A queer cartoon pokes fun at the LGBT community.
In the opening scene of Rick & Steve: The Happiest Gay Couple in All the World, titular Rick is calling out frantically for Pussy (his cat). It’s an easy joke, and the first of many politically incorrect ones in Q. Allan Brocka’s new half-hour comedy. Based on short films that appeared on Canada’s Pridevision in the ’90s, Logo’s Rick & Steve plays like a post–Will & Grace slice of queer satire done in stop-motion animation (but unlike NBC, Logo isn’t desexing its gay male characters to appease advertisers).
Rick and Steve are so normal their lives are almost blasé. They are a thirtysomething biracial (Rick is Pacific Islander, Steve is white) couple living in a palm tree–lined suburbia. Their best gay friends include middle-aged, HIV-positive Chuck and his twink boyfriend, Evan, and gal-pal Kirsten and her life partner, Dana, an archetypal angry lesbian. Rick and Steve are typical bourgeois DINKS, and we can already imagine them referring to themselves as Richard and Steven in ten years.
In the first episode, domestic bliss is interrupted when Dana and Kirsten announce at a dinner party that they want to have a baby using Rick’s sperm. This causes a ruckus and becomes a catalyst for all sorts of issues, gay and otherwise, to rise to the surface. Kirsten is clearly baby crazy, Rick is indecisive about the prospect of fatherhood, Dana is skeptical of the male couple’s involvement in the process and Steve feels inadequate for not being picked as the donor.
“Why don’t they want my sperm?” he wonders. “I’m handsome and strong and straight acting, and there aren’t enough tops in the world.” He thinks he and Rick should experiment sexually. But Rick is hesitant.
“I don’t know about three ways,” Rick says. “I always feel like I’m going to be the one voted off the island.”
Do such gay domestic trifles sound familiar? They should, and if they don’t, you may not find this the least bit funny. The satire in Rick and Steve is meant to mirror just how far we’ve come post-Stonewall, from gay liberation to gay marriage.
In 22 minutes, it lampoons Internet sex, porn stars, the religious right, leather daddies, anonymous rest-stop hookups and lesbian handiness with aplomb. And like South Park, much of the humor is derived from the seemingly innocent use of animation.
Yet, viewers may ask whether Rick & Steve is necessary. In this era of assimilation, do we need another show that portrays the mundane life of a gay couple for straight people? It doesn’t matter. We don’t need 95 percent of what’s on television anyway. What matters is whether or not Rick & Steve will entertain us each week. So far it’s doing its job. The show is funny and the creators aren’t afraid to poke fun at our most culturally sensitive parts.
“Why do fags and dykes insist on getting along?” man-hating dyke Dana asks. “It’s like using a dental dam. It’s a good idea, but nobody does it.”
For his part, wheelchair-bound, HIV-positive Chuck isn’t afraid to throw barbs at his underage boyfriend. “You married me when it was cool to have a boyfriend with AIDS!” he screams.
But unlike milquetoast network fare, Rick & Steve isn’t attempting to mollify straight viewers. Airing on Logo means it is unlikely to reach a mainstream audience. Whereas Will & Grace brought the lives of LGBT people into states that were both rural and red (and was abandoned by many queer viewers after they realized it had become their parents’ favorite show), Rick & Steve is written for gay people.
Then again, perhaps it aims to show that we’re basically all the same. In one scene, Steve rifles through the kitchen cupboards. “We’re out of creatine and ginseng,” he says. “How am I supposed to go to the gym?” I can imagine jocks everywhere having a chuckle. Perhaps the mirror the show is holding up is wider than we think.
Rick and Steve airs Thursdays at 9pm on Logo.