Apr 6, 2020

"Tales from the Loop": Black Gay Guy in the 1950s Does Stupid Things for Love

When Amazon Prime started advertising Tales from the Loop,  I expected a gritty urban drama about the gangs and drugs in Chicago's downtown Loop.

Nope.  It's science fiction, of the very, very light Ray Bradbury type, really more magic, set in the nostalgic Happy Days 1950s (which Ray Bradbury also idolized, come to think of it):  neighbors waving from front porches, housewives baking pies. salarymen with thin ties and briefcases, racism, sexism, conformity.

The stories are stand-alone but interconnected by character, involving a scientific facility where they are working on the Loop. No one actually explains what the Loop -- we're not supposed to know, it's magic -- but it can alter reality to make your dreams come true.  But be careful what you wish for!

I watched the episode with the gay guy, advertised as "A lonely guy goes to an alternate world in search of love."

Scene 1: Cute security guard Gaddis (Atoh Essandoah) in a booth says "Hey!" to employees as they leave. He opens a book and looks wisthfully at a photo of a guy playing the piano, probably a lost love.  Cute guy rides past on a bicycle.

I know what's going to happen: he's going to get his lost love back, but things will turn out wrong!

Scene 2: Gaddis is in a field, stealing a part from a gigantic scary tractor.  The ground at his feet starts to dissolve.

Scene 3: At a bar (I can't tell if it's gay or not).  Gaddis plays pool by himself.  Bicycle Guy stares with hostility, maybe because it's the 1950s, and Gaddis is black.

No, it was just Attitude, like we used throw in the bars.  Bicyle Guy tries to pick up Gaddis but insults his taste in music, gets glared at, and scrams.

Bicycle Guy is played by Brian Maillard, he one on the left in the photo below, but with a beard and glasses.

Scene 4:  Gaddis goes home to his run-down cabin..  Apparently security guards don't get paid well.  He takes off his clothes (nice bulge), reads a book about bird watching, and masturbates to the  photo of Piano Guy.

Scene 5: The next day, Gaddis talks to the lady who owns the field.  It's not her tractor, she says; it just appeared by magic.  He shows her the photo he found in it. She doesn't know him.

Wait -- Piano Guy isn't a lost love, just miscellaneous guy in a photograph?  I like photographs as much as anybody, but mooning over it?  Wacko!

Scene 6:  That night, Gaddis is having dinner with some white people, who criticize his weird interest in birds.  He says that birdwatching is a doorway into a different, perfect world.

Holy foreshadowing, Batman!

So why is Gaddis lonely?  He has friends;he gets hit on in bars.  What more does he want?  Rock Hudson to knock on his door?

Scene 7: Morning. Gaddis is sitting in his booth. Bicycle Guy walks by, smiles and waves.  Gaddis grimaces at him.  Take a hint, buddy -- he's not interested.

Scene 8:  Gaddis repairs the tractor,  turns it on, and the world blinks  out and back in again. Must be the parallel world!

He goes home, but his cabin is run-down and decrepit (how could he tell?, and all his stuff is gone. So he goes up to the main house (So he's living in, like, old slave quarters?)

He sees Piano Guy (Jon Kortajarena, top photo) playing the piano inside.

Gaddis knocks on the door.  Another Gaddis answers!  Gaddis 1 realizes what has happened and runs away, bu Gaddis 2 follows and tackles him.

Scene 9: They have coffee and do some plot exposition. Gaddis 2 (Kevin Harris) and Piano Man are boyfriends, and own the farm (Gaddis 1 is surprised -- there must be no racism or homophobia in this world!)

 They know about the Loop and the possibility of parallel worlds.  Unfortunately, the project was closed down in this world, so there's no way Gaddis 1 can get home.  They invite him to stay on, live in the cabin, and work as a farmhand.

What -- not a guest room in that big house?  That seems rather elitist .

I couldn't find any photos of Kevin Harris -- this is his only screen role, and there is too much competition on internet searches with the billion other Kevin Harrises.  But here's another one who's black and an actor.  And below, someone named Calvin Harris.

Scene 10 In the morning, the Gaddises fool around with the truck.  Gaddis 2 says  "I can't find the photo of my boyfriend that I keep here..  Have you seen it?"

"Nope, nope, nope, never saw it," Gaddis 1 says, planning to keep it to masturbate to.  Wait -- why does he need a photograph, when the real Piano Man is right there? I'm sure he wouldn't object to a three-way with his boyfriend's identical twin.

Scene 11.  I guess not. That night, Gaddis 1 listens to them while they're having sex (so loudly that he can hear it ontside the house).

Scene 12:  The Gaddises work together on the farm and listen to jazz music. Gaddis 1 flirts with Piano Man.

Scene 13: Gaddis 2 and Piano Man are having friends over, and they want Gaddis 1 to hide ("how would we explain it?).  Um...if everyone knows about parallel worlds, tell the truth.  Or else he's a friend who everyone thinks looks like Gaddis 2?  "I don't see the resemblance, but...).

Scenes 14-34: Gaddis 1 and Piano Man flirt.  Gaddis 1 spies on them, or on Piano Man alone, then goes back to his cabin and feels lonely and writes in his notebook.  On and on like that.

Scene 35: Gaddis 1 gives Piano Man his notebook, probably full of gushy love poetry, and tells him about his crush.   Then he runs away before Piano Man can respond.

This is all very junior high.  Remember when we used to rush up to a cute guy, say "I like you!," and run away?

Scene 36: Gaddis 2 drops by to discuss the crush.  He doesn't really mind -- Piano Man hooks up with a dozen men a week, so....

What would a normal person do next?
a. Say "Great! How about a three-way?"
b. Run away, crying.

Scene 37:  Gaddis1 runs away, crying.  I guess he wants Piano Man for himself or not at all.

He wanders around, goes into a diner for a glass of water (order a sandwich, cheapskate!).  And -- have you guessed it -- this world's Bicycle Guy is there!  And -- coincidence of coincidences -- he turns out to be a bird watching enthusiast, too!  Fade out.

Thank God.

We could have saved a lot of time and trouble if Gaddis 1 just had a polite conversation with Kent at the bar.  Or told Piano Man and Gaddis 2 that he wanted a three way.  Or anything a normal person would do.

Beefcake:  Piano Guy takes his shirt off.  Gaddis 1 in his underwear displays a bulge.

Other Sights:  No.

Gay characters:  They're all gay.

My verdict: I applaud the inclusion of black gay characters, but why is their behavior so utterly unrealistic?  It is infuriating to watch people do ludicrous things when the whole problem could be resolved at any time with one sentence.

See also: Something Wicked This Way Comes


  1. One review says it's the 1960s, and another, the 1980s, but the costumes and racial dynamics are all 1950s.

  2. Early 1960s is basically 1950a.

  3. Calvin Harris is best known as pop musician and once boyfriend of Taylor Swift. Did know he was getting into acting....


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