Why I fell out of love with Tariq and Kal

Why I fell out of love with Tariq and Kal

You know how you can walk past a store window and see a really nice shirt, or pair of shoes, or whatever and think,”Hey, that would be nice to own.”

But after you go in and try it on you realize the shirt doesn’t fit right. Or the color is not to your liking. Or those shoes that looked so fly put a serious hurting on your feet.

That is how I felt about the story of  aspiring music producer Tariq Muhammed and gangster rapper Kaldrick “Kal” King, two characters on “L.A. Complex,” a Canadian series that will begin airing in the United States on the CW later this year.

Tariq Muhammed (actor Benjamin Charles Watson), left, and Kaldrick King (Andra Fuller) in L.A. Complex.

For those who didn’t catch this gay love/hate story on Youtube before it got taken down I won’t spoil the fun. A basic outline of the plot: Kal is seriously on the down-low, in love with Tariq, but so paranoid about his secret getting out he will stoop to threats and violence to protect it.

I don’t know who clued me in to this series — perhaps it was Pimusique or some other blogger I follow — but I was instantly hooked. The show does not air in the United States so I waited impatiently for someone to post the next installment on YouTube. I would wake myself and partner “Morgan” up at the crack of dawn to watch.

Their love scenes were so hot and intense and passionate — damn just thinking of them gets my dick half hard. Plus Kal was handsome and had the body of death and Tariq was so baby-faced and earnest you couldn’t help but be charmed.

Tariq and Kal kiss for the first time.

I showed clips of the show during the halftime show to friends who came over for a Super Bowl party (sorry Madonna). Then I started emailing clips of the episodes to my friends and having furious text message exchanges about the plot.

 It was nice to see a black, gay relationship on primetime TV, never mind if it was in Canada.

I may have been an early fan but some of my friends were not so impressed.

“Damn, did they have to make one of the characters a gay rapper?,” one friend said. “Shit, didn’t that dude Terrance Dean write about that in ‘Hiding in Hip Hop’ a few years ago. That is so cliched and tired.”

“Come on Immanuel, they were doing that gay thug thing with Omar back on ‘The Wire.’ This shit ain’t so new,” someone else remarked.

Now more than a month later I’m less enamoured with the series, too. Why does a gay storyline have to include a down-low rapper and incorporate such violence and self-hate? 

And some of my friends are right — although the acting is top notch the characters are stereotypical. The angry, black, suppressed gay thug who can’t control his emotions or fists. The sensitive, young gay man so in love and lust he can’t see the semi truck about to flatten him.

Kal shows his violent side to Tariq.

In hindsight the whole thing was just a little bit too over-the-top and soap opery. And the series mid-season finale was a real downer. I don’t see where the relationship will go.

To get over my disappointment Morgan suggested I look at an episode of the groundbreaking 2007  series DL Chronicles entitled “Robert.” It is about a black talent agent named Robert who falls for a much younger Austin but has to hide the budding relationship and his gayness from his grown daughter.

“This is my favorite episode of DL Chronicles. I promise you you will like it better than L.A. Complex,” Morgan said. “L.A. Complex was pretty good but I’m still down about that finale a week later.”

“Okay, I give up you win. Go get the DVD. I’ve seen one or two DL Chronicles episodes but not ‘Robert.”

So Morgan went rummaging through his basement office and found the DVD.

The “Robert” episode was funny and moving and extremely sensual.  The characters were more real. The acting was good. Robert and Austin were just two regular joes — a black professional and a bath and body works store manager — trying to navigate the uneasy world of black gay men.

Oh and did I forget to say Robert and Austin were sexy as all get out?

Robert Hall (actor Terrell Tillford) caresses Austin (Kareem Ferguson) in the DL Chronicles.

Plus I could relate. I’m a father too coming out later in life, just like Robert. I was feeling his pain.

After the episode ended I was quiet as the credits rolled.

“Damn, that was good,” I finally said to Morgan. “I’m glad I listened to you.”

“Told you so.”

I wish we could see more Robert and Austins on the screen and fewer Tariqs and Kals.


  1. John B.

    In my opinion, the world at large has come to equate the down low phenomenon with someone who is black, hypermasculine, and deathly afraid that his secret will be exposed. So it would be a blasphemous for that stereotype to be downplayed for ratings sake. I, like yourself, fell under the spell of Tariq and Kal, just hoping that all would end up like a fairy tale, a happy ending. Yes Kal has been seen time and time again in the media, but never on network television. Omar, Robert, Boo, Baby Gat low brethren were reserved for those with those premium channels to se

    1. John B.

      Sorry, got cut off, the men above were reserved when they first ran for those that had premium channels to see. Many had to wait until DVDs and Youtube came along to see who these men were all the while hearing via word of mouth about these men. Until the perception on the world changes, the down low man will be represented and the black man who feels that whatever they have worked for could be taken away by a secret shame that they cannot shed like an addiction to drugs or alcohol. The love or lust for someone of the same gender has long been the enemy of those who subscribe to the doctrine of the black church (e.g. Eddie Long).

  2. Amir

    I agree that Thug on Good boy love is cliche. However, rape fantasy & attraction to bad boys seems to be common in the psyches of heterosexuals as well as homosexuals. Not that Romeo & Julius romance isn’t enchanting, but get a straight female or gay male drunk & listen to their raw confessions.

  3. daviddickdorn

    lol i have to say, that im in love with that show, kal is just my type of dude, but without that temper, i really felt the show and i even woke up the other day thinking bout the show, IT IS AMAZING DONT CARE WHAT OTHER SAY ,the show is amazing, but i have a Q u guys remember that first episode when they were at kal’ crib and kal started to scream at him (tariq)? how could he (tariq) know, that kal was gay? for him to kiss him like that, and lol seeing a buy like that cry is just touchable

  4. Jay

    I’ve just recently discovered the clips of Tariq and Kal while doing some research. I’m not crazy about the direction of the storyline between these two but I love the idea nonetheless. Tariq reminds me somewhat of myself and I have a certain affinity towards him. I hope the CW will really give the show a chance.

  5. Jack

    I think tariq and kal isn’t cliched because in my opinion it kind of says the truth and too many people are afraid to accept it. also if you a rapper and on the DL and have everything would you really come out of the closet and most likely lose it all( not saying the being in the closet is good) I do feel though the writers could have toned back his attitude just a little but other than that it is a great show and will continue to watch it.


    i agree and could not believe the finale when tariq was beaten up because of his lovers insane paranoia. I was hurt and could not believe that happened and this was extremely hard to watch. I wonder if Tariq will forgive him for this. I hope this gets resolved in a positive way.

  7. I am torn about the Tariq and Kal storyline because I love the fact I can see a masculine gay black couple on television.
    I think it is wonderful that people can see black gay men on television every single week for the second season of the LA Complex. I just wish the writers had done something different to create conflict they didn’t need to use violence.

    The LA Complex is actually a Canadian show it aired on Muchmusic first in Canada and was created by the people behind Degrassi.

    I do like seeing the opposites attract storyline even though it is cliche what I don’t like is the violence. Okay, Kal is a rapper but does he have to be an ex con? Kal went to jail he mentioned it. I just kind of feel Kal represents all of those racist and negative stereotypes about young black men. I guess some people think it is hot to have a thug for a boyfriend but I personally would prefer a guy like Tariq over Kal someone that is sensitive and in tune with his feelings.

  8. I know I’m late, but…

    I just got into watching L.A. Complex and now that I’m caught up on the episodes, my only concern is that the writers are putting Kal through pure hell. All of season 2 has been about the universe flipping him the bird (penance for what he did to Tariq, no doubt). And I’m not saying he doesn’t deserve some Karma, but damn. Redeem his frickin’ character already…

    It’s quite ironic how, on the screen, black gay couples are always Masc/Fem couples but in reality, Masculine men swear off Fem guys like the Bubonic plague…


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