“American Dreams” is being referred to by many critics as a contemporary “Will & Grace,” namely because of its heartwarming LGBTQ theme and a cast of quirky, talented young actors, including, as the puppeteer and narrator of the story, Jagger Spelling.
And while both shows also feature striking sets and superb acting, both “G & G” and “American Dreams” occasionally suffer from their very identity as narratives about, respectively, New York City and gay people, and simultaneously about family members, that the gay characters are constantly at war with.
If that might be understandable — these shows are TV adaptations of novels, with gay characters being a bit more colorful — the fight lines are drawn early in the first episode, which is about Steve, a lonely Brooklynite, falling in love with Gilyan, a guy who lives by the river. We’re led to believe that these two most basic elements of life are the underlying mission of Steve’s story. But that is certainly not the case.
Steve’s moral universe is so implausible that it’s ludicrous — and, as it happens, so is the gay character himself, played by Matt Sinclair. He is an earnest, girlish boy who follows stereotypical rules for gayness, lacks the self-assurance to take risks and sees himself as unlikable. He and Gilyan soon embark on a sea change, although Gilyan and Gilyan’s father (John Earl Jelks) do not know that, and can’t see the connection between their actions and his son’s. And since their world is straight, they don’t even know Steve is gay, although Gilyan is indeed spurned.
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