Cracking Up Over Queer Comedy
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because in its ideal state, laughter is totally involuntary.
By Joshua Eferighe
There’s a good chance that once upon a time you weren’t a TV person. That, at one point in time, you belonged to that very particular demographic who always find themselves too busy with more constructive things to do than posting up in front of the latest program. And, honestly, up until March of this year, I would have believed you.
Ever since COVID-19, adopting a show to watch has become … a thing. With over 3.7 million global cases and more than a third of the planet sidelined at home, nothing is the same. Professionals are learning to work from home, students are learning to operate educational software, and all sources of entertainment are virtual. So, it’s no longer a question of whether you’re a TV person or not; it’s a matter of what you’re tuning into and turning on.
So welcome to queer comedy television.
“Growing up I realized that if all of us stand together, we can enforce the diversity that America represents.”
Show Writer Rukshan Thenuwara
Between Pose, Euphoria and Steven Universe showing a same-sex kiss to their audiences of kids and adults for Cartoon Network and others, it’s pretty clear your laughs are not predicated on your sexual orientation. But where do you begin? Well, here are three to start with.
Vida (2018-2020): Vida is a half-hour dramedy that debuted on Starz in 2018 about how a Mexican American family living in a Latinx East LA neighborhood deals with gentrification. The show centers around two Mexican American sisters, Lyn (Melissa Barrera) and Emma (Mishel Prada), who are not only dealing with culture shock but also trying to preserve their family-owned establishment.
Vida has queer representation from top to bottom, starting with its solo woman of color showrunner, Saracho, to the variety of women and queer characters of color on the show. Not to mention, Emma’s love interest with Nico (Roberta Colindrez) was building up to be one of the best subplots of the final season and has been groundbreaking for the Latin community. Although it’s coming to an end in its third season this year, it never hurts to go back and binge.
Vida is available on Hulu, Amazon Prime Video and Starz.
Bonding (2019 – Present): When it comes to queer comedies that should be on your radar, it’s impossible not to mention the 2019 Netflix comedy Bonding. It’s a light watch, with one season that includes seven 15-minute episodes, but its storyline will have you glued to the screen.
Bonding follows Pete (played by Brendan Scannell), a recently gay man, who visits his high school BFF, Tiff (Zoe Levin), in New York looking for work. The good news is that she has a gig, the kicker, however, is that it’s as her assistant — she’s dominatrix “Mistress May” at an S&M club.
The series is loosely based on the experience of creator Rightor Doyle (who starred in Nerve in 2016 and True Story in 2015), when he was a young man in New York. Bonding opens the door to BDSM culture and though not overtly sexual, explores Tiff’s clients’ kinks, like “piss play,” tickling and other intro-to-BDSM interests.
Bonding is streaming on Netflix now.
Tiny Laughs (2019 – Present): One of the newest queer comedies that you should be on the lookout for is the web series Tiny Laughs. The show follows a queer Latina architect, Valentina Rojas (Briza Covarrubias), trying to break the glass ceiling and an Asian comic, Jeff Chen (James Haley), who’s just come out … as unemployed.
Newly acquired by queer-owned-and-operated Revry TV, Tiny Laughs carries the torch for queer comedy in television by offering diversity from the creator and producer on down to the cast and crew. Through the trials of Jeff and Valentina, the series sheds light not only on the American immigrant story but on the queer American immigrant story as well.
“Growing up I realized that if all of us stand together, we can enforce the diversity that America represents. That’s what this series is about,” says show writer Rukshan Thenuwara.
As for director Laura Rivas, it allows her to tell people you can pursue anything you want, professionally and personally. “Highlighting her [Valentina’s] sexuality was important because I feel like today more than ever for Latinos to be open about their sexuality,” she says. You can catch season one of Tiny Laughs here.
So now that you’re culturally equipped, do you feel like a bona fide TV buff being able to brag about all the queer comedies you’re up on? Quick answer: You should!
Correction: The original version of this article misspelled the character Jeff Chen’s name.