Jul 16, 2013

The Hard Times of RJ Berger: A Teencom Where Size Matters

Would you watch a tv series about a high school nerd who suddenly becomes popular with the ladies when they discover that he has an enormous...um, you know?

Even if it was on MTV, not well known for its pro-gay programming?

Something is wrong with that premise -- as I understand it, it's usually men, not women, who believe that size matters: every inch increases your erotic desirability for gay men, and for straight men, your overall worth as a human being.  So the nerd's not getting more cheerleader-models.

The Hard Times of RJ Berger (2010-2011) actually spent little time on discussions of erotic desirability.  It was a sitcom version of a 1980s teen nerd comedy, with the nerd RJ (Paul Iacono, below) torn between the girl-next-door who has a crush on him and the Girl of His Dreams, who is dating an abrasive jock (Jayson Blair, top photo).  He also has a portly best friend (Jareb Duplaise, seen here in Epic Movie).

A significant plot arc involves RJ attempting to bond with his Dad, the studly Rick (Larry Poindexter), from whom he has inherited his "gift."  Rick previously worked as a stripper, and now, down-and-out after his divorce, he has returned to his old life at the Hunkeez Club (RJ is offered a job there as well, but he's too young).

It's all actually rather pleasant, with an enormous amount of beefcake, some bulges, and virtually none of MTV's trademark homophobia.

A gay student, Guillermo (Justin Cone) appears a few times, and eventually RJ discovers that his nemesis Max is also gay, but strictly closeted.  RJ attempts to use the "secret" to his advantage; but he's playing on the brutish Max's internalized homophobia, not on a belief that being gay is shameful.

Paul Iacono, who is gay in real life, also starred in the gay-free remake of Fame (2009).

Jayson Blair has played several gay characters, and in The New Normal (2012-2013), he played the estranged husband of the woman who becomes the surrogate for a gay couple.

Get Season 2 for the male stripper and gay kiss episodes.