What We Learned Watching ‘Hard Times,’ A Non-Porn Sitcom About Porn (The Adult Film Minute)

04.24.15 3 years ago 50 Comments
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HARD TIMES/HUGO ROJAS

THE ADULT FILM MINUTE: Once per month, except occasionally when it’s twice, Dr. Chauntelle Tibbals will be telling us a little bit about what’s going on in adult entertainment and why it should matter to you.

Imagine – a sitcom about a family’s daily life, set in the contextually ordinary, yet outwardly ludicrous and currently exceptionally business-challenging, world of porn production. Starring actors who are also porn performers.

Hard Times wants to be that sitcom, and they currently have three 5-6 minute webisodes up for your viewing pleasure, all under the auspices of getting there.

According to some info I got from the show’s reps:

Hard Times is not porn, but a sharp, cutting edge episodic comedy series set against the backdrop of porn. The show follows the colorful lives of a husband and wife along with their two [adult aged] children and a grandma, whose family business is adult entertainment. Unfortunately for our porn family, age, the changing business climate, the recession, the condom laws, and the free porn available on the internet has made their once comfortable middle class life a thing of the past – thus they are experiencing “Hard Times.”

The synopsis reads a little like the show’s first three episodes play out – in need of some fine-tuning but otherwise on point in terms of cute/timely/funny.

Here are some things I learned/noticed about Hard Times:

1.The Plot – A Family Just Like Yours…

The Johnson family is a “normal” group that also just happen to work in adult entertainment – dad’s dealing with aging issues (read: boner challenges, which will obviously impact his work as well as his personal life), grandma is quirky and entrepreneurial (read: cooking up savory lubes!), etc. They’re currently sinking the last of their money into one final production, capitalizing on a business model that’s tenuous at best. This is a great point of connection though, as viewers (read: folks outside the industry) can easily relate to things like financial struggles, self-employment, and the like.

Nosy neighbors and health inspectors round out a screwball plot that isn’t too far removed from porn production happening in Southern California today.

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HARD TIMES/HUGO ROJAS

2. Great Casting!

The cast of Hard Times is pretty great – a nice mix of legit stars and legends with fresh and spritely newcomers. It also draws from a broad scope performers working in different genres that we don’t generally see together.

Jessa Rhodes, Eric Masterson, Brandy Aniston, Andy Taylor, and Nina Hartley play the Johnson family. Tommy Pistol (link NSFW) plays the shocked and swooning, yet (unsurprisingly) sexually perverse, neighbor Edmund Butterfield – a great commentary on the… ummm… *quirkiness* that often lurks in the most conventional-seeming members of the general population. And, in a stroke of casting genius, Venus Lux plays the most tongue-in-cheek character of all, winking at the industry itself as Inspector Felicity Trans.

Tommy Gunn, Evan Stone, Seth Gamble, Tyler Nixon, Kody Knight, Paris Lincoln, and Ariana Marie round out the rest of the cast.

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HARD TIMES/HUGO ROJAS

3. Mary Kate, Ashley, and Hard Times’ Mainstream Producers

Hard Times was put together by Larry Kase and Joel Corenman. According to bio info they sent me, both have decently storied careers in mainstream production, boasting credits on Before The Devil Know’s You’re Dead, Step By Step, and Two of A Kind (OLSEN TWINS!!).

Even though Hard Times is not porn (obvs), the subject matter still seemed a bit of a departure from where both men had previously focused their efforts. I asked Larry why the jump, and this is what he said:

With the amount of content available, shows have to be unique to stand out.  The line of what is mainstream is moving, and we have to move with it. That let us push the envelope with a premise that had never been tried — a sitcom-like show about the business of porn — giving us a special mix of comfortable plus edgy. Using actual top porn stars in non-porn roles gave us an extra something that hadn’t been seen.

Sounds reasonable to me!

So far, I really like Hard Times. Though it’s still a bit rough production-wise, it’s cute and funny and timely. It made me think of Modern Family and Weeds. It’s informed enough to resonate with the adult industry, yet focused such that anyone can get it.

My favorite part was at the end of Episode 3, when Mrs. Johnson (Brandy Aniston) is out looking for a civilian job. Her expression, while a prospective employer reads:

Mrs. Johnson, you’ve got quite an impressive employment history! You’ve been a nurse, a secretary, stewardess, a teacher, librarian, mechanic, cheerleader, French maid, milkmaid, chambermaid, lion tamer…

…is just priceless. (awesome faces start at 3:53)

 

Dr. Chauntelle Tibbals is a sociologist specializing in gender, sexualities, work and organizations, media and technology, and popular culture. She has been studying the adult entertainment industry for over ten years.

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