The tla releasing August 1, 2017 S1-S2 DVD set of the streaming-service dekko series "He's with Me" provides an entertaining context for exploring the aspects of a friendship between a gay man and a straight dude. Breeder boy Ted and literally drama queen Martin are not so much an odd couple as they are an unlikely friendship.
The Indie Series Awards wins and nominations for "He" reflect the quality of the acting and the writing in this tale about modern yuppie life in New York City, The larger theme is the inverse relationship between approaching 40 and the ease with which you can make friends. The lessons regarding both is that there is a direct relationship between being a beggar and not having the luxury of being a chooser.
The following YouTube clip of an S1 promo. includes a good primer on the concept of the series and highlights the slight Woody Allen angsty New Yorkers element of the episodes.
The writing and directing team of Jason Cici (who also plays Ted) and Sebastian La Cuse get right down to the action with having Ted experience his typical pee shyness while in a bathroom at the wedding of his cop friend Eddie to designer/boutique owner Val. "Cranky Critic" Martin, who is the fag to the hag of Val, soon rushes in with a crisis that typically is of his own making. The pair finding a few similarities opens the door to the ensuing bromance.
The desperation that leads to the desperate measure of the "mixed" friendship of our leads is that marketing executive Ted is the new boy in town, the challenging personality of Martin hinders his ability to maintain friendships, and Val wants to shift the focus of her social life to her new husband.
An early storyline regarding plans to go to a Yankees game is one of the cutest and most insightful in the first season. The figurative dancing around the subject that occurs when Ted and Martin discover that the other shares his interest in baseball and that Ted likely can get tickets is relatable to the early days of any friendship. Neither person wants to either be too assertive or to risk rejection. The element of wanting to avoid seeming like a greedy bastard regarding the prospect of a valued freebie adds another universal aspect.
Nervousness regarding the "date" extends beyond Ted worrying whether Martin may try to get to first base or even further with him. Neither man knows what to wear and have related etiquette concerns. Eddie gets the best line on this topic by stating that getting Martin sexual with a straight man requires a great deal of Jameson and a tube of Astroglide.
The trip to Yankee Stadium going awry initially provides an opportunity to show that the wry sarcasm of a gay man can go over the head of his straight buddy. This leads to amusing efforts to make a "Plan B." That outing (pun intended) helps our boys bond.
Additional insight comes regarding the tolerant within limits father of Ted essentially crashing a dinner party that Martin is hosting. The angst of this middle-aged man regarding the possibility that his son may have switched teams is understandable; his discomfort around Martin simply is hilarious.
The award for strongest sitcom cliche goes to a storyline in which ubiquitous Martin stooge Benny locks his idol and aggressive-aggressive Eddie in a room until those adversaries hug it out. Cici returns to "Three's Company" territory in having a hungover despondent Martin wake up to find Benny in his apartment.
S1 ends on an intriguing cliffhanger that seems less dramatic than a typical season-ending twist.
In typical sitcom style, S2 begins where the aforementioned season-ending surprise leaves off. Cici further follows this tried-and-true practice by quickly resolving the wacky situation in a manner that sets the stage for a season-long S2 story arc.
On a larger level, S2 moves beyond the S1 hook of a gay/straight friendship to tales of the city. Martin and Ted become collaborators, Val and Eddie become "parents" and have slightly premature midlife crises. For his part, Benny experiences a metamorphosis that comes with difficult growing pains.
The big sitcom cliche this season is an outing in which tough guy Eddie delivers an almost episode-long soliloquy while at a therapist. This session leads to behavior that puzzles Val.
Cici further goes back to the silver age of television in bringing in a sassy black orphan. Anyone who has watched any '70s or '80s sitcom can predict on Val first mentioning this lad that he is going to end up living with her.
Ted gets the third-act cascading life crisis this time around. This begins with his mother (Debra Jo Rupp of "That '70s Show") picking the worst time and place to reveal a longstanding dark family secret. This devastating news leads to another revelation that makes our straight boy wonder if he can trust anyone in his life.
All of this leads to a season (and series ?) finale that ties things up in a manner that makes one wonder why Cici and LaCuse do not start from there and then go back to the wedding night. It further validates the live-stage vibe of the series.
Anyone with questions or comments regarding "He's" (or anyone looking for a new friend) is encouraged to email me; you alternatively can connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.