A few years ago, I wrote about MTV Canada’s 1 Girl, 5 Gays, a late night talk show that features five gay guys answering questions about love and sex. At the time, it was the most interesting show that MTV Canada had ever produced. And, as it turns out, it still is.
If you’re not familiar, the guys are asked a series of questions, some normal, most outrageous, or at least what I consider outrageous. For example: Have you ever had sex with an inanimate object?” Regardless, for better or worse, the show has always piqued my interest. As entertainment, there’s really nothing else out there like it. It also fills, ahem, a hole in the TV market that was once, ahem, filled with shows like Sue Johannsen’s Sunday Night Sex Show and Sex, Toys and Chocolate. In Canada, sex isn’t something that people necessarily like talking about, 1G5G not only talks about sex, it makes Kinsey look like Dr. Seuss.
In the past year or so, I’ve watched the series less and less. There wasn’t a particular reason, besides me feeling like every episode started to blend together. Plus, I hate when the guys talked about famous they were in Toronto now. (Fun fact: Nobody outside of Toronto ever likes to hear about people talk about how famous they are in Toronto.)
But a recent in change in hosting duties has me tuning in again and so far, I like what I’m seeing. After four seasons, Aliya-Jasmine stepped down and handed the reigns over to Lauren Collins, who is perhaps most well known for playing Paige Michalchuk on Degrassi: The Next Generation for eight seasons seasons. Three weeks in, I’m really enjoying Collins as host because if the guys aren’t going to change, it’s at least nice to get a different perspective from the host. She is genuine, interested and just as funny. Originally, part of the show’s charm was getting to know the cast and now that we know them too well, Collins’ arrival couldn’t be more perfect.
So while my opinion of the show is evolving, my concern over its message still remains. After all this time, I’m worried that it still sends out the wrong message about “hooking up” and even promiscuity. All too often, pop culture is transfixed on an idea that all gay men do is nothing but have sex with strangers, something that some cast members certainly perpetuate. But it’s definitely not something that is standard. The adults who watch the show can probably separate real life and entertainment, but can kids? Let’s be honest, growing up, most us learned everything about the birds and the bees from Showcase’s racy Saturday night line-up. So if 1G5G is the Red Shoe Diaries for today’s generation, I’m not sure if the cast is always aware of their potential influence.
I happen to think that 1G5G has a very important role in today’s society. It’s been proven that shows like 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom have actually reduced teen pregnancy rates in the USA. The show highlights the brutality of being a mom while teens are still very much a child themselves. Like 1G5G, there are often cringe-worthy moments that still haunt me in my sleep. 1G5G is just as educational, especially when they time to talk about the mistakes they may have made. Many times, cast members answer questions young guys or girls might be too scared to ask for themselves, especially when it comes to sexual health.
I would love to see the show branch out of its Toronto studio and introduce its devoted audience to different gay people across the country. What it means to be gay in Toronto is not the same as it is in Newfoundland, Vancouver, Calgary or even the Northwest Territories. If at least one aim of the show is to educate, why not show the diversity that is often celebrated in this country from coast to coast to coast? I’ve posed this question several times on Twitter and the response from others is always positive. I think Canadians who enjoy this show would love to meet other Canadians who are gay and proud to talk about it.
If you haven’t seen the show before, it’s definitely worth checking out. It’ll produce healthy conversation among friends and probably, just like on the show, a few laughs.
1G5G airs on Friday nights on MTV Canada.