FX’s Chozen features, at its core, an outcast in a lot of ways. Our eponymous star is not only a white rapper and a convict, but also a homosexual. Luckily for its audience, the show focuses little on how these elements make Chozen (voiced by Bobby Moynihan) different from other people; the show does, however, focus on how gross he is. We see Chozen peeing, farting, getting head, burping, offending; the show basically begs us to congratulate it on presenting the non-gay gay. But what’s the situation?
Out of prison, Chozen lives in his sister’s college apartment while trying to figure out how to best gain revenge on the man who framed him, thereby sending him to jail. They say living well is the best revenge, and living it up seems to be his and the show’s main purpose. We see lots of partying, drugs, alcohol, implied and boldly stated sex acts. There’s lots of talk about the rap game, but very little rapping. Each episode, almost as an afterthought, devotes scant attention to the story’s overarching concern, instead lingering on stupid race jokes, obvious sex jokes, and lots of slapstick influence. So why do I watch?
Initially, what I appreciated about the show was its non-standard representation of gay men. I see more gay men who look like Chozen than men who look like the guys in HBO’s Looking. At first Chozen acknowledged its own stereotypes and often subjugated them with ironic force; the frat dude who hankers after Chozen is seemingly out and wants a relationship. What a lovely twist, I thought. But it’s unfortunate that the show’s “awww” moments end there. On closer inspection, the show tends to conflate “straight male behavior” with “gay male sexuality” to produce its now-tired effect. It’s like the producers were like, “How can we make the gay character more relatable? Oh, I know. Let’s just make him more straight-acting.” While this does provide welcome differentiation in gay portrayals, it wearies the viewer very quickly into the season.
Speaking of the show as a whole and its motivation, I hope it centers back onto the main plot point: revenge. We’ve spent more than half a season engaged in college high jinks, crass sexual jokes, and attempts at moral lessons on friendship. We need to get back to the story, or else Chozen will be nothing more than that show that comes on after Archer.
Jonathan May watches too much television, but he’s just playing catch-up from a childhood spent in Zimbabwe. You can read his poetry at owenmay.com, follow him on Twitter at @jonowenmay, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chozen can be seen on Monday nights alongside Archer, and you can read our examination of Chozen as a spiritual successor to Kenny Powers here.
Image source: Complex