“A League of Their Own” Episode 106 Recap: Over the Rainbow

A League of Their Own recap contains spoilers. (Remember when I said that yesterday’s recap was the longest one I had ever written? WELL. About that.)

It’s a beautiful sunny day and the Peaches have just seen The Wizard of Oz, in color — a central thematic touchstone of the episode for a variety of reasons, but what we are going to pay closest attention to are, of course the gay ones.

Historically (and I say this as someone who has no real affinity towards the movie and was deathly afraid of the Wicked Witch of the West until an age that would be embarrassing to write under my own byline) there is nothing else in pop culture as gay as The Wizard of Oz. There’s the whole “somewhere over the rainbow” / rainbow flag dynamic. The Stonewall Riots happened on the same day as Judy Garland’s funeral, a fact seen as a chance of coincidence by some and a grand myth-making origin story by others. Boys in the Band, considered by many to be the first mainstream successful play with all gay characters, is titled after a Judy Garland quote. And, if you’re a queer history nerd, there are the infamous “friends of Dorothy,” which we will return to later.

If Jess looked at me like that, I would simply combust into glitter and dust.

But for right now, the Peaches stroll out of the theater two-by-two. Jess, in pants — gasp! in public! —  with an arm dropped around Maybelle, thought it was too much color. Carson cried, which makes Greta call her a sap. A fan comes up to tell them that they’re rooting for the Peaches to be the championship, which causes Carson to ask Shirley to calculate the actual odds of them making it and not tell anyone (they are four games out of second with 12 games to go, you know Shirley is on this!).

Back at home Esti is practicing her English. Over and over again, until her diction is perfect: “I wanted to go to the movies” — when they come in only Jess seems to notice she’s upset, asking what’s wrong.

Esti tells Lupe in Spanish that Lupe knew she wanted to go to the movies, and Lupe admits she forgot to tell the rest of the team. She is sorry. But also, Lupe goes on, Esti has been in the United States for three months and hasn’t learned any English! If she had them she could have told them herself. Daaaamn Lupe, that’s a little harsh — Esti is a literal child. I can understand Lupe’s frustration of always being looped together with Esti, who again, is a child, just because they are both Spanish speaking Latinas, but Esti isn’t the enemy here. It’s a lose-lose situation with more than enough bad feelings to go around. Which is probably why Esti leaves crying.

(While all this is happening let us not forget that Sarge clocks Jess immediately, “aww wearing pants outside again, Miss McCready? You know I’m going to have to keep fining you.” To which Jess, who is perfect — that will not be my only time saying that this recap — already has Sarge’s cash in hand, “My pleasure.”)

Carson goes to comfort Esti, and in the process overhears Sarge talking to the team manager. Sarge, also always a joy, deadpans “you’re a married woman Mrs. Shaw, it isn’t befitting to be darting around in the shadows.” But Carson’s the coach, right? She needs to know what’s going on.

What’s going on is that Mr. Baker believe the MLB may shut down next year because of the continued war, and he wants the AAGPBL to be ready to take over their ballparks. He’s invited some of the other owners to the championship to watch, and needs to make sure the level of play is as high as possible. So! He wants to break up the Peaches and put their best players on teams more likely to play in the World Series.

By the way, Shirley says they only have a 1 in 18 chance of making it to the championship, they’d have to basically win every game to make it. It’s not looking great, buddy!!

Not for nothing, but I’m really glad I’m going to get to age as a queer Black person. Flawless.

Meanwhile, Max is out bowling with her Aunt Gracie and Uncle Bertie, and if you’re wondering if I watched this entire scene while screaming “So cute! They are so cute!” a truly ridiculous amount of times with my hands covering my eyes, well friends you are correct!

There is a lot that I love about Gracie and Bertie, including that Max gets the benefit of intergenerational Black queer mentorship, that she finds support on her journey almost immediately after a complicated and difficult relationship with her mother, that her self-discovery includes a family tree — not all of us are the only one in our family who are gay! But one of the most delightful things for me is simply that they’re there.

Bertie was not included in the original press of the series (and I’d argue for good reasons, the impact of his arc works best if we discover it alongside Max), and I believed that Max would be a Black character in a white world. I have a longstanding grievance with white television shows that drop a chocolate chip into the cookie batter, wash their hands of it, and pat themselves on the back for a job well done. Black people have worlds and thoughts and dialogue far away from the white gaze we live under in public. Arguably for a lot of Black people, the version of ourselves in front of white people isn’t who we are at all, and that’s word to WEB DuBois.

It’s rare for a predominately white television show to fully get that. And yes, in the case of A League of Their Own some of that is necessitated by 1940s segregation, but the gentle care taken with Max’s world building, watching Max be surrounded by a variety of straight and queer Black people who truly love her — maybe that shouldn’t be as much of a marvel as it is. But it is, in fact, a marvel.


Also, she’s looking fine as hell with that new haircut. Sorry it had to be said.

Bertie — absolutely dashing in a suit black suit and a grey and black stripped tie — is joking with the owner of the bowling alley about mutual “wife problems” while Max and Gracie look on. (Bertie: “Look! I just let my woman run the money. That’s just how we keep things peaceful, man.”)

Max, to Gracie: I can’t believe you let him come out here looking like this.

Gracie: Well, I can’t believe you come out of the house looking like a little church girl in those skirts like you’re 12, but here we are.

Max just meant.. isn’t it… isn’t it dangerous? And Gracie throws her hands a bit up to the air, sure it’s dangerous but what else are they going to do — stay at home all the time?

In the end, it’s about living life out loud, isn’t it? Finding a way to live life on your own terms. And this is another reason that Max is surrounded by a variety of Black queerness, because we aren’t a monolith. If Clance correctly named Gracie’s femme-ness as Josephine Baker, it’s pretty hard to look at Bertie and not think about Pauli Murray. Murray, a brilliant legal mind whose work left foot prints on both Brown v. Board of Education and Reed v. Reed (which legally codified gender equality), was a Black masc person who — dating back to the 1940s, in fact — often wrote in painstaking detail about how they understood their own masculinity at a time in which language for gender was far removed from our own.

What A League of Their Own does exceptionally well is finding those time-period specific ways to explore and talk about gender — whether it’s Bertie dressed to the nines, taking his woman out for a night on the town; Jess helping Jo find boxers; and Jess’ obvious discomfort in skirts on the field and their willingness to pay Sarge fines in order to wear pants off of the field.

Just to go large in scope for a second, there’s been so much discussion this week about A League of Their Own’s homophobic review bombing on Amazon. Those kinds of targeted attacks don’t come out of nowhere, they come because the show’s very existence pushes back against transphobic and homophobic lies that being trans is “new,” that being visibly gay in public is “new,” that these are signs of some societal decay. That’s the big lie. We’ve been here, we were in the 1940s playing a game of bowling and breathing life into this world.

Max jokes, and “Here I thought my Mama was the mayor of Black Rockford.” Bertie steps back to stunt on em just a little bit, “I mean you know it’s the suit right?” And he is right about that — his drip is flawless. Max looks at her Uncle and wonders if her life would be easier if she were a man, at least then she’d be able to play ball.

Hollywood wants you to believe that this is how lesbians have sex.

The next day the Peaches beat the Comets!! The Peaches beat the Comets!! (To be fair, they damn sure better win, Carson has them practicing 6 hours a day!!). Jess believes that Lady Luck is on their side, but Greta’s not so sure. Alone sitting in the kitchen with Carson, she shares her own manifesto of sorts, “I don’t know if it’s God or Lady Luck, but they give people like us a raw deal, so they can kick rocks, you know?”

Greta believes in zoology, astrology, ice cubes. Carson and Greta graze pinkies at the kitchen table, and Carson asks if this is ok. Greta says Hmmhmm. Carson wants to take Greta to dinner sometime, there’s only nine games left and this gonna end soon. She just wants to make it as real as possible until then — well, Greta says, Carson better find a way to get them into the championship.

In the hallway, Carson sees Lupe asking Sarge for a “trade” before sneaking out of the house. Carson — who, along with Greta, had noticed Lupe cozying up to one of the Comets during their game earlier — assumes she’s going to talk with the Comets because she wants to get traded to a stronger team, and follows her to the alley behind the movie theatre. This is when it gets fun.

Behind the movie theater is a door. Behind the door is a man sitting at a desk. That man asks Carson “tax problems? We do tax solutions” and when Carson responds confused, he follows up with are you a friend of Dorothy’s?” — at which point I shrieked because I have only heard that term in history books! And now here it is, come to life! — before recognizing Carson as the catcher of the Peaches and welcoming her in.

I’m tryna to tell you something, I would NOT survive.

Carson’s upset when she sees Lupe with the blonde from the Comets. She goes “I can’t believe you’re playing for the other team” — a hilarious double entendre — and Lupe stands up, panicked, asking Carson not to tell anyone.

Carson tells Lupe she heard her talking to Beverly about wanting to trade teams, but nooo Lupe wants to trade rooms, to get breathing space from Esti. Jess, who’s also there, pulls up with a couple beers and a cigarette behind her ear, baseball cap tilted just so to the side, and Cannot. Stop. Laughing.

Jess tells Carson, “look around.. okay?”

Women dancing together, men who are soldiers kissing, someone sitting at a table in an outfit that is a dress on the right side and a suit on the left.

Jess explains to Lupe, “she’s like us” and passes Carson a beer.

Carson wonders how Jess knew and in what can only be described as an ICONIC MOMENT Jess takes a drag of her cigarette before explaining in one breath as the smoke exhales: “I’ve known since that first night at the bar. But also, a couple of weeks ago, you fell asleep in my room with Greta…” Jess shakes her head. “Rookie.” She clinks her beer to Carson, “Drink up.”

Carson’s still taking it all in, wonders what is this place, but Lupe’s eyes are saucers, equal parts stunned and unfathomably impressed, “You and Greta!?!? Oh God. Oh, the height! The height!?!… who does what?”


You just know that no one would be more excited to learn about Wakanda than Clance.

It’s Max and Clance’s turn to see Wizard of Oz in color. Max cries about missing home but Clance says that Dorothy was a full on colonizing Scarlet Witch invading the multiverse and also the green color of the Wicked Witch of the West was an obvious allegory for racist scapegoating (she’s not wrong on that last part, we love a comics analyst queen!), Emerald City is Africa, and the entire comics industry is actually nationalist patriotic propaganda!! (correct again) — while Clance goes on, there’s a knock at the door.

It’s Bertie, who is so excited to be in Max’s home, complimenting her, “hey! This is nice!” before Max can cut him off, clumsily introducing Clance as her friend. Bertie doesn’t let Max’s awkwardness ruin anything at first, letting his niece know that there’s friends coming from Detroit (what up doe! Though also it’s a reference to the 1943 Uprising, which… not a great time) and he made Max a present. In a box!! With a bow!!!

And you all know that I’m pretty firmly Team Max about most things, but I have a line — that line is hurting Uncle Bertie’s feelings, and Max is about to bulldoze right over it. Max asks Clance to go upstairs before telling Bertie that he can’t come around like this. He knows why.

Bertie takes a step back, “So, what, you can come and eat my food, come on a date with me a date with me and my wife, but I can’t come through your door?” Bertie thought they were bonding, that they were on the same page.

Max’s face goes hard, “We aren’t. I’m not like you.”

“Wow. Alright.” Bertie leaves Max with the box and walks back out the door.

Now I get that Max is once again in the throws of a gay panic, and whenever Max sees a little of herself in Bertie, she hears Miss Toni’s voice all over again, and that fear instinct kicks in. But imagine Bertie, who’s been without blood family for so long, to have Max walk right on in through his front door. To feel like this time it could be different. And then… be rejected all over again. I don’t believe for a second that this was only ever a story about how Max needed Bert.

Of course Clance put it together even though Max shoved her away, she knows the person who came to visit was Toni’s sibling, Bertie. Clance thinks she’s being kind and helpful, saying “I can see why Toni doesn’t want her around” and “it’s ok!” — it’s not like it’s Max’s fault that family is “a freak.”

Max chokes down tears over her shoulder.

This is Schwa de Vivre and here is her YouTube channel to learn more. Support local queens!

Back at the bar, a drag artist performs while the Peaches play a fun game of “which of our teammates are gay” and Carson asks the meaning of the term butch (Lupe, sighing: “oh boy”). Jess would bet at least 35% of the league is queer, including the batboy, which somehow still feels like an underestimation if you ask me. The entire gay bonding is very adorable, including Carson finding out that among the gays the Peaches are rockstars — errr, did they have rockstars int he 1940s? — and Lupe and Jess have been… let’s just say… reaping the the benefits.

When a pair of twins take interest, Lupe sends Carson on a beer run.. and that’s when…

[Deep breath]

At the bar

[Deep breath]

Carson meets Rosie Fucking O’Donnell.


Excuse me I mean Carson meets Vi, who looks hot as hell in a suit (Rosie’s Silver Fox era is epic), and owns this bar.

It’s one thing to reboot the subtextually gay A League of Their Own and bring all of its queerness front and center. It’s a whole other thing to have Rosie Fucking O’Donnell herself come down from Mount Olympus to grace us with her presence. We’ll go on about Vi, but I want to say that between this and Generation Q, I have adored every minute Rosie’s well deserved victory tour across queer television. A legend walking among us, and I hope those flowers are felt by her with the deep, profound, and sincere love that we give them.

Maybe this entire recap is just dedicated to hot queer couples over 50 looking for a third (y’all I’m so sorry, it’s late at night, my mother reads these recaps, I regret these decisions)

Ok! So Viv owns the bar and she wonders if Carson has “come back down to earth, yet.” Jo and Lupe play a game of arm wrestling (love them) while Viv gets in a perfect dig, “I can’t believe they make you guys play in skirts!” before introducing her wife, who was the fan the Peaches met earlier outside of The Wizard of Oz, when she was out with her beard.

The next day in the locker room, Carson’s head is still spinning. Breathless, she tells Greta, “everyone was like us” and while Greta knows about underground gay bars, she just worries that it’s dangerous to go to one so close to home. But she’s been thinking about it, and on their next night off she’s gonna take Carson out on that date.

PS: The locker room smells, because no one is changing their socks or underwear on the count of the *knocks on wood* ssshhhh streak. Speaking of which, Carson decides that the Peaches will be taking turns giving the motivational speech before the game — an absolutely hilarious montage cut in between the Peaches win streak — we are doing this!! We are really doing it!! Kiss Jo’s arm for good luck! Shirley says we don’t need to be afraid of death! Esti screams VAMANOS PEACHES! And the next thing you know, the Peaches are on the verge of playoffs!!

In complete and utter seriousness, I am so jealous of these women. CONSIDER: PIZZA!! FOR THE FIRST TIME!!

Greta, a woman true to her word, takes Carson out for a fancy pizza date night (I didn’t catch it until my rewatch that Greta says “I had it for the first time last year!” — the 1940s! Can you imagine!!) and the twins behind the counter send shots on the house because they’re big Peaches fans, wink wink. And yes, they are the same twins from the bar. You know it.

Greta and Carson talk about what will come next and if they’ll be back next year. Will Charlie even let Carson return? Will Greta be a big movie star? Will they be the kind of people who are only each others memories? Could that ever be enough.

(At one point, D’Arcy Carden reaches over to Abbi Jacobson’s face, pokes at her cheek, and says “Dimple!” in a tone that I cannot describe as anything other the intersection of “aww that’s adorable” and “this is so sexy, I can no longer breathe”)

If the Peaches win two more games, they go to the playoffs. Carson asks Greta for a bet, if the Peaches win those last two games — Greta has to go to the bar with her.

At home, Max finally opens up the box from Uncle Bertie. It’s suit. Just like Bertie’s suit that Max admired the night they all went out bowling.

Max tries it on. And out of respect — out of respect — for her very serious emotional journey, I’m not going to say what I’m thinking. I am NOT. However and also…


When we next see Max, she’s on her way to the Peaches locker room (Peaches won again, by the way — now we’re one game out from the playoffs), nervously spouting off to Carson without taking as much as a breath, “You’re alone. Right? I counted, there’s 15 players, a chaperone, and no coach. You’re coach.” Carson didn’t think she’d ever see Max again, but Max isn’t there to talk about baseball. She hasn’t even been pitching.

The last time they saw each other, before Carson ruined it, Max wanted to ask: “What it was like being with… her?”

Her name is Greta, and it’s… ok with Charlie, Carson’s husband.. it’s fine. It’s bread. Have you ever had bread? But then.. have you ever had pizza?? Right. Greta is pizza.

Max has had pizza. She first had pizza (they are no longer talking about pizza) when she was 17. But the woman she was with, she wanted Max to be tougher, more hard than she is. “Everyone wants me to be some way.”

Carson knows what Max means. She just went to this bar (she literally cannot stop talking about this damn bar. Do you remember being a baby gay? Do you remember when you just could! Not! Stop! Talking! About This Damn Bar!) and now she knows all about the ways of butches and femmes, but she doesn’t know if she’s either one. Max feels like they need a new word, something for in between (I would like to point out to any readers feeling similarly that Autostraddle sells both Soft Butch and Tomboy Femme shirts, that support indie queer media, in case you feel a calling). Carson, still very geeked about this here pizza, says it could even be pizza related!! but smartly, Max suggests staying away from food.

Carson wonders why Max hasn’t been pitching, and the truth is Max has been holding on so tight, tying herself into knots that she doesn’t know how to untie. And really, it doesn’t matter if there’s baseball or not. She feels like there is no version of herself that makes sense for the world.

Carson takes a long pause, “I’m sorry Max.”

More than anything, Max needs someone who will just sit and be quiet with her for a while. And that, Carson can do.

“Maybelle, honey, somehow you are the last straight Peach. It’s time we have a conversation.”

It’s the last game before the playoffs, and (imagine me in my sports announcer voice) it all comes down to this. Maybelle forgot Tommy and Jess freaks the fuck out — Tommy’s the GI who gave Maybelle his picture right before the *knocks on wood* ssshhhh streak started and she’s been carrying it around in her brassiere, which sounds like a sex thing but is really a baseball thing or maybe it’s both things. Anyway now it’s gone and they are going to lose.

Carson says that Greta is going to give the motivational speech this time. She looks her in the eyes, “talk about luck.”

Greta: Alright fruits, I hate to break it to you, but we are not winning because of our socks… or our panties. Or because of Tommy, who, to be honest, never deserved to be in your bra in the first place, okay?

Maybelle: But now he might die.

Greta: And that’s his problem.

Greta tells the Peaches the truth, that a couple of weeks ago they were supposed to be broken up for parts. They already did the thing that no one thought was possible, they were so goddamn good that they couldn’t be torn apart. They already did it. So tonight’s nothing. Greta doesn’t believe in luck, she believes in her Peaches.

The Peaches win, by the way. (Shout out to Lupe who calls Carson to the mound mid-game just to talk about if the bar is gonna be fun tonight, and to the love of my life, Jo De Luca, the Bazooka, the hottest woman on the field.) Was there ever a doubt?

And yes, that means that tonight — tonight — Carson and Greta are going out to the bar.

“No, but seriously Maybelle. We have to have a conversation.”

After the game, back at the house, the gay Peaches 🥺 all sit together on the couch🥺 smoking and drinking beers. Carson and Greta try and convince Jo (Greta calls her Joey!!) to come with them, but even though Jo was the one who said “what if we forgot the rules” — there’s a line between carefree and careless, and going to a bar like that, this close to home, is certainly the other side of that line. But Greta promised Carson, and Greta needs her wingwoman. And honestly we all need to see the gays together because this scene is like oxygen in my veins.

Esti’s nowhere to found, according to Maybelle. Jess and Lupe are going to go look for her, but Carson reminds Lupe… don’t take too long, “the twins are waiting” which Greta then mimes with her breasts. Gays, amirite? Gays! Gotta love them.

The Peaches aren’t the only ones going out to celebrate. Max goes to Bertie’s, having adjusted the suit he gave her with a yellow button down blouse and no jacket. She stands outside the door, nervous and a friend (not of Dorothy, well a friend of Dorothy but also of Bertie) tells Max to get inside before “people get the wrong idea.”

I couldn’t fit in the recap that two women hit on Max almost immediately after she walks in the party, but honestly? Relatable.

Inside, the great Gladys Bentley — queer, Black, and exquisite —  plays and Max’s face goes from shy to wide-eyed, she’s never been to a party like this before. Max and Carson’s parallel queer coming-of-age in these spaces, of finding out that queerness is not only out there walking in the world but cherished and celebrated, is subtle but not lost. Max, true to exactly who she is, panics and just when she’s about to hit the backdoor, she hears her Aunt Gracie —

“Girl, you are always on the run.”

Truer words have never been spoken. But tonight? “Tonight you are going to have a good time. You are going to have a fabulous time. You are going to meet the family.” She goes to get Max some “communion,” taking her back into the party by hand.

Just as Max starts biting her lip (you know that thing she does) and making eyes at a woman across the party, Bertie calls her into another room. Max, looking to make small talk and a little embarrassed over how she left things with Bert, asks about life next to the train tracks. It’s loud, but it grants Bertie and Gracie privacy. Then Uncle Bert cuts to the chase.

“You know, you hurt me the other day. You hurt my pride.”

Max is sorry. She’s still figuring out a lot of things, but that’s not an excuse. Bertie silently accepts her apology, changing course, where’s the rest of the suit he made?

Max, for the first time in a long time, since she overheard Miss Toni call her those terrible words, seems sure of herself. “You know, for a long time I felt like I had to be my momma. And part of me is. But a lot of me isn’t. And now I can’t talk to her. I don’t want to go through that again with you. So, thank you. I really appreciate it. Hell, I love it. But… this is how I wanted to wear it.”

And Bert, seeing Max on her own terms, reaches out to gently rub her knee. They don’t say much else, but do they even have to? Some understandings don’t require words.

Instead Bertie looks back at the woman in the party, “is that your girl?” Max blushes, she’s never met her before. Bertie looks at his niece with pride tucked behind the knowing smile that spreads across his face, “Then you better get going.”

Max catches up to the mystery woman, who’s reaching for her coat. “You gotta dance with me before you leave.”

“Oh, I gotta?”

Max tips her head, shrugs her shoulders, bites her lip, voice smoother than butter itself. “Sorry. It’s the rules.”

They move together to the makeshift dance floor that is Bert and Gracie’s living room.

Carson, Greta, and Jo enter Vi’s bar together. Jo — a smokeshow in this white button down, by the way — throws darts and meets Flo, short for Florida. Greta and Carson move to a dance floor of their own, meeting Jo and her new date there.

All of them together, across time and place. Flo thinks Jo is the most beautiful person she’s ever seen. Max’s dance partner flirts that her name is “S” — even though she knows Max’s full name — and, she whispers in close to Max’s ear, “I guess that means I’m wining.” Carson and looks up into Greta’s eyes like she’s the universe itself.

The music swims around them, Irma Thomas sings “I don’t want to stop now” and the blues guitar wails. “Please don’t make me stop nowwwwwww.” Queer couples everywhere, holding each other, contemplating each other’s fullness. Carson wants to know from Greta, “Mmmm. What would happen if I came to California with you?”

“Please don’t make me stop now. Baby! Baby! I loooove you! Honey, don’t you know that I love you!”

Greta and Carson kiss. Max and S kiss. The camera spins, couples spin, couples smile, they touch their foreheads together, they love. How they love. How they love. Parties that are their own, but also queer time is liminal, we are all together.

“Don’t make me stop! Don’t make stop me now!”

A bang on the door of the club, loud and violent.

Vi moves first, “Oh shit. The police.”

Vi and her wife try to hold the door, everyone runs. Greta looks for Jo. “Joey let’s go. Jo! JO LET’S GO!” But there’s too much happening, there’s too many bodies. Flo pulls Jo in the other direction, Carson grabs Greta. Greta screams for Jo. The police break the makeshift barricade.

People fall down the stairs back into the alley, face first. Carson takes Greta’s hands, the movie theater is right there. Greta wants to know where Jo is, Carson opens the door to the back of the theater and shoves her inside. The police are crawling the alley now, there’s no more time. They can’t wait.

The police throw Vi against floor of the bar she owns — of course it is Vi, of course using Rosie to ground us in this moment makes it even more visceral — glass is broken everywhere, the screams echo, the cries, Vi yells “get off me!”

Carson and Greta sit together in the dark movie theater, but Greta’s not really there. In her mind, she’s still looking for Jo.

And you know what is still playing? The Wizard of Oz.

Glinda promises, no matter what, “There’s no place like home.”

Every episode of A League of Their Own is streaming on Prime Video. Editor in Chief Carmen Phillips and Senior Editor Heather Hogan will be trading off recaps, one a day, every single day, for the whole first season. See you back here tomorrow! 

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Carmen Phillips

Carmen is Autostraddle's Editor-in-Chief and a Black Puerto Rican femme/inist writer. She claims many past homes, but left the largest parts of her heart in Detroit, Brooklyn, and Buffalo, NY. There were several years in her early 20s when she earnestly slept with a copy of James Baldwin’s “Fire Next Time” under her pillow. You can find her on twitter, @carmencitaloves.

Carmen has written 699 articles for us.


  1. My partner and I sobbed and held each other after this ending. I just.. are there even any words to describe?

    I don’t know whether it was right or wrong to show the reality of the time period the way they did. All I can say is that I felt it right in my soul. All of it.

  2. this show, and this episode in particular, is mindblowingly brilliant. The final scenes broke me, I knew it was coming but was still not prepared for the intensity and the sadness I felt. I still can’t believe how right this show is getting absolutely everything. I can’t stop thinking about it and having finished it last night, I am about to watch the entire series again.

  3. Thank you, Carmen, for putting into words the intensity but also the subtlety in this episode.

    THIS – “ the gentle care taken with Max’s world building, watching Max be surrounded by a variety of straight and queer Black people who truly love her — maybe that shouldn’t be as much of a marvel as it is. But it is, in fact, a marvel.”

    I loved that heartrending locker room conversation between Carson and Max.

    And Jess! And Lupe! So much fun and perceptive wit interwoven with the emotional strife and precarious and very real violence with which the episode ends.

    I realize they are very different shows but while I have a profound weakness for Gen Q THIS is the kind of specific and complex characterization, narrative continuity and unfolding, and precise dialogue that I want, and always feel is lacking in Gen Q (
    Forget about the bananas time/space warping there – half the time it feels like in a given scene the characters are having entirely different conversations/talking past each other in ways that feel like a problem with the writing not the characters’ foibles).

    I am as smitten with this show as Max is with Es!

  4. I had to hover with my curser towards the end of the episode bc I knew they were going to get raided and needed to know when it would be! It feels like Chekhov’s gay bar–when you see a secret gay bar in a period piece, it gets raided! But I’m so glad there was the balance of the safe space at Bertie’s house during that scene. Having those two juxtaposed was helpful in it not only being traumatic.

    Rosie!!!! Jess explaining to Carson!!! Seeing the gay Peaches get to find each other!!!! Like you said Carmen, it reminded me of first coming out and being so excited and finding out who else is gay, and being with other queers for the first time. That whole scene was so so good.

    I think the playful conversation between Lupe and Carson at the pitcher’s mound is my favorite moment in the whole show. I had to rewatch it a couple times before continuing. And the ending “Carson, one more thing… Get out of my fucking face.” Just perfect.

    Max was unkind to Bertie, and I’m glad the show had her apologize to him. BUT, Bertie wasn’t sure how out Max was, and so i was a little surprised that he’d show up at the house without them having had any conversation about Maybe he assumed that since she was living with a friend she would be comfortable with it?

    I loved the montage of pep talks.

    I love that Max figured out how to wear the suit in a way that works for her and was able to explain it to Bertie.

    I loved Carson and Max sitting in silence.

    I love love loved Clance’s enthusiastic explaining of her reading of the Wizard of Oz to a not-fully-on-board Max. Their friendship!

    Carmen, your caption for the photo of Rosie’s character and her girlfriend made me cackle.

    Before this episode i said to myself “Weird that in a show with so many hot queer women I only really have one big crush” (Greta) and then Esther fucking waltzed on to the screen and started flirting and I absolutely swooned. Mean femmes!! They just get to me!!

  5. Have loved reading these recaps by you both! But yeah this episode is absolutely beautiful and I think possibly they most gut wrenching. As soon as the camera panned to random queer couples I knew what was coming, it reminded me of cabaret, because you get to know and dread what’s coming. It would’ve been really nice if they’d gotten a safe night at the bar, but ultimately while painful it felt like the right, real ending, acknowledging the reality of history. And I think it’s smartly tempered by the fact the Black queer community we see do get to end the night safe, well and happy.

  6. The screams I scrumpt during this episode…. Chefs kiss all around!!! I had to take a moment (or two or five) after to appreciate, process, and digest. I’ve been savoring an episode a day, and with each day I sing higher praise for the writers, actors, and crew for making such a brilliant show (plus autostraddle team for heightening the viewing experience!). I can’t believe I get to watch this!

  7. I first heard “Friend of Dorothy” in a 2000 film Common Ground with Jason Priestley and late Brittany Murphy. Not going to lie, this clever code name made me so proud of the gays. Was psyched when I heard it again in ALOTO. Just made the whole thing even more historically accurate and gay.

  8. I really hope by some stroke of maggic Abbi Jacobson & the ALOTO team have followed the digital yellow brick road to Autostraddle to read the sincere love and admiration and joy in these recaps and comments.

    (Also to offset the Amazon reviews situation – which I was delighted to see have been bombed in their other direction, going from a 1.5 star average rating over the weekend to 4.5)

  9. This episode knocked me on my rainbow-colored ass. As thrilled as I was to see the Silver Fox (Rosie) in! a! suit! (Praise Gaga!)… The ending was such a gut punch. I understood what they were doing from a storytelling pov- there’s just so much to say re: what it meant to be queer back then, and how queerness fell within some rigid rules. It’s one thing to know the danger cerebrally, but in this episode, we *felt* it, which is very difficult to do with the limited time each facet of the story is allowed. I was walking around in a daze after this episode, but I also know that was the point.

  10. Carmen, thank you so much for your thoughtful commentary on all of these. This is easily my favorite episode of the season, maybe even one of my favorite episodes of television of all time–I think, in part, *because* the ending gutted me so much. The sheer breadth of both queer joy and queer pain play out so beautifully over the course of this season but this is, in my opinion, the clear stand-out. Pizza? Queer eldership? Cute Gretson date? Es coming on the scene? All of that joy and love and community end-capped by the gut punch that is the raid? The look on Carson and Greta’s faces while their sitting in that movie theater… I can’t even think about it without getting choked up. Such incredible storytelling!!! I can’t get over it.

  11. in a season full of “this is my favorite episode yet” this might have truly been my favorite episode! at the very least it had some of my favorite moments, including jess laughing their ass off as carson and lupe had two very different kinds of panic at once

    the pep talk montage was such a great bit of character work, because of course what you say to your team before you take the field is deeply revealing about you as a person!

    • also thank u rosie and the queer gods for the suit rep in this episode! really made me feel some type of way

      i don’t want to talk about the ending because i prefer to think that everyone had a good queer time at the bar but also that’s how you tell a sad gay story without making trauma porn

  12. I’ve been waiting for your review of this episode Carmen! Such a beautiful, meaningful episode and this review is beautifully written as always. <3 Definitely one of my favorite queer TV episodes of all time.

    On another, smaller note: the sign at the bar behind Rosie reads "The Office," and The Office is an irl queer bar in Rockford, IL! I'm not sure if it was around in the 1940s. But I really appreciate the show's attention to the local history and specificity of the area! You can tell how well-researched it was. http://theofficeniteclub.com/

  13. oof, i was waiting for this recap. i had a suspicion that the episode was leading to this ending, but still it was hard to watch. at the end i’m grateful for the sheer honesty of the show, queer people have always existed and we have found joy in the midst of hardship. it was a beautiful episode and also!! an absolute joy to see max work thru her internalized homophobia and find a space of queer joy & continue to connect with gracie & bertie. [Redacted] made me laugh a lot!!

  14. This is my favourite episode of any show of all time. It was absolutely incredible. I had to pause multiple times to cry because it was so powerful!! And now I’m crying again reading your recaps Carmen!

    When they first introduced Uncle Bertie, I thought we would only get a glimpse of him and then the show would move on because TV doesn’t give a lot of space for Black masc/gnc/trans characters. It meant everything to get a full story line about him. It was done with so much heart. I absolutely loved it.

    This episode (minus the ending which I’m gonna forget) felt like I was at a dessert buffet. Thank you to all the people that made this happen, y’all are amazing.

  15. Thank you for this excellent recap, and for the Pauli Murray note! As an Episcopal priest myself, I just have to add that she was also the first African American woman—and one of the first women at all—ordained a priest in the Episcopal church.

  16. I’m sorry but queer joy is not sitting on the sofa unable to relax and immerse yourself in a scene because you know tragedy is going to occur because queer joy can’t exist on screen. I really thought queer creators would get that for once we just need to see queer joy without the punishment. Max’s scenes could only lighten it so much. I’m so disappointed. It really makes me wonder who the assumed audience is.

    It’s bullshit to hide behind the historically accurate explanation too – gay bars weren’t raided every night.

    • oh thank you for this! the costume design was absolutely spectacular and i was hoping to see interviews with the team. now for interviews with every other creative team member!

  17. As most gay ladies, I was excited for ANY show of ANY type (anyone still feeling claustrophobic from the intense Vigil scenes?) to have a gay character, and the riches of multiple gay characters. But that first episode the writing felt like it was for the audience and not for the characters. Just what audience though I did not know. Clance and Max were living the never-ending optimistic no matter what black trope and Shaw was the most East Coast farm girl depicted on TV since Jenny Schecter arrived in LA from small-town Illinois.

    After the first episode I believe Gbemisola Ikumelo joined the writers room and if that’s the reason why the storyline of Max developed with layers upon layers then kudos to her!! Because after that first episode I wondered if the writers room had any POC.

    My issue with the show – gay tropes aside but not too far away (when Greta did her Dana speech I was like, “Oh here we go….” Interesting choice of first name since Dana is the beloved L-Word character who’s storyline some of us will never get over.) – is the overt and not too much discussed antisemtic character Shirley Cohen. I’m Jewish, and I understand most people think neurosis, hypochondria, and being a busybody are all trademarks. They aren’t. It’s the 1940’s, Shirly would have known her people were being slaughtered because, you know, the programs and probably why her family was in American in the first place. So she’s written well, shitty frankly, and then to top it off she becomes the homophobic threatening to out Jo? Out of all the players they could’ve placed that storyline on? Her character, who has issues in public spaces, is somehow proficient at playing baseball? The sheltered Jewish girl? Knowing what was happening and given this opportunity to play baseball she could’ve been comedic line dropping gold by being endlessly dour about nazi’s and the war. Reminding the ladies, and viewers, why they were able to play baseball in the first place.

    But the reason I’m writing is because I was hate watching until the 6th episode, when I got slayed. The writing stayed audience driven but finally characters got to interact, develop and deepen beyond hot/cold moments. It let the actresses shine. The 6th episode gave us time to really really enjoy these women, and if you’re gay you knew it wasn’t going to last in a secret bar in the 1940’s, and if you were straight you deserved what was coming; a feeling of safety and joy being ripped away. A reality that is happening every day in states where being gay, the stakes are still very very high.

    Also, great to see them play baseball!

  18. The bar: Did anyone else think it was a coincidence that Rosie O’Donnell spoke about Carson being the first one *again*, doing something no one had done before her? It was so similar to Carrie’s words in Generation Q when she complimented Alice for her show and for doing something entirely new. Both were such meta moments because Rosie herself had been this pioneer.
    It was one of my absolute favorite scenes in the series how Carson goes to the bar, her and Lupe’s misunderstanding, Jess laughing and then Lupe and Jess explaining gay stuff to Carson.
    Bar and pizza place: It was so touching when Carson asked how this was allowed (the bar, Vi’s marriage) and then later, Greta said she would love to have children, but would never want to hold on to a man. This really showed how many of the things that a number of queer people might take for granted today are just a thing of a very recent present (historically speaking). How many of these things are now actually possible (in some countries, that is, and even there, many right-wing-people and conservatives work actively towards going back to exactly this criminalization).
    Max: Girl, I love you but the way you treated Bertie made me really dislike you there! Glad you apologized later on.
    The motivational speeches: Loooooooove!
    The end: Every time I watch it, I get goosebumps. Having read “Stone Butch Blues” and knowing lots about queer history of the 40s, 50s, 60s, I thought so much about what each of the characters who got arrested would experience in jail, especially the butches and trans people (cis gay men could get raped, too, but I know less about them). Whether police had raped Jo. How an arrest could destroy lives: in regard to physical and mental health, job-wise, socially… Just… No words…

  19. Love this ep a lot – it feels like the show hit its stride and brought some scattered/messy bits togethe. I loved the queer history nods, especially the home party. What a sanctuary. No, bar raids didn’t happen all the time, but they were incredibly frequent, especially if you weren’t bribing the cops or mafia enough. Definitely a Chekov’s gun moment, but I thought they made it count.

    Loved the nod to various fandoms’ obsession with HEIGHT DIFFERENCE. If you somehow didn’t realise the show was written by queers, that would have told you.

    And am I the only one that thinks that Miss Toni is the spitting image of Jezebel in the Dykes to Watch Out for cartoons? Same fierce small-business-owner energy too.

  20. You missed when Carson said “she was there, and she was there” when explaining to Greta that lupe and Jess were at the bar

    It’s a great Oz reference. Loved this episode despite how hard it was to watch that ending

  21. God there’s so much to say about this episode but really just came here to say how much I would watch a Jess and Lupe buddy comedy. I’ve loved all the queer storylines but I’m LIVING for all the butch swag in these last few episodes

  22. Any chance AS will do an ALOTO rewatch podcast?
    Maybe weave some content about the voices of younger queer talent stories and thoughtful, deep character development to dilute the fandrain of a bad tv show getting all the gifs.

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