Outings is a slightly unusual release in that it’s essentially a straight-to-DVD TV show, offering three thirty minute episodes of a new gay-themed series. It comes from Rob Ward (co-writer of the play Away from Home) and Lloyd Eyre-Morgan (director of Dream On, Celluloid, Three In A Bed and the Iris Prize winning Closets), who wrote, direct and star in the show.
The series follows a group of friends, with each episode continuing the story but focusing slightly more on a different person in each. In Episode 1, Kane is dumped by Tom, not least because despite being together for a year, they still haven’t had anal sex. Kane starts to wonder if he’ll ever get his life together, and whether the fact he can’t bottom like a porn star is going to affect the rest of his life. The second episode concentrates more on Kane’s friend Keigan, who has been asked to be his brother’s best man. However, he doesn’t really want the job as he doesn’t think much of his future sister-in-law. His tendency towards trying to escape reality also reveals a few self-destructive tendencies.
The final episode takes place at a party that Kane and Kiegan’s friend Tim is throwing for his girlfriend Lucy. Before dating a women, Tim had always suggested he was gay. While there’s no doubt he cares for Lucy, some wonder whether he’s as bisexual as he suggests, and whether he’d be able to resist an offer from a hot guy.
Outings is a fun show with the main problem being that it’s over too soon. You get three episodes that introduce you to the characters and set everything up that’s going on in their lives, but then it stops. The opening of the end credits does promise more if the audience demands it, but as it stands we’ve just got this introduction to the series.
That said, what you get is worthwhile. While the episodes tell a continuing story, they also feature self-contained elements that work on their own. For example, in the first episode Kane’s issues with bum fun go on a bit of a journey of self-realisation as he comes to terms with the fact it’s just a symptom of something else and it may not be him that’s got the problem. By the end it’s reached a satisfying conclusion, although the repercussion follow through into Episodes 2 & 3.
That’s also true of Kiegan worrying about being a Best Man, and Tim & Lucy’s relationship. However, I do think we could do with at least one more episode to let us know what’s going on with Tim, as on their own the episodes could be accused of following the trope that bisexual people are really gay and kidding themselves. While Tim is a single character and what’s true for him isn’t necessarily true generally, Outings could perhaps have done with a little more elucidation on that score. There also might be some who will harrumph at its tendency to make everyone over 40 out to be bitchy, pushy queens, whether they work in bars or in sex shops.
Again though, it’s partly the problem that we’ve got the start of something but that’s all. While each episode may be self-contained enough, overall it’s difficult not to feel like you’ve only got half of something here, especially as it leaves things on a cliffhanger. Hopefully that will be addressed when and if they shoot some more episodes, but as it stands Outings is worth watching, but be prepared to be slightly frustrated at the end.
Overall Verdict: Although it is a tiny bit cheeky to have a DVD release for what feels like the extended pilot for a TV show, the three episodes are an entertaining and sometimes witty look into modern British gay life. It’s a slight shame it doesn’t feel more self-contained in its own right (although I can see the logic for why it isn’t), but it’s still fun.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac