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VICE's Latest Cable Ventures


Viceland is the new cable channel from Vice Media. NPR producer Andrew Limbong and our TV critic, Eric Deggans, watched three of their offerings, including "Gaycation," a travel documentary show focused on LGBT issues. It's co-hosted by actress Ellen Page. Here she is in Japan.


ELLEN PAGE: We're here to look into yaoi, or boy's love, which is a genre of essentially homoerotic male comics written by straight women for straight women.



ANDREW LIMBONG, BYLINE: The weird thing about this is that they're in this comic book store here, and I've seen these comics before in the United States all the time. We were all reading these books in high school.

ERIC DEGGANS, BYLINE: (Laughter) So it's like, we traveled all the way to Japan to unearth this thing that you can get about three blocks from where you live.


PAGE: So far, it seems to me that Japan interprets homosexuality as a cluster of fetishes and naughty hobbies. And like a hobby...

DEGGANS: And so they go to a gay couple that are also lawyers who are advocates for gay people. And they meet them in an office, and they're sitting around an office table. And I'm sort of thinking, this is a TV show. (Laughter) Like, show me how they live.


DEGGANS: Part of the problem with the episode that I saw is that it felt like you're hanging out with Ellen Page while she spends a couple of days in Japan, which is OK, but...

LIMBONG: Well it's - that is best showcased in a show I was completely ready to hate.

DEGGANS: (Laughter).

LIMBONG: But I think it kind of charmed me a little bit, "[Expletive], That's Delicious" with Action Bronson.


UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: (Chanting) Bronson, Bronson.

ACTION BRONSON: We eat. We rap. We rap. We eat.

DEGGANS: That show is - you are hanging with Action Bronson. Now it's supposed to be about food. And...


DEGGANS: It's not really (laughter).


BRONSON: One of my favorite dishes was the bay scallop with the passion fruit and the papaya and the jalapeno. It just made me feel like a man, you know?

DEGGANS: This is his food criticism. This is...

LIMBONG: This is how far his...

DEGGANS: And that was, like, particularly good.


DEGGANS: There's only one other moment in this show where he's better than that. So (laughter) one of my suspicions about Viceland is that it's not just a millennial's view of life, but it's also sort of a white male millennial's view about life. And so I find it interesting that the one show that features a rapper is a rapper who's a white guy.

LIMBONG: You know, all that criteria you mentioned, I think "Flophouse" might hit all of those notes, right?

DEGGANS: Yeah. Like, most of the show - the idea is that this is a flophouse for young comedians. This is a place where young comedians kind of live together, and so they hold comedy shows there.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Talking to my mom - my mom's like my best friend. I saw her on Mother's Day. She's so critical of me. She said, oh my God, you look like al-Qaida's graphic designer.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Is that true?

LIMBONG: It's like a little insufferable and a little annoying.

DEGGANS: (Laughter).

LIMBONG: Studio spaces like that generally are, right?

DEGGANS: Yeah. The thing is these comedians are young, and as anybody who's been in the game for a while will tell you, you generally are not great when you first start doing comedy. And so there's a lot of moments where you're sort of like OK, I can tell you're a good baby comic, but you're still a baby comic.

LIMBONG: And it's actually pretty good when it comes to diversity. I saw, you know, there were women comics and there were black comics.

DEGGANS: Well, the person who's the main sort of host - if there is somebody who could be called a main host - is a gay man of color.


DEGGANS: So right away, you start out on a foot where you've got more diversity.

LIMBONG: So overall?

DEGGANS: For a cable channel that's just getting started, it's not a bad start.

MARTIN: That was NPR TV critic Eric Deggans and producer Andrew Limbong. They were talking about a few shows from the new cable channel Viceland. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Eric Deggans is NPR's first full-time TV critic.
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