On first impression, I was worried about Fire Island, Logo’s new reality show about six homosexuals sharing a house in the iconic gay summer community off Long Island. I still prefer the comparatively gripping Bachelor-inspired Finding Prince Charming, with its competitive element and the gravity of its implied outcome. The circumstances on Fire Island are not all that unusual; for it to really sing, it needs a cast like that of, say, Jersey Shore—i.e., they need to be fucking nuts. Episode three represents a strong step in the right direction.
The gravest personality disorder clearly belongs to Cheyenne, though we knew that way back in episode one when he said, “Cheyenne Parker is a brand.” In this episode, he attempts to mend things with Justin, whose art show he skipped last episode because, you know, fuck that guy.
“I feel bad for missing Justin’s art show,” he tells us, without discernible contrition. “When you do some wrong the best way to a person’s heart is through food.” He sets out to make both dinner and amends, a process he kicks off beautifully:
Justin: You hurt my feelings.
Cheyenne: You’re sensitive.
Winston Churchill over here. Of course, Cheyenne’s clumsy approximations of empathy are nothing compared to the egregiousness of what happens next, when Patrick, still desperately in need of a haircut and a shave, shows up to dinner with three coworkers. “Being that I work out on the island, it’s important to me to bring that group to the rest of the boys in the house, because I just want things to mesh happily.”
Okay, Stache. You know one way not to mesh happily? Showing up to dinner with three of your coworkers. Seriously, what is wrong with people? Can no one do simple division? Not having enough food at dinner is terrible; on Fire Island it is fucking hell. It’s not like there’s a 7-Eleven down the block; you can’t just pick up some chicken wings when your housemate decides to starve everyone.
So having exploded the denominator at the dinner table, Patrick then heedlessly launches into a monologue explaining the evolution of his decision to enter the Miss Cherry drag competition, a long and personal story that includes a review of his mother’s past as a pageant queen and, for some reason, a recount of some hike he took along the Pacific Crest Trail. No one has yet been served any dinner. Stache, it’s a good thing you’re obviously Best Sex Ever because you’re really blowing it otherwise.
Meanwhile I adore this Brandon boy, the 21-year-old sexpot who hits it off with a former basketball player from Kansas and spends the rest of the episode offering coyly delivered commentary like, “He’s super tall, so I was interested to see what else was…tall”—I wonder what he could possibly mean. “Everything is very proportionate,” he tells Cheyenne. “He’s 6’8”…size 15 feet so… You could, you know…connect the dots.”
“I’m definitely disconnecting the dots,” Cheyenne dryly replies, the first time he’s ever been better than not existing. Brandon will later tell Jorge the Venezuelan that the guy’s shoe size is like, “48 European, or whatever country you’re from.” Perfect.
Of course, the writing’s on the wall for this fling with Kansas, which obviously interferes with Brandon’s plan to have sex with the rest of the island. The two of them have an ice-cream tete-a-tete that has to be one of the most uncomfortable slices of early courtship I’ve ever seen: first Brandon informs Kansas he’s told everyone at the house how “proportionate” he is—I really wish he’d tell us what he means by this! Then Brandon tells him, more or less, that he’d really like to continue to fuck everyone: “I’m surprised I’m here right now, actually, like, meeting you and there’s a connection…[It’s] a nice surprise… Everyone comes here with the intention of, let your hair down and get crazy…and then you walked in the door…”
He goes on to regretfully inform his date that he doesn’t know where the relationship will go after this, given the fact that this man is from…Kansas. But Kansas surprises us all by responding to this deeply unromantic formulation with the news that he’s moving to New York. “And you’re nice, and you’re cute…and it’s not just going to be a summer thing,” he informs Brandon, in whose callow eyes flashes the realization that with Kansas he may have bitten off more than he can chew. Brandon responds to this reckless declaration of intent with, “I’m not really looking for a relationship.”
Get up from that bench, Kansas. You can do it.
Of course Kansas stays on the bench, playfully teasing Brandon about his not being thrilled to commit to him. For years Kansas will torment himself, convinced he’s got to nail ‘em down on day two.
This episode also features tiresome footage of Khasan and Jorge, neither of whom I like because they are in long-distance relationships, and it’s rude to take one if you can’t even use him. The concerns of these characters are beyond the scope of the current recap.
The episode ends with Stache winning “crowd favorite” at the Miss Cherry contest, no thanks to Cheyenne, who skips the competition for a photoshoot in LA. “You should send him a text or something. …Like, hey, last minute thing popped up, hope you like, kill it,” Brandon advises him earlier, a failed effort to coax Cheyenne into a single modestly pro-social gesture. Overall it’s a happy ending, with everyone in the house basically realizing Cheyenne is a force of social destruction, and with Patrick having been forced by the demands of drag to finally shave his face.
I hope Brandon doesn’t destroy Kansas too horribly. Maybe he can pull this off, but remember: this is a kid who (we learn earlier in the episode) hosted an orgy in their bedroom the other night. And I’ll bet it was one of those orgies that starts as a civilized gathering, which means it didn’t even feel sordid. You’re competing with a goddamn sex party, Kansas.
Also, he’s on a reality TV show. On Fire Island.
And I hope Justin stops telling us and everyone else how unworthy the place makes him feel; if there’s one thing I can’t stand in dialogue, it’s subtext. My biggest hope for the season is that someone in that place gives that adorable little fuckbear the validation he deserves.
Much like a pretty boy on Fire Island, it’s hard not to fall for this show, perhaps against your better judgement. I’ve passed my share of weekends in the Fire Island Pines, always in a state of near-constant sexual agitation—hell, that place probably accounts for a good fifty percent of my most shame-filled memories. You couldn’t ask for a better setting for a reality TV show. So at the end of the day, I am terribly grateful to these people—even to Cheyenne—for allowing me to watch them in this place. I feel better every week.