On the peak of his My Finest Good friend’s Wedding ceremony recognition and in reference to considered one of his amusing quips from that hit rom-com, Rupert Everett turned the topic of occasional “Subsequent James Bond” hypothesis. There have been even numerous factors at which Everett mentioned and even went as far as to publicly announce his plans to do a venture that was inevitably described within the trades as a “homosexual undercover agent” film or, extra glibly, as a “homosexual James Bond.”
Whispers about overhauling or reimagining James Bond have by no means stopped, however Everett’s proposed imaginative and prescient by no means materialized. Representational progress has come a great distance for the reason that late twentieth century, and Q-Drive, Netflix’s new animated homosexual spy comedy, would have blown away audiences in 1997. Possibly probably the most revolutionary factor concerning the present is how matter-of-fact it feels in 2021. For all of the cartoon dicks, racy double entendres and particular LGBTQ+ pandering, Q-Drive unfolds like a dialog between the funniest individuals on Homosexual Twitter circa 2016. A few of them even write for the present!
The Backside Line
Some visible and vocal power, however approach too reliant on stereotypes to really feel contemporary.
It’s acquired the forex of the primary season of The Different Two or a later season of Will & Grace. Or, put a unique approach, if this not particularly younger, white, straight TV critic can acknowledge all of the jargon and get — and even typically anticipate — all of the punchlines, then you definately’re not likely transferring the chains (sports-ball reference) very far.
Created by Gabe Liedman (of the far edgier and much funnier Large Mouth) and government produced by, amongst others, Sean Hayes and Mike Schur, Q-Drive focuses on aspiring intelligence operative Steve Maryweather (Hayes). A decade earlier, he was prime of his class on the American Intelligence Company, however when Steve used his valedictory tackle to announce that he’s homosexual, AIA’s homophobic director, Dirk Chunley (Gary Cole) despatched “Agent Mary” off to probably the most distant outpost he can think about: West Hollywood.
Caught in relative exile, Steve has assembled a group of fellow LGBTQ+ spies, together with grasp of disguise Twink (Matt Rogers), pc skilled Stat (Patti Harrison) and gizmo and gadget genius Deb (Wanda Sykes). When the Q-Drive group lucks into an enormous case, they’re out of the blue known as into motion, however the latest member of the crew is Steve’s straight nemesis, Rick Buck (David Harbour). Ten episodes of pretty arced storytelling ensues as Q-Drive follows a conspiracy that reaches into AIA’s previous, whereas Steve tries to stability a brand new relationship with amiable civilian Benji (Liedman).
The very first thing that must be mentioned about Q-Drive is that it isn’t as dangerous as Netflix’s preliminary promotion prompt with its trailer of nonstop queer stereotypes. The trailer positively captured the place to begin for lots of the humor, particularly in terms of Twink, a personality that originally feels prefer it was spit out by an algorithm that watched the primary 5 seasons of Drag Race after which had a meltdown. Greater than some other character on the present, Twink can be focused for perpetuating stereotypes, however that’s solely as a result of the character, performed with excessive power by Rogers, most likely has the best quantity of jokes on the whole. It’s spectacular what number of exhausted tropes the earliest episodes depend on, together with nods to lesbians dashing into dedication and different stale punchlines which may have been vaguely homophobic had they appeared on an NBC sitcom in 1995.
On one hand, you’d say that the issue stems from the lengthy manufacturing window on animated reveals, which inevitably results in loads of dated and obscure popular culture references. However that wouldn’t clarify why a lot of the second half of the season is an prolonged and fitfully humorous Princess Diaries homage. This doesn’t imply there aren’t sometimes more moderen jokes, like a number of operating gags making enjoyable of Quibi and the state of Peak TV (although I can’t dispute that my laughter there might relate to extra direct pandering than rigorously written punchlines). The identical is true of a number of bits tied to Los Angeles geography, as if the present had been affirming that it isn’t only for homosexual audiences, however for banal Hollywood insiders who wish to complain about visitors as effectively.
There are many groaners, however I nonetheless chuckled a few instances per episode — an increasing number of, in reality, because the present progressed. The characters all begin from broad locations, and step by step the jokes grow to be extra natural. On the similar time, although, the espionage aspect of the story turns into much less and fewer participating as numerous twists ensue. Moments that mix the plotting from the primary 5 episodes with the character-driven humor of the final 5 episodes recommend a great, absolutely realized present which may ultimately emerge. That higher present would discover the fractured neighborhood dynamics of West Hollywood and the anti-gay historical past of America’s intelligence and army infrastructures, components that obtain solely lip serve in these episodes.
Maintaining Q-Drive watchable, particularly if it’s your job to stay with the present after its tough starting, is the dynamic animation from Titmouse, which at instances does a greater job of mixing motion thrills and comedy than the writing. The characters are expressive and distinctive and the vocal work is usually top-notch, with Harrison, Sykes and Harbour placing probably the most emotional weight behind their one-liners. The present can be a nonstop automobile for big-name visitor voices, amongst them Annaleigh Ashford, Allison Janney, Dan Levy and Niecy Nash.
In one of many present’s greatest ongoing jokes, it makes enjoyable of assorted company pursuits for capitalizing on Pleasure occasions. I assume the most effective factor I can say about Q-Drive is that it doesn’t look like Netflix, an organization behind far more legitimately trailblazing LGBTQ+ programming like Sense8, is doing the identical factor right here. The primary 10 episodes of Q-Drive didn’t offend me, nor had been they soulless appropriation of queer tradition. As an alternative, the present is a considerably sometimes bumpy begin for a comedy looking for its voice, or not less than looking for out the best way to make that voice humorous.