The boys end their summer with Patrick accusing Cheyenne of cheating on his boyfriend
In the season finale of a show gayer than Ricky Martin watching himself lip sync “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” in Liza Minnelli’s makeup mirror, I have come to one conclusion: Fire Island is a poorly produced reality television program. Just think about all of the revelations in the final episode. We found out that Cheyenne spent the night with and possibly slept with Patrick’s friend Alex while he had a boyfriend, that Fabio has hooked up with at least three “mistresses” over the course of the summer, that Brandon routinely comes home before Cheyenne and brings dudes home with him, and that Cheyenne is routinely out partying until 9 or 10 a.m.
Where is the footage of all of this? I know there are only seven episodes, but why is the camera crew not getting any of this partying, hooking up, and misbehaving? We didn’t even know that this guy named Alex was even visiting Patrick, except for one appearance on the beach where they didn’t explain who he was or why he was there (but sure did show off how incredibly fine he is). And it’s not like there is so much footage of these dudes going to the beach or pool parties during the day. What was the camera crew filming? Just them at meals in the house? I know it’s not easy to make a reality show, but we expect more!
I wanted this to be a show about six dudes partying, hooking up, having fun, meeting boys, generally misbehaving, and occasionally fighting while living in a house together. Apparently all of those things happened, but we didn’t see them. We only heard about them. Instead, the production decided to focus on Brandon’s faux-lationship with that tall bartender whose name I can’t even remember (Jayden? Braden? Rylan? Some other name given to a hot guy on a gay porn site?). We also got a lot of Cheyenne and Patrick fighting, which was fine, but how are the producers going to show us the fight and not the inciting incident when that incident happened in the house? It seems like the show that I wanted to see was happening. But for whatever reason — they couldn’t house the crew after the last ferry, the bars wouldn’t let them film there, the guys they were hanging out with wouldn’t sign waivers, general incompetence, a bunch of straight people and Fire Island newbies trying to make a show about a place with a deep history and entrenched queer culture — they failed to capture the reality of not just the island, but what the island was like for these guys.
Instead, we’re left with two seconds of crappy security camera footage of Jorge making out with his “mistress” and like five minutes of his weird reunion with his boyfriend Fabio on the beach. If I were Jorge and my boyfriend didn’t show up so I acted out by hooking up with another dude, and then my boyfriend showed up only to make me feel guilty about what happened the night before, I would be pissed. However, I like that there is a program illustrating the open and sometimes experimental arrangements that gay couples sometimes find themselves in.
As the “house mother” of my own Fire Island share, my first reaction to Fabio arriving was, “Jesus Christ, they can’t possibly fit one more person in that house!” Seriously, it was jammed full of people. When Cheyenne and Patrick were having their big confrontation on the couch, there were people present I didn’t even know. There was some dude in a green shirt sitting next to Patrick and an Asian guy sitting on the back of the couch who were never introduced to us and whose presence was never explained. And when the real drama is going down between housemates, that’s when you get up and leave. As Whoopi would say, “Molly, you in danger, girl.”
Okay, so now I guess we need to discuss the fight between Cheyenne and Patrick, which is really like the Scylla and Charybdis of gay reality television show fights. It’s like if RuPaul’s Drag Race’s Phi Phi O’Hara and Survivor’s Richard Hatch decided to do a production of Love Letters that no one bought a ticket to see. What I mean is that they’re both awful and this whole thing was horrible, and, yes, it was compelling television, but I’d much rather see Jorge make out with a hot tub full of “mistresses” than this ridiculous fight.
(Recap continues on page 2)
Patrick has it in his mind to confront Cheyenne about how he cheated on his boyfriend Kyle with Patrick’s friend Alex. Why? Because Patrick is vengeful and wants to make good television. Even worse, he tries to couch it in some sort of phony, transparent altruism. “We’d be doing him a disservice for him to leave here without dealing with his s—,” he tells Brandon. Um, no they wouldn’t. Brandon is totally right: Don’t meddle in someone else’s relationship. Then Patrick tries to make it like he’s doing Brandon a favor by sticking up for him because Cheyenne always calls him a “whore.” Please.
Everyone knows why Patrick is doing this, and even bringing it up is making him look horrible. When they’re fighting in the big group, Patrick says, “I didn’t want it to come up like this.” The only reason it came up at all is because he brought it up in the first place. It’s like someone showing up at a dinner party with the biggest peach pie he could possibly find and being like, “Ugh, I never eat pie.”
The funny thing is Patrick actually had a reasonable excuse to bring up Cheyenne hooking up with Alex, and that was the way Cheyenne treated Patrick’s ex Chris, who was visiting that weekend. Cheyenne was mean to him from the moment he walked into the house because Chris supposedly once flirted with Cheyenne’s ex-boyfriend at a party. He treats Chris like crap for this indiscretion, but meanwhile he’s actually cheating on his boyfriend in the house and expecting them to cover it up for them. If Patrick had said, “Hey, you treated my guest like crap and now I’m going to expose your hypocrisy,” that’s one thing. But this false worry about Cheyenne’s relationship makes me want to staple my eyelids to my cheeks and never watch a Robyn video ever again. (That is what gay hell looks like.)
Justin (I believe) says that they all took an oath that they wouldn’t talk about each other’s relationships and Patrick decided to go against that oath. (I can only imagine that oath looked something like an outtake from The Craft.) As awful as Patrick is for bringing it up, if Cheyenne had bothered to try to forge a bond with Patrick, this never would have happened. But really they’re both awful.
The only one I feel bad for is Kyle. (Oh, and Brandon, who realizes too late what being on a reality show entails and groans to Patrick before he confronts Cheyenne, “Ugh, I don’t want to do this.”) Cheyenne goes out to the group to complain about Patrick, but by doing that, he has to bring up the fact that some housemates think he was unfaithful to Kyle. Obviously Kyle cares more about this than anything else, and he can’t even have a conversation with his boyfriend about it because everyone else is behaving like a pack of jackals. When he finally gets Cheyenne alone in their room, Cheyenne has no reasonable explanation for why he was sleeping in the same bed as a friend of Patrick’s he just met with the door locked. He tries to straighten things out by calling Alex so he can explain. “You have his number?!” Kyle asks incredulously. Yeah, Cheyenne. You picked the wrong battle to stand your ground on.
But this is the group’s final weekend of the summer, so they all pack their tank tops, skank tanks, booty shorts, Speedos, wide-brimmed hats, and all of those ridiculous bandannas and feather necklaces and other sundry devices for hiding microphones while shirtless, and they head to the ferry. The boat soars across the shallow bay between Fire Island and Long Island, and as the wind whips through their hair, they all think about the lessons they’ve learned and how they grew as people. They think about how they introduced the world to this little gay fantasia and how they accurately portrayed one of the most magical places on Earth.
The island, behind them, watches gladly as they pull away, folding her arms and rolling her eyes. She is a teeming mass of multitudes, a paradise that can’t possibly be captured by technology or media, and that these puny humans keep trying and failing miserably is a testament to her reign. She lets out a long sigh that bristles over the bay and pushes the ferry just that much faster into its slip at the terminal. It’s as if the weather, the water, the island, the sky, the seagulls, the fish, the filaments of seaweed threatening to choke the propellers — all of the elements are getting together to sing in chorus, “Girl bye.”