Gay Related Television Shows

It's A Sin 2021 (Comedy, Drama, History)

Perfectly created by Russel T Davies. This mini series, 5 episodes, follows the lives of a group of young (mostly gay) people leaving their homes to move to London in what turned out to be the worst decade of recent history. The AIDS epidemic of the 1980’s.

Using a basically unknown cast all of which come shining through pretty quickly it gives a very real feel to what life was like at the time.

A couple of really famous faces pop in. Neil Patrick Harris in episode 1. He plays a straight laced Saville Row (a famous street in London known for it tailors) tailor who leads a mostly closeted life at work. He befriends the new assistant and tries to show him how to keep out of the hands of the pervy boss.

Stephen Fry comes in a bit later in the series.

Two of the 4 boys become HIV positive and the first dies in a rather degrading and surprising way.

The main character Richie comes from the Isle of Wight and his mother does not know he’s gay and in the story he is the one who drags the illness out to the end of the series.

Some great dialogue and about how he really enjoyed his short life gives the series a rather tearful ending.

How his mother and his best friend fight over him is also very dramatic and very well written.

I am aware this review is a bit vague but really it’s well worth watching. It’s only been aired this year and already winning awards. With an IMDb rating of 8.7.

 

The Simpsons

Although not exactly a gay tv show or even gay related. The Simpsons has been running for 32 years and does, from time to time, cover some serious social issues. On February 16 1997 this episode (season 8 episode 15) ran and was very controversial. It almost didn’t air due to the worry of offending and loosing sponsors of the show. It rates 8.8 on IMDb which is rather awesome in my opinion.

Love, Victor 2020 (Comedy, drama, romance)

Written by the people who made 2018’s award winning movie Love, Simon. And billed as a comedy,drama and romance program where the comedy isn’t in your face. It’s the story of a 15 year old boy coming to terms with his gay sexual orientation. It’s filmed over 10 episodes of 30 minutes each giving us 5 joyous hours of what I like to call pretty good ‘teeny bopper’ TV.

Is it realistic? Some of it’s believable some not.

Does it matter? No, not really.

In a recent study in the US of 1,900 queer Generation Z guys (assigned male at birth, AMAB) — ages ranging from 13 to 18 — were surveyed between January 2018 to January 2020 as part of an HIV prevention study. All of them identified as gay, bisexual or as being attracted to others regardless of gender. And over half were out to their parents.

It could be argued that in the last 30 years with films like Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, To Wong Foo, Broken Hearts Club, Brokeback Mountain, Call Me By Your Name, have been making a huge headway in the general population with gay acceptance. And TV shows with positive gay characters, e.g. Will and Grace, Brothers and Sisters, RuPaul’s Drag Race, Glee, Greys Anatomy – the list goes on – have meant that ultimately films like Love, Simon, The Thing About Harry and Akron along with TV shows like Love, Victor were bound to come into existence.

The story line, which is quite believable and gets better as the series progresses, is about a couple with marriage difficulties move their family of 3 children from Texas to Atlanta. Victor, played by the incredibly cute and naturally adorable Michael Cimino,

(who has taken a lot of abuse personally for taking this role – see gay related news) is the eldest child and has been going through ‘gay’ thoughts for years. On his first day at Creekwood High Victor finds out about Simon (played by Nick Robinson from the movie Love, Simon)

and finds him on social media and confides with him about what his life is like in Simon’s former high school and how he progressing with his own sexual awareness and they form an online bond.

Victor falls in love with a boy, Benji, (George Sear)

who already has a boyfriend and tries, for a while, to be straight. I’m not going to spoil it here.

It’s a really good show and has an IMDb rating of 8.1. It has also been nominated for the GLAAD award in 2021 for outstanding comedy series. According to Hulu, as of today, 16th May, 2021 weekly demand for watching Love, Victor is up week on week by nearly 24%. Outstanding!!

Halston 2021 (Biography, drama)

Phew!! Wow!! One not to be missed.

Written by Sharr White and produced by Ryan Murphy (one of the creators of Glee, amongst other great programs) for Netflix. It’s the biographical story of fashion designer Halston. His rise to fame and slow demise. Luckily done in a five part miniseries. Just enough time to keep the audience on the edge of their seats with no fluff (if you’ll pardon the pun).

I love Ewan McGregor.

From the first time I saw him in Shallow Grave in 1994 and then Trainspotting in 1996 and most recently as the Stussy brothers, Season 3, in Fargo in 2017. He always puts a real effort into getting the role just right and boy did he do that here. Not many straight actors can carry off such a flamboyant gay role well (you only have to see the skill with which John Hurt played Quintin Crisp to know how hard it is) and he did it with panache lots of panache.

So much so that, like Hurt, you soon forget the actor and see the character. You really feel like you are seeing Halston.

The show was very well cast with the likes of socialite Martha Graham played by Mary Beth Pell

who was just wonderful as Jackie Florick in the The Good Wife and Bill Pulman

(POTUS Thomas J. Whitmore in Independence Day, 1996) as the corporate backer who helped Halston rise to fame. At first I didn’t like Krysta Rodriguez

who played Liza Minnelli but she got very good at the roll very fast.

The story goes that young Halston, who came from a very troubled background with an abusive father to become Jackie O‘s hat designer in the 1960’s. As hats went out of fashion Halston had to adapt and remake his own brand. We watch as Halston, who never once apologized for being gay (and a tad debauched – yes, that’s poppers, black rent and a truck park)

and in your face about it – which I loved, goes from being a talented designer whom everyone loved, adored and wanted to a mediocre household brand selling naff cloths in JC Penny.

 

At first Halston appeared to be very anti drugs but soon became a full on cocaine user as his rise in popularity takes him into a mainstream party goer at New Yorks infamous Studio 54 where he mixes with people like Warhol, the Jaggers, Liza (of course) and Divine to mention just a few.

Actually it comes across as a unique story but unfortunately it’s one that is repeated in the fashion industry time after time. Alexander McQueen (who had been a friend of mine) springs to mind.

However, with a mix of raw talent, passion, humility, megalomania, arrogance, self loathing and love of money made for Halston having one hell of a life and made him the ideal candidate for this awesome production. Apparently at the time of his death from Kaposi’s sarcoma, an AIDS related illness, in 1990 he was worth $100M.

No money appears to have been spared on production. Not that I could find out how much it cost to make but it was filmed in the expensive New York.

The show has only been out a couple of weeks and is raising in popularity. It only has 4K ratings on IMDb, so far, where it is currently a 7.6. It will be interesting to follow along and see what happens here. I gave it a 9.

Love, Victor (Season 2) 2021 (Comedy, drama, romance)

With the first season finale where the last words spoken were “I’m Gay” the suspense would appear to have all been over. But here we are with season 2. Making an ongoing show, as we all know, is hard work and the writers have to get very creative very fast especially in todays very competitive market. True this niche market is nowhere near full but the target audience is quite limited so diversifying would seem to be the key to raising it’s popularity. It would be interesting to see global viewing figures and demographics in my opinion but that’s probably never going to happen.

Anyway, did it pass or fail. Hmmm. I loved lots of it but found some tedious and mundane.

The season opened 4 months down the line from the previous one and our hero’s, Victor and Benji, are still very much in love.

 

Victors parents were separating at the end of season 1 (another teen angst problem well written in) and Victors mother is still on the side of God whereas his father, Armando (James Martinez) is going to PFLAG (I assume Parents oF Lesbian And Gay teenagers) meetings where he becomes sickeningly likeable. At PFLAG he bonds so well with Simon’s father, Jack (from Love, Simon), that you think they might even hook up but that might just be too on the nose.

As Victors parents are separated the writing in of the husband ‘experimenting with others’ includes adding to the cast Julie Benz (Dexters wife Rita) who actually came across well – unlike in Dexter where you would have thought he would have killed her many times over.

For a teen based show set in a high school it’s actually very well produced and the cast kind of come across as ageless. You could easily be watching a crew of 30 or 50 year olds. The script makes it very easy to watch and even if you are slightly homophobic you would be hard pushed to be offended. The boys kissing and romping around comes across as so matter of fact and they really make being openly gay at school seem so normal.

Victor takes until episode 2 to ‘come out’ at school due to his mother.

But when he does in a sort of fun nerve wrecking way it backfires with his basketball team mates, which of course it would, there’s no way, even in this day and age, sporting youths are going to have out gay boys staring at them in the shower. But, of course, they don’t mind because Victor is ‘the most ungay gay’ of all time.

This story line was a real bit of fairy tale nonsense but it was handled well enough I guess.

The addition of Betsy Brandt (who rose to fame in Breaking Bad as Hank’s shop lifting crazy wife, Marie) as Felix’s crazy mother didn’t really add anything although it was good to see her in the show and it increased Felix’s range enormously.

Talking of Felix. I love him. He’s just adorable and Anthony Turpel plays the role incredibly well. His mishaps, here with a razor blade (sorry for the spoiler but it doesn’t really detract if you haven’t seen it yet), are comic genius at it’s almost best. Sad that it was so predictable but hey ho.

Being such a minorities diverse show, we have to have our adorable young African American couple and Andrew (Mason Gooding)  so unbelievably homo friendly considering he’s supposed to be the school bully and captain of the basketball team. Even Mia (Rachel Hilson) after being dumped so spectacularly by Victor becomes annoyingly forgiving.

Also as an ongoing show it needs some new blood of course. How to handle that. Well, bring in the American born to Iranian parents Rahim (played by the incredibly pretty Anthony Keyvan).

Besty of Victors annoying sister Pilar (Isabella Ferreira). Young Rahim, who makes being gay look more natural than life itself, apparently needs some grownup advice from the one year older Victor. Another unbelievable plot but Rahim is turning out to be quite the character (he should really have his own show).

Getting on for half way through the series we find out a big secret of Benji’s and his parents surprise his birthday dinner by secretly inviting Victor along much to his annoyance. The father is played by another American stalwart, Kevin Rahm (who played a gay role in CSI some years back as well as the political confident in Madam Secretary to Tea Leoni).

Anyway, young Rahim is a bit of a rebel and becomes very close to Victor as the major couple have a series of upsets to their ‘perfect’ relationship. Another unbelievable story line where both Rahim and Victor are in gay

bar/club happens whilst playing hooky. There’s no way 2 mid teens are going to be allowed in a gay club in a country where the national age limit for drinking is 21 and most (certainly the ones I’ve been in anyway) clubs won’t allow under 21’s entrance.

Continuing the incredulous story line of the nightclub is where Victor’s mother, Isabel (Ana Ortiz – Ugly Betty 2006 to 2010) turns up to oust the young misfits. But then by this point she has mellowed about Victor’s sexuality. So much so that she tells her homophobic Catholic priest to take a hike.

In the last few moments of the last episode Victor, who has now grown into a fully fledged fag apparently, decides to cut the umbilical with Simon who has dramatically changed into a University scruff with long hair and full beard. So no guest part for Nick Robinson in series 3 I’m guessing.

Anyway, the season 2 ends with quite a nail biting tease and we will just have to wait for season 3 to see what happens.

Queer As Folk (UK)

Created by Russell T. Davis, who has been a writer and creator of so much British television from Coronation Street (he was a writer in 1993 of this, the worlds longest running, television soap) to Doctor Who and Torchwood as well as recently with It’s A Sin, in 1999. Only ten episodes were made, probably due to pressure to stop it. It was a very controversial C4 production. It covers the daily life of the at the time Manchester Gay Scene through the eyes of Stuart Alan Jones (Aiden Gillen),

Vince Tyler (Craig Kelly) and Nathan Malony (Charlie Hunnam)

and their friends. It was quite true to life and gave society a pretty good insight as to how the gay scene works, at least in Manchester at the time.

Nathan is supposed to be 15 year old who is gagging to find out about being Gay and wants to have his first experience. This was very delicate subject at the time having a 15 year old running around gay bars trying to have sex.

Stuart Alan Jones is a very successful advertising executive and completely out as well as being an over confident sexual predator and of course he and Nathan meet and have a very provocative sex scene that got one of the sponsors, Becks beer, to pull out after the pilot.

Vince is Stuart’s best friend and nowhere near as confident and follows him around like a lap dog.

Through clever writing the show made you want to identify with one of the characters and by throwing in a couple of extra characters we either knew, or wanted to know, like the very camp and outrageous Alexander Perry (Antony Cotton)

and Hazel (Denise Black)

as the mother every gay man wanted. Denise was, and has been ever since, a British acting stalwart. She had been a hairdresser in Coronation Street, a role she played from ’92 to ’96 before being in Queer As.

The addition of a lesbian storyline was, I suppose, a way of making the show more inclusive and politically correct. For my taste it was pointless and made it unbelievable because Stuart just would not have done what he did – not going to spoil it just incase you haven’t seen it. But if you do watch the pilot for the first time you will say OMG No Way.

Having watched the whole thing again recently I can say it’s quite dated and the addition of Hazel was a saving grace as it made the whole thing come together well. Stuarts behaviour was meant to be provocative and Aiden Gillen did a great job. Actually all the actors played their roles well.

The show won 7 awards and was nominated at the Baftas.

The British success was then taken to the US where their version went on to make 55 episodes. I never watched any.

Watch on Amazon here.

Frasier: Season 7 Episode 15 'Out with Dad'. 2000 (Comedy)

Not many American TV shows have been so well written and produced that by season 7 they were still coming up with ideas that seemed as fresh as they did when they first started seven years before. But Frasier was the exception. It carried on for 4 more years giving us great comedy week after week. Yes, there were a few seasons that didn’t do so well but then not many shows can boast winning 37 Primetime Emmys!!! I rewatched this gem recently and it’s not dated one bit.

Frasier is about 2 brothers, Frasier Crane (played by six-time Emmy Award winner, Kelsey Grammer)

and Niles (the also mightily successful David Hyde Pierce)

both psychiatrists and their long suffering father Martin (John Mahoney), a medically retired cop (after being shot in the hip)

along with Martin’s physical therapist Daphne Moon (Jane Leeves – with a purposely bad English accent).

The final main character was Roz Doyle (Peri Gilpin), Frasier’s slutty radio show producer.

This episode, Out With Dad (one of many with a gay theme) has a 9.1 rating on IMDb and was aired on my birthday (February 10th) in 2000.

 

In it Frasier is upset because Niles can’t go to the opera with him so he takes his dad instead. He wants to go to try and meet a woman, Emily (Marg Helgenberger, best known for her role in CSI in 2000)

who also goes regularly to the opera and is there with her mother, Helen. Helen takes a fancy to Martin who pretends to be Gay so as to let her down gently.

Emily and Helen decide that Emily’s uncle, Edward (Brian Bedford – pictured here in A Christmas Carol, 2004),

would be perfect for Martin and they take him to Frasier’s apartment after the show.

Watch the video to see the hilarious consequences (sadly I couldn’t find the complete episode on YouTube – I have a copy if you want to PM me at richardemery839@gmail.com).

One of the writers of this episode was David Angell,

who was tragically lost to the television world when, along with his wife, they boarded one of the two planes that were purposely crashed into the twin towers in New York on September 11th 2001.

David Angell along with Peter Casey and David Lee were the creators of Frasier in 1993 which was a spin off of the very popular and successful Cheers which started in 1982. David Angell and Peter Casey had been part of that shows production team for most of its airing.

The cast was very carefully picked. Angell, Casey and Lee wanted to make sure they had the perfect cast from the outset and they brought in Joe Keenan,

a successful gay author from New York, to write the show based on his books – Blue Heaven and Putting On The Ritz (both of which coincidentally could have been written about Frasier’s and Niles characters they are so similar in style). Keenan won the Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series for Frasier in 1996.

More details about the series can be found in the book of the series. Frasier by Jefferson Graham, published October 1st, 1996.

You can buy here from Amazon.

Blue Heaven by Joe Keenan

Putting On The Ritz by Joe Keenan

Hacks 2021 (Comedy)

Comedy at it’s best!!

Jean Smart takes the lead as an ageing stand up comedienne Debra Vance a Las Vegas legend in a role she could arguably say she was destined to play. She is powerful and opinionated and amazing. I first saw Smart in her Primetime Emmy winning role as Lorna Lynley in Fraser in 2000.

Here she plays a narcissistic workaholic who hates everyone and everything except her work, her antiques and her Corgis. A perfectionist who won’t tolerate mediocrity but has a very dark secret; she is sadly, and deeply, lonely having thrown away everyone she loved in her life.

Vance’s very professional gay COO, Marcus, played by the Primetime Emmy nominated Carl Clemons-Hopkins

(who is the first person I’ve come across as wanting to be known by his pronoun ‘they, them, their’) is a bit of a hunk. This role got him a well deserved mention The Advocate read the article here.

The story is about how Vance bonds with her forced upon her new employee Ava (Hannah Einbinder).

She is a 25 year old out of work, bisexual writer, who lost her last job (and subsequently entitled life) badmouthing a closeted Senator. She is forced to go to an interview in Las Vegas by her manager, Jimmy (Primetime Emmy winner Paul W. Downs – one of the shows three creators), to interview with Vance for a writing job she doesn’t want.

Ava – “The last thing on Earth I want to do is move to the desert to write jokes for an old hack”.

When telling Vance about loosing her job by tweeting about the closeted Senator sending his gay son to a ‘conversion camp’ Vance comes up with a better punchline “sending your son to the woods with a bunch of other horny, gay teens. The only thing you’re gonna convert him to is from a top to a bottom”.

Vance has an ongoing battle with the manager of her long standing hotel residency, The Palmetto

(which is actually the Wilshire Ebell Theatre, located at 4401 W. 8th St. in L.A.’s Mid-Wilshire area), as he wants her out of her contract so they can get younger acts in. The hotel manager, Marty, is played by Hollywood stalwart Christopher McDonald.

In their opening scene together he says “There naming a street after you”.

And she replies “Yeah, Debra Vance Drive, probably be a dead end with an abortion clinic on it”.

Marty and Debra start fighting each other as the series progresses. She blackmailing him and in response he puts up a rather fun poster on the hotel wall.

 

The show does have some very in depth story lines. For example Ava’s neurotic mother, Nina, is played by Jane Adams

who was Dr. Mel Karnofsky, in Frasier in 2000, Niles’ (David Hyde Pierce) girlfriend and brief wife; and the estranged relationship Ava has with her is delicately done. There’s also a great article again The Advocate about How Hacks Has Advanced Bisexual Representation on TV.  You can read the article in my news section.

Deliciously created and written by the award winning team of Lucia Aniello, Paul W. Downs and Jen Statsky. Hacks first aired on May 13th 2021 and has already won 3 Primetime Emmys (including Jean Smart for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series) along with 7 other wins and 26 nominations.

I am really looking forward to season 2 which has already been given the go ahead by HBO.

                              Ho, ho, ho.