2007 Verve Awards

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Best Arts and Culture Blog Nominee

Monday, July 02, 2007

 

When Rick Met Steve

With next week's premiere of the animated series Rick and Steve: The Happiest Gay Couple in the World, the cable network LOGO has found its first truly revolutionary, anti-establishment, in-your-face production. It's probably too facile to call it "the gay South Park," but the homage and influence is obvious; the shock topics, ironic comedic style, and pop referents all mimic the original program's vibe. What is different, of course, is that this time it's gay characters themselves who are critiquing and celebrating their own stereotypes, down to the lesbian mullets and male promiscuity. Sure, the sly glosses on race and AIDS may temporarily shock, but the strong characters, deft writing and high production values (yay, LOGO!) will keep viewers coming back.

In the fictional burg of West Lahunga Beach (get it?), Rick (Will Matthews) and Steve (Peter Paige) are going through a rough patch in their relationship. Rick is the brainy Filipino-American nerd; Steve is the hunky All-American top. They're looking to spice up their sex life with a threeway, an activity that is complicated by their lesbian friends Kirsten (Emily Brooke Hands) and Dana (Taylor M. Dooley), who want to take a ride on the baby-making express with Rick's, um, "axel grease." Rick and Steve's inability to work out their romantic life is further complicated by the seemingly uncomplicated existence of 19-year-old twinkie Evan (Wilson Cruz) and his sugar daddy Preston (Mitch Morris), a wheelchair-bound HIV-positive horny bastard.

In the first two episodes, the gay men search for a threesome with a porn star, while the lesbians impersonate men on the internet and babysit a gender-unknown toddler. There are plenty of tastelessly crude and easy jokes, and sometimes the show's fixation on sex wears thin. But Rick and Steve is still finding its voice, struggling to find the line between controversy and comedy...and being at its best when it does both. Show creator (and ModFab buddy) Q. Allan Brocka (Boy Culture) has put together a handsomely designed visual experience, with a style best described as stop-action-meets-Lego. Bottom line? Despite some fitful early pitfalls, Rick and Steve is easily the most accomplished original program in LOGO's history. It's the first show that lives up to the channel's promise, and the first to genuinely push the envelope of television. That deserves celebration in itself.

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