Welcome to the world of Chad’s World, a 1998 gay webseries starring Seann William Scott

Monday August 6th 2012

In 1996, in the early days of the dot-com bubble, an American businessman named Marc Collins-Rector launched the Digital Entertainment Network, a sort of proto-YouTube producing ’26 original series aimed at teenage boy subcultures’. The company folded in 2000 after it became clear that Rector and his associates were using DEN’s profits to throw LA mansion parties at which they raped young boys, but not before it had a chance to spawn Chad’s World, a gay-interest webseries co-written by Rector himself.

The self-described ‘first and only show created for gay teenagers’ saw the eponymous Chad leave behind his quiet life in suburban Michigan to make a new start in LA with his gay older brother Kevin, and Kevin’s boyfriend Jim, who just so happens to be played by a 21-year-old Seann William Scott. Shot just over a year before Scott rose to fame in American Pie, the series could well have been his big break had it not been unjustly shelved by its creators at the eleventh hour. The astonishing pilot episode ‘I Lost My Friend’, however, is freely available on YouTube and can be seen above. I strongly recommend you watch the whole thing, but if you’re short of time here’s a (spoiler-heavy) guide to the episode’s best bits…

0:29 – A pumping electro soundtrack accompanies the title sequence, which introduces us to Chad’s exciting new Californian home and the colourful characters therein. Seann William Scott is looking particularly fabulous as we freeze-frame on his smiling face.
1:05 – The titles end and we’re straight into the action, with Chad (still back in Michigan) urging gay teen Paul to come out to his parents, who sit unawares in the next room. Paul paces back and forth for dramatic effect. “What’s the worse that could happen?” asks Chad. This line will seem cruelly ironic with the benefit of hindsight.
2:24 – “You know that this is an abomination towards God and you will burn in hell!” offers Paul’s father Jack. He’s taken the news badly. “What’s the family gonna think? And what about the church?!” Jack is a religious man.
2:52 – Meanwhile, back in Paul’s room, Chad attempts to drown out the homophobic abuse coming from the next room by putting the stereo on and spinning a globe really, really fast. When these efforts prove fruitless, he resorts to manually covering his ears with his hands.
3:16 – “Don’t you love me?” asks Paul blankly. Jack informs the boy that he would “rather have a dead son than a gay son”. Harsh words from a harsh man.
3:55 – Back in his room, Paul begins a lengthy monologue about a time when his father made him shoot a doe against his will to prove his masculinity. He stares soulfully at himself in the mirror throughout, while Chad watches on sympathetically from a distance. It’s all very poignant.
5:35 – After literally several minutes of monologuing, Paul reveals the story’s dramatic twist: that his father gave him the gun he shot the doe with for Christmas that year. He pulls it from a drawer and holds it aloft to prove that what he’s saying is really very serious.
5:56 – Without warning, Paul raises the gun to his mouth and cocks it. “Nooooooooooo!” screams a slow-motion Chad, diving across a duvet he’s now standing behind, but it’s too late.
6:00 – Paul pulls the trigger…
6:02 – … spraying Chad directly in the face with a concentrated burst of blood and brain matter.
6:08 – Boy, that escalated quickly.
6:30 – Paul’s parents rush into the room to discover their son, prompting Jack to deliver his immortal line, “It’s for the best, Diane”. Whatever else he might be, he’s certainly true to his word.
6:43 – Chad runs frantically into the street, his face drenched with blood, his hair conspicuously clean. He’s framed between two trees, symbolising the constricting force of homophobia in suburban America.
7:23 – Returning home, Chad cryptically informs his parents that “it’s not mine”, leaving them to decide for themselves whether he’s just witnessed the bloody suicide of a close friend or simply tucked into a punnet of strawberries a little too enthusiastically.
7:33 – Obviously we now meet Betty DeGeneres, mother of Ellen, who’s here to let us know that her kid “is the greatest”. Wait, what? So it turns out Chad’s World has commercial breaks, and all the ads featured are for 90s LGBT youth initiatives.
8:25 – After the break, we meet Chad’s parents, who are concerned that he might not be safe living so close to Jack and his heartless homophobic ways. Chad’s mother fears the situation may be hopeless: “we can’t afford to move, and they’re not going anywhere. What are we going to do?”
9:18 – Enter Seann. From the determined way he’s tapping away at that computer, we quickly ascertain that his character Jim is a pretty important guy.
9:23 – But his world is about to be turned upside-down when boyfriend Kevin enters the room and tells him the news from Michigan.
9:35 – Jim takes the revelation hard. So hard in fact that he has to remove his glasses. We see now that he’s wearing a lemon-yellow shirt.
10:03 – Kevin’s reaches near-fatal levels of seriousness as he explains the situation to Jim. Delivering the final blow — “Paul was gay” — his face seems bathed in the light of a thousand inevitably glowing reviews.
10:06 – A constant plume of smoke now rises up from Jim’s desk, its source hidden just out of frame. Is he smoking the world’s most overzealous cigarette? Is his leg on fire? Has his fiery response to Paul’s death been made manifest?
11:47 – A motorcade of limousines soon brings the pair to Kevin’s family home. It’s never made entirely clear how they came to be so incredibly wealthy.
12:05 – Kevin and Jim are reunited with Kevin’s parents on the front lawn, and after the usual formalities have been exchanged, Kevin’s father tries his hand at a bit of light improv, putting on a silly voice to invite the men inside for “cwwooorrfee”. Seann is more than happy to play along, commenting that coffee “swounds lourvely”.
13:39 – Kevin and Chad engage in some authentic and not in any way unbearably awkward brotherly banter on Chad’s bed, with Kevin urging his younger sibling to come and stay with them in LA for a while.
13:55 – Chad delivers a joke about his mum’s cooking with impeccable comic timing, eliciting the least convincing laugh ever committed to S-VHS tape from Jim, who then excuses himself to go outside for a cigarette. So we now know that he smokes. My ‘leg on fire’ theory is seeming less plausible by the second.
14:10 – Suddenly it’s revealed that Jim has an entourage of four enormous black bodyguards, waiting patiently for him outside.
14:40 – He takes the men over to confront Jack, who screams “faggot” at him somewhat predictably. Jim is immediately confrontational, asking Jack how it feels to “murder your own son”. Jack doesn’t like that.
15:03 – Luckily, Jim’s bodyguards are ready to step in and subdue Jack’s rage, forcing him down onto the lawn with ease.
15:08 – Jim climbs on top of the angry homophobe, which — as you might imagine — he doesn’t take kindly to.
15:15 – Nonetheless, Jim is forthright, informing Jack that “you’re about to lose you job, and after that any place you try to find work won’t hire you. You’ll eventually run out of money. Your wife is going to meet a very god-fearing man and will leave you. For as long as you live, I’ll be watching you, every moment of every day for the rest of your life. Everything you touch will turn to shit. My advice would just be to kill yourself now. Poetic justice, you know.”
15:53 – Spitting with rage, Jack calls out desperately for the police.
16:01 – Unluckily for him, that’s another connection Jim has sewn up. Who the fuck is this guy? I’ve heard of the Gay Mafia but this is ridiculous.
17:17 – He leaves Jack writhing in pain and returns to Chad’s house.
18:40 – Inside, Kevin and Chad are yet again pretending they share some kind of emotional bond by wrestling playfully on Chad’s bed. That is, until their father enters to let them know about Jim’s antics across the street.
19:03 – They go out to investigate. Side note: apparently this is what people wore in 1998.
19:18 – A police officer relays Jim’s version of events: that he went over to offer his condolences to Jack and was attacked by the man.
20:20 – “I hate him,” reiterates Chad, just in case we’re starting to feel sorry for the guy whose son just died and now had a broken jaw.
20:35 – Jack eloquently tells another officer his side of the story: “DESE SONNABITCHES COME UP HERE BEAT DA FUCK OUTTA ME”.
20:49 – But enough of that, it’s time to go to HOLLYWOOD!
21:02 – STER MHERPS!
21:10 – Finally, Chad is where he belongs: in the lap of luxury in nice, sexually permissive Los Angeles.
21:35 – “Hey Robert!” he screams, running into the arms of a man in a white shirt. A lesser show might feel the need to explain who this new character — inserted into the episode minutes before its conclusion — is, but not Chad’s World.
21:53 – Jim and Kevin inform Chad that they have a surprise waiting for him in his room. What could it possibly be? “Gee!” squeals Chad in delight upon seeing the gift.
21:56 – And can you blame him?
22:25 – But wait! There’s more in the garage.
22:37 – A brand new Beamer! “It’s totally radical!” exclaims Chad, who’s from the 90s if you haven’t already noticed.
22:48 – Sadly, Kevin has spotted a flaw in the plan: “he doesn’t even have his license”. Jim isn’t worried. “I thought of that…”
22:54– “Major!” declares Chad, having apparently only just noticed the well-dressed man sitting in the car’s driving seat. And there the episode ends. Sadly, we can only guess at what hijinks Chad, Major and the gang found themselves embroiled in as the series went on.