Autostraddle March Madness 2024: “The Kids Are Alright” Round One — Thesbians

Header: The 6th Annual Autostraddle March Madness 2024

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I love March Madness. It is absolutely my favorite time of the year… but, boy, am I relishing these few days between the end of the second round and the start of the Sweet 16. I needed the time to recover the lost sleep and rebuild my energy reserves.

Georgia Amoore coming alive, late, to give a shorthanded Virginia Tech team an opportunity after an unreal performance by Baylor’s Jada Walker?! Iowa State and Stanford going shot for shot, clutch basket after clutch basket, left me breathless. Watching my alma mater blow a 20 point lead against its former head coach and my otherwise beloved Tennessee Lady Vols was agonizing. West Virginia getting hosed by the refsand by ESPN — during their upset bid in Iowa City. It’s too much excitement… almost.

Now that I’ve had a moment to re-energize, bring on the Sweet 16! Tomorrow, the men’s Sweet 16 kicks off and the women’s tournament will follow on Friday. I will spare you a long rant about how pissed off I am that the NCAA/ESPN scheduled NC State’s men’s and women’s Sweet 16 match-ups at about the same time and, instead, for now I’m going to spend the next 48 hours trying to figure out how I can yell at both teams to stop missing their free throws simultaneously.

But also? We’re going to spend the next 48 hours digging into the final region of our own March Madness competition! Bring on the Thesbians! This region brings together queer artists of all sorts: musicians singers, dancers, painters, actors… and one quiet girl from the A/V Club. It’s a region that features some of the most celebrated queer characters on television while also, hopefully, exposing you to some great characters that (maybe) you’ve never heard of before. After March Madness is over, everyone needs a new binge until the start of the WNBA season: why not start planning one with our these characters?

The last round of voting, in the Rebels region, yielded a few surprising results. The region’s #1 seed, Rue Bennett, easily dispatched her first round opponent to advance to the second round, but she’ll be going without her (ex-?) girlfriend, Jules, who lost a close contest with Raelle of Motherland: Fort Salem. Scylla will join her wife in the second round, as she won decisively in her first round match-up with one half of the Pudge Patrol. Tara Maclay finished the first round as the Rebels’ top vote getter, easily beating Maya St. Germain in their match-up. Maya still lives on in my heart and my favorite Pretty Little Liars fanfic, though.

Another couple advancing into the next round? The vampire and her huntress: Juliette and Calliope. Juliette’s contest with Karolina Dean was the most hotly contest of the Rebels region and, in the end, they were separated by just 13 votes. Karolina will sail off into the sunset with Nico Minoru who also dropped her first round match up to The Last of Us‘ Ellie Williams. First Four competitor Jordan Li continues to impress, beating Raising Kanan‘s Jukebox to advance to the next round.

Our bracket challenge continues to heat up and, much to my dismay, I’ve climbed to the top spot. I don’t expect it to last long, though, because these contests are only going to get harder as we move on. However, I am taking screenshots of my current standing here and in my ESPN group so that when my collapse happens — because it always does — I have a memory of a moment when I didn’t look absolutely clueless.

Want to help dethrone me? Let’s cast some votes in the Thesbians Region!


Your Thesbians:

#1 seed Santana Lopez vs. #16 seed Olivia Hayes

#1. Santana Lopez, Glee

From the TV Team’s roundtable of all the Santana Lopez moments that changed our lives, this part from Carmen nails it:

“In my mind, there is no question that the ‘Rumor Has It/ Someone Like You’ mash up is the greatest performance in the show’s history. The choreography, costumes, lighting, Amber Riley’s and Naya Rivera’s vocals — everyone came together and did what they had to do. It’s the single most thrilling three minutes the Glee ever produced.

But what makes it iconic for me are the story choices that Naya Rivera makes. First there’s the pause. You know the one. Right after Mercedes sings the first lines of ‘Rumor Has It,’ the theatre goes dark and the beat drops out. Then Mercedes looks at Santana from the corner of her eye, as if to say ‘Girl can you do this?’ And Santana gives the smallest nod before the microphone picks up a sigh. That’s when you knew — this was going to the next level.

Later, Santana cuts through the dancers and bellows, ‘Don’t Forget Me! I Beg!’ As the camera cuts in tight. The entire rest of the verse Naya Rivera performs as a monologue in song. She looks to Brittany, she remembers their ‘dreams that came true’ and then the ‘rumors have it’ that ruined them all. Santana’s terrified that the rumors floating around McKinley are about to ruin Santana’s life, but maybe having Brittany will have made it all worth it.”

#16. Olivia Hayes, Get Even

When Margot shows up for drama club, she’s introduced to the club’s major players: Christopher, the director; Amber, the school’s queen bee who finds herself humbled in this space; and Olivia, the sidekick who gets to take center stage in the theater. It’s Olivia who secures the lead role in their production of The Duchess of Malfi, much to Amber’s chagrin.

“[Olivia’s] kind of like the posh, rich, shallow type. She’s definitely the best actress, though. She’s actually really talented,” Margot’s told. Of course, Margot knows all of this already because, unbeknownst to almost everyone, she and Olivia have forged an unlikely friendship within a secret society known as DGM (or “Don’t Get Mad”). The group seeks to expose — to get get even with — the bullies at their posh British prep school.

But even Margot doesn’t know the extent of Olivia’s talents: that she’s only been acting as though she’s posh and rich and she’s only been acting like she’s straight.


#2 seed Brittany Pierce vs. #15 seed Andi Agosti

#2. Brittany Pierce, Glee

Early in Glee’s second season, Kurt brings to the club’s attention a popular uprising that’s happening on Facebook: a small but mighty group of McKinley students are petitioning the glee club to perform a number by Britney Spears for the at the fall homecoming assembly. Mr. Schue rejects the idea, insisting that the Mickey Mouse Club alum isn’t a good role model (to which I always yell, “look in the mirror!” at my television). But then Brittany chimes in with her own distaste for the pop diva: for years, she’s has been eclipsed by Britney because their names are so phonetically similar.

“I’ve lived my entire life in Britney Spears’s shadow. I will never be as talented or as famous,” Brittany proclaims. “I hope you’ll all respect that I want Glee Club to remain a place where I, Brittany S. Pierce, can escape the torment of Britney Spears.”

For Mr. Schue that’s enough to end a conversation he never really wanted to have, but Brittany’s subconscious has other ideas. Under the impact of dental anesthesia, Brittany steps out of Britney Spears’ shadow and into her shoes: performing “I’m a Slave 4 U” during her first dental cleaning and “Me Against the Music” — a duet with Santana — during her second. The hallucinogenic experience has a profound impact on Brittany.

“I would just like to say that, from now on, I demand to have every solo in Glee Club,” she insists. “When I had my teeth cleaned I had the most amazing Britney Spears fantasy. I sang and danced better than her. Now I realize what a powerful woman I truly am.”

#15. Andi Agosti, Rebelde

Andi Agosti arrives at Elite Way School with dreams of making it into Musical Excellence Program (MEP) and winning the Battle of the Bands. A win would offer her access to leaders within the music industry — a fast pass to success — and she’s determined to claim it. Despite the attempts to thwart her efforts, Andi accomplishes the first step easily: she crushes her audition. The crowd breaks into a racuous applause and even her crush, Emilia, can’t help but take notice.

With her spot in MEP secure, Andi moves onto the next step: building a band to compete at the Battle of the Bands. She turns up, origami flower in hand, to ask Emilia to join her band. It’s all very cute and weird, Emilia admits, but she refuses to join Andi’s band. It’s her last chance to compete in the Battle and she wants to win… and no freshman has ever won the contest.

Andi takes Emilia’s proclamation as a challenge and commits to building a band that won’t just win the Battle of the Bands but who will make history.


#3 seed Kate Messner vs. #14 seed Matilda Moss

#3. Kate Messner, Everything Sucks!

“My whole life, I have been the freak. The girl who nobody picked for dodgeball. The girl who didn’t have a mom. The girl who dressed funny because it was her dad buying her clothes,” Kate admits to Luke after the Tori Amos concert. “And then, tonight I looked at these people, and I thought maybe there’s a future where I don’t have to be a freak. Maybe I can be who I am and that’s okay.”

But while the world may have made her feel like a freak, Kate’s never been one alone. She’s found her tribe in the A/V Club. And even though she thinks she’s hiding behind the camera, disappearing where no one can see her — “I wanted to disappear. It’s like I actually did, kind of,” she tells Luke — but her people see her. McQuaid sees her, Tyler sees her, Luke sees her — maybe a little too much — and unbeknownst to Kate, Emaline has always seen her. Emaline has always seen Kate and coveted the way the principal’s daughter was always authentically herself… it was the one thing, seemingly, that Emaline couldn’t do.

“You’re so cool, and you don’t even try. It’s annoying,” Emaline tells her.

#14. Matilda Moss, Everything’s Gonna Be Okay

The night that Matilda’s supposed to find out if she got into the musical composition program at Juilliard, her sister, Genevieve, paces with worry. Gen pulls their half brother, Josh, into the bathroom and shares her concern: Matilda is not getting into Juilliard. Josh scoffs at the notion — of course, Matilda’s getting in, “she’s so good” — but Genevieve insists, Matilda is not getting into Juilliard because no one gets into Juilliard.

But Matilda does get in… and the next morning, high off the excitement of being accepted into one of the most prestigious performing arts schools in the country, she imagines her future. She stands in front of a mirror and gives her acceptance speech for her future Oscar/Tony/Emmy.

“Oh, I wasn’t expecting this. I didn’t prepare anything. I’m just so surprised,” she says. She recalls all the adversity she’s had to overcome to get to this (imaginary) point but credits her sheer will and belief in hard work. She continues, “Nothing in my life has come easily to me. I’d like to thank Juilliard. They believed in me when so few did. Oh. This [imaginary award I’m holding] is heavier than what I was expecting.”


#4 seed Tamia "Coop" Cooper vs. #13 seed Patience Robinson

#4. Tamia “Coop” Cooper, All American

In the early days of All American, Tamia “Coop” Cooper insists on her best friend, Spencer, chasing his dreams. She tells him, “If I had a tenth of your talent, bro, I’d say forget this place and bounce.” But she does have that talent — not on the football field, but behind the mic — and, for a while, it looks like she won’t take her own advice and use it to buld a better life.

It’s an opportune encounter in the halls of South Crenshaw High that motivates Coop to invest in her talent. She spots a guy using another student as lyrical target practice and steps in to give the wannabe lyricist a taste of his own medicine. The people and their cameras gather around and listen to Coop flow effortlessly. The response to the impromptu rap battle, both online and off, give Coop the push she needs to pursue her career as an emcees for real.

#13. Patience Robinson, All American

Patience Robinson never really imagined herself as a singer. Sure, she was part of the church choir and sang a lil’ bit, but you never got the sense that it was her life’s ambition. But then a hook she adds to one of Coop’s songs catches the ear of a music producer and she discovers a future she never dared to dream.

But everything that glitters is not gold. Patience’s music career is marred by difficulty: starting with the aforementioned producer to having her image upended to being stabbed by a superfan.


#5 seed Ashlyn Moon Caswell vs. #12 seed Emaline

#5. Ashlyn Moon Caswell, High School Musical: The Musical: The Series

There is, perhaps, no more prolific thesbian in this region than Ashlyn Caswell, who stays booked and busy. As a sophomore, she’s cast in the role of Ms. Darbus for East High School’s fall production of High School Musical. Because the drama teacher is convinced of Ashyln’s abilities — both as an actress and as a composer — Ms. Jenn asks Ashlyn to write an original work for the play. She somehow manages to churn out something Sara Bareilles-esque.

In her junior year, Ashlyn takes the helm: she’s cast as Belle in the spring production of Beauty and the Beast. At drama camp, she’s part of the ensemble for Frozen and then as Kelsi in their self-designed High School Musical sequel. Booked and busy… the girl stays booked and busy!

#12. Emaline Addario, Everything Sucks!

Sometimes, as I take in this ridiculous string of one Sydney Sweeney movie after another — three within the last four months (Anyone But You, Madame Web, and Immaculate) — I remember that it all kinda started here: at Boring High School in 1996 Oregon. Sweeney played Emaline, a junior member of the drama club who lingers in the shadow of her boyfriend. But Kate sees her: she recognizes her talent (among other things) and pushes Emaline to see her the way she does.


#6 seed Elle Argent vs. #11 seed Candace Powell

#6. Elle Argent, Heartstopper

Midway through Heartstopper‘s second season, the gang takes a trip to Paris and, during the first outing, Elle and Tao split off from the rest of the group. They go to Montmartre Museum, to see the place where Pierre-Auguste Renoir once lived and worked. Elle’s in awe of it all — “Imagine living somewhere like this and just being able to paint all day,” she says — and Tao reminds her that this will be her future in just three years. Elle grabs hold to that dream and speaks it into existence.

Later, as the group is making their way through the Louvre — well, not really, Netflix got money but not Beyoncé-esque Louvre rental money — Elle pauses and stares at The Supper at Emmaus. The painting captures the newly resurrected Jesus revealing himself for the first time to two of his disciplines.

Elle uses it as inspiration for her own work. In a piece she debuts at an art show later in the season, she captures herself, newly resurrected, in “a place that holds a lot of happy memories” with Tao, Isaac, and Charlie.

#11. Candace Powell, Astrid and Lilly Save the World

Candace Powell is the most popular girl in school. She’s dating the most popular boy in school. Among the string of yearbook superlatives that she accumulates is “best legs.” And, of course, as is required for anyone aspiring to be queen bee, Candace has more extra-curricular activities than she has time for, including running the Kissing Booth at the school fair and being the lead in the school play, Romeo & Juliet Down Under.

When Candace’s boyfriend passes up a date with her for soccer practice, the spurned girlfriend asks Lilly if she’d like to help her rehearse for the upcoming school play. The friefnds turned enemies are slowly approaching being friends again so Lilly readily accepts the offer. They run lines — Candace has not perfected her Australian accent yet, it’s shockingly bad — and reminisce about the time they spent together as kids, acting out sketches in front of Lilly’s little sister. But an inopportune call from Candace’s mother interrupts them and nearly drives a wedge in the friendship they’re rebuilding. It’s just the first in a series of roadblocks that keep Candace and Lilly apart.

But midway through her performance, Juliet goes off-script, pledging her love to Lilly while reciting the OG version from Shakespeare: “My bounty is as boundless as the sea, My love as deep. The more I give to thee, The more I have, for both are infinite.”


#7 seed Brooklyn 2 vs. #10 seed Mich

#7. Brooklyn 2, Utopia Falls

Brooklyn knows how to make an impression. She arrives late to New Babyl’s annual competition known as The Exemplar. The competition’s mentor recognizes Sage and calls her out for her tardiness. He snarks, “let’s hope your timing is better when it comes to performance.” And, though the mentor only offers faint praise, the timing on Brooklyn’s performance is impeccable. Her vocals and dancing showcase the same swagger, the same confidence, with which Brooklyn walks through the world… and she approaches the contest with that same energy.

But midway through Utopia Falls‘ season, Brooklyn realizes something new about herself… something that shakes her confidence and strips her of that swagger… and begins to look at The Exemplar in a whole new light. This competition isn’t just about her anymore, she says, it’s a gift to everyone who “second guesses themselves because of how they’ve been labeled.”

Rather than performing individually, Brooklyn joins the other finalists in The Exemplar and delivers a revolutionary message, even as the powers that be work to silence her: “no matter what others tell you or what labels they give you, you are in charge of your future.”

#10. Mich, La Flor Más Bella

Late in La Flor Más Bella‘s first season, Mich has some impossible choices to make: she can take her turn in the lead role of her school’s rendition of Alice in Wonderland or she can maintain her family’s legacy by competing in a local pageant. She can perform in the school musical or she can give up the taste of popularity that her cousin has (temporarily) granted her. But as impossible as those seem, they aren’t nearly as difficult as choosing between the three suitors — Dani, Mati, and Majo — that want to have relationships with her.

Ultimately, she decides to be in the play: she wants to forge her own path, rather than take the same one her family’s already travelled, and, above all, she wants to make sure the kids at school truly see her. But when her cousin’s manages to turn the entire school against her, Mich takes the stage to a chorus of boos. Thankfully, though, her friends are there and give her a pep talk and she climbs back on stage with a renewed sense of confidence. She absolutely slays and wins over the entire audience.


#8 seed Anais vs. #9 seed Sage 5

#8. Anaïs Davis, wtFock

SKAM began as a Norwegian web series about the real issues faces by teenagers — Fader called it “one of the best TV shows about high school ever made” — and it quickly became a sensation. SKAM broke new ground, integrating social media and technology into the stories, consistent with how kids use them but unlike anything seen on television before. It spawned different iterations across the globe, including in Belgium, where the show goes by the moniker, wtFock. While a lot of the SKAM series have ended, wtFock continues to push out new content with the Anaïs-centric season dropping just last year.

When we meet Anaïs this season, she’s struggling with her parents’ divorce and her dad’s effort to move on. Her parents split leaves her even more reluctant to create conflict… she withholds her opinions and refuses to stand up for herself. That habit becomes even more pernicious when she meets and falls for resident bad girl, Bobbie. But through it all, Anaïs finds a refuge in her music and even takes the stage to perform in front of all her cast mates in the season finale.

#9. Sage 5, Utopia Falls

Every year, the city of New Babyl — the last living colony on earth — selects 24 teenagers from across the city’s four sectors to take part in an annual musical competition known as The Exemplar. Sage is the only representative Utopia Falls introduces us to from the city’s Nature sector. She competes in The Exemplar with deep desire to make her family proud.

Sage is quiet and composed — very introverted — that is, until she steps out on the dance floor. When she’s dancing, Sage is at her most free. What she can’t express in words, she shares in her movements. It’s why her first flirtation with Brooklyn comes on the dance floor. It’s why her attempt to show Brooklyn that she’s not as closed off as she seems, it’s on the dance floor. That’s how much dancing means to her. It’s her preferred language.


As usual, you have 48 hours to cast your ballot in the Thesbians Region! This year, you can vote four times over the voting period (or to be more precise once, every 12 hours). After we tabulate the votes and update the bracket, we’ll be back to announce the results of this region and unveil the voting for our Round of 32!

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Natalie

A black biracial, bisexual girl raised in the South, working hard to restore North Carolina's good name. Lover of sports, politics, good TV and Sonia Sotomayor. You can follow her latest rants on Twitter.

Natalie has written 409 articles for us.

6 Comments

  1. Wow this was so much harder for me than I thought it would be when you revealed the name of this region! However, of course, NO ONE could EVER compete with Santana Lopez. I can hear that screenshot you choose!

  2. Where’s Shelby from The Wilds? She was our closeted little thesbian and singer. She had the adorable theater nerd vibe, it was only a matter if she ever got off that island and was allowed to be herself.

  3. The fact that you shared is very much appreciated. To my knowledge, this is the very first time that I have ever visited your blog. In all honesty, I really appreciate reading your blog. Keep doing other things that are similar to this.

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