With the increasing availability of
broadband and improvements in video streaming technology, webisodic
television is ready for its close up. And gay characters are
flourishing in the new entertainment frontier.
Julie Ann Emery is the woman behind
Got HELP!, a web series about a couples therapy group that
includes a gay couple.
“The Internet now means that you can
create something and get it out there into the world,” Emery said
in a recent interview. “That's liberating as an artist.”
Emery and her executive producer
husband Kevin Earley have one season of the show in the cloud, eight
webisodes, and are planning for a second season.
HELP! follows four couples as
they hash out their relationships without the help of a professional
therapist. While Emery abides by a limited budget – the entire
show is shot in her New York apartment – the show includes
professional actors, including six Broadway veterans, one with a Tony
Gay couple Dan (played by Nicholas
Rodriguez, One Life to Live) and Eric (Blake Hammond, Billy
Elliot) are three years into a relationship that began on the
dance floor of a club. Their coupling appears solid, but Eric
persists in believing that younger Dan will ultimately walk away.
The men ruffle some feathers in the
group. Thom (Tony nominated Alan Campbell) says in an aside: “I
heard that gay guys like to go to couples counseling 'cause it makes
them feel like a normal couple. I'm not being prejudiced. My buddy
Brad told me.”
But not including a gay couple was
never an option, says Emery.
“Why would I not? I think it's
partly generational and partly geographical. But if you are in your
30s and live in a city like New York, chances are you are friends
with at least one gay couple.”
Another web series quickly gaining
attention is obsessed with gay culture.
The Loop is the reality series that follows the lives of
three young gay men as they attempt to conquer Houston's gay social
scene. It is the gay version of cable network Bravo's The Real
Housewives series, only snarkier.
Ryan James Yezak is behind the project,
playing both director and editor.
I wanted “to create a reality show
that accurately depicted the lives of these young gay men,
stereotypical or not,” Yezak said. “We realized that there
hadn't been a gay reality show and so we wanted to make one. And it
didn't hurt that the chemistry between the guys is so natural and
entertaining to watch.”
The show stars George Morales, Albert
Hunt and Alex Kovacs, also known as The Loop Girls. The trio divide
their time between throwing parties, going to parties and cat
You can get a sense of where the show
is going from watching its pilot. In that webisode, George says, “I
wouldn't consider myself a socialite. I would say I'm extremely
popular and everybody likes me,” as he stands in front of a closet
full of shirts organized by color. And Alex admits, “I was
actually forewarned by someone that I met to never, ever speak to
George Morales. Ever. I was warned not to go to his parties on
Fridays because everyone has HIV and everyone does drugs. So, of
course, I really wanted to go and find out what this is all about.”
“We're not sure if gay America is
ready for our non-traditional gay role models, but ready or not, here
we come,” Yezak said.
Producers of both shows say the new web
series medium, which got its own awards show last year, the
Streamys, allows them the creative freedom they've long desired.
With the Internet “we didn't have to
wait to sell the pilot, cross our fingers that it gets green lit,
hope it gets picked up and then pray for a good time slot,” Emery
The Internet is “artistic freedom,”
On the Net: Then We Got HELP! is
and YouTube. In
The Loop is available on YouTube.