New Kids’ Web Series Explores Gender Identity and Expression with a “Charmin” Host

Sez Me is a new Web video series for kids that aims to “[celebrate] differences and diversity with a focus on the GLBTQ community” and “ the involvement of adults who represent non-traditional gender expressions (self-identified drag queens, masculine women, feminine men, gender queers, and trans people).”  Sounds like a great idea — but is it any good?

The answer is yes. I was skeptical at first, I admit. I’ve seen enough earnest but poorly executed kids’ media over the years. I was won over, however, by Sez Me’s charismatic host, drag queen Charmin Ultra (Jeff Marras), and the charming kids who both interview and are interviewed by Charmin and other guests. There are just enough background effects and cutaway scenes to keep the energy up without falling into the frenetic chaos that is some children’s programming. Charmin has a certain drag queen over-the-topness, but owns it, whereas many children’s television actors make their performances seem forced.

Creator Mor Erlich, a youth counselor at New York’s Ali Forney Center for homeless LGBT youth, told HuffPo that he was inspired make Sez Me because of  ”a lack of queer references growing up.”

Sez Me’s Web site says the show is for “GLBTQ parents who would like to watch a show that talks about parenting within a sea of faces that look like ordinary folks. . . . for heterosexual parents whose children have made friends with a child being raised by same sex parents and who want a language to talk about this with their child. . . . for any parent raising a child who is having trouble with traditional gender expression and who wants their child’s struggle to be reflected in an accessible way.”

It’s the unscripted nature of the show that I like best. It feels genuine, unlike some other kids’ shows that seem to try too hard. The real comments and questions from the kids balance Charmin’s campiness and it somehow all works, conveying ideas of acceptance without being preachy.

If you want to watch them in order, you should start with Episode 1, but I’m embedding Episode 3 here because it features out lesbian supermodel and DJ Ève Salvail, and I don’t think I’ve ever had occasion to write “lesbian supermodel” here before.