The Supergay Superhero And Other Ways ‘Coastal Elites’ Gives In To The Trump Rage

The Supergay Superhero And Other Ways ‘Coastal Elites’ Gives In To The Trump Rage

Five people are angry – one at a MAGA-hatted man on the street, one at casting directors, one at Ivanka Trump, one at her family, and one at coronavirus.

Coastal Elites serves as a vessel for that anger.

The HBO project, which premiered on Saturday, was originally written as a stage play at the Public Theater by Paul Rudnick (“The Stepford Wives,” “Addams Family Values”), then shifted to TV when coronavirus shut down production. The 90 minutes are broken up into five stories, each with a different actor playing a person broken by their surroundings.

Each segment is shot as a monologue, the actor talking into a camera to a never-seen, never-heard person on the other end.

Miriam Nessler (played by Bette Midler), with her NPR tote bag and New York Times crossword puzzle, tells a police officer about the man in the ‘Make America Great Again’ hat who accosted her.

Callie Josephson (played by Issa Rae) tells a friend about a run-in with boarding school classmate Ivanka Trump.

Nurse Sharynn Tarrows (played by Kaitlyn Dever) breaks down, exhausted by her move to New York to work in the overcrowded hospitals during the coronavirus pandemic.

Clarissa Montgomery (played by Sarah Paulson) interrupts her own live meditation stream to complain about quarantining with her family, who want to Make America Great Again.

Then there’s Mark Hesterman (played by Dan Levy), an up-and-coming actor who spends his therapy session recounting a Hollywood audition for a superhero. The character, Fusion, would be the first openly gay superhero on screen, but the casting directors don’t want Fusion to be gay. They want him to be – as the subtitle announces – “supergay.”

Dan Levy as Mark Hesterman on ‘Coastal Elites’

“Historically speaking, I think gay characters have always been the punchline or they offer a kind of funny color commentary,” Dan Levy told the Daily News. “They’re often reduced to caricature. Our stories often end in tragedy or death. We’ve only had a limited depiction of who we are.”

As society has advanced, so too has Hollywood, but queer representation on camera still struggles to capture the nuance, Levy said.

“I know that in Schitt’s Creek, it was a huge mandate for me to make sure that the queer stories that I was telling felt real, felt representative of my experience, and that I wasn’t sugarcoating myself, I wasn’t reducing myself, I wasn’t stifling myself,” he told The News of his Emmy-nominated comedy, which wrapped its run earlier this year.

“In fact, I was celebrating this character in all of his eccentricities and anxieties and colorful impulses in a way that ended on a positive note, to show a successful gay romance that was never hindered by other people’s ideas of what gay love should be or in any way stopped by other people’s beliefs that homosexuality isn’t OK.”

A gay superhero would be progress, both Levy and his character Mark say, but not if that’s all he is.

Levy’s storyline is less timely than the others — the only effect of current events is that his therapy sessions are done over video chat instead of in person — but the actor said his character Mark, like everyone else, is searching for a distraction from the daily doom and gloom.

Coastal Elites has been called a “time capsule” of people “anxious and heartbroken and passionately concerned for the future of our country.”

“I think this show tries to do that, to say, ’Hey look, you are alone in a way but you are also in a world where people are going through a lot of this stuff too and are finding ways to cope,” director Jay Roach told The News. “We’ll let you eavesdrop on their most secret coping strategy.”

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