Jul 27, 2013

Crash & Bernstein: a Boy, His Puppet, and His Boyfriend

12-year old Wyatt (Cole Jensen) lives in a house full of girls, and longs for some masculine companionship.  Then Crash, the puppet he created at the "Build-a-Bestie" store, comes to life.  Apparently this is a common occurrence, as no one seems surprised when a crass, abrasive talking puppet moves in with Wyatt and starts attending his school.

Boys with puppet, alien, and talking-dog companions are commonplace in comedy; the bits of talking felt can engage in more wild physical stunts and say more outrageous things than humans, and they also perform the "necessary" function of reducing the gay subtext that would inevitably accompany two real boys learning to love each other.

In the case of Crash & Bernstein (2012-) on the Disney Channelit doesn't work.  Wyatt already has a best friend, the pretty, stylish Pesto (Aaron Landon, right), whose gay-coding lies just beneath the winking asides and in-jokes: "this is a basketball game, not a Lady Gaga contest!", he's told when his mannerisms become too fey.  Pesto and Crash dislike each other from the start, and openly compete for Wyatt's affection.

Other school friends and enemies include Curtis Harris as Scottie, Zachary Conneen as the Slapper, and Jess King as Jess.

Of course, they all crush on girls -- the cardinal rule of juvenile media is "boys must promote heterosexism through constant tongue-lolling girl-craziness" -- but that's just a convention, like portraying all families as affluent and all teachers as sadistic.

Furthermore, their landlord, Mr. Poulos (Danny Woodburn of Seinfeld) displays no heterosexual interest, but likes to spend a lot of time with "the guys."

Preteens might swoon over Pesto's androgynous dreaminess.  Otherwise there's not a lot of beefcake. But the cast might grow into it -- look at The Suite Life of Zack and Cody.

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