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New Sitcom "The Other Two" - When a Straight Roommate Isn't So Straight

The Other Two - Comedy Central


A new sitcom premiered in the winter of 2019 on Comedy Central, called The Other Two.  Set in New York, it focuses on Cary and Brooke Dubek, the floundering twenty-something brother and sister of a 13-year-old YouTube singing sensation.  I decided to give the show a view because of its SNL/Lorne Michaels pedigree and was pleasantly surprised to find that Cary is gay.  What was even more surprising is that Cary's supposedly straight roommate, Matt, is always coming on to him.  An All- American type, with washboard abs and a great smile, Matt is amusingly nonchalant after each fleeting encounter with Cary.  While sitcoms with gay characters have become less of novelty, I can't recall one in which a straight character acts on his same-sex urges.   And the show isn't shy about showing them in a lip-lock or jerking off.


From the premiere episode, here they are "innocently" watching TV (remember, this is a sitcom, not a XXX video):


The seduction1

Cary's glance
The seduction2  The pounce


The roommate is played by Andrew Ridings who in 2010 was in an off-Broadway play Over the Top where he played a closeted gay man (in the role of his boyfriend was Tanner Cohen, who starred in the 2008 gay-themed indie film Were the World Mine).  Cary's co-worker, Curtis, is also gay.  The actor who portrays him, Brandon Scott Jones, played a bitchy bookstore clerk in the Melissa McCarthy movie, Can You Ever Forgive Me?


Gay brother  the other two
Drew Tarver plays Cary Dubek


Of course, the show has more amusing gay-oriented stuff going on than just the furtive relationship between Cary and Matt (whose story arc appears to have ended after Episode 3).  And while the show is funny, at the end of each episode I felt oddly diminished.  Perhaps it's because of how it depicts the vacuous, social media-centric world that Millennials and Gen Xers live in.  Also, Cary is somewhat of a "sad sack", who, despite being in his 20s, acts like someone much older in the way he cringes at his peers attachment to social media.    

And although Cary's roomie may be gone, for the time being at least, you might catch Andrew Ridings, in a much more chaste role, appearing in a commercial for Dunkin' Donuts which began airing in May/June.


Dunkin donuts


The Other Two airs at Thursday at 10:30 after Broad City.


Other posts I've written about gay characters in TV sitcoms:

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Modern Family


Will & Grace

A Salute to the Hunks of TV's Cheesy Christmas-Themed Movies

Christmas wish - aaron odonnell

Whenever I take a trip back home to Pittsburgh to visit my mom, we spend a good amount of time watching TV.  During this year's Thanksgiving visit (2017) there was, as there always is, a surfeit of cheesy, formulaic Christmas-themed movies on The Hallmark Channel, Lifetime and Icon, all with heterosexual romance as their main themes.  But despite their mind-dulling plots and cliched twists and turns, the hunky male leads held my attention - and not once did I implore Mom to change the channel.  While watching I amused myself by fantasizing that the big reveal at the end of each movie would involve the hunk coming out to his lady friend rather than proposing to her. 


Hallmark-christmas-movies-all i want or christma


Here are some of the best "knights in shining armor" I feasted my eyes upon. (Please note that, with one exception, bare chested photos of them are not from their Christmas movies.)


AARON O'DONNELL (32 y.o., 6'1"/born in Ohio)

O'Donnell, a former Ford model, has four holiday movies to his credit: With Love, Christmas (2017); My Christmas Love (2016); 12 Gifts of Christmas (2015); and A Prince for Christmas (2015).  However, he may be most famous for his role as a plumber in TV ads for Liquid Plumr




Aaron o'connell - liquid plumbr ad
Liquid Plumr ad


Model aaron odonnell
A photo from O'Donnell's modeling days, not from the movie


STERLING SULIEMAN (34 y.o., 5'11"/born in Hawaii)

Perhaps best known for his roles in The Vampire Diaries and Pretty Little Liars, in 2015's The Christmas Wish (on Lifetime) Sulieman portrayed Wesley, director of an agency that places foster children, which is across town from his father's architectural firm, notorious for razing neighborhoods to make way for glitzy Trump-like towers. 


Sterling sulieman - the christmas gift


Sterling sulieman

 Sterling-sulieman-open shirt



RICK FOX (49 y.o., 6'7"/ born in Canada)

A former member of the Boston Celtics and LA Lakers over thirteen seasons, Fox appeared in a supporting role to Sterling Suleilman in The Christmas Wish as the publisher of an alternative newspaper.


Rick fox



ROB MAYES (34 y.o. /born in Ohio)

A child model, Mayes starred in Love for Christmas (2012, on Ion), where he played a naval officer returning home to California, where he bumps into his former high school crush (in real life he briefly attended the US Naval Academy).  The flame is rekindled but she takes a job in New York as a Broadway director, something she avoided telling him until the last minute (at the party following the big Christmas pageant she oversaw).  After she moves he decides to find her (at the urging of his precious 10-year-old niece) and finds her on top of the Empire State Building where he proposes. 




Rob mayes


Rob mayes


DAVID ALPAY (38 y.o., 5'10"/Canadian)

He's starred in three holiday movies.  In The Mistletoe Inn (2017) he plays Zeke, a romance novelist; in Sleigh Bells Ring (2016) he plays Alex, and old flame of the organizer of their town's Christmas parade; and in Ice Sculpture Christmas (2015) he plays David, who enters his friend, a chef, into an ice sculpting contest that pits her against her boss.  Her friendship with David blossoms into romance.


David alpay - sleigh bells ring

  David alpay ice sculpting

David alpay - younger days
In younger days



CARLOS PENAVEGA (29 y.o., 5'6"/born in Missouri)

PenaVega's last name was simply Pena until his marriage to Alexa Vega.  After graduating from the Boston Conservatory, he rose to fame on Nickelodeon, then in November 2015 he competed on Dancing With the Stars and in 2016 he played Kenickie in Fox's production of Grease Live!  And this holiday season he starred in An Enchanted Christmas on The Hallmark Channel where he played the role of Ricardo, a salsa instructor. 


Carlos-penavega-enchanted christmas



Carlos penavega - dancing with the stars
Dancing With the Stars


LEA COCO (41 y.o., 6'2"/born in Louisiana)

Not to be confused with Lea Delaria or Lee Iacocca, Coco is a journeyman actor with no real TV franchise under his belt.  In The Sweetest Christmas (2017, Hallmark Channel), he plays the role of Nick, old boyfriend of Kylie, who owns a pizzeria.  Kylie asks to use his oven when hers malfunctions the day before the American Gingerbread competition.



 Lea coco actor



RYAN PAEVEY (34 y.o., 6'/born in southern California)

Similar to Aaron O'Donnell, Paevey jumped from modeling to acting and is best known for various roles on General Hospital (starting in January 2014).  During the 2016 Christmas season he co-starred in the Hallmark Channel's Unleashing Mr. Darcy, in which he played an arrogant judge at a dog show.  (Yes, it's considered a holiday movie.)


Ryan paevey - unleashing mr. darcy



DANIEL LISSING (37 y.o., 5'11"/Australian)

Lissing appeared with Andre Braugher and Scott Speedman in the shortlived ABC drama Last Resort in 2012-13.  In 2016's A December Bride, he had the role of Seth, who was responsible for introducing Layla's ex-fiance to his bride-to-be, who is Layla's cousin.  Layla can't find a date to the wedding and Seth offers to go with her.




Daniel lissing australian


Daniel lessing in tank top


JESSE HUTCH (37 y.o., 6'0"/Canadian)

Hutch is a Hallmark Channel favorite; he reminds me of a TV version of Channing Tatum.  Growing up in the Canadian Rockies he has a reputation for doing his own stunts (and his bio says that he always had an attraction to action and adrenaline).  He has three Hallmark holiday movies to his credit, where had the roles of Cole in Snowmance (2017); Connor in Becoming Santa (2015); and Brady in Let It Snow (2013).  As you'll see he's the only actor on this list who bared his chest in one of his movies.


Jesse hutch - let it snow movie
"Let It Snow!"


Jesse hutch in snowmance


Jesse hutch becoming santa
"Becoming Santa"



CHRIS CARMACK (38 y.o., 6'1"/born in Washington, DC)

Carmack may be best known for his role as closeted country singer Will Lexington on the ABC drama Nashville.  Before that role he starred in two 2012 Christmas-themed movies, All About Christmas Eve and A Christmas Wedding Date.


"A Christmas Wedding Date"


Chris carmack - all about christmas eve
"All About Christmas Eve"


TRAVIS MILNE (32 y.o., 6'2"/Canadian)

Shortly after his six-year stint on ABC's Rookie Blue came to an end, Milne starred as a workaholic single dad who falls for his personal shopper in A Gift-Wrapped Christmas (2015)


Travis milne - a gift wrapped christmas



BRENNAN ELLIOTT (43 y.o./Canadian)

Yet, one more Canadian!  His most high profile performances were on Lifetime's medical drama Strong Medicine for four seasons and the USA Movie Flight 93 before starring in A Christmas Melody (featuring Mariah Carey) in 2015 and Love You Like Christmas in 2016.


Brennan elliott - a christmas melody


Brennan elliott all of my heart


Brennan elliott driving


I had the makings of my very own Hallmark movie during my trip to Pittsburgh.  I took Amtrak there and my seatmate, who boarded in Philly was a young, friendly, talkative attorney who was also visiting his mom in Pittsburgh.  We chatted non-stop for three hours; from our conversation I surmised that he was single but I couldn't tell if we played on the same team.  However, once off the train we quickly parted, going our separate ways, he taking Uber, me Lyft.  If this story followed the arc of the holiday movies we would have a chance encounter a number of weeks, months or years later.  Alas, it was not to be.




Finally, fast forward a few years to Lifetime and its holiday movie, Twinkle all the Way, in which one of the two sons of Leslie Ann Warren's characters not only was gay, but married as well.  Yes!  And the final kiss of the movie is between husband and husband.  And during the summer of 2020 it was announced that Hallmark Channel was planning to air at least one Christmas move with a gay romance at its center.


Gay kiss_ twinkle all the way_lifetime movie
Husbands kiss in "Twinkle All the Way"




Shannon Sharpe Dazzles ESPN Viewers With NFL Bombast, Drag Queen Fierceness

Shannon sharpe cropped photo


The TV monitor mounted in the kitchen at my workplace is often tuned to ESPN's sports commentary show, Skip & Shannon Undisputed.  The show has drawn my attention because of Shannon Sharpe, a former wide receiver in the NFL Hall of Fame who's one of the show's hosts.  He's quite the "dandy", wearing bold, patterned shirts and vibrantly colored ties and bow ties.  These flashy shirt/tie combinations suit his bombastic persona perfectly.  And although another former NFL star with a broadcast career, Michael Strahan, may be better known, Sharpe is far more telegenic. 


Because of his strong facial features (a strong jaw and broad grin), and a confident, dramatic presence, along with a forceful speaking manner, every time I watch Sharpe I think to myself what a fabulous drag queen he'd be.  Give this man some lipstick!  He brings to mind Wesley Snipes' drag queen character in the 1995 film To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar.  (And I've always thought that Arsenio Hall would be a natural for drag.)


Wesley snipes in To Wong Foo



 Shannon sharpe 


 Shannon sharpe
















Thoughts About HBO's Gay Drama, "Looking"

LookingI don't subscribe to HBO so I came to its series Looking a bit late.  However, last month I watched the show's eight episodes in two sittings at my friend Tom's place.  I really enjoyed it and found it refreshing that storylines didn't revolve around circuit parties, hook-ups or children (which is probably why some found the show boring).  It's about three friends who live in San Francisco.  Patrick (played by Jonathan Groff) represents the gay Everyman, Agustin is the pretentious one and Dom's world revolves around sex and being desired. 


Richie.and.patrick.lookingMy favorite character is Patrick's boyfriend, Richie.  Besides being sexy as hell, he's loving and the most grounded of all the characters.  My least favorite character is Dom, who bores me.  As for Patrick's boss, Kevin, I liked him at the beginning (although I found his tiny, protruding ears distracting), but in the final episode my disdain for Agustin, who finally got his comeuppance, transferred over to Kevin because of his predatory nature.


I found it interesting that HIV was mentioned just once, during a discussion between Patrick and Richie, and it was a very simplistic chat at that, suggesting that in-depth knowledge about transmission has been lost to the younger generation of gay men.  Patrick displayed more naivete with his lack of knowledge about uncut cocks.  I found this unusual considering that he's supposed to be in his early 30s, plus his pals Agustin and Dom are pretty worldly.



  • The opening scene of the series in which Patrick is trying to have furtive sex in the woods but decides to take a call on his phone.
  • Agustin invites a co-worker home and he and his boyfriend Frank end up having a threesome with him.  It's just a 30-second scene, but very hot nonetheless.




  • Agustin meets sex worker CJ at a diner and becomes very intrigued by him and his line of work.
  • At Agustin's insistence Patrick buys a leather vest that he self-consciously wears it at the Folsom St. Fair.  Later that evening he goes into the office still wearing it, his gay boss stops by and the first sparks fly between them.




  • Weeks after their awkward first date, Patrick approaches Richie at a bar (while still wearing the harness) and their relationship is rekindled.
  • Lying in bed with Richie, Patrick wonders why guys assume he's the bottom.  In the course of the conversation they agree that Jennifer Anniston's character, Rachel, on Friends is a top.




  • At a picnic in Alamo Square Park Patrick gets kidded for having such a gay voice on his work voice message.
  • Richie shows up clean shaven and wearing a suit for Patrick's sister's wedding (which he ends up not going to).




  • Agustin's boyfriend breaks up with him and tells him to move out.
  • Patrick's chat with his mother (played by Julia Duffy of Newhart fame) at his sister's wedding reception shows how insecure and self-centered he is.




  • Patrick's lustful comment to Agustin about Richie's lickable, hairy armpits.
  • In the closing minutes of Season 1's last episode Patrick and Richie have a heartrending talk about the state of their relationship.  It happens out on the street right after Patrick got fucked by Kevin in the office - something Patrick hadn't let Richie do. 




Looking.trioOthers compare Looking to Girls and Sex & the City but I don't see that.  Instead, Queer as Folk is what I compare it to (or perhaps Tales of the City because of its San Francisco setting).  The characters on Looking aren't unbearable as those on Girls nor do they live lives of fabulosity like the gal pals on Sex & the City


The A+ List of Well-Known Gay & Lesbian Celebrities

Neil.patrick.harris NeilPatrickHarrisTonyAwardsShow2011_article_story_main Nph_motherAs I perceive it, Neil Patrick Harris, Ellen DeGeneres, Anderson Cooper, Ryan Murphy and Rachel Maddow are today's most overexposed gay personalities (or, as Barbara Walters might refer to them as, the most fascinating).  However, a Google search I did on more than 300 gay celebs turned up many others who seem equally high profile (the top 50 can be found at the end of this post).



Harvey.fierstein Melissa.etheridge20 years ago there were very few "out" celebrities so it made sense that the token few, e.g., Harvey Fierstein, Melissa Etheridge and kd lang, received extensive media coverage.  Since then there's been a proliferation of openly gay celebs (a good thing), but an inordinate amount of attention still goes to a rather select group. 



Calvinklein Steve.kmetkoOf the 300+ included in this analysis, the typical celeb had 500,000 search results.  They ranged from 16,000 (for Steve Kmetko - remember him?) to 19 million (Calvin Klein).  There were thirteen well-known LGBTs whose names each generated more than 5 million search results - I guess you can call them the gay A+ List.  At the other end of the spectrum, there were 50 celebs/former celebs with fewer than 100,000 mentions.  (For some perspective, I, a mere gay mortal, had 5,000).



Natesilver TomdaleyNaturally, some of the names among the top 50 have been in the news of late, including newly out actress Ellen Page, figure skater Johnny Weir and stats guru Nate Silver (pictured, far left).  (Surprisingly, neither Michael Sam or Jason Collins were in this select group, ranking 59th and 61st).  By age, six of the top 50 were older than 65, with Giorgio Armani, at 78, the oldest.  Seven were younger than 30, with Tom Daley (pictured) being the youngest, at 19.  Ellen DeGeneres had the most search results for lesbians, but only ten others joined her.



Tim.cook.apple Annie.leibovitzActors, singers and fashion designers dominate the upper echelons of gaydom, comprising two-thirds of the top 50.  (The designers were, no doubt, boosted by their eponymous clothing labels.)  Outside of these fields we have  statistician Nate Silver; personal trainer Jillian Michaels; Apple CEO Tim Cook; photographer Annie Leibovitz; blogger Perez Hilton; interior designer Nate Berkus; and drag performer Ru Paul



Rachel.maddow Anderson.cooper.vanity.fair EllenshowAnd where do the five I thought were most overexposed rank?  Neil Patrick Harris is second; Ellen is fifth and Anderson Cooper, 30th.  Rachel Maddow and Ryan Murphy, however, are further down the list at 65th and 68th, respectively.  Still respectable but not nearly as high as I expected.



Robbie.williams Jason.wu JakeshearsWho was I surprised to see among the elite 50?  Besides Calvin Klein at #1, I was also taken aback by the inclusion of singers Robbie Williams (pictured, far right), George Michael, Mika, Tracy Chapman and Boy George; Jillian Michaels fom Biggest Loser; fashion designers Alexander Wang, Jason Wu (pictured) and Zac Posen; and British actor Steven Fry.  And those who I was surprised to see lower than the top 100 include ABC's Robin Roberts (#112); fashion guru Tim Gunn (#142); sexy Jake Shears of Scissor Sisters (#164, pictured near right); diving legend Greg Louganis (#177) and gay blogger Andy Towle (#294).


(Ranked by # of Google Search Results)
    Search Results
  Profession (In Millions)
Calvin Klein Fashion Designer 19.1
Neil Patrick Harris Actor 14.6
Elton John Singer/Songwriter 12.7
Marc Jacobs Fashion Designer 11.0
Ellen DeGeneres Talk Show Host 10.8
Michael Kors Fashion Designer 10.6
Robbie Williams Singer 10.0
Ricky Martin Singer   9.8
Tom Ford Fashion Designer   9.4
Mika Singer   7.1
George Michael Singer/Songwriter   6.7
Pet Shop Boys Pop Music Duo   5.8
Adam Lambert Singer   5.4
Giorgio Armani Fashion Designer   4.6
Tegan & Sara Pop Music Duo   4.5
Rosie O'Donnell TV Personality   4.3
Alexander Wang Fashion Designer   4.3
Ellen Page Actress   4.2
Frank Ocean Rap Singer   3.6
Portia de Rossi Actress   3.4
Tim Cook Business Executive   3.0
Johnny Weir Figure Skater   2.5
Jillian Michaels Trainer   2.4
Jason Wu Fashion Designer   2.4
Zachary Quinto Actor   2.3
Don Lemon News Anchor   2.3
Jodie Foster Actress   2.3
Tracy Chapman Singer/Songwriter   2.2
Perez Hilton Blogger   2.2
Anderson Cooper News Anchor   2.2
Jean Paul Gaultier Fashon Designer   2.1
Zac Posen Fashion Designer   2.0
Lily Tomlin Actress   2.0
Nate Silver Statistician   2.0
Andy Cohen Cable TV Executive   2.0
Ian McKellen Actor   1.9
Annie Leibovitz Photographer   1.8
Jesse Tyler Ferguson Actor   1.7
RuPaul Drag Performer   1.7
Boy George Singer/Songwriter   1.7
John Galliano Fashion Designer   1.7
George Takei Actor   1.7
Nate Berkus Interior Designer   1.6
Graham Norton Talk Show Host   1.6
Matt Bomer Actor   1.6
Wentworth Miller Actor   1.6
Stephen Fry Actor   1.6
Diana Nyad Swimmer   1.6
Tom Daley Diver   1.5
Chris Colfer Actor   1.5
(For period 3/20-24/2014)    


Tim Gunn Urges "Project Runway" Competitors to "Make it Work!" (Dec. 1, 2004)

Tim.gunn2On Dec. 1, 2004 the fashion-design reality show Project Runway debuted on Bravo and its viewers were introduced to the debonair, yet avuncular, co-host, Tim Gunn, and his catch phrase - "Make it work!".  (Not to be confused with RuPaul's catch phrase - "You better work!", from 12 years earlier.)  A few years later the show moved to Lifetime where it still airs - and Gunn is still part of the show.  Like the cast of another Bravo that debuted the year before, Queer Guy for the Straight Guy, Gunn distinguished himself with his approachable nature.


At the time he was hired for Project Runway Gunn was dean of New York's Parsons School of Design.  Since then he has hosted another reality show, Tim Gunn's Guide to Style; left Parsons to become chief creative director of Liz Claiborne; was hired as a spokesman for Macy's; and has published four books, the first which was titled Tim Gunn: A Guide to Quality, Taste & Style.


 Cher_snapoutofitWith all of this professional success, it came as somewhat of a surprise when Gunn revealed that he has been single and celibate for nearly 30 years, ever since a relationship ended that he never got over.  Reading this, I thought of a friend of mine who lost a partner in a car accident and another whose partner was murdered.  Both bounced back from these crushing losses and started new and successful relationships.  So when I read how Gunn has chosen to deal with his heartbreak I wanted to slap him like Cher did Nicolas Cage in Moonstruck and scream, "Snap out of it".  



Mario Lopez Teases & Pleases on "Nip/Tuck" (September 19, 2006)

Sean_christian_niptuckThe TV drama Nip/Tuck was created by Ryan Murphy and aired on cable network Fx between 2003 and 2010.  It told the story of two high-living Beverly Hills plastic surgeons, Sean and Christian, and their high-end clients and sexual conquests.  Although they were heterosexual and bedded plenty of women, the two had a big-time bromance going on between them, and a homoerotic vibe characterized the series. 


Niptuck_showersceneEnter Mario Lopez, who was introduced early in Season 4 (Sept. 19, 2006 to be exact).  He played a recurring character, a plastic surgeon, Mike Hamoui, with a killer body.  Christian encountered Mike in the shower at the gym and couldn't keep his eyes off him, jealously ogling his beautiful butt and washboard abs.  It's one of those scenes you want to watch over and over again.  To watch it in its delectable entirety, double click here.


Mario_lopez_a_chorus_line Mario_lopez_louganisAt the same time as this jaw dropping appearance, Lopez was also competing on Dancing with the Stars (he and his partner came in second).  Nine years before his Nip/Tuck shower scene, he had another water-oriented acting role, portraying Olympic diver Greg Louganis in USA Network's movie Breaking the Surface.  In this role he spent considerable screen time strutting around in a Speedo.  And two years after Nip/Tuck, he made his Broadway debut in A Chorus Line, playing the part of Zach, the director (pictured, far right).  It was reported that Lopez demanded more form fitting clothing, especially since hunky Nick Adams, who played the assistant director, got to wear tank tops that showed off his great physique.  

Final Episode of "Sex & the City" Airs (February 22, 2004)

Sex_in_the_city_last_episode Sex and the City aired Sunday nights on HBO for six seasons and its final episode aired on February 22, 2004.  And despite HBO being in fewer than 25% of U.S. households, it was nonetheless a national event.  (No doubt every HBO household had at least ten friends over that night to watch.)  I didn't become a regular viewer until the show's last three years when I finally subscribed to HBO.  (One aspect of the show I especially liked was the many scenes shot in my West Village neighborhood.)  And like another show about the trials and tribulations of four women with distinctive personalities, NBC's Golden Girls, SATC had a rabid following among gay men.


Sexinthecity_finalepisode Two lines I best remember from this episode involved Miranda (played by Cynthia Nixon).  The first was when her housekeeper, Magda, walked into the bathroom and watched Miranda gently bathing her husband Steve's addled mother (played by Anne Meara).  She put her hand on Miranda's shoulder and said to her "You love" - a beautiful moment.   Later in the episode, Carrie's girls were so upset by how Carrie's fiance Petrosky (played by Mikhail Baryshnikov) was treating her in Paris that when "Big" asked them whether he should pursue her there, Miranda (who despised him) looked at him intently and said "Go get our girl". 




Satc-s06-ep76_lEven before the final episode I found the whole Carrie-Petrosky relationship tedious. (Truth be told, Carrie was my least favorite character.)  Instead, what I found most touching was the relationship between Samantha and Smith.  Another beautiful moment in this episode occurred when Smith surprised Samantha by returning early from a business trip to be with her (she was going through chemo treatment for breast cancer).      


Lesueur_peas Elizabeth_taylor_sexincityTo this day anytime I see someone walking a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, the breed of dog Charlotte owned, I say to myself "Elizabeth Taylor", the name she chose for the dog.  Also, every time I see a can of Green Giant Lesueur peas I think of Samantha handing a can of them to a priest she was trying to seduce (for a food drive) and saying "They're Lesueur, they're the BEST". 


Five years later a SATC movie was released during the summer and was a big success.  A sequel came out the following summer but wasn't as well received and grossed less than half of the first (but still more than $150 million worldwide).


"High School Musical" - Don't Ask, Don't Tell (January 20, 2006)

Ryan_sharpay_highschoolmusical Three years before Glee there was High School Musical, a wildly popular TV musical that aired on the Disney Channel on the evening of Jan. 20, 2006.  Instead of a glee club struggling with an inferiority complex, HSM revolved around a somewhat pretentious Musical Theater class.  And although the subject was never broached it's all but certain that the student named Ryan (played by Lucas Grabeel, pictured with Ashley Tisdale) was gay since he had musical theater running through his veins.  This "don't ask, don't tell" approach held sway for the next two HSM movies as well.  Although a bit dim, Ryan was a good egg who had to put up with his diva twin sister Sharpay (pronounced like the breed of dog).


This being a candy coated Disney fantasy world filled with smiling and fresh-scrubbed faces, Ryan was never harassed.  In fact, every clique in school co-existed harmoniously.  In keeping with this dream world, the most sensitive boy in school was also the most popular, basketball star Troy Bolton, played by Zac Efron (and at 5'10", probably the shortest basketball superstar in history).   




I didn't catch the movie when it first aired, but during the summer I rented it to see what the buzz was about - and I was captivated.  I especially liked the number Stick to the Status Quo, which charmingly depicted the turmoil created when kids like Troy don't follow their assigned social role.  Inspired by Troy's example, other kids reveal their secret passions, e.g. a jock interested in baking, the math whiz passionate for hip-hop.  Ryan, however, was not part of these "outings".  




In the sequel we'd discover that Ryan once played baseball and taught the jocks a thing or two (oh, I bet he did - wink, wink).  The movie had lots of gay subtext ripe for exploitation (by Michael Lucas perhaps?).  Personally, I think Ryan was used as a distraction to divert attention from the bromance between Troy and his best bud Chad (pictured, left).  In fact, whenever they bickered their faces would get so close it seemed that a passionate kiss was imminent.  Sure, both had girlfriends, but ... 




High School Musical was a smash hit as was its two sequels (the last one was a theatrical release).  Besides "tween" girls it also had much to offer gay viewers (of all ages), i.e. musical numbers, intricate choreography, a host of cute boys, a kinda hot basketball coach (played by Bart Johnson, pictured), a diva and, of course, Ryan.  HSM paved the way for Fox's introduction of Glee, a primetime series with musical numbers and a very out gay character.  However, I was never a fan of the show (although I've purchased some of its music on iTunes) - too much angst and gay Kurt gave me the willies (as did the female football coach). 





"The L Word" Debuts on Showtime (January 18, 2004)

Buoyed by the success of Queer as Folk (which debuted in December 2000), Showtime produced a one-hour drama about a group of lesbian friends and lovers called The L Word.  It premiered on Jan. 18, 2004.   


The_L_Word Except for their same-sex themes the two series were very different: 1) QAF took place in Rust Belt Pittsburgh while The L Word was set in sunny and trendy Los Angeles/West Hollywood; 2) The L Word had more "name" actresses: Jennifer Beals, Pam Grier, Marlee Matlin and Cybil Shepherd - QAF had one, Sharon Gless;  3) QAF had a lesbian couple (Lindsay and Melanie) but L Word incorporated very little about the lives of gay men into its storylines; and 4) The L Word ran for six seasons, one more than Queer as Folk.  However, QAF aired thirteen more episodes (83 vs. 70). 


After the series concluded in March 2009 Showtime aired a reality series that came out in the summer of 2010 called The Real L Word.