Jan 7, 2022

A Show about Straight People Called "Breeders."? What's Next, a Show About Black People Called ____

 Breeders!  What a tone-deaf title for a sitcom!  Surely someone somewhere in production knew that "breeder" is a derogatory term for heterosexuals, not as bad as the f__ word for gay people, but still bad:

"A breeder walked up to a drag queen and said '"If being gay is so great, why are there so few of you, and so many of us?."  The drag queen gave him Attitude and said 'Honey, have you checked all the closets?"

"A breeder came home to find his house on fire.  He collapsed onto the ground, sobbing.  A fireman came up and said, 'Don't worry, your wife and kids got out safely.   "Yes, but I'm missing the big game!"

"What's more boring than two breeders having sex?  Um....[Pretend you're trying to think of something. Take a long time.)"

It's not a relic of the 1980s-90s gay world, or confined to America..  The popular British website Breederf*kers frames BDSM scenes as gay guys "getting revenge" on breeders who are homophobes, racists, bullies, or just jerks.

On Grindr, profiles commonly state "No breeders," meaning nobody "on the downlow," enjoying all of the privileges of heterosexual identity while having gay sex in secret.

So maybe the title is intentional?  According to the premise of Breeders, "Paul is a caring father who discovers that he's not quite the man he thought he was."  "Not quite the man" is usually homophobic code for "less than a man," that is,  "gay."  He's also got a "partner" named Ally, a couple of kids (aged from 4/6 and 11/13 between seasons), two aging parents,  a ne-er-do-well father-in-law, and a friend.

Top photo: Two guys who pop up when you do a Google Image search on Patrick Baladi (the friend). 

Left: Alex Eastwood, who plays the older version of Luke (the son).  He has anxiety issues.

So how would coming out in this tight-knit extended family of "breeders" be handled?  Especially if the producer is too homophobic to have any gay friends and become aware of the term's meaning?

The episode guide on IMDB gives no hint that Paul is coming out:

"The kids won't sleep at night."

"Paul and Ally are thrilled that the family gerbil has finally died."

"After his father-in-law's death, the family stays with Darren at his country house."  It sounds like Darren is the father-in-law's widowed partner, but he's actually the friend. 

"Ava struggles to keep a profound secret from Paul." Sounds like Ava, Paul's daughter, is coming out, but as she's only four years old, that is unlikely (you can know that you're gay at age four in real life, but on tv you have to be a teenager or an adult).  

"Ally struggles to avoid revealing her true feelings to Luke."  "True feelings" usually means "romantic feelings," but Luke is Ally's son.  

The fan wiki doesn't give any indication, either.  Apparently Paul is straight  "Not quite the man he thought he was" means "a different type of man," one who is prone to anger.

Paul is played by Martin Freeman, who is also executive producer.  Not Morgan Freeman: A British actor known for playing Bilbo Baggins in the Hobbit and LOTR movies and Dr. Watson on Sherlock Holmes (in the series criticized for teasing a romance between Sherlock and Watson, only to heterosexualize them at the last minute).  

White-haired at age 50, he is woefully miscast as the father of 2 and 4-year old children.  He should be playing one of the grandparents. But he is politically liberal and probably a gay ally.

Didn't he know?  Surely someone in the cast and crew was gay, and could tell him.  Or maybe not.  

I can hear the gay crew members gossipping: "Did you hear what our show is called?"  "Who's going to tell him?"  "If a breeder wants to call himself a breeder, who am I to complain?"

"Rebelde": Lies and Secrets at an Elite Private School, Yet Again

 I'm still sick, so the reviews are coming fast and furious.  Next up: Rebelde (Rebel), which started life in 2004  as a Mexican teen telenovela about students in an exclusive music school (so, basically the premise of every teen drama).   None of the students were gay, but one of the actors came out later.  Then RBD, the pop group started by the kids in the tv series, started performing internationally, selling 250 million albums before folding in 2009.   

Now a reboot is streaming on Netflix.  Will it be able to make a dent in the overcrowded "teens at private school" market?  More importantly, did they update the cast by making someone gay?

Scene 1:  A girl and her brother or boyfriend are dragged out of their house in the middle of the night.  It's a hazing!  

Scene 2: A few hours before.  A teenage Pop Star is working in her recording studio.  Her mother comes in to ask her to choose a photo for the magazine profile.  But she's not doing pop anymore; she's going to a real music school, to study real music. So -- classical cello?   Mom disapproves: "What about the 56 concerts you have coming up, and the 16 new albums you're scheduled to record?  After all I've sacrificed to get us to the top, you're going to throw it all away on a prep school?"

Scene 3: Social Influencer Luka (Franco Mazini, top photo), who is wearing a fur coat in a tropical climate, talking to his fans from "the DF."  His rich, neglectful Dad points out that no one calls it that; it's Mexico City.  Dad wants him to enroll in a business school, but no, it will be music.  They argue: "You were never there for me, yada yada yada."

Scene 4:
Working -class Esteban (Sergio Mayer Mori, left) dropped off at the prestigious private school.  Dad's pickup truck looks out of place amid the rich people's cars.  He asks "Are you sure about this?  You could still go tothe conservatory.  You're a young Mozart, not Justin Beeper." Wait -- I thought this prep school taught serious music for young Mozarts.  But at least there's one parent who's not manipulative or abusive.

Meanwhile, Blond Kid (Jeronimo Cantilo)  drags his stuff in, arguming with his mother.  She calls him Guillermo, but he insists that his name is Dixon.  They hug.  

Rounding out the cast are a Wild Child, a Mean Girl (complete with a swishy gay-stereotype crony), and a Ditzy Girl who is from California and doesn't speak Spanish well. 

Scene 5: The principal says "Welcome" in Portuguese for some reason, and then switches to English.  "We like everything in English here.  It sounds more sophisticated."   You arrive her thinking you're super-talented, and go home in tears within a month.  "You got big dreams?  You want fame?  Well, fame costs.  And here's where you start paying.  In sweat! " Sorry, wrong show.

Working-Class Esteban approaches Social Influencer Luka, and is rebuffed.  The one nice guy among these entitled, bitchy, arrogant snobs.  Could he be gay?

Scene 6: The principal continues: Threre's a special Music Excellence Program (MEP), where students will prepare for the Battle of the Bands, the biggest event at the school.  It doesn't sound like they'll be playing Mozart.

Scene 7:
Working Class Esteban stares longingly at the Pop Star as she plays the piano.  They flirt  He figures he's going to get a rich-and-famous girlfriend on his first day at school.  But the minute they get out into the hallway, Pop Star  starts swallowing the tongue of another guy, and having him lick her lips (that's a thing in Mexico): her regular boyfriend Sebe (Alejandro Puente).  So that's why she chose this school. 

 Esteban has no choice but to move on, fuming about the tease. 

The dorm mother assigns rooms, and tells Pop Star not to expect preferential treatment. Boyfriend, either, even though his Dad is the mayor.  Mexico City doesn't have mayors, it has governors.  

Scene 8: Very nice dorm rooms, gigantic, very elegant, high ceilings.  Pop Star will be sharing with Wild Child and Ditzy Girl.

Scene 9: Blond Dixon is sharing with Working Class Esteban; he hids his special cufflinks so Esteban can't steal them.   Social Influencer Luka comes in, complaining: his rich Dad paid beaucoup pesos for him to get a single room.  Dorm Mother: "This isn't a hotel.  You're sharing."

Scene 10: Principal giving another speech.  In the audience, the students have already paired off into friendship dyads. Social Influencer Luka and Blond Dixon nudge each other.   Pop Star gazes back at Working Class Esteban, while her Boyfriend kisses her hair.

Scene 11: While waiting in line to sign up for auditions for the Music Program, Social Influencer Luka yells at Pop Star: "You tried to out me during your speech at my aunt's wedding last year!"  Oh boy, a gay character!  Of course, he's a jerk, but they're all jerks except for Working Class Esteban and Pop Star.  And there's no one in the cast for him to date, except Blond Dixon, and he's probably meant for the Wild Child or Ditzy Girl.

Pop Star has a meet-cute with Working Class Esteban (whom she has already met), who suggests that they rehearse for the auditon; "Music room, 9:15, after curfew?"  You dope, everyone will hear you!

Scene 12:  Biology Class. While the teacher tries to explain that academics are important, too, Mean Girl's swishy gay-stereotype crony criticizes  Blond Dixon for being Columbian: "Watch your phones and wallets."  

Scene 13:  Pop Star goes to the music room after curfew to flirt...um, I mean practice for the audition with Working Class Esteban.  he changed the key on one of her signature songs, and added an arpeggio.  

Boyfriend, in the hallway, overhears the music, and sees them flirting...um, I mean practicing.  I told you this was a bad idea!

Scene 14: The girls discussing how cute Esteban is. They don't notice the security camp over their head.  In dorm rooms?  That's got to be illegal!

Scene 15: The kidnapping/hazing.  Older students in animal masks bring the freshmen to the music room and yell at them for being untalented.  Social Influencer Luka points out that they are not really being kidnapped, so they can leave at any time.  The Animal Masks bully and threaten them into compliance: "We know all your secrets.  We can make terrible things happen to you!"  

The hazing involves dressing in the costumes of the previous RBD group and singing one of their songs.  Although it's impromptu, they've never played together before, and why would they know the words?, they do well.  

At that moment, the music room catches fire!  Not part of the hazing.  Everyone runs out, leaving the main cast trapped and about to die. The end.

Beefcake:  None.  When they are ordered to strip to put on the RBD costumes, the camera pans away.

Gay Characters: Obviously Luka.   But the Mean Girl's swishy gay-stereotype crony turns out to be straight -- and homophobic!  Rather a poor set of acting choices or directorial instructions!

Cliche Characters:  All of them.

My Grade: C.

PS: I went through the series on fast forward to see if Luka does any dating.  Nope.  But two girls start a romance during the last few episodes.

"Rise of the Guardians": "Peter Pan" Saves the World from Voldemort


Continuing my nonstop movie and tv show reviews, I latched onto Rise of the Guardians on Netflix. The icon shows a teenage boy being assaulted by a grinning bird-woman, so maybe he isn't interested in girls.

Scene 1: 300 years ago.  A teenage boy dead under the ice in a frozen lake.  He is resurrected by the Moon, who names him Jack Frost, but tells him nothing else.  He doesn't remember who he was before.  He doesn't know his purpose.

Flying to the nearest village, Jack discovers that he's like a ghost.  No one can see or hear him; he can't hold anything.  He can only interact with the world by freezing things, or conjuring ice and snow.  And that's his life for 300 years. 

Scene 2:
  Present day.  A bad-ass biker Santa Claus named North checks his gigantic globe, with appears to be inscribed with Tolkien's Elvish, and discovers that the Dark Lord, here named Pitch Black, has returned. So he summons the other Guardians of Chidhood: the Tooth Fairy, a hummingbird person who runs a gigantic tooth-collection factory; the Sandman, a square orange person who doesn't speak; and the Easter Bunny, a gangster rabbit.

The threat is so dire that the Moon has recruited another Guardian: Jack Frost.  

All of the female beings swoon over his teen-idol dreaminess (Heterosexism #1), but the male beings are irate: "Not him!  He's a trickster!  A rebel!  No sense of responsibility!"  But the Moon didn't give him any responsibilities.  

Scene 3:  Jack freezing things that shouldn't be frozen in Russia, then going home to what is apparently small-town America, where he plays with some kids: he conjures some ice to faciitate their sledding.  Of course, they don't know that he's there, so at the end of their play, they walk right through him and go away.  

Scene 4: The boy Jamie excitedly telling his baby sister and dog about the sledding adventure.  He had a tooth knocked out, so he puts it under his pillow and tries to wait up to catch the tooth fairy in the act.  

Jack, watching through the window, complains to the Moon: "What am I doing wrong?  Why can't people see me?  What's my purpose?" The Moon doesn't answer.  At this point you expect Jack to sing, but thankfully this isn't a musical.

Scene 5:  The Sandmen arrives to give the kids pleasant dreams (he does this with every kid in the world every night?).  Suddenly the Dark Lord appears to be pompous and threatening (He looks surprisingly like Voldemort, but I guess there aren't many ways of depicting Dark Lords).  He turns the dreams into nightmare (literal nightmares, demonic horses, and sends them to tell the other Guardians that he is back.

Meanwhile, the Easter Bunny and two Yeti henchmen kidnap Jack and take him to the North Pole, where the Tooth Fairy and her female helpers fawn over him (Heterosexism #2), and North announces: You are now a Guardian!   But Jack doesn't want to be a Guardian.  Why not?  These are the only beings who can see and hear you.  

Scene 6:  North takes Jack to another room, locks the door, and threatens to beat him up.  "Who are you, Jack Frost?  What is your center?"  For instance, North's center is his sense of wonder.  They are interrupted by a message: trouble at the Tooth Factory!  So the Guardians pile into North's supersonic sleigh and fly off.

I'll stop the scene-by-scene recap there.  Jamie the Human joins the group; there's a climactic final battle between the Dark Lord and the Guardians; Jack learns that his center is "fun"; he learns the secret of his past; there's a blatant copy of the ending of E.T. and a final hug.  

Beefcake:  Jack wears ballet-dancer tights.

Heterosexism: Just the Tooth Fairy and her minions fawning over Jack.

Gay Subtexts:
  Jack doesn't get a girlfriend.  His primary emotional bond is with Jamie, who is several years younger than him, so it's more of a big brother vibe.

Plot Holes:  Lots.  If the Dark Lord causes nightmares, and he was banished, why were there still nightmares?  If the Guardians guard childhood all over the world, why are they mostly icons of Christian Northern Europe?  Why try so hard to establish that North is not Santa Claus, then have him do everything Santa Claus does?  Why did the Moon create Jack frost out of the dead boy, but then not tell him his purpose for 300 years?  And why is it called Rise of the Guardians, when the Guardians have already risen?  It should be called Jack Frost.

My Grade:  Rise starts out as intriguing, almost mystical, but then devolves into a standard Chosen One against Dark Lord plotline, with incongruous humor and unnecessary chases.  C.

Jan 6, 2022

"Wonder Tales from Baltic Wizards": My Memory of a Good Place


When I was an undegraduate at Augustana College, an ongoing struggle was to find a quiet, secluded study carrell in the library stacks -- one facing a window, far away from other carrells, and where I would not be interrupted by someone looking for a book (sometimes I wanted to read embarrassing things like comic books and science fiction novels).  

Eventually I stumbled upon the carrell next to PH 600: Baltic literature (Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian).  Augustana didn't teach those languages, and few students wanted to read Tõde ja Õigus (Truth and Justice) or Dainavos šalies senų žmonių padavimai (Grandmothers' Tales from Dainava), untranslated, for fun.  

I spent many lazy afternoons at that study carroll, safely hidden away from the world.  Sometimes, out of boredom or curiosity, I leafed through some of the books.  One that stands out is Wonder Tales from Baltic Wizards, a huge blue-bound book illustrated by a magestic wizard like Gandalf, raising his arms to cast a spell.  I seemed oddly placed, like a children's fairytale book.  What was it doing in a serious academic library?  Maybe it was bequeathed by a benefactor in his will, or maybe it appeared by magic.

I don't recall actually opening the book, but it became emblematic of the "safe space" that the study carrell provided.  So when I discovoered that the book had been reprinted, I immediately ordered my copy.

The original was published in 1928 by Frances Jenkins Olcott,  a librarian at the Carnegie Library in Philadelphia and the author of many children's books, such as The Jolly Book for Boys and Girls, The Red Indian Fairy Book, and several "Wonder Tales from...." titles.  She also organized the first training program for children's libraries, as well as a "llibrary at home" program that brought books into the homes of poor immigrant children.  Sounds quite progressive, probably gay, but not an expert on Baltic literature.

There are about 40 stories, each only 1-2 pages long, beginning with "Boom! Boom! Boom!  Hear the drum of Nischergurje!", or later "Weird1 Weird!  Ever weird!"  They're mostly familiar fairytales like Cinderella, done up in Baltic garb.  Plus some Wizards sneering at each other and having magical competitions, some stories from the Kalevala.  A lot of boys and girls in love, with men existing only to sneer and compete.  No gay connection here.

Plus, I just discovered that you can get the whole thing free on sacredtexts.com.  

Another cherished childhood memory bites the dust. 

Jan 5, 2022

"American Auto": Workplace Sitcom with the Possibility of Gay Characters


American Autos. 
Hulu dropped two NBC mid-season replacements (they still have those) at the same time, and I'm home sick today, so I'm reviewing both.  I don't hold out much hope for this one, since not many LGBT people are car fans: the goal is to more to a gay neighborhood where cars are unnecessary.  But a press release bragged that they cast out LGBTQ actor Michael Benjamin Washington, so maybe he plays a gay character on the show.

Scene 1: Board meeting at Payne Motors.  Everyone complains about the name of their new electric car, the Ponderosa.  Doeesn't it mean something dirty, like giant vagina?  No, it means powerful in Spanish.

Scene 2: Everyone is irate over hiring a woman to run the company.  Women don't know anything about business, or cars!  Isn't this more of a plotline from 1963?  Besides, Sassy Black Lady says, when a man is in charge,I can get out of anything by flirting with him.  Yep, gay men don't exist.  But you cannot flirt with a woman.  "Well, technically you could.  We're 95% sure about my cousin.  She just bought two ladders."  Closet lesbian joke!  Now I'm sure this is 1963.

Scene 3:  On the way to meet the new employees.  The Boss's assistant advises that she could talk about how excited she is to work here.  She scoffs: "It was just about the money."  "But what do you love about cars?"  "Not into them."

Suddenly Assistant sees hot Blue Collar guy (Tye White), claims she doesn't know him, and rushes over to talk to him. "Hooking up was fun, but we're not allowed to date employees.  Especially from the factory."  Ok, conflict for its own sake.   

Scene 4:  New Boss wants the Sassy Black Lady to go over some technical specs, but she protests "The only technology I know about is my hair dryer and my vibrator."  Who would mention that at work, to the Boss? Her friend, Wesley *Jon Barinholtz), who was apparently passed over for the Boss job, gripes.

Scene 5:
Boss, Assistant, Designer (Michael Benjamin Washington), and I guess company Lawyer (Humphrey Ker)  in the new electric car.  You get it to run by saying, for instance, "Baby, drive us around the block."  Lawyer at this is misogynistic, diminishing women.  Designer says "No, this car is a man."  

Meanwhile Wesley the wannabe CEO discusses a power coups with Blue Collar Guy.  Whoops, the car doesn't stop, and runs him over!

Designer explains:  the car has trouble distinguishing dark tones.  So it won't stop for black people.  "Great, we've designed the world's first racist car."  Shouldn't it stop for any obstacle?  And what if it's a black person wearing light colothing?  Or a white person wearing dark clothing?

Boss wants to know why they didn't test the car in advance.  "We did, but aall the cutouts of people we used were white.  And they have six hour before the car is released for sale.

Scene 6: Technician going crazy.  How is this my fault?   It's systemic racism!  Assistant reveals her hookup with Blue-Collar Guy last week.  Technician says, "Oh, you mean the hot guy?"  So he's being represented as gay.

Scene 7: The board discusses what to do. Maybe a horn to warn black people out of the way/   Hot Blue Collar guy accidentally outs Assistant as his hookup.  

Boss suggests making a new car out of random car parts from the employee parking lot. Um,...wouldn't the employees object?  Blue Collar Guy gets the job of assembling the new car.  

Scene 8: The big reveal.  The car looks like a pink hearse.  It's not as grotesque as I imagined from the conversations, but the spectators still look disgusted.  Assistant saves the day by claiming that it's a modular car, where the customer gets to choose all the parts for themselves.

Scene 9: Everyone getting drunk after their failure. Assisant runs into Blue Collar Guy with his stuff, and tells himt that he shouldn't quit, just because they hooked up.  There are 15,000 employees, so it's not like they'll be seeing each other every day.  Surprise -- he got promoted to the big time, as the company's new Blue Collar Consultant.  So they will be seeing each other every day.  This is presented as a shock ending, but I don't see why she cares.

No.  All scenes are set at work.

Gay Characters: Designer, probably.

Anahronisms: Wesley keeps saying "My great-grandfather would never agree to having a woman in charge."  So?  It was 100 years ago.  He probably didn't hire black people and Jews, either.

Homophobic Jokes: I didn't like the "we're 95% sure about my cousin" joke. If it's 2021, why didn't the cousin come out at age 8?  

Mocumentary: No.  I hate mocumentaries, especially ones like Modern Family, where we're expected to believe that a camera crew followed that family around for ten years.

My Grade: B.  Extra points for not being a mockumentary.

"Grand Crew": A Group of Friends Faces Homophobic Panic in a Gay-Free Silverlake

Grand Crew:
a group of five friends hang out while looking for love.  The shtick is: they're black.  I wonder if they can be divided into Ross, Rachel, Monica, Chandler, and company.  More importantly, I wonder if one of the friends is gay.

Scene 1: The Crew in a bar, four men and a woman (I like those odds!).  Noah  (Echo Kellum) gets smooched by the waitress.  The others disapprove, but he claims that this time he's really in love.  They scoff: you've been in love 300 times this year alone.  Meanwhile, Wyatt (Justin Cunningham) invites them all to his eighth wedding anniversary party with his "queen."  Noah's sister states that she has a Tinder date later, and expects things to get "moist."

So, three of the five Friends have expressed heterosexual desire already. This is looking dicey.

Scene 2: Noah and his girlfriend in bed, congratulating each other on how great the sex was.  When she goes to the bathroom, he texts the Crew that he's going to propose.  They think he's crazy.

Meanwhile, the Vegan (Aaron Jenkins) criticizes his muscular boyfriend or roommate (Carl Tart for changing all the Netflix titles to Japanese, and drinking all of the kombucha.  

Meanwhile, Sister goes on her date.  He's hot and all, but he says "Thanks, Obama" in a disapproving way, as if he's a...gulp...black Republican!

Scene 3:  Later that night, Noah decides to propose to her girlfriend.  She refuses!

The next day, the Crew complains that they can't meet at their favorite bar anymore.  Also, that Noah is going to overreact to the breakup, like he has the previous 300 times this year.

Scene 4: Vegan's apartment, which has a view of the Griffith Observatory. Hot Roommate criticizes Vegan buying the wrong kind of toilet paper; Vegan criticizes him for not having a job.  Romantic partners would not take turns buying toilet paper; I'm going for roommates.

Scene 5:  Noah sees his ex-girlfriend's face everywhere, on the weather lady; on a lady eating a hero on a park bench; at the gym (on a guy!  he realizes with disgust).

Scene 6: Sunset Junction, Silverlake.  Hey, that's an iconic gay neighborhood! The 8th Anniversary party.  Weird -- other than the Crew, all of their friends are white.  Wyatt and his wife pressure Noah into flirting. Vegan and Hot Roommate/Boy friend argue and break up.  Sister asks "What the bleep just happened?'

Scene 7: Noah smooches with the girl he met at the anniversay party.  Suddenly he gets a text from the ex and rushes off.

Scene 8: The Crew tries a new bar. Noah reveals that he had sex last night, and they all cheer.  But it wasn't with the new girl -- it was with his ex!  Uh-oh, the new bar turns out to be gay!  The Crew is overcome with disgust.

Scene 9: Vegan and Hot Roommate/Boyfriend argue, and get into a slap-boxing match.  They reconcile, and hug. They discuss how they ended up living together.  Roommates!

Scene 10:  Sister and Hot Date in his apartment.  There are Republican elephants everywhere, plus conservative books, plus a picture of Hot Date shaking hands with George W. Bush!  "Are you a Republican?  But you seem so normal!"  His opinion on abortion has her "noping" out of there!

Scene 11:  Noah and ex-girlfriend saying goodbye after sex.  They decided to play it chill and hook up with other people.  But at the last minute, he changes his mind.  He can't do hookups.  Due to his dad's emotional barrenness after his mom died, he's into commitment.

Scene 12: The Crew tries yet another bar. The end.

No.  I couldn't even find beefcake photos of the cast online, except for Brandon Gardner, who plays the bartender at the gay bar.

Gay Characters: No.

Gay Teases:  Vegan and Hot Roommate, who don't get outed as just roommates until the last scene.  Having Wyatt and his wife live in Sunset Junction, which is actually 99% gay.

Homophobic Reactions: 2

My Grade: D

Jan 3, 2022

"Crossing Swords": The Gay Wedding Episode


Crossing Swords is an Adult Swim-style raunchy animated comedy parodying Medieval romance.  The schtick is that all of the people are pegs, with no arms or legs.  When they hold something, it appears in space next to them -- which becomes a problem when there are two people, and you can't tell who is holding what.  

The central character, idealistic young squire Patrick (Nicholas Hoult, left), negotiates various scheming, manipulating, and sexually adventurous courtiers, as well as his ne-er-do-well siblings: the pirate queen Cora; clown Blarney; and Robin Hood-type outlaw Ruben (Adam Ray). I reviewed the Season 2 episode "Destination Wedding."

Scene 1
: Patrick escorting  King Merriman (Luke Evans) and his family across the desert to an Egyptian kingdom, where they are trying to form an alliance by marrying their squire Holden to Prince Rami IV.  

Scene 2:  Everyone is partying.  The dimwitted squire Broh yells out a congratulations: "I hope you wreck that dude tonight!  Or that he wrecks you!  I'm unclear on your relationship's sexual dynamics."  Holden doesn't look happy.  Patrick is suspicious.

King Merriman asks Patrick for help on his speech; the Queen gets drunk; the Princess ignores her own arranged fiance.  

Scene 3:
The rehearsal dinner.  King Merriman begins his speech with "Webster's Dictionary defines sodomy as...", but Patrick quickly jumps in and changes the cue cards to "a celebration of true love."

Later, Patrick overhears Prince Rami complainng: "I don't want to marry some swampland duke's son."  The Pharaoh reassures him: "it's just until tomorrow night." Uh-oh.

Patrick seeks out Holden and asks "Um...is everything ok between you and Rami?"  "Of course.  I love his money...um, I mean him.  You're just jealous because I'm marrying a prince."

Scene 4: King Merriman discovers that one of the waiters is a deposed king!  The Pharaoh has been conquering kingdoms and forcing the royalty to work in humiliating jobs, like wedding caterer. 

Meanwhile, Patrick guards King Merriman's wedding present: an ancient Egyptian sarcophagus that his grandfather stole years ago, glammed up with jewels.

Suddenly his outlaw brother Ruben appears.  It seems that he fell in love with Holden when they hooked up last season, so he's going to disrupt the wedding.  But Patrick's job is to make sure the wedding goes smoothly!

Scene 5:  Everyone watching centaur races. Ulp -- Outlaw Ruben is masquerading as a centaur!

A drag show.  Ruben swings down on a robe, but grabs the wrong person.

The bachelor party.  Ruben masquerades as a stripper. Patrick throws him out.  "He looks like,...someone I knew," Holden muses.  He turns to Prince Rami, who is having sex with another guy.  "Maybe I'll just go to bed."

Scene 6: 
 The wedding guests start to arrive,  Patrick is exhausted from trying to keep Ruben away from Holden for the last 24 hours.  

Back stage, Holden is practicing his vows: "Rami, this is the richest relationship I've ever been in...you make me feel secure...financially. I just wish you wouldn't have sex with other dudes all the time."

Suddenly Ruben bursts in and declares "We were meant to be together!"  Holden agrees -- but that won't stop him from marrying Prince Rami's money.  

Scene 7: Guards lock the door.  Half the wedding guests are mummies.  Patrick realizes that the wedding was just a ruse to conquer the kingdom and turn the royal family into servants.  He rushes to warn Holden, who dismisses him: "You will not upstage me on my wedding day."  

Then Ruben bursts in: "Stop the wedding!  I have...feelings!"  As the guards seize him, Holden has a change of heart.  He tells Prince Rami, "I do care for you...r money, but I'm in love with someone else."  

The Prince acknowledges that he was never really in love with Holden: "You think a prince with this ass would marry a squire with your ass?  You're not my type.  I like twunks -- a cross between a twink and a hunk."  

Patrick tries to calm everyone down by bringing out the wedding gift: the stolen sarcophagus of the Pharaoh's great-grandfather.  When he opens it, the mummies all come to life and attack the wedding guests. 

Patrick uses the confusion to help the royal family escape.  Ruben saves Holden.

Scene 8: On the way home.  The King and Queen make fun of the tackiness of the wedding.  Ruben and Holden make out.  Patrick is disgusted.  The end.

(Only eight scenes because I omitted the B Plot about Pirate Queen Coral's gambling debts).

Beefcake:  If you like chests painted onto pegs.  There are also peg-penises.

Gay Characters: Holden appears in only two other episodes, but he's presented as gay in both. Ruben is an ongoing character.

Homophobia:  None. Everyone is completely nonchalant about gay people. Patrick is disgusted by the two guys making out in front of him, but probably because they are being very expressive, and they're all riding on the same camel.

My Grade: B.

Jan 2, 2022

"Move to Heaven" Tackles a Gay Couple


Move to Heaven is a Korean drama about three "trauma cleaners" who clean the houses, apartments, or rooms of the deceased, and deliver a box of mementos to the surviving loved ones: Geun-ru, who is autistic; his MMA fighter/ex con guardian Sang-gu (Lee Je-hoon, left); and best friend Na-mu.  (See my review of the first episode here)

In Episode 5, they are assigned to clean the room of Joon Soo-hyun (Kwon Soo-hyun), a young doctor killed in a hostage incident.  His parents want everything taken away, no mementos of any sort. Geun-ru finds a letter that the doctor planned to send to a loved one, and has to deliver it; but when he asks the parents who it was written to, Dad throws it onto the fire.

Mom: He was our son.  We should have allowed it.

Dad: I would never allow such a thing in our family!

Aha, a mystery to solve!  The autistic Geun-ru becomes fixated on finding "the person he was in love with" to deliver the mementos to.  Sang-gu and Na-mu immediately say "yes, we must find this woman.  Who is she?"

Soo-hyun had tickets to a string quartet concert tomorrow night -- three women and a man.  Plus he put the letter in a gift box.  No doubt he was planning to deliver it at the concert.  The trauma cleaners deduce that the doctor was in love with one of the performers.  So they go to the concert hall, and while Geun-ru is in the bathroom, Sang-gu and Na-mu interrogate each of the three women.  Nope, none of them even knew Soo-hyung.

Geun-ru returns, and looks at a poster advertising the concert: "I know who the lover is."

Sang-gu: "Dude, it's a dead end.  We asked all three of the members of the quartet."

Geun-ru points.

Sang-gu: "Dude, you're pointing at a guy, Ian Park (Kim Doh-yon). We're looking for Soo-hyung's lover, remember?"

Na-mu: "You don't mean...no!  That's impossible!  This is Korea!"

Sang-gu: "Well....I've heard of them.  But Soo-hyung was a doctor!  He couldn't be..."

After their initial shock and disbelief, the trauma cleaners are perfectly nonchalant about gay people.  Even Sang-gu, the macho ex-con MMA fighter.  They approach Ian to give him the mementos, but he denies knowing Soo-hyung.  Then he says "I knew him once, but he's a stranger to me now."

 The others say "Well, that's another dead end," but Geun-ru insists that Soo-hyung wanted Ian to have the mementos. They decide to try again, but Ian has gone missing, right before the concert!

After all the "no, this can't happen in Korea!" build-up, I expected Ian to be a villain, involved in a sinister plot of some sort.  But no: there are flashbacks of the two meeting, going out on dates, cuddling in bed, falling in love, and planning to go to San Francisco together.  Then they broke up when Soo-yun decided to obey his parents and marry a woman; that's why "he's a stranger to me."

Why San Francisco?  Because it is a cliched gay mecca?  And why does Ian have a Western name?  Is gayness a Western phenomenon?

The Trauma Cleaners track down Ian and tell him about the letter.  It was burned, but fortunately Geun-ru has an eidetic memory, and can quote it.   Soo-hyun wanted to get back together and go to San Francisco after all.  

At the concert, Ian tells about losing "someone who was everything to me, someone who I will love forever."  He drops pronouns, but the ghost of Soo-hyun, sitting in the audience, hears him.  

Postscript: Geun-ru still doesn't understand. Why were the parents against Soo-hyun dating Ian?  He was nice.  Sang-gu: "Parents always worry when their kids are different, like your father worried about you."

By the way, there's a second postscript with Sang-gu feeling guilty because he put his opponent into a coma during a fight.  Some shirtless MMA shots.

"Chicago Party Aunt": A Halloween Party at the Best Gay Bar in Chicago


Free spirit paired with stick-in-the mud, "life is a banquet" paired with "that's not a good idea", "it's only 2:00 am" paired with "I have a big test tomorrow," has been traditional comedy since the days of Laverne and Shirley and The Odd Couple, In this case, it's Chicago Party Aunt on Netflix, pairing the free-spirit middle-aged Diane with her stick-in-the-mud 18-year old nephew, Daniel. I watched Episode 4: Daniel tries to get his first kiss at a Halloween party.  No hope that either of the two regulars will be gay, but there might be some gay friends at the party.

Scene 1: Diane takes Daniel to get his first fake id: you have to order "two Chicago hot dogs" at a restaurant, then go through a secret door through the kitchen, a meat locker, another secret door, and into the basement, where a gangster-type offers the id for "his usual fee": a kidney.  Just kidding: $200.

Scene 2: Breakfast in their apartment. Oatmeal for Daniel,  Kahlua for Diane.  They discuss the upcoming Halloween party at Roscoe's, the best gay bar in Chicago.  Daniel is excited about his "first queer Halloween."  Daniel is gay!  I'm speechless!

He wants to get his first kiss from a random hot guy at the party: "I'll go up to him and say 'Would you like to kiss?."  That won't work, dude.  Diane gives him some cruising tips: open with a joke, then a compliment, then a smouldering look, then the kiss. 

"I can't stay out late because I have a dentist appointment tomorrow.  Ugh!  I hate it when Dr. Gluck make jokes with his hand in my mouth."

"Cancel it!  Tonight you're going to get more than a hand in your mouth!"  

Scene 3:
The hair salon. Everyone wearing Halloween costumes. Diane bursts in and asks if they are going to the party tonight.  No, they have other plans.  So who will Diane party with while Daniel is cruising hot guys?  "Why not ask Gideon?"

"Gideon??? That boring wet blanket?  No way!"  

Gideon, the salon manager, happens to be standing behind her, and criticizes her for her substance abuse and reckless behavior.  Hey, he sounds like Daniel's type.  Hint, hint.

Scene 4:  Daniel working at a coffee shop that sells beet juice and green algae.  I thought he was a teenager?  He tries cruising a hot guy, and fails miserably.   

Meanwhile, Gideon is on a lunch date with a guy he met on a dating app, who is discussing his bizarre diet.  "So, any fun plans for Halloween?"  "Face Time with my Mom back in Georgia," Gideon says.  His date is not impressed.

Back at the coffee shop, the manager asks about Daniel's lame cruising attempts.  He says that he's hoping to kiss someone tonight.  Manager advises against taking cruising advice from raunchy Aunt Diane: "She calls me Vanilla Lice, and I'm pretty sure she crop dusted the nut cheese aisle."  I don't know what that is.

Scene 5:  Gideon depressed, wondering if he is too boring to meet anyone.  

Daniel comes into the hair salon in drag, with a moustache: "Salvador Dali Parton."  Diane is going as a "sexy Blues Brother."  At the last minute, Gideon appears: he wants to go to the party with them, dressed as Medusa, with snake-hair that actually moves (a prop from Clash of the Titans).  He had all this in his office?

Scene 6: There is a long line to get into the party.  Gideon gets them in by claiming that Daniel (now dressed in a sexier costume that shows off his chest) is "the Number One DJ in Belgium."  

Chrome does not allow screen captures from Netflix, and Netflix doesn't work on Firefox, so I'm out of luck: no screen captures.  But Daniel is rather hot.  

At the party, Diane drinks pumpkin spice kamikazes and Gideon complains: "My lunch date said I wasn't fun.  I was at the last party at Studio 54!"  In 1986?    He would be a senior citizen.  "I was point man at Halston's biggest orgy."  

Daniel approaches a hot guy: "Your costume looks good.  It would look even better carefully hung up on one of my hangers."  Nope.

Suddenly a hot guy dressed as Zorro approaches him and asks "Would you like to kiss?"  Hey, that's the approach Daniel originally planned, before Diane's advice screwed with him. They kiss briefly and go to the foam room (not an orgy room).

Scene 7:  While Gideon is in the bathroom, his Mom calls.  Diane answers, and tells her all about the party they are attending at the best gay bar in town.  When he returns, he is furious -- Gideon is not out to his Mom!  "Well, you are now."  He rushes out in anger.

Meanwhile, Daniel and Zorro take off their masks so they can kiss better.  Ulp, it's Dr. Gluck, his dentist!  Ugh!  Embarrassed, Daniel runs away.  Dr. Gluck follows.  "You've been my dentist for 15 years.  Why didn't you tell me you were gay?"  So, he's going to come out to a random three year old?  "You're going to run into people from your past who are gay," Dr. Gluck advises.  "You can't let it throw you."  I would welcome it!  They decide to be friends.

Scene 8:  Diane follows Gideon to a burger place. They argue.  The regulars agree that Diane was out of line.  How would she know that in 2021, a grown man would not be out to his mother?

Scene 9:  Back at the apartment, Diane is depressed over her breakup with Gideon.  She apologizes with two tickets to a Thelma Houston concert, but it doesn't help: "We are not friends, but we can continue to work together."  

Beefcake: A lot of hot guys.

Gay Characters: Are you kidding?

Raunchiness:  No worse than a Cartoon Network Adult Swim show.

Plot Twists:  After the episode devoted so much time to establishing that Daniel and Gideon had similar personalities, I was surprised that they didn't hook up.  Sure, there is a significant age difference, but Daniel was making out with a guy at least 25 years older (already a practicing dentist when he was three), so who cares?

I definitely didn't like Gideon not forgiving Diane for her blunder, and ending the friendship.  

Will I Keep Watching: Sure.  I want to go through Episodes 1-3 to see if Daniel is out from the beginning or comes out at some point. And the later episodes to see if he gets a boyfriend.

"Velvet": Deliberately Misleading Plotlines in the Fashion World of 1960s Spain

I was recommended Velvet, about fashion designers in Spain: beefcake and a gay character (implied, not out, since it's set in the 1960s). But ok, I could use some Devil Wears Prada combined with Carnaby Street grooviness.  

Scene 1: It's the fashion show of the century, featuring the owner of the top fashion company in the world and his son Alberto (Miguel Angel Silvestre) -- recently returned from a long absence, with a scar on his forehead -- is with him. Dad wants him to lead the show tonight, to get back itno it.  After his friend Matteo asks him to an orgy with a bunch of girls, he asks his father to talk privately.  

We don't hear their conversation.  Suddenly Alberto is back at the party, getting mobbed by women desperate to tear his clothes off (apparently he's "every woman's fantasy").   But he rebuffs them.  Until he sees the Girl of his Dreams, suddenly understands that the meaning of life is to gaze into her eyes, and gets onto the elevator to stalk her.  She rebuffs him until they are alone in the elevator -- then they start smooching. (That was a fast seduction).   She returns to her working-class apartment, says goodbye to her mousy roommate, and runs away with him (a very fast seduction!).   

While driving, Alberto says  "Do you trust me?"  When she says "yes," he instantly veers the car off the road and crashes.  Hey, he did that on purpose!
About 10 minutes of closeups of her bloody face and breasts.  

Scene 2: Twenty years before.  Carmen's funeral.  So the running-away together scene was 20 years in the past, and the return after a long absence is in the present?  But Alberto doesn't look like he is in his 40s..  And why does he have a scar, as if the accident happened recently?

A priest tells Dead Girlfriend's sister Ana that she has to go to live with her Uncle, who owns a big fashion store.  Wait -- if she's the sister of Alberto's girlfriend, how is Alberto's father her uncle?

She arrives at the capital.  Lots of people in 1940s hats. Alberto's Dad picks her up.  He leads her into the store, past all the dressmakers.  She is mesmerized.  

Ulp -- she's staying on a crappy fold-out cot in the servants' quarters.  The guy picking her up was a servant, not her rich Uncle after all.  So why do they look alike? To confuse viewers!  

Scene 3:  Uh-oh, a little boy sees Ana.  He stares, suddenly realizing that the meaning of life is gazing into her eyes forever, then begins a seduction involving peppering her with paper airplanes.  They sneak off to smooch. Ugh!  I hate little kid-romances.  You can display hetero-horny toddlers, but God forbid you show any gay characters under age 35. 

I fast-forward through a bajillion scenes of them kissing at various stages of childhood, until finally Dad finds out and blows his top: "How can you date a...ugh..,poor person? They're vile vermin, worse than animals!"  A tiny bit elitist, aren't you, Dad?  

Ok, I got this all wrong.  Ana is growing up to be the Dead Girlfriend.  The priest was wrong about her rich Uncle -- he's a servant, not the owner of the story.  So wh othe heck is Carmen, and why have her funeral immediately after the girlfriend's death, except to confuse the viewers?

Scene 4:  Ana gets a job as a dressmaker at the store.  The head dressmaker, Doña Blanca, constantly stnipes at her: "Your work is garbage!  You have no talent!  Everything you do is wrong!  You are utterly worthless."  

 Switch to the real Rich Store Owner and his wife discussing Alberto, who was sent away to school to keep him from the guttersnipe.  He's a rebel, a wild child, constantly getting into jams, but Dad wants him to take over the company.  "Why not your daughter Patricia instead?" Wife asks.  "She's studied business, and she knows the store inside and out."  "Nope!  Out of the question!  She's a woman, so how could she possibly know anything about fashion?"

Scene 6: Alberto arrives from school and getting into trouble abroad.  He gets on an elevator full of women, all of whom look like they want to perform fellatio on the spot.  

Meanwhile, Alberto's Rich Dad  -- we finally get his name, Don  Rafael -- is talking to a middle-aged woman.  "You'll take control of this store over my dead body!"  "That can be arranged."  I assume it's his wife from Scene 5, but she helpfully informs us that she is his sister.   She knows about his affair with the head dressmaker, yada yada yada.  When are we going to get to the beefcake?  So far it's just been Alberto, Alberto's Dad (not attractive), and the Fake Rich Uncle (not attractive).

Alberto goes into the office to talk to Rich Dad about the show tomorrow.  "Do you want to see the models?" Dad asks.  "Of course!"  Dad is elated, and hugs him.  My parents used to be elated like that whenever I casually mentioned a girl.  "He knows a girl!  He's heterosexual!  Let's celebrate!"  Eventually I stopped mentioning girls at all.  

Alberto thinks the current designs are old-fashioned.  He wants to switch to new, groovy fashion, like those designed by Pierre Cardin.  Dad sputters. Suddenly Ana, the guttersnip whom he was sent away to forget, comes in (at least I assume that it's Ana).  He gazes in awe, realizing again that she is the meaning and purpose of his life.  

When he leaves, Ana is overcome by giddiness: "He smiled at me!  And what a smile!"  Wait -- hasn't she known Alberto his whole life?  Isn't this Ana, Carmen's sister, who was told by the priest that her uncle owned the store, but he turned out to be just a servant?  I'm totally lost!

Scene 7:  Luisa, a previously unmentioned dressmaker gets a phone call from the doctor: he's doing worse!  

Scene 8: In the slave quarters, Ana and Mousy Roommate console Luisa.  She advises them to go out to the bars anyway, in spite of her grief.  On the way out, they run into Alberto!  Actually, he was stalking them.  He asks Ana out, but she refuses and rushes off.  Does she not know him, or is she upset because he went away to school in London?

Scene 9:  But Alberto doesn't get that "no means no."  He follows them to the bar and sends Ana a drink, which Mousy Roommate takes.   So Albert orders the bartender to close the bar and kick everyone out, except for Ana and Mousy Roommate.  They leave anyway.  Alberto says: "I'll keep stalking you every minute until you agree to a date!"  This is harassment!  Call the police!  Oh, wait, Alberto probably owns the police.  

She says "Just leave me a lone."  "No!"  A guy tries to come her rescue, and Alberto punches him.  They fight.

Scene 10: Clobbering the would-be rescuer turned Ana on.  They're back in the slave quarters, where she is tending to Alberto's head wound -- the scar he has in Scene 1!  So this must be the night before.  Tomorrow they will run away together, and Alberto will say "Do you trust me?" before deliberately veering the car off the road to kill Ana. 

Scene 11:  Back home at the palatial mansion, Alberto discovers that Dad has fixed him up with a girl named Christina.  She flirts and touches and eye-bats, but he isn't interested.  

Scene 12: Remember Luisa?  Ana discovers that she's stealing material from the workroom! Doña Rosa comes into her quarters to criticize them, and almost catches them with the contraband!  Fortunately, she doesn't stay long; she has to rush off to criticize another worker, who calls her "Mother."  And the Boss can't find out.  About what?  Another subplot?

Scene 13:  Lights out in the slave quarters.  Ana trying to sleep.  Someone raps on her window.  It's Mousy Roommate, out past curfew!  They discuss her personal life for awhile.

In the morning, Doña Rosa criticizes Mousy Roommate for breaking curfew.  Who cares?  She criticizes everyone for everything.  She's like those horrible teachers who would yell at you for raising your hand or not raising your hand, for walking too slow or too fast, or for sitting at your desk improperly.

Meanwhile, Ana gets a package from a secret admirer  (well, from Alberto) -- the dress she will be wearing when she veers off the road to her death!  

Alberto shows up.  They argue.  I'm kind of looking forward to that death.

Scene 14:  A repeat of Scene 1, except now we know who Alberto is and how he got the scar.  Alberto and Dad argue over modernizing the fashions again.  Isn't a little late?  The show is sttarting in a few minutes.  

Still 10 minutes left, mostly of Ana and Alberto smooching, but with a "shocking" plot twist that I won't go into here.  Watch it yourself .

Spoiler alert: Ana isn't really dead.  She sticks around through four seasons of arguments and smooching.


Gay Characters: None.  The gay character Raul (Asier Etxeandia) has not appeared yet.

Deliberately Confusing Plotlines: 3.

My Grade: F
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