It's the podcast of Mike Pence's nightmares... and it's pretty darn good.
There are few things more likely to provoke a reaction than the words "Mike Pence Gay Young-Adult Podcast."
Picture the scene: Mike Pence writes a homophobic young adult novel about a "dystopian" future where everyone is gay. It remains undiscovered until a plucky group of sound engineers and actors find it and adapt it into a six-episode narrative audio-drama. This is Gay Future. Marrying tropes from Harry Potter, Divergent, and Maze Runner, with (to put it kindly) controversial opinions on the LGBTQ community, said podcast is now four episodes in and this one of a kind satire has to be heard to be believed.
As an imagining of how Pence might view the gay lifestyle, the show's premise sounds familiar, if gross. To quote the website: "The year is 2062 and everyone is gay. A totalitarian government rules over what's left of North America to spread its insidious gay agenda. Humanity's only hope for a rebellion rests on the shoulders of a precocious teenage boy who harbors a dark secret: He's straight." If your first reaction is "yikes," then that means that creators Connor Wright, Christina Friel, and Ben Lapidus have done just what they set out to do.
We have to start by stating the obvious. It's bold. Few people tell you the pitch for their web series and immediately have your attention. It's also timely, coming out two years into our real-life dystopian future, and it wittingly back-hands our less-than-popular Vice President by both infantilizing his imagination and implying all kinds of closeted goings on. On the power of that alone the series is a win because that's some twisted genius right there.
Further to that, the production value of this series is tight. Ben Lapidus' mixing, soundscaping, and original music are nothing short of pro-studio quality. Impressive given the shoe-string this was conceived on. The field is all set for a great game, but does the series deliver?
Short answer: yes. Listen to it. It's a good time. The gags are funny, the story is weirdly compelling, and the actors sell the crap out of it.
Longer answer: it's very good… but there are nits to pick. Mostly it's too well-written. As we follow our protagonist Mikey from his Gay Orphanage to Gay Academy, see him being sorted by John Travolta into the "Top" or "Bottom" houses, making friends with classmate Tristan and underground revolutionary Deb, discovering he has straight superpowers in the face of the malevolent Superintendent Slut… something starts to crystallize. This is far too clever and creative to have been come up with by someone as blind as Mike Pence.
Put bluntly, a man who financed straight-conversion camps would not have it in him to make an adroit Clay Aiken reference. The writers, due to the fact that they are good at their jobs, have given him too much credit. The layers of homosexual references are too nuanced, the story is too engaging, and the overall arc is elegant and well-metered. Wright and Friel are too proficient to write as badly as someone like Pence would. He would come up with a bloated, Mary Sue laden, Wiseau-esque catastrophe. This is not that.
Is that enough to make you want to turn it off? Heck no. If your only failure is over-succeeding, you've still succeeded.
Gay Future's premise is sufficient in that it allows you the view to laugh at a man who deserves to be ruthlessly mocked. Once you've acclimatized to that fact, you find yourself in a story replete with world-building that is Adult Swim worthy. Gay Future is replete with bizarrely intricate lore that manages to satirize homophobia, as well as some of the more ridiculous aspects of the gay scene. All the while you believe these ridiculous people as they transcend the jokes they are.
If you like a good laugh, are left-leaning, a member of the LGBTQ community or an ally, this take will be sufficiently dark enough for you to have a cathartic belly laugh or two. You won't believe that a Vice President can write. But you will believe that talented people with a purpose can make good fiction. Recommended. Can't wait for a Pottermore style online community to spring up around it.
Thomas Burns Scully is a Popdust contributor, and also an award-winning actor, playwright, and musician. In his spare time he writes and designs escape rooms. You can follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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