“Idle Cosmopolitan” is the latest work by IU graduate and filmmaker Joshua Byron. This 20-part, roughly 25-minute YouTube web series uses an avant-garde style and complex mythology to tell the tale of a non-binary/trans millennial. An experimental and quick-witted watch, it deserves attention.
“Idle Cosmopolitan” is about a non-binary/trans advice columnist named Troy. Troy uses they/them pronouns and has a decaying relationship with a man named Dan. Troy’s life begins to change after they enter a mystical reality known as “the Queer World.”
In addition to creating this web series, Byron plays Troy. Byron also uses they/them pronouns and their performance is excellent. Byron is great at showing Troy’s humor and vulnerability.
This web series is also well-shot. Byron frequently makes use of long and wide shots to show Troy’s isolation. But they also use great close-ups, and one of the best occurs in episode three when Troy has a bizarre encounter with a fan.
From a technical standpoint, the music is one of the best things about “Idle Cosmopolitan.” Composer Francesca Hanson’s main theme is jazzy and ethereal. Her idiosyncratic score is a great complement to Byron’s unique shots.
“Idle Cosmopolitan” has an interesting pace. Some parts advance the story forward in a big way, but other parts luxuriate in an experience that does not necessarily advance the plot. Those episodes of the series take great advantage of serialized art’s ability to spend extended time with a character.
One of the greatest parts of this web series is its mythic nature. One character says she is a tigress in a human’s body and is simply credited as “Tigress,” and another character wears a blue sheet and is credited as “The Blue Thing.”
The fantastical nature of the show's characters and situations will make you feel like you are watching an LGBTQ version of “Twin Peaks.”
“Idle Cosmopolitan” deals with a lot of serious issues, including the struggle to lead an authentic life and making good connections with people. But it is also quite funny.
A spirit named Anoxea has a line about straight people that might be one of my favorites of the year.
In addition to the show's creator, a lot of IU alumni are in “Idle Cosmopolitan.” Marie Richardson and Stella Shaffer recently graduated from IU and Ph.D. candidate Nzingha Kendall also makes an appearance. Byron’s work should inspire other undergraduate filmmakers to pursue their visions.
“Idle Cosmopolitan” is interesting and well-crafted. Byron has a lot of talent and a distinctive artistic vision. If you are into serialized art that expands the boundaries of its medium, then you will almost definitely enjoy this web series.