Let’s face it: We’re all watching a lot more television than usual these days. It’s a natural byproduct of being stuck in the house, responsibly practicing social distancing. But with so many options to come through, how can we possibly determine what is (and isn’t) worth our time?
Xfinity X1 customers can benefit from a five-person team offering targeted content curation across a variety of subgenres. Scott Conant, a South Philadelphia native who serves as Xfinity’s LGBTQ editor, is in charge of curating queer content for home viewers. PGN spoke with Conant, a longtime Comcast employee, about his new public-facing role, what he’s watching and celebrities he’s (virtually) hanging out with these days. Some responses have been condensed and edited for clarity.
How have you adjusted to the growing public nature of your role?
It’s been a bit of a whirlwind. I didn’t know what to expect, honestly. It has kind of come in waves. When we first started, we knew that our customers were definitely going to be able to see what we were doing and what we were promoting. There was a second layer added when we started doing videos on social media, through YouTube, casting a wider net. You can see us now on the Xfinity handle now, making recommendations every week, and they’re all unique to each of us editors. If you had asked me many years ago whether I wanted to be in front of people, I would have said totally. These days, I’m a little more private, but I guess not so private that I have an issue with this.
What are some of the things that you’ve been excited to recommend lately?
In terms of content, there have been so many great things. It’s funny: When I first moved from LGBTQ into a TV role, I was a little bit concerned about whether I would still have enough time to invest in promoting LGBTQ content. But I’ve slowly realized over the past year that a lot of the general television content has a lot of great queer characters in it. There are shows like “Dispatches From Elsewhere,” which was shot here in Philadelphia and stars Eve Lindley, a trans actor playing a trans character. I was so excited to promote that. “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist” has Alex Newell playing a genderqueer character, and it’s just a lighthearted fun show — the kind of content we need these days. “Black Monday” is another great show at the moment that is looking at queer narratives in a different way. The character played by Andrew Rannells, who was kind of on the fence in the first season, is getting a deep dive in the second season. I went into that with him in a recent interview, and he discussed why it’s important to give a story like that the right amount of attention.
In light of the moment that we’re in with COVID-19, has the global situation impacted what you’ve been recommending lately?
People cope with these things in a lot of different ways. Some people are looking for things to lift their spirits up, and some people are watching “Contagion.” [Laughs.] They just really want to dive in. I am always looking for things to brighten my day, and I always want to put out positive energy. I’m also someone who watches a lot of horror films. But right now, I’m leaning into content that’s more joyful — things like “Superstore” or “Drag Race” that put out positive and good energy.
Tell me a little more about your Hangouts. Who have you really loved interviewing, and who do you still want to interview?
My most recent one that is just going up is one that I did with the cast of “Drag Race.” It was so fun. It’s kind of like a little kiki. We all hang out, I make drinks for everyone, and we just kind of chat. It’s not necessarily just talking about the television show — it’s about getting to know them as people, how they would hang out with their friends and family. The “Drag Race” cast was a riot. The “Black Monday” cast was great. Regina Hall is amazing. She has such big energy, she’s so funny and she doesn’t look like she’s aged a day since “Scary Movie.” In terms of dream interviews, Emma Roberts would be an amazing one. I love her so much. Sarah Michelle Gellar too. She was a huge influence on me growing up with “Buffy,” and I think that had a huge impact on a lot of queer youth.