“Interested In” explores the life of a Philadelphia gay man

"Interested In."

Out gay writer, producer, and actor Michael Witkes debuts Season 2 of his webseries, “Interested In” on his YouTube Channel on September 15. Set and shot in Philadelphia, the series premiered in 2019, when Parker (Witkes) was a newly out Temple sophomore. Over the course of five episodes, Parker had a handful of sexual encounters — with a classmate, an internet hookup, even his ex-girlfriend. But the best, if also the most awkward, was a tryst with Anthony (Patrick Michael Joyce), a sexy lawyer who lives in the gayborhood. (Parker was especially impressed with Anthony’s apartment). 

Season 2 picks up right were Season 1 left off, with 21-year-old Parker leaving Anthony’s place after sex. He deletes Scruff from his phone, silently vowing to look for a meaningful relationship rather than meaningless sex that makes him feel bad. Parker is still figuring out who he is, and he also needs to learn to love himself more. Witkes makes Parker’s anxiety over dating relatable, especially when he gets a text from Anthony that reads, “Hi,” and Parker feels conflicted about how to respond. That Parker is in full makeup at the time — his bestie, Anya (Ava Sophia Maddox) is studying fashion in New York and dressing Parker up — only adds to his confusion. 

This moment is indicative of Parker’s search for identity. He finds a heart necklace among his grandmother’s jewelry, and while he likes it, also wonders if it may be “too gay.” Parker is navigating how to be, and this forms the core of the series. He tests things out — as when he has a threesome with two guys in leather harnesses who put a hood on him in a later episode, but decides that is not his thing. He also admits to never going on a real date. 

That changes when Parker meets Jimmy (Mike Menendez), a standup comic, and they go for drinks. As they exchange small talk, Parker does not feel they are hitting it off, and tries to leave, but a text from Anya encourages him to stay. The vibe gets increasingly more uncomfortable when Parker agrees to go back to Jimmy’s place, and a non-consensual act takes place. 

Witkes deserves points for addressing issues of sexual violence and sexual assault and for using an example that causes Parker trauma but is not as severe as the drugged-and-raped stories that are often how the topic is depicted in media. Moreover, “Interested In” uses this incident as a trigger for Parker to experience trauma during his subsequent sexual encounters, to illustrate the lasting impact and damage it has — especially as he is reluctant to discuss it or confront it.
The series is also valuable for not “bottom shaming” its protagonist. (Parker is called a “a hot twinky little bottom” by one character he is about to have sex with.) He is seen douching at the start of one episode, and he does request the use of condoms as he is about to have anal sex with a guy, even though his partner says he is on PreP. Parker may be having unsatisfying sex in a nightclub bathroom, but he is responsible about it. 

Parker’s quest for sex is, in part, a reaction to his lack of a relationship with Anthony. When Parker meets Anthony, who introduces his boyfriend, at a nightclub, it is clear that Parker thinks that it should be him on the hunky lawyer’s arm. (Viewers may wish the same). 

Parker takes some of his internal anger out on Anya, causing a rift in their friendship, and he copes by having several assignations, including one with an older, pansexual man, Nate (Nathaniel J. Ryan), that prompt him to get tested at the Mazzoni Center. While he is filling out paperwork, Anthony pings Parker and the stage is set for another encounter with the hunky lawyer.

“Interested In” is certainly more thoughtful, sexy, and accomplished in Season 2,. even if the series can feel a bit amateurish at times. The acting is a bit uneven and, given the short running time (about 7-8 minutes an episode), the action can feel a bit superficial. But Witkes provides himself with a strong showcase because Parker is more fleshed out as a character in this season. His intimate exchange with Nate while still lying naked in bed, shows just how good the series can be. The biggest flaw may be that the sexual tension between Parker and Anthony does not crackle enough. Nevertheless, Patrick Michael Joyce still makes Anthony attractive and seductive. 

It may be best to binge Season 1 before starting Season 2 to follow Parker’s progression all the way through to his moments of truth. There are some nice touches over the course of the series, such as how Parker learns to communicate better, and how even his glasses represent his journey of innocence to experience.

“Interested In” is a heartfelt series about being young, gay, and looking for love. And Witkes has created and performed it with heart.

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