Your friend sets you up on a blind date. So you head over to your local, non-profit, organic, trans-friendly laundromat and pick up a black shirt for the occasion. You meet the mystery man at a unpretentiously chic New York bar only to find out: he’s a Republican! What do you say?
“I hope you enjoy rolling around piles of money soaked in the blood of your fellow queers,” naturally.
That funny scene is just one gem in It Gets Betterish, a new dark comedy series from Upright Citizens Brigade performers Brent Sullivan and Eliot Glazer. Sullivan is a stand-up comedian who has performed on Comedy Central’s Live at Gotham and toured his one-man show, “Fag Life: A Conversation with Fred Phelps,” with the UCB Tour Company. Glazer is an editor at New York‘s Vulture (my favorite blog) and has written for Urlesque, BuzzFeed, among other publications.
The series satirizes both the enlightened progressivism of gay men and their straight allies, along with our increasingly mainstream gay politics and culture. It Gets Betterish is one of the smarter gay web series out right now.
The nine-episode series will be released in the coming weeks. “You can look forward to an episode about a twinky club kid, getting an AIDS test, and a heterosexual drag queen,” said the duo, who are both gay.
The title of show is its best pitch. In the first episode, Brent and Eliot try desperately to convince their friends and family that, despite their homosexuality, they do not like Lady Gaga. The megastar has fought hard to take away the gay queen crown from the likes of Cher and Madonna, and we should be grateful, the thinking goes. This is the Lady Gaga who just announced a high-profile anti-bullying initiative, inspired in part by Dan Savage’s It Gets Better Project, which transformed the darkest moments of homophobia into a broad, positive campaign of self-fulfillment (see the Google ad below). Thirty years ago gays were far on the margins; Savage was a lefty queer. But now we are the minority du jour, on the front lines of the erstwhile culture wars with a broad base of support. Like wealthy Republicans. How do you be gay when seemingly everyone’s on your side?
The series is only the most recent web show to tackle the question of what it means to be gay today. From Louie-esque New York indies Two Jasperjohns, Jack in a Box and duder, to broad comedies like Husbands and Disappointing Gay Best Friend, some web series creators are trying to fill in the blanks left by the hits Modern Family and Glee. (The reality shows, well, that’s another story).
Below, I talk to Sullivan and Glazer about the state of gay culture, what inspires them and whether or not they really dislike the Lady.
TELEVISUAL: How did this series come together?
We wanted to show the other side of the gay community, the side that is, as we put it, two weirdos drowning in a sea of fabulousness. There are a ton of gay guys who aren’t the slightest bit fierce. I think it’s important to remember that you don’t have to be a porn star or wear body glitter to feel accepted within the community.
TV: What TV series, films or other cultural products inspired you?
You know, the usual: Modern Marvels, The Dog Whisperer, anything with Bob Vila. We love Louie on FX, because it presents fatherhood in a completely different light than any other show on television. That’s how we wanted to present our lives as gay dudes, with irreverence and humor.
TV: How would you describe your humor?
The best? The tone of IGB could be described as a little dark and honest.
TV: What are your thoughts on the state of the gay community today? Are we better or worse off than we were five, ten or twenty years ago?
There’s no question we’re better off. Gay rights is probably the fastest moving ‘rights movement’ in history. Full marriage equality and protections in the workplace are inevitable. But even if we accomplish full equality, we risk being pigeon-holed unless we start depicting ourselves in a more realistic, less cliched light.
TV: Do you really hate Gaga and love Enya?
Lady Gaga is honestly just fine. Eliot likes her more than I do. But “Poker Face” is on my iPod. So is “Orinoco Flow” by Enya. And “I Just Can’t Wait to be King” from the Lion King Soundtrack. And a song from a LensCrafters commercial that I downloaded from Napster in 2002. So, there, I don’t hate her, but she didn’t change my life. With that said, her activism is undeniably awesome.