How I miss Noah’s Arc! It was such a great show about 4 out African American gay men. It was never done before, so I was glad it was done. According to the Like a Whisper blog review:
For those unfamiliar with series, Noah’s Arc was a short-lived television show on Logo that recently made the jump to the big screen. The series was based on 7 minute shorts that featured all of the main cast and a message about safe sex. The television show smoothed out some of the edges and shifted the characters slightly. It was groundbreaking in that it centered the lives of 4 out African American gay men and their partners/love lives. In so doing, it opened the door for both black communities and mainstream queer communities to see the basic humanity and diversity of black gay men.
Noah’s Arc was also significant for its behind the scenes employment of African Americans as well. The writer and Director of the show, many of the people who worked on wardrobe, photography, etc. were all African American and some of them were also out gay men. Thus Noah’s Arc became a central place for the black gay community in Hollywood to work as well as to represent. In many ways this convergence of storyline, viewer, and labor excused some of the less polished aspects of the show.
Noah’s Arc also represented Logo’s attempt to capitalize on the huge vacuum left behind by the exit of Queer as Folk from Showtime. Like the L Word promos, the promos for Noah’s Arc promised viewers the one thing QAF did not: racial diversity in its core cast. The L Word gave us problematic multiculturalism and Noah’s Arc gave us an intense focus on black, including Afro-Latino, gay men. Similarly to QAF however, it offered cursory reference to lesbians and none to bisexuals, and all though it featured a transgendered character throughout the series, zhe was relegated to the background not actually part of the core cast. However, the fact zhe was there at all was another step forward.
Out of both anger at Logo for marketing this show like “black barbie” as if I could not recognize the mold and annoyed by not only the dissolution of QAF, including the core friendship between Michael and Brian, but also what I had lovingly referred to as QueerTime, the once gay abundant programming stripped down to Show HBO knock off Time, I refused to watch Noah and his darn Arc. Besides, I had never in my life heard a black person ask “what’s the de-ga-ga.” And like all Viacom channels, the commercials for the show were on a continuous loop featuring this inane phrase that made me desperate enough to want slit both my wrists with a rusty lid just to escape it. The only other time I’ve been that annoyed with supposed queer ebonics was when I was reading Abigail Padgett’s The Last Blue Plate Special. I’m telling you, Logo’s marketing strategy nearly killed this show for me.
But like The Last Blue Plate Special, I have to say “de-ga-gas” aside, Noah’s Arc turned out to be a surprisingly entertaining series that had so much more life left to live than Logo allowed. And I am grateful to the movie for resurrecting the discussion of Noah’s Arc’s place in queer media so that I would finally sit down and watch the entire series. While it is an uneven effort, it represented both a critical intervention into the prevailing definition of queer on television and a thoughtful look at the varied black gay community.
Season One introduced us to the titular character and his three friends: Alex, Ricky, and Chance. In the first two episodes they come across as histrionic and way too high maintenance. But by episode three, they have established a necessary groove that moves the characters beyond stereotype and into the realm of the believable. While some of the characters and storylines needed more fleshing out, & some scenes were clearly overworked, once Noah’s Arc picks up momentum it is absolutely enthralling.