Quibi, the platform aimed at providing viewers with “Quick Bites” of content launched yesterday. There’s a surprising and refreshing amount of queer content at launch including Sasha Velour’s Nightgowns and Dishmantled with Titus Burgess. There’s also Gayme Show, which had a good enough hook to get me to stop scrolling and watch. “Two straight contestants compete in a series of mental, physical, and performance challenges to test their gay knowledge. Who will reign forevermore as ‘Queen of the Straights’?”

After watching the three episodes available, I can’t tell if I love the show or hate it. Each episode, contestants are pitted against each other in various segments, although they can receive help from their celebrity life lines (or as the show calls it, life partners). After a chance to “Make an Entrance”, one of the contestants is then crowned “Queen of the Straights”. The show is hosted by Dave Mizzoni and Matt Rogers and is produced by Jax Media, the same company that did Broad City and The Other Two.

I like the show because it makes me laugh. For example, there’s an archaeological bit where contestants dig up gay artifacts and then choose the most valuable one. It’s really just an excuse for prop gags, but having meat from Lady Gaga’s meat dress, the first brick thrown at Stonewall, and the first ever vodka soda are really funny concepts. Also, everyone’s wearing Laura Dern’s pink shirt from Jurassic Park.

Another segment that’ll be appreciated by both Lainey and readers of this site is called “Celebrity Essences.” The hosts show contestants three images that, together, make-up the “essence” of a celebrity. They then must guess who that celebrity is in the allotted time. Fun right?

Gayme Show is supposed to be satirical and tongue-in-cheek. In an interview with Huffpost, Mizzoni says that he and Rogers “developed the concept of the show around a cheeky and subversive take on the now-archaic use of ‘gay’ as an insult.” Rogers goes on further to say, “I want smart, interesting queer people to watch it and recognize it as being a real product of our community and a real celebration of what we really talk about in our group text threads, what we’re really searching online, of who we are in our little gay hearts.” 

The problem is that sometimes it can be hard to distinguish whether the show is self-aware, or whether it’s playing into the notions and stereotypes that it’s trying to subvert. And because shows like Drag Race are so over the top, the extra-ness of Gayme Show can appear to be legitimate. The issue with making a show entirely about being gay is that it can make parts of our culture seem like gimmicks that are commodified for entertainment. Drag Race does that too.

You might be saying, “it’s not that deep, Prem”. And you’re right. Shows don’t always have to push perfect narratives or have squeaky clean representation to be entertaining or even subversive. Mizzoni points out that straight men competing for the title of “Gay as f-ck” comes a long way from having that phrase hurled at him as an insult when he was younger. But Gayme Show likes to dance along this line of irony, making me feel conflicted about its message.

I think part of the problem is the show’s length. I’m Quibi’s target audience because I have the attention span of a toddler. And for some of the other content on there, it’s great. With game shows, however, viewers enjoy watching because of the stakes, the suspense, and the predictable progression of the candidates. All of that takes time, and frankly ten minutes isn’t enough. That’s barely enough time to enjoy the comedy of the celebrity guests. It’s why, when the hosts crown someone as “Queen of the Straights”, three short challenges don’t feel like enough to make a decision. I also think more time would give the hosts the ability to sell the satire angle more.

Is Gayme Show funny? Yes. Will I keep watching? Probably. Does it belong on Quibi? I’m not sure.

Let’s play our own game of Celebrity Essences: 

Number 1:prem-one-07apr20.JPG Wind machine, candy cane, whistle

Number 2:prem-two-07apr20.JPG Tongue, foam finger, Ross and Rachel

Number 3:prem-three-07apr20.JPG Mr. Mischief, Comic Books, Juniper Berries

Tweet me your answers @psramani95