Jun 21, 2018

People of Earth: Gay Subtexts, Gay Characters, and Grays

I love alien abduction stories.  I read all of the greats: Intruders, Communion, Secret Life, The Interrupted Journey.  The problem is, they're from the 1970s and 1980s, with a few from the 1990s.  Since about 2000, there haven't been any.  So a sitcom about alien abductions seems rather anachronistic.

Still, it's fun in a nostalgic way.  Reporter Ozzie Graham (Wyatt Cenac) travels to Beacon, New York to do a human interest piece on an alien abduction support group, and begins remembering his own abduction experience. So he moves to town, gets a job on the local newspaper, and joins the group.

Other members include the standard template of who Hollywood thinks gets abducted: the mousy widow; the sexually frustrated housewife; the taciturn farmer; the obsessed alien researcher; the sassy black woman who thinks this just happens to white people.

We discover that the aliens actually exist.  A bickering trio is orbiting above Beacon, in charge of the abductions: the blond Nordic Don (Bjorn Gustafsson); the classic bug-eyed gray Jeff (Ken Hall), and the reptilian Kurt (Drew Nelson).

Ozzie's boss, Jonathan (Michael Cassidy), is also a reptilian, and has been supervising him since he was abducted as a child.  The reptilians are working toward the goal of taking over the Earth, but it's a 200-year project, nowhere near completed.

Beefcake:  Michael Cassidy (left) is very attractive, and Bjorn Gustafsson (top photo) has a Nordic androgynous look.  The other characters are mostly nondescript.


The connection between being an abductee and being gay is made often: a secret that you're afraid to tell your family and friends.  The group even hosts a "coming out" night where you must bring a family member and tell them about your abduction.  The farmer Ennis (Daniel Stewart Sherman) brings his son, who complains "First you tell me you're gay, and now this?"

There are various gay-subtext buddy-bonding relationships:

1. Between Ozzie and obssessed alien researcher Gerry (Luka Jones), who is desperate to become his best friend.

2. Between Ozzie and Jonathan (Michael Cassidy), a reptilian who has been supervising him since his abduction as a child.  Ozzie gets suspicious and asks "Are you in love with me?"  Jonathan denies it. Apparently interspecies relations are taboo in their society.  Gay and straight, not a problem.

3. When Jonathan goes rogue (leaving the reptilians to side with the humans), he moves in with Officer Glimmer (H. Jon Benjamin), a police officer "in the know."  Everyone assumes that it's a gay relationship.

4. After Kurt is killed in an auto accident, Jeff is heartbroken, and vows vengeance.  Other characters suggest that he was in love with Kurt, but he denies it.

Overall, worth the trip.

Update:  I just binge-watched the second season.  It does get considerably darker.

See also: The Interrupted Journey of Betty and Barney Hill.


  1. Some UFO lore does include Indians get abducted more often; in fact, the first "sex with aliens" abduction was an Indian in Brazil.

    Also, now I'm thinking about how Steven Universe gives us a UFO nut as a foreshadowing device.

    1. I didn't know that Antonio Vilas Boas was Indian, but it makes sense. He was from Minas Gerais province in Brazil, where a large percentage of the population is of mixed race ("pardo").


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