Having watched the first season of Q-Force, the LGBTQ+ adult animated spy show on Netflix, I would say that overall it was just ‘Meh!’ for me. You might get a few laughs during the 10-episode run. But it isn’t something I would urge everyone to put on their must-watch list.
This review of Q-Force season 1 contains spoilers. You have been warned!
The concept of having a spy team featuring LGBTQ+ agents is quite interesting. In a sense, I do feel the premise could have been actually enjoyable as an action-drama animated series instead of an adult comedy offering jokes that rely too heavily on pop culture references and queer stereotypes. And I’m talking low-hanging fruit here. A majority of jokes in Q-Force will likely make you cringe or roll your eyes. A lot of the comedic content would feel right at home if this show existed during the early 2000s.
The first episode opened back in 2011 with Agent Steve Maryweather (Sean Hayes) completing a training course. For some reason he said, “Hi, b*tch!” and “Bye, b*tch!” while taking down his opponents because he’s gay, I guess? And that’s exactly how gay secret agents behave during important training sessions?
Anyway, after being named valedictorian, Steve comes out to his peer and higher-ups during the ceremony. Upon hearing Steve’s truth, the director of the AIA, Dirk Chunley (Gary Cole), takes away Steve’s accolade and hands it over to Steve’s straight classmate Rick Buck (David Harbour). And instead of giving Steve missions in foreign countries, Dirk sent him to West Hollywood where our lead spy spends 11 years waiting for an actual case to be assigned. Over the years, he’s been able to recruit a spy team consisting of the mechanic Deb (Wanda Sykes), hacker Stat (Patti Harrison), and a master of disguise Drag Queen named Twink (Matt Rogers).
I have to say that the fact a 2021 adult animated show about queer people didn’t have a single transgender main or supporting character felt weird to me. But then again, considering the types of jokes being featured in Q-Force, I think such a decision was a good thing because jokes made at the expense of the transgender character would have likely been extremely bad and outdated.
With the premiere episode showing Steve and his team taking matters into their own hands and finding details about a terrorist attack, they are finally taken a bit seriously by the AIA as long as they don’t ever mess up. The catch is that Buck will join the team, called ‘Q-Force’ (short for Queer Force), to keep an eye on them. The rest of the episodes had the team handling a handful of missions while also trying to deal with the constant homophobia being delivered by Buck and Dirk.
If you ask me, there was no reason for Buck to be around. His homophobic comments aren’t even addressed with a witty comeback. His lines are just a jarring flow of bigotry and prejudices that I got tired of real quick. Buck’s storyline could still have existed through a bisexual character falling in love with Princess Mira Popadopolous (a parody of Anne Hathaway’s character from The Princess Diaries).
Along with Q-Force going on missions or being forced to face danger (one of the missions involved rescuing Deb’s kidnapped wife), our cast of characters also got involved in a number of subplots to help flesh them out. There’s a lot of relationship trouble to be dealt with. Steve’s relationship with a guy named Benji grew throughout the season. V’s relationship with a former spy partner served as a major plot point. And I liked Stat falling in love with a virtual being even if their romance had to end on a very emotional note.
However, a story thread I didn’t enjoy one bit involved Twink and Buck. In episode 7, Deb’s all about playing a prank on Buck. Her prank involved catfishing Buck by pretending to be Princess Mira. But during the prank, Twink felt sorry for Buck and decided to disguise himself as Mira to spend time with Buck on a date. Their interactions lead to Buck taking Twink to his home and the two even sharing a kiss.
I don’t know about you, but seeing someone kiss another person while in disguise is a big “No!” for me. The entire thing made me think of the highly problematic and life-threatening stigma of certain cishet men thinking that queer men act more “feminine” or present themselves as women (by donning drag) to seduce them. It also relates to how certain cishet men think that transwomen are just men wearing dresses and acting like women so they can hook up with them under false pretenses. Twink, as Mira, kissing Buck made me go, “What were the writers thinking?”
Later on, when Twink told Buck the truth about disguising himself as Mira, I expected Buck to punch him because I was thinking of the consequences such actions lead to in the real world. However, Buck didn’t hurt Twink and the two (kind of) mended their relationship. I was hoping for the writers to leave that story thread there, but nopes. As Buck’s on his way to meet the real Mira, we had Twink look in Buck’s direction and state, “He is so big and so dumb. And one day, I’m going to Top him.”
In what reality is hoping to one day hook up with a straight person supposed to be a joke? Especially, with the context being how that particular queer person had already kissed the straight dude by dressing up as his crush. Sigh!
As for what Q-Force tries to say during the 10-episode run, there’s a lot of talk about supporting others in the queer community. For example, episode 5 was about a number of queer men disappearing and the police not interested in finding out what happened. Episode 6 showed how the queer community can also be exploited by powerful queer individuals. The overall narrative had Q-Force learning about ‘Project Grayscale’ that involved keeping older queer agents in the closet and wiping away memories. Twink’s character arc had him getting over the hurtful remarks he heard from his father while growing up and embracing his body.
As I have mentioned before, I do think Q-Force would have worked far better as an action-drama spy series tackling such topics instead of a mediocre adult animated comedy series (where basically every joke is about being queer).
All in all, in my opinion, Q-Force didn’t end up being the total disaster the trailer made it look like. But that’s not to say that it’s a well-written comedy series by any means. However, to be fair, I did enjoy the voice acting, with Wanda Sykes really delivering as Deb. I also liked the animation style and how it was different from the usual Family Guy-looking adult content that’s out there.
Do I want Q-Force to return for a second season? No. But I guess I will check it out if it does continue. Anyway, I do have my fingers crossed to someday get a well-written spy action-drama series that just happens to have LGBTQ+ leads. The queer-led The Old Guard movie has been greenlit for a sequel. So, at least, we can look forward to watching The Old Guard 2.
Also, for those wondering, there’s a lot of nudity in Q-Force. I guess seeing people’s d*cks is supposed to be funny or something? Anyway, keep that in mind when watching this show.
Q-Force season 1 was released on Netflix on September 2, 2021. Feel free to share your thoughts with us if you have watched it.
Update September 7, 2021: To make things clearer, one of the main characters, Stat, is voiced by transgender actress Patti Harrison. However, I can’t say for certain if Stat is meant to be a transgender character. I say this because for a show that is very open about sexual identities, there’s not a single mention of Stat being transgender or even a story thread about the experiences of individuals in the transgender community.
Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.
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