“Looking” Review

Well, I finally saw a few episodes of HBO’s show ‘LOOKING’ and after that taste, I feel ready to render my verdict. It was terrible.
Take this review for what it is. One may think me slanted because the reality is if not for this show, you’d be watching ‘Jason Of The Valley’ on HBO instead, but I swear to you all this is an honest, unbiased opinion. I watched these episodes and this is the impression I walked away with.
First, who likes this garbage? I mean, the characters are so flat and boring. Haven’t we seen these archetype characters in almost every single independent gay film ever made? We have the cute yet insecure lead, whose world seems to be populated by nothing but good looking gay men who all fall for his disarming lack of confidence and self-awareness. The whore who possesses no real moral limits because they have seen the world for what it is and thusly, dispenses most of the wise advice. The vain/picky queen who is paired with a man who is exactly the opposite of what he want so that means they obviously end up together and their relationship is clearly a means to fuse in some spicy scenes.
The action of the show is slow and stilted and it seemed to me like they spent more screen time having characters dissect every aspect of what is perceived to be the modern gay lifestyle and pontificating on the psychological workings of such a thing. I was waiting for them to get around to an actual story, but I guess they have to save something for season 2.
The acting was fine. It got the job done. The casting is good. A very attractive cast. I’d say one of the few things going for it would be the cast and the other thing is the very authentic scenes of love making. Of course, if I wanted that, I could just watch porn.
My other complaint goes back to the characters. They all seem to have their shit together and are really on top of their respective games; so completely out of touch with reality. It also depicts these guys’ search for love and something special. Noble, but I feel like it’s feeding into some ‘Cinderella’ fantasy about finding the ‘perfect’ mate. So many guys out there believe there is one perfect guy out there for them to marry and start an open relationship with. Having spent my time in the trenches, I can tell you, and I’m sure many of you out there can back me up on this, that gay unicorn does not exist. We can’t all marry handsome go-go boys who are also CEOs of their own companies.
Ultimately, I was hoping to see a show that focused more on the characters and stories rather than getting wrapped up in its message. A show about a group of friends who happen to be mostly gay would have been much better than a show about how a group of friends are gay. The general public doesn’t need a detailed breakdown of what it’s like to be gay and the gay public already knows so how about we move on now?

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Screw You Cable!!!

Okay. Off the bat, I’m a little mad right now. My cable pretty much got taken from me because all my channels were switched to digital and I don’t feel like having to pay yet another charge for a box to watch basic cable. I figured, ‘no sweat. I’ll watch my shows online.’ WRONG! Now it seems all the channels are requiring you to supply a password from your cable account to watch content that was, up until a few months ago, freely available. On principle this annoys me. If you already have the cable, why would you watch these shows online instead of on the television? It always seemed to me that making the shows available online was a tool to make the shows accessible to those who didn’t have cable. And even Youtube is getting greedy. If you want to see an episode of ‘American Dad’ from the new season, you have to pay them $1.99. Bull$h!t! You can’t start up your format and offer free content after so many years and then suddenly decide you want to make money. Besides, if you weren’t charging before and still making money, why charge now? I’m sorry, but if the entertainment industry is so anxious to get digital, they’re going to have to realize that it’s a little too late to change the rules to suit them. They set the precedent. They have to live with it. Besides, I don’t see how this new shift is going to make them any more money. I can only see how all of this digitizing and streaming is actually going to cost them. More people watching online, less watching your network. Ratings plummet. No advertisers because they’re doing free Facebook campaigns and they put money in online promotion, which doesn’t come close to matching what they used to spend in television promotion. Let’s face it, a 60 second spot during the Super Bowl now costs eight figures. Do you think a stream of the Super Bowl is going to pull that same kind of price? No. A friend pointed out to me, and I’m surprised I never thought of this, that all of these online shows and Youtube videos don’t have the same audience as television. You choose which videos and shows you watch online. They aren’t just broadcast and made available for public viewing. You get to pick and choose your program schedule yourself. This is factor that alters the entire role of advertising. I’ve seen this coming down the road for a long time and it’s starting to take form. The end is coming. The lesson shall be just because it’s new and ‘cool’ doesn’t mean it’s better. These leaps forward in technology are wiping out huge sections of our economy. It’s a domino effect that will leave turn this whole country into a vast wasteland with constant double digit unemployment and decaying cities. Maybe my vision is a little over dramatic, but the truth lies somewhere within.

Duck Dynasty, Duck Schmynasty

Okay. So I see the story about Phil Robertson’s comments and it doesn’t say anything about what they were about or whether they were positive or negative. I think about it and for a second I decide that maybe he’s more enlightened than I give him credit for. I realize people who look like the DD guys get pigeon holed as ignorant, intolerant homophobes, but then I think they’ve been in ‘the biz’ long enough and maybe that time has given them a broader view of the world and also they could just be more open minded than a passing stranger would give them credit for. Wrong! I wasn’t surprised by what he said, but after everything we now know and have learned over these past few decades, I am surprised people still think like this. Being gay is not a sin. God made us gay. If you think being gay is wrong, you think God is flawed. Can’t have it both ways.

Now, I’m hearing a lot of noise about how Phil got put on ‘indefinite hiatus’ from the show by A&E on account of his comments. I’ve also noticed how surprisingly a lot of that noise is critical of the decision. People are calling out A&E for being fascist and violating Phil’s freedom of speech. I really don’t care because I have no dog in this fight because I don’t watch that damn show, but as a casual observer, I can say that A&E is absolutely right. Phil has his freedom of speech. No one is taking that away from him. He has every right in the world to run around and spout his nonsense, but A&E also has the right to decide what they want to put on their shows. If they deem this guy offensive to their viewers, then they can put a muzzle on him and send him away. I honestly don’t think it has anything to do with this exact incident because I saw a headline about someone on the show saying something racist (shock). It seems to me A&E is seeing the end of the DD craze and is either opening the door to phase them out, or attempting to ignite their popularity with a series of scandals. In either case, I’d say it’s working. They have me talking about this bull crap. I’m just doing this because I have seen some comments from people decrying the decision to banish Phil, which I don’t understand. As I said, he’s still got his rights. It just kind of changes a bit when you exercise your rights in a public forum. You can say what you want, but that doesn’t mean you’re not going to get called out on it. It cuts both ways. I really love the right wingers in all this. They’re the loudest in the chorus bitching about how liberal media is infringing on basic civil rights simply because the comments were not to their liking. Well, how about when Sarah Palin got bashed by Martin Bashir? Was she front row center supporting his freedom of speech? No. She was bitching and complaining that his comments were evil and vile. The founding fathers didn’t put anything in the constitution that said we get to pick and choose our rights at our convenience. It’s 100% for everyone 100% of the time. Agree or not.

Mr. Robertson, you have a right to speak what you believe. A&E, you have the right to take him off the air. Now let’s go back to playing nice, okay?

If I Could F#$& Seth MacFarlane, I’d Be Happy

Mr. MacFarlane is the perfect symbol of all my self loathing. I mean, there is no other person who has me split so perfectly. He’s handsome (ridiculously so) charming, talented and probably possessing other fine qualities known only to those who are close to him. On that level, I want him. On that level I like him. But then for almost those same exact reasons, I hate him just as passionately. He is so good looking. I think he was given more than his share in the looks department than he deserved and he is so charming and talented, he just skates around like the golden boy who can do no wrong. Even when he takes swipes of those who came before him and without whom he wouldn’t be enjoying the career he has profited from so greatly. People bend over backward to offer him everything they have. He cashes in millions at a time and there seems to be no end in sight for his success. I hate him for that.

What I hate most about that is I can’t blame luck on it either. I know he’s talented because I knew of him back when he was working under the Hanna Barbera banner. I know he’s worked hard and has earned his success. His rise has seemed to highlight my insecurities about myself. I’m not sure how old he is, but I’m willing to bet he’s younger than me and look where he is. I know it’s not healthy to compare yourself to others, but sometimes it’s hard to resist. You can’t help but think about what you’ve done with your life in the same amount of time as what someone else has accomplished with theirs. I can’t help but feel I missed something along the way. Some sign post on the road I didn’t see but now as I look back, I can see where to road forked, but I cannot see where that missed path would have taken me.

So, Mr. MacFarlane. If you read this. Come and get it.

What the…?

Okay. Must vent. I was just watching The Colbert Report and he spoke of something referred to as ‘dinosaur erotica’. For a second I thought he was joking, but then I dashed onto Amazon.com and checked and lo and behold, he was right. There are many books in this genre in fact. I’m not going to review them, as I will not read them, but much to my surprise, they are receiving praise. Mostly from people who think they’re a joke, which they might be, but they seem like they were written as real erotic novels, with dinosaurs.

What makes me mad is that these people are getting boatloads of orders for their books now because of this single moment in the spotlight. They crank out these short stories (19-20 pages per), sell them for 2.99 and now they’re laughing all the way to the bank, while I toil for months on one of my books and it’s like pulling teeth trying to publicize them and to get any sales. UUURRRGGGHHH!!! So is this the lesson? Write something so impossibly stupid no one will believe it’s real and you’ll succeed? It feels like at some point the whole world flipped over on its side and what I thought was true, hard work paying off and the rewards of effort, became false and now we reward those who put in the least amount of effort and work into their endeavors. Reality television rules the airwaves. The Kardashians don’t seem to be losing steam. People who generally choose the low, easy road win. It just feels like after every generation we dig ourselves deeper into this hole. We keep showing the generation after us that it’s best to take the shortcuts. Why work hard for years when you can have everything you want right now and all you have to do is betray everything you are? Until we start demanding better from the world, it’s only going to get worse. Keep in mind now we have television shows where you watch other people watching reality TV. You have shows where the content is just commenting on celebrities tweets about current events and other shows that just show videos from off the internet. If you think we can do better, then step up and let your voice be heard.

New Television Season Report Card

Okay. We’re two weeks into the new TV season and I’ve seen what they have to offer. Here are my thoughts.

The first notable change this season is that CBS actually has some shows that I watch. Keep in mind, this is the first time I’ve made it a point to watch anything on CBS since the ’80’s. I like ‘Mom’ on Monday nights. The comedy isn’t terribly fresh, which is typical of a Chuck Lorre show, but with two very likable stars (Janney, Faris) the show has a charm and sometimes catches you with big laugh when you least expect it. Another program I’m enjoying this season on CBS is ‘The Crazy Ones’. I had seen trailers for this show at the movie theater and it looked promising and I was right. Robin Williams is in true form in his first television role since Mork. Sarah Michelle Gellar also shows definite comedy chops playing the sensible daughter to Williams’ out there dad. I have to admit so far I’ve only seen the first episode as I missed last week’s installment, but for me to give this much praise to a pilot episode speaks volumes, I think.

ABC is also winning in my eyes with its Tuesday night shows. ‘The Goldbergs’ is at times uneven, but ultimately a very enjoyable show with a cast that seems to really work together and they create a sincere family vibe. I love the actress who plays the mother. I’m sorry, but I can never remember her name, but I remember her best as Clementine on ‘Reno 911’. She has always been so funny in whatever she’s put in and this show is no exception. She hits all the high notes of the TV mom. Her passive aggressive rage hidden behind that sugary sweet smile is classic. It’s also nice to see George Segal back and he is great as the eccentric grandpa. ‘Trophy Wife’ following is also a surprise  hit for me. I like the lead actress but I find that I’m really enjoying Marcia Gay Harden as well.  I was surprised to see her pop up as a regular on a sitcom as I remember her from movies and only guest starring roles on some dramatic shows. The show is funny but doesn’t try too hard to impress and in that it succeeds.

Wednesday nights still belong to ABC as far as I’m concerned. ‘The Middle’ is maintaining its charming humor and even with one of the kids heading off to college, they are still managing the family dysfunction as good as ever. This show has always been a consistent favorite of mine and continues to be. ‘Back In The Game’ did not impress me the first time out, but last week I felt myself warm to it a bit more. While not a new favorite, I guess I can hang on and see how it develops. Do I need to say anything about ‘Modern Family’ other than friggin’ brilliant? I love love love this show so much and it just gets better with every season. The season premiere episode alone proves it is the show to beat this season. ‘Super Fun Night’ premiered last week and while it was a bumpy introduction, I walked away liking it. Rebel Wilson has always made me laugh and this show seems to be a great showcase for her to truly shine. I have high hopes for this show, but I have a feeling it may have more of a cult following.

On Thursday night, ‘Parks And Recreation’ returns with another stellar season. I got into this show two season ago and I have really fallen in love with it. Amy Poehler has always been a favorite of mine and this show has placed her in the midst of a cast that adds to everything in every scene.

Now for the low points. ‘Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ left me wondering what all the hype was about. I actually found it rather boring. I just can’t help but thinking about all the superheroes and supervillians running around in their world that we don’t see. How can these people be dealing with these issues on this level and not cross paths with even a third string bad guy? They make enough references to The Avengers and other Marvel characters, but it’s like watching a Disney show  but never seeing Mickey.

I haven’t really been able to get into ‘The  Michael J. Fox Show’. I don’t know why, but I just can’t really connect with it. I guess maybe because the premise is really so tired and worn out. Another family comedy. Great for them to deal with Parkinsons issue rather than avoid it, but that’s not quite enough to make this one stand out. Another disappointment was ‘Sean Saves The World’. I was looking forward to this one too but when I watched it, the humor was flat and I really checked out when they tried to save the thing with some poorly executed physical comedy.  It’s great a gay single dad has made it into the prime time line up, but hopefully next time they could also make him funny. It’s not my final judgment. I’ll give it a chance, but I gotta tell you, they better get their act together. Even Thomas Lennon, as Sean’s crazy boss, failed to impress.

I have just gone over the shows I’ve actually watched. I did not watch any shows on Fox or The CW, although I am aware of some of their ‘hits’. I avoid The CW because I really don’t care for shows based on young adult novels and so far that seems to be all they have to offer, and while the returning shows on Fox up holding up (The Simpsons, Bob’s Burgers, etc) This ‘Sleepy Hollow’ nonsense had me turning away when they made the  horseman one of the riders of the apocalypse and now they’re pulling American history into it and basically taking a huge B.M. all over it. For me, I think it’s disrespectful to take actual historic events and add some substory that makes it a part of their stupid story. Couldn’t they have created a fresh and original story for the show? I mean, really. What are these writers getting paid for anymore?

Okay Rant over. Bottom line, ABC is a good bet most nights of the week. I’m waiting on NBC to bring back Community (I heard they got renewed and it may be a weird show, but I like it.) in order to fill out their Thursday night line up, but whatever you choose to watch this season, enjoy and try to avoid the reality shows. Let’s do what we can to put an end to that.