Apr 21, 2023

"Barry" on HBO Max:: Two Gay Stereotype Characters are Not Queerbait!


HBO Max recommended Barry to me, about a hitman turned actor.  But I can't take any more "are they or aren't they" couples, so I did some internet sleuthing.

Variety: Antony Carrigan and Michael Irby play "the cutest gay mobster couple on tv."

No-Ho Hank (Antony Carrigan) gets 4th billing on IMDB, appearing  in 30 episodes across four seasons.   Is No-Ho short for No-Homo? I desperately hope not. Christopher Sifuentes (Michael Irby) appears more sporadically: 2 episodes in Season  1, 5 in Season 2, 6 in Season 3, and 2 in Season 4.  He must be part of No-Ho Hank's story arc.

The Advocate review is upset becaue "No Ho Hank" is an "unsavory character," a ruthless killer.  Well, who would you expect to be a hitman's friend, a florist?

Reddit has the usual: "Is he gay?", with about half of the responses saying "Obviously" and the other half saying "obviously not."

Newsweek notes that his big gay reveal comes in Season 3, Episode 1, so I reviewed that episode.

Scene 1:  The wilderness.  While someone named Jeff begs for forgiveness, Hitman Barry (Bill Hader, top photo) eats a sandwich.  His bulky associate Charles asks for  for a tool to cut his eyelids off with, so Barry rummages around in the trunk for some pliers. 

"Did she tell you how big your cock is, Jeff?" Charles asks. Odd question -- why would Jeff need to be told the size of his own cock?  

Suddenly Charles decides that, since Jeff asked for forgiveness, he's not going to kill or torture him.  After all, his wife is partially responsible, too.  This annoys Barry, so he shoots them both.  Wait -- now you won't get paid.

Scene 2: Sally, who helpfully keeps a Hollywood sign on her desk, is reading the script for the latest episode of the tv series Joplin.  She moves into the living room, where Barry is playing a video game (about a hit man?), and asks why he didn't come to bed last night.  (This is Season 3; no doubt Barry's heterosexual identity was established  way back in Season 1. It's only the gay guys who get a few seasons of hints and "is he or isn't he?" disputes).   After some conversation about today's shooting on her show, she says "Love you!" and leaves.

Scene 3:
The helpful sign "Plants!" tells us that we are at a plant nursery.  A guy who was identified as Chechen in the "previous episode" montage is spraying water in a way that looks like he is peeing, har har.  Three detectives approach and ask to see No-Ho Hank. The Chechen offers to fetch him, and runs through the greenhouse, yelling "Hide everything!" 

Cut to the office. No-Ho Hank (Anthony Carrigan), a bald Lex Luthor type, is talking business with his bulky bald associate: they need more guys.  I could use a few more guys, myself.  The Chechen warns him about the cops, but he isn't upset, just a little nervous: "This is my first interrogation."  A little swish in your walk, Dude, and that pinkie ring is rather flamboyant.  These must be some of the "is he or isn't he" hints.  

Scene 4: At the police station, No-Ho Hank claims that he knows nothing about the monastery shooting, or a dead detective with a pinback that says "The debt has been paid" in Chechen.  "They hand them out at banks back home."  Then he admits that the two cases are linked, and points out the man responsible in a photograph: The Raven, a Chechen mob enforcer: "The Raven lives in shadows.  Who knows where he is?"

Scene 5: The Raven in a desert cabin in Chechnya, in his undershirt, pouring a bowl of cereal (Flaky Critters). But he's out of milk, so he goes out to milk his goat.  He and his younger, bulkier boyfriend have breakfast and discuss how to get better tv reception: he hasn't missed an Ohio State game in 25 years.  Boyfriend says that he can return to L.A. as soon as things cool off.  

Scene 6: Whoa, Fonzie has grown up.  The Elderly Fonzie, aka Gene Costineau (Henry Winkler), is at the police station, deciding which of the men in a photograph showed him Janice's body.  Janice must be his Dead Wife.  He points out the Raven. 

"But the Raven must be working with Barry!" Fonzie insists.  "Barry is responsible for everything bad that has every happened to me: my Dead Wife, my failed acting career..." All downhill after you jumped over that shark, huh?   "But we cleared Barry."  "He's working behind the scenes..."  Ok, Boomer, time for your nap. 

Scene 7:  At home, Barry is scrolling through a hitman website, looking at the various ads from customers wanting someone to kill their friend, spouse, or boss.  He answers one from a lady who wants her cheating husband offed, and asks what different colors mean in flowers.  Weird!  Dude, call a florist, or just google it.  

Meanwhile, a middle-aged woman is watching one of Girlfriend Sally's scenes.  She asked if Sally's character and another woman live together. Why, is there a lesbian subtext in the show? :No, they're mother and daughter."

More stuff about Sally that I'm skipping over. Eventually it's lunchtime, and Barry arrives with flowers.  I'm skipping again, to the next No-Ho Hank scene.

Scene 8: 
 No-Ho Hank arrives at a large house in the hills, enters the tiny living room, and sniffs a flower. 

 Someone is taking a shower; he sneaks in to the bathroom, opens the door -- and surprise!  It's a guy, boyfriend Cristobal (Michael Irby), all shrieky and feminine: "You scared me!" he lisps.  Geez, I'm watch a 1930s pansy character.  If this guy has appeared in a number of episodes previously, why would anyone be shocked that he's gay?   

"Guess who finally got a police interrogation?" No-Ho Hank asks proudly.  "I think I aced it!"

"I told you, Hank, you've got to envision your future." Hank undresses and climbs into the shower with him (the scene cuts abruptly).

Scene 9: Hank and Cristobal are cuddling in bed, watching something on a laptop. They discuss buying property in Santa Fe, but Cristobal can't afford it until they rebuild: "Your boyfriend Barry killed all of my buddies."   So Barry is working for a rival gang?  

"He killed some of my buddies, too."

"Yeah, but you have a few left.  I don't have any." 

Scene 10: Late at night, No-Ho Hank goes out to the balcony to blow out some candles, and Barry is there!  "I didn't know where else to go?"  Hank orders him to leave...it's not a good time.  Then they hear Cristobal's voice.  Is Hank cheating on Christobal with Barry, or is Cristobal just angry because of the loss of his buddies?  

Barry wants to know if Hank and Cristobal are an item now.  "Yeah -- why, you jealous?"

"I just need a job.  You don't have to tell anyone." 

"But you shot most of my buddies, and then framed me.  Why would I give you a job?"  I agree: that's very weird.   Barry pleads and cries, but Hank will have none of it, and tells him to "fuck off."  

He leaves.  Barry immediately gets a text from Elderly Fonzie, asking for some help "packing."  A job!  From someone who hates you?  Be suspicious, Dude.

The camera pulls away from Elderly Fonzie, revealing that he has a gun.  Uh-oh, Barry is a goner.

Scene 10: In the morning, Elderly Fonzie kisses his son and grandson (I assume), and says he'll meet them in the park later, if he has time.  Ominous music plays as he grabs his briefcase.

Barry appears at his office.  They discuss how his acting studio is closing after 15 years, and it's Barry's fault.  Why, did he kill the students?  Then Elderly Fonzie brings up the memory of seeing his Dead Wife's body, and being told that Barry was responsbile.  

He pulls out a gun to kill Barry, but it falls apart!  Barry takes the opportunity to grab him, take him into the desert, and kill him.  He begs, pleads, and says "it's me!" before and after being shot in the head.   Then Barry changes his mind, rolls back time, and says "I think I know how to make it up to you. Get back in the trunk."  The end.

Beefcake:  No-Ho Hank and Cristobal are shirtless.  

Gay Characters
: The big reveal, but No-Ho Hank has some gay-stereotype qualities, and Cristobal is a big ole screaming queen, so I'm surprised that anyone is surprised.  There's also an intentional gay subtext betwen No-Ho Hank and Barry, played as a joke, which might help with the surprise: viewers would assume that the gay hints were just queerbaiting.

Left: Another episode shows Yandar  (Nick Gracer), one of the Chechens, in the sauna.  I assume that he's about to have oral sex wtih that guy, but no google search suggests that he is gay.  Wikipedia reveals another flamboyant gay stereotype, a student in Elderly Fonzie's acting class.

Acting Stuff:  Sally's story is the B-plot, taking an inordinate amount of screen time.  

My Grade: C.

Apr 20, 2023

Christmas Day in South Carolina: A Kelvin/Keefe Fan Fiction, Illustrated

It was Christmas Day in South Carolina, 85 degrees, so Kelvin and Keefe were sweating in their Santa hats and scarves as they knocked on the door of Daddy Eli's mansion. Kelvin was his youngest son, the youth director at his sprawling megachurch and worldwide television ministry.  Keefe was Kelvin's best friend, an ex-Satanist whom he brought to God two years ago.  And incredibly cute, Kelvin thought.  He could hardly take his eyes off him.  It's a wonder some girl hasn't snatched him away!

 Keefe could barely see over the pile of presents in his arms: they had a big family. Daddy Eli,  his children, Jesse and Judy, who helped in his ministry (along with Kelvin); Jesse's wife and three kids; and Judy's husband.  Even with the couples getting presents together, that's still an armload.

Jesse's wife Amber, answered the door.  "My favorite brother-in law!" she exclaimed, hugging Kelvin.  "And my other favorite brother in law,"  kissing...Keefe's cheek?

"Hey!" Judy's husband BJ yelled from the parlor.

Other favorite brother in law?  "We're not...um...we're not..." Kelvin stammered, but Keefe and Amber were already heading toward the Christmas tree to deposit the presents.  

He checked the seating arrangements: two places on one of the sofas, but they would have to sit very close together.  Gulp!  Maybe someone would get up to go to the bathroom, and he could take their place.  He stopped at the pastry cart in the alcove.  He usually didn't eat sugar, but this was an emergency!

"No time for feeding your face, Brother," Jesse called.  "These presents won't unwrap themselves."

The rest of the story is on Righteous Gemstones Beefcake and Boyfriends

"The Other Two, Season 2": More Gay, Less Teen Idol


On March 2, 2019, I reviewed the first season of The Other Two, a Comedy Central sitcom about 30-ish closeted gay actor Cary Dubek (Drew Carver) and his sister, failed dancer Brooke (Helene Yorke), adjusting to the sudden pop star mega-fame of their 13-year old brother, Chase (Case Walker, left and below).  Rounding out the cast were their Hollywood stage mother Pat (Molly Shannon), and Chase's manager Streeter (Ken Marino).   

Episodes involved Chase trying to adjust to a life where everyone wants to date him or exploit him, or both, and depending on his siblings for emotional support.  I praised the show for depicting Chase as a genuinely nice kid, not a spoiled pop star jerk, and for depicting the siblings as genuinely caring, not jealous or spiteful.  I didn't care much for Cary, who is horrified when his brother outs him in his new song ("My Brother's Gay, and That's Ok,") and responds to someone telling him "I thought you were straight" with "Thank you."

Seasons change, COVID delays filming, and Season 2 finally appears 2 1/2 years later, in August 2021 (I'm just watching now because I just signed up for HBO Max).  Chase isn't a dreamy teen idol  anymore, he's an 18-year old hunk with muscles and a sultry gaze.  Retired from pop stardom, he tries to go to college, but it's hard to pay attention in class when everyone is gawking at you.  So he moves into fashion and then buys a sports team.  But mostly he is sidelined as episodes concentrate on the siblings.

Mom Pat is now married to Chase's former manager, and starring in an Ellen-like talk show, Pat!   Sister Brooke works as her publicist.  Cary continues his faltering acting career; with a podcast called The Gay Minute and a job doing cameos (bottom-level celebrities hired to send people personalized video greetings). And he continues to struggle with coming out..

In the episode I reviewed, Mom Pat! has a newly-out Kansas farmboy (Noah Galvin, left) and his conservative father (Tuc Watkins) on the show ("I'm having trouble understanding it, but he's still my son.").  She awards them $30,000.   Turns out that they are actually scammers, a gay couple, and rather...um...advanced: "Dad" complains that he can't take Molly during their Grindr Hookup, or he won't be able to perform, so "Son" suggests that they both bottom.  

Cary and his boyfriend  Jess (Gideon Glick) notice them in a coffee shop, think that the Kansas farmboy knows nothing about gay life, and offer to show him Gay New York.  The Fake Dad and Son know that Cary is Pat's son, so they have to play along. At that moment the Grindr Hookup (Noam Ash, left) arrives, and is introduced as a straight brother from Kansas ("I'm straight.  I have a girlfriend.  She... um...has long hair.  Straight guys like girls with long hair, right?").  

Instead of a three-way, Fake Dad, Son, and Grindr Hookup are  subjected to an afternoon of ultra-boring activities that Cary and Jess promise are "hot!"  Like getting frozen yogurt.  Finally they convince them to go to a gay bar,  where Fake Dad says "In order to understand my son's lifestyle, I'm going to dance with that guy."

They realize that the Grindr Hookup is actually gay, and congratulate themselves on helping Fake Dad accept his two gay sons.  He claims that he needs more research, and kisses Cary before returning to the dance floor.  The clueless Cary still doesn't realize that they are scammers.

Later, at home, Boyfriend Jess goes a bit overboard: "You're my everything.  You're my universe.  You're what gives my life meaning.  I would die without you." Uh-oh.  The end.

Beefcake: None.

Gay Characters: Everybody in the B plot.  

Cary: He's newly out, with his first boyfriend.  At age 34? In New York?

My Grade:  I'm actually more interested in the retired teen idol than in Cary's adventures.  Maybe because I already know what Gay New York is like; I lived there for four years.  B.

See also: The Other Two

"The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder": Gay Dads are Introduced, A Homophobic Dad Comes Around. What Year is This?


A reader told me that The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder, on the Disney Channel, had gay characters, so I looked it up: there's a swishy gay stereotype named Michael (who was apparently less swishy and straight in the original series), and a pair of gay dads played by Zachary Quinto and Billy Porter.  They appear in three episodes in Season 1 and two in Season 2, not a lot of representation, but something.  I watched their first appearance, Season 1, Episode 4:

Scene 1: Dad Oscar is helping his friend Felix celebrate his "half birthday" with "Snackland": each ride "based on a delicious treat" that Oscar's company will produce.  This has nothing to do with Felix's birthday -- Oscar just wanted a co-signer on a loan -- so he is incensed, and digs his way out of the house.

Scene 2:
  In a mansion, teenage Penny and her friends, including the swishy gay kid, are watching a tv show where viewers send in videos.  Friend LaCienega sent in "Disinfect Me with Your Love" (a COVID reference?).  They all pile on the "likes" so she can win the prize: a Pink Concert.

Ok, if's Felix's mansion.  Oscar comes to the door to beg for the co-sign.  Felix continues to refuse.  They discuss Felix's wife Sunset, who just got a promotion to detective, and a new, hot male partner, Barry (he just moved to town).  She descends the staircase, all sultry and sexy;  Oscar's jaw drops to the floor. Hasn't he seen her before?

The doorbell rings.  It's Partner Barry, blond, square-jawed, in a sparkly purple tuxedo,  Oscar figures that a hot, muscular detective must have a high FICA score, so he buddies up to him, hoping to get a co-sign.

Scene 3: The kids have piled on the likes to over 7,000, but LaCienega's competitor gets 2.3 billion!  So they won't be able to attend the Pink Concert (Is that singer still a thing?  I remember Will talking about her on Will and Grace years ago).  

Small world --  Barry happens to be Maya's father (Maya is focus character Penny's friend).  He happens to be working security at the concert, and offers to get them in, with back stage passes. Felix is overcome with jealousy.  Don't they hire security guards, not cops, for private events?  Especially not a detective, who is involved in crime investigation.

Scene 4
: The concert.  Pink is a grunge kid with an eye patch, singing "Disinfect Me with Your Love." I thought LaCienega made it up.  The fans all dress in pink and wear eye patches -- including Maya's father Randall, a chubby black guy. She introduces him to the gang.

"Wait!" one of the friends, Dijonay, exclaims.   "I thought Maya's father was Barry." Penny buttons her lip, and she stares at Barry, then Randall, then Barry, then Randall, and finally, with a look of utter shock, figures it out.  Randall and Barry's daughter Maya is disgusted; a kid with two dads hasn't been shocking since her dads were kids themselves.

Scene 5: The concert over, the dads gather their kids and head for the door (there are two kids, Maya and KG, who is probably a boy).  Dijonay videos them. Penny yells at her.  "I'm just trying to get an understanding."  "Well, don't out them on social media!' Strikes me that they are pretty much out already.

But she social medias anyway, and the comments range from rainbow heart emojis to "No one cares" to "Weird!" to "I can't be friends with Maya anymore."

Scene 6:  Maya and KG walk down the hallway, being in the spotlight and hating it.  They're now spokespersons for gay rights, social justice warriors, victims of child abuse, and sinful deviants.  Every gay kid thinks that they are best buds, and every hater has a new target.  Mean kids call the boy a "double daddy boy."  

Penny is incensed: "Why does it matter if they got two Dads?"  But her friends all say that their parents think it's "weird," and don't want them hanging out with the pariahs. Even the gay kid's parents?

At lunch, Penny and Michael the Gay Kid go over to console them: "Don't let the haters bother you.  You should be happy to have two dads.  Some kids don't even have one.  Or a mother, either."  This does not console the kids: they're adopted.  They lost their birth parents.  They get up and walk away.

Scene 7: At home, Oscar (Penny's father) yells that he doesn't want her hanging out with the kids, either.  His wife and mother yell at him for being homophobic.  I keep hoping that it's a tease, he's actually angry with the couple for an unrelated reason.  Maybe he'll be redeemed later?

Scene 8: Breakfast.  No one is speaking to Oscar, not even the dog.  So he goes to the bank for his loan appointment.  Yep, you guessed it: the loan officer is Randall, one of the dads.  Oscar has never met him before, but hopes that he'll get special consideration because they're both black.  

Looking at the application, Randall realizes that they are neighbors: "My husband and I just moved to town.  We bought the Webb House."  HUSB AND?  He recoils in disgust, and tries to run screaming from the room, but has to restrain himself because Randall has approved the application.  

At that moment, the husband appears: Barry the Detective!  "AHH! Two of them!" Oscar shrieks.  We don't hear the rest of his thoughts, but they're probably on the lines of "What if they start doing gay stuff right here in the office?  What if they...ugh....kiss?"

They do kiss, and Oscar's head explodes.  They notice, and stare as he struggles to get out of them room without fainting from homophobic terror.. Of course, Randall rejects the loan application.

I'm fast-forwarding to Oscar's redemption.  I'm sure he becomes more tolerant in the end, but this is literally making me sick to my stomach.

Scene 9: A housewarming party.  Everyone is dancing and having fun.  Oscar comes in, deer-in-headlights skittish. Felix from Scene 2 "loves" the pair because it means that Barry will not be hitting on his wife.  This makes Oscar's head explode.

Daughter Penny suggests that he try seeing through her eyes, instead of falling prey to his prejudices.  So his eyes shatter, and are replaced by Penny, and he sees two guys dancing together.  Wait -- they're just two guys?  Nothing to be afraid of? The end.

My Grade:  This was way too retro.  Lots of children's tv shows have kids with two dads -- heck, even Sesame Street did -- and it's always matter-of-fact, no big deal, not eliciting a single double-take or comment.  The reaction of the kids, of the parents, and especially of Oscar remind me of a "very special episode" of a 1980s sitcom.  And I didn't understand Oscar's redemption at all: he saw the two guys through Penny's eyes?  D

Apr 19, 2023

"One Piece": Buddy Bonding During a Quest to Own Everything in the World

 One Piece, a Japanese anime series on Netflix with a 95% "similarity" rating.   The only one-pieces I've heard of are ballet leotards.  Maybe it's set in a ballet school, with muscles and bulges.  

Prologue:  No such luck.  This is about pirates. Back story: years ago, the King of Pirates buried a treasure, "everything the world has to offer," so now thousands of pirate ships are scouring the oceans, looking for it.  Um...those would be scavengers.

Scene 1:  Some sailors see a barrel floating in the ocean, and pull it aboard, even though their shipmates are  screaming with rage and yelling "You suck!"  I can't imagine what their beef is.  

Meanwhile, at a fancy ball on a cruise ship  -- the same ship? -- redhead girl is asked to dance.  

Suddenly pirates attack!  Everyone at the fancy ball panics, except for the redhead girl, who just smiles.

The pirate leader, Iron Club Alvida, forces the crew to say that she's the most beautiful woman on the ocean.  They all board rhe cruise ship except for Coby, a frightened pink-haired boy.  She assaults him.

This is not what Coby looks like in this episode.  He must grow up.

Scene 2: The pirates have entered the ball room: "We won't take yer lives, but we'll take yer valuables." (That's what the subtitles say.)  

Coby runs into the kitchen, and finds the barrel that the sailors pulled out of the ocean earlier (the one that made their shipmates furious).  The pirates follow and break it open: it contains a boy!  They attack, but he easily subdues them, and introduces himself to Coby as Monkey D. Luffy.  Maybe they'll have a gay subtext buddy-bond.

Meanwhile the redhead girl puts on a pirate uniform and swings over to the pirate ship.  She kicks a guard in the balls, and smiles for about ten seconds.  

Scene 3: Luffy is hungry, so he raids the kitchen.  He explains that his ship got swallowed by the maelstrom in Scene 1, and he escaped by sealing himself in a barrel. Apparently he's a paranormal being, maybe a trickster god.   Coby tells us his back story: he was out fishing one day, when he was shanghaied by the pirate queen and forced to work as a chore boy.

Luffy: "Why didn't you just run away?  You're dumb and stupid, and a wimp.  I hate you!"  So much for the gay subtext.

Meanwhile, the redhead girl is investigating the pirate ship.

More plot dump: Luffy is planning to become King of the Pirates, a title given to the person who "finds everything in this world."  That's a lot of booty.  No, wait, these subtitles must be off.  He's not looking for everything in the world, just a single object called the One-Piece. Sort of like the One Ring that gives you infinite power, and allows you to take over?

Coby has a goal, too: to join the navy, and catch bad guys like pirates.  Uh-oh, conflict!

Scene 4:  Having eaten, Luffy needs a new ship: "I wonder if they would give me this one, if I asked nicely."  But at that moment Alvida the Pirate Queen arrives.  He disparages her beauty, which makes her furious. He grabs Coby and flies to the upper deck.  There he subdues some regular pirates by stretching out his arm and boomeranging back.  

When Alvida approaches again, Coby stands up to her, disparaging her beauty and stating that he's going to join the navy, while Trickster God laughs.  She attacks, but Luffy deflects her blows onto himself, and of course he can't be hurt.  He punches her into the stratosphere.

Meanwhile, the redhead girl is leaving with the pirate booty.

Scene 5:  The navy arrives!  Coby and Luffy grab a small boat and leave to avoid capture.  Couldn't he just clobber them all?  

Luffy still needs a crew.  He suggests recruiting the pirate-hunter Zoro, who is incarcerated at a navy base. Coby is opposed to the idea: Zoro is a bad guy.  They argue.

Cut to the navy base, on a small island.  Zoro is tied to a stake in the courtyard.  He grimaces.  The end.

  No. But in the One-Piece movie, also on Netflix, all of the male characters are semi-shirtless, with spectacular physiques.  Maybe I'll review that next.

Gay Characters: Coby and Luffy have a gay-subtext buddy-bond, right now, but the redhead girl will no doubt be joining them, and become the object of  heterosexual desire for one or both.

Culture Clash:  Why were the sailors so upset over pulling a barrel out of the ocean?  

Why does Luffy insult Coby and say that he hates him, when he obviously likes him?  

 Why is a person who owns everything in the world called the King of the Pirates instead of The Emperor or the Supreme Leader?  

Why would a trickster god have to work hard to own everything in the world?  Doesn't he control it already?

Maybe these things make sense to Japanese viewers, or maybe they're explained in later episodes.

Will I Continue to Watch: Holy cow, there are over 1,000 episodes!  One a day for the next three years!  I don't think so.

See also: Three One-Piece Movies in One Sitting

"The 7 Lives of Lea": Beefcake, Gay Characters, Time Travel, and Body Swapping. What's Not to Like?

The 7 Lives of Lea,
on Netflix, is the best tv series I've seen in ages, witty and intriguing, with minimal cliches and maximum beefcake, and a main character who is probably gay.  I reviewed the first episode.

Scene 1:  June 14, 2021.  Lea, age 17, is at a wild teenage party at a nature preserve in the Massif Central of France, feeling depressed and miserable.  She goes off by herself into Valmy Gorge to drink and drug herself to death, and comes across a skeleton!  Wearing a silver bracelet...

Scene 2: Police officer Miriam says that the skeleton belongs to a young man, and it's been buried for a long time, but she won't know anything else until the coroner does an analysis.  Lea's imperious parents arrive to yell at her for going to a wild party instead of studying for her exams (um...is that really what's important now?).  They argue; Lea runs into her bedroom, changes clothes (gratuitous body shot), and goes to sleep.

Scene 3: And wakes up as a hot guy, Ismael (Khalil Ben Gharbia)!  She doesn't have any of Ismael's memories, doesn't recognize his parents, doesn't speak Arabic.  Fortunately, she convinces Ismael's science fiction fan brother that she's shifted her consciousness into Ismael's body.  He suggests going to the gorge where she saw the skeleton, and maybe things will revert.

Scene 4: But first it's time for the apple harvest. The Arab immigrants are all apparently migrant workers.  Lea/Ismael picks apples for awhile, then sneaks out and tries to hitch a ride to the gorge.  No one stops; some passing soldiers call her "raghead."  Wait -- showing some skin works for girls, so why not boys?  She takes her shirt off, and sure enough, a lady and her teenage daughter pick him up.

They find it odd that Lea/Ismael is examining her new body -- abs, nipples, biceps.  And the silver bracelet from the skeleton!

As they drive through town, Lea/Ismael is shocked by how different it looks.  Plus the costumes are like something out of an old movie, teens are listening to "rad tunes" like "Everybody Dance Now," and there's an ad for Schwarzennegar's Terminator 2.  She not only switched bodies, she traveled back in time 30 years,  to June 15, 1991!

While she is freaking out, a woman named Patricia grabs her: "What are you doing here?  You're late!"  

Scene 5: 
 The woman ignores Lea/Ismael's pleas to take her to the Gorge and talks about how important this audition is: "the chance of a lifetime."  

They arrive at the resort where Lea's grandparents live.  They are 30 years younger, of course, and don't know who Lea is.  But they know Ismael!  

In the house, Lea's parents Stephane (Theo Fernandez) and Karine, now teenagers, are tuning their instruments. Stephane has his shirt open; in this series, it's beefcake all the way down!  They criticize Lea/Ismael for being late.  When he calls them "Mom" and "Dad," they think he's high, and try to bring him down: "We worked hard for this audition!  Don't blow it!"  They're really expressive with Ismael, hugging and groping -- are they, like lovers as well as bandmates?

They begin the audition. Of course, Lea/Ismael doesn't know how to play the guitar, and tanks.  Patricia the Band Agent stomps off, while teenage Stephane and Karine follow, begging for another chance.

Scene 6:  Ismael's Dad arrives to drag him back to the apple orchard, and yell.  "The boss's son saw you sneak away!  We could both be fired!  We'll lose the house, and be deported!  And you're failing your exams, and you dress like a bum, and I hate everything about you!"  Hey, Lea reasons, maybe the body-switching ruined Ismael's life, and that's why he committed suicide.  Maybe she can fix things for him...

Scene 7: Back at the house, Little Brother Soufiane is also irate. "You lied to me about the body-transfer stuff, just so you could go to your stupid audition!"  

Lea finds Ismael's journal under the mattress: full of artwork (no pictures of girls), lists of goals (again, no girls), song lyrics, and "June 15!  Big Audition!"   She buries the journal in the apple orchard, so if she ever gets back to 2021, she'll have proof.

Pye (Alexander Ferrario), the boss's son, arrives on his motorcycle (fully clothed, but don't worry, we see him in his underwear later on).  He's the one who snitched  about Lea/Ismael ditching work: "I hate lazy bitches like you."   He punches Lea/Ismael, says "Do your job!", and leaves.   

Scene 8: Lea/Ismael goes home and takes a shower (more gratuitous beefcake, not that I'm complaining).  She masturbates while looking in the mirror (wouldn't you?).  Then she goes to bed...and wakes up in 2021, as Lea!  Was it a dream?

Googling Ismael, she finds a blog about his mysterious disappearance, run by Little Brother Soufiane.  He announces a new lead, and a meeting at City Hall tonight.  If the disappearance was such a big deal in this small town, wouldn't Lea have known about it?  Especially if her parents were Ismael's best friends? Unless they have been deliberately covering up their involvement in his death...

Scene 9:  Mom drives Lea to her job at Dubont Bio (I guess it's close to the school).  The boss stops by -- Pye, the boss's son from 1991, now middle aged! 

Lea skips philosophy class and takes the bus to the apple orchard.  She digs up Ismael's journal.  This was no dream!

Scene 10:  At school, Lea tells her friend Romane, who is a lesbian and uses a wheelchair (were they checking off diversity boxes?), about her time-travel body-transfer adventure. Romane thinks she's crazy.

Scene 11:
The meeting at City Hall.  About 20 people there.  The police don't know if the remains actually belong to Ismael, or if his death was accidental or suicide.  Lea blurts out that it has to be him, because it was wearing Ismael's silver bracelet!  The middle-aged Little Brother Soufiane (now played by Vincent Heineine) is irate: "Why didn't the police tell me about the bracelet?  It's obviously my brother!  And how does this random girl know about it?"

Afterwards, everyone is angry with Lea for "making things up," except Soufiane, who thanks her.  He remembers the body-snatching conversation with Ismael 30 years ago -- didn't he say his name was Lea?  

Scene 12:  On the way home, Lea interrogates Mom about how well she and Dad knew Ismael.  "We were in the same class, but we didn't know him very well," she lies.  Lea wonders what she's hiding.

Lea goes to bed, and wakes up in 1991 again.  But this time she's the teenage Mom! The end.

Beefcake:  No shirts, no problem.

Other Sights:  This is a small resort town.  Chances are they'll never make it to Paris, or even Lyon.

Heterosexism:  Lea finds Ismael hot, but she won't be dating him, for obvious reasons.  That leaves her teenage Dad -- nope -- and Pye -- double nope.  Pye gets a girlfriend, however.  

Gay Characters:  The big mystery of the series is not really who did it, but who is in love with Ismael, Mom, Dad, Patricia, Pye, all of the above, or none of the above?  It becomes clear in Episode 5.

Body-Swapping: Every successive episode takes place on a successive day, with Lea switching to the 1991 bodies of Mom, Pye, Patricia the Band Manager, and finally Dad.

My Grade: A.

"Control Z": We Know All Your Secrets.

Control Z, on Netflix, is advertised as an old-fashioned whodunit: who is revealing the sordid secrets of the students at a high school in Mexico? Ten to one, the secrets include being gay.

Scene 1:  Creepy Girl )Ava Valeria Beceril) enters the beautiful glass-and-steel atrium of  her fancy, elite high school, where all of the students are busy on their cell phones. Their texts and websites appear over their heads; mostly sex and romance.

She notices a boy and a girl kissing; the boy is aroused. 
A girl sticking her tongue out for a selfie
A girl who dropped her Motrin (a pain reliever)

She saves the scarced, learning-disabled Luis (Luis Curiel) from some bullies by pointing out their secrets.  One gets his mom to cut his hair; another has herpes; a third has dandruff (are those really equivalent sins?)..

Scene 2: School Psychiatrist tells Creepy Girl that she's extremely intelligent but getting straight Cs.  She has problems with teachers and classmates.  She was in a mental hospital (wouldn't Creepy Girl know this already?)

Scene3: Class.  A tongue-swallowing session between Pablo and Isabela (Zion Moreno, Andres Baida, top photo), so theatrical and overblown that it looks like a parody (obviously neither of the actors have kissed anyone in real life before; you don't lick the other person's uvula). It lasts forever.

Finally the teacher arrives, and introduces the new student Javier (Michael Ronda, below).  His Dad is a famous soccer star,  so everybody wants to be his friend.  But she assigns him to Creepy Girl.  Finally we get her name -- Sofia.

Scene 4: The boys latch on to Javier and ask about his Dad ("Is he really ripped, or only on tv?").   He's upset by the attention and leaves.

Scene 5: The prim, retro-outfitted Natalia is addressing a group of adults about National Night, a big annual party (flashback to a girl having sex).  She assures them that there won't be a lot of sexual assaults, like last year.

Scene 6:  In the store room, Isabela is giving Pablo a blow job.  She finishes.  They do some more absurdly theatrical tongue-swallowing.  Then she suggests telling people.   She's only been keeping it a secret because of hPablo, and she's tired of lying.  But -- everyone knows they are together.  They were tongue-swallowing in biology class.

Scene 7: Creepy Girl is standing on the glass-and-steel roof.  Javier thinks she is planning to commit suicide, and tries to intervene.  But she just likes it up there because she can observe everyone down below.  She gives us a handy list of characters:
The bullies, Raul, Ernesto, and Dario, who have some sort of illegal business (drugs, no doubt).
Gerry, one of their customers
Natalia, the retro-outfitted girl planning National Night, who hates everyone
Pablo and Isabella, the tongue-swallowers.
Alex (a girl), who also hates everyone
Loner Luis
These will all become important later, when someone reveals All their Secrets.

Scene 8: Gym class in a beautiful, vast, glass-enclosed indoor soccer field.  Who goes to a high school like this?  Creepy Girl has special permission to read War and Peace (in English) instead of exercising. . Javier takes his shirt off, causing girls to squeal and swoon.  It's gym class -- aren't you used to it?  Coach fawns over him. 

Scene 9: The shy, learning-disabled Luis, who was bullied in Scene 1, is attacked again. This time the bullies pee on his backpack and tear uphis important pictures, while he screams in agony.  A very long scene, very unpleasant to watch.  The kid keeps screaming, the bullies keep hurting him.  

Scene 10: Finally the torture porn scene is over!  Time for a school assembly. What new hell is this?

Another long session of Pablo and Isabella tongue-swallowing (seriously, even if they 've never kissed anyone before, couldn't the director point out that you don't swallow the other person's entire face?).  Meanwhile Natalie the Retro Girl is being snarky, Luis is being tormented yet again, and Creepy Girl is being all Goth and "I'm too cool to care about anything."

Teacher Quintanilla (Rodrigo Cachoro, seen here with his --no sé) finally starts talking.  His lecture is on how bad cell phones are.  He asks the AV guy to start a video,but it's not about cell phones, it's about Isabela. And they can't turn it off, as we learn that...she is transgender!  (or, as the video states, "really a boy").

Why is the video in English?  For that matter, why is every text message we see in English? 

The students all laugh and jeer: "Isabella is a guy!  Show us your penis!"  Isabella runs away.  The auditorium empties as cell phones come out and the news spreads across Mexico.

Scene 11:  In the bathroom, the girls ask Isabela why she was hiding her transgender identity (um...it's none of their business?).  Meanwhile, the guys are razzing Pablo. He rejects Isabella so they won't think he's gay.  

In the library, Creepy Girl meets with Raul (Yankel Stevan).  He reveals that a hacker named All Your Secrets threatened to reveal his secret unless he ratted out a friend, so he chose Isabela (how did he know she was transgender?)  He wants Creepy Girl to help him track down the culprit.

Scene 12: Natalia is crying in the bathroom.  Creepy Girl and Javier interview her:  she was also approached by All Your Secrets, and named Isabela to avoid having her secret revealed.  

Scene 13: So who uploaded the video and hacked the system so it would play during the assembly? Creepy Girl deduces that it must be the only guy in the auditorium not paying attention while it was playing (since he already knew what was in it):  Gerry (Patricio Gallardo), the bullies' client.  All Your Secrets forced him to upload the video to avoid having his own secret revealed.

Scene 14:  At the end of the school day, Luis's Mom wants to know why he's so upset (um...being tortured repeatedly?).   Meanwhile, Creepy Girl flirts with Javier  (she looks much less creepy in this shot from later in the series).

Scene 15: At home, Creepy Girl lies down on her bed and has flashbacks:.

She remembers going to a bar and discussing War and Peace with some older guys ("it was your dad's favorite book").  

Then, in a wheelchair in the mental hospital, with a bandage over her wrist (obviously an attempted suicide).

 Creepy Girl's Mom interrupts to note that her new boyfriend is coming over with Chinese food.  Big reveal: It's the teacher Quintanilla!

Scene 16: Isabella is at home, being sad. All Your Secrets contacts her and promises revenge, if she will reveal one of her friends' secrets. (Geez, don't they have enough already?)

Beefcake:  Javier changing his shirt.

Other Sights: This is by far the most beautiful high school set that I have ever seen.

People in Mexico Speaking English All the Time:  Including extremely complex sentences that I could never say in Spanish, and I studied it for eight years.

LGBT Characters:  Isabela appears in 8 episodes, and I'm still betting that one of the secrets is being gay.

Whodunit:  Obviously Javier. Luis is a red herring, severely autistic, barely able to speak.  Every other named character has a secret of their own (unless the hacker made up a secret to throw off suspicion).

Will I Continue to Watch:  I heavily disliked the torture porn and the absurd tongue-swallowing, and I hated Creepy Girl.  But I want to know what the other secrets are, and how the handle the inevitable "being gay" secret.

Being Gay:  Turns out that all of the secrets are revealed at the beginning of Episode 2.  Gerry watches gay porn (told you!). He denies it.  Quintanilla says he doesn't judge, lots of people watch gay porn, it doesn't mean you are gay.

Why would you "judge" someone (look down on them) for being gay?  Oh, right, these people think of being gay as something shameful.  They may have cell phones, but their minds are back in 1963.

By the way, Pablo's secret: he has a large penis.

Apr 18, 2023

The Best Week of TV Ever

December 5, 1966.  I am in first grade at Hansche Elementary School in Racine, Wisconsin.  Two weeks ago I had my sixth birthday, so I am old enough to stay up until 9:00 pm, but too young for sleepovers with my friends.  There's no radio or record player in the house.  My church forbids going to movies, theater, concerts, bowling alleys, or skating rinks.  

So, every night after dinner, I sit on the floor in the living room, with Mom doing the newspaper crossword puzzle in her favorite chair, Dad and my baby sister on the couch, my little brother beside me playing with his toys. I'm doing homework or reading a book.

While watching the Best Week of TV Ever.

Dec 5, Monday

Gilligan's Island: "And Then There Were None": Gilligan thinks that he's killing the other castaways, and dreams that he's Mr. Hyde.  Scary!

Run, Buddy, Run: "Buddy Overstreet, Please Come Home."  After running from gangsters who put a hit on him, the cute Buddy (Jack Sheldon) gets to go home.

The Lucy Show: "Lucy and the Monkey."  Lucy thinks that her boss, Mr. Mooney, has turned into a monkey.  Come on -- even I know that people don't turn into monkeys.

Dec 6, Tuesday

Daktari: "Cry for Help."  Paula is bitten by a deadly spider (gross!), and Dr. Tracey consults a tribal healer.  Cute black guys in loincloths!

Petticoat Junction: "The Runt Strikes Back": Betty Joe strikes back against her bullying older sisters by getting a job.  And there are THREE cute guys at the Shady Rest. One is Terry Phillips, who also worked as a dialogue coach on Petticoat Junction.  

Dec 7, Wednesday

Lost in Space: "A Visit to Hades."  The space castaways visit a planet that looks like "Hades", a new word for "Hell."  With a devil-guy named Morbus.  Will Robinson (Billy Mumy) is six years older than me, and super-cute.

The Beverly Hillbillies: "The Woodchucks." Dimwitted but hunky Jethro joins an all-girl birdwatching club.  So boys can participate in girls' activities?  I want an EZ-Bake Oven.

Dec 8, Thursday

F-Troop: "The Return of Wrongo Starr."  I've never heard of Ringo Starr, but Henry Gibson is cute.  In a few years I will see him on Laugh-In.

Bewitched: "My Friend Ben."  Aunt Clara conjures up Ben Franklin.  I've never heard of Ben Franklin, or the kite that discovered electricity, but there's a cute teenage boy (Tim Rooney).  He took off his shirt in Village of the Giants (1965).  Later I found out that he was Mickey Rooney's son.

That Girl: "Phantom of the Horse Opera."  Ann Marie and her boyfriend Don befriend an organist from the silent film era.  I've never heard of the silent film era, either!

Dec 9, Friday

Tarzan: "Pearls of Tanga"  Tarzan and Jai try to stop the despoiling of a native paradise full of loincloth-clad hotties.  Plus Tarzan is chained up in a cave.

Hogan's Heroes: "Don't Forget to Write."  Colonel Klink is transferred to the Russian front, and the hotties of Stalag 13 try to save him.

Dec 10, Saturday

Flipper: "Alligator Duel." Pet dolphin Flipper is kidnapped and forced to fight alligators, and shirtless teens Sandy and Bud rush to the rescue.

Get Smart: Perils in a Pet Shop.  KAOS is using trained parrots to smuggle secrets.  I learned another new word, "chaos."

Dec 11, Sunday

We usually go to church on Sunday nights, but for some reason tonight is different. Maybe Mom or Dad don't feel well.  But missing a 2 hour sermon and altar call is great

It's About Time: "The Sacrifice."  The cute astronaut castaways try to save their hosts' daughter from being sacrificed in a prehistoric cave ritual.  Well, at least there's a boy with his shirt off (Pat Nardi).

Hey, Landlord: "The Big Fumble."  Chuck claims that he is best friends with a famous football player, who doesn't remember him.  Football is boring, but the player is future comedy great Fred Willard.

Apr 17, 2023

14 TV Series with real, actual, out, open gay guys, with no queerbaiting or endless unresolved "are they or aren't they" nonsense. I'm looking at you, Gemstone Boys

For many years -- almost all of the 20th century -- all we had were gay subtexts, unintentional hints of same-sex desire or romance located in the interplay of the actor, director, and script.  

Then we started getting queerbaiting, quasi-romances introduced by the actors, directors, or writers to lure gay fans, but spoiled at the last minute by establishing that the characters are actually straight: "Hah, hah!  Fooled you!  You don't exist, freak!"

Now we have subtexts for their own sake, homoerotic desire expressed by two guys throughout the series, an incessant "are they or aren't they?" with no "Yep, they are" resolution or "Fooled you!  They're straight!" betrayal.  What's the point? 

In high school I wrote a poem:
We live in masks
Our faces hard and rigid, our hands cold and numb
And if we dare to search for beauty, a red pill is prescribed
And if we dare to search for truth, they put us in a cell
And if we dare to fall in love, the verdict is insanity
So we continue
Lumbering on through jobs and houses and wives
And the suicide rate continues to climb

Well, I was a depressed teenager.  But queerbaiting feels like forcing me back into the mask.

I'm sick of accumulating clues, debating evidence, arguing on fan boards, analyzing screenshots, scrolling through Reddit, Instagrams, Twitter, Tunbler, Tiktok, and Facebook pages, then going back to the fan boards, and waiting through episode after episode for two guys who are obviously in love with each other to say so!  Especially with the cold awareness that eventually, in a far distant episode, they may get girlfriends.  "Fooled you!  They're straight!"  

Or, even worse, they may never say so: it will be "are they or aren't they?" winks and hints and "did they just have sex?"  episode after episode, season after season, and all of that research and logical analysis will be -- not only worthless, but painful, like being rejected by someone you love. I'm looking at you, Gemstone Boys.   

So I'm checking a list of tv series premiering during the last 3 years on streaming services that I subscribe to, that I haven't seen, and that feature actual, real, open, alive gay male characters, who actually go on dates with men, and call them dates, and kiss afterwards, on-camera, and if they fall in love, call it love.


1. Control Z: several gay high schoolers fall in and out of love (top photo)

2. Grand Army: apparently Indian, with the gay Sid Pakan in love with the bisexual Victor.

3. The Irregulars: a gay Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.

4. Alma: The Girl in the Mirror: a couple of gay guys who date.

5. High Heat.  About firefighters, with two gay guys who date (left)

6. Hoops.  There's a gay kid on the high school basketball team, hopefully in more than one episode.

Darn -- every one of these series asks me to "continue watching" Episode 2 or 3.  I've reviewed every one of them!

On to Hulu:

1, 911 Lone Star.   An show about emergencies in Texas?  Sounds dreary, but two guys, TK and Carlos, are dating each other.

2. Helstrom: A gay couple, Chris and Derrick, but not in every episode.

3. Battle Kitty: the kitty has a gay bestie who eventually gets a boyfriend.
I couldn't find 911 Lone Star, and Battle Kitty is an interactive series for toddlers, so the only possibility is Helstrom.

HBO Max:

1. I May Destroy You, on HBO Max.  Kwame, the bestie of the female lead, has or gets a boyfriend.

2. Generation: .  Two gay teachers at the high school.

3. The Nevers: a femme gay guy dating a femme pansexual guy.

4. Our Flag Means Death: some gay pirates

I couldn't find Generation or The Nevers, and I May Destroy You is about a trans woman who is brutalized, victimized, and probably murdered, so forget it.  I'll go with the gay pirates.


1. The Loud Family: Louder and Prouder, or is it The Proud Family: Prouder and Louder? A couple of gay dads, and a straight boy retrofitted as gay.

Disney has Proud but not Loud, so I'll give it a try.

Re-Watching Old Favorites: The Gay Subtexts of "Fear the Walking Dead," "Lost," and "Star Trek"


Even with the addition of HBO Max to our streaming services, there's a dearth of new programming that we both want to see; you can only say "Look, they are holding hands!" so many times before getting sick of the "are they or aren't they?" teases. I'm this close to unsubscribing from your instagram, Tony Cavalero, and Adam DeVine is already history.  So we've been rewatching some old favorites, in episode order.  It is surprising how gay they are.  Maybe that's why they became favorites.

1. Fear the Walking Dead, a Walking Dead spin-off about the early days of the zombie apocalypse, with a nuclear family taking refuge on a ship, then a hotel and a Mexican colonia, then a ranch, and finally a baseball stadium in Texas.  Any show that begins with a shirtless hunk running down the street is my kind of show!  And eldest son Nick (Frank Dillane) continues to be a beefcake icon, shirtless or semi-naked for extended periods in every episode for nearly two seasons.

Plus, he is presented as canonically bisexual.  First he buddies up to Victor (Coleman Domingo), an con artist/operator who was gay before the writers forgot, around Season 3, and just make him a jerk.  Then he gets a girlfriend, and his back story contains a "just friends" relationship with a girl.


Then, at the ranch, he obviously and emphatically falls in love with Troy (Daniel Sharman).  Troy is racist, unstable, and violent, yet Nick is devoted to him, saving him over and over, arguing on his behalf, standing by his side through every crisis, even those crises that are Troy's fault..  When the ranch falls to a zombie hoard, the two decide to stay together rather than going off with the family.  

Troy wonders why Nick is so devoted, and concludes "You love me."  Nick scoffs at the idea, yet stays with him, and eventually Troy admits that he loves Nick, too (presumably they've been knocking boots in their shared lodging).  At that moment, however, Mom Madison kills him (they've reconnected with the family, for reasons too complicated to go into).

This traumatizes Nick --  he's lost a boyfriend and a girlfriend! -- and cause him to hate his mother.   He last only another few episodes.

2. Lost.
  The convoluted and ultimately nonsensical story of airplane crash survivors facing a bewildering barrage of paranormal mysteries on a desert island that is apparently unhinged in space and time.  Although there is only one canonical gay character (a minor one, outed after his death), and everyone's back story, without exception, involved a lost heterosexual romance (and an abusive father), he first seasons seem to relish gay-subtext relationships.

Locke, a former paraplegic who believes that the island "is talking" to him, bonds with rock star/heroin addict Charlie (Dominic Monaghan), then spoiled rich kid rBoone (Ian Somerhalder).  Boone's siste asks suspiciously, "You've been 'hunting boars' every day for two weeks, but you never bring back anything.  Are you having sex?"

Meanwhile rock star Charlie, who has a completely platonic friendship with new-mother Claire, latches onto Eko -- they are even shown sleeping on the same mat.  When Eko starts hanging around with Locke, Charlie acts the part of a jealous lover, incensed that his ex-boyfriends are dating each other.  

Then suddenly his relationship with Claire isn't platonic anymore.  He plans a romantic picnic on the beach, but Desmond (Henry Ian Cusick) draws him away by saying "I really think that we need to take a walk in the jungle now."  Claire is outraged: Charlie keeps dumping her to hook up with guys!

Charlie doesn't last much longer, and Lost devolves into endless unresolved, contradictory mysteries, infuriatingly cryptic statements, a hieararchy of Big Bads, and heterosexuals all the way down.

4. Star Trek: The Original Serie
s, with Cold War Klingons, Romulans, "we need to destroy this planet's culture," and Captain Kirk romancing a different alien babe (or in this case a boy) every week.. The franchise would remain gay-free until the 2010s, but the unintentional gay-subtext romance between Kirk and dour science officer Spock gave us the term "slash" for gay fan fiction. (The term is not violent; it refers to "/", as in Kirk/Spock.). 

 I prefer Sulu shirtless and gleaming, one of the iconic images of my childhood, and his easy camaraderie with the teen-dream navigator Chekhov, one of the iconic gay romances of my childhood.

"The Righteous Gemstones": Kelvin and Keefe Have Sex, So Why Can't They Kiss?


I admit, I'm obsessed with the relationship between Kelvin and Keefe on The Righteous Gemstones, about a family of rich, famous, glitzy televangelists (Season 2 ended in February 2022, but I just signed up for HBO Max, so I just watched.  Season 3 will drop this summer.)

Kelvin (Adam DeVine) is the youngest son, a muscle enthusiast, generally responsible for the youth ministry at the anchor church.  Keefe (Tony Cavalero) is his sweet , slightly-muddled mansion-mate, a former Satanist whom Kelvin saved.  I read reddits and reviews and interviews, watch youtube clips, re-watch episodes, accumulating evidence that they are gay and romantic partners:

Season 1:

1. Neither express any heterosexual interest, nor does anyone ever suggest that they should.  If an event calls for a date, Kelvin always brings Keefe.  

Keefe states that he "never dated (girls) much, saw no need to," and that "Baywatch didn't affect me."  At the Satanist Club, he recoils in literal disgust at the sight of a naked lady (you can see him saying "Ewwww"), but naked men are fine.

2. Keefe used to dance naked in a cage at the Satanist Club.

3. They break up after an argument, and Keefe returns to the Satanist Club.  He is heartily greeted and hugged, but only by men.

4. Kelvin is distraught.  One of the teens surmises that he is upset about his "boyfriend," and helpfully uses social media to find out where Keefe is.  Kelvin stutters: "No...um...we're not gay...we're just two guys who like to hang out...and stuff."  Maybe he didn't want to come out to a teenager? 

5. But he rushes to save Keefe from the Satanists, and finds him in a sensory deprivation tank (with a probably prosthetic arousal).  He jumps in, pulls out the wires, and hugs and holds Keefe, crying, kissing his forehead.  Keefe: "Hold me."  Kelvin: "Hush!  I'm here now."  

The full post is on Righteous Gemstones Beefcake and Boyfriends

Apr 16, 2023

Mascarpone: Gay Rome, Lots of Hookups, Lots of Baking

 Mascarpone, on Amazon Prime: Antonio is a "family man."  Red flag: the belief that reproducing somehow makes you moral, upright, and infinitely valuable: "He can't be the killer!  He's a family man!'  Wait -- the blurb goes on to mention Antonio losing his "husband."  A gay family man? This I have to see.

Scene 1: The lean, hairy, shirtless Antonio (Giancarlo Commare) awakens alone, goes downstairs in his underwear (no bulge).  It's 13:11, rather late for a Family Man.  Making breakfast, he reads a brochure for a gay health club (not a sex club). 

Dressed, out onto the street, and to the gym, where he gets cruised by the hot guy on the next treadmill, Luca (Gianmarco Saurino).  Hey, you lift weights after cardio?  Rude: you'll make the bench all sweaty.  They strip down in the locker room (butt shot).  Luca complains about the crowd at this hour: "Just retired old men and bored trophy housewives.  Which one are you?"  Antonio shows his wedding ring. 

Scene 2: Apparently there's been a time jump.  We see pictures of the guys' wedding, and, I assume, toys for their kid (you can't be a family man without kids).  Antonio is making some kind of pastry when Luca enters in a business suit, carrying a briefcase: "Hi, Honey, I'm home."  Wait -- that's not Luca, it's a new guy, Lorenzo (Carlo Calderone).  This trophy wife really gets around!  He complains about Antonio baking all the time (say what?  I'd marry him!) and the fact that dinner's not on the table the minute he walks in the door. Sexist jerk!

Next, they argue about the health club, only 80 Euros a month.  Guess which partner hates the idea?  And about Antonio being cheerful and upbeat all the time.  Finally Lorenzo wails that he can't stand living like this, with a cute, cheerful partner who's always baking and trying to make him happy.  But is he into anal?  

 "I'm dumping you for Enrico!"  "But he's fugly!'  I'm dying to hear the Italian word translated as "fugly."  "He's depressed and miserable, and only eats take-out!  Perfect!  Now let's go to sleep."  Wait -- you dump the guy, and then climb in bed next to him?  That's crazy -- after dumping, you leave!

Scene 3: Antonio having lunch with his female BFF.   She is shocked that gays are allowed to divorce now.  What's next, winning the Championship?  I don't know what that means.  She offers him a place to stay, but he wants to start afresh, with his own place. I guess there is no kid, so the term "family man" is wrong. 

BFF's boyfriend Paolo (Alberto Paradossi)  joins them to discuss work (something about a file) and criticize Antonio for only going to the gym that one time: "You have to get buffed, like Freddie Mercury at Wembly 1986!"  Rather an antique reference.  "Work out!  And cut the carbs!  Protein!"  The boy and girl swallow each other's tongues and grin.  Har, har, heteros can make out in public without getting arrested or beat up!

Scene 4: 
 Antonio knocks on the door of a sleazy apartment in the Bohemian Montesacro neighborhood of Rome.  Denis (Eduardo Valdarnini), a swishy, drug-dealing hustler in a yellow caftan, opens the door, then gets naked (butt shot), and says "Hurry up!  A guy is coming to look at the room for rent."  Oh, he thought Antonio was a hookup!  

He explains that he needs a housemate to help with the rent, but he has a "terrible temper, many personal quirks, and OCD." Antonio is fine with this, so "200 Euros per week. C'est tout.  You can go." 

Scene 5: Hubby Lorenzo, of course, criticizes Antonio's housing choice.  "It's too expensive.  You don't even have a job. I said I would support you for six months, so why are you even looking?  Take the house-share.  Living with an ex is trouble!  

Hubby Lorenzo's sister Maria, who looks exactly like BFF Christine, drops in for an unwelcome visit.  She advises them to "work things out."  "You're an inspiration to everyone, the perfect couple!"  You should hear their bedroom talk, girl.  "Everyone back home is devastated. Your great-aunt spends all day in church, praying for you to get back together."  Lorenzo, of course, criticizes her and the family as "holy terrors."  Are you crazy?  I'd love a family that prayed for our relationship to work out, instead of praying for us to repent of our "evil lifestyle."

Scene 6:  In his new bedroom, Antonio begins to masturbate (nothing shown).  He is interrupted when one of his roommate's hookups stumbles by mistake. That happened to us in West Hollywood all the time.  Often the hookup stayed.

Scene 7:  Bff Christine and her boyfriend Paolo are helping Antonio unpack, an discussing what happened last night.  "Maybe your new roommate is a hooker."  Wrong again, subtitles.  We call the men hustlers. Whoops, Boyfriend Paolo and Roommate Denis know each other.  Small world

After they leave, Antonio asks Roomate Denis for a break on the rent.  "Nope, not possible!"  He figures out that Antonio lied about having a job, and offers to get him one. As a stripper, I hope.

Scene 8: Nope, it's in a bakery.  As an apprentice to head baker Luca, the guy who cruised him at the gym in Scene 1!  "Wait -- how did you know that I love to bake?  That was back in Scene 2, before we met!"  "I can tell from your hands."  By the way, the job starts right now -- it's Christmas time, so our business is booming, and we have to start baking at 2:00 am.

Switch to a montage of Antonio lugging sacks of flour around and not being allowed to do any actual baking. 

Scene 9:  Antonio sneaks into ex-hubby Lorenzo's place to hide a present under his Christmas tree.  But he's home.   "Oh..ugh...it's you.  Get out, and take your awful present with you!"  How did he manage to stay with this emotionally abusive jerk for so long?

Switch to Antonio cleaning up after the other bakers in Luca's crew.

Scene 10
: Antonio complaining to BFF Christine that he had to work Christmas Day and New Year's Day.  They exchange gifts:she gets a crappy gag-scarf, and  he gets a romantic getaway for two. You must feel like a jerk, dude.  

It's actually a bath house with a heterosexual couple kissing in the hot tub.  BFF Christine and her boyfriend have provided him with a sex partner, Virginio (Samuele Picchi): "Sorry we're late, but Virginio's chest wouldn't fit in the car."  This is a very strange hookup. 

Antonio is extremely skittish, sitting as far from Virginio as possible in the steam room and carefully guarding his crotch to prevent groping.  Not dissuaded, Virginio suggests that they move on to the massage -- on his back.  "Sure -- but no kissing!"  Virginio complies, but Antonio still bolts.  Dude, that guy was hot, and perfectly nice, and you acted like a jerk.

Scene 11:  Back home, Antonio disapproves of his roommate Denis getting a blow job in the living room.  "This is a common space!  Do that in your bedroom!"   Not cool, dude: you're allowed to entertain guests in the common space.  The proper response would be: "Do me next."  

Later, Roommate Denis asks why Antonio is so upset.  "Because a super-hot, super-nice guy wanted to have sex with me!"  Um...and this is upsetting because....  Plot dump: He's never had a hookup; Lorenzo was his only sex partner, and apparently they waited for their wedding night. Is that even possible in the Gay World?  

Denis advises him to have some fun before settling down with Husband #2.

Scene 12: At work, Antonio has baked a cake.  Boss Luca complains: "I pay you to lug sacks of flower and mop floors."  "Try me on cakes."  So Luca gives him a raise, and he can afford to pay the rent -- which he throws at a sleeping Denis.

Scene 13:
After work, Luca and Antonio are alone in the bakery -- and they start kissing, and rip each other's clothes off, and screw on one of the prep tables.  That was unexpectedly abrupt, but also inevitable after their cruising in Scene 1.

Scene 14: Antonio in the bathtub, smoking a cigarette, telling Roommate Denis and BFF Christine about his hookup.  He doesn't want to say who it is, but they surmise that it's Luca from the bakery.  "So, what's your opinion of recreational sex now?"

He's all for it.  Cut to several hookups, with Denis and Luca giving him advice in between: 1.  Never talk about your exes; 2. Never introduce him to your friends; 3. One time only; hookup twice, and you're dating.  He also has a three-way with Denis and Luca, and takes a class in pastry-making.

I'll stop the scene by scene there.

Beefcake: Lots of butts and bare chests.

Gay Characters: Obviously.

Rome: Not much, mostly generic street scenes.

My Grade:  It  was hard relating to Antonio as so completely isolated, nearly 30 with no gay friends, no job, and only one sex partner. Denis as a drug dealer/hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold, switching instantly from "Where's the rent?" to "I want to be your best friend," seemed rather a stretch, and the ex-hubby was uncomfortably unpleasant.  But the bare bodies were nice to look at, and I was pleased that Antonio's story arc was more about baking than finding true love.  B

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