By Drew Dillon
They’re gay. They’re nerds. They’re gay nerds. If nothing else, Gay Nerds is immaculately named – but there’s so much more than just an honest title at play in this series by JP Larocque. Ralphie (Robert Keller), Sam (Ryan Kerr) and Lana (Alexandra Wylie) are the main characters of these snatches of sitcom gold, and together they navigate social scenarios of gay geek culture – from returning an ex’s prized action figure collection to obsessing over supposed Buffy: The Vampire Slayer memorabilia. But beyond mere nods to geek culture is the form of the episodes – each one tailored to recreate the look and feel of a beloved geek movie or TV show. The combination of nerd culture, gay sass and the lampooning of fan-favorite films like Jurassic Park and 28 Days Later transcends the limitations of each of its components and becomes something amazing: a fun, funny and faithful show that uses the old to tell new stories.
Gay Nerds follows the tradition of several successful shows like Grey’s Anatomy, How I Met Your Mother, and Shaun of the Dead that use the premise of the story not merely as a metaphor for the lives of the characters, but as a springboard to attain heights in the narrative that would be otherwise unreachable. For example, in “Episode 103: Gayliens,” Lana has to save Sam from the notorious back room of a gay bar in homage to Ripley’s escape from the alien hive in Aliens. It’s a top-notch execution, with images that are just as visceral and disturbing as the source material, but, in the end Lana breaks the homage, showing the fault in treating other people like rapey facehuggers. This episode disassembles its own assumptions to achieve a greater degree of meaning beyond simple fan service, and is only one example of the artful use of self-aware parody that Larocque consistently brings to the screen.
Other high points include the excellence of the source material that is mined for inspiration – the latest episode tackles none other than the Lord of the Rings trilogy, one of geekdom’s holiest scriptures. This ain’t no Plan 9 From Outer Space! The other positive aspect that surprised me was the quality of the end product – the cinematography improves at a brisk pace through the unfortunately short two seasons, with professional-grade graphics, like the map of Sam’s infectious social life spreading across the U.S. in “Episode 202: 28 Gays Later.”