When I saw the teaser trailer for Q-Force…I cringed. It was really bad. Like early 2000s mockbuster bad. It seemed less like an attempt to make a show with LGBTQ+ people are protagonists and more of an opportunity to be homophobic under the guise of “diversity and inclusivity.” I was ready to boycott it.

 I became more willing to give the show a chance when others pointed out the cast and crew were comprised of LGBTQ+ people and that those people didn’t have a say in the trailer. The actual trailer was better.

So, I finally decided to give the show a shot. That might have been a mistake. I’m honestly still not sure.

The show follows the titular “Q-Force ”, a small squad made up of LGBTQ+ members who work for the American Intelligence Agency (AIA.) Though Steve “Mary” Maryweather graduated top of his class – he was quickly demoted after coming out as a gay man. The Q-Force hasn’t had a single mission in 10 years – and then they stumble upon a uranium theft.

The group contains the top-of-his-class Mary as the leader, Twink – a drag queen as the team’s master of disguise, Deb the mechanic who is a butch lesbian, Stat the computer expert whose sexuality is unstated and then there’s Buck. Buck is straight. He gets assigned to the team to make sure they don’t fuck up.

He embodies pretty much every stock toxic masculinity trait you can imagine. Now, I love bashing around toxic masculinity…but I also like a bit of subtlety at times. And if there’s one thing this show isn’t…it’s subtle.

All of the jokes seem to be about being gay or gay stereotypes and I can’t quite tell whether or not they’re offensive. I’m definitely not the target audience of this show – being straight- so there is probably something I’m not quite getting here.

But I really don’t know how actual LGBTQ+ people feel about the show. And their opinion matters way more than mine.

Stereo-tired Types

Pretty much every single main character in this show is a stereotype. You have Twink, who is an effeminate cross-dresser who says things like, “Yas Queen.” You have Deb the butch lesbian who owns over a dozen dogs and is into mechanics. You have Straight White Male ™ Buck and the Straight Gay ™ Agent Mary.

I don’t quite know what Stat’s deal is – but I’m sure she falls into some stereotype that like the others has been done to death.

I can’t tell if they’re poking fun at these stereotypes or if the show seems to think gay culture is men watching Sex in the City and women wearing plaid and talking about car maintenance. 

Literally every single stereotype about LGBTQ+ people – well, more like every single stereotype about gay white men is on display in this show.

It feels a little unnerving.

It seemed like every joke was “See, see, see they’re gay,” rather than an actual attempt at being funny. And if they weren’t about gay stereotypes, the jokes were about sex and honestly…those just aren’t my thing.

One or two jokes about these things is totally fine in my book. A whole show full of them gets boring real quick. Just a personal opinion, but I don’t find genitalia flashing on the screen to be funny…Like yay, just what I wanted…a dick in my face.

But also – I’m straight, I really can’t be the person to say that a queer show made by queer creators is homophobic. But it really does feel like they weren’t really trying with their humor. While I wouldn’t be surprised if a queer person loved this show –  it also wouldn’t surprise me if they hated it.

Inside Jokes

The problem with making a show, particularly a comedy, for a non-mainstream audience is that at some point you are going to have to tackle the perception of that group and the associated stereotypes.

In a well-written show, the story will make fun of the stereotypes themselves and it will be obvious what the show is trying to do. In a lesser show, it will come across as a mockery of the group they’re trying to portray.

It’s hard. People fail all the time at getting it right…And I feel like this is where Q-Force had a major issue. Sure, it’s a show about queer people made by queer people…but I have the sickening feeling that Netflix was more focused on appealing to their hetero audience than their queer one.

Going into the show, I knew there were going to be some jokes that would go over my head – but after watching it, I understood the jokes…I just didn’t actually find them funny.

It seems like the jokes that would only make sense to the creators’ intended audience, the gays, got watered down into something the heteros would find palatable. And that kind of humor just isn’t appealing to me.

A huge issue with the humor is that, even though it’s “gay,” it still maintains the humor of any other adult animated comedy.

It’s sex, drugs, bodily functions – with the occasional swear. And like a lot of adult comedy series – its humor feels….outdated.

Like if this show had come out 10 years ago – the stereotypes still would have been cringy but in 2011 having gay characters depicted in a positive light was still not the norm (unfortunately.) 

Honestly, while I will place blame on the Netflix executives on how the show came out – the creators need to take some blame. Because there’s definitely something sus going on.

Representation Questions

I wouldn’t call this show a diversity win. Most of the cast is male, white, cisgender, and homosexual. There’s no out bi characters, no asexual characters, no trans characters…and there’s only one main character who is a person of color.

That’s hardly representative of the LGBTQ community. 

The show was created by two, gay, cisgender, white men and therefore does focus a lot on that kind of experience. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s an experience we’ve seen done before. 

It ignores the variety in the experiences that the LGBTQ+ community has in favor of the stereotypical camp gay comedy fodder. It tries to subvert stereotypes, but really only ends up reinforcing them.

And honestly, I expect better from a show whose writers room included Michael Schur, of all people. I was really hoping this show would come out as a surprise but the episodes were so hard to get through…that I just could barely get through it. 

The show has its charms, including some nice character moments and some oddly dated references including an entire joke that’s basically stolen from the greatest courtroom drama of all time, My Cousin Vinny, but overall the show just wasn’t for me.

Maybe it came out a decade too late. Maybe I’m not the target audience. Maybe there is somebody out there who will enjoy this show. It’s just not going to be me.

If you’re looking for something stupid, something you can turn off your brain for and that is gay as hell, sure, go all out watching this. Not every representation of gay people needs to be 100% perfect, but I do think the LGBTQ+ community deserves better than Q-Force.

And that’s the scoop.

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Grade: D

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Year of release: 2021

Length: 10 episodes, 26 minutes

Creator: Gabe Liedman

Executive Producers: Gabe Liedman, Todd Milliner, David Miner, Michael Schur, Sean Hayes

Producer: David Ichioka

Voice Actors: Sean Hayes, Gary Cole, David Harbour, Patti Harrison, Laurie Metcalf

Matt Rogers, Wanda Sykes