Awards season is a funny thing. If it weren’t for the byzantine Emmy Award categories that no one knows about—including Outstanding Short Form Comedy Series—I’d never have heard of the YouTube series Poly People. And then that begs the question: Is a perfectly fine show that no one’s talking about worth an article?
Well, yes and no. Certainly Poly People is as watchable and frustrating as Lisey’s Story—that just has a lot of buzzy names doing nonsense for their SAG-AFTRA insurance weeks and craft services. And though this isn’t an unqualified rave decreeing that the most important LGBTQ+ series you’ll watch this year is here, there’s something compelling about making sure that RuPaul’s Drag Race isn’t the only series getting ink.
Poly People, filmed over two days during quarantine, is a mockumentary about a quadrouple composed of bisexual Abigail (Andrea Flowers); non-binary-identifying Cuddelz (series creator Thales Corrêa); lesbian Lez (Ilona Kulinska): and heterosexual but curious Tucker (Moore). All four performers identify as queer in real life, which is worthy of celebration—as is the fact that the short-form series’ cast and crew were 85 percent queer, female, and POC-identified.
But the series feels flat, even as it engages in conversations lightyears ahead of the more staid versions being told in mainstream projects. The real flaw is that the series just isn’t that funny. Charming, yes. Impeccably produced considering the restrictions and budgetary constraints? Definitely. But when it comes to saying anything with bite or wit… that’s not what Poly People is doing. The series as a whole feels like catching up with an old friend you haven’t seen in a few years. The feeling is pleasant but muted, and you enjoy the time together, but you don’t regret it when you go your separate ways.
What the seven episodes do, and do well, is casually engaging in LGBTQ+ culture in ways that feel fresh and contemporary. From Cuddlez’ secret OnlyFans account to a one-on-one date night with Lez and Tucker that ends in a strap-on and a plea for poppers to a Bad Dragon shopping spree, to the very premise, Poly People is the first baby step to normalizing non-binary lead characters and non-heteronormative storylines. If you’re looking for something fresh or just to support queer filmmakers in June, give it a try. And who knows—maybe this will end up taking home that Emmy nomination for Short Form Comedy Series.