So here’s the skinny about Episode One: It’s not the fabulous train wreck that is the New York series. Depending on your point of view, that’s a very good thing or a depressingly grim development.
If you want to measure by Bravo’s “Real Housewives” franchise then ALD falls between Miami and New York, better than Orange County and the tragic Washington D.C., but not as eye-poppingly surreal as Atlanta or Beverly Hills. (At least, not yet: a teaser for episodes to come promise plenty of slaps, shrieks and swearing).
There is also a lot of Jesus—as in “Praise Him!” There is Bible-quotin’ and prayer-partnerin’. Still with us? Okay, then, keep reading. We’ll break it down by castmate. Cue the stock footage of oil derricks plunging relentlessly into the ground. Pounding the earth, over and over…
Speaking of penises, the first episode of ALD isn’t actually about Levi so much as it is about his very big, enormous, plus-sized cock. We know it’s an oversize schlong because he and several castmates tell us so repeatedly (“A big dick can open doors,” he states). Two, possibly three, of the ALD boys are thoroughly dicktimized: Insecure party boy James is upset because Levi has shrugged off their long-ago hook-up and shows no interest in rekindling the fire; Bible-thumping Taylor wants more of the famed cowboy cock he first tasted a couple of years ago and Levi is apparently willing to oblige. It’s also suggested that quippy, snippy Chase is charmed by Levi’s Texas swagger.
If that weren’t sufficient to swell Levi’s head enough to burst the band of his beloved cowboy hat, the stud is also shown making out and/or flirting with a handful of random unidentified guys. So he’s sexy and slutty—no problem with that, really—soft-spoken and perhaps enjoys having the boys fall at his feet a bit too much. I get that hanging out with a cocktail-pounding crier like James (keep reading) could be exhausting, but he lets the poor kid simmer and stew in his own resentment even as shit-stirring Phillip pokes at him with a stick for sport. Not cool.
TAYLOR: Logo craftily kept the blogosphere abuzz in the days leading up to the ALD debut thanks primarily to the antics of one person: Taylor Garrett. He’s ambitious, cunning and cute. He’s also a Bible-thumping Southern Baptist and eager fundraiser for conservative Republican politicians and their causes. It was recently revealed the demure ingénue Ann Coulter would appear at some point during the season thanks to him.
This week, Garrett apparently had a rock thrown through his window with a typed note that said, essentially, “Fuck off, Republican scum.” Skeptical bloggers asked to see a police report, which finally surfaced last night via the Twitter machine.
CHASE: Every reality show worth its salt needs someone to comment on the action. Chase could be that guy because he’s camp and quick with a one-liner. In an earlier era, he’d be the show queen in the corner mashing on a damp olive fished from his too-quickly-emptied martini glass. Despite a fondness for formal shorts and emptying cans of hairspray into his insanely tangled follicles, Chase demonstrates at least a modicum of self-awareness. At one point, he tries to explain what he does for a living—something about real estate investment or whatever—and quickly gives up. “It’s all very complicated,” he notes with an exhausted huff, ” so I can’t just explain it to ya. It involves math.” That’s funny even if he’s being serious.
He also drinks a lot—to be fair, it could be an editing trick—and cries and splashes on the melodrama like cheap cologne. (If you watch Logo’s 1 Girl, 5 Gays, James looks and sounds like bomb-throwing cast member Andrew Edwards. He undoubtedly wouldn’t turn down another spin on Levi’s magic stick and he’s mortally offended that Levi doesn’t care to give him the time of day. Make it a double! He is shown in the preview clips copiously weeping, praying, fighting and drinking. Sometimes all at once.
ASHLEY: Young, pretty blond girl Ashley is friendly with several ALD castmates but otherwise doesn’t serve much purpose in this episode. (I swear, if she cuts a motherfucking single this season, I am done.) She stays out of the drama—bah, humbug—and holds down a regular job as a wedding photographer.
She’s married to a man who doesn’t mind if she cavorts with guys as long as they’re The Gays; otherwise, the only other dude allowed to be a regular part of her life is Jebus. (I was creeped out by that revelation, but perhaps I read too much into it.)
She and Taylor spent a fair chunk of this episode praising His Holy Name and asking Him to ensure Taylor gets into Levi’s jeans again soon. (Amen.) It’s notable that Logo chose to include two cast members who openly profess their devotion to the Lord. Neither addresses the Bible’s condemnation of gays but Ashley seems to recognize that organized religion is a polarizing issue, particularly among her beloved gays. Taylor, on the other hand, whines that many of the men he wants to date and/or hump “think they’re gonna burst into flame or something,” if they step inside a church.
No, they don’t, Tay-Tay. Many gay men don’t have a problem with religious conviction or even conservatism—what’s more inherently conservative than traditional marriage? But they do have a problem with hypocrisy. They’re offended by an institution—whether it’s the Catholic Church or the GOP—that regularly condemns the very life you proudly enjoy down there in Dallas and would restrict your freedoms as an American citizen if they could. You might get more dates if you could learn to recognize the distinction.
So far, A List New York‘s country cousin isn’t a train wreck, but still has plenty to get us riled up about—from Levi’s laconic arrogance to Phillip’s gleeful gossip mongering, and lots of Jebus! Praise Him! (if that pushes your buttons). Nobody gets slapped or punched or shoved (yet) and James cries only a little bit by typical reality-TV standards. Chase is funny, but it’s not yet clear if it’s inadvertent. There’s not much beefcake, just tight jeans plus Phillip in his undies and backwards chaps, which you’ve already seen a thousand times in the commercial.
The most disappointing aspect of this whole episode? Only one person—just one, dammit—complains about being “thrown under the bus.”
For shame, Logo.