2011 Year in Review: Tube

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GAY FAMILY TIES | The two-dad household on ‘Allen Gregory’ takes a big turn from the suburban kookiness of ‘Modern Family.’

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor
jones@dallasvoice.com

In a year when most people began to feel broadcast and cable television had become all but irrelevant in the era of streaming, the most proletarian of American entertainment still managed some remarkable work — both from returning series and new entries (marked with a •).

10. American Horror Story (FX)• You have to begin watching this series — as you do Ryan Murphy’s other current show, Glee — understanding that it’s a fantasy that does not, and is not intended to, make a lick of sense. Why doesn’t the family in the cursed L.A. “murder house” move out? Why do they constantly lie … and get caught? How can so much drama happen to just a few people? You’re asking for trouble if you think — you’re meant to just go along for this ride, a grotesque riff on Gothic horror movie clichés with a spicy bit of kink added. Jessica Lange as a creepy neighbor rockets into a stratosphere of kook that’s unmissably delicious.

9. Glee (Fox) Murphy’s other series is already showing its age after only after its third season, but whoever expected it would be anything other than what it is, a flash of gay brilliance that couldn’t last longer than a high school career anyway? It remains in the top 10, especially for gay audiences, largely because of the end of last season, which featured touching work by Chris Colfer and Jane Lynch.

8. The Killing (AMC)• A moody mix of Twin Peaks and 24 with a Scandinavian bleakness, this investigation into the death of a girl in Seattle, laden with dread and impenetrable characters who often do the wrong thing, was an addictive mystery. The season finale didn’t quite work, but that only makes me look forward to Season 2.

7. Happy Endings (ABC)•

6. Modern Family (ABC) This one-two punch of queer-friendly sitcoms — as perfect a pairing of half-hours since Happy Days and Laverne & Shirley — show the gay experience from the perspective of boring suburbia and slacker 20-something with wit and true character development between ModFam’s couple Cam and Mitchell and Happy Endings’ gay Oscar Madison, Max.

5. Raising Hope (Fox). The sleeper sitcom hit of last year continues to delight audiences who can detect the sophistication lurking in creator Greg Garcia’s comedy about lower-class denizens. (He did it before with My Name Is Earl.) The clever gay-friendly message is conveyed ironically, but for a story about child-rearing, it’s as raucous as a sitcom can be.

4. RuPaul’s Drag Race (Logo). The third season of Drag Race was just as good as the second (the first was really a training ground for the style). Campy but also incredibly sincere, it’s one of the funniest reality shows ever on TV and one where most of the contestants actually seem to have skills. When Season 4 starts next month, we’ll be glued.

3. Allen Gregory (Fox)• Jonah Hill had, for me, fallen into the Seth Rogen category of overstayed-his-welcome with a repetition comic persona in his largely crass movie roles, but Allen Gregory changed all that for me. A smart, stylish animated sitcom about a pretentious kindergartener and his two-dad family (including a hunky former straight man and an adopted Asian sister) has some of the best jokes about gay characters on any show. Ever.

2. The Walking Dead (AMC)• There is virtually no gay content in this zombie series, just some of the most chilling action sequences ever on TV (and the hottest guy on TV in the totally ripped Jon Bernthal). It’s really the sound editing that gets to you in this drama about the end of world at the hands of ravaging flesh eaters. Who knows where it will go? But you sure wanna find out.

1. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report (Comedy Central). The 12 months leading up to presidential primary season would simply not have been the same without the genius commentary (with Stewart, confrontational; with Colbert, ironic) about the crazed political atmosphere we have found ourselves in. Colbert’s establishing of a SuperPAC, which he actually uses to point out the insanity of our laws, was as mind-blowing as comedy has ever gotten.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 30, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

‘Glee’ fully

Concert film of the gay-inclusive sitcom is as empowering as Bieber, but far more relevant

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DON’T STOP | Lovable losers of the New Directions choir take to the stage as rock gods in the hybrid music celebration ‘Glee The 3D Concert Movie.’

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor
jones@dallasvoice.com

You know that cliché that life’s not about the destination, but the journey? Well, that’s kinda true of Glee, too — specifically, the Journey song “Don’t Stop Believin’.”

That anthem, which was performed at the conclusion the pilot episode of the series about Midwestern high school students coming to terms with their loser-hood, set the stage for what has become a cultural touchstone: A series that celebrated outcasts in the same way Lady Gaga has. Little Monsters, Gleeks … they’re all nerds with iPods and a sense of humor. (New Directions even performs “Born this Way,” speaking to its timeliness.)

“Don’t Stop Believin’” also kicks off the new theatrical release Glee The 3D Concert Movie, and is played during the closing credits. Hey, when you have a formula that works, why introduce New Coke?

But this concert film is a strange hybrid — neither fully part of the series nor outside of it. The cast of Glee perform their hits songs, but all in character as their teen counterparts; in backstage interviews (and for the fans out front), they maintain the façade that 29-year-old actor Cory Monteith is really 17-year-old virginal jock Finn Hudson. That creates a convolution, if not a paradox: The Glee kids are lovable because they are nobodies, so why has all of New Jersey showed up to the Meadowlands to watch them perform an arena-rock concert with enough special effects to start a James Cameron film? When gay kid Kurt (Chris Colfer) looks at the camera to say, “Thank you for loving me” to his adoring fans, is he still Kurt?

Once you can get beyond this peculiarity, you begin to enjoy the film for what it is — that is, if you allow yourself to enjoy it. Watching the Glee movie is probably a lot like calling the DEA and reporting your ex as a Colombian drug mule: All In good fun, until someone finds out.

Yes, it’s a kind of coming out experience to admit you enjoyed a movie aimed at a teen audience (although middle-aged gay men are clearly the secondary target demo). The enthusiasm surrounding Glee isn’t appreciably different than that showered upon teenybopper acts like Justin Bieber or the Jonas Brothers: Rabid fan-fed joy fueling a giddy sense of teen empowerment.

But the greatest hoots from the audience aren’t for new songs (there aren’t any original compositions) or even on fresh covers — it’s for the songs that have already been on the show. All of which makes a Glee concert something unique: A nostalgia tour for a TV series about to start only its third season. It seems appropriate, in the Twitter era, that such instant gratification has made us wistful about things we saw on TV just last spring.

But Glee is more important that Bieber or the Jonases for one reason: Its message of inclusiveness, tolerance and understanding. The TV show portrays the most sensitive discussion of gay life, especially among teens, that has been seen just about anywhere, and the movie is no different: In addition to the live concert performances, the film tells three stories of true Gleeks, one being Trenton, a teen outed in eighth grade who sees the Kurt character as a role model. (The other profiles are equally sweet and profound, including a dwarf who becomes her school’s most popular deb and a girl with Asberger’s who overcomes her shyness by bonding with others over Glee.)

The movie has almost as many cutaways to the audience as shots of the performers. That’s because, more so than most TV shows, Glee reflects its audience as much as it directs them. You occasionally forget the concert film isn’t a sing-along and are tempted to join in (and maybe do, during the closing credits) because it has a infectious energy.

Glee’s appeal, for me, has often been difficult to pin down. It takes an ironic approach to its rangy topics — American culture, high school popularity, current music, teen politics — but goes so far with its irony that it doubles back on itself. That pushes it into the realm of actual entertainment — it’s meta-irony.

As filmmaking, it’s more than serviceable, with the 3D effect magnifying the crotches of sexy back-up dancers and charming even non-fans with its love for an Asian toddler who mimics, eerily well, the choreography of “rival” glee club the Warblers… before throwing a 3D Slushee in your face (a common punishment at the Glee high school). Nothing like making your audience feel like part of the outsider clique.

The Help hit theaters on Wednesday, and it will likely still be eclipsed at the box office by Glee, but don’t let it slip by: It is the best film of the summer. Some may dismiss is as overly sentimental hokum, but it is really an expertly crafted comedic tearjerker along the lines of Steel Magnolias, Fried Green Tomatoes and The Blind Side with bits of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil thrown it. But it is more touching than all of those put together, and for me the top Oscar frontrunner of the year to date.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 12, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

What’s gay about this year’s Emmy noms

The Emmy nominations came out this morning, and there are, as usual, lots of gays in the mix.

The most obvious is the continued domination of Modern Family in the comedy category. Last year’s winner for best comedy series was nominated again for that, as well as the entire adult cast (pictured) in supporting categories, including out actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson, who plays half of a gay couple with straight actor Eric Stonestreet. Also up for best comedy series at the very gay (or gay-friendly) Glee (from gay creator Ryan Murphy), The Office, The Big Bang Theory, Parks and Recreation and 30 Rock. The Modern Family men will be up against Chris Colfer, so touching as Kurt, on GleeBig Bang‘s out actor Jim Parsons competes with his castmate Johnny Galecki and prior winner Alec Baldwin of 30 Rock.

Last year’s winner for supporting actress in a comedy, out actress Jane Lynch from Glee, is nominated again, alongside Modern Family’s Sofia Vergara and Julie Bowen, Jane Krakowski (30 Rock), Betty White (Hot in Cleveland) and Kristen Wiig (SNL). Archie Panjabi, who won supporting actress in a drama last year for The Good Wife playing a bisexual lawyer, is also up again, going against Christina Hendricks from Mad Men.

There were big nominations for Emmy (and gay) favorites Mad Men and Dexter, and some real love for the Texas-filmed series Friday Night Lights, which finishes its series run tomorrow on NBC. The cult hit The Killing got several nominations, but best drama series was not among them.

Kathy Griffin’s My Life on the D List was nominated for reality series, with gay hits American Idol, Top Chef, Project Runway, So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing with the Stars are up for reality competition. Gay-ish comedy shows The Colbert Report and The Daily Show are frontrunners for variety/comedy series.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Criss goes from guest to heartthrob on ‘Glee’

Darren Criss

CLICK HERE TO READ OUR RECENT INTERVIEW WITH CRISS

ALICIA RANCILIO | Associated Press

NEW YORK — Darren Criss isn’t even officially a full-time cast member on Glee, yet he’s one of the most popular stars on the Fox TV show.

The actor made his debut last fall as Blaine Anderson, a gay student at Dalton Academy where Chris Colfer’s character, Kurt, transfers after being bullied out.

Criss performed a version of Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” that quickly became one of the show’s most popular performances to date. Viewers were smitten, and the 24-year-old was quickly written into most of the season’s episodes.

Now, fans can get an extra dose of Criss on the new album Glee: The Music Presents The Warblers.

The Associated Press: Your performances are so popular on Glee. What’s it like to be on an album?

Criss: They’re all incredible songs, so I really enjoyed them all. I worked superhard. If people are enjoying them I’m glad because it’s not something that I took lightly, so I’m really happy.

AP: What would you like to see on Glee that hasn’t happened yet?

Criss: I would really love it to start in the summer because I want to see what these kids are up to when they’re not in school. … I just want to see a little bit of summer jobs and it kind of opens up a whole lot of things. I always joke that everyone in Glee is like family-less. No one has parents, no one has brothers or sisters … like any time they have a concert or something, the parents never come, I guess. No one really cares. No one’s driving them home afterward. I don’t know how they’re gettin’ around. They’re like 15, 16 years old (laughs).

AP: When did you realize your first appearance on the show was a big deal?

Criss: I don’t watch a lot of TV. I’m really busy so I wasn’t really feeling it. I was living in my little … apartment. It was really dirty. Nothing really manifested itself in an immediate way. I still had laundry to do, bills to pay. … Any successes it may have garnered it didn’t hit me (laughs) at all so it was this very intangible thing. People were like, “It’s doing really well” and I was like, “OK, great.”

AP: Are you getting recognized a lot?

Criss: It depends where I go. … If it happens, I’m happy to address it, because I consider myself very fortunate. You know, at least I didn’t release a — that you know of — a sex tape, or I haven’t done anything illicitly terrible where you know, I’m sort of cowering in shame. It’s something that I’m really proud of and I should be so lucky and if someone wants to talk to me about it, “Hell yeah.”

AP: Do you have plans to release a solo album?

Criss: I was kind of at a crossroads right before I started Glee. I was literally about to throw in the towel with acting because music was proving itself sort of more mentally, spiritually and financially lucrative. I started a theatre company in Chicago, Team StarKid, and my EP “Human” started doing really well (it charted on Billboard) and that was gonna be my life. … Glee has both empowered and complicated that whole process. Whatever album I was about to put out got put aside for a little bit. … It’ll happen eventually.

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: Tom Leppert, Broadway Baptist Church, Chris Colfer at the Golden Globes

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert officially won’t seek re-election this year, and instead likely will run for Senate in 2012. No surprise there, but our biggest question remains unanswered: What does this mean for Leppert’s openly gay chief of staff, Chris Heinbaugh? Will he go to work on Leppert’s Senate campaign? Will he find another job at City Hall? Will he go back into broadcast journalism? As of last week, Heinbaugh officially wasn’t saying.

2. Southern Baptists simply can’t seem to get over the fact that Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Worth treats gay members like human beings. Broadway Baptist has already been kicked out of the Southern Baptist Convention and left the Baptist General Convention of Texas over the issue. Now, the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary is going after the church, albeit indirectly. The seminary wants the Tarrant Baptist Association to vacate an office building it has long occupied on the seminary’s campus, in part because Broadway Baptist is one of the TBA’s members. The seminary also wants the building for a welcome center, but apparently believes the anti-gay excuse sounds more Christ-like.

3. As Arnold Wayne Jones pointed out below, the Golden Globes were about as gay as could be last night. Above is video of Chris Colfer’s acceptance speech.

—  John Wright

Golden Globes for Jane Lynch and Chris Colfer

Glee’s two openly gay stars won Golden Globes tonight. Jane Lynch won for Best Actress in a TV series and Chris Colfer won his for Best Supporting Actor in a TV series tonight.

And, as you’ll see, Colfer gave a great speech:




AMERICAblog Gay

—  admin

Watch: Chris Colfer Wins Golden Globe, Speaks Out Against Bullying

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Chris Colfer won the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor in a TV series as gay teen Kurt Hummel, on Glee.

Said Colfer: "To all the amazing kids that watch our show, and the kids that our show celebrates that are constantly told 'no' by the people and the environments, by bullies at school that they can't be who they are or have what they want because of who they are, well (holds up award)…screw that kids!"

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP

Other LGBT-related Globes of note: Annette Bening wins Best Actress in Musical or Comedy for The Kids Are All Right, Jane Lynch wins Best Supporting Actress in a TV series for Glee, Glee for Best Musical or Comedy TV series, The Kids Are All Right for Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy…

Full list coming post-show.



Towleroad News #gay

—  admin

A very gay night at the Golden Globes

The Golden Globes were about as gay as an awards ceremony can get Sunday night, with plenty of queer winners across the TV and film categories.

The Kids Are All Right, lesbian director Lisa Cholodenko’s family portrait of two gay women, won best picture/comedy or musical and best actress/comedy for Annette Bening. The Cher-sung song “You Haven’t Heard the Last of Me” from Burlesque, won best song. Scott Rudin, the gay producer whom screenwriter Aaron Sorkin declared the greatest living producer of film, won best picture/drama for The Social Network.

But TV was where the gays really succeeded. Glee, from gay creator Ryan Murphy, won best TV comedy series, as well as best supporting performers for the of the openly gay cast members, Chris Colfer and Jane Lynch. Lynch thanked her wife and kids, and Colfer, visibly surprised, gave a shout-out to fighting anti-gay bullying. Best actor in a TV comedy went to gay actor Jim Parsons for The Big Bang Theory, who mentioned his husband Todd without referring to him as his life partner.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Chris Colfer Wins Golden Globe

And reads bullies in his acceptance speech.

Joe. My. God.

—  admin

Scissor Sisters Year In Review With Chris Colfer, Katy Perry, & Adam Lambert

Joe. My. God.

—  admin