The proliferation of screens on our iPhones, smart phones, tablets and laptops as well as shortened attention spans has led to an explosion of video storytelling through the Internet. One doesn’t even have to own a TV today to watch quality drama and comedy series, and many are found exclusively on websites like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu rather than the major television networks.
A large number of these current web series feature LGBT characters (notably Transparent, House of Cards and Orange is the New Black) and there are even more that are primarily geared toward our community. Freed from the constraints of network TV, LGBT filmmakers have found the Internet a more accessible and less expensive storytelling environment that viewers around the world can tune in to any time.
Individual web series episodes range from just a few minutes to the more traditional half hour. Shorter running times without commercials make it possible for viewers to keep up with their favorite series during lunch and bathroom breaks at work or school, while riding the bus or train, or even while in bed before falling asleep. We live in an increasingly web series-fueled entertainment world!
In addition to Old Dogs & New Tricks (see our interview of actor Bruce L. Hart), here’s a quick rundown of the newest, best and/or most popular LGBT web series:
- Where the Bears Are: Currently prepping its 4th season, this funny and sexy hit has been described as “The Golden Girls meets Murder, She Wrote with big, gay, hairy men!” Main trio Reggie, Wood and Nelson solve crimes in their LA neighborhood like a hirsute Scooby Doo gang. Plus: the frequently shirtless Hot Toddy (Ian Parks)!
- What’s Your Emergency: Out talent Michael Urie (Ugly Betty) directs a promising comedy set in an utterly inept 911 call center in fictional (or is it?) Hell, Michigan. It features a barely in-the-closet gay staffer as well as pretty boy Bart, who is frequently shirtless and even in his undies in episode 3.
- Eastsiders: One of the more serious offerings, this Silver Lake-set drama follows the aftermath of Cal (played by Kit Williamson, who also created the series) discovering that his partner Thom has been cheating on him. The ramifications spill out to their friends and neighbors. The first season was recently released as a feature film on DVD and web season 2 is in the works.
- Mentor: Actor-comedian Jason Stuart makes his directorial debut with this autobiographical series in the vein of Louie and Curb Your Enthusiasm. Middle aged, gay and desperate for a hit, Stuart takes matters into his own hands with the help of a hot young wannabe comedian (Paul Elia) and former Baywatch babe Alexandra Paul.
- Go-Go Boy Interrupted: My personal favorite out of the bunch, it follows the hilarious, weekly misadventures of clueless gay club dancer Danny, played by the too cute Jimmy Fowlie. In addition to the abundance of hot man-flesh on display, the series features awesome appearances by funny man Drew Droege (who also stars in the Looking web spoof Not Looking) and Lynne Stewart, Miss Yvonne herself from Pee-Wee’s Playhouse.
- Darwin: From gay fave actress-producer Carrie Preston (True Blood) comes a comedy about Leo Darwin, a Master Life Coach whose life is falling apart. Given to garden references in his counseling, Leo encourages his new (and only) client to name what vegetable he is. When he responds “a tomato,” he explains “people think they’re a vegetable but technically they’re a fruit.” ‘Nuff said.
By Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and Rage Monthly Magazine.