Last night the Sundance Channel foisted upon us Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys, the politically correct title to the alternative A Bunch of Fags And Their Hags. The show has been sitting on the back burner for months, if not longer: its debut has been repeatedly pushed back by the network (which just so happens to be the place where Be Good Johnny Weir originated). So is this thirty-minute “reality” series about four best friendships worth watching?
Inevitably, shows that focus mainly on gays (e.g. A-List: New York) or merely feature gays (e.g. $h*! My Dad Says) get the GLAAD-style “Is this a good representation of the community?” treatment. It’s a healthy, albeit sometimes nauseating conversation to have, because we’ve definitely gone from a “put us on TV on any cost” mentality to a “make us look good” attitude — and television is definitely a medium that lends itself to catering to the former and ignoring the latter, though there are certainly in-between examples (arguably RuPaul‘s Drag Race, but mentioning that show is enough to stir debate.) So where does Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys fit in?
Somewhere in the middle.
The show is as much about the fag hags as the homosexuals they’re friends with. You’ll be forgiven for the immediate eye roll about how this is just a “real life Will & Grace.” Because, in many ways, you are right. Especially if you’re talking about the last two seasons of W&G, because GWLBWLB can feel just as stale. But if anyone should be offended by the show’s stereotyping, it’s the fag hags. Really. They’re the maniacal, doting, and sometimes slightly “touched” women that gay men have always gravitated to, but in this cast we’re at least spared the overt gay male stereotyping. (Read: They aren’t all white Adonises!) It’s the straight girls throwing the straight girl image under the bus. But to be fair, these women are also devoid of one fag hag stereotype: wishing their gay BFF was straight.
What’s most interesting to me about this show — and perhaps this says much about the casting decisions — is what producers even imagined for this series. The opening sequence describes gay guys as the “men who will never leave us,” directly implying this show is made for straight female viewers, not gay men. And if that’s the case, then producers were intent on making straight women the heroines, while the gay men are the commodity to be trafficked. If I had to pick a favorite “couple,” it’d be Nathan and Crystal, whose friendship (at least while cameras are rolling) has much to do with Nathan’s professed desire to be a father, which is met with Cyrstal’s disbelief.
I’m still on the fence about the show — not whether it’s “good for the gays,” but whether it’ll have enough material to keep my interest. Snaps for rolling tape on a much-discussed but oft-ignored brand of friendship. And keeping Grindr at bay. Thus far.