"Gay dating is the same as straight dating," says Justin, a contestant on Logo's new show Finding Prince Charming.
The show, pretty much The Bachelor with gay dudes, is an idea that's long overdue, but Justin is very much wrong. In actuality, Justin's assertion -- part of the show's clear agenda of making gay courtship as "regular" as straight people's -- couldn't be further from the truth. And it's actually a little dangerous.
You can't fault Logo for trying to say it though, and thankfully it doesn't ruin the enjoyment of Finding Prince Charming. Although nearly everyone with cable or internet access now knows what voguing looks like or that "Werk bitch!" is a compliment, being gay still isn't all rainbows. Same-sex couples have only been able to legally marry in the United States for a year. Gay people remain at higher risk for homelessness, substance abuse, bullying, hate crimes, underemployment, depression and suicide. Arguably, portraying minorities on TV as safe and familiar and "just like you!" has helped them make greater strides than a march or protest ever could, so it makes sense for Logo to pursue that track.
That said, Finding Prince Charming's noble goal of making these 13 gay guys fit a construct of heteronormalcy isn't a good idea. And here's why.
In the season premiere we meet a cast of lovely men all after the grand prize, the Puerto Rican "Prince Charming" Robert Sepulveda Jr. who serves as the show's "bachelor." That cast of suitors includes the aforementioned Justin and his bedazzled loafers. There's also Sam, one of two guys who has the ability to move through the world without people knowing he's gay unless he wants to tell them. And there's the outrageous Robby, an over-the-top ball of flamboyant fun who in high school was protected by the guys on his football team. The show should also be commended for the diverse casting, as it includes three black men in addition to Sepulveda. This group is fundamentally different from any dating show ever by virtue of its diverse lineup. And, yes, being the first gay dating reality show, the contestants hooking up with one another is another unique possibility.
The fact that they're single and in their mid-20s to early 30s means they're a small pool within an already small pool, translating to deeply layered prisms of experience that make their rites totally unlike hetero ones. Up until very recently, most gay youth missed "normal" teen dating rituals like going to the prom or holding hands in the park. Gay adults, by and large, didn't experience standard courtship routines, which can profoundly affect outlook, sense of worth and tastes.
We see that play out right away in the first episode, when Sam slams Robby for basically "acting too gay." That's the kind of shaming of effeminate men lots of gay men deal with in the dating world every time they go out or swipe right, a huge issue that's not like straight dating at all.
Also, at least one of the contestants is HIV positive. While educational campaigns have made it common knowledge (in gay circles at least) that drug regimens can make risk of transmission extremely low, there is of course a stigma around HIV that can complicate dating.
Then there's the whopper: It came to light last week that the show's dreamboat bachelor Robert, an interior designer in Atlanta, has a history as a sex worker and a cache of graphic sex videos he stars in online. That doesn't jibe at all with the narrative Robert Sepulveda Jr. and Logo tried to spin of him as an all-American gay Ken doll (redundant, sorry) who's truly looking for someone to settle down with. Of course, one can be a sex worker and porn star and want to settle down, but in interviews before the revelations came to light, Sepulveda painted an entirely different picture of himself.
"I don't have a problem with people who hook up or use apps," he told TVGuide.com. "That's just not me. I like to meet someone and have a relationship. Sex is easy. I'm much happier when I'm making a real connection with someone." (Logo did not have a comment as of press time and according to sources, it's unclear whether they knew his history despite having done background checks on all participants.)
Here's the thing: Who cares? Robert used to be a Rentboy. So what? Why such pains to present him as completely wholesome? He's since released trite statements about that being a "closed chapter" or whatever, but now this feels like a botched attempt to make him and the show look "upstanding." But for who exactly?
Gay men pioneered the anti-slut shaming and sex-positive movements folks such as Amber Rose have made popular. In being their unapologetic selves, gay men pushed forward the idea that people can have casual sex without shame, feelings, a promise to call or even a name exchanged -- a premise shows like Sex and the City helped make a norm. Threesomes, homemade porn and hiring an escort is stuff some gay dudes chit-chat about for a few minutes during brunch. Of course, that's not true of all gay men. But Prince Charming's clear attempt to whitewash realities in order to gain straight acceptance isn't a step forward. Radical gay activists at the beginning of the movement never imagined a picket fence and minivan as an ultimate goal. They just wanted full freedom, as defined by the individual.
Which is not to say Finding Prince Charming is a failure in any way. The twist that kicks off the competition in earnest -- which we won't spoil here -- is wrought with good TV tension, and it's fun to start guessing off the bat who doesn't stand a chance with Robert.
Sam bemoans the fact that he can't meet a guy in a bar and have a conversation, since everyone's using apps now. Jasen, like other guys, openly declares a desire for monogamy. One guy is a practicing Buddhist. Another one was homeless after being kicked out by his parents and then made a career, found spiritual healing and learned to love himself. This journey and these stories are Finding Prince Charming's sweet spot, which makes this dating show richer and more complex than most.
These people seem to be legitimately in this to find love, or at least have a shot at it. It's easy to be skeptical of that, sure. But given the societal baggage and ostracizing they've overcome to simply assert a desire for a healthy fulfilling relationship, they've achieved a major coup for them and for all gay people. Finding Prince Charming wins not by trying to be loved and accepted by straight people but by watching these guys express love for themselves and then maybe, somebody else. And yes -- thank the gay gods -- there's shade and some drama too, which you know is going to make for good TV.
Finding Prince Charming premieres Thursday Sept. 8 at 9/8c on Logo.
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Now that his mother has escaped Hell, things are going to get incredibly complicated for Lucifer's titular anti-hero (Tom Ellis) - especially when he comes face to face with his mom's sexy new vessel.
According to our sources, Lucifer's Mom -- played by Tricia Helfer, who is only four years older than Ellis IRL -- is the new "Stacey's Mom." Or another "S" Mom, as Ellis tells us: "Amenadiel (D.B. Woodside) and Lucifer find themselves in the world of Stifler in Season 2 of Lucifer."
No, no one's going to band camp this season (a la American Pie), but we have to imagine Lucifer (Lu-Stifler?) would definitely be less than happy if his mother hooked up with one of his friends. Dan (Kevin Alejandro) is single, after all...
Lucifer returns Monday, Sept. 19 at 9/8c on Fox.
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The Harry Potter alum has been cast in a mysterious but "significant" role, according to Entertainment Weekly. HBO and the Game of Thrones producing team didn't give out any further details in order to prevent major storylines from hitting the web.
Previously, recent casting notices for the HBO epic were leaked, and while Broadbent fits the description asking for a "venerable priest" in his 60s with a "characterful face," TVGuide.com has a different theory (and posted cast listings have been misleading before). We think Broadbent would fit in really well at the Citadel with Sam (John Bradley) -- possibly even as the head maester.
Broadbent won an Academy Award for his supporting role in the 2001 film Iris, and his storied career includes appearances in Cloud Atlas, Longford, Brazil, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Doctor Who and much more.
Who do you think Broadbent could play?
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