Cypher Avenue Rating: 2.5 of 5      

This web series has now officially been renamed to “Baywatch on Land.”

Clunky soap opera Skinemax writing, inconsistent acting from interchangeable shirtless models and a fan base that will watch anything, earns it the new title.

Maybe I’ve been too hard on this show…the more black gay content, the better…right? I really wanted to drink the Jim Jones Kool-Aid, especially since the creator of the show said we were at least partially inspirational in its creation…but I just can’t.

I honestly don’t think so many people would watch this series if it were the same story only with heterosexual characters. Gays watch because its free, its gay, there are sex scenes and the models look good. When asked online, no fan has been able to explain what the show is about or what’s going on.

Just to be clear, I’ve never met ANY of the Freefall team. They have never wronged me or Cypher Avenue in any way. Nothing personal, I’m just critiquing the work. I never personally attack the people who make this show…just the story, characters and the art presented. I’m sure every one of them are really cool guys who are genuinely working really hard to make this crap.

So what’s wrong with the show:

1. The actors playing roles beyond their skill set
2. The depressing mood
3. The green/grey tint
4. The lack of any kind of dramatic conflict
5. Painfully SLOW pacing
6. No attempt at a 3-act scene or story structure
7. The lack of consistent character development
8. The convoluted plotting
9. Plot twists that are neither earned nor explained
10. The trading of gay stereotypes (promiscuous sex, clubbing) for black stereotypes (drug dealing, murder, robbing)
11. The implied notion that “masculine” characters need to be thugs

…the list goes on.

Too much critical burden to put on a no budget web series? Perhaps, dramas always get judged harsher than comedies. Am I ignoring the larger issues that the web series attempts to explore? Absolutely…I can barely follow the story let alone examine the societal sub-text.

Blame it on Patrick MurphyDarius Clark Monroe, Deondray Gossett and Quincy LeNear who showed us in Animal Drill, Slow, The Chadwick Journals and Episode Thomas the amazing work that black gay filmmakers can pull off with very little money and resources.

Anyway, Cypher Avenue readers still send us the episodes and we still get page views for them so I keep posting the show (Ocky hates it when I do). But I can’t review them anymore, I just can’t. As much as you guys love to see me break the episodes down, I love my life too much and there are only so many ways to say the same thing.


If this were my show, what would I have done differently?

Take the same characters (with the same acting abilities) and just make it a lighter show about “real life.” Not a Gay Thugs Paradise.

Say Nico, Xavier and Cam are smart competitive roommates, fresh outta college (or not), who start a clothing line or even a party promoting business together in Atlanta. A legit business. Like The Social Network. But there are obstacles, conflicts and complications that come with being an entrepreneur in Atlanta. Money problems, Investor problems, relationship problems, internal business drama and conflict. External conflict from competing companies big & small. The pretty light skin dude, Mumbles and Tyson could even have been rivals who steal their idea/investor to start their own shit causing even more (BELIEVABLE) conflict. Even add some straight characters for more realism.

EVERY black gay 20-something year old is trying to start a business or wants to be an entrepreneur, so does every 20-something year old hetero…so MANY people could have related to that. It could have been the black gay “How to Make it in America” or “Entourage”. Something potentially simple, fun, relatable, sexy, dramatic, inspirational, tragic and realistic. Then you wouldn’t need to have these dudes butch-it-up to play murderers and drug dealers. And this is just off of the top of my head!

Instead, we get The Skinny meets Thug Bait porn.

Are we haters for being so hard on this show? Well, even with multiple failed fundraisers, I’m sure “Baywatch on Land” is still earning some duckets from AdSense and YouTube advertising on their views. So we’re actually helping them as much as any of their “fans” in some weird way.

I haven’t seen any of the recent episodes (I gave up) but I’m sure this one features the usual sex scenes, random & confusing plotting, depressing melodrama and questionable acting of clunky dialogue. Before long they’ll probably dive into a character being strung out on drugs or even getting into porn, prostitution or escorting.

From what I hear there are only two episodes left in the season (episodes 13 & 14) and the producers are screening them at a theater here in Atlanta during Black Gay Pride. As bad as the show has been, I will admit that their marketing photos and presentation have been pretty solid…And for the average web series, they have a pretty decent core following, especially for a gay series. So this idea to get so many of the Stans in one place is actually a good look. They are probably still shooting and editing the episodes even as I type this since episode 12 is just now dropping. God bless ’em.

Ocky has said in the past that these web series actors and filmmakers primarily just want to be “Gay Famous”…Looks like the “Baywatch on Land” team is well on their way to achieving that.

Anyway, here’s the 12th episode of the show (see episodes 1-11 HERE):

Oops! Dammit! Sorry, that was an honest mistake. The clips looked exactly the same, yo. Here’s the actual episode: