Toronto-focused television already has its place in fiction, from the mind-warping fantasy of Being Erica to the gang’s-all-here approach of Metropia. So when The Hills collapsed in Lauren Conrad’s absence and a trashy void needed to be filled, Toronto stepped up with the racial stereotyping of Lake Shore. Or that’s what we thought until we saw The Avenue.
Local production company Fisher/Morris had dollar signs in their eyes after meeting Gregory Gorgeous, a flamboyant, back-treading gay caricature from an undisclosed Ontario suburb, and stuck him in the show. The Avenue is a Toronto-based Web series that has generated some early interest after only five heavily scripted Webisodes (everyone seemed to be talking about its coming finale on Twitter last night). Here, we go back to the beginning to recap the first installment, following the show’s five vacuous wannabes as they tear up over snubbed non-contracts, difficult gay men and the trials transplants face when trying to “make it big” in the dark, mean streets of semi-privileged Toronto.
The Avenue, episode one: Taking Toronto
The Cast: the first minute and thirty seconds serve as an introduction of the cast members. Carson Kressley Gregory Gorgeous narrates.
Gregory. Occupation: gorgeous, student (or something to do with makeup—it isn’t clear)
@0:14 – “I was able to make a name for myself in the fashion and beauty industry, but now I’m taking it to the next level.” Well, we’ve never heard of him, but Google informs us that he dispenses makeup tips for a cultish queer following on YouTube. Despite the grotesque over-application of foundation, 14 seconds in, we’re kind of happy for him.
@0:32 “I must admit, I did move here for a boy. Dan is my everything. He’s sensitive, funny and gorgeous.” Moments ago, Greggy was telling us he was taking his career to the next level, but apparently this means a stopover in some dude’s lap. Well, at least he’s a triple threat. There are so few sensitive, funny and gorgeous fictional men.
@0:39 “In this city, you need to make sure to get in with the right crowd.”
As we soon learn, the right crowd consists of a party girl who doesn’t party, a lover who doesn’t love, a model who doesn’t model and the editor of a non-existent print magazine.
Rachel. Occupation: least fun party girl
@0:45 “Rachel loves to party. She doesn’t take life too seriously. Nothing fazes her and sometimes that gets her into trouble.” An early quick cut gives us a brief window into the rock star life of Rachel, who gets pretty wild sipping a caesar at brunch. We don’t know how we could ever keep up.
Claire. Occupation: maybe a court stenographer? (Just a guess)
@0:58 “Claire is the kind of girl who is a rarity in this city. A hopeless romantic who is looking for true love, not just fun.” Snore. Cue string of failed relationships. Will she ever find her Mr. Big?
Jessica. Occupation: “model”
@1:08 “She acts like creating drama is her full time job.” She might not be a working model, but we’re okay with her just being a bitch. This better happen. If she’s anything like Claire, the secondary cast could prove to be as dull as Anne Hathaway.
Arta. Occupation: editrix, socialite
@1:11 “Then there’s Arta. She’s what you would call a socialite. She’s a fashion journalist who has lived in the city her entire life and seems [“seems” is an important distinction—ed.] to know all the right people.” We put our feelers out on this one and no one in the industry knows who she is. Even her publication Défilé has only just launched on-line (see: default template, stock model poses).
Curtains up; let the show begin.
@1:25 Gregory: “It may seem like I have everything going for me, but it’s not all going to come easy.” Nothing ever does. We’re also not convinced you have anything going on for you after the first minute and thirty seconds of the show.
@2:00 Gregory is wearing his second of many sequin tops. His apartment is adorned with women’s shoes and accoutrements befitting Donatella Versace. Yes, we are in the right place. Rachel enters, and it turns out she’s interviewing for a job today because she has a friend at a boutique in Yorkville. Fancy, right? Gregory agrees.
We’re starting to understand what it means to “know the right people” in The Avenue. It means sipping status drinks (Starbucks Passion Iced Tea ™) and having a gay friend who will touch up your makeup (@3:05), because excess bronzer and raccoon eyes are much too conservative for a job interview.
@4:15–4:19: Arta: “We’ll need to belt the vest.” “That doesn’t go with fur.” As a editor co-editor-in-chief (yeah, because that worked on The Office), difficult decisions must be made, and it becomes clear that Arta has many. Her editorial eye can’t see beyond buying a blazer and some trousers, but a 14-year-old intern has the insight to suggest a fur vest. We can already tell that her spreads will rival the pages of V and Vogue Nippon. She also has cronies, which we think is hilarious. We think interning can be very rewarding, but ideally the magazine would exist and the editor-in-chief wouldn’t be in her second or third year of university.
@4:48: GG: “Excuse me, do you know how to get to room 303? I’ve been literally looking for two days.”
@5:21–5:23: GG: “Do you have any idea where room 303C is?” Dylan: “Yeah, it’s just right here to the right.” GG: “I’ve literally done a full circle on this floor.” Will Greg ever find room 303C?
Scenes run pretty long in The Avenue—do we really need to hear a real-life off-camera college registrar give Gregory detailed directions to a classroom that is right there? We’d rather listen to Claire complain about not being ready for another boyfriend. Oh, wait, that happens three times this episode.
@5:55 GG: “Nice to meet you. You are so pretty!” Claire: “Thanks, I love your purse.” GG:“What should I get? I’m thinking something fruity.” Rachel orders another caesar (another one? Oh, Rachel!). We have a problem with Gregory’s incessant need to caricature gay men. It is as if the directors (does this show have directors?) watched every season of the North American version of Queer as Folk and decided to turn up the volume on Emmett.
@6:48: Arta: “What do you think about doing a men’s editorial? One men’s, one women’s.” “How ’bout we do it street style?” Street style? So fresh. Also: why are there are about 100 people at the editorial meeting? Real publications have lately been prone to layoffs and smaller mastheads. Who do you think you’re fooling, Arta?
@7:45–8:30: Rachel is a party girl, so naturally she takes Claire and Gregory to ultra exclusive Ristorante Roma at Bloor and Dufferin. We didn’t know this about the Italian resto-lounge, but it is a hotbed for cruising gay man (singular). Mere seconds after sitting down and sipping his fruity cocktail, Gregory spots a guy who just “won’t stop staring.” Claire wisely points out that there “is always one of them.” In fact, he is the only one. There is no one else in the bar. Claire excuses herself to the bathroom and the only other gay in Bloordale makes his move.
@8:30–9:00: First signs of plot. We meet Gregory’s stalker, Eric, and he’s a bit of a drama queen. Claire refuses to switch seats with him (poor guy, he just wants to “get to know [Gregory] a little better”), and at a high point of aggravation, he decides to head out for a cigarette. We too have had three-second altercations before, and they always warrant a bit of a breather.
@9:07–10:28: GG: “Rachel, you have no idea what just happened. This random, random guy showed up and asked Claire to switch seats… That was scary.” Rachel returns, and Eric comes back to see who robbed him of the opportunity to cozy up to MAC’s fall/winter collection. They fight. Eric channels Brandon Davis and calls Rachel a “fire crotch.” Rachel inaudibly fights back, prompting Eric to intervene: “Obviously, the caesar has gone straight to your head.” Defeated, Eric tells Rachel she should never dye her hair that colour (oh, snap?) and parts by only saying goodbye to Claire and Gregory (double snap?). It is quite possibly the most uneventful fight to appear on the Internet. Nothing like this.
@10:59–the end: The three meet on a patio to debrief. They must be hung over from their wild night in an Italian restaurant, which means they need to wear sunglasses while having a conversation. GG: “Do guys have no class anymore? No hi, no nothing?” Rachel: “K, you weren’t talking to any guys.” C: “Guys, I don’t think I’m ready.” Which guys could Claire have talked to? There was one prop of a gay man in the entire restaurant. While dispensing dating tips, Greggy gets a text from his man-boy, Dan. Dan wants to “talk,” which is episode one’s cliffhanger.
We’re excited to see what is around the bend. Will Dan dump Greg (thus becoming The Nanny)? Will Claire leave? Will Rachel have another caesar? Will Arta upgrade from a napkin-based magazine to ruled sheets? We’re on the edge of a cliff our seats, waiting to jump off.