Outfest

Sad About The End Of Looking? There Are Plenty Of New Queer Shows To Check Out

 Connie Kurtew
The cast of The Intervention at the Outfest Opening Night Gala. Photo by Connie Kurtew.

They’re here, they’re queer, and they’re ready for their close up. Outfest, the world’s leading LGBT film festival, which runs July 7-17 across several Los Angeles venues, not only showcases the best of cinema, but also spotlights a tight knit, overlapping community of artists and allies.

The festival hit the ground running with the Opening Night Gala premiere of The Intervention at The Orpheum Theater, reuniting But I’m a Cheerleader alums Clea DuVall and Natasha Lyonne on the big screen. Once again portraying a lesbian couple, the duo’s relationship is thrown a monkey wrench in the form of queer stranger Lola, played by Alia Shawkat, most notable for her role as Maeby Funke in the cult comedy Arrested Development.

Alia Shawkat, Meredith Hagner, and john Early at Search Party screening.
Alia Shawkat, Meredith Hagner, and john Early at Search Party screening.

Shawkat took centerstage Saturday morning at the Directors Guild of America with the  premiere of her new TBS series Search Party, a darkly comic Millennial murder mystery.

Serving as the nucleus for a circle of self-absorbed, self-deluded 20-somethings, Shawkat’s Dory is adrift in post-college ennui, externalized by the recent disappearance of an old class acquaintance. But the break out hit of the series is scene stealing John Early, recognizable from his roles in The Neighbors 2 and Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp. Early possesses the crucial ability to spin snark into gold. And, although he plays a gay character, don’t expect him to pop off his shirt onscreen any time soon.

“I have a yeast imbalance,” quipped the queer comedian,  “so I was not ready or TBS and the world to see my rash.”

While television may be missing out on Early’s bare torso, it will be compensated by a slew of LGBT positive programming, evidenced by Outfest’s weekend line up which juxtaposed Search Party with screenings for new seasons of Difficult People and Transparent.

Drew Droege and friend.
Drew Droege and friend.

Its so nice that there isn’t just one gay show on TV,” said Outfest veteran Drew Droege, holding court in the DGA atrium. “Literally, last year it was Looking. Everyone was looking for Looking to be every gay show for every gay person. Its impossible, nothing can be. We have a lot more now.”

Looking itself took a final bow over the weekend with a Saturday night screening of its feature length finale, tying up the loose ends left dangling after HBO chose not to renew the dramedy for a third season. Although the series has ended, its  inclusion of non-traditional gay characters, like HIV-positive bear Eddie, has paved the way for a more diverse LGBT terrain on television.

Looking's Michael Lannan and Daniel Franzese
Looking’s Michael Lannan and Daniel Franzese

“Slowly but surely we’re seeing different colors of the rainbow on TV,” said Daniel Franzese, the out actor who portrayed Eddie, while sipping a cocktail in VIP section of the pre-screening reception. “Eddie is currently one of three HIV characters on TV. With 1.2 million people with HIV, it’s not enough. Hopefully, we see more. We are starting to see more diversity, and in-depth characters where their story line doesn’t center just that their gay. Its part of their life but not necessarily the focus of their arc.”

This concept of fully realized LGBTQ characterization is exemplified by the hit Amazon series Transparent, which offered a soupçon of its upcoming third season during a Sunday afternoon panel. The show is admirable for incorporating trans professionals into its production, both in front of the camera, and behind it.

Jill Soloway, Our Lady J, with the cast and crew of Transparent
Jill Soloway, Our Lady J, with the cast and crew of Transparent

“In attempting to undo ‘other-izing’,” explained series creator Jill Soloway, “the only way to not create stories where women, people of color, queer people, trans people are objects is to make them the subjects. I can’t make them the subjects by writing and directing it. I have to offer them the opportunity to make their own subjectivity as artists.”

Soloway’s philosophy was evidenced by the presence of Our Lady J, one of the trans staff members of Transparent who participated in the panel. Before writing for the series, J was a professional pianist who was silently elbowed out of the industry after transitioning. Pulling from personal experience, the trans scribe imparted sage advice for upcoming artists.

“Show up to the party without an invitation. No one is going to give you your rights unless you demand them.”

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9 Comments

  • DCguy

    I find it interesting that the one show on TV, about a gay person that is played by a gay person was left out. Maybe it’s because the star of that show had a “feud” with Colton Haynes who this page seems to love. But “The REal O’Neils” is about a gay guy, played by an openly gay actor. Seems weird to leave that out.

    As for the statement – “Although the series has ended, its inclusion of non-traditional gay characters, like HIV-positive bear Eddie, has paved the way for a more diverse LGBT terrain on television.”

    Non-traditional gay characters? Looking was attacked for the exact opposite. And in response to those attacks brought in a white guy who was HIV positive. Considering that shows like King of Queens and Roseanne both had male leads who were overweight I hardly think that casting a guy who isn’t skinny is breaking any ground.

  • odawg

    Once again I’m struck by the overwhelming whiteness of mainstream queer entertainment.

  • ErikO

    Looking was boring, as these shows are.

  • martinbakman

    @odawg: Your comment needs a response.

    At least in Looking there was a key black character in the story, and a latino character that …..well I’m not going to spoil it here, but Richie’s story continued in the movie and he was fvcking significant. <–The story included a theme of a white guy raised by a rich, white beeotch that floundered in his attempt at dating a latino dude.

    Two significant movies at OutFest so far were Spa Night and Esteros. Spa Night was entirely about a Korean family and Esteros was Argentinian. These will likely win some jury or audience awards. Both were so good! These standout movies had no Northern European white people.

  • DCguy

    @martinbakman:

    I notice you said “key” and not “main”. That is Hollywood speak for the b.s. designation of “small but important”.

    Nice try, but “boyfriend of Augustin” and “boyfriend of Doris” weren’t big characters. And of course the ability to have a show set in SF with no Asians is still mind boggling.

  • Kangol

    Nobody’s sad about the end of Looking, though Queerty keeps trying its darnedest to push that flat soda of a show. Bye Felicia!

  • strix1

    Not interested about any of the new shows…I am one of the few that actually liked Looking – I think it had a more “real” storyline (and characters) as opposed to QAF’s sometimes hyped storylines…I think Looking would have done better if they did 50-55 minutes episodes, 25-27 minutes was not long enough to capture the viewer for a drama.

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