In early 2012, I began watching a new, CW series called, “The L.A. Complex”. The one-hour drama focused on the lives of a group of young adults who were all chasing their artistic dreams in Los Angeles, California. I was initially drawn to the showcase because of the central theme of twenty-something’s all residing in the same apartment complex; each aspiring to become the next big actor, actress, writer or music star. I could relate to the synopsis directly, as many of you know that I relocated to California six years ago in an effort to change the direction of my life as well. As I watched the first full season of “The L.A. Complex”, I never fell in love with the entire cast of characters. However, I was very drawn to the storyline that surrounded the personal and professional life of Benjamin Watson’s character, TARIQ MUHAMMAD.
Tariq works as an intern for a major music producer. With aspirations to create his own beats and establish himself as a heavyweight amongst the music industry, Tariq hustles his days away doing any and everything inside of a Hollywood, recording studio. While completing one of his assigned tasks to forward a series of beats to the team of famous rapper, Drake, Tariq intentionally sends one of his own creations along with the specified samples. Drake’s management team falls in love with Tariq’s work, which then prompts Tariq’s boss to request that the up-and-coming producer contribute to KALDRICK KING‘S forthcoming album. When Kal and Tariq meet for the first time, a flame is ignited that erupts into a bonfire of emotions. The series follows the complexities of their loving and tumultuous relationship.
Despite the fact that Andra Fuller’s character, KALDRICK KING is a famous rapper who doesn’t publicly acknowledge his same-sex attractions, his character isn’t treated to the typical, “down low” storyline. The internal struggles that Kal endures to balance the external challenges of his career and public persona are so poetically delivered on screen. The personal and professional dynamic that exists between he and Tariq plays against the sensationalized & over sexualized interests that often umbrella same sex couples.
It was also very refreshing for me to watch Tariq’s character especially, as he totally represents the ‘middle men’ in the black, gay community that are hardly ever portrayed in mainstream television or film. Tariq’s character is given three-dimensional development. The ‘L.A. Complex” audience is given an opportunity to peek behind Tariq’s artistic passions, professional endeavors, everyday friendships and romantic relationship with another black male.
I have never shared the below posted video footage previously because I assumed that the large majority of my audience had already been exposed to this on-screen relationship. However, as I was reading a message last night in response to my ‘Derek J Effeminate Gay Black Men In Mainstream Media’ post, I realized that many of my readers and viewers might not be familiar with this very intriguing storyline. I encourage you to spend some time today or this evening, just really watching the relationship that forms between Kal and Tariq. You will smile during some of their scenes together and you will certainly cringe while watching others. The acting is very fluid, the outpour of emotions is realistic and the structure of their relationship is quite infectious from afar.
I also think you will be very impressed by the way the series portrays the openly gay, black, male attorney, CHRISTOPHER TAYLOR. Played by Jarod Joseph, the attorney is very outspoken, confident, proud of who he is and desiring a monogamous relationship. For the first time ever, I saw certain elements of myself in this fictitious, television character.
Naturally, as with any scripted series that focuses on the lives of gay men of color, the show was canceled after only airing for two seasons. However, during the nineteen episodes, I think the writers did a great job of answering viewer questions and wrapping up solid plot points. Very little is left on the shelf about what happens between Kal & Tariq or how they face their personal challenges outside of their romantic relationship.
EPISODE 18 & EPISODE 19
BENJAMIN WATSON Discusses His Character of TARIQ MUHAMMAD
ANDRA FULLER Discusses His Character of KALDRICK KING
JAROD JOSEPH Discusses His Character of CHRISTOPHER TAYLOR
Please feel free, as always, to contact me via TWITTER, FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM or EMAIL – XemVanAdams@gmail.com to share your thoughts about the characters specifically and/or the relationship that exists between them.