The world might be falling apart, but at least we’ve finally got a reality show about a group of gay lunatics living in a rental house on Fire Island.
Fire Island opens at a New York City dance studio because of course it does. We meet Khasan, a dancer who is beginning to transition into the field of choreography. (But then again: Aren’t we all?) He’s very sexy and seems like a lovely guy. He tells us about his long-distance relationship with a guy named Jason who lives in L.A. and the struggles surrounding it. He refers to it as a “situation-ship” and I can’t decide whether or not that sounds more like an NBC single-camera pilot that won’t get picked up or a CBS multi-cam that runs for eight seasons. I am currently leaning toward the latter.
Khasan introduces us to his very attractive, Venezuelan best friend. They seem to have zero boundaries, like they sleep in the same bed and snuggle and show a great deal of affection but don’t have sex. Which basically sounds like being married. Khasan describes Jorge as “hands down, the craziest person I’ve ever met” and then tells a long story about how they met that includes five Escalades, staying up until 9 a.m., and Jennifer Lopez.
Next we meet Brandon, who calls himself “the crazy little one.” (The word crazy is used A LOT on this show.) He is a cute 21-year-old student who tells us that taking photographs of naked men is his passion, so he thinks Fire Island will be a good fit for him and I have to agree.
Speaking of Instagram, we’re introduced to Cheyenne. He is one of those hot guys with a ton of followers that is always showing up on your Instagram explore feature because you liked a profile called “DilfsNextdoor” once when you were stoned. He tells us that he was a mess in his 20s and his 30s are all about getting it together — and honestly, what better place to get one’s life together than an island that doubles as a 24-hour circuit party? He describes himself as a brand and rarely blinks.
Next up is Justin, an illustrator and the token bear of the group. He expresses his insecurities about not having a perfect body like the majority of people on Fire Island and it’s all very relatable. Justin calls Cheyenne from the train station where they’re heading to the island together. Cheyenne lies to him that he’s on his way, but is really just standing in some store in his underwear.
Finally, the group all converge at Penn Station and head to Fire Island. Getting there is literally a nightmare: You take a train to Sayville, then a shuttle to a boat, then you get on a boat, and then finally you get there. The only thing worse is when you have to do that entire thing again in reverse, but this time you’ve been drinking rosé by a pool before noon every day for the past week.
They get to the house, which is noticeably MUCH nicer than the house from Logo’s Finding Prince Charming. They pick rooms and get settled in as they wait for the final houseguest to arrive.
In comes Patrick … and here’s where this recap gets a little surreal. Full disclosure: Patrick happens to be my ex-boyfriend. Not only that, but we had a really messy breakup that I made the VERY adult decision to share in blog, Twitter, vlog, Facebook, and any-other-medium-I-could-get-my-hands-on form. It was a really ugly point in my life, but over the years Patrick and I have become friends again and forgiven each other for what was a garbage time.
Patrick explains that he’s been living on Fire Island for the summer and loves it. He says he went through a really bad breakup that resulted in a lot of walls (see above). We also meet his other worldly cute dog, Bodhi, a dog we got together. Oh yes, honey, this shit goes deep!
Patrick is definitely the more extroverted of all the housemates. He owns queerness in a way that is going to be good for people to see. This type A and type B dynamic between Patrick and the rest of the house seems like it’ll be the main story of the show and I’ve got to say, after years of watching Real Housewives together, I am proud to see he learned from the greats.
Most of the guys go to “tea,” which is basically just what they call happy hour on Fire Island. You “dance, drink, and spill the tea with your friends” as Khasan says. Justin stays behind to cook and asks that they be back by eight, or as someone jokes, “gay seven.” Insert eye roll here.
Patrick decides to stay behind to help Justin. (A good reality star always stays behind to help, since you get one-on-one dialogue with another central character — good job, Patrick.) Not much really happens, but we learn that Patrick has a crush named Brandon, which is annoying because now I have to keep up with two people named Brandon while taking notes. By the end of the episode, we’ll see that Patrick and Brandon aren’t meant to be, but we’ll get there soon enough.
For now, Justin is VERY annoyed at how late everyone is to dinner. He refuses to let anyone eat until the whole house is there at the table. I get wanting to have dinner as a group, but also, like … quit whining and give me some chicken, bitch.
Meanwhile, Cheyenne and Brandon (a.k.a. the “crazy little one,” not Patrick’s crush) take their sweet-ass time getting back and have a heart-to-heart on the beach. Brandon speaks about the difficulty of being only 21 years old with the seriousness of someone discussing their Crohn’s disease, and 29-year-old Cheyenne gives him wise, sage advice about aging as if he’s Angela Lansbury.
The next day is the Pines Party, a big beach circuit party that looks like my living hell. The theme is Xanadu and you can literally smell the cocaine through the TV. We don’t spend much time following the group at the party, and then it’s the next morning. We watch as they struggle to make on-camera conversation while clinically hungover. Jorge is excitedly planning an afternoon BBQ and forces everyone to help him. Cheyenne just wants to sleep and for the first time in the episode, Cheyenne and I are on the exact same page.
They have the party and Patrick’s crush Brandon is there catering. He claims to have come directly from the Pines Party and he’s the first caterer I’ve ever seen work shirtless and the first human I’ve ever seen with angel wings tattooed on his back. He brings some friends and they’re too rowdy for Jorge, who wants to keep this a “family BBQ.” His best girlfriend is in town from NYC and I’m still not convinced she wasn’t actually Catherine Keener. Some of Patrick’s friends get naked and Jorge flips out and threatens to kick people out. Jorge makes a casually misogynistic comment about how no one should be naked because there’s a girl there. And not just any girl, I wanted him to shout, but Academy Award–nominated actress Catherine Keener!
At the end of the party, we learn that Patrick’s crush, Brandon, is going to Texas to see another guy the following day. He has a weird, cold conversation with Patrick and I guess they’re over. OR ARE THEY?!
The drama from the party results in a “house meeting” where the group hashes out their expectations of each other and the house. Patrick points out that Fire Island is all about being free and silly and wild, which is true, but I can see both sides of the argument. Ultimately, everyone works everything out and they toast to #communication. No, really.
And that’s it for the first episode. Not the greatest start, but I expect the drama to really start to heat up in episode two. With that to look forward to and the voyeuristic experience of watching an ex argue with other hot people on television … well, I can’t claim that I’m not counting the days until I get to see more Fire Island.