Some of you may recognize yours truly as the reality-TV-addicted writer of the critically acclaimed series ‘Gay Survivor Journal.’ I have received a promotion of sorts (or is it a demotion?) and have been asked to write summaries for some episodes of ‘Boy Meets Boy,’ the new series on Bravo (the ‘Gays Buy Advertising Products!’ network.) I accept the assignment with some trepidation. You see, until now I have reveled in the fact that it is predominantly heterosexuals who have made complete fools of themselves on network TV in the name of love and/or money. To see homos (also known as ‘My People’) baring their souls (and various other body parts) to attract a same-sex mate would no doubt lead to embarrassment, stereotyped behavior, random periods of dullness, stupid choices, and worst of all, titillation with no actual sex. Then, when I heard that the ‘twist’ would be that there are straight men thrown in with the gay men to try to ‘play gay’ for a cash prize, I was outraged. If it is fair to mix gay and straight, where were the butch passable gayboys on ‘The Bachelorette?’ Where were the lipstick lesbians on ‘The Bachelor?’ So, despite my fears (which would prove to be well founded) I took on this responsibility to ensure that the summaries will be fair and even-handed, and that everyone will be insulted equally (even, nay especially, My People.)
Disclaimers aside, we move on to...
Boy Meets Boy, Episode One, “Secrets and Leis (or The One with the Luau)”
The series begins, faux-ominously, with a montage of clips which is intended to expose you to all the major players. (The montage honestly just confused me, as it’s hard to keep track of 16 guys who all seem to have the same eyebrow-waxer.) The faux-ominous narration is spoken by a female with an obnoxiously nasal London accent, who we later learn will be the host. Yippee.
“One exceptional gay man. 15 extraordinary suitors, all vying for his affection. In the end he must select just one man. But appearances aren’t always what they seem. What neither the gay suitors nor the leading man know is that some of the suitors are straight men, pretending to be gay, competing to win a cash prize. Will the leading man discover their secret? In a world where gay is the norm and straight men must stay in the closet, will boundaries be crossed? Can stereotypes be shattered? Will romance prevail? Find out when two worlds collide, as we bridge the gap between gay and straight. Welcome to Boy Meets Boy.”
The above paragraph was written by someone who gets paid a lot of money by The Bravo Network. Nuff said.
First we meet Dani Behr, the abovementioned Londoner host. Prior to this, I thought women with British accents were lovely, elegant and numbingly dull, like Jane Seymour in every romantic miniseries on CBS. Grating Dani has succeeded in changing that stereotype. (One point for Bravo!) My first impression of her look is that her huge eyes are much too far apart, and that her nearly-opaque-overbleached hair is ‘styled’ in odd asymmetrical ringlets, which I suppose might be ‘all the rage’ in London, (but not here.)
Next we meet James, our leading man. In this writer’s opinion, things start to get much better about now. James is soft-spoken, modest, and very cute, with light eyes, dark hair, and a very charming smile. We’re told he’s 32, and was born in North Dakota, lived in Oregon as a child, and now lives in Southern California where he is a benefits administrator. Unfortunately for James, the viewer is next treated to an embarrassing montage of baby and teen photos of him, displaying him in all his pimple-faced, gangly, frizzy haired, baby fat, fashion-victim glory. You see, he was a quiet nerdy kid, who kids in high school called ‘a diamond in the rough.’ This seems way too kind for high school kids. More likely, (based on my personal experience) he was simply called ‘ugly, pimple faced fag.’ Thank the gods (and Bravo) that James has outgrown this phase.
Andra (which is pronounced effectedly like 'Ahndra') is the next introduction, and I’m already starting to get lost with all the names. She has pale blue eyes, large white teeth, overly-frosted hair (striped, really) which is plastered to her head in an unflattering way, and huge eyes which, like Dani’s, are way too far apart. (It is a good thing this show is aimed at gay men and straight women, because these two ladies aren’t likely to bring in any hetero male viewers.) She met James at work, and calls herself his ‘turn to person,’ his ‘closest friend in the world,’ and ‘his family here.’ (I’d call her his ‘fag-hag,’ but as we learn later, that term offends her. I say, if the shoe fits…) She says James is ‘reserved,’ but ‘once he’s comfortable, he’s the belle of the ball, the life of the party.’
Following this is a quick montage with some of James’ friends, (more faces to confuse me) who say that James is patient, athletic, monogamous, a partier, nice, romantic, and ‘a catch.’ One wonders why this seemingly perfect guy is single, and why all these seemingly smitten friends aren’t more bitter, jealous and spiteful, like rejected gay men typically are. (If James were my friend, I’d be.)
Finally, the montages are over, and we meet James in person. He steps out in a bright sky-blue dress shirt and bone khakis. The whole thing is a little Orange County conservative for me, but he looks good. He seems nervous and giggles like a schoolgirl, but he has me already and so at this point he can do no wrong. He tells Dani that he’s hoping to meet someone, maybe make a connection. (Thankfully, his goals aren’t too high, as we all know these Bachelor-esque shows have spotty track records when it comes to love matches.) Dani announces that the grand prize is a trip to New Zealand for him and the man he chooses. (That’s it? What a rip-off! Why do the gays get shafted with the cheapo prizes? Where’s our Million Dollars? I scream discrimination!)
Andra enters, this time in a hideous fuchsia and black sundress that accentuates her pear-shaped figure. (Though her hair looks moderately better piled in a twist on her head, which sort of masks her skunk-stripes.) Dani welcomes her, opining that ‘most gay men have a girly best friend,’ and that she’s happy because ‘I’d like another girly around here.’ (Lesbian viewers’ spirits certainly picked up at that remark.)
Andra and James are taken to a wall of pictures, the 15 suitors who James will be choosing from, and left to formulate their superficial first opinions based on cheesy posed headshots. Andra picks her top four (we later learn their names are Chris, Robb, Matt and Franklin) and James picks his top five (Chris, Dan, Matt, Robb and Franklin.) Andra dismisses Dan as cocky. More on that later.