The Long Road to “Paradise Falls”

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Paradise Falls is a campy, LGBT-inclusive soap opera making its

third season debut on the here! network this Friday. With a large cast of queer

characters, the show is racier and more provocative than your average soap,

though it still follows the genre trappings of melodrama and camp.

The new season presents

several cast changes, though the overall tone and premise remain. This is quite

an accomplishment given the series’ storied production history — the first

season aired in 2001 on Canada’s Showcase channel, the second season came along

in 2004, and now the show has emerged again from hibernation for 26 new

episodes.

Paradise Falls is set a beautiful summer resort town of the same

name — think Dante’s Cove with a northern flair (and dialed

down half a notch on the camp-o-meter). Shot on location in Ontario, the show

has a rustic, authentic feel and charm. This complements the characters’

personalities and general “kitchen sink” feeling that permeates the

atmosphere — everyone in town seems to know everyone else, and (as is the case

with this kind of show) everyone has their secrets.

Warning: Some spoilers for the

premiere episode

The first episode is focused

on the wedding of Sacha (Salvatore Antonio) and Nick (Cameron Graham), a gay couple who has had more than their share

of dramatic ups and downs over the past two seasons. They have the gay wedding

of the century, complete with go-go angel boys, rainbow decorations and sunset

nuptials on the pier.

The ceremony is

accompanied by all manner of drama, including the requisite visit from the

local homophobe/alcoholic Francis (Victoria Snow), wedding-day angst and advice

from parents, and a dramatic showdown at the ceremony. It’s presented fairly

tongue-in-cheek, though this is melodrama in its purest form.

Cameron Graham and Salvatore Antonio (left)

and Dixie Seattle


Particularly well handled

are the two scenes between Sacha and Bea Sutton (Dixie Seatle), and Nick and his

grandfather Mayor Braga (Art Hindle), in which the pre-wedding “parental

advice” is doled out. Nick receives the full brunt of Braga’s macho advice

with a beer in hand, while Sacha gets some motherly tips from Bea (who is a

transwoman).

The scenes are cut

together well and are gently funny, playing upon the stereotypes and presumed

gender roles that are being bent at every turn. In fact, this may represent the

single best sequence of the episode — and is certainly the most understated and

subversive.

Though the first episode

is more oriented toward gay men, lesbian/bi characters have featured

prominently throughout the series. Bisexual Trish Simpkin (Michelle Latimer) is

one of the more out and proud members of the community (a fact that irks

Francis). She’s a young, fearless bad girl who responds “must be the

syphilis” to anyone who pries about her marriage status.

The teaser at the end of

the first show promises a new love interest for Trish: lesbian cop Cate (Meredith McGeachie, better

known as Dana’s fiancée “Toxic Tonya” on The L Word.)

Meredith McGeachie (left) and Michelle Latimer

The relationship is reportedly a major story line in upcoming episodes, ensuring

that lesbian viewers have something to tune in for. It’ll be interesting to see

this particular airing of lesbian stereotypes — the butch cop and the gothic

bad girl.

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