The Popcorn Periodical
Self-deprecating “Eastsiders” normalizes gay love and life on a road trip across America in Season 3
I had never seen Eastsiders when theBUZZ asked me to review the brand-new third season (new on Netflix in January 2018). The premise seemed overdone and typical if I’m being honest, but Eastsiders is said to be an unapologetically homosexual television series known not to shy away from stereotypes while smashing them at the same time.
The show’s first two seasons were praised for writing and breakthrough acting, and received two Emmy nominations in 2016. Yet again, the plot takes unexpected leaps, centering homo and heterosexual love and life, propelling the normalcy of both forward, and proving they are more alike than they are different. Love is love is love.
Season three begins with Douglas aka Gomorrah Ray (Willam Belli, RuPaul’s Drag Race) and Quincy (Stephen Guarino, Happy Endings), quarrelling on the side of the road in the Californian desert over a broken down car that inadvertently parallels their lives – together and separate. Heading to a drag gig at a gay bar on a Tuesday night is not what Gomorrah – or Amber Alert, as she calls herself now – thought her life would be at 30 (she’s 36). Quincy, who’s 50 according to Douglas (he’s 41), is his manager. Douglas comes to the realization that perhaps he doesn’t want his working relationship with Quincy to intervene with their romantic relationship anymore. “Life is just a bunch of gigs and then you die,” Douglas reminds himself. But wherever there are lows in life, there are surely highs…
In the first ten minutes of Episode 1, we find out Douglas was actually lured into thinking he booked a gig when in reality, the entire trip was an elaborate plan executed by Quincy to surprise Douglas on their anniversary! An even bigger surprise is in store at the end of the first episode, and it pulls at your heartstrings and lures you in for more. Douglas and Quincy are as vibrant as ever, but Willam’s portrayal of Douglas is limited to the first episode. Willam put his stiletto in his mouth last year with some outrageous comments about the trans community but has since apologized. Some fans have forgiven him and moved on while others have boycotted him completely. One thing that nobody can deny is that his efforts in Eastsiders are among his most raw and respected of his entire career. His car may be broken down in the intro, but don’t put it passed a queen in the desert to syphon a tube or two if you know what I mean. Anything it takes to keep it moving!
One of the most interesting things about the Eastsiders is that you never know which characters will be featured in the next episode. The show unravels like a gratuitous and comedic version of This Is Us, where multiple characters share emotional – and in this case, sexual – aspects of their souls. Their truths are in the limelight, you just never know which character, emotion, and/or sexual gratification will be taking centre stage.
Eastsiders is an LGBTQ+ themed romantic/dark comedy, and it breathes fresh “California Dreamin'” air into an unusual small-screen narrative of modern queer sex and love in America. Sad and funny, this series manages to talk about open relationships, threesomes, anxiety, monogamy, polygamy, love triangles, safe sex, cheating, “The Velvet Rage,” casual sex, mental health, HIV/AIDS, and even uses an informative lesson on PrEP as comedic relief in a particularly heavy scene. All this and more packed into six, half-hour episodes.
Kit Williamson is the creator, director, writer, and star of all three seasons of Eastsiders, as well as 2014’s Eastsiders: The Movie. His character, Cal, is dashingly awkward, refreshingly honest, and at times, his own worst enemy. His boyfriend, Thom (Van Hansis, As The World Turns), is (not surprisingly) very similar, but each character is driven by their passion for one other. In Season 3, the adorable couple hit several roadblocks, both on their road trip across the country and in their complicatedly sexual relationship. Cal being a photographer and Thom being a writer, their creativity isn’t the only thing they manufacture differently. Now they’re struggling to get their life back in order after moving to New York City with nothing but an idea of who they wanted to be. “New York is the world’s greatest lie,” Thom says, as they leave NYC behind and head for Silver Lake in Los Angeles, California.
The pace of the show is leisurely hyperactive, and the dialogue always adheres to the character’s emotions, traits, and often times, insecurities. We see the return of Cal’s best friend, the always hilarious Kathy (Constance Wu, Fresh off the Boat), as well as some steamy cameos from XXX film stars, Colby Keller as “The Drifter” and Traci Lords as Cal’s fabulously rich MILF. Cal’s sister Hillary (Brianna Brown, Devious Maids, Dynasty), and her boyfriend Ian (John Halbach) find themselves in an uncomfortable chapter in their relationship, too, and the self-deprecation in Silver Lake continues!
Eastsiders serves a Garden State-starring-Natalie Portman vibe; indie but buzzworthy. With probable influences from shows like Queer As Folk and Happy Endings, the main characters are a gaggle of good-looking friends, each with different eccentricities, navigating their love lives in an urban concrete jungle in North America. Season 3 of Eastsiders flips the script, literally embarking on a cross-country road trip from New York to LA; “The Great American Road Trip” doubles as a metaphor for the tough decisions we have to make in life. The picturesque, serene and detoxifying landscapes signifying the calm and natural beauty of life’s chaos.
Overall, Eastsiders Season 3 is about accepting your flaws and the flaws of the people you love. As Cal says to Thom, “There is more beauty in truth. Even if it is sinful. Even if its dreadful.” Episodes 1 through 6 talks about making your own waves in life because while taking the road less travelled is not for everybody, to the people who do make a splash, there isn’t anything anyone could ever say or do that would stop them from wildly loving who and how they want along the way.
“We’re a mess, but I am so happy to be falling apart with you.”
About the Author
Joey Viola is the Co-Founder of MoJo Toronto and an LGBTQ community leader who utilizes his passion and flair for the art of writing by bringing a fresh perspective in reviewing entertainment and advocating for equality, tolerance, and social/political justice.