House Of Lies isn’t just frantic wit, relative morality, and the oddly palpable chemistry between Don Cheadle and Kristen Bell. Showtime’s popular dark comedy is also a surprising hub of gender fluid, pansexual characters. HOL’s third season just started, and by episode two we meet my new favorite character: Lex, played by Bex Taylor-Klaus, is a genderqueer basketball player who gets involved with Marty’s son, Roscoe (Donis Leonard Jr.)
Bex Taylor-Klaus played gay before in The Killing as Bullet. Roscoe is a fascinating character in his own right: a young black man who bravely blurs gender lines and shows equal interest in women and men. Neither Roscoe or House of Lies are eager to label sexuality. Roscoe’s mother Monica Talbot (played by the striking Dawn Olivieri) spent much of season two experimenting with lesbian domesticity. Since Monica is basically Dionysis with caramel colored highlights, wifey didn’t work out too swell, and Monica went back to sex, drugs, and business.
Jeannie van der Hooven (Kristen Bell) is Marty’s counterpart and love interest, but still dabbles in the occasional same-sex escapade.
House of Lies invited AfterEllen to a cast read through of the Season 3 premiere, followed by Q&A with cast and creator Matthew Carnahan (Dirt, Trinity). Before ambling into an intimate conference room in a hulking warehouse, I tuck into a plentiful snack spread. Always a pleasure, Showtime.
Actors and journalists take their seats. Kristen Bell and Don Cheadle sit front and center, leaning against one another companionably while doling out blinding smiles. Matthew Carnahan begins with a quick season break down. “The theme of the season is wreckage of the past, and Marty beginning to make amends. Marty starts his own company to spackle over the horrible damage he’s done.” I won’t ruin episode 1 for you [watch it free online] but even most stoic journalist laughed aloud at least once. Unfortunately Bex Taylor-Klaus wasn’t present, but I did get the chance to chat with Donis Leonard Jr. and Matthew Carnahan about gender, sexuality, and inspiration.
Donis Leonard Jr. and Don Cheadle
AfterEllen.com: What is Lex’s relationship to your character? Donis Leonard Jr.: We know my character as being a male who you don’t really know what his sexuality. Sometimes he’ll be a little more feminine, but this season he’ll be a little bit more masculine. Bex, who plays Lex, is an incredible actress. When she comes in, she’s the opposite: a female who acts a little more masculine, and she’s a puzzle piece who fits great.
AE: Is Lex a gay character?
AE: She’s just a basketball player?
AE: So what makes Lex genderqueer?
AE: Has your character’s sexuality been clarified yet?
AE: It’s interesting how House of Lies so many on a sexuality spectrum rather than straight or gay.
AE: Is Roscoe and Lex’s relationship romantic?
Matthew Carnahan: I have friends with a genderqueer son, who I’ve watched grow from a child into a remarkable person who had the incredible good fortune of never being pushed in any one direction, so he gets to be uniquely himself. That was my goal for Roscoe: to let Roscoe be uniquely himself. In meeting Lex, I wanted to take Roscoe from a child with gender issues into sexuality issues– because gender and sex are very different– and wanted to show the importance of what’s in your heart rather than what’s between your legs…
AE: Did any one person inspire the character of Lex?
AE: Did you or your writers study up on “being genderqueer”?
House of Lies airs on Showtime on Sundays at 10 p.m. ET/PT. Thoughts? Tweet me. #HouseOfLies