TV

It’s a Small World, After All: “Difficult People” and Intimacy

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difficultpeoplepicJulie (Julie Klausner) and Billy (Billy Eichner) want to be seen as mean, bitter, small people that live a small world. As Inkoo Kang posited, “Difficult People is a sitcom about smallness.” To embrace the title as a fundamental part of their identity is a form of myopia that they are proud of, at least externally and publicly. Its first season, which premiered on Hulu in August 2015, established that bitterness and restrictive world view and arguably sense of self was not merely a character detail but the character itself; the pilot opens with Julie and Billy furiously walking down streets of New York yelling at people, ordering strangers out of the way, and making cutting remarks passing by, only to convene and… continue to do the same thing, but together. But though it wasn’t the focus of the first eight episodes, that there was a textural layer to this “haterade”, and emotional one no less, was there from the beginning. Difficult People is not only about small people and smallness, but small people continually struggling with to what degree they want to reach out and, like unlike the audience numbers of NBC’s Hannibal, grow. Read the rest of this entry »

Retro Made: The Duffer Brothers’ Stranger Things

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stranger-things-730x365In Provincetown, MA last Thursday, the street of the quasi-Queer Mecca was lined with many a Madonna, pantless Tom Cruise, and Tina Turner. It was Back to the ’80s for Carnival. But were you to find an Eleven in the parade, donning a hospital gown and little hair, right next to the Gremlin-turned-femme fatale, they would have fit right in with the vibe.  Read the rest of this entry »

Barely Here and Queer: Authenticity, Identity, and Queerness in Lena Dunham’s “Girls”

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(Author’s Note: This was originally written for my favorite class lass semester, “HBO’s Girls and the Millennial Generation.”)

Queerness is rarely the focus of Girls, and when it does appear, it does so as well-worn character trope (Elijah as gay best friend) or form of tragedy (Laura in the rehab center).] Yet, while the show focuses its efforts on examining the “authenticity” of characters, it rarely considers queerness as an element of authentic identity in a serious or earnest manner. This is troubling, given that questions of authenticity are something that dogs all of its characters. The show relegates queerness and queer identity as punch line and not as element of authentic identity as equally as gender, experience, or class.  By depicting queerness as an object with which ostensibly straight characters can utilize at their will, often to ignore reflections of themselves and their own privilege, Girls reveals that its concepts of authenticity and queerness is limited to a straight, white gaze. Read the rest of this entry »

Retro Grade School: Grease Live and Transgression

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I don’t know what, exactly, my mother was thinking showing me Grease when I was three or four. Next to Bringing Up Baby, it was the single film that I watched the most, playing on a loop for most of my childhood. I know the film as well as well as Jan knows the toothbrush jingle. And that other people have connections to Grease not dissimilar to mine is indicative of the cultural influence the film had, and perhaps of how not-actually transgressive it is. Is it that my/our parents just sort of looked past its discussions of sex and peer pressure in favor of its catchy songs? Or is it because, by the ‘90s, it had nothing interesting to say about the very subject matter it wanted to be “radical” about?

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Looking: Or, The Unexpected Virtue of Being Queertidian

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To say that Looking takes pride in the quotidian, as it were, is at once a limiting and apt and expansive way to understand the show. Yes, part of Looking’s charm is its “dullness”, as if the queers who liked Queer as Folk are nor just tired as fuck and are ready to settle down for a nice quiet dramedy, but that day to day appreciation of the little moments informs its aesthetic as much as anything. Because what you get in Looking is not merely economical shot/reverse shot compositions and sequences, but the camera hovering and lingering on this group of men. Because, similarly to another comparably cinematic show Mad Men, Looking, its second season now available on Digital HD, is about silences, it’s about touches, and it is, as its title suggests, about gazes. Read the rest of this entry »