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.

Apr 11, 2023

"Beef": I Have a Beef with this Road-Rage Dramedy


I don't drive much anymore -- everything is in walking distance, or I get a ride -- but back in L.A., where you had to drive everywhere, I got severe road rage.  A car zooming around me was a terrible insult, and I had no choice but to "get even" by zooming around them.  So the tv series Beef, about road rage, sounded interesting.

Scene 1: Glen from The Walking Dead (Steven Yeun) is waiting in line at a big box store, getting annoyed at the "any big plans" chatter of the cashier and the guy in front of him. (I get annoyed by that, too.  They make it sound like you're a failure unless you spend every weekend jetting down to Cancun with 500 of your friends to have a singalong on the beach and drink Mountain Dew).  

He's trying to return three Hitachi gas grills, but the cashier asks for a receipt, which makes him even more annoyed.  So he doesn't return them; he stomps out to his truck and slams the door and screams.  Then he backs out -- and almost hits a car that cut him off!   The driver shows him a finger as he zooms away.  Uh-oh, he's had it.

Glen starts chasing him, swerving between lanes, running red lights, losing boxes of grills.  The guy plays along, throwing a drink at him, backing up into him, and then zooming off.  

Hah!  -- you thought it was a guy!  It's actually a woman, about Glen's age -- a Love Interest! And they're both Asian, for some reason.  Is there a rule about interracial romances?  No, according to the IMDB, most of the cast is Asian.  

Scene 2
: Back in her suburban style home, the Other Driver, Amy, fields texts from work (some sort of acquisition) and from family/friends: "I over-watered your cacti. Running low on coconut milk."  Because people have been pouring the disgusting stuff down the sink?   She appears to have a mega-job at the big box store.

Boyfriend/husband/brother (Joseph Lee) asks if she's ok. Boyfriend -- he calls her "babe."  "No, work problem, problem, problem, and then a guy in a truck started chasing me for no reason."  They kiss and go inside to their heterosexual nuclear family.

Husband is a New Age  "let's keep a gratitude journal" artist or artist wannabe.  His latest vase is horrible, like someone tried to make a cock and balls out of bagels, but gave up.   He wants to know why she won't put his work up for sale at her gallery.  "Um...er...um."  Wait -- I thought she worked at the big box store?

Scene 3:
Glen (character name Danny, played by Steven Yeun, left) returns to his horrible apartment with his three Hitachi grills.  He complains about the road rage "guy" to his roommate or boyfriend, Paul (Young Mazino, top photo) who is playing video games in a room with sheets over the window instead of curtains.  

Phone rings: Mom advises him to find a girl, get married, and raise a family.  Ugh!  I hated that heterosexist trajectory when they kept shoving it down my throat as a kid. "Forget about beauty, knowledge, love, anything of value: girl,  marriage, family, job, house, die.   It's the meaning of life, you'll see!"  

Plot dump: Paul is his slacker brother.  Mom and Dad ran a hotel with their cousin Isaac, but they went bankrupt, and eveything has gone to hell.

Scene 4: Amy at a high-end art gallery, arguing on the phone: "I own the place, so I can do it."  She doesn't work for the big box store?  She and her assistant Mia try to display Husband's awful globule in a way that doesn't look awful.  "You're both brilliant," Mia gushes, as they move onto a room full of hunks unpacking boxes.  Then a customer comes in to gush.  Geez -- next they'll be kissing her feet.

Scene 5: Glen working at his horrible job of installing lamps and things in people's houses, complaining to the homeowner about the road rage incident: "He just cut me off!"   He changes the subject to ask for some referrals, but the guy is hesitant "Oh...um...I asked around, and none of my friends are interested. I need a tree trimmer, but I don't want you."  Then why bring it up, jerk?  But Glen talks him into it.  Homeowner is wearing a sweater.  That's not a great sign of gay identity, but I'm grasping at straws here.

Whoops, homeowner goes inside, but leaves the intercom on, and Glen overhears a conversation with his WIFE about firing him.  Heterosexual identity established, time to move on.

Scene 6: At home, Husband George is with his mother, who is complaining about everything that Amy says and does.  Amy bursts in with a passive-aggressive smile: "Thank you so much for your useful advice.  Now I'm sure you have many other people to criticize..."  But Mom continues: "My sister was a loud eater, and three years ago, her husband was hit by a train."  Yeah, that'll show Amy!

Plot dump: Bigwig Jordan has invited them to a party tomorrow, where they will seal the deal on getting Koyohaus (her brand) in every Froster's Big Box store in the world. 

Scene 7:  Glen in a restaurant.  He checks his brother Paul's cell phone wallet: the "slacker" is making a fortune with bitcoin, which I've barely heard of.  A chunky guy with multiple rings bursts in to tell Glen how sexy he is.  I think he's just being silly, not expressing same-sex desire.  

Plot dump: This is his Cousin r Isaac (David Choe).  Not bankruptcy, prison for selling counterfeit baby formula.  He told the cops that Glen had nothing to do with it.   

Glen asks for money (from a guy who  just got out of prison?), and Cousin Isaac grotesquely says "Can you lube my pussy with kimchi juice before..."   Let's umpack this: kimchi is very spicy, so his "pussy" will hurt before Glen screws him.  I get the association between anal sex and being victimized, but why does he frame it in heterosexual terms?  Apparently he's not aware that the traditional site is the buttocks.  Doesn't he know that gay people exist?

Cousin Isaac agrees to give Glen $20,000.

Scene 8:  The tree-trimming job at the heterosexual homeowner's, with a slacker crew, including Brother Paul.  Cut to Amy and her Husband on the way to the party to sell her stuff at Big Box stores.  

Whoa, while high up in the tree, Glen sees the Road Rage Car!  He falls, and is saved in the nick of time by one of the crew members.  But the homeowner sees and fires them.

Brother Paul doesn't need a ride because "My boy's picking me up."  Maybe he meant "gay partner," but I doubt it.  He actually gets into an Uber.  So, he doesn't want to ride with Glen, or he doesn't want Glen to know about his boyfriend?

Scene 9:  The dinner, all-mushrooms, served in a gigantic museum-gallery room.  Big Box CEO June announces that they're going to start researching the use of mushrooms in medicine.  Amy is disappointed: she was expecting Magic Mushrooms. Afterwards, CEO June tells her that the sales offer is being drawn up.  "Of course, we'll have to do some investigation, so don't fuck this up."

Scene 10: Glen calling a realtor over and over again about an undeveloped property on Summit Drive.  Why so insistent?  Why does he want it?  Whoops, he checks his cell phone wallet: the $20,000 is gone!  

Meanwhile, Amy has posted a video of part of the road rage incident, and read the hundreds of comments.  She gets up, leaves a snoring George, and tries to open her safe -- but someone changed the combination!  

Scene 11:
Glen turns on all of the Hibachi Grills in his apartment, hoping that the carbon monixide released will kill him!  Is that why he bought them in the first place?  I thought he was installing them in customers' homes. 

Next question: Brother Paul is obviously not coming home tonight, so exactly what is he doing with his "boy"?  

Left: Justin H. Min, who appears in 5 episodes as Edwin, head of a local Korean church, who stole the Girl of Glen's Dreams.  Ugh!

After changing his mind, Glen decides to search for the license plate of the Road Rage car. 

Scene 12: Amy asks Husband George why he changed the safe combination, and didn't tell her.  He gets all grim: ""You know why."  Violence in Amy's past?

Uh-oh, Glen found the Road Rage Driver's address: 377 Bon Homme Road ("good man"?), and is on the way to confront "him."  Meanwhile, Amy has found the code, opened the safe, and taken out a gun!   She pretends to give oral sex to the gun barrel, for some reason, and then uses it to masturbate. Not safe, girlfriend.  

Glen arrives, but when a woman answers the intercom, he pretends that he's a contractor who happened to notice that their rooftop conduits don't have supports, so....call your guy to fix it.

Suspicious, Amy asks "You're not some kind of weirdo, are you?"  Says the lady who just masturbated with a loaded gun.   She answers the door; of course they don't recognize each other, so she invites him in to check out the conduit supports.  He also talks his way into the garage, so he can check: yep, same car: "Too much moisture in your cabinets. You have to redo them."

They bond over complaints about the little annoyances of life.  "It's always something, isn't it?"  

Uh-oh, Amy admits that she drives the luxury car, not her husband.  Glen knows that she is the Road Rager!  

He asks to use the bathroom, and then rushes out.  Amy investigates: he has peed all over the floor and rug!  She rushes out to chase him down the street.  He gets away, but she memorizes his license plate number.  The end.

Beefcake: None.

Heterosexism: The "road rage" incident is just the couple's meet-cute.  They end up falling in love.  Brother Paul falls in love with a girl.  Husband George gets a new girlfriend.  It's hetero-romance all the way down.

Gay Characters: These people live in a gay-free Los Angeles.  They are apparently unaware that LGBT people exist.

Boredom: Heterosexuals lead very boring lives, obsessing about kitchen remodeling and sales reports. I kept losing interest.  No wonder they get road rage: it allows them a moment of excitement amid the dreariness.

My Grade: F.

Apr 10, 2023

"Transatlantic": Helping Writers and Artists Flee Nazi-Occupied France, and Falling in Love

 I'm not usually a fan of World War II movies -- I know how it turns out -- but I heard that Transatlantic, a Netflix series about a male-female couple smuggling artists and writers out of Nazi-occupied France in 1940, had some paranormal elements.  Besides, I wouldn't mind seeing some Picasso, Sartre, Chagall, or even Hans Arp. 

Scene 1: Marseilles, 1940, black and white.  The last free port in Nazi-occupied Europe is clogged with refugees trying to get out. As it transitions to color, a tired-looking male-female couple (the refugee smugglers?) follows the crowd down to the beach.  The guy (Lucas Englander) takes off his clothes -- way skinny, but nice butt -- and runs into the water.  

Scene 2: Switch to Ms. Gold (that's what the subtitles say, although Ms. would not be introduced into English for about 30 years): a very well dressed woman with red hair walking her dog through the street of Marseilles, I assume.  She stops to have lunch with a very well-dressed young man, who is making annoying "yummy" noises.  Is this a flashback?  Are they the same couple, before and after wartime deprivation?

 A letter came from her father demanding that she come back to the States instead of gallivanting around France. "But I'm trying to save lives"  Wait -- Ms. Gold?  Is she Jewish?  

They hold hands.  Ms. Gold asks Yummy-Sound Guy  to talk to her father to convince him to let her stay.  

She pops into the bathroom, gives some bread  to the tired- and hungry-looking woman from Scene 1 (so this isn't a flashback; she's a different character!).  She offers to sneak Tired-Looking Woman aboard a boat leaving for America, tomorrow morning.  "I'm traveling with my brother.' "Ok, him too."  That must be the skinny skinny-dipping guy.  

Scene 3: 
 Back to Yummy-Sound Guy, and then to her hotel ( L'Hotel Splendide, of course.  To the desk clerk, Paul, to announce that she has two more to sneak onto the ship tomorrow.   Then they bring "lunch" to the guests.

Paul, played by Ralph Amoussou, is an important character, appearing in every episode.  He takes off his shirt in Episode 4, and kisses a guy or a short-haired girl in the French tv series Marianne.

Scene 4:
An elegant manor.  Varian Fry (Cory Michael Smith), a skinny eyeglassed guy,  mills through the crowd, getting angry glares. He's on the list, so he's permitted to meet with Mr. Patterson, Yummy-Sound Guy from Scene 2, who turns out to be the British Consul in Marseille (Corey Stoll, left).  He argues that Ms. Gold is a silly girl with clouds in her eyes, unaware of how the world works.  "But she...er, um...her money...is indispensable to our Emergency Rescue Operation!" 

Then Varian asks why Yummy-sound Guy keeps stonewalling on Mr. Benjamin's visa, even though it's a matter of life and death.  "Because I don't care.  People kill each other all the time.  You shouldn't care either -- you're an American, and America is neutral."  Until next year, 1941.  

Then Yummy-Sound Guy asks: "Why are you even here?  My wife keeps asking me to come home.  Don't you like yours?"  Thus he establishes both of their heterosexual identities.

Scene 5:  What a coincidence!  After Varian mentions Mr. Benjamin, Ms. Gold brings "lunch" to hotel resident Mr. Benjamin, (Walter Benjamin, the famous philosopher, who was Jewish and living in Paris in 1940).  While she complains that his room smells like hashish, he mourns the destruction of Europe: "You're lucky -- you can go home.  I have none."  Then he asks when his visa is coming through.  Wait -- I thought the "lunches," small cases, contained the exit visas.

Scene 6: Tired-Looking Woman and her Skinny-Dipping Brother from Scene 1 camping out on the beach to await their boat. They start a conversation with a middle-aged man.  Plot dump: they are non-practicing Jews; but Old Guy is practicing, even offering to celebrate Shabbat with them.  He has a daughter waiting for him in New York.

Scene 7: Ms. Gold in Varian's office. He complains about her trying to help so many people.  It will draw attention to their operation, and then they will all be killed.  Stick to the 200 "important people" on the list sent by the U.S. Department of State: Walter Benjamin, Max Ernst (painter) Andre Breton (poet).  Then we can all go home.  "My wife is waiting for me!" he wails, identifying a second time as heterosexual.

"But in 2 years, we've only gotten 11 people on the list out!  Let's try to do some good instead of waiting around for visas."

Scene 8
: Walter Benjamin in his hotel, figuring out how to smoke hashish with no pipe. Cut to Ms. Gold frustrated, packing, and the brother-sister and old guy heading for the docks. Lionel, in charge of placing stowaways, wonders why there are three of them, when Ms. Gold only paid for two. But Old Guy gives him money and a gold watch to pay his way aboard and they take a dinghey out to sneak aboard the ship before it docks. Nice bulge on one of the other travelers. 

Left: In spite of his extensive build-up, Lionel (Romeo Mariani) appears in just this episode.  Instead, I'm posting Gregory Montel, who appears in every episode as Philippe Frot, an authority of some sort. Nazis, French, American, British -- there are lots of authorities to keep track of.

Back to the dinghey: The French police motor toward them, ordering them to stop!  They dive into the ocean (name reveal: Ursula and Albert), can't rescue Old Guy from drowning, and end up shivering in the ship hold or a police lockup, I can't tell which.  

Scene 9: Ms. Gold hears about the police roundup at the docks. The whole boat has been impounded. While Ursula and many other shivering, whimpering women are being herded into a horrible-looking French prison, she rushes out to bribe a German official and spring them all.  The men, too.  But where's Ursula's brother, Albert?  Uh-oh.

Ursula decides to skip the boat and take an unguarded path across the Pyrenees into Spain.  Ms. Gold promises to wait for Albert and send him that way, too. Don't worry, he appears in all 7 episodes.  

Scene 10:  The Police Chief wants to know why Albert's name is spelled differently in each of his three passports.  "I immigrated to France from Germany, and studied in Italy," he explains.  After more interrogation, he is released into Ms. Gold's custody.  Ok, I thought Ursula was his sister, not his girlfriend, so he could be gay.  Instead, it's so he can start a romance with Ms. Gold. 

They drive down the coast, grinning and flirting and staring longingly at each other (you should have seen him skinny-dipping earlier, girl!)  Uh-oh, a road block!  "Just pretend that we're lovers," Albert suggests, putting his arm around her.  "Heterosexuals are infinitely valuable, so they'll let us go."  It works!

Scene 11: Back at the hotel, Varian, the Head of the Emergency Rescue Operation, picks up a letter from his wife, and inquires of Paul the Desk Clerk if he's married, inviting him to affirm a heterosexual identity. "Not yet," he replies.  

 There's also a letter with no postage, hand-delivered.  Varian reads it and rushes out.

Scene 12:  Skinny-Dipping Albert and his girlfriend Ms. Gold arrive at the base of the mountains, where he is to meet his sister (remember her?).  "So...she'll be here soon.  I have to....um...go...um..."   He runs off; Ms. Gold looks at the airplane ticket that Daddy Warbucks sent, and tears it up.  "Wait -- you're hot!  I'm coming with you!"

Meanwhile, Varian takes a bus to the countryside and knocks on the door of a dark, scary mansion, the Villa Air-Belle.  The heavy-lidded, decadent-looking Thomas  (Amit Rahav) answers the door: "I just arrived.  The electricity isn't turned on yet, so we'll have to use candles."  So he's a vampire?

Half of the photos of Amit Rahav on Google Images shows him kissing a guy or in a hot tub with a guy, looking at a naked guy, so apparently Thomas is gay, a bit of downlow action for the heavily married Varian.

"How did you know I was here?"

"I wrote to your home in America, and your wife told me."

They almost kiss, but at the last minute Varian backs off, angry because Thomas left without a word five years ago."  Ghosted by a hookup!  We've all been there.  "Anyway, I can't be distracted from my work.  I am saving..." They kiss - rather more extensively than Skinny-Dippping Albert and Ms. Gold did earlier.

Meanwhile, Albert runs through the vineyards toward the mountains, while David the Desk Clerk smokes and looks sinister.  

Scene 13: Ursula and company have climbed the mountains, but just at the Spanish border, they're stopped by the French police.  Then Deus Ex Machina Albert arrives, pretending to be a German officer, and yells at them: "The borders are under control of the Gestapo!  You have no authority here!  Get lost!"  

They walk down the mountain to Spain and catch a bus to Barcelona, thence to Lisbon to catch a ship to America.  Except Albert wants to return to Marseilles toh help people escape...and kiss Ms. Gold.  Ursula is jealous and heartbroken, but leaves (this is her only episode).  Her street-smart cell-mate, whom I didn't think important enough to mention, decides to go with him.  But he already has a girlfriend, and Varian is gay.  Who are you going to fall in love with, Paul the Desk Clerk or Yummy-Sound Patterson?

Scene 14: News broadcasts report that no more passenger ships headed west will be allowed to dock at Marseilles. How is Varian going to get the artists and writers out now?   Skinny-Dipping Albert bursts in with an idea: the overland route to Spain!  A walk of one night will get you there!  From Marseilles to the Spanish border is 230 miles, but I guess they can take a bus to a border town.  The end.

Beefcake: Albert's butt.

Heterosexism:  Ms. Gold and Albert fall in love at first sight.  Lots of references to wives back home.

Gay Characters: Varian, in spite of his wife back home, and his decadent-looking boyfriend.  It seems to be a closeted, sinister, "we can't be found out" romance, but what do you expect in 1940?

: Why does Paul the Desk Clerk look so sinister? Is he actually working with the Nazis?  But they didn't like Africans.

Paranormal.  None.  I was promised paranormal.

Famous Artists and Writers: Walter Benjamin, Andre Breton (5 episodes), Max Ernst, Marc Chagall (Alexander Fehling, left, in Young Goethe in Love.  I didn't even know that Goethe was gay.).

Will I Keep Watching: Naw.

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