LOGO’s new gay dating TV show, Finding Prince Charming premiered last week to a critical audience. The Bachelor riff-off has been the subject of controversy since it was announced this summer for a variety of reasons. Many LGBTQ people argued that this was not exactly the type of representation they wanted for our community while others criticized the show’s cast for its very apparent lack of diversity.
I myself was prepared for disappointment when I sat down to watch the new show last night- I expected an exaggeratedly sexual performance full of overwrought gay slang and cattiness, but I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. Now, this isn’t to say that the show was perfect, and I’ll get to its faults in a moment, but I did admire the way this show really did seem to be almost a carbon copy of The Bachelor simply with an all male cast. It was refreshing to see that gay people can have the same cheesy, exaggerated romantic shows that straight people have guiltily indulged in for years. Sure, dating shows like Finding Prince Charming aren’t exactly quality television, but it’s nice to see that gay representation can be just as romantic as straight representation, rather than the overtly sexual representation we usually get.
Finding Prince Charming also seems to be using its platform to bring light to issues within the gay community. In the first episode we saw Brandon, a 29 year old contestant, open up to Robert Sepúlveda, this season’s “Prince Charming” about how he was disowned by his parents at 16. He explains that after he came out his parents kicked him out of the house and he had to go live with his best friend’s family for the rest of his adolescence.
Prince Charming himself is also the founder and president of Atlanta Rainbow Crosswalks, an LGBTQ nonprofit that he mentions briefly at the beginning of the episode and that we will hopefully be seeing more of throughout the season.
The men on the show also make a point of reminding viewers that, contrary to stereotypes and media representation, gay men are capable of, and enjoy monogamy just like straight people. This isn’t to say that open relationships or casual sex are bad, just that it’s not the only option for gay people.
Additionally, a large point of conflict in the first episode is an argument between Robby, a more flamboyant and effeminate gay man, and Sam, a much more masculine, frat-boy type of guy. Sam criticizes Robby for his feminine nature essentially out of nowhere and the fight escalates to Sam eventually even telling Robby to “Fix his dress”. This brings attention to the harmful toxic masculinity inside the gay community and transphobia as well.
Like I said though, the show was not without its faults. Out of a thirteen person cast only three contestants were people of color and (*SPOILER*) one of them was eliminated after only the first night. Not to mention that the entire cast were very muscular or at least skinny men with only around three exceptions, one of which was (*Surprise!*) kicked off after the first night. Both of these types of discrimination are, unfortunately very prevalent in the gay community so it’s not surprising that they found their way into this show, but it is disappointing. It’s ironic that for a show that is actively trying to increase representation for an oppressed group, they end up excluding several other oppressed groups in the process.
The show also missed a very great opportunity to discuss the stigma surrounding sex work. Before the first episode aired Robert Sepúlveda opened up about his past working as an escort which was apparently unknown to LOGO during early production of the show. Finding Prince Charming could have used this information about Robert’s past to address the negative connotations towards sex work that exist today, and to show that sex workers, past or present, still deserve to pursue love.
Regardless of criticisms or praise, the show is historic no matter what, as it is the first all-gay dating show ever. Despite its faults, I remain optimistic about the rest of the show and I hope that it will continue to explore relevant issues in the gay community and serve as a pioneer in normalizing gay relationships on TV, and in the world.
(Photo Credit: LOGO TV)