Renee Zellweger, Blake Jenner, And Gay Threesomes Will Make You Go POP!
In the wake of myself wallowing in isolation this weekend, it turns out I made a new friend: Renee Zellweger. Of course, we know Zellweger for being one of the most popular ‘90s actresses, bringing Bridget Jones to life, and being the butt of many Kathy Griffin jokes. I’ve long followed Zellweger’s career, but now, we finally get to see arguably her best role yet in Netflix’s latest anthology series, What/If.
What/If begins closely mirroring the hit ‘90s film, Indecent Proposal. A down on their luck couple (played exceptionally by Jane Levy and the delicious Blake Jenner) are prepositioned by Zellweger’s mysterious, wealthy investor character, Anne Montgomery. Montgomery, as most of the gays do, claims she’ll give the couple twenty million dollars if she is able to have one night alone with Jenner. Uhh, yes please?! But, it’s a little more complicated than that: There are rules and obligations within the signed contract of the exchange of a person for the money. The couple cannot talk about the night and if they do, Zellweger gets to destroy their lives essentially. Certainly there wouldn’t be a show if they said no, so the couple agrees. Jenner’s doofy character returns from his night alone with Zellweger bloody and jaded. This spirals the couple into revealing secrets from their past, stresses they have about one another, and their relationship and lives crumble much to Zellweger’s delight up until the final, non-cliff hanging episode.
Zellweger is at her absolute best, which is a pleasure to see. This ‘90s gal still has it – even if we may not necessarily recognize her new face. She chews scenery and acts the hell around every other cast member. But, her campy character is so obviously fun to play. She’s the scheming bitch- who wouldn’t love to hate her?! What/If has it all – sex, drugs, affairs, manipulation; it oozes with glamour and camp. It’s a riot to watch from start to finish. For the sensitive side in all of us, there’s even some tear jerking scenes which almost anyone can empathize with – although perhaps not when you’re alone you’re your boss in a scummy motel room. Jenner is simply eye candy for the audience, his acting skills are tame compared to his costars, but there’s no doubt he’s the most attractive out of the bunch. Levy gets another moment to shine in a starring role and keeps up with Zellweger in each scene: She’s another actress to watch! The series has some filler episodes, but you truly do care about each character and their very different but intertwined storylines. The final episode is one of the best I’ve seen on Netflix. They don’t hold back and the plot actually comes to a close without having to wait another year for a new season. I don’t doubt this series will get picked up again, with an entirely different cast and plot, but for the love of God please give Zellweger whatever pay she’s demanding because she is the reason we’re all watching. And maybe some of those butt shots of Jenner helped as well!
Yet, I’m not sure if Zellweger is best part of What/If! While I was drawn in by the main premise and the leading lady, I couldn’t help but get wrapped into the super gay storyline from one of the main characters. Levy’s character has an adopted brother/best friend, Marcos Ruiz (Juan Castano, pictured above), who happens to be the second leading man in the series. He’s in a relationship with his boyfriend Lionel (John Clarence Stewart), and feels a bit too reserved compared to his boyfriend’s former rowdy lifestyle. This leads Marcos to venturing out in various gay clubs, mingling with a hot stripper, Kevin (the beeftastic Derek Smith, pictured below), and trying to find himself. Marcos has hot and heavy threesomes, loaded with male nudity, and continues his relationship and friendship with the stripper he met at a bar. Throughout the season, we get to see Marcos grow as a character who wanted to let loose – and now wants to return to his safe space even though he truly can’t. The three men are not just gay characters with a gay love triangle, and the regular tacky, gay bull that we’re force fed because this is projected towards a mainstream audience. We see these characters debating about their life choices, having a near mid-life crisis, and consider jumping ship into a new relationship because the old one is just too comforting.
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Last September 24th (my birthday), I walked onto the Sunset Gower lot wearing this little number for a chemistry read audition for a new @netflix show called @what_if . I was feeling pretty nervous, but on my way in I passed by @tiffanyhaddish who was walking with a small entourage. Without breaking stride, she gave me a quick once-over and said, “dang, you look so good.” CONFIDENCE RESTORED. Needless to say, I booked it (how could I not after that little ego boost?), and TODAY, months later, that show is finally airing. Thank you to my reps @thoroughbredla and @jerroldrhee for hustling to get me in rooms, to @jamesreesephotography for giving them badass head shots to work with, to my work wife @ryanlagod for donating his reel editing skills, to @imisspluto and her team for giving me a shot, to @aimeedesh for being the best damn acting coach/unofficial therapist anyone could ask for, to @krisgethin and @kagedmusclesupps for giving me the blueprint and supps to get camera-ready, to @tiffanyhaddish for making my day and letting me steal a little swagger, and to literally everyone @what_if for making this whole ride one of the greatest experiences of my life to date. I’d do it all again in a heartbeat. Okay…thus endeth the “dude didn’t even win an award” acceptance speech. Just feeling legit #blessed today. Now go BINGE!!!
We can sit here and debate the quality of What/If all we want, but the truth is: Zellweger is a star and their writers sincerely took our gay lives seriously and put them into full fledged characters who we can be proud of. Trust me on this one, you must watch this series. What if you didn’t?
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.