Monday, February 07, 2011

1 Girl, 5 Gays, 2 More Gays

I have to tell you, I had pretty much zero faith in a show like LOGO's 1 Girl, 5 Gays. Even after winning me over with programming like RuPaul's Drag Race and the British import Beautiful People, I still had my doubts that whatever LOGO's version of five gay dudes chatting about stuff would do anything but make me feel mortified. After all, they still have Jeffrey and Cole Caserole to atone for.

But to my great surprise, a sample viewing of this show brought in from MTV Canada yielded quickly addictive results. With the show coming back for a second season -- which starts airing on LOGO tonight -- I thought I'd grab my pal LTG from TWoP and have him help me work out why I'm so into this show. And then, naturally, the idea of Power Rankings for the show's rotating cast of chatty boys became the blazingly obvious idea.

This is not a brief summary, so I've hid the bulk of it past the jump. We basically combined our individual rankings into one composite, then talked it out while we counted down. Let's begin...

10. Simon

LTG: I can't believe you listed Simon and I left him off. He's absolutely the hottest guy on the show, but his personality just never really comes through -- he's too quiet. I know he pushes the buttons of some of the other guys, but I get the feeling it's because of stuff he says off-camera, because I rarely remember stuff he says on-camera. Except for acknowledging that he had been to a bathhouse and then quickly affirming that it was for a party, not for sex. Notwithstanding that, I still want to run my fingers through his hair.

Joe: Yeah, the biggest disparity between our lists appears to be my forgoing Ian and your complete and utter lack of Simon. I love Simon. He's got weird patchy facial hair and I'm pretty sure he hates fat people, but ... okay it sounds creepy when I say "His lips and mouth are out-of-control gorgeous," so instead I will say that he is always reliable for a counterpoint when everyone is agreeing.

Joe: I guess we shouldn't get too far ahead of ourselves and perhaps should talk a little about why we like this show to begin with. First of all, I love shows that just let people talk without a whole lot of format getting in the way. (It's why I will watch Bill Maher's show despite not really liking Bill Maher all that much.) Also, these boys perfectly ride the line of being gay on TV where they're allowed to be both frivolous and serious-minded at the same time. And (circling back!) Simon seems to embody that for me, where I get to appreciate him for frivolous, mouth-based reasons but also for his opinions. About matters. Various matters!

LTG: Why do I love the show? A lot of it is just what you said -- it's just some real guys talking, without some contrived situation they have to be in. Maybe it's because they're Canadian, but it all just feels so sincere -- even the most obnoxious guys, I feel like they're just being themselves and not putting on an act for TV. And they're a nice cross-section of at least one generation of generally privileged Canadian men. So, not a perfect cross-section of queerdom, but with enough differences between them to make conversation interesting. And they're funny. And hot.

And just so there's no doubt, Simon is the most insanely hot of all the guys.

9. Ian

Joe: So defend your Ian placement. I admit I tend to think of him as a one-trick pony.

LTG: Yes, he does tend to go on about his penis quite a bit... the point of dampening my desire to ever see it. But I think he's indispensable for a few reasons. First, he's the only one with that kind of butch gay-scene look. So many of these guys (at least the ones I like) are all into that unkempt, American Apparel look that I am so sick of. Sometimes I wish they would have mandatory hair-washing before the show starts. Whereas Ian is a total regulation clone. And I like that he embodies the idea that you can be really sexually open and not necessarily have a lot of sex. So he shows everyone his naked cell-phone portrait but may not have had sex for weeks or months. And he's the only one who acknowledges being religious. As a religious dude myself, I like that he's there and that he's willing to talk about it.

I also have to give props to Aliya-Jasmine, [since there's no place to rank her here]. I think she gives really good interview -- she listens, she asks follow-up, she confronts guys when she thinks they're being evasive, she calls back to earlier comments people made. And I appreciate that while she's often ignorant about some sexual stuff and sometimes acts very surprised by it, she's not at all judgmental.

Joe: Definitely with you on the Aliya-Jasmine love. She really is great with a follow-up, and she has tremendous recall about all the guys, even back to previous episodes. And she doesn't try to gild the lily or make what the guys are saying seem, like, OUTRAGEOUS or anything. She just reacts like a normal person. I definitely think you have a point about the shows Canadian-ness being part of its charm. There's a kind of self-regulation present where nobody can get TOO big for their britches.

8. Gerry
7. Santos

6. Matt

LTG: I love that we grouped Matt, Gerry, and Santos together. I mean, I was grouping them together, as guys that I can't stand but I can maybe see what they bring to the show. I hope we both feel that way about Gerry and Santos, but I'd like to hear your thoughts on Matt (who is always "Matt Barker" in my head).

Joe: I guess it's a bit controversial that we would rank Santos and Matt so high. Love or hate him, Matt's an easy call, as the show is clearly in love with him, he's got this insane youthful energy that is kind of hilarious to watch from a wearier vantage point, and his neverending string of "boyfriends" in his anecdotes are becoming a collective "Vera from Cheers" for the show. Santos is ... irritating. The voice, the narcissism, the Tina Fey hatred. I kind of groan whenever I see him in the credits. But he's a catalyst, too, and while it's not so fun to experience him, I do enjoy watching the others react to him. Like when he sang! You won't find five more uncomfortable reactions anywhere.

LTG: I think Matt, Santos, and Gerry have to be on the list because they cause such a reaction. Certainly with the latter two, I cringe when I see them in the credits. And with Matt, I may not cringe, but I know I'm going to get pissed off at some point during the episode. They all offend me in their own ways. Matt is so incredibly shallow, and I want to punch him whenever he makes a gagging noise at the thought of anything he finds mildly distasteful -- like the thought of sex with someone over thirty. And the fact that he thinks calling someone a bottom is an insult.

And then there's Santos, with his whiny voice, need to address every topic, incredible oversharing, and illiteracy. Oddly, Gerry is the least offensive -- probably because I'm not in the same room as him, so I don't have to worry about him groping me. But he also seems educable, in that you can see him making an effort in his second appearance not to constantly interrupt.

And you're right that part of their value is watching other people react to them. With Santos and Gerry, you get to see the different conflict resolution (and conflict avoidance) strategies the other guys use. Dean makes fun of them, in ways they probably don't even realize. Yerxa confronts them with logic. And JP tries to empathize with them and talk them down off whatever high they're on. Even the reaction to Matt is interesting -- they put up with so much from him and want to take care of him precisely because he's so cute. If he was an 18-year old troll, I don't think he would get the sympathy he gets. (One reason I love Juan is that he does not tolerate any of Matt's crap. He's the only one to always call him on it, sometimes with an assist from JP.)

And really, without Matt Barker the show might never have addressed the topic of unsafe sex and domestic abuse. Because he's a FUCKING IDIOT!

Joe: Yeah, I feel like Matt, to me, is defined by his youth. Which is great! (If an 18-year-old is gagging at the thought of having sex with someone over thirty ... good, kinda?) But youth never gets wise unless it's challenged, and the danger with Matt is that he's so cute that he'll be indulged his whole life until it's too late. So yes, I wish the other guys would challenge him more.

And I do have to say I have a tiny little spot in my heart for Gerry, who is a total spazz and motormouth and is probably exhausting to deal with in person, but he seems to approach everything with such sweet intentions.

5. Dean

Joe: Circling back to the Canadian-ness of this show, how about the most Canadian of all the gays: Dean. I think I ranked Dean so high party because he's clearly the favorite of everybody on the show (A-J and Matt in particular seem to be forever coveting him), and party because the guy has an opinion about EVERY damn thing. Which is super valuable on a show like this. I'm curious -- though not judgmental (Aliyah-Jasmine!) -- about why you ranked him comparatively lower.

LTG: All the things you say about Dean are true. But you know who else always has an opinion? Santos. So that's not always a good thing. The fact is, I do like Dean, but I think of him as kind of a spare Yerxa. You can rely on him to be generally sane and funny, but I don't feel like he has a distinctive viewpoint to the show. It doesn't help that the two of them seem to always be on together. Certainly, if Yerxa didn't exist, Dean would be ranked higher. It also doesn't help that his lust for Matt Barker seems to keep him from calling Barker out on his worst bullshit.

4. David

LTG: I'm curious why you ranked David so low. I think he's important because he's not a prude, but he's not vulgar in the way Santos can be. Sometimes I watch the show and I think the young gays are all Victorians -- they act so straitlaced and easily offended. And then David talks about getting tied up, and my faith in the younger generation is renewed.

Joe: I do like David! I was kind of surprised that he fell so low on my rankings too -- and below quite a few who I don't enjoy nearly as much. I think he ends up getting overshadowed by louder people, both good-loud (Yerxa, Juan) and bad-loud (Santos, Matt). But I think you point out very good reasons why he should be ranked higher. Another feather in David's cap is that he seems to be genuinely positive and enthused about ... well, everything. It's nice to see that the default for a group of young gay kids doesn't have to be sour disdain.

3. JP

Joe: ...Though I guess that makes it weird that JP is my personal #1 pick, because he does sour disdain really well. But what makes me love him is that there's always a little bit of sweetness and optimism about to peek through. JP is exactly that guy who will make a catty comment from the corner, but only if he knows you won't take it seriously. Plus he's wildly intelligent and he seems to know that discretion is often the better part of valor. You've ranked JP similarly high -- what's your excuse?

LTG: I really like JP a lot -- it was a close call whether he would be first or second on my list. When he speaks, it's always considered and thought out -- he's never just speaking to hear the sound of his own voice. But that's a little bit the reason he fell to second place for me -- he doesn't speak enough when he's on the panel. And sometimes he starts to speak and then pulls himself back. Of all the guys there, he's the one whose thoughts I definitely always want to hear, and it's disappointing when I know he has something to say and he won't say it.

2. Juan

LTG: Of course, I don't think it's necessarily true that JP is the only one who does quiet disdain; sometimes there are entire episodes where Juan is just completely over the other panelists. Although in his case it's usually pretty loud and obvious disdain. Sometimes I want to tell him to see the police for protection from whoever is forcing him to do the show, but usually I'm glad he's there to roll his eyes and give a weary "whatever." And he really does have the best comic timing in the group, and a willingness to always go for the joke even if he has to walk it back afterwards.

Does this bear any relationship to your reasons for ranking Juan so highly, or is it your love of deep V-necked t-shirts (as evidenced by your inclusion of Ish, a guy who never even came close to getting on my list)?

Joe: Ew, no love of deep V-necks here. I ranked Ish on my own list because he brings a bit of a different perspective to a panel that, as you noted before, can seem a bit homogeneous. But I didn't rank him all that high because he's too careful in what he says. I don't need everybody to Gerry out all over everybody else, and I know I just praised JP for being discerning with his words, but even in his silence I feel like we're never lacking for JP's feelings on a given subject. Whereas the only thing I feel I know about Ish is that his extended family are assholes.

I have to admit, I don't see the disdain in Juan that you see. I kind of love Juan -- he's hilarious, as you note, and he's absolutely the most empathetic to everybody's tales of love and loss. Of all the people on the panel, Juan's the one I'd go to for love-and-sex advice. Which is interesting that on this show, billed as "20 Questions About Love and Sex" that our consensus choice for #1 really shies away from sex questions. Like a lot.

LTG: You can't deny that Juan is an Olympic-caliber eye-roller.

1. Yerxa

So what do we love about Yerxa so much? I'm watching an old episode on LOGO online right now (the lineup: David, Dean, Yerxa, Simon, and Ian), and it's a really sex-intensive show. Yerxa, as if proving my point, has been generally mellow. But it really struck me how dogmatic Dean is about a lot of things, especially sex things. He was kind of a snot to Simon, in particular. (And Simon is reminding me that I find it adorable when he says things like "HJ" for hand-job. This show!)

LTG: As for Yerxa, I'm not exactly certain why I think he's so important to the show. Maybe it's that his beard makes him seem much older than he is, or maybe it's just the difference between being late 20s compared to early 20s (which is the age range of most of the other guys), but he just seems so much more mature and grounded than just about anyone else (excepting, possibly, JP). I guess I'm discovering that I view him as the stern father of the group. And I'm not sure what that says about me.

Joe: I don't think you're wrong, I think that IS Yerxa's appeal. He's the authority figure of the group, and I think you see more times than not that the other guys defer to him. I don't even think it's just age or the beard (although both help), but he's incredibly certain in his opinions without shoving them onto everyone else like he's got something to prove (which is something you see from folks like Santos or even -- as i observed the other night -- Dean). Plus I think he's got a terrific sense of humor and perspective on things that could be deadly serious, without making them seem frivolous. He's the kind of smart, grounded, funny guy you'd drift towards in a party full of brainless party boys. (Like Matt. What?)

Joe: The show returns on February 7th. Gimmie three things you want to see in Season 2 (questions asked, gays called on the carpet, Santos singing again, whatevs).

LTG: What three things do I want to see this season?

1) Dean with freshly shampooed hair.
2) Confirmation from Matt that he's dumped his abusive boyfriend.
3) Santos, Gerry, Matt, and Andrew on the same panel, just for the train wreck appeal. (Although I'm not sure who I'd want to punish by making him join that group.)

Joe: Oh I like those. Mine:

1) David to accidentally slip up and reveal one of the names he's anonymously dropping.
2) Simon to drop some knowledge that doesn't automatically get fact-checked by Yerxa and Dean.
3) Gerry to take the next step and hop into someone's lap during a show.

This is all meant with love, of course. Love the show, love the guys, love that Aliyah-Jasmine.


Brett said...

No love for Jake or either of the Jonathans? I like the blond Jonathan a lot.

And seeing Gerry in the credits makes me cringe.

Jeff said...

I LOVE the blond Jonathan (S.). Yerxa is a great choice for 1 (though my Dean obsession is making it difficult to write that).

Joe Reid said...

The Jonathan forgetfulness is on me, guys. LTG had him on his list and really loves him and I do too I just forgot! Forgive me, blond Jonathan! AND other Jonathan, whom I also love! It shames me that people like Santos and Matt rank above them simply for being attention hogs, but these are Power Rankings not 100% True Love rankings, or else: Simon. Number one.

Jon said...

I love Jonathan S. -- if Yerxa is the father of the group, Jonathan is the mother. (I like Jonathan N. too, but he's a little hippy-dippy for me.)

Of the Matt/Santos/Gerry trio, Gerry is the one I could most do without. I do think he's trying to be less of a spazz, but he doesn't have the same level of unfiltered oversharing that we get from Santos or Matt.

Jon said...

And Jonathan S. looked so cute on last night's new episode. It's amazing what a haircut can do.

Danc09 said...

Thanks for the in-depth appreciation, nice stuff.
It works for me because being gay is just
part of the tapestry, and the banter and
discussion roam randomly about without
gayness being stereotypically outrageous.