While I don’t normally make a point of doing content warnings, In The Moment, a soap opera set in a thriving gay community, deserves one. Created in partnership with the LA Gay & Lesbian Center and the city of West Hollywood, the series showcases a multicultural group of attractive men grappling with their tangled love lives. They do so in fairly graphic detail, so if that’s not your cup of tea, be warned.
But Moment is still an interesting example of a series targeting a very specific demographic for a very specific purpose. WeHo residents will recognize certain elements of local culture as being familiar (among them the apartment building communal barbecues, the online dating meat market, even the popular Abbey night spot). And the key issues being discussed, such as like HIV prevention, drug use, and promiscuous sex, are put front and center.
This occasionally pushes the series into PSA territory, with at least one character getting an AIDS test and worrying about his recent bout of unprotected sex, and sometimes the show gets a little on the nose with its attempts to engage the gay community. The third episode begins with the characters reacting to the news that California’s Proposition 8, a statewide ballot measure banning gay marriage, was passed. “We should have gotten married,” one character remarks. “We should have done a lot of things,” his partner replies. (They then attend an anti-Prop 8 rally.)
The tech specifications overall are strong, the cast is likable, and the writing is up to the level of any traditional soap opera. In the Moment isn’t for everybody, but it’s not meant to be. And it’s connecting with those it’s targeted. The first episode received 30,000 views, according to creator Dave O’Brien, who put the series together in the hopes of starting a conversation about HIV prevention among young gay men — “a conversation that had dwindled lately,” he said via phone.
Hence the decision to include a social networking section on the official site, which invites local residents as well as foreign viewers to interact with each other and debate the show developments (each episode ends with a call-to-action question or issue for the audience to discuss online). And as long as Moment continues to balance out its more preachy moments with sincere drama, there’ll be plenty of fodder for debate.