In Between Men, the popular gay drama series that helped pioneer the ten - minute format when it began broadcasting over the web last fall, releases to iTunes this week. Created by Quincy Morris, directed by Jennifer Gelfer, and starring Nick Mathews, Ben Pamies, and Chase Coleman, the show follows the lives of friends in New York City living “in between” a gay world whose clichés they don’t relate to and a straight world they don’t belong.
At first glance, In Between Men might look like just another gay drama series. However, where the characters in most gay programs live in an insular gay world (eating and breathing the LGBT community), In Between Men depicts out gay men who don’t fully subscribe to the practices of mainstream gay society. Dalton, Dane, Jacob and Ben are four attractive, successful men who refuse to be defined by their sexuality. Through wild adventures, racy storylines, joys and pains, In Between Men examines the relationships they share with one another, their colleagues, lovers, and the city of New York. According to Morris, the show offers a more accurate reflection of how the majority of gay men live today.
“In Between Men is not a show about men trying to be straight or denying their sexuality,” he explains. In addition to being the series’ creator, Morris is also the head writer and executive producer. “The characters are proud to love themselves and other men.”
When In Between Men debuted this fall, it was among the first web series to pioneer a ten-minute format. As recently as a few years ago, most series on the web ran 2 – 4 minutes. “We offer a level of quality on par with cable television,” says Morris.
So why did they decide to premier the series online? Says Ms. Gelfer, “The web offers something that is unprecedented in the entertainment business: complete creative control.”
Morris also contends that while network and cable television have begun introducing more gay characters to popular sitcoms, they continue to represent a narrow view of the community, often painting gay men as the feminine sidekick. “Most shows on TV play off the stereotype of gay men being sissies,” he argues. “They don’t represent the fullness of a gay Diaspora that is rich with many types of personalities. Gay men are still men. For many, being gay only means being attracted to other men.”
The men of In Between Men value their manhood and project traditional standards of masculinity. They are average guys that choose to not trade their testosterone for estrogen simply because they sleep with other men. Morris says the show draws its inspiration from his own life and its characters are based on his personality traits.
Dalton is the lead character of In Between Men. Like Morris, Dalton is a young man at the top of his game. He finds little in common with the superficiality of most guys in the city and struggles with a lonely love life, wondering if he should settle for Mr. Almost-Right or hold out for someone better.
The role of Dalton was originally intended for a black actor, but when few black actors showed up to the three Manhattan auditions, Morris gave the role to Nick Mathews. “Playing Dalton came so effortlessly to him. Nick captures his vulnerability and strength.”
Jacob, played by Max Rhyser, is the artistic, bisexual character. “Though I don’t personally believe bisexuality is as common as people claim it is, it was important to me to have a bisexual character,” explains Morris.
In TV and film, bisexual men are often depicted as villainous liars and cheaters; endangering lives, betraying women and men by engaging in sexual behavior behind their partner’s backs. Morris says he wanted to show that not all bisexual men live like this. Many live very open, free lives, and are committed loyal partners.
“At the same time, those who date bisexuals often battle feelings of inadequacy,” Morris continues. “Many fear they might not be enough and that their partner’s attraction to another gender may eventually lead to them leaving.” That’s why Morris created Kyle, Jake’s boyfriend.
Benjamin Reed, played by Ben Pamies, is the iconic male figure; what gay men want to be and be with. He is oversexed and promiscuous but also intelligent and successful. He is a loving friend and family man whose career ambition outshines even his looks.
“We can’t deny Benjamin Reeds exist in our community,” says Morris. “However, I needed Benjamin to be human, to be someone viewers would care about. His looks are perfect on the outside but, like all of us, he is on his own road to completion.”
The character of Dane, played by Chase Coleman, is the mirror opposite of Reed. He is naïve in love and his pension for chasing after bad boys gets him in trouble. “So often, gay men look outside themselves for affirmation of worth,” says Gelfer. “Gay men are not taught to love themselves. They’re often told they should be something else, namely ‘straight’. Dane is a product of that. He is the American dream – blonde, handsome, and a doctor – but he doesn’t allow himself to realize what a catch he really is.”
One thing most people have in common is that we live in a perpetual state of in-between: in between jobs, in between relationships, friends, family, lovers…
“That is why I named the show In Between Men,” concludes Morris. “These are themes everyone, gay and straight, can relate to in life. No matter whom we are, what we are, or where we are in life, we’re always someone, somehow and somewhere in between.”
In Between Men, Season 1 is available on iTunes now for $4.99 from Qubed Entertainment. For more information, visit www.inbetweenmen.com.