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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that EastSiders is a dark comedy about a group of friends in Los Angeles, including squabbling boyfriends Thom (Van Hansis) and Cal (Kit Williamson). Everyone on the show is an adult, but they drink heavily, frequently setting out to get drunk, and then sometimes combining the alcohol with marijuana or pills (Ambien is mentioned by name). Characters deal with their emotions by drinking. Expect to see same- and opposite-sex kissing, frequently passionate, and in a variety of locations: in a loft, up against a wall, in a bed, etc. We also see characters lounging around together in their underwear, presumably after sex. Cursing is frequent, with many uses of the word "f--k" as well as "motherf----r," "bulls--t," "s--t," and "a--hole." Gay characters accept themselves, and are accepted by their parents and friends.
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What's the story?
EASTSIDERS Cal, Thom, Kathy (Constance Wu), and Ian (John Halbach) semi-aimlessly bounce around Silver Lake, Los Angeles, in this comedy, originally a web series before it was snapped up by Netflix. The action picks up when self-described "frigid shrew" Cal finds out that his boyfriend of four years, aspiring writer Thom, has been cheating on him with Jeremy (Matthew McKelligon) -- which ultimately reveals the fractures in Cal and Thom's relationship and sends both stumbling into new romantic complications. Meanwhile, Cal's best friend Kathy is disturbed by what she sees as a proposal from her boyfriend of six months, Ian, and a curve ball that life throws her soon after. Pour a tall glass of whiskey: This is the modern gay soap opera you've been waiting for.
Is it any good?
Lusty, quippy, and frequently bored out of their minds, the LA hipsters who inhabit the world of this meandering, enjoyable series are intriguingly imperfect. They cheat, they lie, they sneak around, and in between they lounge around in various living rooms gossiping about all of it with a tall glass of straight whiskey and maybe an Ambien or two. Thom, Cal, and the rest would be hateable if they weren't so funny -- they do twee, charming things like going to End of the World parties or standing underneath a street lamp eating ice cream out of a Chinese takeout container. Kathy, though, has an irritating attention-seeking vibe that's particularly hard to take.
However, the great gags in EastSiders will make you reconsider bailing. "If I give up on this relationship, Chick-fil-A wins," says Cal about his foundering partnership with Thom. Quincy (Stephen Guarino) brags about his oversized jewelry at a party: "My earrings are made out of the Rent musical, deluxe edition." Even when life events take a more serious turn, everything is processed in wry, smart conversation. The cast has charm, they sound and act like real people (even if most of them could pass for runway models), and it's fun to hang out for a while in their small slice of sunny gay LA.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how this former web series came to be on Netflix. What is appealing or unusual about EastSiders that would compel Netflix to put it on their feed? Have you seen other shows like it? How are they the same or different?
The "eastside" in this show's title refers to a section of Los Angeles that includes hip neighborhoods like Echo Park and Silver Lake, where this show is set. How would this show be different if it were set in a different part of Los Angeles, like Hollywood? What about in a different town? How does Silver Lake provide a sense of place and contribute to this show?
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