May 27, 2023

"Intertwined": A Disney Teen Angst Dramedy about Musical Theater. Guess How Many Gay Characters


Intertwined, on Disney Plus, is a Brazilian teen-angst dramedy with the standard "Everybody can, and should want to, become famous" message.  The angle: the aspiring-to-musical-theater-stardom  girl keeps bouncing back between 2022, when her Mom has an irrational hatred of anything musical, and 1994, when teenage Mom wanted to become a musical-theater-star.  Anything with musical theater is bound to have some gay characters, so:

Scene 1: A teenage girl bounces over her bedroom, feeling herself and singing about how she's going to be a star.  We fade out into an elaborate set, with her dressed as Hannah Montana and singing about how she's a star already, while her female background dancers feel themselves. So far, other than the implied masturbation, she's every Disney teencom protagonist ever.

As her audience goes wild with fan exultation (Allegra!  Allegra!  Allegra!), she comes back to reality: Mom, who looks the same age, asks her to not perform mastubatory song and dance numbers at 4:00 am. "Mom, that's so unreasonable!  I'm using ear buds!"  "I don't care.  I hate music.  And take that poster of your famous singer grandmother off the wall.  I hate her, too!"

She orders Allegra to come work at the bookstore with her tomorrow, instead of doing that thing that will make all her dreams come true.  That thing is an open audition for a stage musical based on the film Freaky Friday, about a mom and daughter who switch bodies.  

Scene 2: Morning
.  Allegra's male bff Felix (Kevsho) sneaks in through the window.   He's got a project of his own, a short film which will make all his dreams come true, but he agrees to drop it and concentrate on Allegra's problem.  His part of the plan involves putting on a wig and makeup and pretending to be Allegra so she can sneak out for the audition. Won't Mom know right away? 

She scooters past various buildings and signs that will no doubt be important later, and stands in the block-long line to get into the vast audition space.  A Boy/Girl Influencer team  helpfully tell their followers what the play is about. No, Boy Influencer Alan isn't gay; he has an unrequited crush on someone named Sofia.  Plot dump: he is Felix's brother.   Got all that?

Scene 3:
Felix lying in bed as Allegra, using recorded messages to answer Mom's questions, and getting it wrong.  

Meanwhile, the Male and Female Choreographers begin the audition. Plot dump: Male Choreographer Diego (Benjamin Amadeo) is the Female Influencer's father.  The first group touch themselves while dancing to a song about making their dreams come true.  Yes, you have genitals.  How very nice for you.  The second group.  Then a girl in an orange sweater sings a solo about making her dreams come true. 

Meanwhile, Mom gets suspicious about the mysterious bulge in her daughter's bed, and investigates.  It's Felix!  She interrogates him about Allegra's whereabouts, but he plays dumb. Plot dump: He's really into science fiction and superheroes.  These are not the traits of gay guys on tv, so I'm guessing he's straight, with an unrequited crush...

Mom snoops around and finds the audition announcement, just as it's Allegra's turn to perform the "making my dreams come true" song.  The Choreographers are mesmerized by how incredibly wonderful she is.  But it's understandable, because she's the granddaughter of Coco Sharpe, the most talented singer in the world in her day.  Then Mom burst in, shrieking: "No, no, no!  Absolutely not! I will have no daughter of mine singing!  Or listening to music of any kind!  Music is disgusting!"

The Choreographers were her best friends when they were teenagers, and they are anxious to catch up, but Mom shrieks "I never knew you.  I never knew anyone associated with...ugh!  I don't even know what the word 'music' means, I hate it so much."

"But...Allegra is the best singer we have heard since her Grandmother.  She's going to be world-famous!"

"Absolutely not!"  Mom drags her out and shoves her into the car. "And by the way, never mention your grandmother Coco to me.  I hate my Mother with white hot intensity!  I wish she were still alive, so I could kill her, then bring her back to life, then kill her again!"  She's not looking where she's driving, so...crash!  

Scene 4
: And Allegra unconscious in the hospital, while Mom, totally fine, cries.  Suddenly we hear "You can't go in there!", and a sunglasses lady floats into the room.  It's Mom's grandmother?   So, the mother of Coco Sharpe, whom Mom hates?  This genealogy is getting complex.  I just want to know if any of these people are gay.  

Felix (Kevsho): No.  In spite of his gay bff vibe, he's in love with Allegra.

Male Choreographer Diego (Benjamin Amadeo): No.  He's got a daughter, a sure sign of gay identity on tv.

Male Influencer (Simon Hempe, left): No, a crush on Sofia.

Marco (Jose Jiminez Zapiola, not introduced yet. top photo): No, into Allegra.

What a cop-out.  Why do they think we watch these programs?  For the songs?

"Never Have I Ever": Indian Teenager Meets the Bulge That Can Raise the Dead

The teen coming-of-age comedy Never Have I Ever showed up on my recommendation list on Netflix.  It's been a desert for so long that we returned to the DVD service.  So...

Scene 1. Fifteen-year old Indian-American Devi (Maitreya Ramakrishnan) is praying, sort of -- does it count if you ask the gods, "What's popping?"  Her requests: to be invited to a party with alcohol; to get less arm hair; and to get a stone-cold hottie boyfriend.

Gee, if the Hindu gods provide hotties, I might set up an altar to Ganesha in my bedroom.

Scene 2. John McEnroe, the tennis legend,narrates Devi's story.  First her father (Sendhil Ramamurthy) dies.  Then her legs stop working, confining her to a wheelchair.

She had two friends, science nerd Fabiana and drama queen Eleanor.  Plus she has a crush on Paxton Hall-Yoshida (Daren Barnet).

Cue him rising from the swimming pool and walking past at bulge-level.  Whew!  Is it even possible to have one that big?  What does he call it, Godzilla?).

And suddenly, her legs work again.  She rises from her wheelchair and walks!

So...what else can Paxton's bulge raise up?

Scene 3. Devi lives with her micromanaging Mom ("Don't let the textbook fall to the floor!  I'll have to drove all the way out to Rancho Cucamonga to get it blessed again!) and her perfect cousin Kamala ("I'm not a model, I'm a biologist.  I'm too curvaceous to be a model).

Scene 4. At Sherman Oaks High, Devi reveals her plan to rebrand the squad, making them "glamorous women of color" through getting boyfriends.  She wants Fabiola to date the short  but handsome Alex Gomez, and Eleanor gets Boris Kozlov,the Russian exchange student (shown eating an onion like an apple).

Devi herself is going for Jonah Sharpe (Dino Petrera), who presents every gay stereotype in the book but is not out yet, and so popular that she can springboard from him to a straight guy.

Meanwhile, Devi's nemesis, Ben Gross (Jaren Lewison), overhears their flirtation.

Scene 5. Ben's father is an entertainment attorney, so a celebrity I never heard of came to his bar mitzvah. He's a know-it-all, an elitist, a snob.  He has no friends.  He and Devi have been competiting for awards and honors for years.

Sounds ike a teen romance coming up.

Scene 6. Time for the hip bohemian teacher Mr. Shapiro to begin class: "Facing History and Ourselves."  They'll be unpacking uncomfortable topics like slavery (he looks at Fabiana) and the Holocaust (he looks at Ben).

Then Paxton the God shows up, and Devi decides to jump past the gay guy to grab for the pot of gold...or should that be bulge of gold?

Scene 7, Teacher asks Devi and Ben to set aside their rather aggressive, sometimes violent rivalry for the good of the class.  Ben reveals that his nickname for the squad, the U.N., doesn't refer to the United Nations, but to "Unfuckable Nerds."

Shaming girls for being virgins? This is really a new world.

Scene 8. Devi vents to her psychiatrist.  then goes home and vents to her mother and cousin.  Mom reveals that Kamala's parents have found a match for an arranged marriage.  Kamala is horrified by the prospect.

Scene 9.Devi's Dad comes back from the dead to show her an old video of John McEnroe, who never took any guff from anyone (that's why McEnroe is narrating -- he was her Dad's Paxton. I wonder if Dad liked his bulge)..  Dad  advises Devi to fight back against Ben.

Scene 10. In the morning, Devi and the squad show up at school in sexy outfits (or what they think is sexy).   The plan: talk to their targets. Devi and Ben fight,and get sent to the principal's office.

Scene 11: Ben and Devi are assigned an after-school job as punishment.  They interrupt Eleanor the Drama Queen smooching a boy!  She was afraid to tell Devi that she has a boyfriend. Devi insults her, rushes home screaming, and throws a textbook  out the window.

She's rather unhinged, isn't she?  Why is she so upset?  Does she have a thing for Eleanor?

Scene 12: Devi tells her psychiatrist about the secret boyfriend.  Why is she so upset?  She explains:  she wants to "be normal, and not be called mean names, and have a boyfriend."

Only Ben calls you names, girl.

Scene 13: Devi decides to skip the boyfriend and go straight to the lost virginity that is apparently essential for social success.  She asks Paxton the God to have sex with her.  He consents.

I'm no expert on female sexuality,but should she really be going with the extra-extra-extra large Paxton for her first time?  Maybe start with something a little smaller, like ab elephant trumk.

Beefcake:  Just Paxton in a swimsuit walking by at bulge level. 

Other Scenery:  Just generic houses.

Gay Characters: Screaming queen stereotype Jonah in the background.

The Indian Angle:  Sort of interesting.

Fast Forwarding:  Fabiana comes out as a lesbian.  Ben and Devi kiss (I called it!). Kamala has a plot arc that sounds more interesting.  Paxton has a sister with Down Syndrome, which also sounds more interesting.  And Devi works through her grief at her father's death.

Wait -- is the quest for a boyfriend a reaction to her father's sudden disappearance, a psychological replacement thing?  That's why when Dad died, she lost "support" and couldn't walk, but seeing Paxton gave her new "support"?

Will I Continue to Watch: No.

Adventures of Pete and Pete

Juvenile tv programs of the 1950s and 1960s, such as Captain Kangaroo, Shari Lewis, and Andy's Gang,  were dedicated to socializing kids into the norms of adult society.  The rules may seem odd, the hosts seemed to say, but they were established by wise, sensible adults, and if you conform, this will be the best of all possible worlds.

Then came the 1980s and 1990s, and tv juvenile tv programs like You Can't Do That on Television, Animaniacs, and Eerie Indiana, said something quite different.  Adults are crazy. Their rules make no sense.  Don't even try to conform society: rebel, resist, be yourself.

The benchmark of this new anarchic juvenile tv was Nickelodeon's The Adventures of Pete and Pete (1993-96), about two brothers, teenage Pete (Mike Maronna) and preteen Pete (Danny Tamberelli) living with their parents in the town of Wellsville, New York.

If the two brothers with the same name don't clue in that something is askew in Wellsville, what about the opening song:

Hey, Smilin' Strange, you're looking happily deranged
I could've settled if you shoot me, or have you picked your target yet?

Or the characters:
Mom, who has a steel plate in her head that can pick up radio.
Artie, the Strongest Man in the World, who can move a house a whole inch!
Mr. Slurm, the high school shop teacher with a claw for a hand.
Pit Stain Jones, a super-villain whose powers are obvious

Big Pete is drawing close to adulthood, so he is the most conformist, with part-time jobs and career plans and crushes on girls.

But Little Pete resists the International Adult Conspiracy on bedtimes and dodgeball, and investigates such mysteries as the "Inspector" tag in clothing, the "time warp" of Daylight Savings Time, and a telephone that has been ringing for 27 years.

Heterosexual romance is a constant among the adult and teen characters, but Little Pete resists the International Adult Conspiracy on hetero-romance, too.  He is mostly successful, reserving his affection for Big Pete and for his "hero," Artie the Strongest Man in the World.

The bizarre adult world provides some gay symbolism, and Little Pete's resistance to hetero-romance marks him as gay-vague.  But there is even more of gay interest.  Although Big Pete has an ongoing hetero-romance and occasional side crushes, boys often fall in love with him: not only his friends Bill (Rick Barbarette) and Teddy (Dave Martell), but even his friendly enemy, Endless Mike (Rick Gomez, top photo and left).  I always wondered why he was called "Endless."

After Pete and Pete, Michael C. Maronna starred in some young-adult-slacker comedies before moving behind the scenes as a studio electrician.  Danny Tamberelli starred in Igby Goes Down (2002), with Kieran Culkin.

May 25, 2023

"Mother's Day": Depressed Mom Rescues Teenage Son from the Cast of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show"


99.99% of people kidnapped in movies are daughters, wives, girlfriends, or toddler boys, so seeing that Mother's Day has a kidnapped teenage son drew my interest, even if the person rescuing him is his mother, not a hot guy.

Scene 1: On Mother's Day, a very depressed mother picks up some booze in the liquor store. She stops to clobber five toughs who are harassing a girl, and gets injured herself.  When they hear police sirens, the toughs run away.  Mom limps home in the rain in continues being depressed.

Scene 2
: Depressed Mom at her job, running a car-crushing machine at an auto graveyard, being depressed.  Meanwhile, a cute late-teen boy skateboards through town (Maybe Adrian Delikta, except he has a bushy Afro).   He enters the house and greets his parents.  They ignore him; he's upset.  

But they were just joking: There's a giant "Happy 17th Birthday!" cake on the table.  Hugs and "Happy Birthday!" as a woman -- Depressed Mom? -- sits in her car, spying.

Her associate climbs into the car to berate her about flubbing her assignment in Kandahar, Afghanistan.  Then: "Stop stalking the kid!  He's happy!"  

Scene 3:  They break into a cemetery to pay their respects to...Depressed Mom!  Major Nina Nowak, born 1980, died 2005, "fallen in defense of her homeland."  Apparently Depressed Mom faked her death for reasons, gave her son up for adoption, and proceeded to stalk him.

Cut to Depressed Mom watching videos on her son's social media page: mostly skateboarding, but also kissing a girl, identifying him as not-gay. (It took 12 minutes!  That's got to be a record.  Usually the audience is assured that they're not gay at their first appearance).

Cut to him skateboarding home late at night.  A sinister van stops, and  three mask toughs grab him!  He tries to fight them off (because he's a boy, and all boys are, like, macho). but they clobber him with a baseball bat! 

Scene 4: Morning.  Depressed Mom is in the kitchen, getting dressed (obligatory shot of her boobs). Uh-oh, one of her stalking alarms goes off!  Dad posted on social media that the boy didn't come home last night!  Depressed Mom jumps into her car and zooms down country roads to the City.

We cut to the Associate walking through a parking garage, muttering about how heterosexual he is.  Suddenly Depressed Mom grabs him!  Or just say "Hello."

Associate goes through the usual "Maybe he ran away...maybe he got drunk, and is afraid to go home...maybe it's a prank..." arguments, but Depressed Mom will have none of it: "Bad Guys have him.  Go investigate, or I'll eat you!"  

Scene 5: Depressed Mom breaks into the boy's house to look for clues.  We now get his name -- Max.   She finds his toy car collection (because, of course, all boys like cars), but, thankfully, no pin-ups of naked girls. Uh-oh, the parents come home and notice his bedroom door ajar.  Fortunately, they don't investigate, or Depressed Mom would have to eat them.

Scene 6: Associate gathers intel at the police station, including Max's phone, with a message from the kidnappers.  Why don't Mom and Dad know about this?  The head kidnapper is angry because, many years ago, Depressed Mom killed his father.  So he's going to get revenge by killing her son?  But he thinks that she's dead, so...and why didn't you just kill him on the street instead of kidnapping him?  Does he want to play with him first?

Scene 7:  A roomful of bigwigs, including the Associate, discussing a mob that has brought down the old regime in Serbia and is financing the new one.

1. A guy named Voltometer (son of the Big Bitter), who dresses in weird red ribbons that leave his back and butt bare.  Show the front  He's responsible for every crime that occurs in the city. Wait, I thought he was financing the Serbian regime?

2. Below him, Titus, in charge of the syndicate's human trafficking department.  Oddly, his trafficking victims come in all ages and sizes, even old ladies and chubby middle-aged guys.  What, precisely, will their jobs be?

3. Third in command: Baton (maybe Sebastian Dela?), a surly looking young adult, who runs the meth, "pookie," and crystal department. 

Scene 8: Depressed Mom watching a security cam of her son getting grabbed.  Careful examination of the van reveals Yum-Yum, the food delivery service that the thugs use as a cover.  They are Voltometer's thugs (was there ever a doubt?). 

Cut to the Yum-Yum headquarters.  Various criminal activities are going on. Baton deals with an employee who came  light (didn't get the money): "An employee who comes back light is a dick, and a dick deserves a massage.' " He hits him twice with his baton, and starts on the others, but superhero Depressed Mom stands on a wall like Superman.

She wants to know where Max is, but they aren't willing to divulge, so she fights about a dozen of them, killing them with  everyday kitchen implements, eggs, and carrots. Come on, you can't use a carrot to lobotomize someone!  The fight scene goes on and on and on, until one of the surviving toughs finally admit that Max is with Titus, the human trafficker.

Scene 9: Depressed Mom rushing to Titus's place.  Whoops, her finger is dislocated, so she snaps it back into place.  I'm getting tired of this. Is she a cyborg, or what?  

Cut to Titus unloading his gold-wrapped trafficking victims. Some of them "didn't perforate," so he leaves them in the truck to clean up later.  Depressed Mom watches from her car.  Why was she in such a hurry?

Cut to the head mafioso, Voltometer, selecting one of the see-all costumes from a vault.   He turns around: bare chest, not much of a bulge. Nail polish, calling people "My Dear": he's one of those flamboyant gay villains. Back home, he tells the decapitated head of his father that "It's possible to make moolah and have fun."  Who is making these wacky translation choices?  His muscle-stud associate tells him that "the package has arrived." It's been a couple of days since the kidnapping.  What took them so long?

Scene 10:  Depressed Mom has killed about a dozen toughs at Titus's house, and finally finds her son Max, tied and gagged.  But as she starts to help, a surviving tough hits her with a chair, and she goes down.   So this person is indestructible, except when she isn't.  She's tied up, gagged, and tossed in with her son in 69 position. 

Meanwhile Voltometer walks out into the main room, where a lot of heterosexual sex is going on, sits in a kiddie pool with a pink flamingo, and watches as the cast of The Rocky Horror Picture Show dances and kisses each other's crotches and butts.  Oh, I get it. He's "a sweet transvestite from transsexual Transylvania."  Equating feminine with evil is way retro.  I'm out.

May 24, 2023

"We Have Your Boys!": A Kelvin and Keefe Fan Fiction

Kelvin, son of the famous megachurch pastor Eli Gemstone, paced, checked his cell phone, and paced again.  His boyfriend Keefe left at 8:00 am to go rollerblading with their brother-in-la w BJ.  They went roller-blading every Friday, a sort of bonding time and chance to get away from the Gemstone drama.  Except they were always back by 10:00.   It was now after 2:00.  No calls, no texts, and Kelvin's texts to him went unanswered. 

"Keefe is a grown man," he told himself.  "He doesn't need to check in with me.  Maybe he and BJ decided to go shopping and have lunch."

He paced some more.  "Maybe his cell phone died, so he can't call."  When he bought Keefe the cell phone, he considered installing "friend tracker" app, but that would be too much control.  Keefe moved in two years ago with nothing; everything he owned was a gift or came from the joint checking account. Gulp.  Maybe he felt like a kept boy, trapped in the mansion, an extension of the Gemstones. Could he have....left?

No way!  Kelvin was not going to check the joint account, to see if Keefe made any big withdrawals.  Even thinking it was ridiculous.

Suddenly someone was banging on the front door.  Gulp...the police, coming to tell him that there'd been an accident?  No, his sister Judy, BJ's wife.

"Don't you ever check your email, Dummy?" she yelled, banging into the house.

The full story is on Righteous Gemstones Beefcake and Boyfriends

May 23, 2023

"Clone High, Season 2": Twenty Years after Season 1, the Cloned Historical Figures are Back. But Are They Less Homophobic?


Clone High, on HBO Max, features the clones of various historical figures in a modern high school.  Apparently they were cloned earlier, in a 2000's series, then frozen and revived in 2023.  Only two episodes have dropped so far. The blurb for Episode 2, "Sleepover," features what looks like a homophobic gay panic joke, as a shirtless atraight guy is horrified by a predatory gay guy getting too close for comfort, so let's check it out. 

Scene 1:
Teenage Joan of Arc at the beach with shirtless hunk John Kennedy, aka JFK (Christopher Miller).  As they smoosh their tongues together, he turns into Abe Lincoln (Will Forte, left).  And we see that it is actually a classroom daydream.  Ulp, she's datingJFK (who has an enormous bulge), but in love with Abe.

Scene 2: As the other kids rib Joan of Arc for having a sex dream in class, she stumbles upon Frida Kahlo and Harriet Tubman celebrating the anniversary of the event that brought them together (lesbian couple?).  Joan of Arc complains that she doesn't have any close female friends, so they invite her to a sleepover.  But they have a nefarious goal: to get her to reveal her secret (a crush on Abe Lincoln).

Boyfriend JFK (did I mention the bulge?) wants to have sex with her tonight, but she's going to the sleepover, so she suggests that he hang out with guys instead. "Yeah, I love guys," he says doubtfully. Uh-oh, he doesn't have any guy friends!  What a disaster!

Meanwhile, an unidentified crazy guy invites Abe Lincoln to hang out tonight.  He agrees.

Scene 3:
Confucius (Kevin Yu) is taking selfies in the bathroom, when he hears JFK sobbing in a stall.  He explains that he has no guy friends, because he's too busy having sex with girls. Confucius is sympathetic: he has no guy friends either, because he's too busy on the internet.  They decide to have a "bro night," and hug.  Confucius is the one that causes JFK to recoil in horror later.

Scene 4: Joan of Arc at home. Her foster mother, who has a nefarious goal, says ok to the sleepover, because she'll be sharing her deepest secret with the other girls. Foster Mom rushes to tell Fearless Leader, who advises her to get the secrets, so they can use them to blackmail the clones. In order to conduct the surveillance, one of the nefarious types has to cancel his trip with the robot Mr.B, who is furious (a gay human-robot couple?).

Scene 5:  The girls' sleepover: just Harriet Tubman, Frida Kahlo, and Joan of Arc.  A bonding montage, with costumes, cucumber slices, pizza, a pillow fight. Bloody Mary, the mirror ghost, joins them. 

Meanwhile, JFK and Confucius are sitting on opposite sides of a couch, eating pizza for their "bro night." Next, JFK wants to play sports and slap asses, but Confucius wants to watch funny videos on the internet and post comments.

Meanwhile, Abe Lincoln arrives for his play date with the crazy guy. His perky 1950s Mom offers them juice boxes or "hollandaise," but Crazy Guy bats her off and leads Abe to his room to watch videos.

Scene 6: The girls play "Never Have I Ever," while the nefarious types spy.  They can't remember which of the drinks contains the truth serum to give to the girls, so they have to try them out. 

JFK and Confucius are still having fun with the videos.  JFK is a natural at making snarky comments.

The crazy guy now has a name: Topher Bull (Neil Casey).  Nothing on Google, so apparently he's a non-clone character.    He's trolling people on the internet while Abe gasps in awe: "Wow, you're a really good person."  Whoops, he trools JFK and Confucius (using the screen name Top Her 69.  So I guess he's straight.  

Meanwhile, the nefariouses have taken the truth serum.  The guy who was planning on a trip with the robot Mr.B tells a woman that he's only attracted to her because she reminds him of his mother. Mr. B had sex with the coffee maker.

Scene 7:  The "Never Have I Ever" game revealed that Harriet Tubman and Frida Kahlo murdered someone!  They explain: in 2014, they enrolled in a tandem bike competition. While practicing, they hit a pedestrian and killed him, and buried the body.

So, what about Joan's secret?  She won't reveal it until she's sure they're not inventing the murder.  They offer to take her to the burial site.

Scene 8: JFK is shirtless, sweating, trolling like crazy, while Confucius acts like his trainer, massaging him and giving him water.  That's the gay panic scene, I think.  Back at Topher's house, Abe tries to distract him with another activity, but he's obsessed with trolling JFK back.

Topher: You suck.

JFK: Wrong.  You must be thinking of your mother.

Topher: Wrong.  My mom is terrible at blow jobs.

JFK: You have a very inadequate wiener.

Topher: Your a loser with zero friends.

This crushes JFK; he collapses and sobs -- "I am a loser with zero friends!", while Confucius tries to comfort him.  It also causes Abe Lincoln to realize that Topher is actually not a nice person, and leave.  He's got a Pride flag on his wall, with the caption "welcome here."  So a not nice gay ally? 

Suddenly Confucius realizes that Topher made a grammatical error, "your" instead of "you're." .  He points it out, crushing Topher.  This makes JFK realize that they are friends.  They cry and slap each other instead of hugging.  Close enough.

Scene 9: The guy the girls killed, Frederico, shows up.  He explains that he didn't have any friends because he was unwilling to divulge any of his secrets.  But after the girls buried him alive, he decided to start divulging secrets, so now he has lots of friends -- they saved him.  (But he falls into the open grave and dies again.)

This encourages Joan of Arc to tell her secret: that she has a crush on Abe Lincoln.  "This is the biggest secret that I've ever been part of!" Harriet Tubman exclaims.  But they decide to keep the secret, so boyfriend JFK will never know,

Scene 10: The nefarious crew report back to Fearless Leader that they now know all of the clones' secretes. (They're lying, of course). 

Beefcake: Lots of JFK biceps and bulge, in the stick-figure style of Total Drama Island.  

Gay Characters:  Confucius doesn't seem to like girls, or maybe he's just a nerd who has trouble meeting them.

Topher Bus, by the way, is Christopher Columbus. has a Pride flag on his wall, but he doesn't strike me as gay, with the screen name Top Her 69.  According to one review, he is trying to make up for his genetic twin's racism by being super woke, so the flag just means he is an ally.

Abe and JFK get shipped a lot, apparently.

In the 2000s series, Rock Hudson is dating Marie Curie, but dumps her for Oscar Wilde.  Harvey Milk shows up in the background.  JFK has fruity stereotype gay dads.  But maybe the 2023 series is a big more woke. 

Update: Nope, not woke at all.  In Episode 1, Abe Lincoln says that something is "gay."  Everyone is shocked, so he explains: "I just meant 'gay' as in the most horrible, awful, disgusting thing imaginable."  He gets ostracized.  We're supposed to feel sorry for him: Isn't it ridiculous to be upset over saying that gay people are disgusting?  

My grade: F-

"The Family Law": Chinese-Australian Boy Struggles to Come Out


The Family Law, on Hulu, is a sitcom about a Chinese-Australian family in Queensland: wildly inappropriate Mom, harried Dad (Anthony Brandon Wong), jock older brother (George Zhou, left), two sisters, and focus character, "life is unfair" Ben (Trystan Go).   Sort of like Malcolm in the Middle or The Goldbergs, except that at some point Ben comes out.  

Looking through the episode synopses, I don't see any indication of romantic interest for Ben, until Season 3 Episode 1:  When their parents are gone, Melissa and Ben "scheme to get into a Year 12 (high school senior) party, where there will be booze and -- more importantly for Melissa -- boys."  Obviously Ben is not out yet.

Episode 3: "Ben struggles with a crippling addiction to watching Klaus pump iron across the street, and is riddled with anxiety over what it means."

Episode 5: "Ben battles with his feelings toward Klaus."

Season and Series Finale: "Aunt Maisy's son has come out as gay and it's the end of the world." So they wait until the very last moment for Ben to come out!  Typical!  I'll watch Episode 3 instead.  Maybe there will be beefcake.

Scene 1
: Ben peers through his telescope to watch across-the-street neighbor Klaus (Takaya Honda, left) working out.  Shirtless, extremely muscular!  In voice over, he talks about how dangerous an addiction is.  Sometimes you have to remove yourself.  He backs away.  

Scene 2: Dinner.  Sister Candy and her boyfriend Wayne (Sam Cotton, below) have an announcement.  Everyone thinks that they are engaged, but no, they're taking the family camping.  Wayne explains: "No distractions, no temptations."  Everyone hates the idea, except Ben,  who thinks this might get his mind off Klaus's muscles.

Scene 3:
Getting ready for school.  Everyone except Ben is complaining about the camping trip: "Being raped and killed by dingos."  

In the B plot, divorced Mom had a date with Pete (Jeremy Lindsay Taylor), but -- vulgarity alert -- his pants.This ain't the Goldbergs!   He doesn't want a second date: "It's not the right time."  Mom is crushed.

Scene 4:  Unpacking groceries.  Mom is still crushed.  Suddenly Klaus from across the street drops by: he accidentally picked up Ben's shorts after gym class.  The embarrassed Ben rushes into his room; Klaus follows, and finds the telescope Ben uses to spy on him: "Hey, I can see right into my bedroom!" Then he lies down on Ben's bed.  Ok, now you're deliberately teasing him.  

Scene 5: The next day at school, Ben complains to his friend: "He was in my bed, touching my junk (which means something different in Australia), overstepping his bounds!"  Klaus appears: he heard that they were going camping, so he's going to lend Ben his state-of-the-art sleeping bag: "But wash it first.  It still smells like me."  Ulp!

Scene 6: Packing up the car.  It's way overcrowded.  Off to the outback!

Scene 7:
 Everyone is there, including the five Laws, Boyfriend Wayne (Sam Cotton), divorced Dad and his girlfriend, and Wayne's gung-ho parents.  They claim that the site was sacred to the Aboriginals. Then they discuss the various poisonous snakes and spiders in the area.  "But don't worry -- there are first aid kits next to the eskies (coolers)."  

They set up their tents.  Ben isn't doing it right, so Wayne's  Mom shows him how: "Man goes into woman, Bob's your uncle, and erect."  Even erecting tents becomes sexual in this show.

In the B plot, everyone wonders why Mom didn't bring Pete.  She gets angry, and finally claims that she dumped him..

Scene 8:  Night.  The couples cuddle.  Ben hangs out with his older brother.  Mom is alone and miserable.  When everyone goes to bed, divorced Dad stays behind to talk.  He thinks his new girlfriend is pregnant.

Scene 9:  Ben imagines Klaus in the tent, shirtless.  They almost kiss.  When he awakens in the morning, he discovers that he had a "wet dream" and got semen all over Klaus's sleeping bag (a parallel to what happened with Mom and Pete).  He rushes to wash it off.  Mom sees him and congratulates him for "becoming a man."  How does she know that it's semen and not urine?  Suddenly everybody is watching.  They laugh and point like junior-high bullies.   

Scene 10: Breakfast.  Ben accidentally squirts too much ketchup onto his egg sandwich, inviting the inevitable laughter.  That's just mean.  He runs into the woods.  They yell "Off to have a private moment?"  Come on, he's a teenager.  These things happen. 

Later, Boyfriend Wayne's Mom overhears them talking about Dad's girlfriend being pregnant, and thinks it's Candy, her son's girlfriend.  Misunderstanding jokes.

Scene 11: Bushwalking.  The misunderstandings are resolved: Candy isn't pregnant, and neither is Dad's girlfriend: she had a hysterectomy (she doesn't know the English word, so she describes the procedure in vulgar detail instead).  The whole group is shocked. Mom tells everyone that she didn't dump Pete, he dumped her.  The whole group is shocked again.  Later Mom bonds with Wayne's Mom over the misunderstandings.

Scene 12: Campfire, night.  Ben is still upset over what happened in Klaus's sleeping bag.  Could this mean that he is attracted to Klaus?  That he likes boys?  That he' know...?  Mom, misunderstanding his distress, tries to comfort him: "Klaus won't mind.  He's a teenager.  He's probably done that in his sleeping bag a hundred times."  This only increases Ben's anxiety.  We fade out to melancholy music.

Klaus working out.

Vulgarity: Lots more than I wanted to hear.

Chinese Culture: The parents and Dad's girlfriend all have accents, so they're first generation.  You would expect some cultural references.  But there aren't any.

Coming Out Anxiety: Ben seems to think of being gay as a "dangerous obsession."  I don't understand his distress.  This is around the year 2000, in gay-friendly Brisbane.  Ben's sex-positive family would certainly be fine with it.  Besides, his interest is obvious, and no one ever associates him with girls, so doubtless they know already.  

Waiting Until the Very End of the Series:  Typical.

My Grade: B-.

May 22, 2023

Why Hot Stuff Wears a Diaper

One of the Harvey Comics stable of magical beings, Hot Stuff the Little Devil is a queer outsider.  He lives in the same Enchanted Forest as Casper, Wendy, and Spooky, but their paths never cross.  There is no devil society, like the ghosts have; Hot Stuff rarely encounters another devil.  In most stories he is alone, peering into the daylit world without understanding it, or defending himself from its threats.

To emphasize his outsider status, many stories have Hot Stuff trapped in bizarre sub-worlds with their own incomprehensible rules, struggling to break free.

One wonders why Hot Stuff isn't underground with the other devils.  Was he banished, cast out of Paradise for some fault only devils know of?

Hot Stuff also has a sexual potential that the other magical beings lack. First, his name is 1950s slang for "sexually appealing," and you would call someone a "little devil" for making a mischievous sexual advance.

Second, he carries a phallic trident, which fails here as an ice king freezes his flames.

Third, the ghosts wear no clothes, and their bodies are smooth and formless, but Hot Stuff's asbestos diaper suggests a need to cover sex organs.

And infancy -- Hot Stuff is very, very young, in spite of his self-sufficiency.  Like a baby, his main concerns are eating and sleeping.  But he will grow. He will become tall and strong, and potent, in a way that the ghosts never will.

When that day come, will he long for the male or the female?

Hot Stuff occasionally encounters the Fairy Princess Charma, but she is by no means a regular character, and they are not interpreted as romantic partners.  Instead, she makes attempts to civilize him, to draw him from his savage infant world through gender polarization.  Here, for instance, he grudgingly allows her to use his super-hot hand to iron clothes.

In a story from 1970, Hot Stuff and a friend wonder what games human children play.  They peer in a window at a group of boys and girls playing “spin the bottle," in which you must spin and then bestow a kiss upon whomever the bottle points to (in the presumably gay-free 1970s, opposite sex only).  The two devils rush back to the Enchanted Forest and play their own version of the game, bestowing zaps of fire rather than kisses.  They, and the human children, do not experience heterosexual desire at all, and can only imagine that heterosexual practice is a form of torture.

When Hot Stuff grows up, he will long for the male.

See also: Why the Devil has no Penis.
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