The Gay Adventures of Peter Pan is a mini-series dramedy, inspired by JM Barrie’s original novel and targeted at adults, aged 18-35.
In this updated and slightly twisted version, Neverland is an enigmatic island whose only inhabitants are men and boys with no memory of their pasts. We follow their poor yet valiant attempts to discover where they are, who they are, how the hell they got there, and how to survive the jungle and each other long enough to get home.
What they DON’T know is that they have two rather important things in common:
- They’re all queer
- They’re all dead
…which is—frankly—a bit awkward as they begin to figure it out. It’s embarrassing enough to realize you’ve been wasting your life, but to discover you’ve been unknowingly wasting your death is so much worse.
The Story of How The Gay Adventures Started:
As with many strange ideas, it was a bunch of seemingly unrelated information which eventually bumped into each other and formed a lump, which was The Gay Adventures.
- I read the book Peter & Wendy for the first time.
The very first line of the novel is:
“All children, except one, grow up.”
-Peter & Wendy
I liked the idea. I understood what he meant within the context of the book. And yet, my first thought was: Actually, a lot of children don’t grow up.
Sometimes it’s an illness or an accident. Sometimes a child grows up physically, but draw the line at emotional and mental maturation. And some kids die because they hang themselves in their closets or get shot in the head by their classmates.
The very first chapter hints at Peter being a guide for dead children:
“At first Mrs. Darling did not know, but after thinking back into her childhood she just remembered a Peter Pan who was said to live with the fairies. There were odd stories about him, as that when children died he went part of the way with them, so that they should not be frightened.”
-Peter & Wendy
“Then I sha’n’t be exactly a human?” asked Peter.
“Nor exactly a bird?”
“What shall I be?”
“You will be a betwixt-and-between.”
-JM Barrie, The Little White Bird
I thought this was just a delightful idea, for if you don’t want to be quite a man or quite a woman, or not quite a sock and not quite a piece of cheese… But it also got me thinking and the ‘betwixt-and-between’ of life and death. If you’re not quite alive, but not quite dead, then what are you? I think you know what I’m going to say.
So I thought–if Peter is a betwixt-and-between why can’t the island itself be a betwixt-and-between? Neither here not there? Somewhere or nowhere? Real or imaginary?
2. I looked into the background of JM Barrie…
…and discovered that the idea for an eternal boy was partially inspired by the untimely death of his brother David. Peter Pan, like David, remains a child forever.
And so of course now I was thinking about dead children.
It was done. The idea of Peter Pan and dead children was intertwined in my mind forever.
3. I was depressed
This part I did all on my own, like Eponine. I also didn’t give up easily, because I’m not a quitter, so I stayed depressed for years. I may have lost interest in most things, but I’ve always been the introspective and self-reflecting type [part of why I get depressed so easily] so I spent a lot of those years thinking about depression itself, the meaning of life, anxiety, suicide.
Of course, I also thought about being queer, something which tends to come with an early expiration date.
4. I watched Bully
…the documentary by Lee Hirsch. It was terrible. What I mean to say is: it was really good, but during and after I felt terrible. And of course, I was depressed, so I felt terrible.
But there was ONE SCENE that really stood out to me. I heard it once and I never forgot it. I can still quote it now without watching:
“I will fight bullying forever…because my son will be 11 years old forever.”
If you want to watch the clip, click here.
Take all the ingredients above, add flour and mix together, then allow to marinate for way too long, and you have The Gay Adventures of Peter Pan: a television series where Peter is the enigmatic gatekeeper charged with guiding queer boys who were either MURDERED or COMMITTED SUICIDE from one world to the next.
Unfortunately, he’s not doing his job properly, and only taking them “part of the way” to Neverland, where they’re stuck in a betwixt-and-between until Peter is willing to let them go.
How the Hell is this a Comedy?
I really didn’t mean it to be–it just kind of turned out that way.
It helped, first of all, that JM Barrie had written fabulous, tortured characters who were nevertheless funny because they were so woefully unaware, and bounced so well off each other–
Excerpt from the Original Play:
SMEE: Why it’s the wickedest, prettiest policy ever I heard of!
HOOK: Shake hands on’t.
SMEE: No, Captain, no.
It’s also that around-the-back, touch-your-toe-to-your-head kind of comedy which is so undeniably British:
“…and the Irish Bo’sun, Smee, an oddly genial man who stabbed, so to speak, without offence, and was the only Non-conformist in Hook’s crew,” (Peter & Wendy)
The Gay Adventures is an accidental comedy because people are hilarious, whether they’re dead or not. Indeed, I put to you that perhaps dead people are funnier than live ones because they’ve got nothing left to lose.
As I have personally experienced, sometimes journeying into the depths of hell actually improves your sense of humor. When you’ve got nothing left to cry about, try laughing. I promise you’ll get some satisfaction out of it because everyone in the cafeteria will be immensely “weirded out”, as it were, by the person sitting alone staring at nothing who suddenly erupts into jovial laughter.
The other thing which makes people particularly funny and/or pathetic are the people who either don’t know they’re funny, and or/take themselves way too seriously. Hook is a classic example of someone whose complete ineptitude is overshadowed only by his strong will to prove he’s right.
[…& for those who think love is the strongest force in the universe, you’re wrong. The desire to prove that you were right all along is much more powerful. Just think of the satisfaction of announcing to any loved one “I told you so,” and you’ll know what I mean]
Excerpt, The Gay Adventures, Pilot:
EXT. PIRATE SHIP DECK – DAY
Hook and Smee stroll the length of the deck, which is at a steep angle. They stop at the highest point. Smee leans FAR over the railing to look at the source of the angle: a colossal rock The Jolly Roger is marooned on.
HOOK: Do you think the ship running aground has affected morale, Smee? Be honest.
Smee glances at the bedraggled crew: BILL JUKES (42) stares out to sea, GENTLEMAN STARKEY (50) sips tea at a rickety table which is nailed to the floor, and DIRTY JOE (29), sleeps at the top of the slanted deck.
SMEE: It doesn’t seem to influence the men’s work, Captain. They go about their regular routine, just a bit slanted.
NARRATOR: (V.O.) At that moment, Dirty Joe rolled over in his sleep, and the ship continued to roll him.
Dirty Joe rolls past Hook and Smee. On the far side of the deck, Bill Jukes stops him with his foot. Dirty Joe continues to snore.
Hook frowns deeply.