I had an unexpected palate cleanser of a TV experience last night. I watched – at the enthusiastic recommendation of a co-worker with dubious taste – Senior Year on Netflix. Since I don’t really know this person that well, I had to leverage her enthusiasm about the show with the unknowns of her viewing tastes.
I’m an Olympic caliber mathlete when it comes to rationalizing.
Plus, it was the Silver Fox’s last night in town, and he surprised me by taking his guts out for a tentatively exploratory drink with me. I hadn’t expected to see him since he had an afternoon wine date with some neighbors. But after jealously teasing him about what he planned to drink at this wine:30
…he followed up a couple hours later with “I’m saving my alcohol consumption for you!”
How could I refuse?
I had asked if he wanted to go out or stay in with wine and a movie. I think I might have mentioned – his imminent departure aside – that I wasn’t up for starting another series at the moment because, A) I can tell he’s itching to indulge one of his binge passions: subtitles. I can’t blame him. Regrettably, I’m already watching a 50/50 subtitled show and that’s giving me all the fix I need there, luckily it’s one based off of his recommendations so I’m in the clear as far as watching it without him. Back to that list, though; B) I don’t have the emotional bandwidth to invest in another series right meow. And it is an emotional investment. There’s the cost of simply committing to a series, for one thing, but then there’s subject matter to deal with.
We’d just come off of tearing through It’s A Sin on HBOMax and it was heavy! It’s the coming out/coming of age story of six friends who find themselves and each other in 1980s London.
Unlike Sex and the City, the city of London isn’t the unintended co-star. AIDS is. Hence the heavy.
I was glad to watch it, because: important. Even though I lived through that era in America, I needed it as a touchstone to the days when Gay Culture actually contained a culture versus <gestures vaguely> whatever these Lost Boys are trying to pass off as a community or culture today.
But lots of tears, speaking only for myself. So consider yourself warned.
But last night’s drink with The Fox ended up being an out of the house affair, sidestepping my fragility. At least initially. The topic of a movie eventually crept back in, but was ultimately rejected because of the time commitment. Today being a travel day, the Silver Fox didn’t really need to be up past his normal bedtime just to watch a movie. Me, having nothing else going, though…well, I was free to stay up and watch what I pegged as a little Brain Candy.
By and large, it was.
20 year coma.
Cheerleader returns to finish high school at 37.
Brain Candy about brain trauma? Sure!
But the unexpected component was the wokeness of the project. The cast was diverse and the characters representative. I’m quite sure the male actors portraying gender fluid teens and dressing thusly will be quite the trigger for the vocal religious minority in the states.
It might actually account for the low rating on IMDb.
Might? Surely. It’s not a great movie, but the inclusivity that the movie portrays as today’s high school culture squares off nicely against the less-than-stellar experience high school was in reality for most any Millennial or older generational outsiders.
And I needed that optimistic thread in this story to offset the heaviness of It’s A Sin, which I’d say should be required viewing for anyone in the LGBTQ+ community before they’re allowed to take a pic of their junk or download Grindr.
It reset me to where I’d been when the Silver Fox rolled into town two weeks ago. Hopeful that the crop of gay dipshits I encounter every week might somehow collectively find their way out of the moniker Lost Boys.
Before the Silver Fox made his return to town, I took another of his recommendations and watched Heartstopper.
Oh, my hell. <injects insulin> What a deliciously sweet story.
Goofy, gay art scene high schooler meets straight-but-secretly-questioning jock and they fall in love?
I am so jealous of the environment younger generations are living in. I mean, sure, I know it’s not all rainbows and unicorns…plus, they’re inheriting the planet we’ve all but destroyed, so they deserve a more idyllic youth. But this is exactly what my and the generations before me have been living toward these past decades: the ability to live life out of the closet and experience your true self in the open.
All those protests and pride parades and lobbying of politicians for equality under the law?
It was for this. So a couple of queer or questioning kids could fall in love.
Representation matters 100% – which is why people were so mad about Florida’s Don’t Say Gay law. Even more so about Disney’s initial silence over such a law going into effect in its backyard. You think your gonna make billions and billions on the back of our collective talent and get away with a shrug when we come under attack?
TV, movies, theater and music…all of that art both imitates life and portrays the sometimes ugly truth of it. It’s cyclical. Sometimes art is a story or reflection of how something is. Others, it can be a representation of how it should or could be. In those instances, exposing non-allied individuals to something they are uncomfortable with through art can be a non-threatening way to introduce a topic and demystify or de-vilify it for them.
Again, representation matters…and with it, before long – a mere 50 years and counting in America – you’ll have boiled that taboo frog.
It was nice to watch a show – before I knew I needed it – that produced big, happy tears. I was so enthralled by the story and execution that I burned through all eight episodes in one night.
Again, it’s not like I’ve got anything else going on that would require me to be up and at it at a reasonable hour on a weekend.
The Fox’s return was pretty much hot on the heels of that viewing, so when he asked if I wanted to watch Young Royals, my answer was a heartfelt
Despite the fact that I suspected it was subtitled. Turns out, only dubbed. See? The Silver Fox challenges me to be a better me and me is rewarded with less work than me thought a better me would require. Of me.
Another high school coming of age/coming out story? Sure, why not?
And the trope isn’t totally monochromatic.
The boys in Heartstopper were both middle class Brits. This one was about a poor, working class Swede and a literal (well, in the show, not real life) Swedish Prince.
Ok, well different enough that it’s more of a fairy
tail tale premise could be digestible for someone who couldn’t connect with a depiction of an uncomfortable topic in the shadow of their own class.
I know I’m aiming high to even think the representation these shows provide is on a straight line trajectory to the people that can’t/won’t/don’t accept the LGBTQ+ population.
But those who aren’t resistant, just underexposed can see this and be better armed against the hateful rhetoric that seems to be the default of that further out group. That we’re deviants or abominations or – even worse – have designs on their own perceived imperiled and precious little pooters.
No, thank you.
Even better, the representation these shows provide may equip the kids who are questioning their sexuality and where they belong on the spectrum of this intensely important part of the human experience. It might equip them to be able to start the conversation with someone who couldn’t nurture and enable their coming out as their true selves…especially if that someone is themself.
If the weather is t as glorious where you live as it is in Portland this weekend, treat yourself to one of these – maybe not It’s A Sin if you’re new to gay culture. I can’t promise you that you won’t tear up, but I can promise you some feel-good entertainment…and that it won’t make you gay.