Hey nerds. Remember when you were 14, and you joined your school’s Sci Fi & Fantasy club? And when you told your too cool lab partner about it, he was like, “That sounds totally gay.” Good times!
Well, the irony is that sci-fi isn’t very gay. Despite the substantial number of gay sci-fi fans (two words: slash fic), virtually every mainstream sci-fi classic features a strictly heterosexual cast. Star Wars – no gays. Star Trek – no gays. Lord of the Rings – not even a gay elf.
With all this in mind, it’s rare and welcome to see a sci-fi story with a gay hero, and that’s exactly what we get in Time Traveling Lesbian, an eight-part series produced by Disposable Televison for HBO Online.
Okay, so maybe “hero” isn’t quite the word to describe this particular time traveler, whose closest thing to an action hero catch-phrase is “F*ck this, I don’t want to do this anymore”.
Comedian Rebecca Drysdale writes, directs, and stars in the series as herself. A NYC gay gal whose life of auditions, part-time jobs, and pseduo-domestic bliss is knocked for a loop (a time loop?) when she’s recruited by computerized voice from the future named CARL to travel through time, stop villains, and get with hot girls in sexy period costumes.
It’d all be pretty sweet if it wasn’t for those damn sci-fi bugaboos like time-paradoxes and pre-destination.
The villains of the show are a shadowy group of evil time-travelers known as The Leak, who want to screw up history, stop gay rights, and sell Red Bull to the Roman Empire. They also look and speak like Agents from the Matrix, but with more puns (“Well…if it isn’t Robert E. Lee….sbian”).
The show operates on three fronts – sci-fi, comedy, and lesbian interest (that would be of interest to lesbians, not interested IN lesbians…though there are girls kissing in every episode, so maybe it works both ways).
The first couple of episodes are hit and miss on the comedy front. Drysdale is an appealing protagonist, but the jokes don’t always hit and the plot is doled out slowly (though anything is helped by a Jackie Clark cameo).
The good news is that things really pick up in Episode 3, where Drysdale manages to turn a bit about waiting for a polariod to dry into a triumph of slow-burn comedy. The show eventually settles into a muted, Flight of the Conchords style of comedy, which works well against the high-stakes premise.
The most surprising thing about the series is how much mileage they get out of the time-travel concept. While at first it just seems like an excuse for a lot of costume changes, the show soon starts playing with the non-linear concept in ways that bring to mind sci-fi standouts such as Twelve Monkeys, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and Quantum Leap. You can tell that Drysdale is in fact a sci-fi fan, and her ironic yet loving spin on the genre is the series’ real hook.
The eight episode series improves in quality with each installment, and builds to a berserk cliffhanger, which has left fans bereft and wishing for a second season. Drysdale was recently spotted on the AfterEllen messageboard, asking fans to spread the word so she can make a second series (the first was funded in part by HBO). Until then, well, there’s always fanfic.
Watch Time Traveling Lesbian on Funny or Die.