A Southern mom becomes a PFLAG pimp in gay sitcom ‘You Should Meet My Son!’
ARNOLD WAYNE JONES | Life+Style Editor
2.5 out of 5 stars
YOU SHOULD MEET MY SON!
Joanne McGee, Stewart Carrico, Steve Snyder. 85 mins.
Now available on DVD.
A Southern mom, Mae (Joanne McGee) — more over-the-top than anything Tennessee Williams would have conceived (her Pigeon Forge accent makes Dolly Parton sound like Kate Middleton) — clucks over her single son Brian (Stewart Carrico). Every week for Sunday dinner, she invites him over, trying to set him up with the “right girl.”
But Mom doesn’t seem to notice Brian has a “roommate” who’s as well dressed as he with gelled hair and lots of naked statuary around their restored Victorian house filled with antiques. At least until the roomie “moves out” and Brian becomes inexplicably despondent.
It’s a familiar premise in the traditional gay comedy: The anti-gay parent slowly realizing their son is a poofter, then going through the process of coming to terms with it. There’s the visit to the gay reparative therapist (a Texas redneck who sounds suspiciously like George W.), and the struggles with the Old Testament.
Only in You Should Meet My Son! (which screened earlier this year at OutTakes Dallas), those scenes are over 20 minutes in (a good thing, too — they are weak and clichéd, and played for dumb laughs that never come). Mom, despite her limp-wristed Tinkerbell slurs against “those kind” when talking about her hairdresser, suddenly becomes Sharon Gless from Queer as Folk once she finally figures it out: If her son’s gonna be a sodomite, dammit, she’s gonna find him a man who satisfies him sexually.
Mom becomes her gay son’s pimp.
Writer-director Keith Hartman’s script has a frustrating tendency to veer uncontrollably between farcical camp (think But I’m a Cheerleader or Another Gay Movie) and witty banter (a scene with Brian and one of his mom’s female set-ups has a sassy repartee). When it’s good, it’s a lot of fun.
And it’s good often, especially once Mae and her sister Rose (Carol Goans) go cruising a gay bar on the hunt for Mr. Right, and end up recruiting an ensemble of drag queens, leather daddies and twinks (including a potential love interest played by Steve Snyder). In a twist on The Bird Cage, Mae hosts dinner parties designed to out her family and frighten away the closet cases and homophobes. Think Auntie Mame with male strippers.
Those moments trump the intrusively annoying perky bossa nova-like score — all Austin Powers retro horns and go-go boot silliness — and the inconsistencies in the script, not the least of which is Mae’s magically fluid gaydar. (She couldn’t pick up on obvious clues about her son for 30 years, but eventually, the second she sees a muscle twink in a tank top she instantly pegs him as a bossy bottom and sets about Yenta-izing with the unrelenting determination of Megatron. Mae might seem like a Southern Baptist, but she’s really a Jewish mom.)
The supporting cast does a lot of the heavy lifting, combining beefcake with saucy flamboyance and ease on camera. But even though McGee overplays at first, Mae ultimately endears herself to us, allowing her love for her son to guide her, not her prejudices. It’s a surprisingly heartfelt way to end a silly comedy.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 17, 2011.