Queer Duck (TV Series 2000–2004)
|Genre||Animation, Short, Comedy|
|Company||Mishmash Media, Showtime Entertainment Television|
Queer Duck is a 2000-2004 American adult animated comedy series produced by Icebox that originally appeared on the company's website, then later moved to the cable network Showtime, where it aired following the American version of Queer as Folk. Although far from being the first gay cartoon character, Queer Duck was the first animated series to have homosexuality as its predominant theme.
Like several later television cartoons, Queer Duck was animated in Macromedia Flash. The show was created, written, and executive-produced by Mike Reiss, who also produced network cartoons The Simpsons and The Critic. Queer Duck animation was directed and designed by Xeth Feinberg; the theme song was performed by drag celebrity RuPaul.
Scholar Lawrence La Fountain-Stokes called the use of the term queer duck as "interesting" and described the show as about a "group of American gay animals" with their personalities seemingly "based on gay white men."
The title character, whose full name is Adam Seymour Duckstein (voiced by Jim J. Bullock), is a gay anthropomorphic duck who works as a nurse. In an interview included on the DVD release of Queer Duck: The Movie Reiss states that Bullock is the only member of the cast that is actually gay, and that he had insisted that the character be voiced by someone gay.
Queer Duck has cyan-colored feathers, a little spiky fringe, and may wear purple eye shadow. He wears a sleeveless rainbow top and, like almost everyone else in the series, does not wear trousers. This follows the tradition of semi-nudity of cartoon animals exemplified by Porky Pig, Donald Duck, Top Cat, etc. He is often shown to have two fingers and one thumb on each hand, though on occasion he has the three fingers and one thumb per hand that is typical of many contemporary cartoons.
Queer Duck is known to gossip about anything and everything, especially on the phone while watching television, as shown on Oh Christ!, The Gaining of Herpes from Sparky and A Gay Outing. He is promiscuous in his own way, but not as obsessed with sex as his boyfriend Openly Gator; for example, he'll often utter the word "cock" but swiftly follows it with another word, like "tails", such as in The Gay Road to Morocco.
His nemesis is known to be radio show host Laura Schlessinger, who is pictured as a haggard and ugly old woman.
Queer Duck has also been a victim of gay bashing, as shown in Ku Klux Klan & Ollie, in which Ku Klux Klan members attempt to burn his house down. When his disguise fails, he kisses the unveiled Jerry Falwell, only to get shot down by the other homophobes. When in heaven he finds out that famous icons like Socrates and Leonardo da Vinci are also gay, much to the chagrin of Jerry Falwell.
Over the course of the series, the audience learns that Queer Duck has a Jewish mother who is in denial of his sexuality, a diabetic father (whose name is revealed to be Morty in the episode Quack Doctor), a straight brother named Lucky (who is shown to have bullied Queer Duck when they were younger), a nephew named Little Lucky and a lesbian sister named Melissa. Queer Duck is not the most beloved child in his family and there are strong hints that his older brother Lucky is the most favored one, due to his heterosexuality.
Queer Duck is afraid to show his sexuality to his nephew Little Lucky (who first appeared in Fiddler on the Roofie), especially while camping with two of Little Lucky's friends. They discovered one of his magazines, which included personal ads that contained acronyms like GBM, S&M and B&D. Lucky, however, is already aware of his uncle's sexual identity: when his fellow campers taunt him by saying, "Your uncle is gay", Lucky answers, "Well, DUH!".
- Openly Gator (voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson, in the style of Harvey Fierstein), is Queer Duck's boyfriend. His full name is Steven Arlo Gator. He is shy and insecure and is usually the voice of reason whenever Queer Duck gets himself or anyone else in trouble. He marries Queer Duck in a Jewish Wedding in Vermont in the episode 'Wedding Bell Blues' (although they are often seen as having an open relationship); a moose was the rabbi. He works as a waiter in a restaurant that both he and Queer Duck hate.
- Bi-Polar Bear (voiced by The Ren & Stimpy Show and Futurama actor Billy West, in the style of Paul Lynde) is one of Queer Duck's friends. He often makes bad jokes that he alone finds funny. He works in a perfume stand at a mall.
- Oscar Wildcat (voice actor Maurice LaMarche) is an urbane character, often portrayed as an alcoholic (he is always seen holding some form of alcohol, usually a martini). He has a deep dislike for his own mother and has implied that he would like to kill her. "If I came out it would kill mother!... I'll do it tonight." He owns a Shirley Temple antique store called "Shirley You Jest". His name is a reference to Oscar Wilde.
Recurring supporting characters include Queer Duck's mother (played by Estelle Harris, George's mother on Seinfeld) and the group's nemesis, Dr. Laura Schlessinger (played by voice actress Tress MacNeille). One character, a large, well-built horse, portrays different characters in each episode. He starts out as a gay-converting Christian minister but later portrays more gay-sensitive characters, such as a flight attendant on TWGay. Other characters who have appeared include Truman Coyote, Ricky Marlin and KY Jellyfish.
Although each three-minute episode stands by itself, there are several recurring themes throughout the 20-episode series, such as coming out, gay relationships/marriages, and the problems that can arise when gay and lesbian people have to interact with their straight family members. These are explored through a variety of situations: Queer Duck comes out to his parents in the first episode; in another, Queer Duck and Openly Gator get married, and it's revealed that Queer Duck has a lesbian sister; and in other episodes, Queer Duck must deal with other family members, such as his straight brother, who is much beloved by their parents.
Much like The Critic, Queer Duck features numerous "cameo" voice appearances by celebrities, these voices are impersonated by the cast. In addition to Dr. Laura, the Queer Duck gang encounter Bob Hope, Jack Nicholson, Cary Grant, and Barbra Streisand, with whom Queer Duck is obsessed, as well as noted ultra-conservative preacher Jerry Falwell. These celebrities are the only human characters. All other characters are anthropomorphic animals like Queer Duck and his friends, except for the woman Queer Duck sleeps with in the final episode.
|1||"I'm Coming Out"|
|On October 11, National Coming Out Day, Queer Duck comes out to his friends and family who already knew he was gay.|
|2||"Fiddler on the Roofies"|
|Queer Duck babysits his nephew, who finds an interesting collection of video tapes.|
|The plans of Dr. and Mrs. Duckstein, Duck's parents, to deprogram our hero are met with fabulously entertaining results.|
|Queer Duck pranks Dr. Laura who tries to get even by stalking him down with a double barrel shotgun. Dr. Laura ends up trying to peek through a "glory hole" and ends up "cockeyed." Queer Duck pulls off a "Daffy" when she finally catches up to him at the local bar.|
|5||"B.S. I Love You"|
|Queer Duck stands in line to see his idol Barbra Streisand. He gets tackled by her security and thrown in prison thanks to her gaydar system. Prison ends up being more of a "lucky break" however more than Queer Duck could have possibly imagined.|
|6||"The Gayest Place on Earth"|
|The Queer Gang go to a gay theme park. Queer Duck makes a pass at a sailor turkey named "Gobble - the salty Sea man" only to be thwarted by a captain (Mickey Mouse). Attractions seen are "It's a Gay World" (after all), "Butt Pirates" and several closeted stars are also caught there (Keangaroo Reeves and Ricky Marlin).|
|After insulting Openly Gator's oversized derrière, and Gator's histrionics over the insult, Gator takes Queer Duck to the gym to rectify the problem. While there, Duck cruises the patrons, leaving Gator to suffer an accident on a weight bench. When the accident leaves Gator with a turned-up nose, Duck tells him it looks like Tori Spelling's. Gator returns to his melodramatic histrionics.|
|8||"Queer as Fowl"|
|While attending the funeral of H.I.V. Possum, Queer duck treats the event like a gay mixer. Queer Duck agrees, stating that "everything is a gay pickup, Desert Storm was a gay pickup." Queer Duck gets disgusted by the funeral poetry reading and turns the funeral into a gay disco. But as it turns out, Queer Duck also has a sensitive side.|
|9||"Wedding Bell Blues"|
|While flying home after attending a gay rodeo, Dr. Laura appears on the gang's airplane's wing (like a gremlin) and starts to take apart the wing. She is ultimately electrocuted. During the panic, Queer Duck makes a "deathbed promise" to marry Openly Gator. They go to Vermont to marry, by a rabbi, where Queer Duck adds a laundry list of exceptions to his vows.|
|10||"Ku Klux Klan and Ollie"|
|Queer Duck and the gang are having martinis at home when they are interrupted by the KKK. Queer Duck faces off against the unhooded Jerry Falwell and in the process of Queer Duck and Falwell's "exchange," they are offed by the other Klansmen and sent to heaven where they realize there are plenty of other gay occupants. Jerry's disdain for heaven gets him castawayed to an isolated cloud below the main "party" upstairs.|
|11||"The Gay Road to Morocco"|
|In a black-and-white parody of the film Road to Morocco, Queer Duck & the troupe offer a Gay Road to Morocco musical episode. They meet Bing Crosby and Bob Hope in the desert and are confronted by Abu Ben Dover (Cary Grant) and his army, which turns out to be a harem.|
|The Queer Gang go to see a gay head shrink, Dr. Ben Swine. Bi Polar Bear relates a recurring dream with Hollywood squares (true to Paul Lynde) and we learn of a dark side to Oscar Wildcat (expanded upon in episode 15). We also get a look at the hatching of Queer Duck. Finally, the anxious and insecure Openly Gator ends up with a good ol' bottle of Xanax.|
|The gang attends the Oscars, meeting Joan Rivers. The event is so boring that they all fall asleep. Upon waking, they join Jack Nicholson in a spree of destruction, tearing up the theater.|
|14||"A Gay Outing"|
|While Queer Duck is watching "Drugged Out Has-Been's Week" on the Biography Channel, his nephew, a Cub Scout, reminds him of his promise to take the troop on a camping trip. The boys find a copy of Out Magazine with Barney Frank on the cover, and Queer Duck tries to explain the contents of the personal ads. In a musical number, he makes up non-sexual meanings to the abbreviations common in the ads, such as GBM, S&M, B&D, bi/curious, dyke, vamp, butch, and "water-sports."|
|Queer Duck and Openly Gator host a new radio program. First a mysterious caller calls in with a cooking question, "Oscar Mild-Cat." Finally there's a showdown with Dr. Laura, who comes out of the closet but ends up in a major "meltdown."|
|16||"Tales of the City Morgue"|
|Three short stories, including Bi Polar Bear's abduction by aliens who were hoping for a "breeder," Oscar Wildcat's creation of a "Barney Frankenstein", and Openly Gator's challenge to break Queer Duck from his Yentl addiction. Will this do in the whole Queer Gang?|
|17||"Homo for the Holidays"|
|Openly Gator and Queer Duck visit the Ducksteins for the holidays, where Dr. Duckstein tries to set up Openly Gator with Queer Duck's lesbian sister. But a fortunate wishbone break resolves the family crisis.|
|18||"Bi Polar Bear and the Glorious Hole"|
|In a parody of Winnie the Pooh, Bi Polar Bear gets stuck in Oscar Wildcat's hole and becomes very popular in the neighborhood, enjoying the "attention" of many of his neighbors.|
|19||"Santa Claus is Coming Out"|
|Queer Duck's holiday song outs Santa Claus. But when the real Santa visits Queer Duck's house on Christmas morning, Santa explains his true sexual persuasion.|
|20||"Mardi Foie Gras"|
|At Mardi Gras, the gang is hanging out on a balcony trying to get beads. Queer Duck curses Dr. Laura using voodoo, ends up smashed by a "Hurricane" (cocktail) and wakes up to find himself "deflowered" by a sexy woman.|
In 2005, Queer Duck was voted among the 100 Greatest Cartoons in a poll conducted by the British television channel Channel 4, ranking at #94. In 2011, Queer Duck returned to introduce the 31st Jewish San Francisco Film Festival.
Queer Duck: The Movie, a film based on the animated series, was released on DVD July 18, 2006. The film reunites the original creators and cast of Queer Duck, plus special guest stars Conan O'Brien as himself, Tim Curry as Peccery the butler, Jeff Glen Bennett as the main antagonist; a homophobic bigoted priest named Reverend Vandergelding, Mark Hamill as a hot dog vendor, Bruce Vilanch as himself, Andy Dick as former drag queen Rex (formerly Regina), Jackie Hoffman as Broadway actress Lola Buzzard, April Winchell doing additional voices and David Duchovny as "Tiny Jesus". Gay-themed channel Logo premiered the film on July 16. The film focuses on Queer Duck struggling with his sexuality and love crisis between his longtime partner Openly Gator or the spunky Broadway actress Lola Buzzard.