Oh my gosh, Fall Teevee Is Back, and this Boobs Tube is a BEAST! Our TV Team really does remain the best in the business and I’m not just saying that ’cause I’m the TV Editor! This week, Riese recapped episode 207 of The Word: Generation Q and Drew and Analyssa podcasted it. Drew interviewed Dua Saleh about Sex Education‘s newest season (it’s so good; you gotta read it). Heather recapped that super gay fan fic-y episode of Fantasy Island. Our whole team got together to talk about this season of The Circle. And Valerie recapped the Azie Tesfai-penned episode of Supergirl! Here’s what else!
Notes from the TV Team:
+ Reservation Dogs concluded its first season this week so just another reminder that you should watch it! And with Devery Jacobs joining the season two writers room, I feel like there’s a decent chance her character will be queer next season. — Drew
+ Nine Perfect Strangers and Scenes from a Marriage both had one lesbian kiss and then decided to just move along with heterosexuality. Scenes still has a few more episodes so I’ll keep ya’ll posted in case Nicole Beharie’s probably bi, definitely poly character returns. — Drew
+ Merry Christmas from Niecy Nash:
+ New Amsterdam returned this week and, as is this show’s wont, there was way too much going on. There was a bit of friction between Lauren and Leyla, though, as Lauren announces to her new class of Emergency Department residents that Leyla is her girlfriend. Leyla’s miffed because she wanted to build her own identity before she became the resident shtupping her boss and Lauren acknowledges her misstep. Later, she chastises Leyla in front of everyone, in an attempt to prove that she’ll get no special privileges as a resident. — Natalie
+ I was going to write a recap in this column for this week’s return of Home Economics, but (as you’re about to see!) we have a lot to cover today. Sarah and Denise are back though, and I really enjoyed the Season Two premiere! It’s a strong show of form for the sitcom that involves a family trip to the 49ers game. While at the game, Shamiah, Denise and Sarah’s daughter announces that she wants to try out for her Middle School cheerleading squad. Denise (who, ahem, follows a few 49ers cheerleaders on Instagram for gay reasons I am sure) handles it well but Sarah has some funny gay/feminist crisis around gender roles and expectations of their daughter. But she comes around before the episode’s over, because she’ll always be her daughter’s biggest fan. — Carmen
+ It will shock no one to know that JESS IS STILL MISSING ON IN THE DARK. At this point I’m only still watching to make sure we don’t have to add a new name to the list of buried gays. — Valerie Anne
Work in Progress 207: “Oh Say Can You See”
Written by Drew
It’s still early days of the pandemic and Abby and her family are breaking quarantine while they wait for news about her dad. Their masks are half off, no one is hugging, and they’re scrubbing down boxes of donuts. The show really captures how illogical so many of our behaviors have been in the face of helplessness.
Abby’s dad does not have Covid — he attempted suicide. This seems to have come out of nowhere and Abby is heavy in the sort of way anyone with suicidal ideation is heavy when someone they care about reveals the same.
For an episode of television about a suicide attempt in a pandemic it’s surprisingly sweet. Abby’s family bonds and Campbell really comes through as a good friend. 2020 revealed the best and worst in people and here we see the best.
Throughout the episode Abby also has sexual fantasies about Vincent D’Onofrio’s Law and Order: Criminal Intent character. (Literally D’Onofrio is in this episode.) But next week’s episode is called “FTP” so it seems Abby is going to have to confront her relationship to the police — and maybe get a different Vincent D’Onofrio fantasy.
American Horror Story 1006: “Winter Kills”
Written by Drew
Our harrowing look into the minds of Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, and friends has come to a conclusion. And its conclusion is agents and violin prodigies are even more ruthless than writers.
Ursula concocts a plan to take out Belle and Austin and just when Harry is celebrating Alma takes him out too. Her own father simply cannot match her ambitions. And so she moves to Hollywood along with Ursula and The Chemist to pursue her prodigy dreams while Ursula and The Chemist take over Hollywood with pills.
The conclusion doesn’t make a whole lot of sense considering the amount of carnage but it works as a metaphor. And, like this entire half a season, it’s all a lot of campy fun.
But as we head into the second “feature” I’m left wanting more for Angelica Ross. Look, I love seeing Ross as this stylish all powerful outsider scientist — and spending her retirement killing police officers was a nice touch — but this was similar to her character on season nine. I’d love to see her play a part that’s a bit more grounded OR outrageous in a new way. She’s set to appear in the next story so maybe my wish will come true!
NCIS: Hawai’i 101: “Pilot”
Written by Natalie
Last season, when CBS cancelled NCIS: New Orleans and replaced it with a new edition of the show, this time from Hawai’i, I was, admittedly, disappointed. The network ranks last among broadcast networks in LGBTQ representation so the loss of NCIS’ lone lesbian character would reverberate. It never crossed my mind that a new edition of NCIS might bring someone to replace Tammy Gregorio and her enviable swagger…but it did…two some ones, in fact.
Early in the episode, the NCIS: Hawai’i team is called to the scene of a plane crash: the Navy’s convinced it’s accidental but NCIS isn’t so sure. The team disperses to learn about the pilot, with Lucy Tara (Yasmine Al-Bustami) dispatched to get the pilot’s autopsy results. But before Lucy can get her hands on the autopsy, Kate Whistler (Tori Anderson), a Defense Intelligence Agency agent, intercepts the report. When the direct approach doesn’t work — Kate refuses to pass along the report until she can clear it — Lucy tries to be more deferential but Kate remains firm. Luckily for NCIS, Lucy’s skilled at reading upside down and recounts details that she saw on the report as Kate was reading it.
While Lucy’s parlor trick pays dividends for NCIS, it gets Kate in trouble with her superiors, who think she violated the security protocol. Kate stomps into NCIS and threatens to file a complaint against Lucy. Thankfully Lucy’s boss — Jane Tennant, played by Vanessa Lachey — talks Kate off the ledge but later when Lucy shows up at Kate’s place, she offers her apologies. There’s a brief beat…long enough for the energy between them to shift…and, suddenly, they’re kissing.
As Kate pushes Lucy’s jacket off her shoulders, Lucy pulls away and says, “no, no, no, we can’t do this again.”
Kate snaps out of the revelry and concurs, “yeah, it’s a…horrible mistake.”
(Lucy laughs uncomfortably and corrects, “I wouldn’t say horrible.” I laughed.)
Kate pours herself a large glass of wine and asks Lucy why she’s really there. Lucy explains that she needs information to help her case and Kate’s first question is about how helping NCIS can help her, professionally. Lucy can’t offer anything besides a job well done and Kate responds by asking her to leave. Somehow, though, Lucy convinces Kate to pass along the information and the team’s able to find the pilot’s killer and take down a Chinese spy ring.
I’m trying not to get my hopes up about this pairing; after all, CBS procedurals, in particular, are notorious for avoiding the personal lives of their agents (aside from those “very special episodes”). But two queer characters, with a relationship history, who are part of the main cast of the show…how can NCIS: Hawai’i avoid telling that story? At the very least, they’ve already seen as much action in one episode than Tammy Gregorio did in four seasons.
Queen Sugar 603: “You Would Come Back Different”
Written by Natalie
For most of 2020, shows that could avoid storylines about the pandemic did…content to allow audiences escape their realities for an hour or thirty minutes at time. Queen Sugar was the exception: the rare, non-medical, program that showcased our pandemic struggles — isolation, job loss, sickness and death — and its fleeting moments of joy. The show’s sixth season continues that thread: opening with Nova hosting a vaccine drive. Things get out of hand, forcing Nova to call the police who, inevitably, make it worse…injuring Prosper — the Bordelon’s surrogate father — in the process.
Prosper’s injury brings his daughter, Billie, back to town to oversee his care. Tension between Aunt Vi and Billie leads to Prosper’s daughter cutting off the Bordelon’s access to her father. Finally, Nova intercedes: “Look, we may not be Prosper’s blood…but we are family. Vi should be in that room. She’s earned that. And you owe me.” Whatever that means, it’s enough for Billie to change course.
The show, slowly, unwinds the history between the pair: Billie brings her father home to a surprise party hosted by the Bordelons. She stands by, taking it all in, a stranger in her own home. Later, Billie attends a farmers’ meeting in her father’s stead — volunteering to use her skills as a paralegal to help the other farmers — and the tension between her and Nova feels less like heartbreak and more like hatred. Nova warns Charley and Ralph Angel, “don’t let her fool you, she talks a good game but you can’t trust her.”
Later, a conversation between the Bordelon women reveals more: Nova and Billie had once been inseparable — so much so that Ralph Angel considered her the third Bordelon sister — and Charley wonders what happened. Nova’s scant on details but admits that Billie caused a lot of damage in her life and Aunt Vi confesses that Billie’s actions nearly broke her too. Back then, rumors circulated through town that Billie and Vi’s husband, Jimmy Dale, were messing around during their marriage.
All Vi’s blame is foisted on Billie, a teenage girl at the time, instead of the much older man who Vi knows is abusive. This is the adultification of black girls and, far too often, people use it to excuse the abuse directed at black girls. It’s disheartening to hear it from Aunt Vi, to see Nova co-sign it so readily and to watch Charley and Darla let Vi’s narrative go unchallenged, despite their histories with sexual assault. The show clearly wants to teach us a lesson — later, we learn what happened to Billie and Nova feels understandably chastened — but it’s harmful to allow that rhetoric to go unchallenged like that. I expected better from Queen Sugar.
Later Billie and Nova have the confrontation that’s been brewing since Billie arrived and we learn the source of Nova’s hatred: Billie outed Nova to her father before she left town. Nova’s relationship with her father was irreparably damaged in that moment and Nova still carries that scar. Billie acknowledges that she did it in a moment of weakness — where it felt like everyone would rather believe the rumors than believe her — that she lashed out, wanting to deprive Nova of the caring father she never had…waiting to make Nova hurt like she hurt.
Roswell, New Mexico 309: “Tones of Home”
Written by Valerie Anne
Apparently the once-mentioned bartender girlfriend is a thing of the past because this week, Isobel gets her flirt on with the new journalist in town, Anatsa. Isobel awkwardly sort of flirts with her in the bar, and Maria is surprised to see the woman who is usually the most put together of all of them sputter. Maria’s boyfriend also says Anatsa has come into the bar looking for Isobel before, so she admits that there was definitely something there but Isobel chickened out of a date before it happened.
Maria and Isobel are trying to track down another potential alien when Isobel runs into Anatsa again, whose on trail leads her to the same church Isobel was about to snoop through. They hear someone coming and are about to skurry out the window, but Isobel decides to take this moment to ask Anatsa out on a proper date. Anatsa is amused and confused by her timing but happily agrees. It’s very cute and I’m glad they haven’t forgotten that Isobel is bisexual, during Bi Visibility Week no less.
Raising Kanan 109: “Loyal to the End”
Written by Carmen!
I didn’t recap Raising Kanan last week, but Jukebox was mourning the death of her girlfriend Nicole. There are two important things to know about that: the first is that Nicole’s mother remains a racist monster, the second is that the Tony-nominated Hailey Kilgore is acting her whole entire ass off as Jukebox.
This week Jukebox, still in a depressive haze, is at Nicole’s gravesite when she gets visited by the lesbian cop (no, I still haven’t learned her name!). The lesbian cop is there because Nicole’s mother went down to the station in a continued racist tirade that Jukebox gave Nicole the drugs (not true) and therefore should be charged with murder (also, not true!). Instead the cop meets Jukebox in her grief, quietly officially comes out to her by sharing about her own high school girlfriend and takes the teen out for Italian Ices. They sincerely bond… that is until the cop starts asking one too many questions about Jukebox’s family business, and Juke hightails it out of there.
Juke goes directly to Raquel (have I mentioned yet that Raq is played by Tony WINNER Patina Miller? Just in case it hasn’t come up before!) and confesses that she has been spending time with cop, but she didn’t give up anything! She promises. Raquel knows Juke would never betray the family. But, in a real “shit is chess not checkers” move also says that a cop isn’t always a bad friend to have.
This is when it gets rough. Marvin, Jukebox’s father, discovers her old photos of Nicole — along with the tape of the teens singing at the mall — and realizes Jukebox is gay. I was screaming at my TV for Juke to turn around and run away, but instead she squares up and holds her ground. Marvin’s never been a father to her, he doesn’t get to judge her now. She and Marvin gt into a horrific fight that if you can’t stomach violence, well you probably aren’t watching Power but also I’d deeply recommend you fast forward.
It ends with Jukebox, meeting up with the cop, finally ready to talk.
There’s never any excuse for homophobic violence on screen (and there’s still no excuse for Nicole’s death earlier this month). I am not saying that. But watching this episode I was struck by how much character development has been taken in Jukebox’s writing. There had to be an internal motivation strong enough for her to turn on her own family.
I was checking in on Twitter — it’s stunning that Jukebox has become the character everyone watching is rooting for. A Black show, watched by a majority Black audience, and unequivocally its heart is in the hands of a lesbian Black teenager.
Our Kind of People 101: “Reparations”
Written by Natalie
The toughest episodes for a television writer to pen, I’d imagine, are the pilot and the finale. Far too often, shows don’t get to plan for the finale so, by default, the pilot becomes the TV writers’ greatest challenge. There’s so much to cram into that first episode… to explain the who, what, why and how about the story they want to tell… and, then, on top of that, the writer has make it compelling enough that the audience want to go on that journey (and to make a network pick up the show). It’s a tough needle to thread and even some of the best shows on television — The Wire, Schitt’s Creek, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Parks and Recreation — don’t do it well. But, as the aforementioned shows prove, you can rebound from a bad pilot.
I mention that to say, Our Kind of People‘s pilot, “Reparations,” is bad. The show is heavy on exposition and short on character development and, yet, the plot moves at such a frenetic pace that you can barely keep up. Two parties, two “secret” societies, a fashion show, a move, an investigation, business intrigue, an apparent suicide/murder attempt, unearned hostilities…it was all just too much. But a show can rebound from a bad pilot…and there’s enough to like about Our Kind of People that it’s worth giving the show — created by Karen Gist and produced by Lee Daniels (Star and Ms. Pat Show) — time to find its legs.
In Our Kind of People, Angela moves with her daughter, Nikki, and her aunt Patricia to the black bougie Martha’s Vineyard enclave known as Oak Bluffs. Angela wants to capitalize on the inheritance left by her mother — real estate in Oak Bluffs and the recipe to her conditioner — to build her hair care business. She hopes that she can leverage relationships with the Bluffs’ black elite to secure her daughter’s future. For her part, though, Nikki is completely uninterested.
Their first night in Oak Bluffs, Angela, Nikki and Patricia end up at a fancy party and Nikki earns an invite to another party the next night…this one, just for the younger set, aboard a lavish yacht. When she arrives, Taylor — the girl that invited her — slips her phone into Nikki’s purse. Later, mysteriously, Taylor falls overboard…or is pushed…or jumps…I’m not sure which and the show doesn’t tell us and doesn’t afford the storyline enough time to be a classic whodunit. But whatever happened on that yacht, Lauren Dupont is haunted by it and seeks to cast aspersions on Nikki to assuage her guilt. Nikki finds a hint to why Lauren’s so pressed on Taylor’s phone (which is mysteriously not locked in any way): a video of the pair in bed kissing.