powdered eggs over your eggs any day.
Danny: You love my eggs.
Steve: They’re terrible, Danny.

Why would Danny be making Steve eggs? Who cooks their work friend breakfast food?

5. Defying Heteronormativity

The show hits on a lot of the typical heteronormative romantic TV/movie tropes with Steve and Danny’s relationship.

  • Agents dating, on a stakeout, undercover—this happens in particular when Steve opens up to Danny about his stunted emotional growth during a stakeout, to which Danny responds by buying Steve a guitar.
  • Anguished/dying declaration of love: When they are trapped under a building together (S4E19) and when they are dealing with a uranium bomb (S7E18) (more on those below).
  • Like an old married couple: Again, numerous examples of this.
  • Belligerent sexual tension: Danny rants at Steve all the time, and Steve argues back, you keep waiting for Janeane Garofalo to jump in and say, “Would the two of you just do it and get it over with? I’m starving!”
  • Innocent cohabitation: Steve lets Danny stay at his place for a while after Danny’s apartment gets destroyed, Danny sleeps with the TV on (which drives Steve crazy) to drown out the noise of the ocean (which drives Danny crazy), so he buys Danny super expensive noise-canceling headphones from a store clerk who gives him the “partner?” face (S2E9).
  • Love at first punch: Danny punches Steve in the face in the first episode (S1E1).

But it isn’t entirely heteronormative. Sometimes you run into the “which one is the more feminine one” stereotype when you see gay couples portrayed on TV. You might be tempted to think that H50 plays into this and that Danny is more feminine because he’s sometimes called the nagging wife, and because Steve is a Navy SEAL and Steve really is the central character of the show.

But when you look closer, Danny shows more overt signs of traditional hetero-masculinity than Steve does. His primary emotional response to anything is anger. He goes alpha male protective over his kids to the point of causing others bodily harm. He falls asleep in front of the TV, wakes up when Steve turns it off and says “I was watching that.” He’s the one who sometimes leers at women, is distracted by bikini models. He fathered two children. He is coded as straight.

Steve meanwhile always looks women in the eye. He is either very reserved or he is more individual, person-centric in his choosing of romantic or sexual partners. Given that his old nickname was “Smooth Dog” (still not sure if that was a joke or not, because Steve is also a huge dork) you get the feeling that he used to be more of a lothario, but doesn’t do that anymore. Maybe he was overcompensating. He is also, in spite of his hard exterior, extremely thoughtful and compassionate. He’s also nags Danny about Danny being a slob after Danny house sits for him. He’s a control freak–usually the accusation given to women.

He also remembers down to the day how long he and Danny have been partners (this happens multiple times over the course of the show).

It wouldn’t be a stretch to consider that maybe Steve is bi or gay, but was closeted while serving in the Navy. You see him in two relationships with women on the show, and both women are not traditionally feminine. Catherine was great. She was absolutely likable. She was a Naval officer, she liked her steaks rare, she drank beer, she shot guns. She was competent, confident, and kind of a badass. She was perfect for Steve, and I could roll with it. I like Lynn, too. She’s tough, a thrill-seeker, well-matched for Steve, someone he can do things with that Danny wouldn’t do.

It takes a little mental gymnastic work, it does, but they might just have an open relationship. It works for some people. And it would make Hawaii Five-0 a really progressive show if they went there.

There’s the Rachel issue to contend with. Steve seems upset when he finds out that Danny and Rachel started sleeping together again at the end of Season 1. Mostly because Danny didn’t tell him. But in the end, Danny actually chooses Steve over Rachel. Steve gets arrested, and, even though Danny is supposed to meet Rachel and Grace at the airport, he goes to Steve instead.

The writers are teasing Rachel and Danny getting back together, which I vehemently oppose. They tried it twice, Rachel lied to Danny, she resents his job, they don’t work together. It also throws off my narrative a little, even though I think Rachel actually likes Steve, so maybe Danny is going to break Steve’s heart and I will never forgive the writers.

Steve and Cath never really defined their relationship. Though Steve did plan to propose to her, and Danny encouraged it. That doesn’t really kill my theory, though, because I think Danny probably loved Cath, too. Marriage would have been the only way to keep Cath in Hawaii, but marriage wouldn’t have precluded Danny and Steve from still being together in some capacity. Because Cath accepted Danny’s role in Steve’s life. In one episode (S3E17), Cath buys Steve tickets to the Pro Bowl, but Steve already had tickets for him and Danny. Cath just took Kono instead and teased Danny and Steve about their date. In the end, Steve gets injured on a case and can’t go. Danny could still go, but chooses to stay with Steve at the hospital instead. Danny has always been more important to Steve than even Cath was.

I do think part of Danny still likes the idea of a nuclear family, because he’s a parent. But he’s not necessarily a monogamist, though. As evidenced by the fact that he started sleeping with Rachel when she was still married. (Presumably Rachel was already planning to leave Stan, but Danny gets upset when he thinks his sister is cheating on her husband in a later episode, so I don’t know. But hypocrite much, Danno?)

Now you have them in more of a polyamorous situation. They give each other dating advice, but it’s sort of like telling your crush what you would like them to do to woo you. It’s sort of like they are the primary couple and they are negotiating how to deal with the open part of their relationship. Maybe they still both prefer sleeping with women. Danny seems to lean more that way. Maybe they do the commitment, companionship thing with each other. Maybe whatever they have together is new and they’re still working through it.

In S7E16, they “accidentally” spend Valentine’s Day weekend together. They’re with their respective girlfriends, but they end up spending most of the weekend together, and it was their girlfriends who booked the vacation, the adjoining rooms, and they seem more interested in hanging out with each other than they do Danny and Steve.

When the four of them have dinner together at the end of the episode on the beach in a romantic setting, Steve and Danny are sitting next to each other and Lynn and Melissa are on the other side of the table. Earlier in the day, Danny had apologized to Melissa for something and she says, “I knew what I was getting into.”

mcdanno-dinner.gif

It’s also worth noting that the steamy love scenes we get on screen are between Kono and Adam and between Chin and Abby. You see Cath and Steve making out pretty heavily once, fully clothed, and you see them in bed together, but Steve and Lynn never even kiss. You see Danny and Melissa in bed together, but it’s only ever implied.

Whatever else, this show does challenge heteronormative stereotypes on some level.

6. The Evidence of Affection

They regularly say “I love you” to each other. Sometimes there’s a “bro” or “buddy” added, but it almost always sounds awkward. You feel like they know other people are watching so they don’t go for it. Most of the time. Sometimes there’s more feeling behind it. “I love you,” I thought I was going to lose you. Sometimes they say “I love you” in the way that you say thank you after you convince your spouse to do an unpleasant chore.

Steve takes Danny on a date (a hike, whatever) in S1E20 to show him cliffs that he used to climb and petroglyphs that his dad used to take him to when he was a kid. This is a big deal, because Steve is opening up about his family. He even suggests that they take Grace there when she’s older. Danny, who complains just to complain, reluctantly agrees that “it’s nice.” It’s kind of romantic.

danny-heartSteve ends up falling when he goes to check on another fallen climber. Steve breaks his arm in the process but is more worried about Danny being careful when he climbs to the summit of their hike to get cell service. Help does arrive. As the helicopter takes him away, Danny makes a heart sign at him. Maybe it was a joke. But at the end of the episode, he gets jealous when a woman comes up to sign Steve’s cast.

But when Danny thought they were going to die under the collapsed building (mentioned at the beginning, in S4E19), there was no joking around. Again,

Danny: When we were in there, you said ah, y’know before you did the thing with the bomb, you said what you said … I want you to know, I feel the same way.
S
teve: How is that exactly?
Danny: You’re making me say it? (Steve gives him a look) Come here. (they hug) I love you.
Steve: I love you, buddy.

Take out the “buddy” and re-read that. I’ll wait.

In S7E18, there is a uranium bomb that Danny and Steve have to removed the uranium from and then take to another location. The bomb is volatile, and they have to take it across uneven terrain in an old truck. Before Steve starts the car, he tells Danny he loves him. Danny doesn’t say it back right then, he panics. But after Steve gets the uranium out, Danny apologizes, “Look, I’m sorry. I should’ve told you.” Told him about his retirement plans? (See below.) Told him that he loved him? Who’s to say?

My all-time favorite line is in S5E12 when Steve starts to help out a teenager, Nahele, who stole his car but was really just dealt a shitty hand in life:

Danny: You know what you are? You’re a half-baked cookie, soft and gooey on the inside. Kid should be in juvenile hall, and you go and you give him a job  That’s why I love you, babe. You like fixing broken toys.

You don’t always see portrayals of male friendships that are so openly affectionate or willing to say they love one another, and I don’t want to diminish that, I really don’t. Familial love and platonic love are no less important than romantic love. As someone who identifies on the aro spectrum, this is important to me. But you get plenty of solid platonic relationships on the show.

Steve and Chin also have a strong relationship—Steve totally loses it when Chin is strapped with explosives in S1E12. He breaks into a police evidence room and steals $10 million to save Chin’s life. We find out in a flashback scene (S6E25) that after Chin’s wife died, that Steve would regularly call him in the middle of the night and invite him out for coffee at the diner near Chin’s house, and he would sit with him in companionable silence in the middle of the night. That is friendship. That is love.

But it’s still not the same as it is with Danny. It’s more like you would expect a brotherhood, family, or a close friendship.

Steve and Kono’s relationship is probably my favorite on the show, because Steve treats her neither like a sister nor as a sexual object. Danny leers at Kono the first time he meets her. Eric hits on her. Sang Min hits on her. But Steve treats her like a peer. They’re friends, but there is a mutual respect that you rarely get between men and women in real life.

7. More Than Ohana

So, maybe they’re just family. Maybe.

They go to couples counseling—I am not making this up; they literally go to couples counseling—because they have communication problems that affect their working relationship. They also argue about money. These are the two classic problems that romantic couples argue about.

marriage counseling

Danny always pays when they go out and would like Steve to stop conveniently forgetting his wallet. Steve doesn’t share his feelings enough. Danny feels like Steve doesn’t listen to him. Danny is the nagging one in the couple (in S1E13, he even admits this, “I don’t want to be a nag, but…”). But Steve is the control freak (as Danny regularly points out, as Steve himself says in S7E18 When he exposes himself to the uranium so Danny doesn’t have to). They’re both worrywarts, particularly about the other, and about Danny’s daughter.

Steve goes to pick up Grace from school in the first season (S1E23) like he’s her step-father, because Danny is in the hospital. He didn’t talk to Danny about it—all he knew was that the doctor said he was going to be okay. He already knew it was Danny’s day to get Grace.

The way they know each other is intimate.

There is a scene in S7E14 where Danny and Chin watch Steve have a conversation on the phone, and Danny gives commentary, knowing the gist of the conversation based on Steve’s body language,

Danny: His mouth has not moved in three and a half minutes.
Chin: You know, maybe she’s got him on hold.
Danny: No. No. His nostrils are flaring. He’s pacing like a maniac. And he just switched the phone from his right hand to his left hand, which means he wants to punch something.
Chin: Well, you know your boy well.

In addition to the counseling, which is not just a one episode gag (no, really, they have a workbook), Steve “accidentally” books them a couple’s counseling retreat. It’s almost as if he wanted Danny to see that they are a couple, but then he chickened out.

They talk to each other like a couple. There are so many examples of this, I don’t know where to start.

When Danny’s mom comes to visit (S6E15), Steve offers to come down to keep Danny company because she is driving Danny crazy. This was after Steve met her and was overwhelmed by her and Danny’s bickering that he escaped.

Steve: What could the FBI possibly want with your mother?
Danny: I have no idea. Why do you think I’m calling you?
Steve: Did you ask her?
Danny: Of course I asked her. What kind of stupid question is that?
Steve: Whoa. Why are you getting mad at me?

Because he recognizes that Danny is upset about something else and projecting. After Danny explains why he’s upset (counseling works!), Steve responds with “You want me to come down there? I’ll come down there.” He’s working a case, but he would drop everything to run interference with Danny’s mother.

Steve cares about Danny’s daughter and son as if they are his family. And you can write it off along with the theme of “ohana,” you could, but by  Season 7, Steve and Danny are basically co-parents. Steve goes to the governor to help Danny keep his custody agreement in Season 1. When Danny gets taken to Colombia, he asks Steve to talk to Grace. Steve does, and the way he talks to Grace it’s clear that he respects her enough not to lie to her.

steve-grace.gif

In S4E14, the whole group is together, including Grace, celebrating the end of a case. Steve pulls Danny away from the group under the guise of bringing back drinks for everyone just so he can tell Danny what a good kid Grace is. The way Steve looks at her is with fatherly pride.

When Grace’s school dance is held hostage in S7E8, Steve is absolutely frantic until he sees that Grace is okay. He calls out her name like a concerned father, and when she sees him, she races to him to give him a hug. When they separate, Steve looks at Danny and asks, “No hug?”

Danny says, “I’ll give you a hug. I’ll give you a kiss. You pick a base.” Then the three of them walk together, Danny with an arm around them each. I want a scene where Grace’s friends ask her who her dad’s hot boyfriend is. Because you know it happened.

In S7E23, Steve helps Danny decorate Charlie’s bedroom (at Danny’s house? At Steve’s? I can’t tell). Danny is dealing with protecting a witness (he also leads Steve–not the team, Steve personally–on a wild goose chase around Oahu to track the men who want to silence the witness, which amounts to him ordering Steve around until Steve drives his truck through a house to stop the bad guys), so Steve finishing building Charlie’s race car bed. He plays race car driver with Charlie before bedtime, he tucks him in, brushes his hair off his face, and wishes him goodnight. Like a parent.

steve-charlie

Their families talk about them like they’re partners. Hell, Steve takes Danny as his date to Steve’s aunt’s wedding.

In S2E19, Steve’s sister Mary runs into them at the beach as they are coming in from surfing. She asks, “So you guys are like surf buddies now?” And Steve says, “Kind of.”

It’s meant to be on the surface a comment on Danny’s surfing ability, I think, but the awkwardness of it doesn’t account for that. After Mary leaves, Danny says, “So we’re surf buddies now.” The ensuing argument that you can fill in goes something along the lines of: you can’t tell her we’re seeing each other? It is the natural next line in that conversation. “Surf buddies” is like the male version of “gal pals.”

When Danny’s sister comes to visit, she knows who Steve is because Danny talks about him a lot. She says “Mom said you were a catch.” But you don’t get the feeling that she means a catch for her.

The clincher for me was in S7E18 (the uranium episode).

He and Danny have an argument in front of students at the police academy until Duke intervenes. Steve read a list that Danny left on his desk full of things he likes, things like traveling (which Steve points out that Danny always complains when they travel together). Steve calls Danny out for keeping something from him and offers to talk about it, and Danny gets mad because Steve invaded his privacy by looking at the list. The next scene you see Steve talking on the phone to Chin trying to get his assessment of the situation.

We find out that it’s a list of things that Danny would like to do when he retires. Steve gets upset. In the “I thought we would always be together, please don’t leave me” type of way.

Again, “You didn’t feel the need to include me in the decision for you to retire. I trust you to bring me into big decisions like that.”

In the ensuing conversation, Steve compares his relationship to Danny with Danny’s first marriage. Danny says that maybe he wants to open a restaurant after he retires. Steve is incredulous, but by the end of the episode, after they’ve both survived, Steve wants him to name it “Steve’s,” “because if we’re not together, we’ll still be together.” Steve is so co-dependent on Danny I could write a separate essay about it. To show his support, Steve even buys Danny a monogrammed chef’s hat in S7E25.

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The last scene of S7E18, when Lou tells Steve that HPD was the target of the uranium bomb, you see Steve turn and look at everyone eating dinner in the house (McGarrett’s house. Where Danny was cooking.), and the camera following Steve’s gaze focuses on Danny.

8. McDanno Forever

I can work with the girlfriends and the apparent heterosexuality. I can work with the “bro”s and “buddy”s. My point is that if the writers started writing out the women as love interests and wrote in a few more domestic scenes with Steve and Danny, it wouldn’t take away from the show. In fact, I don’t think anyone would notice anything was different. Because it wouldn’t actually be different.

It also genuinely wouldn’t feel out of character for Danny to finally figure out that he and Steve have actually been together together for years without him realizing it. Steve, of course, knew all along.  

But it also wouldn’t surprise me if they are already knowingly in a committed but open relationship. One that maybe started with sex but ended up as life partners of some sort, because however you want to define it, Danny is very clearly the most important person in Steve’s life. And Danny clearly relies on, depends on, trusts and loves Steve.

You can actually hear the reactions when they tell everyone. 

Lou: *nearly falls over laughing*

Chin: “Yeah, we know, brah.”

Kono: “Everyone knows.”

Jerry: “Worst kept secret since The Flash’s identity.”[3]

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[1] Title is a quote from Danny regarding the level he reached on Pac-Man. Also, all photos and gifs were taken from either CBS.com or Tumblr, but it’s hard to track down gif-makers, so credit where credit is due.
[2] There’s a lot more to say about this. Diversity without tokenism is really important to me, and some day I’ll write something about it.
[3] Granted, Wally West told everyone he was The Flash, but then he outed Barry Allen in the process…

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6 thoughts on ““Triple Banana, Bitch”: Or, McDanno and the Challenge to Heteronormativity

  1. This is wonderful, thank you so much! Bookmarked for when they write something crappy next season and I need an attitude adjustment. Like last 2 mins of S7 for example!

    • Thank you for reading! I assume that the tease of Danny and Rachel getting back together is going to happen, which, everything else aside, I think isn’t true to Danny’s character. So I am clinging to the subtext like the ship is going down…and I am going down with it.

      • I’m still holding out hope the Rachel thing will fade with so many other dangling plot-lines. If not… you’ve already explained how it could work very well 🙂

  2. Danny getting back with Rachel is something I don’t understand on any level. I don’t understand it from a show perspective – why would they think people would want Danny with someone who has done nothing but cause him pain – and I don’t understand it from Danny’s perspective. Rachel is the literal worst. She has treated Danny (and poor Stan for that matter) like dirt. Tried to take away his child, denied him years of his son’s life. Given how much his kids mean to him, how could Danny ever forgive that? How can anyone root for that? Like, poor Melissa might as well be a cardboard cutout for all the personality they’ve given her, but even she deserves better than to be turfed aside for someone like Rachel.

    BTW, I agree with everything else you’ve written here. It would be so easy for them to take that final step. Given the way Danny and Steve already are, literally nothing about their relationship would have to change for them to be a couple, except occasional kissing I guess?

    • I totally agree with you. I think Rachel is a toxic person to Danny. I also think it’s just inconsistent and unfair to his character to put them back together, and I will flounce the show if they do. It’s their push for the heteronormative nuclear family, but it’s forced because it just doesn’t fit with everything else they’ve done on the show regarding Danny’s character.

      For me, I want the acknowledgment — to take it out of subtext that whatever they are, they are more than friends/brothers. Even a conversation with them attempting to define what they are would go a long way toward challenging heteronormative assumptions.

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