Kittens, believe it or not, we're not total stereotypes and thus have virtually no knowledge of or exposure to the world of competitive figure skating, outside of maybe tuning into the occasional Winter Olympics. Of all the people and figures that populate that world, there is really only one name we know: Johnny Weir.
Don't get us wrong, we know the name and recognize the face and we must have seen him perform at some point (although we couldn't tell you when) because we even know a little of his performing style, but that's about it. Then again, it's hard to escape knowing a little about him because everyone who does know about him tends to talk about him. In fact, prior to last week, here's everything we ever knew about Johnny Weir summed up in one sentence: He's a world-class competitive figure skater known for his melodramatic, gender-bending performance style, his tendency to say controversial things to the press, and his sexuality, which is unconfirmed, though he's had no problem skating (pun intended) right up to the line - and even over it - of what constitutes acceptable masculinity in the sport.
In other words, he's a gay male figure skater who doesn't pretend to be a straight male figure skater. That alone put him on our radar.
But THIS, kittens:
THIS sent us scrambling to our TV. A reality TV series starring a talented, charismatic, obnoxious queen? We are so there! But a funny thing happened when we tuned in for the first episode last week. Instead of a high-glitz reality show starring a bitchy queen in ridiculous outfits, we got a sober look at an artist and an athlete trying to reconcile those two worlds while at the same time trying to come to terms with his own demons.
Don't get us wrong, there were plenty of mani-pedi scenes and NY Fashion Week scenes and trying on clothes and performing model struts in hotel hallways and all the kinds of things a little queen in his early 20s will do when there's a camera trained on him, But there were also many, many scenes showing just how excruciating the training is and how high the stakes are. And thankfully, for the neophytes like us, there are extensive explanations of what constitutes the world of competitive figure skating and who the major players are.
The first "episode" of the series is actually a hour-and-a-half documentary that made the festival rounds earlier this year. The second episode (which airs tonight) is in a more recognizable half-hour reality TV format. Either way, we think it's worth watching. He's charismatic. He's fabulous. He's talented. He's infuriating. He's hilarious. He's a bitch. Seriously, minions. What more are you looking for in your reality television?
Be Good Johnny Weir airs on the Sundance Channel on Mondays at 10:30 PM. You can catch the episodes On Demand as well.
[Photos: sundancechannel.com - Video: YouTube/Sundancechannel]
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