Title – ‘Paper Boys‘
Director – Curtis Casella
Starring – Kyle Cabral, Nathan Brown, Kai Liu, Sarah Elizabeth
Release Date – 2018
Hey Dekkoo’ers! It’s almost June which means the shirts are about to come off! Although technically here on Dekkoo we almost always have guys with their shirts off and you don’t have to leave your couch to stare at them. Today on the dispatch we’re very excited to feature the newest member of the Dekkoo Original Series family: ‘Paper Boys‘!!! Wooooo!! It’s always super exciting for us to show off new talent and rising star Curtis Casella who directed all 6 episodes of this new series that takes a close look at a young creative gay man and his immersion into a new life in San Francisco.
Cole is your typical creative type. Shy, cute, and looking for love. For circumstances we’re unaware of (maybe something to explore in season 2?) Cole decides to use the excuse of an engagement party in San Francisco of his best friend to actually move to San Francisco. He’s a cartoonist and even before he gets to say hi to his hunky best friend who he’s staying with he’s already pounding the pavement to look for a job. Daren, the hunky best friend seems to have it all. A nice apartment in expensive San Francisco, a tech job, and an adorable wife-to-be named Rebecca. Everything seems to be going great until Daren confides to Cole that the engagement is actually something he doesn’t really want to happen. Everything so far has seemed pretty typical right? Well here’s the twist: Daren finds an old sketchbook of Cole’s and gives it to him and once Cole starts drawing in it he discovers that everything he draws happens in real life!!
I blew through all 6 episodes in two sittings and thought it was a really touching tale of a shy gay boy just trying to figure out this new stage in his life while at the same time trying to support his best friend that he obviously harbors some feelings for. The plot twist was a super cute addition to the ‘drama’ that naturally occurs in their every day lives. The diversity of the cast was refreshing and the setting of San Francisco was used even better than it was in ‘Looking’ I thought.
The director sat down with OUT Magazine for an interview and had some really great remarks about race, gay relationships, and queer content:
Tell us about the reasoning and importance behind showcasing a gay-straight male friendship? You often don’t see this story in media.
CC: The gay-straight friendship is somewhat autobiographical for both Kyle and me. Both of us have really close friends who are straight, and we felt like it was something we didn’t see often enough in gay media. It’s really interesting to see the vast differences in life experience between gay men and straight men. My best friend was having a hard time meeting friends and asked me how I made them when I moved back to San Francisco, and I said, well, I have Grindr, and gay bars, and circuit parties, and I just see people again and again and friendships come naturally. And he says, “yeah, I don’t think that’s going to work the same for me.”
In some way, it was also aspirational. Like, if we could show a friendship that was platonic between a straight and gay man, it might normalize it to an extent that it’s perhaps not normalized now. I think there is still an undercurrent of maybe tension in gay and straight relationships – like this feeling on the part of straight men that gay men might either threaten their masculinity, be secretly attracted to them, or both. And we wanted to show a friendship between two men that didn’t have any of that. Where they were like brothers.
The cast is highly diverse. How important was it for you to represent a range of people from different backgrounds to tell this story?
CC: This was one of our most important goals. Kyle is Filipino, and we both have pretty diverse groups of friends, so we felt like it was essential to include a diverse cast in Paper Boys. First, we both were cognizant of the fact that people of color don’t see themselves represented enough in media, so that was one facet. But this also allows us to address issues in the gay community that just wouldn’t ring honest with a cast of white characters – like the racism that exists in dating and hookups, internalized homophobia that some still feel, and themes that white audiences – probably myself included – wouldn’t even think about because of the privilege we’re born with.
That’s also why having a diverse cast is only half of it. I know that there are some things that I can’t see, or that seem innocuous to me but may not be to people with different lived experiences from me. So having writers, editors, cinematographers of color is essential too. We had one line in the 6th episode – which we’d written before we’d cast our series – where Charlie says that Daren and Rebecca would have had beautiful children. It was still there after a couple of rewrites, and when we went into rehearsals, the actress who played Rebecca pointed out that she often had people say that to her and her husband (who was white), and it had a clearly racial tinge to it. That honestly never occurred to me, and we decided to drop the line from the scene because it didn’t advance the story, and wasn’t true to a character who, having grown up with Rebecca, would have seen some of the racism that Rebecca experienced and would not have wanted to perpetuate that.
Dekkoo is changing the way queer men experience content, what has it been like working with the streaming service?
It’s been amazing working with Dekkoo – they’ve been incredibly accommodating and want to let us tell our story the way we want to tell it. Plus, I think having a service that’s targeted towards queer men is important. Netflix is great, but much of the gay content on there is of the B-movie variety, with a few notable exceptions. So it’s great to have a platform like Dekkoo, especially one that works with independent filmmakers like us.
We’d love to know what you think of a new Dekkoo Original Series that we’re super proud of so be sure to leave comments on the videos and let us know!
Watch it with: Your best friends 🙂
Mix it with: Red Wine.