The relationship between parents and children is a frequent theme in writer/director Quentin Lee’s films, including Ethan Mao and White Frog. But the out filmmaker made his interest in family personal with Gay Hollywood Dad, a web series chronicling his experiences as the single father of a newborn.
“When I was having the kid I thought that could be really cool to make it a reality series,” recalls Lee, 47. “I pitched it around to a few networks and studios and the feedback was, ‘It’s kind of unconventional.’ I wanted to shoot for more than six months, but they wanted it to be very condensed—like six weeks.”
In the end, Lee decided if he wanted it done, he was going to have to do it himself.
The six-part series launched Friday on the LGBT streaming service Revry, and sees Lee, who was born in Hong Kong and lives in L.A., welcome son Casper via surrogate in June 2016.
It also tracks visits with family members in Hong Kong and Vancouver, a harrowing medical emergency for the baby, some hand-wringing over Trump’s Election Day victory (“He’s trying to repeal Obamacare and we’re both on it!”), shooting a horror short (that Casper costarred in), and the reaction from Lee’s clique on his choice to be a dad.
“To be honest any negative talk I got was before the baby was born,” he reveals. “Even a good friend was, like, ’Don’t you think that it won’t be a great thing being a single gay parent?’ But after Casper was born, usually the response is just silence. I’m a gay dad. I guess they don’t know how to respond. A lot of people are confused or in awe.”
One thing missing from the premiere season, however, is Lee’s dating life: Despite daddies being all the rage among gay men, being an actual dad is a whole different situation. “I’ve had a couple of dates—but every time Casper cries I’d have to go on the bedroom to check.”
He admits parenthood has made him less selfish.
“It’s life-changing in the way you’re thinking about his well-being first and then yourself. The reward is really being able to see life at its creation.”
Should Gay Hollywood Dad do well, Lee hopes a major network will it pick up for a second season capturing Casper toddler years. “The terrible twos are coming in two months. That’s a good title!”
Watch the first episode of Gay Hollywood Dad below.