Oct 17, 2021

"Just Beyond": And You Thought Your Parents Were Weird

 The Disney Channel has dropped Just Beyond, an anthology of scary stories for kids, based on the work of R. L. Stine.  In search of gay representation or subtexts, I watched the episode "Parents are from Mars, Kids are from Venus," which involves two teen "bffs."

Scene 1: A generic small town.  The two
teen boys, Jack (Gabriel Bateman, no relation to former teen idol Jason Bateman) and Ronald (Arjun Athalye), complain that their parents are getting weirder and weirder, obsessed with solar panels and pillows.  They stop in Chris's Curiosity Shop, where Crazy Chris (Henry Thomas)  spouts conspiracy theories and tells them to "trust no one."

Scene 2: 
 Barbecue at Jack's extremely elegant house.  His Dad (Tim Heidecker) is obsessed with the pecan maple briquettes he's using to barbecue steaks.  His Mom makes lame attempts at teen slang.  Ronald's Dad (Parvesh Cheena, left) and Mom arrive, and talk about pillows.

In an interview, Tim Heidecker says "I'm not gay, but I love musicals, so I'm basically gay.  But I like guy stuff, too."  An annoying presumption that "gay" means "feminine."

Parvesh Cheena has LGBTQ and Transgender Pride Flags on his Twitter Feed. 

Scene 3:
Jack's extremely weird black-walled room, which looks more a museum display than a boy's bedroom.  Dad drops in to talk about "the changes that are going on in your body."  If he means puberty, he's a little late -- Gabriel Bateman is 17 years old, and has a muscular physique.   He means puberty.  At least he doesn't talk about "discovering girls." 

Dad tries to hug him, but Jack  insists on shaking hands.  Dude, that's harsh.

Scene 4:  Ron reveals that his dad tries the same talk, but it ended with a kiss on the lips.  Kissing your dad -- gross!   It's game night, so Mom and Dad head off to Ron's parents' house.  The boys stay home to play video games.  

Ron left his headset at home, so they go to retrieve it.  They see their parents performing a ritual in front of a glowing orb.  Suddenly the coffee table levitates!   Are they witches?  In a cult?

Scene 5:  While his parents are out, Ron goes into their elegant, black-walled bedroom to look for clues to their bizarre behavior.  He pockets a mysterious glowing stone.  

Scene 6:  Crazy Chris identifies the stone as Zugarian.  Plot exposition: aliens have been abducting town residents since the 1980s, and replacing them with duplicates. Then they wait until their kids mature, and eat them.  Uh-oh, puberty!   To be sure, he tells them to get a DNA sample and put it in a yellow liquid that he provides.

Scene 7:  The boys acquire a sample from a hair brush in Mom's bathroom.  She catches them, and wonders why they were in her bathroom -- together.  But she looks more annoyed than suspicious: "Boys, if you want to make out, go to Jack's room."

Next, they snip off a lock of Ron's Mom's hair while she's exercising.  They deposit the samples in the yellow liquid, which turns red!

Scene 8:  All that was circumstantial evidence.  Ron and Jack wait for the next game night, and spy on their parents.  Now the orb is displaying a sinister face.  And the adults all have tentacles!  The boys scream and run away -- but the adults notice!

Scene 9:  Jack in his room, researching aliens on the internet, when Dad comes in: "We're leaving now...to go...um...to the lake," he says sternly.  

Psych!  The two families are actually on their way to the lake.  Ron and Jack in the back seat, looking nervous. 

Scene 10:  They reach the cabin.  Dad points out that "It's just us.  No one else is around for miles and miles." Gulp!  Mom takes away their cell phones.  Gulp!

Mom: "You're a couple of mature specimens, aren't you?  Old enough to join us for Game Night."   

Scene 11:  The boys at Game Night, petrified with fear. The adults discuss what they should play -- Canasta?  Bridge?  How about Crazy Eights?  

While they're playing -- and gulping -- Jack's Dad goes to the kitchen and returns with a gigantic butcher knife -- which he puts down next to the cheese.  Psych!

Game over.  Ron's Dad picks up an axe and stares menacingly at the boys.  They grab the car keys and try to flee, but Jack has never driven a car before -- he puts it in reverse and crashes through the cabin wall.  

Scene 12: Time for explanations.  "Guys, we're not duplicates.  We really are your parents.  We're all aliens.  When you mature, your tentacles and telekinetic powers come in."  They come in.  The boys are delighted. Those tentacles could be interesting in the bedroom.

Since the cabin is wrecked, they have to head home. Except the van turns into a spaceship to take them to their real home, the planet Zugaria.  

In the last scene, we discover that Crazy Chris is an alien, too. 

Beefcake: None.

Heterosexism: The parents are hetero-horny, but the boys display no heterosexual interest.

Diversity: A family played by South Asian actors, but named the Gusmans.

Plot Holes:  If Chris is an alien, why did he spread misinformation and scare the boys to death?  Who is the mysterious figure in the orb, that they were apparently communicating with?  Why were the aliens on Earth, masquerading as humans?  Why do they get to go home the moment the boys' tentacles come in?

And why did Ron's Dad pick up the axe?  

Gay Subtext:  No. The only physical interaction between the boys is a bit of knee-knocking.  They don't hug, even when scared.  They behave more like brothers than boyfriends.

My Grade: With a plot that makes no sense, no beefcake, and no gay subtexts, what do you think?


  1. Well, there is the incestuous implication. They are brothers, right?

    My conclusion from reading fanfiction is that genre is gay porn for straights.

    1. They're not biological brothers, since they have separate parents and don't live together. But their parents are best friends, so they were raised together. The "possession/replacement" story seems to be a misdirection, so the parents probably came to Earth before they were born, and raised them together.

  2. Oh, an aside, Tim Drake and Jonathan Kent?

    I just chuckle because it's Death in the Family again. "Robin's alive again? And he came out? I always thought so. And now Superman's out? What about Lois?"

  3. The trailer for the series looks good


No comments that use abusive or vulgar language or point out that a character is Not Wearing a Sign. DO NOT use the term "homosexual." Don't worry if a photo does not depict the person mentioned; beefcake is beefcake.

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