Not so very long ago, exclusively gay TV shows were non-existent. Certainly, there were gay characters in mainstream shows, but no shows just for us. That's all changed in the last few years, and since Queer As Folk debuted in 1999 (with a superior US version appearing the following year), TV shows in which we're the majority - not the minority - have been springing up like erections in a Bel Ami flick. Noah's Arc, Dante's Cove, Metrosexuality, The Closet - and The DL Chronicles.

The DL Chronicles differs from its cousins in looking at a different set of characters in each self-contained episode, with narrator Chadwick Williams (Damian T. Raven) and the theme of "men of color" living sexually duplicitous and secret lifestyles the unifying factors. The four episodes that make up the first season are refreshingly varied, featuring men in various situations and of differing circumstance. But cast an eye over a handful of reviews of this series and you'll discover it's the third episode, Boo, which receives the most acclaim.

Undoubtably, Oneil Cespedes, playing Boo, is platinum grade eye candy, and turns in one of the strongest performances in all the episodes; it's also one of the best realised episodes. But the story - that of a downlow player and a thug - is the most obvious one; it's a crowdpleaser. Everyone wants to be a thug, and those that don't wanna get one. In particular, Boo has been trumpeted as the definitive vision of black gay masculinity, against Noah's Arc, which critics accuse of camping it up (presumably for showing some gay men acting fem). That isn't a criticism of the episode, however, just a rationale for its popularity amongst viewers.

Interestingly, Boo is shown sleeping with just about anyone - female, male, black, white, whatever. Despite being sold as a series about "men of color", the cast is actually racially ambiguous, and doesn't seem intent on perpetuating racial separtism in the gay community like Queer As Folk (which in five years didn't feature any non-white characters) and Noah's Arc (where the only whites seen on screen were gay bashers).

The other episodes are all strong in their own right, and often surprising. My only real gripe is the intrusive and dated background music - give me the intelligent, soundtrack-free experience of The Wire and The Shield. The ponderous piano employed on The DL Chronicles, so beloved of indie producers, is jarring.

Music aside, The DL Chronicles is hugely enjoyable, heartfelt, and perhaps most importantly, promises much more. Roll on season two.


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