I Want My GayTV — Web and Broadcast Series Line Beginning to Blur

(Jan. 7, 2014) — Tonight, the cable channel Logo will air a movie-length compilation of the series EastSiders. [Check your local listings, but it looks like 11:30 p.m. in the East.]

Kit Williamson and Van Hansis star as Cal and Thom in the web series "Eastsiders."  Watch at www.eastsiderstv.com

Kit Williamson and Van Hansis star as Cal and Thom in “EastSiders,” which is seeing its cable premiere tonight.

So, what’s the significance of this — other than the fact that I’m a fan? Well, I think it’s because the series is at the vanguard of blurring the line between Web-based entertainment — the quality of which is seen often (and wrongly) as “less than” — and traditional broadcast/cablecast TV. Logo seems to be tentatively dipping its toes into the Web world to see what they can mine for their network. (The show was released originally on Logo’s website, after the first episodes premiered on YouTube.)

Down the TV Rabbit Hole
I’m actually not among the ones who think that a television deal is the end-all-be-all of the entertainment world. In fact, I tend to think that networks are looking to the Web for content because they are running scared — scared of the death of cable monopolies, scared of the death of cable bundling, scared of the increasingly small numbers of corporate parents, which tends to have a negative effect on diversity and innovation.

I mean, let’s get real, it’s great that Logo is out there, but it’s owned by one of the most powerful entities in the entertainment world: Viacom. And it does not exist because of any altruism; it’s because Viacom saw a niche where they thought they could make some money. Not making any money? BAM! You’re the next Discovery Health Channel.

It’d be great if the creators of EastSiders could tap into a bit of that corporate money to make a second series (or more), but not at the price that corporate tentacles usually bring with them.

Still, watch, if you’ve never seen it. It’s a terrific example of a program made independent of studio money or interference that’s simply just better than most anything you’ll find on a major network. It’s one of the first, of what I hope are many, programs to showcase different voices and points-of-view.

It’s Awards Season
It is. I know this because the New York Times on Sunday helpfully included and entire special section in the newspaper. One of the awards not helpfully included were the Third Annual Groovy Awards for Web Series Excellence.

There were a few outliers, but generally EastSiders and It Could Be Worse took home the most, er, …. well, I don’t know what groovy thing you get — statuettes? trophies? certificates? Starbucks gift cards?

Anyhow, here’s a rundown:

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Van Hansis, Kit Williamson and John Halbach of EastSiders.

Grooviest Drama Series: EastSiders
Grooviest Actor in a Drama: Van Hansis, EastSiders
Grooviest Supporting Actor in a Drama: John Halbach, EastSiders
Grooviest Supporting Actress in a Drama: Constance Wu, EastSiders
Grooviest Guest Star in a Drama: Sean Maher, EastSiders

It Could Be Worse received the following in groovy achievement:

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Wes Taylor, star and co-creator of It Could Be Worse.

Grooviest Comedy Series
Grooviest Gay Series
Grooviest Actor in a Comedy: Wesley Taylor
Grooviest Supporting Actor in a Comedy: Adam Chanler-Berat
Grooviest Supporting Actress in a Comedy: Alison Fraser
Grooviest Guest Actor in a Comedy: Audra McDonald

It Could Be Worse is the brainchild of Wesley Taylor and Mitchell Jarvis and fast-established itself as a member of that rarified position occupied by EastSiders, The Outs, Whatever This Is, and Husbands known as “Belongs on TV if TV Had the Balls to Produce It.” A second season is currently in production.

Meanwhile, I have to say, it’s an egregious slight not to include EastSiders creator and star Kit Williamson on the “groovy” list. He’s just as groovy as Van — and I’m not even being paid to say so!!

Langford on Soaps: Best Gay TV Characters

Langford on Soaps: Has “My Husband’s Lover” Jumped the Shark? – thebacklot.com, Page 6.

Scroll down the linked page about halfway to get to Anthony’s top ten list. Sometimes when I read his opinions of soaps, it’s like we’re watching two entirely different shows. A wide divergence of opinion — it’s what civilized discourse is all about, Congress. This time out, however, it’s something else entirely.

Eric Sheffer Stevens (l) joined As The World Turns in its last year on the air as Dr. Reid Oliver. His pairing with Van Hansis' Luke divided audiences between those who wanted to see the electric pairing of Stevens and Hansis and those wanting a happy ending for Luke and his former love, Noah, played by Jake Silbermann. Reid Oliver's death was central to the plot of the show's finale, though it did not satisfy many viewers.

Eric Sheffer Stevens (l) joined As The World Turns in its last year on the air as Dr. Reid Oliver. His pairing with Van Hansis’ Luke divided audiences between those who wanted to see the electric pairing of Stevens and Hansis and those wanting a happy ending for Luke and his former love, Noah, played by Jake Silbermann. Reid Oliver’s death was central to the plot of the show’s finale, though it did not satisfy many viewers.

I like his list. I think I would have replaced #s 10, 9, and 5, but other than that, I think he’s onto something.

Like Anthony, I think Reid Oliver and Brendan Brady were, in many ways, some of the most important gay representations we’ve had on television. And, I, too, have a soft spot for John Paul McQueen, Aaron Livesy and Luke Snyder!

The 50 Greatest Gay TV Characters

The 50 Greatest Gay TV Characters.

Courtesy of The Backlot. I did participate in this poll and I’m pleased to see that a few of my recommendations made it in.

I’m particularly pleased about the page linked above, featuring #s 9, 8 and 7 — the delicious fantasy soap opera trio of Sonny Kiriakis, Will Horton and Luke Snyder! Just think about it for a minute!

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Freddie Smith as Sonny Kiriakis

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Van Hansis as Luke Snyder

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Chandler Massey as Will Horton

I also appreciated the inclusion of Justin Bartha’s David Sawyer (The New Normal) at #35, the exceptional Luke McFarlane as the equally exceptional Scotty Wandell (Brothers and Sisters) and two of my favorites from across the pond: #23 Kieron Richardson’s Ste Hay and #12 Emmett J. Scanlan’s Brendan Brady from the UK sudser Hollyoaks.

With few exceptions — #s 1 and 2 while deserving of inclusion, don’t deserve the top spots — I think this is a great list. At least there’s SOME representation out there. We can always use more, but at least it’s not the desert it was in the olden days!

You’re Out? You’re Off the Air: Networks Swinging the Big Gay Axe

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NBC’s “The New Normal,” a gaycentric series the network chose not to renew.

Although most people associate the month of May with the Kentucky Derby, Memorial Day weekend traffic or beautiful spring bouquets for Mom, television has only one thing on its mind: Out with the old and in with the new. Manhattan is awash with TV folks in town for the upfronts, the annual ritual in which the networks present their fall schedules to advertisers in hopes of wooing big bucks. It is too early to tell which network will be the big winner, but this year there is a clear loser: gay characters.

via Derek Hartley: May-day! TV’s Big Gay Bloodbath. Huffington Post

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Will Horton (Chandler Massey) and Sonny Kiriakis (Freddie Smith) on “Days of our Lives,” one of the few gay couples on American television.

Sadly, Hartley tells it for the truth, but I’m not sure he actually goes far enough in his hue and cry against the broadcast networks.

Last year there was a lot of positive buzz about the numbers of gay characters on the networks. The sum total of gay characters was about 6% of all characters — lame — but it was the highest percentage ever. After wiping us off the map for all intents and purposes in primetime, in daytime it’s not much better. There seems only to be  Sonny and Will’s  front burner storyline on “Days of our Lives,” amongst the sordid lives being lived on the few remaining televised soaps. Other than that, gay characters on traditional American television are few and far between. (Eden Reigel’s Bianca stands alone — as a proud but lonely lesbian in the gay landscape of Pine Valley on the Web reboot of “All My Children.” It will be nice if that changes.)

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Van Hansis, Kit Williamson and John Halbach star in the superlative Web series “EastSiders,” created by Williamson and now available on logotv.com.

Moving away from traditional TV to find entertainment, I would encourage you to check out these great Web series: EastSiders, The Outs, Husbands, and others. If you go to Logo to check out EastSiders (highly recommended), explore some of their other Web only offerings, such as Hunting Season.