Love In The East: The Season Two Debut Of ‘EastSiders’

Eastsiders-Kit-Williamson-shirtless-Van-Hansis-bedFor anyone going through Looking withdrawals since HBO cancelled their low-rated gay series, the internet now has your methadone. Season Two of EastSiders just made its Vimeo debut.

Seeing as it takes place in Silver Lake (the Brooklyn of Los Angeles, for you outsiders), EastSiders is not quite but almost as hairy as the San Francisco-set Looking, which is quite possibly the single most important factor in depicting any hipster ‘hood. Unlike other hipster habitats like Brooklyn and Portland, Silver Lake has managed to maintain a relatively low profile without being savagely mocked by the media — possibly because Los Angeles is already so viciously ridiculed, what’s the point? Silver Lake is a great neighborhood, one I would visit more often if it wasn’t so terribly far. (It’s 7.6 miles from my apartment in West Hollywood, which in Los Angeles traffic takes about a day and a half.) I would wager that Silver Lake has managed to retain what is good about cool, hipsterish neighborhoods without quite succumbing to what makes them ripe for parody — but don’t take my word for it. Take a look for yourself in EastSiders.

For my money, at least, EastSiders centers on a more believable and relatable group of friends than Looking ever did, similarly navigating through sex and romance and questions of identity and finding oneself (but mostly sex and romance). And, as a bonus, the characters are endearing and easy to warm up to — yes, all of them! By which I mean, there’s no Augustin. (Okay, I’ll stop talking about Looking now.)

As in Season One, the focus of EastSiders’ second outing is on the strained relationship between exes Cal (played by writer, director, and series creator extraordinaire Kit Williamson) and Thom (Van Hansis), who, in the Season Two premiere “Weirder Than Normal,” find themselves in bed with a hunky third party, confronting questions about where their relationship is heading (or not heading). The other big development is the arrival of Cal’s flighty sister Hillary (Brianna Brown), who shares his fondness for alcohol in a memorable day-drinking sequence but has a host of other problems to contend with — or shrug off (such as being homeless).

“Sodom (And Gomorrah),” the season’s second episode, takes the gang to a party called Sodom hosted by the drag queen Gomorrah (Willam Belli) and Quincy (Stephan Guarino), where, despite the party’s racy moniker, they find more drama than debauchery. While Cal and Thom are still feeling things out, the episode’s centerpiece is Cal’s best friend Kathy (Constance Wu) coming to terms with the sharper edges of her heart, and her patient boyfriend Ian (John Halbach) trying to decide when enough is enough. The romantic ups and downs keep things interesting, but the episode’s real highlight is the glimpse at Los Angeles’ east side gay nightlife, bearded drag queen and all. Real-life L.A. eastsiders who are watching will feel right at home.

The third episode, “Sex Therapy,” is the steamiest as well as the most artistically ambitious, concerning Cal and Thom’s sexual misadventures as they discover that a couple seeking a third can be just as rigorous and awkward as traditional dating between just two guys. Things take a slightly surreal turn, but of course, that’s how things really feel sometimes when you’re caught up in such a situation. Meanwhile, Jeremy (Matthew McKelligon), who caused plenty of drama last season in flings with both Cal and Thom, is maintaining a lower profile as the semi-welcome houseguest of his sister Bri (Brea Grant), but his mooching can only go so far. He finds himself holding back from getting attached to the handsome older doctor who wants more than just a good time in the sack.

As the season unfolds, things get a little criss-crossed as surprising secret romances form between unlikely lovers. A major emerging theme is fidelity — both what that means when a relationship is opened up, as well as what happens when it goes on behind someone’s back and when the one you want won’t commit (possibly, because their heart already belongs to another).

In short, Season Two is off to a very promising start, and it’s still only just beginning to simmer…

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