It’s not a secret that gay male culture is fixated on youth: These days 29-year-old Zac Efron gets called “daddy” on social media.
But in reality, middle-age gays are finding fun, adventure and, yes, love as much as their younger counterparts. That was the impetus for West 40s, a new series from Mark Sam Rosenthal and Brian Sloan that revolves around five gay friends in Hell’s Kitchen who are all tiptoeing into (or out of) their 40s.
They call it a “coming-of-middle-age comedy”: One character is back in the dating pool after being dumped by his parter of nearly 20 years—for a younger man—but there are also plots about open relationships, online dating and more.
Stories about life’s second act can be dreary, Sloan tells DNA Info. “It’s often like, ’My life is over, I’m depressed.’ We wanted it to reflect our lives where we don’t feel that way.” “There’s a lot of humor and a lot of laughter around it,” he adds. “You have to laugh at it, in a way.”
The duo have already written six episodes, and plan to shoot the West 40s pilot this summer. A Kickstarter for the project has already garnered more than $9,000 of their $12,500 goal.
“People have responded so strongly to the concept, because it’s something that’s just not out there,” Sloan says. “We’ve actually gotten a lot of messages from people in Hell’s Kitchen who are like, ‘This show sounds like my life — I need to watch it now.’”
They’re also lining up the show’s cast: Rosenthal will star, alongside John-Andrew Morrison and Jeff Hiller, with more leads to be named. New York nightlife promoter Daniel Nardicio has also signed on for a role.
“We based an episode around Mr. Nude York, Daniel’s annual ’nudie’ pageant… and had written a similarly racy scene at a club in Hell’s Kitchen and included him in that, too,” explains Sloan.
“We want the show to feel real, like it’s not just ’set in New York’ but really has an authentic sense of place.”