Love and Luck is an Australia-based, ongoing, short-form audio drama about two queer men in a relationship who, largely over voicemail, slowly realize they have magical abilities:
Australia’s First LGBT Audio Drama Podcast!
Love and Luck is a fictional radio play podcast, told via voicemails and set in present day Melbourne, Australia. A slice of life queer romance story with a touch of magic, it follows the relationship between two men, Jason and Kane, as their love grows both for each other and their community.
To discuss Love and Luck is an endeavor that feels incredibly personal, given its content and the aim of the podcast, so to begin, we’ll discuss the overall merits of the show were it any other podcast with any other purpose.
Love and Luck excels better than most other podcasts I’ve heard at toeing the line between sweet and saccharine. As the show begins, the listener is introduced to its two protagonists, Jason and Kane. The two seem an odd-paired bunch, with one being a bit of a party animal and the other a reserved introvert, but the dynamic between the two is tangible. As their relationship develops, the podcast still remains cute but not too sugary. This is helped by each episode’s runtime at under ten minutes, but it’s also helped by the genuine and subdued performances by showrunners Erin Kyan and Lee Davis-Thalbourne.
Even with such a short runtime per episode, the writing still manages to be engaging and intriguing. The magical realism in Love and Luck is a bit of a slow burn, but it’s no chore to get to know the two protagonists before the plot starts unfolding in earnest. Like the performances, the writing is surprisingly down-to-earth. The issues the two face aren’t the standard larger-than-life dilemmas one might expect in a story with magic; for instance, one of the largest plot moments so far is when Jason doesn’t get a job because he comes across as “too gay” for most workplaces. While I’m expecting the plot to ramp up a bit, this contemplative pacing and small-scale, intimate plotting is a refreshing take on magical realism in audio drama, akin to some of the earlier episodes of The Bright Sessions.
While the conceit of being told over voicemails might initially make some listeners wary–myself included–it’s a framing device done elegantly in Love and Luck. Instead of the voicemails being an easy way to justify the medium of audio drama, they develop into a feature of Jason and Kane’s relationship. This is played for small laughs initially; the two keep missing each other and playing phone tag. The more voicemails they leave, the more the voicemails become something they look forward to. This is helped by the two clearly having established lives outside of the voicemails; many events happen off-mic and are quickly recapped or referenced in the audio itself. The production work is elegant and minimal so as to not be obtrusive in such short episodes.
To discuss what makes Love and Luck such a beacon of hope, though, is to discuss something personal and something outside of the podcast itself. To start with, to make sure there isn’t any confusion about the perspective behind this discussion: I’m a cis bi woman. I identify as bi and queer.
In March of 2016, Lexa of The CW’s The 100 was killed off after being one of the very few queer women depicted on TV. The event was just one in a long, long history of queer characters being killed off in media–so long, in fact, that it took me 30 full scrolls on my scroll wheel to get through TV Tropes’s “Bury Your Gays” page when the sections were all expanded. Lexa’s death on The 100 was the final straw for many viewers across the country, and action was called for creators to stop murdering their queer characters for a quick tear and an easy way out of writing queer narratives.
While TV and film floundered–and still flounders–podcasting has seemed like a haven for the narratives we’ve been otherwise unable to experience in media. The Bright Sessions is known for its diverse range of sexual orientations with its characters: while the relationship between teens Caleb and Adam are at the forefront of most discussion Chloe’s explicit asexuality is also an impressive landmark in representation. Welcome to Night Vale aggressively subverts the “Bury Your Gays” trope, and I would argue that the show set most listeners’ expectations for the medium being specifically open to queer narratives.
There is a difference, though, between having representation and knowing the show won’t wind up killing a character off or putting them through some other massive trauma than almost always awaits queer characters in fiction. The 100 wasn’t a show about queer death until it became a show about queer death; until the decision was made to kill off Lexa, the show was discussed as one of the most progressive in its depiction of queer characters.
This is where Love and Luck diverts from the norm. Here is the description of their show from their website’s About page:
The story is about two men who fall in love, learn they have magic powers, and use those powers to support and protect their community. The good guys win, no one gets killed, and queer people of all types are all loved and valued.
Made for people who like healthy relationships and happy endings, Love and Luck’s goal is to bring a few minutes of warmth and happiness to listeners once a week.
The decision to lay out potentially spoiler-filled information is risky, especially given many listeners’ notion that the “best” stories are the most dramatic and devastating. I can say though that, at least for me, this risk is something that paid off entirely. Without this explicit confirmation, I would spend each episode wondering if the final episode would have me sobbing and frustrated and tired because it’d end with one of the partners being killed. I suppose one could call this inclination cynical or dramatic; I’d argue that this is how queer people have been conditioned to expect queer narratives to go in fiction.
There’s something to be said for an explicitly kind show that won’t end in trauma. There’s something therapeutic in being able to wait for a narrative to unfold without the constant worry that it’s going to turn tragic. There’s something healing in being faced with constant news of your community facing more and more peril, and having something like Love and Luck to remind you that sometimes, things do end well.
I realize this is all personal. I’d posit that these beliefs are anything but unique for queer podcast listeners, though.
Regardless of your stance on representation, the “Bury Your Gays” trope, or how audio dramas depict queer narratives, Love and Luck is a fun, sweet, engaging listen that manages to be kind without being toothachingly sweet. If you, like me, have been searching for media that as made a firm stance on being a kind queer story made for and by kind queer people, you can do no better than Love and Luck.