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With “Sex Patrol,” Doom Patrol Gets Silly Again While Telling A Lovely Story About Queerness

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BY July 1, 2020
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The narrative force behind this season of Doom Patrol is Abigail Shapiro’s Dorothy, a perpetually 11-year-old girl with terrible powers. The premiere episodes of Doom Patrol were heavier than expected, especially for a series that ended it’s first premiere with a donkey fart. The show is no stranger to deeply emotional character stories, but usually that’s balanced out with quirky weirdness like a character who is a sentient street. “Sex Patrol” is the fourth episode of the season, and in it the “Danny-zens” (a play on denizens, people who live on Danny) show up to help their friend.

Yet, this is Dorothy’s story, and Danny was her friend, too. However, this episode reveals that their friendship wasn’t as pure as Dorothy though. Timothy Dalton’s Chief also made Danny her jailer. To that end, all Dorothy wants to do is stay up past her bedtime and attend one of Danny’s famous parties which she always heard but never attended.

In “Sex Patrol,” the Doom Patrol gets weird again, and they remember how to have fun. Riley Shanahan’s and Brendan Fraser’s Robotman gets to do ecstasy. April Bowlby’s Rita Farr gets in touch with her sexual side, which causes a problem. And Diane Guerreros’ Crazy Jane is at a crossroads where the many entities that reside in her body are arguing about whom should be in control.

But ultimately, “Sex Patrol” is, like the episode in season one that introduced Danny, a celebration of queerness that was just in time for the end of Pride Month 2020.

“Sex Patrol” Continues the Queer Tradition of Doom Patrol

Sex Patrol Doom Patrol Flex Mentallo Morally Corrupt Image via Warner Bros. Television

Danny is a genderqueer street in the show, who uses “they/them” pronouns. It’s an interesting choice, because Danny is also the people who live on them. They are lost souls who are afraid of their true identities and living on Danny the Street helps them become their best selves. Yet, at the end of season 1, Danny was a mere brick. The Danny-zens had to flee because Danny was the site of the major final battle. Yet, instead of changing back into a street, Danny seemed to be disappearing. Only by having a party could the people who cared about Danny help them become themselves again.

These characters can be traced back to the most iconic run of Doom Patrol comics. Yet, the series puts its own modern twist on the story but achieving the same end. In a show full of damaged people, the Danny-zens (many in drag) are the purest, most well-adjusted characters in the series. Whereas the main characters are broken misfits, the Danny-zens are misfits who love it. It’s also a place where people are encouraged to figure out who they really are. It’s a judgment-free zone.

As Per Usual, Negative Man Has the Most Tragic Story in “Sex Patrol”

Sex Patrol Doom Patrol Larry Trainor Rita Farr Matthew Zuk April Bowlby Image via Warner Bros. Television

Matthew Zuk’s and Matt Bomer’s Larry Trainor went through quite a journey in season 1. He had a lot of internalized queerphobia because he was a gay man living in the hyper-masculine world of 1960s test pilots. His path in season 1 was accepting his identity as a gay man and coming to terms with how his choices affected those he loved. During the party to help save Danny the Street’s life, Larry finds himself dancing with one of the Danny-zens. He’s awkward and unsure of himself. He’s also fearful because, without his sci-fi bandages, his body would give everyone in the room fatal radiation poisoning. Now that he’s finally accepted who he is, it dawns on him in a new way that he can never be close to anyone. Larry may understand who he is now, but he still hasn’t forgiven himself for what he did in the past.

The Sex Men: First Class

Sex Patrol Doom Patrol The Sex Men Image via Warner Bros. Television

The “Sex Patrol” title likely comes from the reimagining of the comic book characters the Sex Men. In the show, they protect the world from sex demons who, uh, use really powerful sexual energy to, ehrm, give birth to a baby that would, sigh, erase all children from existence. This deliberately ridiculous premise is meant to build upon a season 1 gag and further expand Rita’s backstory.

Devan Long’s Flex Mentallo is a satire of the Charles Atlas character kids used to see in ads in comic books. Simply by flexing specific muscles, he can make almost anything happen. In season 1 an errant flex sent the team and the Danny-zens into a spontaneous orgasm. It was a hilarious scene, and Rita, a prim woman who came of age in the early 20th century, wants him to do it again. It’s purely, as the old timey folks used to say, medicinal. Rita’s journey this season is to gain control over her powers (and, thereby, her body). What happens is surprising and the most interesting bit of foreshadowing in this episode.

Anyway, it is the strength of Rita and Flex’s sexual energy that brings out both the villainous demon and the Sex Men. Along with being a hilarious aside, it’s further proof that there are weird super-teams out there who have their shit way more together than the Doom Patrol.

It’s All About Dorothy

Sex Patrol DOom Patrol Abigail Shapiro Dorothy Timothy Dalton Niles Caulder the Chief Image via Warner Bros. Television

The big bad villain of this season is the Candlemaker, one of Dorothy’s “imaginary friends” she brings to life with her powers. In the comic books, the character was a bit more than that, and it’s unclear how much of that the show will adapt. What we do know is that the Candlemaker is trying to turn Dorothy against her father, the rest of the Doom Patrol, and everyone else. This episode was about Dorothy finding her identity, too. Only instead of an empowering journey of self-acceptance, it’s the loss of innocence that happens when a child discovers that adults keep secrets.

The story about Danny ends with them healing but deciding that they no longer wish to “be” a street. In a way, it was a second coming out for the character, and the show uses this to deliver a powerful message. As mentioned above, as a street, the Danny-zens lived on them. If Danny is no longer a street, they are literally losing the best home they ever knew. Yet, because they love Danny, the Danny-zens are supportive of this. Wherever Danny goes at the end of the episode, their friends go with them. No matter how your perception of a person changes, the most important thing is to support them and keep them in your life.

With Dorothy, however, she is understanding that her perception of her father and his friends is not what she thought it was. The members of the Doom Patrol are so caught up in their own feelings and crises, they fail to see that Dorothy is in crisis herself. I suspect they’ll soon figure it out in future episodes.

What did you think of “Sex Patrol?” Did you like Dorothy’s performance of “Pure Imagination” from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory? Did it hold a candle to Matt Bomer’s “People Like Us” from last year? Share all of your thoughts in the comments below.

Featured image via Warner Bros. Television

DC ComicsPop CultureTV ShowsDoom Patrol

Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he's loved the medium ever since. He is the greatest star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book "What I Learned: Stories, Essays, and More" is available in print from Amazon and from all electronic booksellers.

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