“Steel River,” an Atlanta-based black gay web TV series and cornerstone of gay director Henderson Maddox’s dream media empire is already getting raked over the coals. Worse, the critiques dump on it in favor of a show that doesn’t even exist yet. You know columnist Deron Dalton must really hate “Steel River,” which we tipped you off about just before it debuted on Feb. 23, if he’s comparing it to “Skin Deep.” That series, which has seen a few benefit events in the gAy-TL, only has a 10-minute pilot trailer to show for its fundraising so far. If it wasn’t a contest of the urban gay dramas, it is now.
If you saw the trailer [for “Steel River] and thought the show would be melodramatic, terribly acted, poorly written and hackneyed, you were right. … Meanwhile, another Atlanta-based series that's trying to get picked up, Skin Deep, which focuses on the intersecting lives of a diverse group of gay men, promises to be a better show. The first episode of Steel River, "Man in the Mirror" , is tragic, and not because of what happens in the storyline but because it exists.Even without a show to, well, show, Dalton prefers the project in development "Skin Deep" over the realization of "Steel River"
In stark contrast to “Steel River,” “Skin Deep” might do the trick. What makes this series original is that it focuses on the intersecting lives of three gay black men and three gay white men from different backgrounds, belief systems, social classes and age groups. Although at this point the show only has a 10-minute teaser clip on YouTube (NSFW), that series' website features character bios and a show synopsis that describes it as “Queer as Folk” meets “Noah's Arc” meets “Crash.”Translation: “Steel River” is so bad that even just talking about a concept and a trailer about an unrealized idea for a series is better than the one Henderson and company are putting out. And Dalton could be right. You decide. Watch the first episode of “Steel River” above, and the 10-minute tease for “Skin Deep” below.