It took two years but a full episode of George Smith’s black gay reality series “Tha Life Atlanta” has finally debuted for the world to see. If you’ll remember, a couple years ago an extended teaser trailer dropped on YouTube that we pretty much cringed at from beginning to end. It was pretty bad and unintentionally tried to sell to us that the men featured were “down low” and masculine, neither was true.
So now, after some re-casting, George Smith attempts to reboot the buzz with a new full episode.
Admittedly, I’m the only black gay man in the country that doesn’t watch ANY reality series so it was tough for me to critique this episode.
Its not the most innovative show out there but its at least well shot and edited, more than can be said for most Black gay films and series. How did George Smith figure it out? Two Words: WHITE FILMMAKERS.
Seriously…is this the secret recipe for clean audio, steady in-focus camera work and decent lighting? The executive producer and director George Smith (pictured below) was clearly the boss, but he chose a team of white filmmakers to bring his vision to life even though all of the cast members were Black. I’ll bet my life savings that Patrick-Ian Polk had more than a fair share of Caucasians behind the camera on his consistently quality productions over the years as well. Are Black filmmakers incapable of pulling off the trifecta of quality independent film production? But I digress. I’m way off topic.
I only speak so much on the quality because the rest of black gay content, especially the content on the Internet, has been so inconsistent. As I watched this video (with the lowest expectations possible) my opinions of the episode rose more and more. I watched it on my big screen HDTV and it looked and sounded great and felt like an actual show on broadcast television. They actually used wireless microphones to get some crispy audio. Whuuuuuuuuut?
At the start of the episode we’re introduced to cast members: Chuck, Alex, Brodney, Arden, Marcel, Dean, Mehran (aka gay porn star King B) and the grandfather of them all, producer George Smith himself. They’re a pretty good looking and diverse group of guys of varying ages and backgrounds, a much better mix than the group we were introduced to two years ago.
As for the story, its the typical black gay lifestyle mess that you’d expect: Clubbing, looking for a boyfriend, sex, living on the down low, cheating on lovers, finding tighter low cut tees to show off tattoos, more clubbing, taking off clothes, messy fights/arguments over a man, Porn Stars & more clubbing. Once I took a deep breath and accepted that this is what 95% of gay men are interested in, I realized that George Smith may actually be on to something here. This show is not much different than the snippets of reality shows that I see featuring black women doing the exact same things.
The show takes place in Atlanta, where I currently live, so it was odd to admit that I’d been to every gay bar/club featured in the show (except for Einstein’s, a place one of my friends has been trying to drag me out to for over a year now). Having said that, the depiction of gay life in the city is not that far off from what I’ve actually seen firsthand.It would be nice if this series took a more non-stereotypical take on the lives of Black gay men, but is it fair to put that burden on this show when the reality show genre and audience doesn’t normally encourage or support that?
And in all honesty, as cliched as this show was, the teaser trailer released two years ago proved to us that it could have been a lot worse.This show (running at over 50 minutes long) is far from perfect and definitely isn’t for everyone (namely me), but I have a feeling most gay men of color, including those that frequent this website, will watch and enjoy the entire episode of Tha Life Atlanta whether they admit it to others or not. So if you’ve got an hour to kill, check out the new episode of Tha Life Atlanta and lets us know what you think. I’m sure that George Smith and the cast members will eventually see your comments and love to hear your thoughts and opinions.
THA LIFE (2013) – FULL EPISODE #1