Monsters, Inc. (2001) suggested that monsters have an economic motive for crawling out from under your bed: the psychic energy of children's screams is the main source of power for their society. But scream-harvesters Mike and Sully (John Goodman, Billy Crystal) discover that children's laughter is more powerful, so the monsters change their tactics. The two monsters are presented as a classic straight man-buffoon comedy team, like Abbott and Costello, and one of them has a girlfriend, but they still have a strong gay subtext.
20 years later, the Disney Channel is streaming Monsters at Work, an animated comedy set in the same universe: Tylor graduates from Monster University with a degree in scaring, only to find his skill set obsolete. So he takes a job as a mechanic while studying comedy.
Tylor is voiced by Ben Feldman, the Scott Baio lookalike best known for Superstore, who did a PSA in favor of marriage equality in 2012. Could there be more open LGBTQ representation?
I watched Episode 2, "Meet MIFT," in which Tylor goes to work for the Monsters Inc. Facilities Team.
Scene 1: Tylor's first day on the job (last episode) was a disaster, so today Mom insists on driving him to work. He doesn't care: the MIFT job is just a "temporary nightmare" while he is awaiting his move to the Laugh Floor (I knew lots of people like that in West Hollywood).
Dimwitted tapir-monster Fritz (Henry Winkler) arrives and flirts with Mom. Then the orange blob-monster Val (Mindy Kailing), "Tylor's classmate at college and now his bff." She tries to hug him, but he shrugs her off. I could do without the "Your Mom is hot!" stuff, but rejecting a girl is a nice way to start the day.
Scene 2: Tylor arrives at the Maintenance Department in the basement, where the team is waiting for an initiation ceremony: "When a part breaks down, we fix it. If a machine needs maintenance, we maintain it. We're the monsters behind the monsters!" He protests that this job is just temporary. That's what they all thought.
His first ceremonial task: "Wrench that nut!" It sounds dirty, especially when he protests: "I don't want to wrench any nuts I want nothing to do with nuts."
Next he has to pass through the Doorway of No Return to the land of Infinite Commitment. "But...this is just temporary?"
Scene 3: Mike from the original movie returns from an 18-hour shift of refilling laugh canisters. His boyfriend Sully, now the CEO, tells him to take a break, but there's no time: somebody has to keep the kids laughing. Plus he has a comedy class to teach at lunch. Sully: "You can't keep going like this."
Scene 4: The MIFT team pretends that a break room table is Tylor's new office.
Troublemaker Duncan (Lucas Neff) gives him an assignment: a cannister that needs refurbishment, or it will explode in 20 seconds. It explodes. Duncan laughs evilly.
Lunch time: Tylor goes off to his comedy class. The others are upset: what does he need comedy for? It's almost as if he doesn't plan to stay here forever.
Scene 5: The comedy class. While Mike goes through a powerpoint presentation, "10 Rules of Comedy," Tylor complains about the MIFT team. Surprise! They followed him.
Scene 6: Mike leaves the rest of the lecture to the stern HR director, Ms. Flint, and runs to a door portal. His girlfriend warns him that it's not safe, but he goes through anyway, and is trapped! His girlfriend? Mike is more obvertly heterosexual than he was 20 years ago. That's not progress!
The MIFT team rushes into action. They restore power to the portal and get Mike back, but now he's trapped on a conveyor belt. The "reverse" lever is rusted shut; no one has the strength to turn it -- except -- Tylor! The newbie saves the day!
Scene 7: While they are celebrating, Ms. Flint arrives to pick up coworker Banana Bread's things. She was so impressed by his "nuanced insight into comic theory" during the comedy class that she is promoting him to the Laugh Floor.
Ouch! But at least now there's a vacant desk, so Tylor gets one of his own. And a wrench with his name on it. The end.
There's also a segment called Mike's Comedy Class, where Mike sings about the dangers of comedy: the kid could "bust a gut," shatter into little pieces, fall out of bed and hit their head, or have their butts fall off.
Mike and Sully: The increased time given to the girlfriend reduce the gay subtext, although there is a glimmer when Sully affectionately feeds Mike a cup of coffee.
Tylor and ?: Tylor doesn't display any heterosexual interest, but I didn't see anyone for him to have a gay subtext with. Maybe Fritz, who is very, very interested in welcoming him to the team? But Tylor finds his attention annoying
LGBTQ Representation: Still nothing open.