The New Normative: Queer Politics in “The Outs” (LA Review of Books)

theoutsCheck out what the LA Review of Books had to say about the web series The Outs, now in its second season on Vimeo,

I FIRST FOUND The Outs late one night a few years ago, amid a deep internet dive for queer web series. Netflix’s “Gay & Lesbian” offerings tend toward low-budget American softcore and tragically star-crossed foreign coming-out stories (and I’d already watched most of them anyway), so when I came upon The Outs, a beautifully shot, sharply written comedy set in Brooklyn about a pair of ex-boyfriends — Mitchell (creator, director, and co-writer Adam Goldman) and Jack (Hunter Canning) — and their friends — notably Oona (series co-writer Sasha Winters) — I watched all seven episodes of the first season in a giddy, insomniac vigil.

Given its setting and the demographic of its protagonists (twentysomething), it may be tempting to compare it to any number of shows — to call it, for instance, a male Sex and the City, a Brooklyn Looking, a gay Girls, a less gainfully employed Will & Grace — but its closest TV relative may be Broad City. Both series began as self-funded passion projects of their creators and stars, and both have since been vaulted to distribution deals, publicity, and production budgets. Both are driven by the writing, humor, and politics of their creators, and both take identity politics as a given; no less than being an empowered woman, being openly queer, whether in 2016, or 2012, or 1987, or 1969, is inherently political. Perhaps the greatest similarity, though, is both shows’ web-native scrappiness, which can see beyond the limitations of the medium. Neither is content merely to follow in the footsteps of its predecessors.

The relationships on The Outs are queer in a way that challenges the popular image of a same-sex relationship, both for romantic partners and friends. Whereas the boundaries of Will and Jack’s friendship on Will & Grace were defined by their mutual sexual repulsion — as though that might be the only reason for two gay men not to sleep together — the friendship between Mitchell and Jack is devoid of sexual tension because of their history and their mutual growth. They’re ex-boyfriends with emotional benefits.

Finally I have a name for my live-in relationship: ex-boyfriend with emotional benefits. Thanks John Sherman who wrote the article.
Read the full article.

Check out Reel Charlie’s reviews of The Outs: S1 and S2.



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