The Long Road to “Paradise Falls”


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

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

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

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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