Perhaps you’ve heard this gem of a quote: “Sometimes… things that are expensive, are worse”,and it actually comes from this video:
And that video, in turn, comes from a web series by Brian Jordan Alvarez called The Gay and Wondrous Life of Caleb Gallo.
Caleb and his friends are a sexy bunch of fast-talking wannabe actors who are trying to sort out their extremely complicated love lives. True to its claim of ‘Wondrous,’ Caleb Gallo takes place in a highly stylized and colourful version of Los Angeles. And true to its claim of ‘Gay,’ most of the characters are gay, or at least have flings with other gay characters (see here: Lenjamin McButtons). The show pivots on a dime from laugh-out-loud hilarious to gut-wrenching, and is liberally sprinkled with dialogue that you’ll be repeating for days after watching.
So, go and watch this gay and wondrous show. You can thank me later.
1. LGBT Representation
This show has amazingly diverse representations of sexuality and gender! There are an impressive number of non-heteros for a show that has gone mainstream-popular— most of its audience is made up of the queer community, but still. Bisexuals, lesbians, gays, and genderfluid folks populate Caleb’s LA. The show is a brief glimpse into queer life in Cali, and it soo refreshing.
We so rarely get to see the dynamic of a bunch of queer friends hanging out together, as non-heteros on TV are usually shown as the lone gay of the group but (spoiler alert!) that's usually that's not the case. Caleb Gallo honestly depicts a friend group that is made up pretty equally of straight and non-straight people, and it's heartening to see how normal they are. There's no dramatics about coming out of the closet, no tearful discussions about how hard it is being gay. It’s actually a little crazy that this little fringe web series has better LGBT representation than almost any other show in mainstream media these days, but I digress.
The show also isn’t afraid to poke a little fun at clueless straight and cis people either. “Do you know about genderfluid?” asks Lenjamin McButtons, who has invited Caleb over to announce that he’s “going bi” (another trope with which bisexuals are unfortunately all too familiar).
That little wink of self-awareness makes the show all that much better. Besides just being ridiculously funny, the show is also a little too clever for its own good. Wow, smart and pretty!
2. Non-traditional Relationships
Caleb Gallo has one of the most interesting outlooks on sex and relationships that I’ve recently encountered. Sometimes, that outlook is used to comedic effect, as it is during the exchanges between Caleb and his advisors in “a lesbian-centric, semi-nonsexual throuple with us and Mike Wake.”
At other times, it takes a more serious approach to the subject of polyamory. While talking to Len, Caleb says, “I don’t want to call that cheating because I don’t think that monogamy is a realistic expectation.” And later, when Caleb’s indiscretions come to light, Len questions the room at large: “Did you not know Caleb liked loving a lot of people?” Caleb is notoriously promiscuous, but that doesn’t make him a bad person. While the show addresses the consequences of cheating (yes, it is possible to cheat in a polyamorous relationship!), it doesn’t demonize the idea of being able to love more than one person at once. It shows another dimension of liking sex and affection, rather than just as being a slut. Caleb Gallo's take on modern sex and sexuality is all the better for it.
3. Cinematography & Editing
Considering most web series are made on a pretty small budget, this one is an absolute stunner. The picture is crisp and beautiful, the colouring, lighting and framing are on point. But the kicker has got to be the editing. Masterminded by Brian Jordan Alvarez, who also wrote, directed and starred, the editing is lighting-fast and adds a whole other dimension to the shows comedy. The dialogue is made snappier, the sexual tension is wound tighter. It enhances every emotion tenfold, not just humour but also sadness, confusion, chaos, tenderness and joy. Pockets of both noise and silence give the show depth. Probably one of my favourite scenes in terms of cinematography is in episode 4, where Len ecstatically recites his monologue while the rest of the friends dance around shirtless. The camera encircles him as Peter Schilling's 'Major Tom' plays in background. It's breathless and wonderful.
4. Wayback Playback
I feel like a good portion of Caleb Gallo's budget went towards the music. 'Time After Time' by Cyndi Lauper and 'Major Tom' by Peter Schilling (as mentioned above) feature prominently, and Eric Carmen's 'Hungry Eyes' acts as the soundtrack to a long, mildly erotic montage of Caleb washing his hair while Karen and Billy make out in his living room.
Brian Jordan Alvarez obviously draws a lot of inspiration from 80s movies and cliches, especially from the John Hughes Book of Teen Romances. This is apparent in the various montages, longing gazes out of car windows, gauzy, saturated lighting, and grand romantic gestures. Caleb's shitty white Volvo could have driven directly out of the 80s and Benicio might as well be played by Molly Ringwald.
Even the costuming has gone full retro. Although vintage 80s inspired clothing is definitely making a comeback these days, it seems like these LA kiddos are a few steps ahead of us all. Forget 'vintage inspired', it looks like Benicio is wearing his mom's jeans he found in the garage. Which brings me to…
5. The Fashion
The styling in this show is off the hook! Everyone looks good all the time but there are a few special standouts. It’s mostly Freckle and Benicio TBH.
Click through the slideshow to see some of my fave outfits from the show, and let me know which ones you like in the comments!
Caleb Gallo, Ep. 4
So ugly it's done a 360 and come back to beautiful.
Caleb Gallo, Ep. 3
Typical LA girl.
6. Millennial Dating Struggle
Are we dating? Are we hooking up? Texting? Sexting? Long-distance? What is this??!! The show takes a very raw and real look at the way millennials date. At times it can be hilarious and other times, heartbreaking. Caleb's sexual desires clash with his romantic life. One second he wants to commit, and the next he wants to have sex with a cute bear. This is something that's relatable for a lot of millennials: not the bear part-- the desire to be wanted versus the need to be loved.
Caleb's group of friends is stuck in a continual loop of being attracted to one another, dating (and/or f***ing) and breaking up. And while it works within their friendship dynamic, it also makes it impossible for them to figure out what they actually, seriously want from a relationship. It's hard being young, hot and available!
7. Insanely Quotable Dialogue
Caleb Gallo is FULL of dialogue that will make you laugh out loud, and to that end I have provided some (but not all!) of my favorite one-liners that I think you will enjoy.
“Okay there was dick-sucking! We can all agree there was dick-sucking!”
“Why are your tits out?” “Why aren’t yours?”
“Does any one of you… have any goddamn WEED!”
*sucking finger* “Stop it! Stop trying to make this sexy!”
“I don’t want to brag but, um… she loved my penis.”
“Wow! That’s a big dick, bro.”
[on being bisexual] “No, that was a phase! I’m Catholic now.”
If you have a favorite that I have not included, let me know in the comments!
Yes, Freckle gets her own bullet point! She is just that awesome, okay? I hardly need to tell you that Freckle has dope ass style, and pulls off super ugly patterns with ease. Freckle is amazing: she is confident, dramatic, magnetic, sexy, ultra-quotable, and most of the time, drunk. Not to mention the fact that Freckle is possibly the first genderfluid character I have ever seen in the medium of film. Jason Greene, the actor who plays Freckle is also genderfluid, which is a pleasant change from seeing cis men play non-cis characters (Eddie Redmayne and Jared Leto, I'm looking at you). Also, Freckle also seems to float between using he/his and she/her pronouns, which is another little detail that we rarely see from the Hollywood Machine. (Please correct me if I am wrong about the pronouns, but that is how it seems to me.)
Freckle has many incredible moments, some of which have been compiled below, but honestly, one of the most iconic has got to be the scene where she officiates a wedding (but not before singing Selena’s masterpiece, “If I Could Fall In Love”). WARNING, minor plot spoilers ahead.
9. Hilarious Yet Realistic
Despite the absurdist lens of Caleb’s life, the show doesn’t shy away from showing the real, raw and painful moments of being a young person trying to find their purpose. Caleb and his friends, for all their bravado, are just as lost and scared as the rest of us feel. They’re actors looking for work, students trying to finish school, horndogs searching for their next lay, but above all, they’re just lonely people looking for love.
At one point during a dramatic scene Benicio asks, “Why can’t we just be normal people?” and Caleb responds drily, “We’re not normal people.” Benicio angrily says, “Yes we are. That’s the whole point.” This just drives home the message of the show. No matter who you are or how weird you think your life is, it’s probably just as weird as the next guy’s. At the end of the day, the characters of Caleb Gallo are just ordinary millennials trying to figure their shit out, just like the rest of us.
10. The Friendships
The entire cast is hella sexy and have an incredible natural chemistry throughout the show. The sexual tension is taut as a guitar string. But not only do they look good kissing each other, (Billy looks good kissing anyone/everyone) they also have very honest, amazing friendships. Brian Jordan Alvarez has been producing content through his YouTube channel long before making Caleb Gallo, and you can see his friends peppered throughout. The actors who play Len, Billy and Freckle make appearances, and Stephanie Koenig, the actress who plays Karen, is a near-constant collaborator. Alvarez has a personal and intimate connection with his actors, and their true-to-life friendships shine through in their characters.
The show, in spite of all its absurdity, is about friendship at its heart. The series wraps up with a wedding, where Benicio reminds the characters and the viewers that “this day is supposed to be about love,” and Len rounds the crew up into a big group hug. They dance and sing and hug and kiss and love each other. And ultimately, that’s what Caleb Gallo is all about.
September 10, 2018
August 17, 2018