For the first time in its inaugural season, Sirens put extra emphasis on sitcom formulae, leading from internal debate/conflict to resolution in a scant 22-minute running time. But it’s a testament to the smarts of the people behind the show that it felt actually earned, and was a little subversive to boot.
A little subversive, I should say. Try as they might, they aren’t really sure how to write Hank’s homosexuality into the show in any comfortable fashion. So far, all we know is that he just ended a long-term relationship with Jeff the Chef and is now a sex-hungry player. So far, it has remained background noise, but in an episode where Hank struggles with the fact that his ex is getting married—and marrying Hank’s near doppelgänger to boot—his sexuality takes center stage. And it stumbles along the way.
The sense that I get is that the writers are putting forth their ideal gay man: a bro who just happens to hook up with dudes. Hank is into sports and talks about his hookups in a very frat dude fashion. When discussing his evening with a Puerto Rican doctor, he says, “The way we were going, I half-expected to wake up to find Puerto Rico just off the coast of New Jersey.” I appreciate the comfort level that Hank’s co-workers have with the chatter, but it still feels like they can’t help but make him simply one of the boys.
It doesn’t help that one of the other prominent gay characters in this episode is a “hot Latin lover” type named Fernando who grabs Johnny at Jeff the Chef’s wedding, urging him to “release your body to the music,” and “set your hips free … let them fly!” Two stereotypes wrapped up in one! Double prizes!
To Sirens’ credit, they at least treat the marriage of Jeff the Chef and Alejandro with tact. The happy couple is as charming as can be, and their chat with Hank about the strength of their relationship had a real sweetness to it. And it helped with the resolve of the episode, which was to send Hank off into the night confident that what he wants now is something more long-term. That is right after he chases down a waiter with a nice ass.
Robert Ham is a Portland-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow him on Twitter.