Oct 5, 2018

American Horror Story: A School for Boys Run By Gay Men

American Horror Story: Apocalypse has gone to a toxic but beefcake-heavy place.

The last episode, "Could it Be...Satan," was the catch phrase of the Church Lady on Saturday Night Live

It is mostly a flashback of Michael Langdon (Cody Fern) growing up, with hair length varying depending on his age.  In the first scene, his Satanist mother asks the teenager to say grace to "Our Dark Lord" before dinner, with "amen" backwards.

Does anyone else hear "Michael Langdon" and hear "Michael Landon," star of Bonanza and Little House on the Prairie?

A few years later, Michael accidentally uses his powers to hurt people, and ends up in jail.  He is discovered by the warlock Ariel  (Jon Jon Briones)in a scene that looks very much like the discovery of Harry Potter's Voldemort, and brought to a warlock school, the Hawthorne School for Boys.

Hawthorne, which is the underground bunker in the present, looks very much like Hogwarts, except that it's boys only, and everyone dresses in 19th century costumes.  We see campy instructor Behold Chablis (Billy Porter) teaching a class in how to levitate beads, and upbrading a student (Kai Caster, left) for forgetting his textbook.

Also, all four of the warlock teachers are gay (or at least played by gay men).  That can't be a coincidence, but I can't figure out the reason.  Except to imply that all warlocks are gay.  You can't have magical powers if you're interesed in women.

The other warlocks complain that Michael's powers come from darkness, in another scene that looks very much like Voldemort at Hogwarts.

But Ariel believes that Michael is the Supreme, the prophesied warlock who will become the supreme leader of the witches and warlocks.

The witches find this idea ridiculous.  Men are physically unable to become powerful witches.  They should stick to parlor tricks.

In other words, stay in the kitchen where you belong.  And bring me a beer.

The warlocks are more hopeful.

See, men have endure oppression at the hands of women for generations.  They are forced to take second-rate jobs and housing, forbidden from achieving positions of authority, decried as inferior, insulted, humiliated, harassed.  But when the Supreme arrives, their oppression will end, and men will take their true place as heads of society.

Um...really? Women in general earn less than men, don't get promoted as often, get harassed and humiliated much more.  They can't walk down the street without getting catcalls and propositions.  20% of women and 3% of men have been sexually assaulted.

This sounds like one of those wacky men's rights groups that feels threatened by the possibility of a woman in a position of authority.

I know it's just a coincidence, but the episode happened to air during the Kavanaugh hearings, where multiple allegations of sexual assault have been summarily dismissed.

It was nice, after the very limited cast of characters in the first few episodes, to see the cast expand, with a lot of beefcake potential:  the students at Hogwarts...um, Hawthorne, some cops, a butcher who gets a knife in the head, and two "albinos."

But it was distinctly uncomfortable to watch all the "men are oppressed" rhetoric.

Oct 4, 2018

Will and Grace Rebooted: Not Awful, and There's Kissing

I don't have network tv anymore, so I only learned through the grapevine that the 1990s "gay men are really women" fest Will and Grace was getting a five-episode reboot.

 I just found out  that it returned for a whole season, a full fledged Season 9  (2017-2018), with Season 10 to start in October.  Curious, I dipped into a few episodes.

It's not awful.

Eleven years have passed, and the characters are pushing through middle age (Jack is 49 years old, Grace 51, Will  is 52, and Karen 59).

They have been rebooted: the relationships they had at the end of the last series have been dissolved, and there are no children to grow up and get married to each other.  Will and Grace are living together again.

Jack and Karen are still shrill and theatrical.

But Will and Grace are not quite as self-possessed.  Remember: "We don't believe in anything?"  Now they believe in things.  I guess you could get by with complacency in the Clinton 1990s, but in the alt-right era, it's time to march.

And the Fab Four no longer seem to hate each other.   The undertow of hostility is absent.  There are few barbs and put-downs, except for the ubiquitous ones about Will being too feminine and Grace being too masculine.

 The plotlnes are different. They face ethical dilemmas.

They face their mortality.  Grace has a cancer scare.  Karen's beloved housemaid Rosario dies.  Jack has a grandson.

They are actually affected by current events, although sometimes with a weird twist.  Instead of a bakery refusing to bake a cake for gay people, it's refusing to bake a cake for the President).

And being gay is different. In the earlier series, gay men were actually transgender bisexuals.  They thought of themselves as women, referred to themselves as women, and displayed traditionally feminine traits, with skin care products and romantic comedies.  They dated men (without kissing them), but they preferred sex with women and sought out female life partners.

Now gay men are still "girls," but they rarely express any heterosexual desire.

In the earlier series, gay men (or rather, transgender bisexuals) faced no homophobia.  Even the ubiquitous "You're really a woman!" wasn't actually homophobic, since they agreed with the evaluation.  There was no discrimination, no prejudice, no homophobic rage.  There was no coming out: everybody always knew, everyone was always out (except no kissing). Now there is homophobic bias.  There are guys on the downlow.  You have to come out to friends and family.

There are some hunky guest stars and recurring characters, like Kyle Bornhammer (above) as a secret service agent.

Ryan Pinkston (left), one of my long-time favorite actors, as a closeted cop who dates Jack.

Ben Platt as a 23-year old who dates "daddy" Will (I know the feeling).

Another of my long-time favorites, Michael Angarano, as Jack's son.

I'm actually not hating it.

At least there's kissing.

See also: Ryan PinkstonWill and Grace

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