From Gay-Teen Romance To Moving Forward In Life & Forgiveness: Chucky Has It All
For the last six weeks horror fans and new audiences alike have been treated to the continued brilliance of Don Mancini’s Child’s Play franchise. As you probably already know, Child’s Play follows the fictionalized, yet decades long story, of Charles “Chucky” Lee Ray, a serial killer who eventually used a voodoo curse to put himself in the body of a Good Guy Doll – which is basically an homage to Cabbage Patch/My Buddy dolls. The original 1988 film, written by openly-gay Mancini and two others, told this horrifying tale through the lens of a single mother (7th Heaven’s Catherine Hicks) and her toddler son, Andy Barclay (Alex Vincent) who battle the killer doll (voiced by Brad Dourif). Chucky himself would not only haunt viewers for decades, but he still has a vengeance to pick with his once best friend Andy and the series would explore that storyline through seven feature films and now an eight-episode series airing on Syfy and USA Network.
With Mancini at the helm of the Child’s Play franchise, we’ve seen LGBTQ themes throughout. In the first film Andy’s father was absent, Andy’s foster-sister in the sequel, Kyle (Christine Elise), gave us all the lesbian and grunge ‘90s vibes, Bride of Chucky introduced the series first openly gay character and provided us with an outrageous performance from Alexis Arquette, Seed of Chucky is a phenomenal take on gender identity that was so spot on in hindsight, while believable, perfectly written and placed lesbian and gay characters flooded both Curse of Chucky and Cult of Chucky. Mancini’s Child’s Play universe is what Ryan Murphy aspires to achieve with American Horror Story but never hits his target. His storyline is consistent, plot holes don’t exist, and the characters are a wide variety of being likeable or heinous, but you still care about them anyway as their backstories are flushed out or their one-offs are present. This is showcased perfectly in the new episodic series currently airing.
Again, with Mancini being the brain of the monster, any fan of horror or nostalgia is going to be excited. We’ve already told you tons about the gay men who are the creators of some of the most iconic horror baddies to exist. He was upfront letting us know that the series, Chucky, would center around gay teenager, Jake Wheeler (Zackary Arthur) who initially befriends Chucky as he deals with sexuality, teen romance, and well, murder and all the things scary movie aficionados love about the franchise. In an age where every show seems to shoehorn in LGBTQ storylines and forced diversity and inclusion, Mancini’s prior work has proved he’s been doing this since the start and it comes easy to him – he’s experienced it first hand in his fifty-eight-years of life. Chucky should be watched by anyone, especially budding creatives, because it is simply how you should aim to make a series with LGBTQ content.
Chucky starts off strong with it’s pilot episode. We get a glimpse into the life of Chucky’s new ‘best friend’ Jake – who’s abusive, homophobic father (Devon Sawa) wants his son to be anything besides what he is: Artsy, awkward, and well, gay. In perversive karmic retribution, Jake gets his ‘wish’ of his father being dead thanks to the killer doll he found at a yard sale – and the pair seem like a match made in hell when it comes to Jake wanting to get revenge on others who have acted foul to him, including his aunt (Lexa Doig from Jason X) and resident mean girl and scene stealer, Lexy Cross (Alyvia Alyn Lind). Jake is almost easy to lure, especially when Chucky accepts his homosexuality as the doll also has a gender fluid child (yes, that storyline was explored in the fifth installment and is series canon). Jake moves into his uncle and aunt’s home and quickly becomes aware of Chucky’s slick and murderous nature, all while crushing on the town detective’s son, Devon Evans (Bjorgvin Arnarson).
Spoiling the series six episodes entirely would be a misstep, because this is truly excellent television that you must encounter and enjoy for yourself. The teen romance storyline between Jake and Devon is how one could imagine LGBTQ+ teen individuals now get to experience their first love in a more open society that accepts them. Their blossoming relationship and on-screen chemistry is perfectly put into the Child’s Play franchise, along with being innocent and teenage – not an offensive storyline like you’d see in Pretty Little Liars or forced because production wanted to checkmark off a gay storyline like in Hellcats. Devon’s touching scenes of coming out to his mother truly exhibit the varied sides of coming out of the closet: It can be traumatizing or lead you down a road to happiness.
Of course, along the way you’re going to run into the haters – which Chucky showcases perfectly. Lexy’s character, who you’d assume to have as a one-note bitch, shines next to Jake and Devon as she grows in front of us and befriends our main characters into frenemies to stop the doll that you can’t help but root for her journey into becoming a better person – and hero. Sometimes, when we find even one thing in common, a foe can become a friend. These are the life lessons one should learn in young adulthood. Mancini’s series sparkles with such realistic material that you forget this is a show about a killer doll.
With the return of original characters and actors, like the incomparable Jennifer Tilly as Chucky’s bride, Tiffany Valentine, and Nica Pierce (portrayed by Dourif’s real-life daughter, Fiona Dourif – who even doubles her acting roles as her real-life father’s character of Charles Lee Ray in flashbacks in a great gender-bending role swap) viewers are in store for one hell of a grand finale in two weeks. But, you still have plenty of time to catch up on the current six episodes before then.
Have you been tuning into Chucky?
Writer’s Note: This is the opinion of one Instinct Magazine contributor and does not reflect the views of Instinct Magazine itself or fellow contributors.