‘The Outs’ Creator Adam Goldman Talks Queer Storytelling on the Internet

Here’s a good article from Esquire about Adam Goldman and the second season of The Outs. I haven’t written too much about The Outs, even though it is the series that originally got me hooked into the world of web series in 2012.

I found season one deeply satisfying. I found season two perhaps even more satisfying. The characters felt deeper in many ways and, perhaps naively, I was not expecting Jack and Paul (Hunter Canning and Tommy Heleringer) to be the emotional center, the real beating heart, of the series, even though these two were always my favorite characters.

It’s elegantly written, wryly funny, deathly serious and intelligent. Goldman’s intelligence shines through in every scene. It’s worth a watch on Vimeo for that alone. (But Canning and Heleringer are just lovely!)

Source: ‘The Outs’ Creator Adam Goldman Talks Queer Storytelling on the Internet

In and ‘Outs’

Now, you know I’m biased when it comes to my gay web series’, so this feels a bit like I’m cheating, but…. The first episode of the second season of The Outs is out today and, I’m happy to report, it’s just as good as the previous season.

Adam Goldman and his  tribe of lovelies — Hunter Canning, Tommy Heleringer, Sasha Winters — are back; and delightful guest stars, such as Alan Cumming and Phillip Taratula will be popping up in later episodes. We get Welcome to Night Vale’s Cecil Baldwin in this episode.

It was quite delightful to check back in on these characters this morning and it’s great to see that Goldman is still working in top form. No one writes a perfectly formed gay, barbed epigram quite like Goldman.

Episodes of the second season of The Outs will be released weekly, beginning today, on Vimeo on Demand. The trailer’s above. Highly recommended.

PS — The first time I wrote about this show was back in 2012. Can it be that long ago? Oy.

Looking: Pay TV Goes Where The Web’s Been Before

HBO’s much ballyhooed Looking premiered last night and a lot of gay folks were hanging an awful lot of expectation on this half-hour. Trying to be everything to everybody would be a surefire way to set yourself up for disaster, so I wasn’t looking — as it were — for that. I didn’t have any expectations; I just wanted it to be good.

And it was, but I can’t help but feel a bit like Brad Bell, the co-creator/writer/star of Husbands, the hilarious marriage equality sitcom, who tweeted this:

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I’m going to come back to that in a second, but I also noticed that Rob Owen’s review in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette called Looking the “latest descendant of Queer as Folk.” Well, I don’t buy that at all. It’s closer to a modern day Tales of the City.

Of course, the San Francisco parallels are obvious and Armistead Maupin’s classic stories are classic for a reason and they are more layered because there are simply more layers on the canvas, but Looking’s Dom (Murray Bartlett), the mustachioed waiter nearing 40 who is always on the pull, is a gay clone of Tales‘ Brian Hawkins, not QAF’s Stuart Allen Jones (or Brian Kinney, in the American version). And that’s not taking anything away from Bartlett — he’s lovely — but it bothered me throughout the episode.

I also have to admit being bothered by the opening scenes featuring Jonathan Groff’s Patrick going for a quick handjob in the park because that is exactly what would have happened in Tales of the City in the 70s and 80s; except that it wouldn’t have been interrupted by a cellphone call. If director Andrew Haigh (I am such an enormous fan of his work) and writer Michael Lannan were trying to be ironic, it didn’t read. It came off as another depiction of gay men being completely and utterly driven by sex alone. And, quite frankly, in 2014, we desperately need to get beyond that because, well, straight people.

Then again, see above re: being all things to all people. (And for the record, back in the day when I could have possibly pulled a trick I was too bloody terrified to contemplate it and now that I’m too old and married, I’m awfully too old and married!)

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Frankie J. Alvarez, Murray Bartlett and Jonathan Groff in HBO’s Looking, which follows the lives of three gay men in San Francisco. |Image: HBO

Look, Jonathan Groff is a wonderful, subtle, earnest performer and he’s so enjoyable to watch. Bartlett and Frankie J. Alvarez are equally competent hands on the tiller and you are interested in what will happen to them all enough to tune back in for the next episode. Also, it was nice to see people like Ann Magnuson,  Matt Wilkas (from the delicious indie comedy Gayby) and Tanner Cohen (Were the World Mine, the Shakespeare-inspired gay fantasy) who sports one of the most hilarious tattoos I’ve ever seen on screen.

Back to the Web
But, like Bell intimates, haven’t we seen some of this before? Is Patrick going through the same “slutty phase” as Jack in The Outs? Or are his attempts to find someone who is “not boring” akin to Thom in EastSiders? I have sense that we’ve been down this road already.

What set EastSiders and The Outs apart were the disintegration of a relationship (EastSiders) and the rebuilding of a different kind of relationship after a breakup (The Outs) and while Looking is not the same, it struck me as being a network version of a mashup of these two independent series. Maybe it’s just me, but I didn’t feel that Looking lived up to its hype. Not that it’s not good — because it is — but that there was too much lead in.

Then again, we’re so damn starved for entertainment in the gay community; so desperate that someone will turn that mirror back on us, that when there is something out there in the mainstream that may validate us, we want it to be as good as it possibly can be. And we’re always disappointed when it doesn’t meet all of our expectations.

It is unfair for me to compare The Outs and EastSiders to Looking, because they are each different animals, but I would urge you to look at their world views, too, if you haven’t already. The Outs is available here and EastSiders is available as individual episodes and cut as a full-length feature at logotv.com.

As for Looking, I’ll be looking in on it again next week because, since I just told a bunch of folks to give a recast on Days of our Lives a chance to settle into the role, it would be disingenuous of me not to allow this show to do the same.

P.S. — Don’t take my word for it. HBO has just released the first episode on YouTube for non-subscribers to see.

Victims of the Hollywood Paradox

Seth’s Blog: Victims of the Hollywood Paradox.

The studios spend ever more on the blockbusters they make because that demonstrates their power and pays everyone in the chain more money, which creates more (apparent) power for those in charge.

But since they pay so much, they have no choice, they think, but to say, “This must work!” So they polish off the edges, follow the widely-known secret formula and create banality. No glory, it seems, with guts.

Every meeting is about avoiding coming anywhere near the sentence, “this might not work,” and instead giving ammunition to the groupthink belief that this must work.

And as soon as you do that, you’ve guaranteed it won’t.

Every bestseller is a surprise bestseller, and in fact, nobody knows anything.

(And of course, it’s not just movies, is it?)

Ah, Seth Godin, you sayer of sooth. Scratch around on this blog and search for references to “EastSiders” and “Husbands” and “The Outs” and “Whatever This Is” which are all independent productions, done for miraculously little money by writers and filmmakers who are truly committed to telling great stories and presenting them in innovative ways. None of the banality of “Hollywood,” I can assure you.

Actor Hunter Canning Talks ‘The Outs,’ ‘Whatever This Is’

Actor Hunter Canning talks to MBS about acclaimed web-series The Outs and new series Whatever This Is.

Tommy Heleringer as Scruffy and Hunter Canning as Jack, two of the stars of the web series The Outs.

Tommy Heleringer and co-star Hunter Canning on the set of The Outs.

Nice interview. Of the web series’ I love, ‘The Outs’ is right at the very top. Adam Goldman’s Rascal Department is filming their latest creation (also starring Canning) right now. I didn’t discover ‘The Outs’ in time to contribute, but I did to ‘Whatever This Is.’ I am enjoying immensely watching these talented young people work.

Interview: Filmmaker Adam Goldman on “Whatever This Is,” “The Outs,” and Crowd-Funding

Interview: Filmmaker Adam Goldman on “Whatever This Is,” “The Outs,” and Making Crowd-Funded Series | Tribeca.

AG: And that allowed us to finish up the show. But with Whatever This Is, you know I talk about this a lot. We don’t purport to take any responsibility for this but if you look for the release schedule for The Outs, it turns pretty clearly with the way that people have evolved the way that they watch television online. And when we started The Outs the first episode is 12 minutes and people said “fuck you, nobody is going to want to watch something that is 12 minutes long online.” And I had to sort of say you know I bet they will if it’s good. And then by our last episode they sort of grew and grew and the last one is 43 minutes and by the time out last episode was out, House of Cards was out and Netflix has been so huge in that arena.

This is a great interview with Adam Goldman and, if you’re interested in this sort of thing, it’s well worth the read.

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(l-r) Hunter Canning, Sasha Winters and Adam Goldman star in the exceptional Web series, The Outs. Winters and Canning are back in front of the camera in the latest Goldman-penned series, Whatever This Is. Photo: Interview/Unusually Fine Photography

What he says above is not sui generis, people absolutely will watch something long online AS LONG AS IT’S GOOD. This nonsense about not watching anything longer than a 2 or 3 minute YouTube video online is lunacy. It flies in the face of all conventional wisdom we know about motion pictures and television viewing. Now, with online viewing patterns changing, we know that not only will someone watch an hour of House of Cards on their laptop, they’ll watch a whole damn season in one sitting!

Anyhow, Goldman and his Rascal Department are possessed of significant talent. I am so looking forward to the next episode(s) of Whatever This Is and am ecstatic that I was able to contribute to this project and help it get off the ground.

“Whatever this is.” — New Web Series from the Creators of “The Outs”

Can’t believe I haven’t talked about this yet, but the latest Web series from The Outs’ Adam Goldman and company has met its rather significant Kickstarter goal. I’m excited about this for several reasons. First, I was one of the Kickstarter contributors and I nudged a couple of other people to contribute as well. Second, The Outs was probably my very favorite Web series of the last several years, even though I was a significant supporter of several others.

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The WTI ensemble consists of several familiar faces for viewers of The Outs, including Tommy Heleringer (second from left), Hunter Canning (second from right) and Sasha Winters (kneeling). Image: Whatever this is. Facebook.

Goldman and company have already proven that theirs is a unique voice and one that has connected with the audience. The gelling of a true ensemble is making their Rascal Department an independent force to be reckoned with. I can’t wait to see what happens next!

Here’s a link to the first episode.