Merce, the HIV-positive musical comedy web series, returns for second season
BY VICTOR MELAMED
The award-winning HIV-positive musical comedy web series, Merce—beloved for its MGM classic film ethos mixed with potty mouth flair—returns this month for its second season.
Produced by Skipping Boyz Productions and made possible via a crowdfunding campaign on Fractured Atlas that raised over $60,000 from fans, the second season of Merce features eight new episodes, each with its own elaborately choreographed original musical number. All of the series favorite characters are back, too. The outrageous Southern Mama played by the show’s director and producer Tyne Firmin shines along with the fabulous fairies and, of course, the loveable Merce played by Charles Sanchez.
Exciting new characters are introduced as well; among them are judgmental Aunt Bless, Lisa (with an S) Minnelli and a smattering of titillating Eye Candy Boys. The hijinks are raised to unprecedented heights in season two yet the series manages to dive into some hot button topics impacting today’s HIV community as well, including PrEP, slut shaming, and gay marriage.
“While living with HIV is no picnic, it’s not the drama that it used to be.”
The second season of Merce premieres in the USA on Vimeo and Youtube and in Europe on OUTtv on January 21.
“One of the things I love about Merce as a character is that he doesn’t apologize for any aspect of who he is,” says Charles Sanchez, who, in addition to starring as the show’s lead character, is the writer and producer of Merce. “He not afraid of his own HIV and remains as audaciously gay as gay can be.”
Like the character he portrays, Sanchez is HIV positive. He sees Merce as an opportunity to show the world a different side of the epidemic. “While living with HIV is no picnic, it’s not the drama that it used to be,” he explains. “No one that I know living with HIV walks around with a sad cloud above their head.”
In season two, we learn about serodiscordant relationships (where one person in the relationship is living with HIV and one is not) and U equals U (Undetectable equals Untransmittable), a worldwide campaign that has shined a spotlight on recent scientific evidence that proves those with an undetectable viral load (meaning that the virus is not detected in lab tests) pose zero risk of transmitting HIV. The campaign has been a huge success worldwide but has been slow to be recognized in the USA.
As an HIV-negative gay man, director and producer Tyne Firmin acknowledges that the show has helped him to adjust his concept of people living with HIV and hopes it does the same for viewers. “If you take care of yourself, work with your healthcare professionals, and take your medications properly, life can be positive when you’re positive!”