So, here’s the thing, I’m not sure what Fire Island could’ve done to be any better. That’s not to say it’s prestige television, but it’s certainly not the train wreck people (myself included) worried it might be.
Logo has gotten savvy to the complaints that typically plague LGBTQ-focused shows. They’ve got a cast that’s not all white. (Look, I’m not the one who set the bar so low.) They’ve got a mix of 20- and 30-year-old castmates (and make space for older voices in tonight’s second episode). They even included a bear-ier dude in the group. Not only that, but most of these guys are articulate, charming and overall intelligent.
Of course, it’s not possible to please everyone, and no cast is going to be able to reflect the diversity of the entire LGBTQ community. However, fresh out the gate, Fire Island sidestepped the kinds of pitfalls that have internet commenters like myself licking their chops when a series like this drops.
The series’ strength, though, is also its weakness. I don’t watch garbage shows like Vanderpump Rules and Southern Charm because the cast members are respectable representatives of their communities (those communities being cocaine monsters with failed modeling careers and slightly richer, Southern cocaine monsters, respectively).
Logo’s last big swing at reality TV, Finding Prince Charming, struggled to wring drama from its rather bland contestant pool as well, but the competitive nature of the show and the low-budget cheese made it a show I loved to hate each week and I will for sure be tuning in for season two. Hey, it’s not like The Bachelor/Bachelorette is about to enter it’s 486th season fueled solely by viewers that truly believe in love at first group date, or whatever.
The central conflict of Fire Island’s early episodes stems from the housemates’ diverging definitions of a good time. One camp wants to make family dinners and throw family barbecues and, I don’t know, read Family Circus over avocado toast with their boyfriends, while the others want to wave their Andrew Christian bulges in the face of every passerby. They’re a house divided.
It’s a microcosm of a larger conversation about “mainstreaming” and the overt-sexuality of the gay community that’s constantly playing out in queer spaces, at Pride events and in the comments of blogs like this. Whether or not anyone involved is intentionally drawing that parallel, it’s interesting to see unfold, even in this fairly frivolous context.
But who are these guys anyway? Let’s dive into the details in our recap below. Tonight’s premiere was a two-parter, so it’s long one. Settle in, and keep your d*cks in your trunks, PLEASE.
The first guy we meet is Khasan, a dancer/choreographer and the central axis of the crew. He is also so painfully good-looking that watching him actually hurts my eyes. He’s got a boyfriend in New York, but they’ve been doing the long-distance thing while Khasan’s been in LA working with up and comers like P!nk, Jennifer Lopez and Katy Perry. He’s also the only man I’ve seen rock a wide-brimmed hat and not look like he’s been pawing through the HAIM sisters’ luggage or trying to join a coven.
Next we meet Khasan’s bestie, Jorge, who looks both ruggedly handsome and completely insane. He’s got this wide-eyed manic energy that makes him seem like a total lunatic. His relationship with Khasan doesn’t help make him seem any tamer. They met when Khasan was touring with Jennifer Lopez in Venezuela, and Jorge rolled up to his hotel with five Escalades and kept him out until 9 a.m. which all sounds like something that would happen in that awful Emma Roberts/Dave Franco movie, Nerve.
Jorge left his boyfriend, his family and his career AS A DOCTOR in Venezuela to move to NYC, and it seems like he’s redirected ALL of that energy back onto Khasan. (Who could blame him?) It makes me worried that this will all end with Jorge and Khasan’s boyfriend in a deadly brawl, a la Beyoncé and Ali Larter in Obsessed. They both swear up and down there’s nothing sexual to their relationship, but Jorge seems like he’s very, very close to boiling bunnies.
(Jorge also says they’re “Cinderella Slipper Sisters” which feels like something you call your buddy when you realize you’ve been banging the same foot fetishist.)
As crazy as Jorge seems, it’s Brandon that calls himself the “crazy little one,” whatever that means. He’s a 21-year-old adorable student, a little babygay who’s as passionate about taking pictures of naked men as I am at looking at them, apparently. He seems fine enough, and he’s one of like 1,000 Brandons we’ll meet this summer.
Then there’s Cheyenne, a professional hot person. Like, that’s his job, being hot on the Internet. What a time to be alive! He’s also for sure the most insufferable of all the castmates, because, as a hot person, he’s used to getting his way all the time, and also because he’s constantly making obvious, naughty little jokes and then laughing at himself in his confessionals like a complete tool. He talks about being 29 as if it makes him some kind of ancient avatar of wisdom. If we get to vote anyone off the island, he’s my choice, for sure.
Our token “bear” is Justin, and he will not stop reminding us about it. It’s great to see a gay man who doesn’t fit the typical body standard on TV, even if that gay man still for sure hits the gym and has a much better body than someone who, let’s say, lives mostly on disco fries and spends his time on the couch recapping television shows on the internet, just for example. But, hey, good for him!
It’s time to make the trek to Fire Island, so Justin calls Cheyenne to check on his ETA. Cheyenne tells Justin he’s in an Uber, but, duh, he’s trying on skimpy swimsuits instead (ugh, Cheyenne!).
I’m not sure how many of you have taken the journey to Fire Island yourselves, but it requires trains, buses, ships, magic elevators, pneumatic tubes and a ride on Falkor. All the boys arrive (ugh, even Cheyenne) and scope out the house.
Compared to the Finding Prince Charming house, this one is far less tacky, almost disappointingly so. Whereas the FPC mansion looked like it was furnished by an interior decorator that moonlighted as a designer of professional wrestler trunks in the early ‘90s, this has more bright, natural light, neutral fabrics and a soothing aromatherapy mix of hair product and poppers.
There’s still one more cast member to arrive. His name is Patrick, and, boy, are people going to have strong feelings about him. He’s here, he’s queer and he’s trying to make “skrop tops” happen. On paper, he’s not everyone’s cup of vodka/Red Bull. However, I’ve found myself on his side more than the other boys whenever they’ve clashed. I’d rather have a blast sharing a Fire Island house with Patrick and a bunch of dudes dangling their dingalings than, ugh, Cheyenne. But more on that soon.
First, it’s “tea” time, so the boys hit the bars, except for Justin and Patrick, who stay behind to cook a “family dinner.” Justin cooks up fried chicken cutlets, as if these guys eat anything beside kale, protein powder and Molly. They all agree to be home by 8 p.m. (or as Patrick tries to brand it, “gay 7”), but, of course, Lil’ Brandon and, ugh, Cheyenne are late. This hurts Justin’s fee-fees. Relax, man, this is vacation. If I needed a sturdy Italian to cook me dinner, I’d visit my mother and save the trip on the ferry.
The real highlight of the weekend is the Pines Party, a massive party on the beach that we see almost none of, probably because of all the drugs and nudity and difficulty getting the rights to a bunch of house remixes. The theme was allegedly Xanadu, which the guys interpreted thusly:
Oh no she betta Xanadon’t.
The next morning is rough for everyone, but Jorge has his heart set on a “family” barbecue. Patrick invites over a boy he’s I guess to just basically having sex with also named, sigh, Brandon. This Brandon has actual angel wings tattooed on his back, which I think more or less is all the description you need.
Justin had already embarrassed Patrick earlier when he greeted Winged Brandon like a Jewish mother cooing over what a cute couple they make. The insinuation that they would ever be monogamous clearly makes both Patrick and Winged Brandon uncomfortable. When Winged Brandon shows up to cook at the BBQ, Jorge ambushes him and makes a big fuss.
Things get a touch more interesting when Winged Brandon forgets that he’s mic’d. (As an aside, the mics are my favorite thing about this show. Since no one wears shirts, they all wear these weird microphone necklaces that remind me of the collars in Battle Royale, which would be one hell of a twist on this show.) Off camera (but on mic), Winged Brandon confesses that he’s flying out to see a boy in Texas on the guy’s dime, even though he tells Patrick he’s visiting family. Yikes.
That’s not Winged Brandon’s only party foul. One of his friends at some point starts to get naked, which, as I understand it, is pretty well-sanctioned on Fire Island. This does not fly with Jorge and his idea of a “family” barbecue. He flies off the handle, and it’s funny how quickly he goes from describing this as “our barbecue” to “my barbecue.”
All the blame falls on Patrick, but the guys finish their weekend with a “family” meeting and a toast to, ugh, “#communication.” Sure, it was Khasan who proposed the hashtag toast, but still somehow I want to blame Cheyenne?
Episode two kicks off, and it’s take your boyfriend to work weekend. Justin takes his bf Austin, and Khasan has his man Jason tagging along, much to the dismay of Jorge.
When they all arrive at the house, poor, sweet Jason is immediately greeted by Jorge literally throwing himself at Khasan. All the guys are going to an underwear party tonight, but Khasan and Jason are staying home, also much to the dismay of Jorge.
Underwear parties might not be fun for everyone, but they are definitely not fun for, ugh, Cheyenne. Apparently, he just got a boyfriend within the last week, and now the idea of being at a party wearing potentially more fabric than he wears at the beach (or on his Instagram) is too much for him to bear. So, like any other exceptionally hot person used to getting their way, he pouts the whole night while the rest of guys wriggle and writhe around a party that I think was somehow themed “gay Tron.”
The next morning, most of the guys take a ride on a yacht with a lovely older gay couple that tells them what it was like coming out to the Island in the ‘80s. Logo shows typically throw these ham-handed teachable moments into their shows, but this was a welcome intergenerational exchange that was neither too preachy nor felt too out of place.
The boys planned a nice, easy night at home that evening, but Patrick never, ever does anything nice and easy. He always does it nice and rough. He is a proud Mary, after all.
When night falls, Patrick parades in a whole crew of friends, and those friends bring friends, and then those friends … so on and so forth until the whole house is packed with random Brandons from all over the island. Ugh, Cheyenne has his cranky jockstrap on, so he stomps around picking up trash passive-aggressively. He was already complaining about Patrick earlier in the weekend to Lil’ Brandon, and now Patrick’s seemingly outdone himself in terms of his open-door policy.
Patrick tries to confront, ugh, Cheyenne about his judgey-wudgey ways, but C’s not having it. Patrick tries to appeal to Cheyenne by suggesting that the beauty of life on the island is that you could find yourself hanging out with investment bankers, but Cheyenne interrupts to counter that they could also be crack dealers, and, honestly, both options sound terrible. In the throes of the drama, Cheyenne storms out and off the island.
The next day is Justin’s big art show at a cute little gallery. His illustrations are actually pretty good. They’re campy, pop-culture portraits, and the older gallery owner is thrilled to give Justin a chance. It’s a good thing Justin’s boyfriend is there, since Cheyenne was supposed to help Justin set up.
All the other guys show up at the show, but while they’re out, Cheyenne returns with his boyfriend in tow. He apparently left the island, called his bf and then went and fetched him. Because Cheyenne always gets his way.
The guys sit around and attempt to explain how Cheyenne was being sort of a jerk, but he doubles down on himself, tossing off one of the most insincere apologies I’ve ever seen, and I’ve watched A LOT of Real Housewives.
There’s nothing a cranky narcissist loves more than being confronted, so Patrick thinks this is a great time to also corner Cheyenne about their conflict while he’s packing. Somehow their argument turns them both against Brandon for stirring up drama in the first place, but before anything gets resolved, Cheyenne basically tells them that, in so many words, he’s not there to make friends. He and his fresh, new boyfriend pack up and head out, leaving their issues to linger until next week’s episode.
I can’t say what types of characters we’ve still yet to meet on this season of Fire Island, but I can take a pretty good guess what their names will be:
What did you think of the first two episodes of Fire Island?
The post Beaches, Briefs and So Many Brandons On the Premiere of ‘Fire Island’ – RECAP appeared first on Towleroad.
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