In Living Color (1990-1995)

BLAINE EDWARDS and ANTOINE MERRIWEATHER as portrayed by Damon Wayans and David Alan Grier in In Living Color (1990-1995). .

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I remember these two vividly. This hilarious pair created the iconic phrase "HATED IT!" and snapped their way through television sets all across America. And here we have two straight men lampooning gay men. There are some truly funny moments in these bits (I mean, In Living Color is sketch comedy par excellence), and that tiny hat always takes me out. The nature of the show required that these characters be exaggerations of stereotypes, and they weren't ever going to have complex backstories, so I'm not gonna cry foul about the construction of the pair. But, more personally, what I remember is how folks tried to weaponize gayness via these characters. This was definitely source material for a lot of childhood teasing, much of which was not playful. "Man on Films" even made an appearance in my college years as a nickname given by some pals of mine. Depending on who you asked, it was given with love, or with shade. Having to decipher what folks truly meant is a clear example of the complicated emotional labor young black queer people endure on the daily.