Several years ago. I heard about this “black, gay” Sex and the City that was in development and thought that sounds cool. Eventually, it was named (Noah’s Arc), written, cast, produced and started airing on MTV’s new network, LOGO. Unfortunately, I didn’t have cable and didn’t get to see it. I forgot about it. Then, I was at a friend’s home one night and caught an episode. I was so unimpressed. And mad. Mad that such a great idea had been squandered with poor writing and poorer acting, with over-the-top stories that embraced every stereotype that as a gay man, I abhor. I never saw another episode while it was on the air.
A couple of months ago, my roommate came home with the complete first season of Noah’s Arc and wanted to watch it. I vehemently argued against it and we settled on something else instead. Then, one night I was home alone, with nothing to do, no deadlines, no place to be, etc. and I decided to put the disc in and give the show another chance. A friend came over and we sat back on the sofa, merlot in hand, and pushed play. I watched the whole season that night. As with many shows, when an outsider catches a single episode, without really knowing the background, things can seem wacky and lame. My perception of Noah’s Arc, based on that single episode from years ago, was biased and I immediately started to understand the dynamic of this cast. Truth be told, I still felt that the writing was a little flat at times and the acting was often hammy, but in terms of it being a show about gay men, it seemed on-point. Gay men are hammy. And over-the-top. And I often forget that stereotypes don’t fall from trees.
Most TV shows start out with archetypes. The good ones allow their archetypes to evolve. Look at how Carrie and crew grew as the series did. Noah’s Arc didn’t have the time-span to truly grow, but the characters did become more fleshed out as the series continued. It ran for two seasons on LOGO and was abruptly canceled. This past weekend, in a very few select cities (NYC, L.A., etc.), the movie got the SATC treatment with the appropriately titled: Noah’s Arc: Jumping the Broom, in which the two main characters, Noah (the effeminate, eccentric Carrie Bradshaw of the group) and Wade (Mr. Bigg, natch), travel from their home in L.A. to Martha’s Vineyard to get married. All of their friends (Alex, think: the controlling Miranda; Chance, the professor and sometimes sexually cold Charlotte; and Ricky, the slut. Sounds like Samantha to me.) come along for the ride. Additionally, Chance’s husband Eddie and Ricky’s new boyfriend Brandon (who he’s known for a week) tag along.
Now, let me tell you why this is an important movie and why you should see it. Even if you have the same impression I used to have of the series, you should see it because it is a story about friendship and love and it tells these two stories in such a simple sophistication that you might not get it until after you leave the theatre. Nuance is a new word for the Noah’s Arc people, but they learned it. There is this great scene in which Wade (who was unsure of his sexuality in the beginning of the series) and the newcomer Brandon discuss sexuality and the issue of masculinity. Brandon questions how difficult it is to love someone like Noah and Wade’s response was perfect, citing how brave he thinks his man is and how Noah is the one who really deserves the credit, as he is the one who puts up with the bullshit and isn’t afraid to be himself. As I saw that scene, I realized that Noah’s Arc, too, should get credit for not being afraid to be who it is. It’s a show about a bunch of queens. Fairies. Fags. Whatever. They are cool with it because they love themselves. The team behind Noah’s Arc deserve credit for embracing the stereotypes that exist in the gay society and putting them on the big screen for everyone to see (from the guys vogueing to random internet sex to those perfectly sat tables whenever they eat to the over-the-top fashions that would leave SATC’s Carrie drooling), right alongside two guys who are so in love that they overcome the obstacles (and yes, there are plenty) and get their happily ever after. The writer, Patrik-Ian Polk, peels back the layers and develops his characters better than in the series. We understand why they are who they are by the end of the movie.
Often movies are so predictable that even the woman in the seats behind me could write them. This one had moments of predictability, but throughout the who movie, instead of going the way many would expect (especially that woman sitting behind me), they stayed the course, acted like adults and handled whatever problems arose. Clearly, these guys are true friends and only want each other to be happy. Sure, some things come down the pike that upsets them or temporarily turns their heads, or whatever, but in the end, they are there for one another. Isn’t that what friendship is? And, Noah and Wade are in love. There’s no doubt about that. Anyone who hates on gays and gay marriage should sit down and watch, if nothing else, the wedding scenes to see what true love is all about. Polk deserves credit for writing the words he probably wanted to use for his own wedding and giving them to Noah and Wade to speak instead. It was beautiful and moving and emotional and all of those other adjectives people use to express what happens when you get that ball in your chest.
So, why go see the movie? Hell, if you’re not in one of those select cities, you don’t get to, which is a crying ass shame. But you should call your local theater and ask if it’s coming (even though you know it’s not) just so they hear the name a few times and might generate some interest. It does come out on DVD in December. Cop it then. And get a mixed crowd to watch it with you. Or, hell, be like Noah and don’t be scared to be the first one: screen it for yourselves, with a group full of straight people. Embrace the nuanced sophistication of a film that no one would have ever expected to have either word associated with; see what true friendship means; fall in love with love all over again. It’s not a black film (but it doesn’t shy away from its blackness). It’s not a gay film. It’s a good film.
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