Noah’s Arc premiered on the Logo Network on October 19, 2005. The series featured a quartet of black gay friends in Los Angeles. The opening credits established their personality types (Romantic, Uptight, Clown, Player). Romantic Noah was the protagonist but they each had storylines. Contrary to the title there wasn’t much of an arc. Noah was the same person in the series finale that he was in the pilot. But for audiences starved for black gay representation that was enough.
Last week I binged the series. This included 17 episodes, the promotional minisodes, the movie and the reunion special. I’ll attempt to sum up Noah’s story in this spoiler filled recap.
Season One (2005)
Scene One: Is He or Isn’t He?
NOAH (a struggling screenwriter): How does a single, narcissistic gay man find love in L.A.?
WADE (a successful screenwriter): If I wasn’t straight, I’d bang you.
WADE: Let’s have a threesome with my girlfriend. (They try.) Never mind. Let’s just have sex ourselves. (They do.)
UPTIGHT, CLOWN and PLAYER: (Barging in.) We’re here for brunch. OMG you banged a straight guy!
Scene Two: Meet the Friends
UPTIGHT: I caught my boyfriend cheating.
CLOWN: I’m emotionally abusing my boyfriend.
PLAYER: I’m sexually harassing my employees.
Scene Three: Career Woes
NOAH: The studio wants me to rewrite your script.
WADE: Over my dead body!
NOAH: Then let’s pitch an original script together.
WADE: Your writing is too gay!
NOAH: Are we a bad match?
Scene Four: Commitment Ceremony
UPTIGHT: Thank you for coming to my ceremony.
PLAYER: I’M SCARED TO DATE WILSON CRUZ BECAUSE HE’S HIV POSITIVE!
CLOWN: MY BOYFRIEND’s CHEATING WITH HIS CREEPY FRIEND! (attacks the creepy friend.)
WADE: I’M LEAVING NOAH! HE CHEATED ON ME WITH A RANDO! (attacks the rando.)
UPTIGHT: I can’t believe this ridiculous behavior.
NOAH: It’s the season finale. We had to do something big. (Everybody dances.)
Season Two (2006)
Scene Five: Suitors
REBOUND: We’ve been dating six months and I think I love …
NOAH: Get out.
BRITISH RAPPER: Oi sexy! Let’s snog ya wanker!
NOAH: I dunno.
ACTIVIST: You’re charming. Let’s go to a gallery.
NOAH: OMG! Why is everyone obsessed with me? My life is so hard!
Scene Six: Talk Show
AGENT: We’ll buy your script if you make the British Rapper’s role straight.
ACTIVIST: That’s outrageous. You should denounce them on this talk show.
NOAH: Should I take a stand or take the money?
BRITISH RAPPER: You don’t have to choose. Will Smith and Wesley Snipes played gay. I can play gay too.
NOAH: Thank goodness I didn’t have to grow or change.
Scene Seven: Trigger Warning
WADE: We haven’t been renewed yet. We need some drama.
NOAH: How about I get gay bashed?
WADE: And then I track and beat up your assailants?
NOAH: Then we’ll dodge our new boyfriends and have makeup sex.
WADE: And then I’ll get in a car accident.
NOAH: Brilliant. They’ll have to give us a third season now!
The Movie: Jumping the Broom (2008)
Scene Eight: Martha’s Vineyard
WADE: Yeah… Marry me?
Scene Nine: Conflict
BRITISH RAPPER: Oi Noah! I luvs ya! I need to stop the wedding. (Kisses Noah.)
PLAYER: Wait. I love Noah! I need to stop the wedding. (Kisses Wade.)
NOAH: This would be a great time for me to assert myself.
BRITISH RAPPER and PLAYER: You don’t have to. We’re over it.
Scene Ten: Commitment Ceremony
NOAH: I drunk dialed Wade’s mother and outed him!
WADE’s MOTHER (Tony Award Winner Tonya Pinkins): I’ll be supportive. They’ve only paid for ten minutes of my time.
PRIEST: With the power vested in me I now pronounce you husband and husband.
(Noah and Wade kiss and jump the broom. Everybody dances.)
The Rona Chronicles
What I’m finding is a lot of younger LGBTQI folks, especially of color, who just weren’t around when the show was airing originally are now discovering it…I just think it’s wonderful that it’s out there and can live because we, of course, have not had a show like it on the air since.Co-Creator Patrik-Ian Polk, 2015 interview
On July 29, 2020 the cast and crew streamed a reunion special titled Noah’s Arc: The Rona Chronicles. Noah and his friends gossip over Zoom about spouses, politics and quarantine sex. The actors slipped easily into their old roles. Guest stars dropped by to express what the show meant to them. A nod to the Black Lives Matter movement allowed it to be more than simple comfort food. It was proof that the series could be revived today.
I had the same issues with Noah’s Arc that I had with Queer as Folk. I found the tone inconsistent, the jokes tired and the lead characters grating. Most critics agreed. Time Out referred to Jumping the Broom as Jumping the Shark. But this show wasn’t written for me. It was written for an audience that was hungry for it and embraced it dearly.
Did you watch this in 2005 or come to it later? Did you like it? Love it? Did you have a favorite character? Haven’t seen it? Most of the episodes are streaming for free on LOGO’s website. The 2020 special is streaming on creator Patrik-Ian Polk’s YouTube channel.
- Episode 4 features some transphobic remarks. The writers should have known better in 2005.
- Season 2 features a Fatal Attraction type subplot. It’s disturbing at first. Then gets resolved with some zany hijinks. It really exemplifies the shows tonal inconsistencies.
- The show committed to its focus on gay men. Noah’s agent and Uptight’s daughter were the only recurring female characters. A lesbian couple swings by Season Two. Noah and Wade’s mothers showed up for the film.
- Three characters were detained and quickly released by police over the course of the show. These scenes read differently in 2021.
- Wilson Cruz’s character didn’t get much to do. But it was nice to see him at the reunion.