Out With Dad is another exploration of the life of lesbian teens, in this instance Rose (Kate Conway) and her best friend / love interest, Vanessa (Lindsey Middleton). It would be easy to dismiss the show as redundant considering the territory already explored in the excellent Anyone But Me. But unlike Vivian and Aster from Anyone But Me – whose characters we met well after they had been comfortable with their sexuality – we meet Rose and Vanessa at a critical point in their journey. One where every word is carefully weighed and every gesture could lead to exposure, both to the world around them and to each other. While Vivian’s coming out to her Aunt Jodie was a minor but necessary plot point that was dealt with quickly allowing her to slip comfortably into a new high school as out with her sexuality of scarcely more importance than her choice of footwear, Rose’s slow realization of her sexuality has left her as fragile as a crystal ball on a soccer field while Vanessa’s refusal to even consider her feelings for her best friend has left her dangerous to herself and those around her. Both Conway and Middleton play their parts very well, only occasionally hitting false notes or slipping into melodrama.
Kate’s widower father, Nate, is played with bulging biceps, a big belly, and huge heart by Will Conlon and those attributes are perfect for the character’s strength, imperfection, and kindness. On the other end of the parental spectrum is Wendy Glazier in the role of Vanessa’s mother, a woman so burdened by her belief in what is right and was is wrong that her every word is spat out of a grimace.
Light relief is provided by Kenny, Vanessa’s best friend, played by the charming Corey Lof. Should a good remake of Pretty In Pink be conceived in short order, he’d be the perfect Ducky.
Despite occasional clumsy moments, Out With Dad is a well written series, and an important series in these times when the increased number of celebrities and athletes coming out can make it easy to forget how hard the process can be when you don’t have the means to support total freedom of expression. There are moments that ring so true and that are so delightful – check out Conway as she has the talk with Kenny in the season one finale – and then moments that are so painful – if you can get through the two PFLAG episodes without needing a tissue you may not have a heart and don’t even think about friending me – just like it works in real life. Out With Dad is also important because it captures those very difficult – and often vague – moments when the words to describe what is happening are not within reach; something that no amount of media celebration can ever capture. As important as speaking the words “I’m gay” aloud is, it’s the words that one struggles to capture, the words one says to oneself, the words no one else hears, that define a LGBT person more than any letter in an acronym can, and that’s the part of the journey that Out With Dad allows the viewers to see, and hopefully helps those who are lonely feel less alone.
Watch Jason Leaver‘s Out With Dad on YouTube, on the show’s website, which also has great cast and crew bios and behind the scenes videos! Also -check out our interview with Jason Leaver at Bilbao Webfest.
By Larry Watts