It was a night of both terrestrial and otherworldly, fetching fifty-something fanfare at the Los Angeles LGBTQ Center’s Renberg Theatre as Actor/producer/co-creator Kevin Spirtas was on hand to proudly unveil the second season of his and writer/co-creator Michael Slade’s Emmy Award Winning, Prime Video, short form digital drama series After Forever.
Centering around an exceedingly handsome gay couple in their fifties, flanked by the equally attractive ghost of the protagonist’s husband, one might initially anticipate pottery being co-molded, a non-celestial penny (dropped one too many times on a gritty Manhattan sidewalk) magically ascending a wooden door, or Whoopi Goldberg, suddenly detecting a disembodied voice, sounding much like that of Joy Behar — only smokier, if that’s possible — (and somehow NOT Joy Behar, because Joy Behar is simultaneously and somewhat contentedly drinking her coffee in front of the fake TV Panorama – in a manner totally bereft of any concern for separated lovers, gay or otherwise – yet contrapuntally complaining about the hair she found in her “big salad” last week from Shakey’s — sheez) — urging her abandoning the set of The View for more eminent spiritual endeavors: Primarily, that of aiding the terrestrial Brian in communicating with Love-of-his life Jason, now in spiritual form!
But not so in this sultry, cosmopolitan romance that postures itself more like an art house film than that of a whacky, mellow-dramatic comedy.
Having lost the love of his life, whom he thought would be his ‘after forever’/forever after, Brian, as referenced above, (fortunately enough) requires no help from Whoopi, Dionne Warwick or any of her psychic friends as this relationship is anything but medium, and really, a little more rare. Revolving around colorful parties and nightclub outings, quiet dinners, and conversations one might imagine between two husbands and male lovers, or one might never have anticipated, the scenarios explored are simultaneously fascinating, comfortably familiar, and suspenseful all in one fell swoop.
Continuing six months after Season 1 left off, Season 2 commences after Brian’s ostensible promise of “forever” has ended, with an endearing, but slightly awkward visit from the deceased Jason’s parents who have recently set Brian (played by an earnest and sympathetic Spirtas) up with David (portrayed by a tempered and true Mike McGowan), a salt and pepper haired silver fox. Inter-spliced with scenes from Jason’s funeral to tear inducing remembrances, and giggle prompting anecdotes of the most posthumous kind, the lives Jason (portrayed by a heartfelt and dynamic Mitchell Anderson) touched are purely palpable; Even more tangibly evident, Jason’s frequent appearances in the series’ background, poignantly pacifying Brian’s confusion, consecutively echoing sentiments expressed in conversations and arguments between Brian and David.
A tear-jerker and laugh fest all in one, and an impending LA Beat favorite, this series is truly the first of its kind, particularly in its exploration of fifty-something gay men, a demographic which, much like fifty something-year-old women, tends to be overlooked via the Hollywood image making machine, until it is older and represents more that of a stereotypical happy neuter. (And who doesn’t love a happy neuter…? But O Lordy Lordy – Such are the great swaths of latitude in between…)
An instant audience attention-grabber, each scene unfolds at the perfect tempo to the point of a million detected pin drops, the above perfectly evident as it played to near-standing room only on the night in question. And the ending…? Don’t even let me begin to tell you about the ending as it too possessed its own addiction-in-the making capability by way of its mystique.
Noted guests on the night in question: Sam Harris, Bill Brochtrup, Lawrence Zarian, Gregory Zarian, Todd Sherry, Christopher J Hanke, Nick Adams, and Tony Award winning producer for Dear Evan Hansen, Scott Mauro.
“Such a great evening… So wonderful having everyone come out and see After Forever: Season 2. My collaborator/producing partner/head writer, Michael Slade, could feel the love and support all the way back in New York,” quoth an incredibly moved and excited Spirtas!
The first LGBTQ Comedy to win five Emmy Awards (encompassing Outstanding Digital Drama, and Best Director and Best Actor for Spirtas) it is probably no surprise to discover that After Forever has garnered much more than that. Additional peer-inspired kudos include: 10 Indie Series Award Nominations. Other Emmy nods comprise: Outstanding Writing for a Digital Drama Series, Outstanding Directing of a Digital Drama Series, and Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Digital Drama Series.
The most outspoken words of praise, however would have to be from fans of all ages, sexes, sexual identities, and genders, who not only utilize this digital age of social media to sing said new and original series to the hilt, but additionally share their own personal stories of struggle along with lauding the series for how it has helped them through said strife.
Cast members returning from Season 1 to Season 2 include: : Kevin Spirtas, Mitchell Anderson, David Dean Bottrell, Erin Cherry (2019 Emmy Winner), Finn Douglas, Anita Gillette (2019 Emmy Nominee), Cady Huffman (2019 Emmy Nominee), Peter Kim, Robert Emmet Lunney, Mike McGowan, Jim Newman, Erin Leigh Peck, Jonathan Rayson, Jamison Stern and Lenny Wolpe.
Exciting new cast members seemingly-celestially transported into the mix encompass: Mary Beth Peil (Dawson’s Creek, The Good Wife), Bill Brochtrup (NYPD Blue), Wyatt Fenner, Christopher J. Hanke, Michael McElroy, and Scott Redmond.
All the behind the scenes trailblazers return in kind in the form of: Executive Producers and creators, Michael Slade and Kevin Spirtas, Writer Michael Slade, and Producer Allison Vanore, director Tina Cesa Ward, DP Colleen Kwok, Editor Tracy Casper Lang, Post Sound Designer/Mixer Robb Padgett, Composer Rob Gokee, Production Designer Scott Michael Salame, Costume Designer Jennifer Kirschman, and Key Make-up and Hair Stylist Angela Lynn Ware.
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