Everyone has growing pains whether they like to admit it or not. Your teenage years can be the most formative, but they can also be the most traumatizing, especially if you are queer. For Zelda and Daniel Barnz’s Genera+ion, they created an ensemble comedy that explores the many different realms of identity and sexuality. One of the most recognizable face is from Justice Smith, but you have never seen him like this before.
Smith’s Chester is something of a queer anomaly on television. He isn’t struggling with his sexuality and he’s not the subject of bullying from the popular crowd. Not only is Chester ridiculously smart but he is a popular lacrosse player. He straddles so many different worlds that he quite easily destroys any stereotype of a high school student that we’ve seen on the small screen before. Plus, who else could pull off all of those incredible costumes by Shirley Kurata?
While Smith infuses Chester with savage confidence, he does make some decisions that he probably should think through more. Chester crushes hard on Sam, his guidance counselor played by Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, and when he tells Sam how he feels, it’s the most painful scene of the first half of the season.
I can’t imagine what it would feel like to be a queer tween and see Chester on television. Just by existing, flaws and all, Smith is making it better for the next generation.