Boobs on Your Tube: Beacon 23’s Unimpressive Latest Episode Hits Almost Every Enraging Queer Trope

Happy long weekend, if you’re having a long weekend! ❤️ The Autostraddle offices are closed today, but we still found some TV and film for you to watch.

Here’s what happened this week: Carmen got to interview WNBA stars Syd Colson and Theresa Plaisance (TP) about their new sketch comedy show, also called Syd + TP! Anya broke down how Chrishell Stause queered Selling Sunset. Natalie wrote about how Rustin, the film, flattens the complex Black gay history of Bayard Rustin, the icon. We also wrapped our Trans Awareness Week coverage in part with a history of trans actors in cis roles. We are still cleaning up our streaming guides and this week that came with the present of the 40 best LGBT shows on HBO Max. Vuk Lungulov-Klotz, the director of Mutt now streaming on Netflix), talked with us about working with a trans crew and the value of sweetness.

And now, here’s what else you missed!

Notes from the TV Team: 

+ All Rise wrapped up its third and final season this week and, much to my surprise, it closed out with a lesbian storyline. Unfortunately, it was just the case of the week, instead of the storylines I’d hoped for: Ness reuniting with Sam, or Ness hooking up with that cute bailiff who we met earlier in the season, never to be heard from again, or Judge Brenner returning to the HOJ to marry Georgia. A disappointing end to what, at times, had been a promising show. — Natalie

+ Though it won’t premiere in the States until next year, a heads up to our Canadian readers that Sort Of debuted its third and final season last week. The show was one of our favorites of 2022 and I have high hopes for how they’ll wrap the series. — Natalie


Beacon 23 Episode 103: “Why Can’t We Go On as Three?”

Written by Valerie Anne

Beacon 23: Aster and Coley smile at each other and hold each other's faces

:deep breath: WE COULD HAVE HAD IT AAAAAALL

In my review of the series overall, which went up when only two of the episodes had aired, I alluded to the fact that this season of Beacon 23 featured some bad tropes, and now I can finally explicitly talk about them.

In episode three, Aster and Halen are getting high from the gravity beams (?) when a woman in a uniform with a spikey helmet slinks onto the ship. After a tussle, Aster realizes she knows this woman, Coley. At first it seems like she might just be a coworker, but soon she’s caressing Aster, clearly closer than just peers.

Coley eventually reveals her truth when she interrogates Halen about his relationship with Aster, insisting she just wants to know, and he wouldn’t be the first of Aster’s “whims.” Halen assures her they’re just friends and returns the question, to which Coley says simply, “We’re close.” Later, Coley brings her things to Aster’s room. Aster tells her to pick a side of the bed and Coley responds, “You’re gonna let me choose?” Not their first bed-sharing rodeo.

Aster decides to help Coley relax by taking her up to get high and make out. This is where I recommend turning off the show and never returning.

At dinner with Halen, Coley goes on a rant about how Aster is always cheating on her, including once with a hot lady fighter pilot. Coley says, “She’ll always let you down.” She even calls her street trash. It is Not Great.

Aster eventually realizes that Coley orchestrated her ship’s crash, and they fight. Coley says she can’t bring herself to kill Aster, but she does intend to kill Halen. But before she can, Aster stabs Coley and saves Halen.

Aster holds Coley as she bleeds out. Coley’s last words are “I loved you, Aster,” before Aster strangles her the rest of the way dead.

I’ve said this before, but it seems like these characters were made queer after the script was written — like they decided to make Coley a woman during casting and didn’t consider the implications. But we’re not at the point yet where you can randomly pick characters to be queer regardless of their story arc. We’re not far enough past the peak of the Bury Your Gays massacre to bring in a queer woman just to kill her off. In 2023, you shouldn’t be able to skip one (1) episode of a season of TV and not know one of the main characters is queer. There are so many ways to reveal a character’s queerness without an on-screen partner, so many ways to show what queerness looks like in your fictional sci-fi world without having queer-on-queer violence. Not to mention this was all after Coley accused Aster of sleeping around, leaning into the biphobic “slutty/cheating bisexual” trope. I was unimpressed by this episode, and this show, which is too bad because we all deserve more queer Lena Headey characters.


Black Cake Episode 106: “Ma”

Written by Nic

screenshot of Benny from the show Black Cake; she is wearing a green shirt and staring at her ex who is off-screen

On this week’s Black Cake, the episode begins with Eleanor reflecting on the choices she made as a mother to all three of her children. She’s especially regretful of the way she and Bert pushed Benny away, considering Eleanor’s childhood friendship with Bunny. What Eleanor (then, Covey) didn’t realize was that by asking Bunny to pretend in public, to mimic her friend’s behavior with boys, to not stand out; she was asking her to abandon herself and her truth. In a flashback, we see Covey and Bunny dancing together at a party, their joy infectious. Until Gibbs and his friend arrive, and Bunny’s posture immediately becomes stiff, fighting against her attempt to fit into a heterosexual mold that feels inauthentic to her core. We see her copy Covey’s dance moves and eventually, she loses her virginity to that very same boy. Her mouth tells him that she’s sure, while her eyes fight back tears, mourning the person she wishes she could be.

Back in the present, Benny is at the police station giving a statement about the altercation between Byron and Steve. She explains that the abuse started six years prior, and the officer gently explains that even though the abuse continued beyond the statute of limitations, it would be difficult to prove because she stayed. *rage* So Benny decides to file a temporary restraining order against Steve and blocks his number.

Shocking no one, Steve is pissed. He shows up to Benny’s parents’ house and tries to convince her to come back by… continuing to insult her? I don’t know, y’all. I’m not going to attempt to make sense of it because the important part is that Benny WALKED AWAY. Even when Steve tries to hold her responsible for the $25K advance he got for the piece she destroyed, Benny replies that that’s not her problem, and he’ll figure it out. The whoop that I whooped?!

Later that night, Byron arrives back at the house after a harrowing day of getting arrested and then speaking on a diversity panel, to find “B&B’s” long lost sister waiting in the driveway. Mabel showed up on a whim after the lawyer contacted her. The three siblings have a bit of an awkward conversation, before Benny and Mabel start to bond and connect over their love of food. Benny even cracks a joke about how Mabel’s “cancellation” isn’t real because she’s actually Caribbean and Chinese. Before they start to listen to the final recording, Mabel asks about her birth father and she can tell everyone else knows something she doesn’t. When Byron reveals that her birth father was likely the man who assaulted Eleanor in Scotland, Mabel decides this whole thing is too much and leaves.

Benny, in a beautiful turn from the previous five episodes, stands up for her sister, recognizes that she’s hurting, and decides not to give up on her because that’s what she wanted all those years ago when she walked out; for someone to beg her to stay. She tells Byron that their father had been going to cafes across the street from her apartment for years, never working up the courage to talk to his daughter. She won’t do that to Mabel.

So Benny shows up at Mabel’s hotel, with ackee and saltfish (traditional Jamaican breakfast) in hand, remembering that Mabel loves breakfast for dinner. The two have a heart-to-heart, and Mabel decides to stay and listen to the recording. What she learns is that Eleanor never wanted to give her up; both that decision and Mabel were taken from her.

I’ll admit, I’ve been a bit hard on Benny, but I loved watching her get more introspective this week. My biggest hope and dream is that Bunny is still alive, so that she and Benny can have some quality queer bonding.


Rap Sh!t 204: “Detour”

Written by Natalie

Chastity talks to Francois Boom (off-screen) in the lobby of his fancy hotel about the terrible place he's got her, Shawna and Mia staying at. She's wearing a leopard print button down that's open to showcase the white wife beater underneath.

She tried to tell them.

Before agreeing to be part of Lord AK/Reina’s tour, Chastity tried to push Shawna and Mia to press for a better deal. Some stage time, some money, some thing, But Shawna was so desperate for a win that she disregarded her manager’s POV entirely, and embraced that this is just what they have to do to pay their dues. Fast forward to the tour’s stop in Oakland and the girls’ accommodations are absolute trash.

“Now I dun stayed in some fucked up places before but this, by far, takes the cake,” Chastity rants, as she documents the scene for Francois Boom. “Bruh, you got us staying in the hotel MLK got shot at. This gotta be the nastiest place in Oakland.”

The furniture is caked with a thick layer of dust. Flies linger on rotten food in the mini-fridge. A water-logged carpet. Bet Shawna wishes they’d negotiated now.

Chastity refuses to sleep at the the Best Worst Western and tries to lean on Francois to get them better accommodations. As usual, he is absolutely no help — he insists that the limited budget means some cities are going to be rougher than others — and drops the problem at Chastity’s feet. But, of course, Chastity is nothing if not a hustler and when she spots some old friends at an Oakland house party, she hopes they can take her to where the money’s at. Neither dude seems to appreciate Chastity’s urgency so she dips… but not before she swipes the chains and cash from their glove compartment.

The next morning, she welcomes Shawna and Mia back to the bus with some IHOP and promises that from now on, they’re done taking scraps.

Meanwhile, Shawna has swallowed a lot of her misgivings about being on tour with the walking minstrel show that is Reina Reigns… all in service to advancing her own career. But there are only so many indignities a person can stand and they start to mount this week: the hotel, Reina refusing to acknowledge her and Mia in an interview, and then Reina acting crazy at the party. They refuse to perform with Reina but when the Iggy Azalea clone captivates the audience with her pre-written “freestyle,” Shawna and Mia decide to take the stage and show her what it means to really rap. Their performance is so dope, the duo finally catch the eye of the tour’s headliner, Lord AK.

What’s most interesting to me about these interactions with Lord AK — more than Shawna and him vibing — is how it reveals how much of a fraud Francois Boom is. He talks a big game and condescends at every possible opportunity, but he’s only slightly deeper into this rap shit than Chastity. He doesn’t know Lord AK, he doesn’t get invited to the studio, and, as it turns out, Reina’s only on the tour because her team (read: Francois) wouldn’t stop calling. Seems like Chastity and Francois aren’t that different after all… and I’m interested to see how that plays out for the rest of the season.

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Valerie Anne

Just a TV-loving, Twitter-addicted nerd who loves reading, watching, and writing about stories. One part Kara Danvers, two parts Waverly Earp, a dash of Cosima and an extra helping of my own brand of weirdo.

Valerie has written 535 articles for us.

Nic

Nic is a Senior Product Manager at a major Publisher and lives in Astoria, NY. She is way too attached to queer fictional characters and maintains that buying books and reading books are two very different hobbies. When she's not consuming every form of fiction, you can find her dropping it low on the dance floor. You can find Nic on twitter and instagram.

Nic has written 76 articles for us.

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 376 articles for us.

4 Comments

  1. When I first heard about Beacon 23, I was totally in, so in, it’s Lena Heady – why wouldn’t I be in?

    Oh, because it’s 1996 and she’s just killed her lesbian lover.

    Wait…

  2. I’m bi and like… I don’t enjoy “[Character]’s crazy ex shows up and causes a bunch of problems” plots no matter the gender of any of the characters, but I also think the media landscape is very different than back when most of the queer relationships we’d see in the media involved a character who shows up, turns out to be a villain in a really unlikable way (often after the relationship is around for juuuuuuust long enough that the viewers had time to get attached) and then dies so their partner can go back to being straight. I get it, I really do, but I’m also wary of saying that depicting “queer-on-queer violence” is bad when our community has a huge abuse problem partly fueled by the idea that men hurting women is just how gender works while women hurting women is a sort of obscene anomaly that we really shouldn’t look at for too long. I’m not saying this show was the right place to explore this, or even that this is a nuanced take on “queer-on-queer violence”, I just don’t think we should make this even more of a taboo.

    I think sometimes the lines are blurred between a bad depiction of bisexuality and a depiction of bisexuality that is not going to be fun for people who want to see some of the things included in bisexuality, but not all. A story where (for example) a girl leaves her asshole girlfriend for a guy who respects her isn’t necessarily a bad depiction of bisexuality. If the story doesn’t act like it was bad for her to date women in the first place or like her partners are each representative of their entire gender, it’s probably fine. However, it’s going to be really inaccessible to people who are extremely into f/f relationships and don’t really care about m/f involving bi people. Not everything NEEDS to be accessible to every audience, but it also isn’t wrong to care about if something is accessible to your own audience – especially your own minority audience. That’s worth caring about! But I don’t think it’s exactly the same thing.

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