THE CLOSET DOOR BURST OPEN FOR GAY NETWORK'S 1ST SITCOM
by Eric Hegedus March 28, 2014
CAMPY CREW: From left, series creator Terry Ray, TJ Hoban, Austin Robert miller, Juliet Mills, Michael Lanham and Suzanne Whang of the Here TV sitcom "From Here on OUT."
Television viewers can have more of a gay old time starting Friday.
Here TV — a premium channel that targets a gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) audience — will debut its first original sitcom, “From Here on OUT,” a farcical look at the behind-the-scenes workings of the network.
“To me, it’s like a gay ‘30 Rock’ with sort of a ‘Tootsie’ twist,” says the show’s creator and writer, LA-based filmmaker Terry Ray, who is one of the show’s stars.
The series — equal parts campy, cheesy and sexy — spoofs how a fictional gay network (not unlike Here TV) would create a show about a hunky gay spy named Guy Dubai (played by T.J. Hoban). It offers lots of slapstick comedy, corporate culture riffs, bare male chests and even full-frontal nudity. The cast also includes 72-year-old film and TV actress Juliet Mills — star of the 1970s ABC sitcom “Nanny and the Professor” — who plays a saucy studio receptionist who happens to be the nanny of the teenage executive who runs the faux network.
In a post-“Will & Grace” era, it’s no surprise to see gay characters on mainstream TV. In 2013, GLAAD — an LGBT media advocacy organization — counted 46 LGBT regular and recurring characters on broadcast networks, and another 42 characters on cable.
Yet this is the first sitcom made by 11-year-old Here TV. Even Ray is surprised that neither Here TV nor the other American network that targets a gay audience — Viacom-owned Logo, started in 2005 — has previously created an original sitcom.
(In 2008, Logo did air a 12-episode comedy, “Sordid Lives,” but that was a spinoff of a movie of the same name.)
“I never quite got it. When I found out there were going to be gay networks, I was thrilled,” says Ray. “I thought, ‘I want to do a gay sitcom — this is my world!’ ”
Ray says Here TV executives “just weren’t ready,” and instead focused on movies and flesh-baring original drama series, including supernatural soap operas “Dante’s Cove” and “The Lair.”
Now, Ray says, the network has broken new ground with the show. “I give them credit for that evolution. Here TV was the first to do that, especially since they let me spoof their world,” he says. “I think that’s super brave.”
He’s also thrilled to have cast Mills, whose husband, actor Maxwell Caulfield, is a friend of the sitcom’s director, Sam Irvin. “I pinch myself — I am so delighted she’s in the show. You know, if you’re going to have a go-to nanny, you think of Juliet Mills,” Ray says, laughing.
Ray notes that the “No. 1 priority” for the show — available on Time Warner Cable, Comcast and via Here TV’s YouTube premium channel — is gay male viewers and admits that it won’t necessarily be for everyone.
“It’s going to scare off certain people for sure — it’s scaring off my aunt,” he jokes. “But those are people that are really probably not comfortable with the gay thing anyway.”
Ray says the series may satirize gays, but it could reach more people than just that demographic. “I think the characters are sort of classic sitcom characters,” he says. “It’s definitely made for a gay audience — I don’t want to negate that at all — but I personally hope it will appeal to people who are just open to that topic and will have fun.”