May 21, 2022

"The Ignorant Angels": Bisexual Rich Guy, Beset-Upon Wife, and Bohemian Artist Side Action Find Love

Why did the 2022 Italian tv series Le Fate Ignorante  ("the ignorant fairies" get translated into English as The Ignorant Angels?  Maybe because the term "fairy" is perjorative slang for gay men, and there are several gay characters?  The premise: after the death of her husband, Antonia discovers that her husband was having an affair with Michele.  They become close.  If they fall in love, I'm leaving. I reviewed Episode 1.

Scene 1:  Establishing shot of Rome.  Massimo (Luca Argentero) calls his wife and says he has something important to tell her, but it has to be in person.  He gets on his scooter and rides past the Coliseum.  He is distracted by "a beautiful woman" and crashes and dies. Then he tells us that "Death is a new beginning."

Scene 2:
One year before.  Hunky Michele (Eduardo Scarpetta) climbs out of bed in his bohemian-squalor apartment.  The voice over tells us that this is the story of "two people who thought they had nothing in common, and later on find that they are very much alike."  It continues ad nauseam: Michele "can't imagine that he is soon to meet someone he'll become extremely attached to." 

I have a sinking feeling that this is going to be the opposite of "Making Love": instead of guy who thought he was straight coming out as gay, it will be a guy who thought he was gay coming out as straight. Yuck! 

The voiceover continues, broadcasting the plot in infuriating detail, as we switch to Wife Antonia waking up Massimo (more beefcake!).  He pretends to be asleep, so she leaves, stopping to tell Nora the Maid to clean the outdoor decks.  We pan out -- there are 300 outdoor decks on the estate of this Richie Rich-style super-mansion!  Nora will be working for weeks!

Scene 3: Back in the bohemian squalor, Michele has a "he's a nice guy" conversation with his grandmother and her biddie friends.  He invites them to brunch on Sunday, but they refuse.  Then he goes to work: back stage at the opera, where apparently his job is painting sets.  He's currently working on a 40-foot backdrop of ballet dancers.  

He invites all of his coworkers to brunch on Sunday,. Sandro (Samuel Garofalo) glares at him: this will become important later.  Then he and the elderly Atillo tell each other things that they already know, like "I was your mentor when you first started out in backdrop-painting." 

Switch to Wife Antonia, who works as a doctor.  As Mrs. Richie Rich,  you'd think she'd spend her time shopping, doing lunch, and planning charity benefits.   Her regular patient asks her out, but she refuses, as she's married.  "Well, bring him along."

Scene 4:  At home, Wife Antonia's Mom criticizes her for being boring, "not interested in life," "anti-social.  You don't do anything.  You're not living."  Um...she's got a career?  Mom then criticizes Nora the Maid for dating a guy from Ghana -- his penis will be too big for her.  Gee, that's a selling point in gay communities.

Scene 5: Lots of young, attractive people, both boys and girls, helping Hunky Michele prepare Sunday brunch.  With lasagne?  Everyone wants to hear the Big News:  he's in love with Massimo, whom he met at the bookstore!  "We were both looking for the same book, a wonderful book of poetry by Nazim Hikmet." (A famous Turkish writer who died in 1963).  Hunky Michele got the last copy, so he offered to photocopy the poems he wanted and then give the book to Massimo -- a clever way to see him again!  Wait -- you didn't even make a date?  

Scene 6: 
  Massimo gives his Wife Antonia a book -- not the Hikmet, a book on Manet. I don't understand. What was the point of the Hikmet?  She's a bit disappointed; she's actually a fan of Monet, not Manet. What's the difference?  Two French impressionist painters. 

 They kiss 53,431 times.  

Meanwhile Sandro is storming out of the brunch because he can't stand Hunky Michele's story.  They've never dated; it's just an unerequited crush, but still....  Then Massimo shows up with a bottle of wine.  But Michele just told them the story of their meeting at the bookstore, and bragged that he strategized a way to see him again...has there been a time jump?

Inside the bohemina-squalor apartment, Michele and Massimo discuss how much they love each other.  They kiss once (no fair!  Antonia got ten minutes of kissing!)  Then they go out to brunch, where Massimo is introduced to the gang: two straight women,  a lesbian couple, a gay couple (one may be Burak Deniz, left), Atilla his art mentor, and his grandmother.

Grandma explains that they aren't nine individuals: they are a single entity, a single mind, a shared soul.  This seems a little extreme for a group of friends.   But not to worry, they are happy to absorb Massimo into the group consciousness.  "We accept him!  We accept him!" Instead of running away screaming, Massimo is touched.

Scene 7: After sex, Michele (still naked on the bed) and Massimo (getting dressed).  Michele gives him a house key.  Then Massimo goes home and spends 10 minutes of screen time having sex with Wife Antonia (no fair!).  Afterwards they cuddle.

Scene 8:  Wife Antonia's Mom suggests that Massimo is away so much because he's having an affair with a woman.  Antonia dismisses the idea, but Mom continues: All Italian men have affairs, so why should Massimo be any different?  There's nothing wrong with it.  You're still the wife; she's just the side action.

Scene 9: Hunky Michele's group mind is having the same idea: Massimo comes over only during the daytime, never at night.  You always stay in the apartment; you never go out.  Obviously he has a boyfriend.  Michele dismisses the idea, but the group mind continues: All Italian men have affairs, so why should Massimo be any different?  There's nothing wrong with it.  Being the side action is great, all of the fun and none of the work of a relationship.

Scene 9:  The group mind gives Massimo a cake and sings "Happy Birthday."  Then jealous Sandro has a big reveal: he's been snooping around, and discovered that Massimo doesn't have a boyfriend, he has a wife!  Hunky Michele angrily excommunicates him; he skulks away.  The group mind doesn't care: gay , straight, bisexual, whatever, side action is side action.  Michele isn't so sure, but he goes along with the groupthink.

Scene 10: Massimo suggests leaving his wife to be with Michele full-time.  Michele hates the idea: he likes being the side action.  They argue; maybe they break up.  Massimo storms out.  He makes The Call from Scene 1 anyway.  If he's broken up with Michele, why bother?  Is he going to tell Wife Antonia that he's coming out as gay?  We'll never know, because he gets onto his scooter, gets distracted by a beautiful woman, and crashes.  The end.

Beefcake: Both Massimo and Michele take their clothes off.

Other Sights: Streets of Rome.

Gay Characters:  Most of the group mind.  

Heteosexism:  We see lots of Massimo kissing and having sex with Antonia.  Massimo and Michele kiss once, and have sex only off camera.

My Grade:  I don't like any of these people, especially the annoying Michele.  And I don't understand his motive: he's ok but not ok with being the side action, but when Massimo decides to leave his wife for him, he has a fit.  At least, according to the plot synopses, Michele never hooks up with the Wife.  She joins the group mind and begins dating someone else.  C

May 19, 2022

"Odd Squad": Any Gay Texts, Subtexts, or Beefcake in the Long-Running PBS Kids Show?


I was asked to review Odd Squad, on PBS, about a group of little-kid secret agents assigned to "odd" cases like hiccups that make things explode, while teaching us math and science.  In the first episode, for instance, the agents handle a case about vanishing zeros: 1000 wads of gum turn into 1 wad, and hot chocolate goes for 5 cents, not 50 cents.  Agent Otto is turning 10 tomorrow; if they don't stop the vanishing, he'll turn 1!  This crisis allows us to learn about the use of 0 as a decimal marker.   

I already know about the use of 0 as a decimal marker, and the mystery was a bit elementary for an adult viewer, so I won't become a regular viewer.  But I was promised gay content.

1. Beefcake? 
Not among the agents, of course, but the show has been around for eight years, so some of the kids have grown up.  Isaac Kragten (top photo), who played Agent Otis, is now a bona fide hunk.  Plus there are some adults around, such as Farid Yazdani (left) as the villainous Freeze Ray Ray.

2. Gay characters?  According to TV Tropes, Orla is presented as gay by a Oddtube episode where she has "rainbow-itis,"  She is also shown in an intro with "bisexual lighting," whatever that is.

In Season 3, Episode 22, we are introduced to the head of the Seattle Agency, the swishy, purple-eyelashed, show tune-loving Mr. O (Nico Cecci, who is gay in real life, according to TV Tropes).

A fan discussion claims that an agent named Zack has gay parents, as revealed in the episode "Parent Swap," but I find no other evidence.

There is also apparently a Season 3 episode set at a gay wedding.

3. Pre-teen gay subtexts? 
 The central characters in Season 1 are a male-female Muller and Scully, Olive and Otto.  Amazon Prime won't let me see the other seasons, but it looks like they are replaced by another male-female pair in Season #2.  Season #3 features four agents.  Maybe Omar and Oswald (Jayce Alexander, Gavin MacIver-Wright) have a gay-subtext buddy bond in spite of their obvious difference in age and maturity.  

4. Gay actors?
  Veteran Kids in the Hall actor Scott Thompson plays a villain.   In a Season 3 episode, the agents encounter a shushing librarian, Octavius, played by the now-15 year old Keegan Hedley.  Keegan, best known for Paw Patrol and Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, is gay in real life.  But he only appears in Odd Squad for about 30 seconds.

May 17, 2022

Pippin: a Gay Piece of the Sky

In high school (1975-78) and college (1978-82), I hung out with the drama club crowd and played in the orchestra, so I spent a lot of time playing in, going to, and analyzing musicals.  I saw Pippin on stage at least three times, including a 1978 performance with a young Chris Young, who would go on to become a Hollywood star. Its bare sets, broken fourth wall, and tinkly songs made it a favorite of high school drama clubs (photo is from an Eagan, Minnesota production starring Jordan Oxborough).

It has a theme similar to that of Peer Gynt: Pippin, son of King Charlemagne, sets out to find where he belongs in the world.   He tries becoming a scholar, a warrior, a hedonist, and a fighter against tyranny -- butting heads with the gay-vague villain Lewis.

None of those work, so Pippin becomes an artist, a religious zealot, and a tyrant.  Then he realizes that the only true happiness lies back home, in being a husband and father to the widow Catherine and her young son Theo.

Same old story: job, house, wife, kids.  Conform. Resistance is futile. Learn to love Big Brother.

The difference: everyone in Pippin knows that they're acting in a play, they and often break the fourth wall.  The Lead Player, a sort of Mephistophiles, keeps admonishing the actor playing Pippin to have his character dream, experiment, achieve things.

When the actor decides that Pippin would be happiest settling down with Catherine,  the Leading Player becomes furious. He orders the troupe and the orchestra to pack up everything, including the sets and the costumes, and leave.  No more play!  But even on a dark, silent stage, with no script and no final bows, Pippin is content.

I'll take the Lead Player's advice and aspire, thanks.

One thing Pippin never tries is same-sex love.  He doesn't even do any buddy-bonding, though sometimes the androgynous, leering, gay-coded Lead Player seems to have a homoerotic interest in him (or a hetero-erotic, when she's a woman).

And there is substantial beefcake.  Pippin and Lewis usually wear sleeveless form-fitting chain mail tunics that accentuate their chest and biceps, and they sometimes go completely shirtless.  You're not going to see many more bare chests on stage, except maybe in The King and I.

Pippin premiered on Broadway in 1972, and ran through 1977, with John Rubinstein (left) as Pippin and Ben Vereen as the Leading Player.

Other Pippins include Barry Williams (1975, above), William Katt (1981 film version), Jack Noseworthy (2000), Matthew Arden and Tyler Giordano (2009, playing Pippin together), James Royce Edwards, and Matthew James Thomas (2012, left).

May 16, 2022

"New Heights": Gay Guy Leaves Big City to Run the Family Farm

The Swiss tv series
Neumatt (New Heights), on Netflix, is advertised as LGBTQ: "After his father passes away, Michi returns to the family farm" and is involved in small-town intrigues.  100 to 1 he falls in love with...wait, this isn't a Christmas rom-com.  I'll watch Episode 1: "Crash."

Scene 1: Michi (Julian Koechlin) riding a mechanical bull in someone's apartment.  He stayed on longer than any of the other guests, so he wins!  Later that night, he puts his watches in their revolving display case, opens the refrigerator -- nothing but jars of preserves -- and looks out onto his panoramic view of Zurich.  This guy is a posh Hollywood stereotype A-Gay.  

Scene 2:  More preserves, but this time Dad back on the farm is eating them, when feed-store-cap son rushes in to tell him that Olympia is too weak, and needs help.   He hangs back, so Son Lorenz (Jérôme Humm, left) has to help the cow give birth all by himself (nice muscle shots as Son pulls on the baby cow's legs).

Switch to Mom brushing her hair.  Dad comes in, hugs her, and goes to bed.

Scene 3: 
Michi goes to work in a glass-and-steel office, orders an espresso from his assistant, and examines stocks.   He works for Berno, the largest milk producer in Switzerland, which is doing terrible: apparently the previous CEO "gambled things away."  The boss has brought in a retail specialist, Joel Bachman (Benito Bause, left) from Hamburg, to tell them how to keep from going bankrupt.  

Michi isn't paying attention to the meeting; he's looking up Joel on Grindr.  Whoops, he's up, reporting on how terribly Berno is doing in China.  Do they drink much milk in China?  

Later, Michi runs into Joel in the restroom -- but he's at the sink, so no sausage sighting.  They discuss Grindr and flirt.  Michi gives Joel his card.  What year is this?  You plug your number into his cell phone.

Scene 4:  Mom and Dad are in a camper.  So they live on a farm, but they want to get even farther into the wilderness?  They have sex (no beefcake), then get dressed, go outside, and smooch some more.  Switch to Grandma cooking breakfast while Dad and Son Lorenz sit at the table.  I'm confused -- how did he get home so fast?  Is the camper in their back yard?  Did they go there just to have sex?  Mom comes in and wants to know if Lorenz is studying for his important final exams.

Scene 5: A masculine-presenting woman, maybe trans or nonbinary, leading an aerobics class.  Afterwards. a salesman tries to sell them new machine straps, but they protest: last time he sold them rubbish!  Dad looks in, bolsters his courage to enter, and then changes his mind and leaves.  Aha, he can't deal with having a trans or nonbinary kid!

Scene 6: Night.  Dad in the barn, shoveling hay, looking like he's going to drop dead at any moment.  

Switch to Michi at an upscale bar, bringing drinks to his coworkers: Jonathan from the restroom and an unidentified man and woman.  They discuss the company's problems.  Later, the man and the woman get up to dance, and Michi gives him the scoop: Elodie is nice, helpful, and wishy-washy; she'll never get ahead.  But she's only one you should trust.  Pablo is dominant, aggressive, and...whoops, a phone call.  It's Dad, asking Michi to come help your brother Lorenz fix the roof.  Why can't Dad do it?  Uh-oh.

Michi goes back into the bar and picks up Jonathan: "Rules or fun?  Decide now."  Is it against company rules to hook up with a consultant?  

Back in the apartment, they kiss (for about 1/10th the time as Dad and Mom kissed), start taking off their clothes and -- we switch to the farm!  Hey, where's the sex scene?   Lorenz gets up in the middle of the night, goes into the barn, and sees -- what?  We switch to Mom, waking up in the morning.  She notices that Dad is missing, and goes out to interrogate Lorenz.  He just says that Dad is in the barn, leaving Mom to go in and see him hanging from the rafter.  

Scene 7: Back at the apartment, Jonathan wakes Michi up (butt shot).  He is not happy; tricks aren't supposed to stay over.  As he is trying to scoot Jonathan out, he gets The Call from Mom.   He doesn't tell Jonathan that his father just died -- I guess that would put a damper on the whole hook-up.

Back on the farm, Lorenz continues to do his morning chores.  Mom tells him that they're going to make it look like an accident: he fell off a ladder and broke his neck.  Any coroner would see through that story in a second; when you are hanged, there are neck burns.    Lorenz goes out into the cornfield and cries.  

I'll bet you didn't know that Switzerland is 80th most important corn producer of the world, harvesting 150 metric tons per year, about as much as Syria.  

Scene 8:
Instead of jumping on a train immediately, Michi goes to work and gives his presentation.  Then he rushes out and drives to the farm -- apparently it isn't very far away.   Dad's in a coffin in the barn.  No coroner?  No autopsy?  "Have you told Sarah?"  Michi asks.  Mom looks startled.  Maybe she doesn't like to admit that she has a trans daughter.

Cut to Sarah from Scene 5, at the gym.  She argues with her teenage daughter: do your chores, or no cell phone!  Wait -- she looks 20-22 years old.  How can she have a teenage daughter? Must be adopted   Then the phone rings with The Call.

Sarah is played by Sophie Hutter, age 32.  No indication on IMDB that she is trans.

Scene 9: Dad being hauled away in a hearse.  Suddenly Mom discovers that Dad left a note: "For Michi."  She hides it as Sarah and her daughter arrive.

Michi goes up to his old room and looks through his stuff, while Mom and Sarah make up the guest list for the memorial service.  "Do we have to invite the Kellers?  We hate them!"  

Mom stares in shock as Dad walks in!  He's not dead after all!  No -- it's Martin (Roeland Wiesenekker) and his wife, offering condolences.  Wait -- Martin and Dad look alike.  Did I miss something?   I go back -- in Scene 4, Mom is having sex with Martin, not Dad!  That explains the camper.  And I'll bet Dad killed himself when he discovered that Mom was having an affair with his brother.  The plot thickens.

Scene 10:  Mom prepares tea and cookies for Martin and his wife.  "Is there anything we can do to help?  We could--um-- buy your farm."  "WHAT?  Absolutely not!  Get the heck out of here!"  

Later, the three siblings prepare to milk the cows.  Michi doesn't know how to attach the machine, and has to be instructed.  Um...didn't he grow up on the farm?

Later, Sarah and Michi argue about who's going to move to the farm to help out.  They both have important jobs and don't want to leave.   Michi notes that Dad called him just before he died; he didn't call Sarah.  So being gay is fine, but trans is scandalous?  This upsets her; she stomps off.

Michi goes up to the bathroom and snorts cocaine  He had time to pack cocaine? Or does he always carry it with him?  He finds a prescription drug, which upsets him.

After arguing with Mom a bit ("You're never around," and so on), he returns to Zurich.   Mom wanders around the house, feeling guilty.  Grandma consoles Lorenz.  

Scene 11: Dinner.  Sarah cooked.  She wonders what will happen to the farm: Lorenz can't run it by himself; he's still in school.  Besides, he's plagued by blackouts.  Ulp -- did Lorenz murder Dad while blacked out?  Is that why he didn't tell anyone until morning?

Later, Michi showers (no beefcake), cries, and goes out dancing, Sarah works out on a punching bag and cries, and Mom burns the rope that Dad used to hang himself (or the murderer used to hang him).  She reads the "For Michi" note and is shocked.  The end.

Beefcake:  A tiny amount.

Other Sights: A tiny amount of Zurich

Gay Characters: Michi and Jonathan, of course. Sarah is trans or nonbinary.

Heterosexism:  Mom smooches with her affair d'amour.

Plot:  I hope it's about "who killed Dad?", with everyone having secrets.  If it just about grief over a parent's death, I'm leaving.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...