Fire Island

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Docuseries following a group of young, New York City professionals who leave behind the stress of their big city lives and escape to the magical sun-soaked oasis that is Fire Island Pines

0.5/5.0

My Rating

4.8/10

IMDB Rating

0.5/5.0

My Rating

4.8/10

IMDB Rating

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Cocktails. Sunshine. Boys.

If you belong to or can blend in with this special gaggle of gays, then you’ll love “Fire Island” – if you don’t, you’ll view the show as trashy and demeaning to the LGBTQ community. For some, the show might take you back to your younger, club scene and partying days. To me, reality-tv shows like this are simply trash and a waste of my time. So why did I watch it? Well, there was a thing called a “lockdown” and being made redundant – and hey, I need a few films with poor ratings to balance out my list! (Kidding! But I can’t help it when a show/film rates badly…) To find out the reasons why I rated “Fire Island” so poorly though, keep reading.

 

The cast of Logo's "Fire Island" walking along the beach shirtless and wearing swim trunks

 

 

The premise of “Fire Island” sort of hinges around Khasan Brailsford, a Los Angeles native who is considering a career move to New York City to be closer to his long-distance boyfriend. He invites some of his friends and friends of friends to share a house for the entire summer on Fire Island, paryting the weekends away! First invited is Khasan’s long-time “best friend”, Jorge Bustillos, a Venezuelan doctor who left his career and boyfriend to move to New York City. Next up is Patrick McDonald, a southern Georgia boy who has decided to work as a bartender for the summer while partying it up on Fire Island after a recent breakup. Also looking to explore and party, and perhaps find summer love, is young NYU college student and aspiring photographer, Brandon Osorio. But not all of the guys are looking to party – some actually want to relax like model and entrepreneur, Cheyenne Parker. Rounding out the house of gays is Justin Russo, a NY graphic illustrator looking to gain new inspiration on Fire Island while enjoying the last bit of time with his boyfriend before he goes off to school.

 

Each episode follows a weekend at Fire Island, partly because some of the boys return back to NYC during the week for work:

1

The first episode starts with the basic introductions while everyone gathers on the island and in the house. But tensions already start to flare when Justin and Patrick stay at the house to cook a welcome dinner while the rest go off partying – and come back long after dinner is over. Things worsen when they host a small house party, but Patrick invites his friends (and random guys) who start getting naked. Jorge’s temper flares, contrasting Patrick’s “I don’t back down” attitude.

2

In the second episode, the boyfriends visit! Both Justin and Khasan invite their respective boyfriends to the island to spend some quiet time together, and Justin prepares to show off some of his artwork. The others want to party away at the island’s iconic “Underwear Party” – except Cheyenne who pines for his boyfriend. Again, Patrick invites his “friends” over, causing Cheyenne to storm out and leave the island – only to return the following day with his boyfriend in toy. (And after bailing on his promise to help Justin set up his show…)

3

The next weekend, episode three, Cheyenne apologises and tries to make it up to the guys by planning a house “family” dinner, but again Patrick shows up with uninvited friends in tow. The divide between those two are cemented after Patrick competes in the Cherry Pageant drag show and Cheyenne is nowhere to be seen. But drama starts with the other guys too. Brandon, despite wanting to have summer flings, ends up falling for one of Patrick’s friends, Jallen. Jorge is hurt by the lack of attention from his long-distance boyfriend and hooks up, causing Khasan to worry.

4

In episode four, it’s party time! The boys all agree and throw an all-night house party. Meanwhile, Brandon tries starts pulling away from his summer fling, oddly pushed by Justin’s attempts to provide unwarranted relationship advice.

5

Thankfully, things seem to be calming down a bit by episode five. In an odd twist, this weekend focuses on family as Justin invites his parents to the Island and Khasan finally introduces his boyfriend to his mother. We get a bit of tender scenes, hearing Khasan’s story about his dad and a rather different upbringing than the other boys dealt with. But alas, the drama can’t stay away entirely – Brandon has called it off with Jallen, but Patrick seems to have slipped in in the wake!

6

Things explode the following weekend in episode six: Patrick invites his ex, Chris Salvatore (from the Eating Out films) who we later find out has a history with Cheyenne! But first, Jorge is ready to call it quits on his boyfriend and tries to convince Khasan to finally make the move to NYC to be with him – well, actually with Khasan’s boyfriend… but at this point, we’re not too sure! Khasan auditions backup dancers for a show next weekend on the island, and Patrick sings a rather heart-felt country ballad at a talent show. But the gloves come come off that night during the family house dinner. Turns out that Chris flirted with Cheyenne’s ex-boyfriend in front of Cheyenne at a LA party ages ago. Before long, everyone’s yelling at each other and Cheyenne escapes to his room with his current boyfriend. But not before Patrick drops a bombshell: Cheyenne has been hooking up all summer despite claiming to be monogamous!

7

The seventh and final episode starts right after the explosive dinner party from the prior episode. The next day, it’s like the eye of a storm. Things are rather calm as Cheyenne tries to get the group to do yoga on the beach before giving up and drinking “emergency rose”! Jorge and Khasan enjoy rose while watching the sunset, and Khasan finally agrees to move to NYC. But Khasan has an even bigger surprise – Jorge’s boyfriend, Fabio shows up with flowers! Meanwhile, Brandon is dragged into Patrick’s antics, even though he clearly does not want to be involved. (Especially because Brandon is not quite on good terms with Patrick for things with Jallen.) Things explode when Cheyenne enters the room, leading to accusations and utter awkwardness as Patrick fully accuses Cheyenne of hooking up with someone else – in front of Cheyenne’s current boyfriend. They leave to their room, but things are not looking good. The following day, things are better (aside from the continuing drama between Patrick and Cheyenne that everyone else is long over). They go enjoy a Betty Who performance on the beach, enjoying the backup dancers that Khasan choreographed last weekend. After everyone’s back in a better mood, they all grab their packs and leave the house for the last time as the series comes to an end. Finally.

 

The cast of Logo's "Fire Island" having a house argument on the sofa

 

 

The Not-So-Good

 

What to say… or rather, how do I justify scoring “Fire Island” a 0.5 out of five stars? It’s actually rather easy if I follow my rhubric! (And that’s without getting into the actually bad parts of the show) It’s reality-tv; there is no plot – so how can I rate something without a script to compare? The cast are not actors but real life persons playing themselves. Ok, there’s one or two I might have to question on the “honesty” of how they portrayed themselves on the show *cough cough PATRICK cough cough*, but again how can I score the actors on being themselves. I can’t, thus another zero. There is nothing remarkable about the cinematography either. While we never see the camera operators (a good sign in a reality TV show), there’s equally not much to judge. Much of the show is hand-held footage that weaves in between everyone. There’s a few solid interview moments, but anyone with a tripod and camera can film that.

 

I do have to concede half a star for my Directing/Editing category – but only partially, because there is no directing of reality-tv. (Or there is, and we’re not supposed to know!) But the one thing “Fire Island” does well is editing everything together. It’s not all one camera that follows around, missing things because they can’t view everything. Rather there are multiple cameras, cuts back and forth to keep it interesting to the viewer, and more. Additionally, they had to take the footage over an entire weekend, with a very loose (aka none) “plot” and create a watchable episode. Add in some music, interludes of the island itself, and it is a capsulated episode. They also try to include non-dramatic events on the island such as when the parents come to visit, or the couple actual performances throughout the summer. What I’m not quite sure about is whether this to offset the anticipated drama of reality-tv or solely to appease to viewers tuning in who aren’t the party/rave going, six-pack hunk who will hookup with half the island. I hope it’s the later, but the former seems more accurate.

 

 

The Good

 

I am certainly not the intended audience of “Fire Island”, but even setting that aside I have a tough time trying to find good aspects of the show. Some would argue that it shows a different side of the queer and gay community, and that this is a postive thing. In fact, there was a LOT of negative feedback from the LGBTQ community and critics after Logo released the trailer! So much that the cast actually countered back in an Advocate article. But hey – negative and bad press is still attention; something that reality-tv shows like “Fire Island” thrive for.

 

I will concede that they do make attempts to bring it back in line by various things like the cultural events on Fire Island across the summer. It’s refreshing to see things such as Patrick competing in the Cherry Pageant, Justin’s art show at the island’s gallery, or even the conversation the boys have with an older gay couple on the boat where they get to hear all about the history of Fire Island and its association with the gay community. We even get some touching moments, such as when Justin’s parents come to visit or hearing about Khasan’s difficult childhood growing up without a father. Heck, even between our lead boys there are some great moments like when Fabio surprises Jorge by showing up at sunset with flowers! But for these few “good” moments, “Fire Island” cannot escape the explosive drama and partying the island is known for.

 

The cast of Logo's "Fire Island" toasting to a great summer

 

 

“Fire Island” is reality-tv. That alone sums up the kind of show it is, and I will freely admit that I am usually not a fan. I still watched the show because I was intrigued – and had nothing else to do. After watching the first episode, I was unfortunately drawn in for the rest because of the drama. Once you’re aboard a roller coaster, you’re stuck until it comes back to the station. “Fire Island” certainly is a roller coaster! If you’re looking for mindless, backstabbing drama set within a beautiful sunny island full of sexy men – then give the show a watch. If not – avoid like Covid!

Queer Relevance:

Unfortunately there is more relevance to the Queer community than I would like to admit. Starring six gay guys, including their boyfriends/partners and sexual partners – there is no doubt that it’s a queer show. Furthermore, it all takes place on Fire Island, which is one of the many gay “meccas” for summer partying. But it also highlights some stereotype group of gays that not all the queer community welcome: The party gays. The rich gays who can afford to skip away to Fire Island every weekend for most of the summer. (We won’t even talk about how much the house they rented actually cost them!)  The “model-esque” and “six-pack hunks wearing next to nothing” gays. The gays who get caught – or “allegedly” caught cheating. They’re all on “Fire Island” – and we get to watch all the drama unfold!

 

Thankfully, while “Fire Island” perfectly sums up a certain sect of the queer community, they do make efforts to include other queer relevant topics. We have Patrick competing in the Miss Cherry Pageant in honour of his mother, showing that loving connection so many of us have with our moms. In a later episode when the parents come to visit, we learn that Khasan had a unique childhood and for Justin, it’s the first time his folks are really getting to view this side of him. (Hint – it’s a heartfelt episode!). There are a few other queer community relevant details interspersed throughout the series, but even those bits are not enough to elevate this wreck of a show from the garbage.

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So how did I rate this film? My rating is:

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Plot & Script
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Casting & Acting
0.5
Directing & Editing
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USA

English

21 April, 2017

1 Season, 7 Episodes

Michael Beck, Tamara Najm

Albert Bianchini, Mark Consuelos, Kelly Ripa, Lenid Rolov

N/A

Khasan Brailsford, Jorge Bustillos, Patrick McDonald, Brandon Osorio, Cheyenne Parker, Justin Russo,

Movie Keywords:

"Fire Island" tv series poster

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

21 April, 2017

Duration:

1 Season, 7 Episodes

Directors:

Michael Beck, Tamara Najm

Writers:

Albert Bianchini, Mark Consuelos, Kelly Ripa, Lenid Rolov

Awards:

N/A

Stars:

Khasan Brailsford, Jorge Bustillos, Patrick McDonald, Brandon Osorio, Cheyenne Parker, Justin Russo,

Websites:

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