Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Logo TV Serves BANANA

Sex, money and family.  How does today's young gay man deal with those?  Last month, I posted a review of CUCUMBER.  Now comes BANANA.  This is the Cucumber also created by the cheerful and chatty TV whiz, Russell T. Davies.  The BBC's Doctor Who and Queer as Folk are also in his credits.  Younger supporting characters you meet in Cucumber take focus in Banana and Henry, main middle-aged character from Cucumber is a supporting character to the younger gay men in this premiere episode.  You follow?  You will.  And you'll like it.  Actor Fisayo Akinade  makes the Banana premiere so tasty to watch.  With his handsome square face, full lips, soulful eyes and true onscreen charisma coupled with acting talent, he should become quite popular here in the States.  When we meet Dean in Cucumber, he's wearing a male chastity belt and Henry, the insurance executive co-worker, is curious about it.  He takes a peek.
Cucumber, in my opinion, stands on its own.  However, Banana adds more flavor to it.  It's a clever interweaving of characters.  A 21st Century Queer as Folk, if you will.  Another thing about these two shows that I greatly appreciate is how Russell T. Davies shows us more realistic gay men that you see, for instance, on American TV.  If you look at Sex in the City, the short-lived NBC sitcom The New Normal starring Andrew Rannells, Will & Grace and, to a degree, Modern Family, you'd think that all gay men are financially upscale.  Financially upscale and white.  On reality shows, you'd think that all gay men are slim, handsome, flamboyant and young. American TV is overloaded with gay men who design dresses, do fashion makeovers, redecorate homes and cook.  I lived in the Midwest for ten years.  Gay men I knew in Milwaukee and Chicago were auto mechanics, city bus drivers, supermarket managers, postal employees, factory workers, TV cameramen, news reporters and one was a Coast Guard.  I like how Russell T. Davies keeps a working class sensibility in the show.  His diversity is wonderful.  In Cucumber and Banana, we see middle-aged gay men as buddies to young gay men, we see a disabled gay man, we see see the financially secure older employed gay man and the financially-strapped young employed gay man. The women are quite interesting too.

Like Queer as Folk, I'd be surprised if American versions of Cucumber and Banana went into production.  Dean has shown his "cock lock" to several co-workers at the office.  It's been a topic of water cooler discussion.  It's also drawn compliments from the ladies on its contents ("That's a nice knob, Dean.")  After a GrindR hook-up that should've had a "sad trombone" sound effect --- wah, wah, waaaah -- we discover that Dean needs to come up with about £400 quid.  I think that's about $600 in American money.  We learn this from Dean's snooty twink roommate.  He's the slim, blonde and serious Freddie, the guy who'll shag just about anything.  If the table has legs, he'd turn it over and have a go.  His mattress gets quite a workout.  Freddie -- smartly played by Freddie Fox -- sexually frustrates the middle-aged Henry.  Vincent Franklin is very good as Henry.
Freddie fancies himself as bit of a know-it-all who can't be fooled.  Is that so?  Dean seems to be somewhat of an Artful Dodger.  Was Dean really tossed out of a low-income home by homophobic parents?  Is that why he can't ask them for money?  What is this energetic young man's real family story and how will his life blend into Henry's life?                                                                                                    

The premiere episode of Banana on Logo TV is not as complicated nor as strong as the Cucumber premiere but the brisk performance by Fisayo Akinade carries it.  And it's sexy.

Go into my posts for March and read my "Logo TV Serves Cucumber" review.  As I wrote, creator Russell T. Davies also gave us Doctor Who and Queer as Folk.  
Mr. Davies was absolutely delightful, witty and wise on a recent National Public Radio show.  He was interviewed by Terry Gross, host of Fresh Air.  If you have time, give it a listen.  Log onto the website, look in the Programs section up top, and then find Fresh Air.  The lively chat with Russell T. Davies aired Wednesday, April 1st.  Go here:  npr.org.

The hour-long Cucumber episode premieres April 13th at 10p on Logo TV followed by the half-hour premiere episode of Banana.  And, yes, there's a reason why they're named after produce.  The racy opening segment of Cucumber explains it all.

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