Dec 31, 2021

Kitz: Beefcake, Gay Characters, Glitz, Revenge, and the Austrian Alps. Happy New Year.

sounds like yet another teen drama with a Netflix-patented single-syllable title and a lot of lies, secrets, and silence.  Nothing wrong with that.  It's set in Germany, so there might be some nice scenery.  And naked guys -- some beefcake would be a blessing after several nights of incessant girl-boobs and butts on The Witcher.  

Scene 1: Narrating, Lisa tells us that. Kitzbuhel is the "Aspen of the Alps."  Funny, I always thought that Aspen was the St. Moritz of Colorado.   It's actually in Austria, about 120 km south of Munich.  Every winter the glitterati show up to ski, spend money, and look down on the locals.  Until Lisi decides to get revenge.

Cut to her brother, driving erratically on a snowy mountain road at night, talking on his cell phone about how his rich girlfriend dumped him: "She was just toying on me."  He accidentally skids off the road and over a cliff.  Lisi blames the girlfriend for his death.  Girlfriend, he was driving like an idiot.  Definitely not her fault. You're allowed to break up with people. 

Scene 2: New Year's Eve. Lisi waiting tables and breaking up arguments.  She watches a video of a social influencer selling skin products on the way to the "biggest party of the year" in Kitz.  Her coworker suggests that they go to London after the epic party.  A little lesbian vibe.  Is Lisi gay?).

Scene 3:  Hot guy Hans (Ben Felipe, top photo) in underwear quickly getting dressed.  His hookup, also in underwear -- big basket! -- wants to know why he's leaving so soon.  When they'll get around to exchanging names -- after all, they've hooked up three times!  And what he does for a living -- farmer?  Hans seems to be closeted. 

Scene 4:
Lisi putting flowers on the spot where her brother died.   Flashback to them playing foosball at a party.  They announce that she's received a scholarship to study in London.  Brother Jo (Felix Mayr, left) gets a text and leaves.  

Back to the memorial spot.  Closeted Hans arrives.  They're both sad because this is the first anniversary of Brother Jo's death.  Hans is having second thoughts about their plan, but Lisi insists that they have to go through with it.

Scene 5:  Liisi arrives at the elegant chateau where she will be catering the "epic party" -- and where their plan will unfold.  Whew -- there's a naked black guy frolicking in the snow! Nice butt.

He's Dominick (Bless Amada, left), an internet celebrity and the boyfriend of the Social Influencer.  He must post videos of him doing goofy things with his shirt off.

Scene 6:  In the kitchen, the head caterer is instructing the staff.  Lisi gets the job of taking champaign to the Social Influencer's room.  She looks around, at all the photos of Pure Evil unfairly continuing to be alive after causing her brother's death!  Dude, it was a breakup.  People break up with people all the time. 

While standing on the balcony, she sees someone below, scurrying behind a bush. This better be important later.

The Influencer's friend arrives and arrogantly orders Lisi out.  Lisi fumes: "What a bitch!"  Getting annoyed because you are snooping around in her room?.

Scene 7:  Hans' Trick on his way to the party.  He asks someone named Wirsing to be his Plus One.  

The multitudinous guests arrive, to sip champaign, talk about money, and ignore the servers. The cads!  Dominick starts a conversation with Lisi, but Hans' Trick -- Kosh -- interrupts them.  He says that Wirsing is bringing some drugs for them. Dominick gets upset -- "You can't invite HIM!  What if the Influencer sees him?" The drama -- it burns!

The Influencer makes a grand entrance, and gives a speech about how great it is to be back.  "Choose your weapons, and escape from reality."  I thought that this was the reality of the rich and famous?

Hans' Trick  -- Kosh tries to greet her as a close friend, but she blows him off: " course I remember you.  We knew each other way, way back in the old days"  Dominick consoles him.

There's no Kosh in the cast list, so he could be Ferdinand (Steffen Wink) or Basto (Alexander Gaida).

Sorry, none of these people have nude photos online, just fully clothed ,jfifs that I have to convert to .jpgs, and Chrome doesn't allow you to take screenshots from Netflix.  But believe me, the beefcake is stunning.

Flashback to the night of Brother Jo's death.  Lisi and Hans beg him to not drive to see her.  The roads are icy, it's snowing, he's been him an uber, for heaven sake.  

Scene 8: Back to the party.  Fireworks, dancing, Lisi fuming with rage. Cut to Kosh in the bedroom, getting high with the forbidden Wirsing (Laurenz Winkelhofer).  Dominick bursts in and orders him out.

After he leaves, Dominick apologizes to Kosh for not keeping in contact during the last year: "Things have been chaotic."  

Scene 9: Lisi hiding in the bedroom when the Influencer's friend Pippa comes in to insult a guy on the phone while he masturbates.  Pippa discovers her and fires her.  On her way out, Lisi locks the door.  Uh-oh, is she planning to blow up the place?

Back at the party, Lisi grabs a tray of drinks and "accidentally" spills them on the Influencer, so she'll have to go up to her room and change.   Lisi follows to "apologize."

Suddenly a masked man pulls them both into the room and brandishes a gun.  This must be part of the plan. Lisi takes charge, comforts the Influencer, and tells the masked man that she's already called the cops.  He rushes away.  

Scene 10: The cops taking statements.  They know Lisi.  Flashback to the same cops telling her about Brother Jo's accident.

The Influencer thanks Lisi for saving her life, and asks her to join her clique.  

The party is still going on, except it's more like an orgy now.  The cops aren't interviewing everyone to see if they know anything?  Or if one of them is the gunman?  The Influencer asks Lisi to brunch tomorrow.  She smiles...her plan is coming to fruition.  Destroy them all from within?

Scene 11: On her way out, Lisi runs into Dominick sitting by himself by the pool. He protests that, just because he's rich, doesn't mean he's a jerk.  Some rich people are nice.  Oh no, how can she destroy him now?

Hans picks Lisi up.  She congratulates herself on how well the plan worked.  Sure, Hans is the one who took all the risks.

Back home, she goes down to the basement where Jo was making a set of skiis, and narrates some stuff about grief. It's your fault for letting him drive drunk.  Leave the poor Influence alone.

Beefcake:  Lots.

Scenery: Just mountains.  We never get to see the town itself.

Gay Characters: Hans and Kosh.  Maybe Dominick, although I think he's destined to fall in love with Lisi.

Plot Twists:  Several are set up.  Hans and Kosh.  The blow out between Kosh and the Influencer.  Dominick being dissatisfied as the Influencer's arm candy.   And of course Lisi's revenge plan.

My Grade: A-

Dec 30, 2021

"Bless the Harts": A Romance Between a Hunky Redneck and His Truck


Bless the Harts, lasted for two seasons on Fox, features a Southern take on the animated sitcom family: single Mom Jenny, who works as a waitress at the Last Supper (get it?); her hip mother Betty; her sullen teenage daughter Violet; and her hunky boyfriend Wayne.  Since it was designed to appeal to Southern audiences, I don't expect any gay representation, but look at that bicep!  Surely the uber-hunky Wayne flexes his redneck muscles regularly.  I watched a Season 2 episode about a heat wave, hoping that the heat would get the shirts off.

Scene 1: A newscaster reports on record heat and humidity scorching North Carolina.  Pan out to the Last Supper, crowded with people searching for free air conditioning.  Waitress Jenny tells them that they have to order something.  She makes plans with another waitress to go to Slusheritos tonight for drinks.  Hey, I thought she was fundamentalist -- no drinking, no dancing, no sex.

Scene 2:  At home, the family stands in front of the refrigerator with a fan in it.  Wayne plans to meet Travis at the movies, and asks if Grandma and Violet want to come.  

Scene 3:  The AC in his pickup truck isn't working, but Wayne cautions that it isn't her fault; "I know you're trying your best to run the AC, darlin'."  I hate it when men treat genderless objects like women.  It's the epitome of heteronormativity.  

Scene 4:
At the movies. Wayne sitting next to his buddy Travis (gay subtext?).  The movie is about hauling a bomb into the desert before it explodes. Travis grabs Wayne: "Hey, they're using your truck!"  Everyone is ecstatic.

Scene 5: At the Last Supper, even Jesus Christ is complaining about the heat (he goes to a diner named after the night before his death?).  Jenny complains that fellow waitress Brenda borrowed her sweater and ruined it   Jesus reminds her of the thoughtless and irresponsible things she has done over the years.  

Scene 6: The movie is over.  They go out to the parking lot to find everyone fawning over Wayne's famous truck.  A swish Rich Kid wants to buy it; he may be gay, or just rich/affected.  Violet insults him for using the word "anthropomorphic" and having a rich Dad.  At first the family refuse to sell, but Rich Kid offers an obscene amount of money, so ok.  

Scene 7: The Last Supper.  The B Plot about Jenny and the thoughtless Brenda: "Apologize for ruining my sweater!"  She refuses.  They break up.

Scene 8:  The Last Supper.  Jenny and Brenda sniping at each other.  

Scene 9: Travis and Wayne buying a new car.  They buy a Dakota Thunder, a truck that is "strong enough to haul the Freedom Tower up Mount Denali."  I don't know what the Freedom Tower is, but no doubt the intended audience does.  But Wayne is worried about getting a new truck-girlfriend: "out of his league."

They take the truck to a lot where guys are spinning trucks in the dirt (a common Southern pursuit?).  But Wayne doesn't want to get his new truck dirty.  

Scene 10: At Slusheritos, a Hawaiian beach-themed bar. Jenny and her friend discuss the breakup with Brenda.  Jenny talks trash: Brenda is always late, she steals food, and she slacks off work to nap in the boss's car.  Looks like two guys flirting, or maybe it's a guy and a masculine girl.  Otherwise it's all heterosexual couples at the bar. 

The next day, her friend, who is apparently the boss, fires Brenda!  

Scene 11:  Night.  Wayne and Jenny in bed (hey, I thought she was fundamentalist.  No sex before marriage!).  Wayne dreams that he's on a date with the truck, who nags him to order a salad instead of a steak, "and don't forget dinner at the Country Club tomorrow night."  He looks over, and sees the rich kid on a date with his ex-truck-girlfriend.  He tries to return to her, but Rich Kid turns the floor into lava.

Scene 12:  Wayne asks Violet to help him get his ex-truck-girlfriend back.  She reasons that Rich Kid is a poseur; he'll lose interest in the truck when the new hot item comes out.  

Scene 13: Brenda being miserable without Jenny.

Scene 14: Violet visiting Rich Kid in the garage where he stores his famous cars. She offers a meet-and-greet with the star of the next truck-hauling movie, which happens to be Wayne's new truck!  Or at least Wayne and company claim that it is.  Rich Kid is happy to trade, plus $651 for a new air conditioner.

Scene 15:  Wayne is happy to be back with his old truck-girlfriend, who likes to do fun things like mud-swirling.

Scene 16: Brenda and Jenny reconcile.  You knew that was coming, right?

Scene 17: Rich Kid asks Violet out.  Not gay.  The end.

No.  Wayne doesn't take his shirt off, and that's the whole reason I watched this show!  But we see Brenda's shirt off twice.

Here he is from another episode.  Not really impressive.  I was expecting a little more definition.

Heterosexism:  Wayne and Jenny don't appear together except in one scene, when they're asleep in bed.  His main erotic interest seems to be lady trucks.

Gay Characters: No.  Wayne-Travis have a gay-subtext relationship, but it's overwhelmed by Wayne's truck fetish.  In another episode, Violet and David's one-shot gym teacher is revealed to be gay.  

My Grade: D.

Seven Brothers: Homoerotic Rowdiness in a Finnish Sauna

I'm not a fan of the Kalevala, the Greatest Work of Finnish Literature: it's completely heterosexist, all about gods searching for wives (except maybe for a gay subtext in the teenage Kullervo).

But the Second Greatest Work is about seven guys alone in the woods. What's not to like?

Seven Brothers (Seitsemän veljestä, 1870), by Aleksis Kivi, is about guys who are perfectly happy living alone on their farm near Toukola.  They are rowdy, crude, and given to practical jokes.  They like to hunt and fish and get drunk and hang around nude in the sauna.  But then they discover that they must be civilized: they must learn to read, which will result in being confirmed into the Lutheran Church, which will result in wives!

I heard that often enough while growing up: "Your childhood will end, and your real life will begin, when you find a wife."

Faced with a vision of their fun ending, definitively, at the wedding altar, they rebel.  They light out for the territory and build themselves a house in the wilderness of Impivaara, where they can continue to be rowdy and crude and play practical jokes, and hang out nude in the sauna.

There are perils: they fight a giant bear and wild boars. There are hardships: farming is tough; their house burns down, and they must rebuild.  But in the end, they prosper.

Actually, after ten years in the woods, they return to Toukala, join the church, and get married (except for Simeoni, who stays single).  You can't hold out forever.

But no one remembers the civilizing.  The images that stick with you are the seven guys in the woods, being crude and rowdy, needing no one else.

There have been many film versions, two operas (by Tauno Martinnen and Launas Armis), and a ballet (by Marjo Kuusela).  Some versions, such as the 1989 tv miniseries by Joukku Turka, make Simeoni gay, but really a gay identity isn't necessary.  The whole work revels in the homoeroticism behind male bonding.

Dec 29, 2021

"Anxious People": Androgynous Cop Negotiates a Heartwarming Hostage Crisis


Anxious People,
a Swedish limited-tv series about a hostage crisis, is tagged as "heartfelt," "sentimental," and "feel-good."   How could a hostage crisis possibly be "feel-good"?  Who cares if there are gay characters?  I have to see how this plays out.

Scene 1:
An older person, gender indeterminate, jogging through Södertälje, Sweden (a stand in for an unnamed small town).  Suddenly they turn into a teenage boy named Jack (Hugo Gummeson).  He tries to talk a well-dressed man out of jumping off a bridge, but fails.  Back to the older person -- a  middle-aged Jack -- remembering the tragedy.  

Scene 2: At home.  Jack (Alfred Svensson) asks his Dad (Dan Ekborg) why he doesn't run anymore.  Breakfast.  Plot exposition: They're a father and son police team.  Tomorrow is New Year's Eve.  Dad has invited his daughter Jill to visit, but Jack complains that she won't show up, as usual.

Scene 3: Three people walk into an Open House (an apartment for sale that prospective buyers can tour without an appointment). An older man, watching from a car, complains to his female companion that one of the women is pregnant, therefore irratlional, and will "ruin everything."  Are they planning to rob an open house?

Scene 4:
Jack getting his hair styled.  Very androgynous; maybe he's gay.  The stylist knows a secret: Dad sent Jill money for a train ticket from Stockholm.    Jack, irate, confronts Dad: How could you send her money?  She'll just use it to buy drugs and  blow us off, like she did the last million times!

Scene 5: A robber bursts into a bank and demands money, not realizing that it's a "cashless bank,"  Jack and Dad walk past, arguing, not noticing that there's a robbery going on.  Finally the robber runs out.  The cops and the Hairdresser chase him down the street, and into the building with the open house!  Since he has a gun, the cops don't follow; they wait outside until their weapons arrive (I guess cops have to requisition guns in Sweden).

Scene 6: The robber sneaks into the open house apartment, and accosts the guests.: an older heterosexual couple, a young heterosexual couple, a person in a S&M bunny costume, an elderly woman, and a young woman.  No gay representation is immediately evident.  

Scene 7: Backup arrives.  The cops discuss the situation.  A reporter appears, and interviews the Hairdresser.   The cops, now armed, try to reach the apartment through the back stairs, but they find a bomb on the stairwell, and retreat.  Jack wants to call for a SWAT team from Stockholm, but Dad forbids it: they can handle the situation themselves.  Not very heartwarming so far.

While waiting for the robber to make his demands, they discuss sister Jill again.  "She's not coming.  You have to accept it."

Scene 8: Nighttime.  A reporter tells us that more than an hour has passed.  Wait -- didn't Jack go to the hair stylist right after breakfast?  And the hostage crisis started soon after?  Finally someone comes out onto the balcony and says that the robber has a demand: pizza.  

While Dad commandeers pizzas, Jack tries to gain access to a nearby apartment. Why wasn't everyone in the building evacuated?   The "bomb" turns out to be a box of Christmas lights.

They deliver the pizzas, and the robber makes another demand: fireworks.

They set off the fireworks, and the robber releases the hostages.  Just then, the Stockholm SWAT team arrives, and tear-gasses the apartment, but the robber is gone.

Scene 9: They interview the hostages.  No one remembers what the robber looked like.  They all look at each other uncomfortably, as if they are hiding a secret.  The end.

Beefcake:  None.  The top photo is of Klaus Erikson, Alfred Swensson's costar in the comedy series Leif & Billy

LGBTQ Characters:
I made a mistake; one of the "male" hostages is actually a butch lesbian (played by Petrina Solange); her romance with the pregnant woman is one of the main plot threads.  Jack doesn't display any heterosexual interest, but no same-sex interest, either.

Plot Twists: The hostages all have secrets that come out in future episodes.  Most have some connection to the man Jack saw commit suicide years before, and the mysterious letter he sent.

Heartwarming:  Not really.  This is more of a whodunit.

My Grade: B.

Dec 28, 2021

The Top 10 Dead Hunks of "The Witcher"


Bob liked the first episode of The Witcher, so we've...ugh...continued to watch.  It gets better -- the color palette expands, so we see mountains and forests; there's some comedic relief; there's less bragging about strangling people and puppies.  I still don't like it: jumping back and forth in time between the interlocking stories of three sets of characters, so you're constantly confused ("does this take place years before or just after the previous scene"); naked girls everywhere; not a single gay hint -- even a giant orgy consists entirely of male-female couples; and the annoying habit of introducing cute guys, only to have them garrotted in the next scene.  

Here are the top 10 dead hunks (I could only list the ones named in the episode or on the Witcher wiki; many other nameless hunks bit the dust):

The first plot arc features the Witcher traveling from kingdom to kingdom, where he kills monsters that are "impossible to kill" and has sex wtih ladies.  He eventually encounters the people in the second and third plotlines, at various time periods in their history.  Meanwhile, his comic relief sidekick, the Bard, tries to pick up every lady he sees, and has to constantly flee from the irate husbands and boyfriends of the men he's cuckolded.

Their corpses include:

1. Mikal (Bogdan Iancu, top photo), from the kingdom of Timeria, is killed by a werewolf-type monster.

2. The Witcher Remus
 (Gudmundur Thorvaldsson, the one with his tongue out) offers to do the killing, but fails.

3. Lord Urcheon (
Bart Edwards)a knight cursed with a hedgehog face, dies off-camera immediately after being introduced.

In the second plot, a girl named Yennifer trains to become a mage (a magician who advises kings).  Although she is the most powerful mage in the history of the universe, she is underemployed as a babysitter to kings' neglected wives and boorish sons.  Eventually, after 30 years of this (shown in various scenes that aren't in chronological sequence), she goes rogue, conjures up a lot of orgies, has sex with lots of men, and tries to find her destiny.  And maybe hook up with her first boyfriend, or was that a scene from earlier in her history?  Who knows?

Her corpses include:

4. Prince Eyk (Jordan Renzo) whom she is babysitting and flirting with, gets his throat cut on a dragon-hunting expedition.

5. Atlan Kirk, a fellow mage, is killed during one of the climactic battles.

The third plot features Ciri, the Chosen One, destined to become the most powerful being in the universe, but so far just a princess who goes into hiding when her kingdom is conquered and the entire royal family commits suicide.  Some scenes take place before the kingdom-genocide, some immediately after, and some long after.  She gets a boyfriend at one point, but he dumps her because of all the "death and destruction" that follows her around.  

Her corpses include:

6. Sir Lazlo (Maciej Musial), 
her bodyguard, dies during the first-episode genocide (see previous article).

7. King Eist (Bjorn Haraldsson), her father, likewise.

8. Adon (Kriztian Czakvari) 
invites Ciri to stay with his family in a refugee camp, and is promptly skewered to death.

9. Anton (Rob Malone),
a friend of her childhood, now blaming her for causing the kingdom to fall, gets blasted by a magical scream.

10. Nadbor (Jack Wolfe)
 the son of a farm family that has taken Ciri in, gets blasted by a fireball five minutes after meeting her. 

See also: The Witcher: Everyone Dies.

Dec 26, 2021

"Duncanville": Is the Fox Sitcom More "Family Guy" Homophobic or "Bob's Burgers" Gay-Positive?


The families in Fox animated sitcoms come in two varieties: the Family Guy (FG) type hate each other and rarely interact except to exchange barbs, and the Bob's Burgers (BB) type like each other and often share plot.  Coincidentally, the FG type tend to be blisteringly homophobic, and the BB gay-friendly.  To see which the series Duncanville is, I watched the Season 1 Finale.

Intro: The teenage Duncan (Amy Poehler) walks past the other characters: aging rocker Dad, blond Mom, two sisters (tween with purple hair, Japanese toddler), three friends (nerd, stoner, girl), hip teacher, and The Girl of His Dreams.  Cue the hearts and flowers and goofy expression. Ugh!

Scene 1:
  Breakfast.  The kids all discuss their agendas; hard to tell which will get a plot arc.  It wil lprobably go to the purple-haired sister, Kimberly, who has to sell $800 of cookies so she can win a trip to the Fun Park and spend the day with the Mean Girls.  They're mean but popular, so if Kimberly hangs out with them, she will become popular, too.

Scene 2: Duncan and his friends hanging out at school.   The Girl of His Dreams drops by to tell them that she is the only candidate for class president.  She asks Duncan to run against her, so she'll have someone to beat.  Goofy look.  "Huh?  Did you ask me to do something?  Sorry, I wasn't paying attention.  I was busy imagining us kissing."

Scene 3:  The cookie-selling B Plot.

Scene 4: At school, before the big presidential debate.  Duncan is nervous.  He asks why the Girl  (named Mia) wants to be president so badly.  Isn't being the most beautiful girl in the universe enough?  She says she wants to improve the quality of life for the students.  "Couldn't you just smile at them?"

The debate begins.  Mia is asked her ideas about a prom theme, but she believes that proms are outdated.  Why not a service day instead?  Meanwhile, Duncan promises to provide sheet cake for lunch, abolish gym, and start class at 11:00 am. He's elected by a landslide. Dude, your chances of getting that kiss have just tanked.

Scene 5: The family congratulates Duncan on his victory.  Meanwhile, Kimberly tries to guilt her parents into selling the cookies for her: "the only reason I wanted to become popular was so you would be proud of me, and now I've failed you...."

It works; the parents decide to sell the cookies.

Scene 6:  At school. Duncan orders the installation of a taco bar, replaces the drinking fountains with snack machines, turns the Model U.N. into a ball pit, and cuts down the climbing rope in the gym. Mia points out that becoming class president is an essential step on the road to becoming U.S. president in 30 years, and asks him to resign.  He refuses.

"But I'm the Girl of Your Dreams.  Why don't you get a goofy expression and do whatever I ask?"  Duncan shrugs.  "I have a crush on you, but the school has a crush on me."  Apparently having power is more fun than imagining kissing.

Scene 7: The parents selling the cookies.

Scene 8:
  Mia conducts some research, and discovers that the school charter actually gives Duncan supreme power.  He cancels all classes forever, and won't allow anyone to check books out of the library without winnng a "John Wick style book fight."  

Meanwhile, the parents overhear Mia bragging about how she manipulated them.  They vow to get revenge.

Scene 9:  The friends congratulate Duncan on his success as president.  But the students start making absurd demands, like a pool on the roof, or "Make Caitlin go to the prom with me," or just "give me money."    He asks Mia's advice.  Again, she wants him to resign, but he counters by promising the students the biggest thing ever: a personal appearance by the youtube stars, the Flossing Bears.

Scene 10: The revenge scheme: Pretend to be an FBI agent. Call and tell Kimberly that the cookies are poisoned, so she has to get them back or she'll be arrested and have her cell phone taken away.  So she rushes and takes back the cookies, and returns the money (and the meth head's copper wire).

Scene 11: The big Flossing Bears concert.  Mia interrupts to tell the audience that they have to stop Duncan now, or they'll lose the things that make high school "a nightmarish four years that we'll look back on fondly," like football, marching band, the antiquated prom, and "whatever Key Club is."  Besides, Duncan doesn't have the money to pay the bears, so they attack.

Scene 12: The parents tell Kimberly about their deception.  They are on their way to school to return the cookies, when they run into Duncan and Mia fleeing from the rampaging bears.  Mia figures out a way to save the day.  Duncan resigns as president.  Everything is back to normal.  The end.

Beefcake: No.

Heterosexism: Obviously.  But I liked how Duncan was able to relate to Mia on more than a "Your smile fills my universe" level.  They could actually argue and compete.

Gay Characters: None.

FG or BB?  BB-style, with a bit of an edge.

My Grade: C.

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