Yesterday I finished watching the “EastSiders” series on Netflix, with the feeling that I had made a good choice to spend my precious time watching it. The series appeared many times on the Netflix catalogue display, and then I decided to give it a try. EastSiders is an American dark comedy series created, produced, directed and acted by Kit Williamson, who plays Cal’s role, the main character, that debuted on YouTube on 14 December 2012, and it had its last season released in 2019. The series has pros and cons in its favour, according to my humble opinion as you can check it out reading this article.

The series unfolds the relationship of two young men Cal (Kit Williamson) and Thom((Van Hansis). In Silver Lake, Los Angeles, Cal an aspiring photographer learns that Thom, an aspiring writer and his boyfriend of four years, has been cheating on him with Jeremy (Matthew McKelligon). Though upset, Cal decides that he does not want to end the relationship because he loves his partner. However, Cal also cheats with Jeremy. Though he intends to tell Thom about the affair, he does not. At the same time, Cal’s best friend Kathy (Constance Wu) and her boyfriend Ian (John Halbach) reach their six-month anniversary, marking the relationship as Kathy’s longest but Ian’s shortest. During the 4 seasons, Cal and Thom struggle to reframe a long term relationship and deal with the daily conflicts that come up into their relationship. In parallel, we follow the subplots of their friends and acquaintances such as Kathy, Ian, Jeremy, Bri, Hillary, Quincy, and Douglas struggling to their romantic stories. 


One of the positive points of the series is that it was created and developed independently. The series started as a web series in 2012, having two episodes available on Youtube, but due to the large audience, its fans helped through Kickstarter  fundraising campaign to produce the other 7 episodes. On 23 April 2013, the series aired the last 7 episodes of the first season, through  Logo TV‘s website. The second season was produced again through the fundraising campaign and premiered in 2015 through Vimeo‘s on demand service. The series was successful and Netflix bought the title for a third season with a debut on November 28, 20017, and it’s final 4 season, which was premiered in December 2019.

The TV show’s ensemble won two Indie Series awards in 2014 and 2016, which may explain the influx of cash from Netflix. Then the show received six Daytime Emmy nominations from the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, but it didn’t win.

The series explores the difficulties of relationships whether they are gay or heterosexual and how to find a way to reframe them when the love exists. Obviously, the theme is not new, but still, the way the narrative is featured a freshness, new ways of interpreting love relationships. Cal and Thom choose to keep together, after Thom’s affair with Jeremy, but it is not easy for Cal to deal with the ghost of infidelity, neither is it so simple for him to deal with the open relationship, because like everything in the life, he sees advantages and disadvantages. There are a kind of moral value issue and a romantic vision of the relationship from Cal’s concept of relationship, and that’s is a great aspect of his characteristic making him a complex and not shallow protagonist.

The other nice aspect of series is it doesn’t focus on Cal and Thom relationship. Other characters have a chance to limelight the series as Jeremy, with whom Thom and Cal cheat on each other. He wants to get rid of his relationships, but he keeps seeking for affection. Bri, Jeremy’s lesbian sister, who has been with her partner Vi for eight years and is raising children. Hillary, the emotionally unstable Cal’s sister. Kathy, Cal’s best friend who has problems with her short-lived relationships. Ian, a good man who is always in trouble with his straight relationships. Quincy, a gay party promoter and friend of Cal and Thom and his love interest, the drag queen Amber / Douglas, but he has a kind of prejudice against Amber flamboyant style. They are interesting characters, who throughout the series develop their own stories lines and explore other types of the LGBTQIA + and the heterosexual universe as well, showing that LGBTQIA + and heterosexuals have much more in common than differences.

The series’ soundtrack is good and full of songs from indie bands as Little Brutes (“Desire”, “Carefully” and “Make your own way”) and The Battlefield (“Highway” and “Into the sun”), and pop electronic music as Hi Fashion (“You are gorgeous” and “Eighteen).

Press the play button below


The narrative spent a lot of time showing Cal and Thom’s sexual encounters in the middle of the second season and the third one, without an important narrative justification. It became sex for sex, in a way that devalued the relationship of the characters (and also the story). It did not help to tell the story, to make the narrative move. The script ignores the chance to explore the pain and glory of their decisions, for example, when Cal finds out he got chlamydia and gonorrhoea, or when they decide to use PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis), a drug treatment for HIV-negative people that protects against exposure to HIV, and especially when they have sex without a condom, even using PrEP and do not have a responsible discussion about it. There was a lack of engagement to discuss sex and health (not only aimed at the LGBTQIA + community) with the seriousness that the theme needs. It was a public disservice to explore these themes without the necessary depth. Not that they should have been active in the cause, but the creators should have had a more social responsibility.

The third season which is the road season is aesthetically beautiful and poetic, but in terms of content, especially concerning the story of the protagonist couple, nothing new is introduced. Cal remains bitter with his promiscuous life and without a professional perspective, and Thom remains concerned about who he will meet on the Grinder for the next sexual adventure. The narrative could have focused more on the supporting characters, who at that moment were well developed and deserved more attention on the screen such as the fun relationship between Quincy and Amber / Douglas. 

Despite being a series for the LGBTQIA + community and produced by professionals and actors admittedly from the community as Kit Williamson and John Halbach, the actor who plays Ian and aso produced it, “EastSiders” could have shown fewer clichés (all gays are promiscuous, gays have no monogamous relationships, gays are emotionally unstable and immature, etc.) and more diversity and social inclusion (for instance more black, Latins and trans characters and subplots), pointed out that it is not possible to generalise the community because as the abbreviation of LGBTQIA+ properly infers itself, the community is immensely plural.

Regarding that, the series made a huge mistake, but it is worthy of catching up on.

EastSiders Official Trailer – Season 1