Apr 15, 2023

House of Anubis: Any Gay Characters in the "Harry Potter" Clone?

 House of Anubis, on Netflix (originally Nickelodeon), sounds like one of those "school of magic" series that proliferated in the wake of Harry Potter.  They are basically the same, with a girl who didn't even know that she had magic powers until she discovered that she was the Chosen One.  Her classmates include an irreverent scalawag, an annoying social justice warrior, a Mean Girl, a Gay-Vague Drama Queen, and a hunky Love Interest.  The opening to this House helpfully tells you who the character are upfront.  Let's see if I get the roles right:

1. Nina, the Chosen One (Nathalia  Ramos).  Right.  She is the focus character, raised in America, and enrolled in the Anubis House Prep School in England.  She discovers that she is the Chosen One, who can re-assemble the broken Cup of Ankh. Later she has to find the Mask of Anubis.

2. Mick the Irreverent Scalawag (Bobby Lockwood). Right Apparently it's been awhile; the actor is 29 years old.  He is not one of Nina's scoobies, apparently in the cast for comic relief, and to fall in love with every girl in sight.

3. Amber Social Justice Warrior (Ana Mulvoy-Ten). Wrong.  She's actually a "girly, sweet, beautiful, naive girl" (according to wikipedia, one of Nina's scoobies.

4. Patricia the Mean Girl (Jade Ramsey). Right.  She's a mean-tempered Goth girl who hates Chosen One Nina and blames her for her bestie's disappearance.

5. Jerome the Gay Vague Drama Queen (Eugene Simon). Right. He has a gay-subtext relationship with his best friend Alfie, although it's just queerbaiting: eventually he falls in love with a girl. 

6. Fabian the Love Interest (Brad Kavanaugh, left, shown with his boyfriend, I assume).  Right.  He's in the cast so Nina will have someone to fall in love with.

Gay characters: None.  It's boy-girl love all the way down.

Do I Want to Watch: Of course not.  But I wouldn't mind seeing more of Bobby Lockwood.

Apr 13, 2023

"The Righteous Gemstones": Gay-Friendly Evangelical Christians? WIth Penises?


I went into The Righteous Gemstones on HBO Plus expecting a savage satire on the greed and hypocrisy of fundamentalist megachurches.  And the Gemstones are quite excessively rich, occupying separate mansions on their vast estate, with an amusement park on-site and a fleet of private planes.  But they aren't conning old ladies out of their life savings by selling prayer shawls annointed by Jesus.  They fill their 10,000-seat Gospel Stadium by delivering a quality product, with laser shows and dance numbers, and sermons that stress acceptance and forgiveness rather than God hating things.  

These people aren't like any fundamentalists you've ever heard of.  They drink wine with dinner, openly, in restaurants!  A baptism is followed by a party with dancing!  They engage in premarital sex.  And they are gay-friendly.

1, The patriarch of the family,  Eli (John Goodman), is a rowdy wrestler who turned to God through the influence of his wife, a famous gospel singer (now deceased).  When an old friend comes to visit, his daughter Judy thinks that they're having sex, but her only complaint is that he's not cute. Why not pick a hot guy, like Patrick Stewart?

The pastor in one of the satellite churches causes a scandal when he is filmed watching his wife and another woman having sex in a public restroom while high on Molly.  The church elders fire him, noting that they're fine with gay people, but disapprove of three-ways.

2. In the first episode, eldest son Jesse (Danny McBride) hears his son Pontius (Kelton DuMont, left) using a homophobic slur, and chastises him: "I have gay friends." (He probably means "You have a gay uncle.)

Later, he mistakenly believes that his son Gideon (Skyler Gisondo) is gay, and goes out of his way to be accepting.  Gideon protests that he likes girls, so Jesse says "Oh, so you're bisexual?  That's fine too.  I love my bisexual son."

3. The youngest of the Gemstones, Kelvin (Adam Devine, top photo), is obsessed with bodybuilding and muscular men, and has a strongly romantic relationship with his mansion-mate Keefe (Tony Cavalero), whom he saved from a life of Satanism.

  Keefe constantly chafes at his "roommate" role, asking to sit at the dinner table with the rest of the family, but Kelvin is not ready to admit that they are boyfriends.  When asked, he says "No, we're  just two guys who like to...um...hang out.. and hug .and stuff."

The Righteous Gemstones is also groundbreaking for its full-frontal nudity.  Nearly every episode displays a wang or two, big, small, real, prosthetic, usually on minor characters or guest-cocks, but still, the variety and openness of male nudity is amazing.

Update:  Bye the end of the second season, Keefe is sitting at the family dinner table, going on family vacations; everyone treats him without question as Kelvin's romantic partner.  There is also a brief, easy-to-miss scene of the two having oral sex. They don't actually kiss, but I guess one has to maintain deniability  

My Grade: Just watch it.

Apr 12, 2023

"Diary of a Future President": Bobby's Coming Out Story, Part 2


When we last saw Bobby Cañero-Reed (Charlie Bushnell), older brother of future president Elena  Cañero-Reed in the Disney channel series Diary of a Future President, he was having trouble saying "I'm...I think I might be...", in spite of knowing about 300 LGBT people and getting endless "If you want to talk, I'm there for you" support from family and friends. Plus he had chickened out of telling his crush, Liam, how he felt.  What will happen in Season 2?

Episode 1:  On the first day of high school, Bobby and his friends discover that they can't try out for the tennis team: all of the positions have been filled by older students.  Bummer: tennis was his passion.  So they go to the Student Activities Fair to find a new extracurricular activity.  So you can just join one club?  When I was in high school, I belonged to six.  Ziggy joins the band, and eventually gets dropped from the gang; film buff Danny joins the Film Club; and Bobby's crush Liam joins the club his girlfriend belongs to (junior environmentalists).  Bobby looks at the booth for the Gender-Sexuality Alliance, but is afraid to approach.

(No beefcake in Bobby's plotline, so I'm filling in with pics of cute guys from the A plot (Elena the Future President) and the C plot (Mom).  Left: Kyan Zielinski as Elena's nemesis.)

Later, Bobby confides in Elena...about not being able to play tennis.  She repeats: "I'm there for you."  Darn, he's got more people "there for him" than I have Facebook friends.

Episode 2:  Everyone wants to know what club Bobby joined as a substitute for tennis.  He claims bowling, but Mom discovers that there is no bowling club.  He lied to them! Why, did he secretly join the Gender-Sexuality Alliance?  She seeks the advice of her friend Camilla, who says "Bobby is going through a lot right now.  Hormones, crushes...identity"  But oblivious Mom concludes that he's upset because her boyfriend is moving in.  Everything isn't always about you, C-plot character!

Meanwhile, Bobby's friends blow him off to go to club meetings, and Liam keeps talking about his girlfriend.  Bobby goes out to the back of the school and angrily hits a tennis ball around.  

Later, Bobby and the gang (with Liam's girlfriend tagging along) have tater tots. Whoops, there's a gay couple hugging at the next table!  Bobby grins.

Episode 3: 
All freshmen have to give a give a 2-minute speech on "something you're passionate about.  Speak from your heart.  Show us a window into your soul."  Bobby is horrified.  Dude, just talk about tennis.  Or being gay.

Left: Eugene Kim as a teacher.

At lunch, the guys reveal that it is even more horrifying: that speech is the key to your popularity in high school (really?).  If you screw up, you will be an outcast forever (really?).

Bobby spends the episode discussing his stage fright with the entire cast, plus Grandma, and ends up giving a speech  about how unfair it is to have one speech label you for the rest of your life.  "We should be able to pick our on labels, or decide if we want to be labeled at all."  Yeah, I've heard that before.  "I don't like labels" means "I don't want to identify as gay, even though I like guys."  This is just a ploy to delay the "I'm...." statement.

Episode 4: Bobby is still upset over his crush Liam having a girlfriend, but now things are even worse: his other friend, Danny,  has a crush on a film club girl!  The guys spend the episode trying to push them together.  When she turns out to have a boyfriend already, Danny is crushed.  Bobby tells him the he also had an unrequited love last year.  He won't say who it was.

Episode 5: Due to his epic Freshman History Speech, Bobby is chosen to be Mr. Manatee, like the homecoming king.  So he has to choose a Ms. Manatee to bring to the big dance. How heterosexist!

At school, girls are giggling and swooning over Bobby, and his friends are ecstatic.  "You're the top of the heap now!  You rule the school!"   They offer multiple suggestions about Ms. Manatee, but Bobby doesn't want to think about it.

Later, Bobby is all depressed about the necessity of dating a girl, and confides in his sister Elena, Mom's boyfriend Sam, and Mom's friend Camilla (who understands because had to date a boy for her quinceañera, even though she liked girls)

Finally...finally he confides in Elena again: "No one knows the real reason I hate Mr. Manatee so much."  Dude, everybody knows.  The hairdresser knows.  The lunch lady knows.  "I don't want to date a girl.  I want to date a guy. Because...(wait for it...)...I'm gay." 

"WHAT???  I had no idea!!!"  Just kidding.  Elena is happy -- and relieved -- that he finally came out.  So am I.

Episode 6:
Bobby meets a cute 11th grade boy, CJ (Donovin Miller).  Two people of color -- Bobby definitely has a type.

CJ makes the first move, touching his shoulder and inviting Bobby to join his crew, which plays tennis, dodge ball, and other games after hours in the school parking lot.  See what happens after you Say the Word?  The hunks come out of the woodwork!

Episode 7: Mom is going out of town again, but this year Bobby is old enough to stay by himself.  The boys pressure him into throwing a party, but he refuses.  Then CJ and the crew ask, and he's all for it.  This doesn't sit well with Liam and Danny: "You're abandoning us for your new friends!"

Episode 8: Liam's girlfriend breaks up with him.  I hope you don't try to get with Bobby now.  The boy has enough drama in his life.  Bobby: "If you want to talk, I'm here for you."  Of course.

Uh-oh, Bobby is grounded due to throwing an unauthorized party, so he can't play tennis with CJ tonight.  But Liam is free. Your new boyfriend dumping you for your ex!  Every gay guy's worst nightmare!

The next day, we hear that CJ didn't play with Liam...he played with another guy, and posted an instagram picture labeled "reunited."  Grr...CJ is already cheating on Bobby, and they haven't even dated yet!

That night, Bobby breaks curfew to confront CJ.  "Oh, that guy was my cousin. You don't need to be jealous."  Kiss, already!

Later, Liam gets tired of waiting for Bobby to come out and tells him: "If you and CJ are more than friends, it would be chill."  They hug.  I'd hug him, too, out of sheer relief.  Finally Liam can stop pretending that he doesn't know!

Episode 9:  Bobby comes out to  the other friend, Danny.  Another "What a relief!  Pretending not to know is stressful!" scene.  But there's a new problem: CJ thinks Bobby can drive, but he only just got his learner's permit.  What if he finds out the truth?  Yeah, like CJ is going to reject a cute boy just because he can't drive.  Time to learn.

While Mom is teaching him, Bobby informs her that he's into someone.  "His name is CJ."  She's shocked. "HIS name...um...er...I mean, I'm happy that...you feel comfortable sharing this with me...."  Weak smile. Gee, out of all the "I'm there for you" people, Mom turns out to be quasi-homophobic.

Episode 10: 
 Tired of waiting for CJ to ask him out, the guys pressure Bobby into asking. The top usually does the asking, and Bobby screams "bottom" from a mile away.  But what if he says no?  Or agrees to the date, then changes his mind halfway through?  Bobby spends the episode asking for advice from Camilla, Mom's boyfriend Sam, and just about everyone else.  By the way, Elena is running for Student Rep with the campaign slogan "Here for you," naturally. 

(Left: Rafael Torres as Cousin Tito)

We are spared the request and the date itself (it was to the tater tot place).  Cut to the guys sitting on the curb, eating the last of their tater tots. 

Bobby:  I'm glad we went on this date.

CJ (Joking): Was this a date?  Don't torture the poor kid!  

We see the kiss -- or at least the back of CJ's enormous Afro while he plants one on.  

Later, Bobby tells his friends about the date -- and the kiss.  They are ecstatic.  Danny says: "You must be totally over your crush from last year, whoever the guy was."  

Uh-oh, Liam looks suspicious.  "Why didn't you tell me about your crush?"  He wasn't out to you?  "Who was he?"   Fortunately, Bobby is called away before he can answer.  Liam stares...could he have figured it out? Will it be awkward to be friends with someone who used to like-like you?   

Drama!  But it's the end of Season 2, and there may not be a Season 3.  At least Bobby said the word,  and got a back-of-the-head kiss.  The Disney Channel has come a long way from the "don't ask, don't tell" days  The Suite Life of Zack and Cody

"Diary of a Future President": Bobby's Coming Out Story, Part 1


The conceit of Diary of a Future President, on the Disney Channel, is that we're watching the memories of U.S. President Elena Cañero-Reed in the distant-past year of 2020, when she was in the sixth grade in a Miami middle school. As Elena negotiates the world of best friends, cute boys, and lofty ambitions, her Mom gets a new boyfriend (Michael Weaver), and her older brother Bobby comes out.  Very gradually.  Here is the first part of his story, from Season 1:

Episode 1:
 As they are riding to school for the first day of class, Bobby  (Charlie Bushnell, left) mentions his love of tennis and his friends, Ziggy (Sean Philip Glasgow)  and Danny (Nathan Arenas).

Episode 2:  The boys relish being at the top of the middle school food chain.  A hot girl says hello to Bobby; his friends gush with excitement.  A guy named Liam(Brandon Severs, below) offers to sign up for the team.  Bobby promises to go easy on him at practice, but he turns out to be great. No indication that he is attracted to Liam at this point.  

Bobby pranks Liam by inviting him to a party that doesn't exist, so he shows up at the gym all alone in a suit.  Then they both get locked into the gym.

Episode 3: Liam has joined the gang.  Bobby has a date with Monyca.  The guys practice how to take off a girl's bra, but the date just involves talking.

Episode 4:
Mom keeps interrupting Bobby and Monyca as they sit in the bedroom, trying to have their first kiss.  He complains to his friend that they can't get enough privacy, so they throw a party with a "Two Minute Tongue Tank."  Bobby emerges, having kissed Monyca, looking confused.   Later, Liam congratulates him, and he looks confused again.

Episode 5: Bobby and his friends on the tennis team, getting bullied by the stereotypic arrogant, racist jerk tennis superstars.   The big match, which is extremely well attended and apparently has cheerleaders.  

Episode 6:  Danny invites the gang to his house to riff on a bad movie.  Bobby says no, but when Monyca asks him out "to talk about their families" on the same night, he changes his mind.  Is he avoiding her?  

While watching the movie, Bobby feels bad.  Liam notices, and the next day asks what was wrong.  Bobby misses his dead father.  Liam: "If you want to talk about it, I'm here for you."  Ok, so he's not rejecting Monyca, he just didn't want to talk about families.

Episode 7:  Bobby and Liam get stuck in the supply room during the big match.  As they wait to be rescued, they discuss why Liam came to Miami to stay with his grandmother: he didn't get along with his older brothers.  They are sitting crosslegged on the floor, with their knees almost touching. Bobby notices and gets all flustered.  Then they are rescued.  And Bobby takes the ball they were playing with as a souvenir.  Ok, now it's obvious that he's attracted to Liam.

Episode 8: Bobby invites his friends to the big dance, but they don't want to go because they don't have girlfriends.  He suggests a prank, and they're up for it. 

Later, Bobby is waiting for his sister at the hair salon, when the swishy hairdresser insists on giving him a new doo.  "Are you going to the big dance?" he asks.  He knows about the middle school dance?   Bobby affirms that he's going "with some friends."  

"Nobody special that you want to look nice for?"  "Kinda...maybe." 

Hairdresser points out a photo of his hot husband, Bruno: they met at a middle school dance.  "Just kidding -- Fleet Week."  Bobby grins.  So he's aware that gay people exist.  

At the dance, the guys get ready to play the prank, when they see Liam dancing with a girl!  Bobby fumes with jealousy.  He rushes over and yells at him.  It's time for the prank!  You're abandoning your friends!  They end up fighting, and Bobby gets ejected.

Episode 9: 
As punishment for fighting, Bobby loses his phone for the duration of spring break, so he can't call or text anyone.

When he returns to school, Ziggy and Danny tell him that Liam "needs a minute" to get over what happened.  He's had a week, dude. 

Monyca wants to know why Bobby ignored her during the dance, why they rarely hang out and never kiss.  "It's nothing...it's just...Liam."  She suggests that he's more into Liam than her, but he scoffs: "No way!  I'm into you! I...um...love you.  Want to go on a date later?"  

While Mom is in Tallahassee, Liam has to stay with her friend Camilla...and her girlfriend?  They discuss his fight with Liam: "You guys seem to have a good thing together."  When he leaves, the ladies discuss: "I think Bobby likes Liam, and the fight was misdirected passion.  We have to provide him with a safe space.  We'll be his fairy gaymothers."  So, half the people Bobby knows are gay, and he's having trouble coming out?  

Later, Camilla suggests "Instead of playing video games, let's watch tv.  RuPaul's Drag Race?  Or a documentary on Billie Jean King, the lesbian tennis star?"  Then they mention that Camilla is not out to her parents, so they have to pretend to be roommates.  "It sucks to have to hide who you are, doesn't it?"

Camilla: "If you every want to talk, we're here for you."

Later, Bobby breaks up with Monyca.  She's chill with it: "I know you're going through a lot of stuff with Liam. If you ever want to talk, I'm here for you."  Is that the new catchphrase of the middle-school generation?

Episode 10: 
 Bobby sends a text to Liam, then regrets it because now they have to talk.  He's so nervous that he skips school. 

He has a heart-to-heart with Mom's boyfriend Sam about telling "a person" that he likes them.  Sam suggests just talking, and letting the big reveal take care of itself.  To his credit, he doesn't assume that the person is a girl. 

Sam: "I'm here for you."  Ok, this guy is drowning in emotional support.  Why is he having so much trouble coming out?

Uh-oh, Liam got a girlfriend over spring break!  They're holding hands and everything.

But Bobby forges ahead with the confession anyway:  I've been wondering...um...I've been feeling  confused... about...um...tennis."  The oblivious Liam doesn't catch on.  

Later, Bobby talks to himself in the mirror: "I...feel stuff.  I think maybe I'm...maybe...I'm...um...."  Come on, say the word!  It's not that hard.

Next he talks to Mom: "Your boyfriend and I talked about some stuff.  Guy stuff." He doesn't mention what it is, but Mom promises to be...um..."here for you."

End of Season 1!

Next:  The saga continues.  Will Bobby finally say the word?  Will he ever tell Liam that he's into him?  Will he ever get tired of hearing people say "I'm there for you?"  Confused?  You won't be after the next episode of Soap...um, I mean Diary of a Future President.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...