Brent Hartinger

The Wrap (with Two Gay Guys): Is America Screwed?

Filed By Brent Hartinger | September 15, 2008 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Media
Tags: Barack Obama, election 2008, Here! TV, John McCain, Sarah Palin, The Lair, Two Gay Guys, US Politics

This week, we take on--yes!--politics. Also, do we gay folks have to watch something just because it's gay? Also, we review here! TV's The Lair.

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Excellent assessments of both politcs and raising the question of how much do we support gay entertainment offerings just because they're gay. And that you're both adorable doesn't hurt one bit either. I'm reserving the bulk (And it is bulky) of my comment for the Here! network, which has often been a source of wonderment for me. I marvel at its sort of bipolar unevenness in terms of quality between the series and movie divisions.

Dante's Cove is utterly unwatchable. The first 15 minutes of the first episode made my eyes roll so violently that I nearly gave myself whiplash.

I've forced myself to watch The Lair and I'm finding it almost as unwatchable. The plot's predictable, the acting is bad, the production values are nearly unbearable. There is the nudity that gay audiences have come to demand, but honestly, does it have to come at the expense of quality? Rent a porn tape if you're that desperate for flesh! (I mean really!)

I haven't seen Paradise Falls, which is another Here! series, but I'm fairly certain that it will also cause me to gag more fiercely than any foot long phallus, and I don't gag easily. I'm not exactly sure who at the Here! network is taking too much Xanex, but whoever it is the effect is that it is imparing not only taste, but intelligence. Where is the clever repartee that gay people are known for? Where is the well written plot? Where is the surprise twist which may make people think differently about the subject matter? I know gay men respond favorably to seeing as much penis and ass as possible, but is it too much to ask for a tiny smattering of substance as well?

As for Here! movies, I find many are often more tolerable. The Donald Strachey series of movies starring Chad Allen and Sebastian Spence, as you mentioned, are often an easy watch. No, it isn't Angels in America, but it is nonetheless an an effortless and often fun way to spend time. In addition, each movie of that particular series has, in my opinion, gotten markedly better in terms of production value and acting talent.
Shelter, another gay movie from Here! is also a favorite of mine. Yes, I'll admit to it whole heartedly: I'm a sucker for romance! And Shelter fills the bill adequately. It isn't the calibur of BB Mountain, but then again, the leads aren't beaten to death or left facing a lonely existance. I know it's a tad Hollywood, but every now and then I like a happy gay ending (Wait, that didn't sound quite right...).
While Here! does put out some watchable fare in terms of movies, they often produce some major dreck which should have never been given consideration for production, much less a budget. Trapped was nearly unwatchable and should have been called, I Wasted Too Much Time Watching This Crap. Similarly The Raven, which the producer's had the gall to associate to Edgar Allen Poe, was gut wrenchingly awful in every way possible. Poe should have really risen from his grave and taken revenge: That would have made a better movie. I was in gagony watching it and am still loathe to admit that I continued to watch it to the end.
There are others movies produced under the Here! banner that are fairly good and a few that are gagnacious. I will say that whoever is head of the movie division is doing a far better job than the series division, but in either case, a dose of bipolar medication might be in order.

Hey - at least you get gay TV. Here in Indy we have a bazillion sports channels, just as many religious channels and other stuff from home shopping to DIY. Gay? Hell no. No matter how often the community has advocated for it.

I know Bil, I shouldn't be so hard on gay television....except that I pay to have Here! television just like I pay for Showtime. And actually I have to pay a higher price to get the cable package that includes Logo. Like any service I pay for, I sort of demand a certain amount in return. So it was sort of disconcerting to find that when gay people finally find the capitol for a television channel and a mouth piece for quality programming, that we have to watch drivel like The Lair in order to feel like we're doing our homopatriotic best to support our community.

Still, I shouldn't bitch. I remember not having access to either Here! or Logo and feeling frustrated as hell having to watch Will & Grace (Which I loved despite it's flaws)to see something that represented gay people on television. I remember really hungering for those gay networks. Even now, not infrequently, I'll look at my partner after watchly quality programming on either channel and saying, "I can't believe that we finally have a television network devoted entirely to our community. It's surreal."

Quality programming does exist on both networks. It would be horribly unfair of me to say otherwise. It was, however, also a major disappointment to discover the amount of gay programming that was nearly intolerable to watch.

When you finally do get gay programming Bil, you'll be amazed because some of it is pretty good. And then you'll be horrified (And not in the traditional Stephen King sense either). In any case, I hope the wait isn't long my friend.

Brent Hartinger | September 16, 2008 1:43 PM

I pretty much agree with your assessment of here! completely. PARADISE FALLS is a Canadian series (not produced by here!) that they acquired the broadcast rights to. It's different than THE LAIR and DANTE'S COVE (not nearly as bad), though I still don't like it.