A conversation was due to take place about The Real Friends of WeHo, a new reality series from MTV, presented as an “unfiltered and candid look at a select group of friends who live in the West Hollywood community, love and pursue their passions “, is announced.
The show, which premiered on Jan. 20, drew immediate backlash just seconds after the trailer was posted online. Admittedly, I am guilty of helping to continue the stack because from the preview alone it looked like a show created by people with no real ties to the LGBTQ community. The trailer continues the myopic portrayal we’re used to in mainstream media: white, privileged and/or elitist – with splashes of color. Worse, it appeared that “representation” was once again invoked as a means to attract viewers, even though such a marketing strategy is flawed for viewers regardless of their sexuality.
That’s partly why I’m attacking the comments of choreographer, artist, and “Real Friends of WeHo” co-star Todrick Hall.
“I want the queer community to talk about why we praise women when they’re in a similar position.” said hall about the bad feedback. “I hope our show will break that mold and spark a conversation about why there is negativity in our own community.”
Hall didn’t stop there. In a lengthy Instagram post, he addressed the “mad influx of hatred.”
“When our LGBTQ+ show was announced, one would have thought there would be opposition from the church or conservatives, who would resent three hours of queer programming,” Hall wrote. “But if you looked closely, you’d see the call came from the house.
Hall is right about some of those caustic reactions.
A review, “The Real Friends of WeHo’ Is a Colossal Gay Nightmare,” by Daily Beast editor Coleman Spilde, bluntly describes the show as “choppy and unfocused, blithely assuming its audience has an innate interest in its whiny.” circle of friends who were cobbled together at the last second.” Spilde also criticized the show for being “consisted entirely of narcissists who threaten to crash the show from the first episode and are overly self-centered to create even one second of riveting gay drama”.
Other reviews, such as “The Real Friends of Weho’ Review: A Show We Don’t Need About People We Don’t Need to See More Of” by Lawrence Yee of The Wrap and Brett White of The Decider – calling the series ” a reality show trainwreck who will live in disgrace” — are more technically friendly but ultimately no less forgiving when it comes to the show’s destruction.
I can understand how painful reviews must feel on top of a barrage of online criticism, but the show doesn’t exactly invite the kind of warm and fuzzy feedback that Hall is entitled to.
The show stars Hall, stylist Brad Goreski, actor Curtis Hamilton, CEO of Buttah Skincare Dorión Renaud, influencer Joey Zauzig and host Jaymes Vaughan — a group of men whose only thing in common is that they all share the burden of the entertainment industry, which isn’t particularly is imaginative about the stories queer men can tell in their castings.
It’s hard not to laugh at Goreski’s proclamation in the first few moments: “We’re breaking new ground here.”
Goreski has been on television for 15 years now, starting as Rachel Zoe’s assistant on The Rachel Zoe Project before starring in his own spin-off It’s a Brad Brad World and other shows like Fashion Police. and “Canada’s Drag Race” – which makes it all the more impressive that he made that comment with a serious expression.
Still, I enjoy Goreski and live his life now — he still styles celebrity clients and is married to television writer-producer Gary Janetti — but I wish this was its own vehicle like Netflix’s.Hollywood styling‘, a show I wish was still in production. It would make better use of Goreski’s TV talents.
I feel the same way about Hamilton and his struggle as a newly outed gay black man vying for starring roles in Hollywood. Not a new problem, but definitely one worth exploring – especially for a black guy.
I was surprised to see Issa Rae on the show, but because she worked with Hamilton on her show Insecure, it made sense and is a testament to her belief in him.
But even she asked him on the air why he was doing the show.
That’s a question Renaud asks himself out loud, especially when he’s admittedly not hanging out in West Hollywood or “the scene.”
It can be exhausting being a black gay man moving around in mostly white spaces, which is why so few of us enter them. It’s also why most queer-focused reality shows are largely racially segregated. See Logo’s The A List, the YouTube series Chasing Atlanta, or Zeus’ Bad Boys: Los Angeles.
That’s not to say some of us don’t mix, but the issue with “Real Friends of WeHo” is where you realize the cast members aren’t actually a group of friends like we’re supposed to believe. Most don’t know each other.
So what we get in the first episode is six people going in six different directions and eventually coming together at an event where they don’t argue about anything with people they just met.
This theme spills over into Episode 2, where insults fly about whether a jacket is Saint Laurent or Zara.
The show allegedly was designed to help create a great night by leveraging the existing popularity of RuPaul’s Drag Race to launch new series like The Real Friends of WeHo.
“I think representation is important right now with all the anti-LGBTQ+ laws and the protests,” Goreski said in an interview with GLAAD’s Anthony Allen Ramos. “I think it’s important to go out and tell stories.”
Representation is important, but not a draw, as the ratings for the premiere show. Poor word of mouth probably won’t help them find an audience. After all, many people every day scroll through members of the Alphabet gang attacking each other for some bullshit on social media.
I’m not sure what’s going to help this show thrive because arguably it shouldn’t exist – even if individually I think most of the cast are stars capable of making compelling television.
At one point in the pilot, you can literally tell that Renaud confirmed in real time that he is indeed better than this show. Admittedly, he struggled with social anxiety brought on by the pandemic and faced Zauzig for not telling him he was socially anxious and not interacting much with people at his party. Renaud responds by telling him he is under no obligation to share anything and can leave.
He knew he was better than the position he was put in.
To his credit, he is – and so are the majority of his castmates. Renaud has since given an interview with LoveBScott.com and explained that the show that premiered was not the one originally sold to him and presumably his castmates.
That’s a problem for them and the audience – who all deserve better.