Welcome back to another Boobs on Your Tube! This week brought us the final workroom episode of the season on RuPaul’s Drag Race and the official crowning of your final four queens. Once again Batwoman begs the question, “wait, is everyone on this show gay, because it feels like everyone on this show is gay?” Alex and Kelly took a big next step on Supergirl. And Alice learned how to take control in the driver’s seat of her own romantic life on Good Trouble. On To L and Back… it’s still not over (yet!) There was another quiz for you this week, What “Riverdale” Subplot Are You? We know you want to know!
And finally we said goodbye to Wynonna Earp’s potential series finale, and Valerie Anne wrote you all a love letter to chosen family, love, and fandom: We’ll Always Have Purgatory. Then the fans sent Waverly and Nicole into the sunset with one final gift, crowning them as the champions of our 2021 March Madness tournament.
Notes from the TV Team:
+ This week on Station 19, Carina has officially left her job at Grey Sloan Memorial and Maya realizes that she can’t go with Carina to Italy when there’s so much work left to be done of service at home. Also: Carina delivered a baby in a fire station! — Carmen
+ There’s a new Black lesbian on Ilene Chaiken’s Law and Order. We’ll probably catch up eventually, but with everything going on, we’re not feeling much like watching police shows at the moment. — Carmen
+ Netflix’s social experiment/competition show, The Circle, returned this week, with the streaming service dropping the first four episodes on Wednesday. Drew, Riese and I are hoping for a return of the bisexual chaos that fueled the first season but so far there’s been none of that. We’ll keep you updated with any gay developments. — Natalie
All American 309: “Testify”
Written by Natalie
Last we saw Tamia “Coop” Cooper, she was midway through her campaign video for Ms. South Crenshaw when she had an abrupt change of heart. She was tired of deferring her dreams so she took control: quitting school to work exclusively on her music career. The whole thing worried me, truth be told: If Patience was gone, she was still on the outs with Spencer and she wasn’t in school, how would Coop be integrated into the fabric of the show? One episode into this era, the answer to that question seems to be, “not well.”
This week picks up soon after the decision and Coop’s still tweaking a track from her forthcoming album. She’s determined to make it perfect so she can prove to her mom that she’s making the right decision. Later, she tracks down Spencer’s mother in the halls of South Crenshaw, and asks her to intercede with her mother. Grace, of course, refuses. She reminds Coop that her mother was once a dancer with aspirations of joining the Alvin Ailey Dance Company but gave it up for education, stability and family. Coop reminds Grace that she’s just not her mother.
“I know, sweetheart, [but] there’s no way Janelle is gonna let her daughter walk out in the world without a diploma,” Grace answers. I appreciate this entire conversation. Surely, Coop’s mama would have had an issue with her daughter abruptly dropping out of school… but that this entire storyline happens by telling instead of by showing (Coop’s mom never actually appears in the episode) is a worrying choice.
Later, Coop meets with Layla to talk about music but she’s distracted. Layla reports that Olivia’s missing and regrets not seeing past their problems and recognizing that her (former) best friend was struggling. Coop assures her that Olivia knows that Layla’s got her back and that as soon as she’s home, the two will work out their issues. Coop urges her to put the music aside for tonight… besides, soon they’ll have plenty of time for music. Talking to Spencer’s mom clarified one thing for Coop: a high school diploma is non-negotiable for Janelle Cooper. But just because Coop needs a high school diploma doesn’t mean she has to go to classes that take her away from her music: She’ll just take the G.E.D. in a month and finish high school early.
And if she doesn’t pass?
“Oh, I’ma pass,” Coop professes. “Then when me and you smash this music game, I’ma get my mama that Brooklyn brownstone and season tickets to see Alvin Ailey.”
Fingers crossed, Coop. Fingers crossed.
All Rise 211: “Forgive Us Our Trespasses”
Written by Natalie
Last we checked in on All Rise, Judge Benner turned a meet-cute with Professor Georgia Jennings into a first date. This week, we find Benner positively giddy about her new relationship. She admits, “I never expected to meet someone so enrapturing at this point in my life.” Which means, of course, that Root’s definitely still got it.
That’s all we hear from Benner this week — which usually wouldn’t necessitate a BOYT update — but then something else happens… or, at least, I think it happens.
Ensemble television has an interesting way of silo-ing LGBT folks. There is usually only one of us per show (an L, a B, a G or a T) and if another queer person shows up on-screen that person is inevitably going to be the main character’s love interest. That’s not how the world works of course — there are queer people around us all the time — but that’s how television, that reduces diversity down to checkboxes, works. That’s why I was a little thrown this week with All Rise when they seemingly introduced a potential romance between two of the show’s recurring characters: They’ve got Judge Benner, they’ve checked their LGBT box. I even had to call in reinforcements to tell me my eyes weren’t deceiving me (they weren’t).
Vanessa “Ness” Johnson (played by Glee alum Samantha Ware) has been a clerk in Judge Carmichael’s courtroom for nearly a year. As her time winds down, the Judge pushes her to consider her options within the building. Carmichael sets Ness up to shadow Emily Lopez from the public defender’s office. It’s a perfect pairing, really: The only person who can match Ness’ refusal to remain silent in the face of injustice is Emily. She joins the public defender on a case involving a reformed gang member who’s being accused of assault (among a host of other crimes).
While Emily huddles with the lead prosecutor to argue about the case, Ness talks to Samantha Powell, the clerk from the district attorney’s office. Sam asks about how Ness ended up shadowing Emily and Ness explains that Lola called in a favor. Sam invites Ness to call her when she’s ready to shadow the D.A.’s office… and the way she says it, with a hint of flirtation in her voice, combined with the “you already got my number”… that’s the moment where I start to look at Sam and Ness a little differently.
Later, Emily and Ness are swamped — trying to prove that their client is innocent without his help or the testimony of a supportive community — when a call interrupts. Ness answers but says, with that same flirtatious tone, “Hey, uh, sorry, um, I can’t actually chat right now. Can make it up tonight over pizza and hard seltzer?” It’s a date, I tell myself, and I’m convinced it was Sam on the other end of that phone. She hangs up and Emily gives her an ominious warning: evening plans don’t survive in the PD’s office. And, sure enough, seconds later they discover that their client has been killed trying to break up a fight in jail. Emily tries to move on immediately — trying to figure out who has to be notified and what paperwork needs to get done — but Ness encourages her to stop pretending that she’s okay.
After work, Ness urges Emily to practice self-care, starting with a trip, together, to a place with alcohol. Emily reminds Ness that she already has plans but Ness says that helping Emily recover is more important and leaves to give her “mystery person” a raincheck. Emily finishes her work and walks out to discover Sam and Ness talking in the corridor. Realizing that Ness had cancelled plans with Sam, Emily invites Sam to join them for drinks.
Maybe it’s nothing… but I’m hoping that All Rise will go there… be the rare show on television that allows queer women to exist alongside each other and not date. Not Sam and Ness, though… I’m definitely calling in that raincheck.
Charmed 309: “No Hablo Brujeria”
Written by Valerie Anne
This week the sisters meet a cousin from their mother’s side here to take the Book of Shadows back for her family. Her name is Josefina, and she’s a trans witch played by Mareya Salazar. (A trans character played by a trans actor, imagine!) Josefina is in town accidentally sending Macy and Jordan to a pocket dimension because her family was supportive of her being trans but not of her doing magic. It’s not exactly the same but it reminded me of how when I first came out my mother was like “I love you anyway” but then also said “but don’t tell anyone else in the family.” Support with conditions isn’t actually support at all.
Josefina has been teaching herself how to make potions and salves and use magic items, and her plan is to steal the family grimoire and learn to do spells next to prove her family wrong. When it comes down to the moment when Josefina, Maggie, and Mel have to do a spell together to save Macy and Jordan back, Josefina starts to doubt herself; what if her family was right and she can’t do magic like the rest of the Vera women, but Maggie encourages her, telling her, “Other people don’t tell us who we are.” And it turns out, it works. Because magic knows that trans women are women, just ask trans superhero Nia Nal, whose powers are passed down via the women in her family which is how she became Dreamer.
It sounded to me like Josefina is going to stick around for a while, so the Charmed Ones can teach her about magic (and she can help Maggie with her Spanish) and I for one think she will be a delightful addition to the household.
Nancy Drew 212: “The Trail of the Missing Witness”
Written by Valerie Anne
Y’all I know this is my penchant for emotional masochism, but I’m obsessed with the fact that Bess has a crush on the old timey lesbian ghost that is sharing her best friend’s body that used to be an aglaeca that tried to kill them all. OBSESSED. And this episode Bess confirmed that Lisbeth was gone so I feel better leaning wholeheartedly into this doomed ship. Bess finds a letter from Odette in her locker, because Odette is used to being apart from her lover by an ocean, so what’s a little time and space between gal pals. Bess writes Odette a letter back, but George finds it and puts together what’s happening and is mildly horrified. Bess confesses that she’s been getting to know Odette and she likes her very much, but promises she would never take it to a physical place because it’s George’s body and consent is sexy. Bess is lonely without her girlfriend and her family and Odette has been sympathetic to her plight. George tells her to end it, so when George and Bess share a hug after winning a local cooking competition and Odette pops in to get in on the action and Bess panics and tells her they can’t meet like this. George also learns that Odette has been spending time with her siblings, helping them with their French homework and just generally being sweet with them, and I hope this motivates her to find a new body for Odette (Maybe made of seaweed? Weirder things have happened in Horseshoe Bay) instead of just vanquishing her entirely.
Legacies 310: “All’s Well That Ends Well”
Written by Valerie Anne
This week on Legacies, Lizzie is determined to fix Josie’s crush problem since she’s part of the reason Hope ruined it in the first place. But Josie doesn’t want any magical hijinx! She wants a normal, human girlfriend for her new normal, human life. Finch invites her to lunch again and this time Josie promises to be there come hell or high water. Lizzie does manage to convince Josie (by way of reverse psychology) to be bold and ask Finch out but after her very adorable speech, Finch suddenly looks a little unwell and says she can’t hang out tonight or tomorrow night actually and she runs away.
Josie is confused and doesn’t know what she did wrong, so Lizzie offers minimal magic and just a dash of hijinx to help. She goes invisible and follows Finch and finds out that the smol girl is actually a werewolf. Which explains both Finch’s history of rage issues, and why she was so dodgy about hanging out tonight, which happens to be the full moon.
When Lizzie goes back to find Josie drowning her sorrows in a vat of ice cream, she decides to try to preserve Josie’s normal, human life by lying to her, telling her that Finch is seeing someone else instead. I would have thought that Josie would love to know that her crush is also a supernatural trying to live a normal human life and they could help each other, but Lizzie doesn’t see it that way. So we’ll see how that shakes out.
Black Lightning 407: “Painkiller”
Written by Carmen
If you’ve been reading my work on Black Lightning, either here in this column or back when we did standalone recaps of the show, then you know I’m not Khalil/Painkiller’s biggest fan. To be fair, I have little against the teen (errr, Khalil appears to be well in his 20s by now, even though I thought he was Jennifer’s age?) — but I do have issues with the ways that Black Lightning continued to center him over either Pierce daughter, who were both supposed to be central to the show. So yeah… I’m not the core audience for the new Khalil-centric Black Lightning spin-off, aptly titled “Painkiller.”
This week’s episode of Black Lightning serves as Painkiller’s backdoor pilot and opens with Anissa and Grace traveling to Akashic Valley for their honeymoon. They’re traveling in a high tech driverless car and Anissa has some killer Bantu Knots in her hair. They arrive at an equally high tech hotel where a Black A.I. by the name of Imani greets them at their suite. How do I describe Akashic Valley … it’s like Las Vegas, if Las Vegas made a pitstop in Singapore and the whole thing was actually just a dream that Janelle Monáe had while getting high (to my point: the villain of “Painkiller” is a woman by the name of Maya who herself looks exactly like a cosplay of JM’s ArchAndroid period, but make it British).
Ok so Grace and Anissa go out to a local bar, where they encounter one of Maya’s henchmen and Grace promptly gets kidnapped. Anissa tries to go after her, but she runs into Painkiller. Painkiller, the TV show, is trying to do this thing where “Painkiller” the person and Khalil are two warring souls in the same body (if you watched last season of Black Lightning this narrative trick will feel familiar to you) — which is something that I think works fine enough for a one-off episode, but I imagine getting tiring in an entire series. Anyway! Painkiller tries to kill Anissa, but Khalil stops him and instead brings her to his lair for safety.
Khalil has stolen all this ASA money and built a high tech cave that would make Uncle Gambi green with envy. In this cave he has Philky (Alexander Hodge, famously “Asian Bae” from Insecure) and Cousin Donald (James Roch). Cousin Donald heals Anissa, while Philky and Khalil go after Maya and save Grace.
Ultimately to save Grace, Khalil has to let Painkiller out to play — by which I mean straight-up murder some folks — but it all works out. Anissa even gets some great lines in, like when she tells Cousin Donald “I’ve known many women, but I’ve only loved one” and I positively swooned. ONCE AGAIN here I am to tell you that what Nafessa Williams and Chantal Thuy have done in raw chemistry with these roles cannot be surpassed or ruined by any amount of obstructive or bad writing, no matter how hard Black Lightning tries.
So, Anissa is healed and Grace is saved. The real question that remains is will the two wives be joining Khalil permanently on the Painkiller spin-off next season? And this is where I surprise myself, given how I opened this recap, but sincerely I hope that they will. They have a lot of story left to tell, and I think stepping out of Jefferson Pierce’s shadow might be the first steps to finally telling it. We’ll see.