Everything we can’t stop loving, hating, and thinking about this week in pop culture.
I expect you all to go see Bros.
- Exhausted by that Netflix Dahmer series.
- Thrilling casting news.
- The Globes are back??
- Whoopi is about to save us all.
Bros Is a Big Gay Miracle
(If you are, in fact, a straight, you may not understand that this greeting is a reference to a genius comedy bit by Meg Stalter, referred to as the “Hi gay!” video.)
((Meg Stalter is a bisexual actress and comedian, whose short videos featuring her delivering monolgues as often delusional characters routinely went viral, and who currently co-stars on HBO Max’s Hacks alongside Jean Smart.))
(((Jean Smart is a veteran actress, whose breakout role was on the beloved sitcom Designing Woman and, as is the case with cherished character actresses who have had long careers, is a venerated LGBTQ icon.)))
As you can see, it can be quite laborious to explain references from within a certain subset of the LGBTQ community to an uninitiated (heterosexual) audience. That’s why what Billy Eichner and director Nick Stoller accomplishes with Bros borders on miraculous.
Bros, which hits theaters next week, is the first romantic comedy about a same-sex couple to be released theatrically by a major studio. Yes, it’s 2022, and, while it may seem like there’s been so much progress in terms of LGBT inclusivity in movies—Love, Simon and Fire Island, for example—this is historic.
More than that, it’s terrifying. What if the people don’t go see it? Hollywood is fickle and finicky. The industry will take a risk if it thinks the audience is there, but if it’s not, then it’s possible Hollywood will never take a chance on a similar project again. So, friends: Go see Bros.
If Bros’ wide release is, in fact, an experiment, there are things going in its favor: It’s really freaking funny. It is crude and raunchy. It is sexy. It jokes about life as a gay male over the age of 30—over the age of 40, even!—in New York City in a way that feels authentic, as if it was actually written by a gay man for other gay men, someone who didn’t care if straight people necessarily “got it.” The way that Bros references the gay community, while also being self-aware about mocking the community is, well, just so very gay. It was a pleasure to see!
Of course, the people behind Bros do very much care if straight people “get it.” Eichner’s character, Bobby, is a podcaster and gay historian. He is preoccupied with what it means to be a gay person at this moment in time, along with the question of what we do or don’t owe to past generations. He gets a job as the director of the first-ever LGBT History Museum, which brings these conversations to the forefront.
Bobby also delivers a handful of passionate, poignant monologues about ideas like identity, self-loathing, flamboyance, shame, promiscuity, and the pressure to look a certain way. These are cathartic and illuminating; Bros manages to educate a straight audience without centering the entire film around whether straight people will understand it.
The film is also a romantic comedy in the traditional sense, and it hews close to the genre formula that we all love so much.
Bobby and Aaron (Luke Macfarlane) are both set in their ways as non-relationship people. When they meet, Bobby assumes that he and the hunky lawyer have nothing in common. But they are, in ways they never expected, drawn to each other. This leads them to figure out what that means in terms of who they thought they were and how they think about love and commitment.
That’s a pretty traditional set-up. But the way the film follows through on this premise also just feels so…gay.
Take the film’s monumental approach to sex and hook-up culture, for example: I am a chaste angel who obviously has never been on a hook-up app or attempted to take a nude photo—heavens no—but from what I hear, the awkward, clinical way that Bobby’s Grindr encounter is portrayed rings true. The same can be said about the four-way sex scene between Bobby, Aaron, and the couple that Aaron introduces in the film thusly: “I’m supposed to fuck him and his husband later.” I’d venture this is the first time a line like that has been said in a studio romantic comedy.
Bros reveals some of the inherent queerness of the rom com too. It turns out that the classic rom-com thing of someone thinking they’re not good enough to be loved by someone else also happens to a be a very gay thing. Like any movie featuring believable gay characters requires, there is a lot of complaining about this and other points in Bros. (Can relate!) “You’re like a grown-up gay boyscout, and I’m like whatever happens to Evan Hansen,” Bobby tells Aaron. Then there’s his generational angst, too. “It’s not fair!” he bemoans about Gen Z. “We had AIDS, and they had Glee.”
Bros has a keen eye toward how ridiculous some of this behavior can be—or at least how it seems to an outside culture. (Hell, even within our own.) “Gay guys are so stupid,” Bobby says at one point, as I—one such stupid gay guy—clapped from my seat. Speak on it. The exhausting nature of progressive demands for wokeness is also given a good-natured ribbing, like with references to a Hallmark holiday film about queer, polyamorous lovers called Christmas With Either, andr a crack about how a gay couple expecting their first child at the same time they entered into a throuple would have a “gender-reveal orgy.”
There have been—and still are—so many demands and expectations for the kind of movie Bros should be and needed to be. Every element of the story will be scrutinized and alternately celebrated or criticized because of the specific gay experience that is being spotlighted. Who feels seen or represented by it, and who feels excluded? Given the inevitability of that, it’s remarkable that Bros is this good and feels this authentic.
It helps that Eichner and Stoller cast all the main characters, even the straight ones, with openly LGBT actors. That’s a really powerful thing to do when given a platform like a high-profile comedy. There’s a scene near the end of the film where Bobby looks out into the crowd at the museum and sees a sea of LGBT-identifying people from all walks of life, all dancing together. I was genuinely moved by what I realized I’d been missing from the movie screen for most of my adult life: not just gay love, but gay happiness.
No More Hot Serial Killers! I’ve Had Enough!
I am pleading from the depths of my soul, with the intensity and the urgency—if not maybe the volume—of Nancy Pelosi’s emails from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which I don’t know how I ended up signed up for and won’t cease no matter how many times I try to unsubscribe. I am that passionate about this: Please, Hollywood, stop making TV shows and movies that make me want to bang serial killers.
One has to believe this is avoidable. Sure, Hollywood actors are hot. Damn them! But maybe we don’t necessarily need to cast the hottest among them as the most devilish among us. Or—here’s an idea!—maybe we don’t need to keep making this projects that frame these men as eerily tortured instead of purely craven, so that we as an audience aren’t thinking, “Oh, honey, I can fix you. Just come over here and take your shirt off…”
Perhaps there doesn’t need to be lingering shots on their perfect bodies, or a slew of scenes that could have at one point been just a placeholder in the screenplay that read, “This is where a hunky Hollywood It Boy will try to win his Emmy Award.” I don’t know; I’m just spitballing.
When they made that Ted Bundy movie with Zac Efron, I didn’t not moan to myself when he was strip-searched in prison. When people would say things like, “I would let Darren Criss do unspeakable things to me,” it takes on an entirely different meaning when he is playing Andrew Cunanan, a man who murdered five people, including Gianni Versace. Now, there is Evan Peters as Jeffrey Dahmer, who murdered and tortured 17 men over 30 years—and, as filmed in Netflix’s new Ryan Murphy production, looks like an absolute snack.
Dahmer — Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story premiered earlier this week. I can’t believe a TV title that nonsensical and irritating made it all the way to air, almost as much I can’t believe we’re doing this all over again. The series is another overlong recontextualization of a demonic serial killer, one that masks its crass titillation in a goal to supposedly reclaim the stories for the victims. Those victims, however, are instead grossly exploited and retraumatized again. (Case in point: a relative of one of Dahmer’s victims tweeting their displeasure this week that the series exists.)
That’s especially disturbing when it comes to Dahmer, who would lure gay men—overwhelmingly men of color—back to his apartment, where he would engage in cannibalism and necrophilia in addition to sexual acts and murder.
I haven’t arrived at a better way to say this than how Daniel Fienberg does in his The Hollywood Reporter review, so here’s his take: “This developing of tension through ‘Is he going to eat this victim?’ or ‘Is he going to have sex with this victim?’ makes ghouls of the audience, an indictment of gawking viewership I might find more convincing if it weren’t coming from the creative team behind umpteen seasons of American Horror Story and the network behind leering longform documentaries about every serial killer imaginable.”
Naturally, this is already the number one series on Netflix.
Perfect Man Lands Perfect Role
It remains outrageous that Jonathan Bailey still is not my husband.
That the star of Bridgerton, who is currently filming a gay period romance with fellow perfect-looking human Matt Bomer, doesn’t realize that we, despite never meeting, have an electric and indisputable sexual connection is quite upsetting. Nonetheless, I continue to root for him. As such, I could not be prouder of my lover for getting cast this week as Fiyero in the Wicked movies, opposite Ariana Grande and Cynthia Erivo.
When I was 17, my best friend was driving us home from theater rehearsal for our high school’s production of Guys and Dolls. We were so distracted by belting along to the Wicked karaoke tracks that we had secured that we didn’t notice she was speeding and got pulled over by a cop—a humbling moment, to say the least. I would like to tell that teenage Kevin that one day he’d be writing an ode to his (fictional) husband’s casting in the movie version of the show.
And if anyone doubts that he’ll be spectacular in the role, first of all—rude—and second of all, here is a clip of him auditioning for a U.K. production of The Last Five Years. Warning: Mr. Jonathan Bailey-Fallon is so attractive in this video that it borders on pornagraphic.
The Golden Globes Are Back. Yay?
Major showbiz news this week is that the Golden Globes is returning to NBC, following several years of controversy surrounding the organization’s lack of diversity, allegations of inappropriate behavior by several members, and reports of bribery and corruption.
Yes, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association has made strides to reform and diversify, though the question remains whether the efforts are satisfactory—or if the group even deserves to make a comeback.
This “welcoming” back from NBC seems half-hearted, to say the least: The 2023 ceremony will air on a Tuesday, famously the sexiest of all nights in Hollywood. I can’t imagine who shows up for this, given the extent of the past controversy. As for landing a host? What celebrity in their right mind would agree to that? More, what publicist would let them?
So I guess we can all look forward to journalists in an empty room announcing awards on NBC on Tuesday night in January. Sounds glamorous as hell.
The Holy Trinity We All Deserve
The most important news of the week: Whoopi Goldberg is still trying to get Sister Act 3 made, and she’s going to ensure that co-star Jenifer Lewis is a part of it, too. “You know we’re still going to do that movie,” Goldberg said during an interview with Lewis on The View. “And I’d do everything I can to work with her because she’s fun.” Praise be.
- The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City: We are but days away from television’s greatest series returning. (Wed. on Bravo)
- Ghosts: This series was such an unexpected delight last season. (Thurs. on CBS)
- Sidney: As moving a portrait of Sidney Poitier’s life and career as he deserves. (Now on Apple TV+)
Don’t Worry Darling: The movie is as much a disaster as its press tour. (Now in theaters)
- Blonde: Everyone’s opinion on this is extreme and completely different. Exhausting! (Now in theaters; Wed. on Netflix)
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