photo: ARD Degeto / Andrea Hansen.
When I look at the television landscape of the past few years, I feel quite happy that there are so many shows depicting LGBTQIA + people and issues right now, and that they are no longer just minor character stories. secondary, but that they have also become the center of attention. . When I was growing up the only show there was was Queer As Folk and not much else in the decades that followed, so no matter if you like it or not, it was a staple and a highlight for gays at the time.
Seeing an all-gay show as the first thing on the main page of ARD Mediathek (Germany’s main public TV channel) really made me feel good today, I have to say. I half expected them to hide it somewhere in the archives and you had to look for it, but no, it’s pretty in your face. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think All You Need is truly the first German TV show that deals exclusively with gay men as the main characters and gets such a privileged spot. And I think the series really deserves the spotlight – it’s a beautiful series, with cool characters and a solid story. A lot of people involved did a really good job and highly recommend watching.
photo: ARD Degeto / Andrea Hansen
However, the show is coming out at a time when many top international competitions are setting the bar very high. Just think of Pose and Euphoria – such excellent shows that showcase authentic and diverse sides of queer life in ways we’ve never seen on TV. So if you watch All You Need after everything out there right now, it might feel a bit too tame, not really progressive, and most importantly not exactly queer. But you know what? I think this is absolutely correct. It represents a bit of the more subdued and unassuming style of storytelling from German TV shows and films and from that point of view, it’s completely authentic for the German production. And I am totally disappointed.
All you need
The show tells the story of a small group of gay men in Berlin who go through the movements of love and life. The level of drama these guys are experiencing could come close to what we saw on the HBO Looking from 2014 show, which probably makes it more accessible to a wider range of people than those other shows dealing with very specific trauma and heavy. Especially the main character that Vince played by Benito Bause is very pleasant to follow and I’m really happy that they chose a black man for the role which highlights the intersectional issues that queer BIPOCs face every day.
What also impressed me was how graphic the sex scenes are in this show, which we probably have to thank Matt Lambert (hey gurl!). How often are shows with gay characters hesitant to show the same level of action as their straight counterparts in the same production? But All You Need is definitely not shy on that front and that’s what I’m here for!
My biggest disappointment and my only real issue with the show is probably that the cast seriously thought it was okay to only hire straight actors for the main parts. You heard that right, and I’m sorry for popping a few bubbles here. I’m not saying that LGBTQIA + characters should forever and ever be played only by self-defining actors. But seriously, we all know how stigmatized actor * exit is still today (just listen to what the 185 queer actors * who just released in an exclusive SZ story a few months ago have to say about that) – but I’m thinking until it’s completely normalized for actors * not to have to hide their sexuality and gender identity and actually play any kind of role, we should definitely give preference to openly queer actors * to play the few queer roles that exist and thus tell their stories. For a casting director, to say that he didn’t base his casting decision on whether the actors were gay or not is the same as saying “oh we were ready to hire a woman for the manager position but the men were just more qualified ”. Sorry, this is not enough. I’m pretty sure many of the 185 queer actors in the #ActOut manifesto would have been great for the roles of All You Need. I’m just saying …
All You Need is now broadcast on ARD Mediathek, unfortunately only in German and without subtitles even though they have chosen an English title.
But as I mentioned, All You Need isn’t the only show about LGBTQIA * life (although the only one set in the sexy Berlin district that looks really cute!) Here are a few more recommendations:
It’s a sin
This UK show was pretty hyped a few months ago and I understand why because it’s so well done and so intense. It deals with the AIDS crisis of the 1980s and gives a perspective that we may not have seen before on the subject that explains quite well how it got so bad. Watching this show during an airborne virus pandemic that has killed millions of people around the world really gives you a perspective on the HIV / AIDS crisis in a way you probably haven’t seen. come.
But to be very honest. It’s a Sin was not my favorite show on the list here. As the British tend to paint their characters in such an extreme way, they have managed to make most of their protagonists quite unkind (at least for me) and although this has been heavily criticized, the highlight of the whole series has brought in by a straight character – the mom of one of the gay characters – it was so well played and so complex and scary that it really changed things for me at that point.
We are who we are
This show is calmer and more introverted than the last one on my list. It comes from the Italian director Luca Guadagnino who also brought us Call Me By Your Name (I seemed to be the only person to think that this film was a bit overrated…). It tells the story of two teenagers who meet in a military base where their parents work and stage the contradictory mentalities of their two families and their own discovery of their quirk. I loved this show, it was incredibly sensitive and heartwarming and overall a beautiful story perfectly capturing the complexity of queerness for today’s young people where nothing is as black and white as when you were gay or straight.
genera + ion
I now come to my absolute favorite on the list. I respected the odd spelling of the show’s name which made it really difficult to google and even search its own streaming platform. I hope the show is successful despite the wrong choice of spelling.
Much like the previous one in the list, this one is about teenagers discovering themselves. But the framing is completely different, because their quirk is (for the most part) already normalized, so they face normal drama, but being queer while they’re at it. I loved this approach and loved the number of aspects of the LGBTQIA + spectrum that they managed to address here. The show isn’t as deep and tragic as the others on the list, it’s more light-hearted and innocent. But I think that’s exactly what makes it so enjoyable.
And I love love love the main character of Chester that I applauded every second of the show. He’s a flamboyant openly gay teenager (played by a true gay) who lives his school life being respected by his fellow students and not intimidated, which would be the traditional gay teen scenario. He’s a complex character with a compelling storyline and I really want to see where things go for him with the show. genera + ion was actually written by a teenage girl and produced and directed by her gay dads, which really translates into an authentic and relatable story. I find it funny how the show sees adults purely from a teenage perspective, which is absolutely embarrassing every second they appear. It was hilarious for me.
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