Godiva’s is a winner — bisexual arranged marriage, underage drinking, asexual fraternities, murder, drugs and placenta-eating lesbians. What else could you want? Well, perhaps a third season. CityTV just announced that the stylish comedy drama series set in a Vancouver restaurant won’t be renewed.
“It’s always challenging finding a Canadian audience for Canadian television,” says Michael McMurtry who plays the sassy homo Cordel on the series. Apparently queer just comes naturally to some; eventhough he’s done time waiting tables, the straight actor admits that he, “did more research on being a good waiter than playing a gay character.”
Sexual perspectives on the series collide in a way that always guarantees surprise. I thought I was ready for anything until two dyke characters (played by Ona Grauer and Leanne Adachi) served up a dinner party newborn placenta mixed into a tasty lasagna. I’m not the only one who’ll be left staggering at the end of most episodes. “A straight guy can be enjoying the straight sex then turns around and sees two men,” says McMurtry. “It’s a dynamic way to challenge the audience.” No one is safe. “I sometimes squirm when I watch myself onscreen in some of these scenes with these guys.”
Thankfully, Godiva’s isn’t the soft-core gay porn we all grew to know and love and eventually hate with Queer As Folk. The show tackles so many completely different stories in every episode it’s often over- and underwhelming at the same time. Some narratives get lost in the editing, while others could have been edited out entirely. Earlier this season, Daisy (Sonja Bennett), the neurotically flaky pastry chef at Godiva’s, loses her bike and for two painful episodes we learn of her long, uninteresting history with the two-wheeler. Meanwhile, the sordid details of a murder in the back of the restaurant left me somewhat confused about what exactly transpired and why it needed a cover up.
Fortunately, the narrative transgressions are quite minor and are primarily a byproduct of one of the show’s successes: shock that doesn’t offend. In one of this season’s early highlights, Ramir and his arranged bride Rajni (Stephen Lobo and Layla Alizada) playfully compete for the attentions of a comely henna artist who provides some insight into the characters’ sole commonality — womanizing — in an otherwise mismatched pairing.
Walking the line of accessible excitement is always challenging for TV and Godiva’s usually manages it with few hiccups and some real éclat. Style isn’t always easy for Canadian bacon but this show’s got it in spades. Beautifully filmed in Vancouver’s Yaletown district with hip editing, there’s always something to look at while the series’ soundtrack carries the narratives along with some sparkling modern selections.
Alas, the plug has been pulled on yet another Canadian drama series. Cancellation aside, the rest of season two and its inevitable syndication is definitely worth checking out. Cordel is a well-realized homo with a coolness and currency that gay characters rarely realize. His sincerity is unmistakable as he deals with the endless complications of condoms and committed monogamy, and the challenges of just getting by when his heart wants one thing and his dick wants another. Cordell becomes completely believable when he eventually breaks it off with his beau and realizes that his determination to be in a committed relationship isn’t quite enough to nurture his needs nor his man’s.
It takes a keen understanding of entertainment for a show like Godiva’s to generate much success with both straight and gay audiences. “It looks great, it’s well-paced, it’s very charming and can appeal to a lot of viewers,” says McMurtry. “Then, with the explicit gay content, it’s a great way of feeding that repressed appetite and confronting that prejudice that exists primarily in that straight world.”
So challenge yourself and see just how breeders butter the muffin, how homos ride the baloney pony, or maybe skip the euphemisms and watch something really dirty: a restaurant in action.