Boob(s On Your) Tube: On “Once Upon a Time,” a Woman Sat Upon Another Woman

In this week’s Tuesday edition of Boob(s On Your) Tube, we check in with some of the minor queer characters on TV this fall and some of the major characters with minor queer stories; plus, another reminder that Jane the Virgin is the best thing on television and you should be watching it dammit.


Once Upon a Time

Sundays on ABC at 8:00 p.m.

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Let’s get down to business.

Hello, Ruby arrived back on Once Upon a Time this week to breathlessly sit astride Mulan (who also arrived back on Once Upon a Time this week) in the hopes that Emma/Regina shippers would be placated. KaeLyn will be telling us more about this on Friday. For now, I shall show you another photo of Mulan and Ruby standing in the same frame. ARE YOU HAPPY? HERE’S YOUR QUEER REPRESENTATION, STOP COMPLAINING, GOD.

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Lady, I’ll make a woman out of you.

Wait, one other thing: This hugely influential pastor who wants LGBT people to be murdered to death in the United States, this motherfucker whose followers are being courted by three GOP candidates, he thinks Elsa’s a lesbian too.


Jane the Virgin

Mondays on The CW at 9:00 p.m.

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I know! No love triangle at ALL this week!

This week’s Jane the Virgin masterfully sped through five months of story to bring all the characters, including little Mateo, to new places with themselves and with each other. Never has a show so brilliantly explored the ideals of third wave feminism, or so unabashedly promoted a political ideology without actually bashing anyone in the face with it. (#Vote #Vote #Vote) Each commercial break moves Jane forward a month in her life and examines a new challenge she faces as both a mother and a grad student. Choosing to pursue an advanced degree means she misses sing-along classes (though Rafael does an adorable job subbing in for her), sometimes forgets to give Mateo “tummy time” so he ends up needing a little helmet to make his head round again, and is unable to attend the helmet-fitting appointment because she’s at a mandatory school retreat. She’s still a great mom; she just can’t give Mateo all her time. Likewise, she gets kicked out of her first grad school class for fielding a call from Mateo’s physician, pulls down her first C (minus!), is lambasted on the regular by her professor, and has a nearly impossible time fitting in with her classmates. She’s a great student; she just can’t give school all her time.

In between the time jumps, Jane tackles the decision to stop breastfeeding/pumping and allow Mateo to go with a formula/semi-solid food diet and agrees to finally go on a date with Rafael — because she’s not just a mom and a student and all her decisions can’t be about her child or her career. So the show also allows her to make decisions that are also good for herself. It’s remarkable.

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Okay, this is the best part. She climbs up on the taxi and she’s like, “You’re a wanker, number nine!”

The conceit of this episode is milestones, and each time the plot leaps forward, Jane imagines a world in which she and Rafael have died and Mateo is left with his father’s $40 million trust fund. She doesn’t want him to be a five-year-old baller, making it rain as he drives around the Marbella in his tiny tots Porsche. And she doesn’t want him to be Oliver Twist, either, begging for more porridge from the kitchen. She and Rafael decide to write a clause into his trust fund that says for every dollar he inherits, he must give a dollar away to charity. It’s five-year-old socially conscious Mateo who delivers this speech to the UN:

I’d like to thank my parents, of course, for instilling in me the desire to give back. Thank you to my mentors, Michelle Obama and Angelina Jolie, whose fight to make sure all girls have access to education led me to the Peace Corps and Let Girls Learn. I’m here at the U.N. because more than 62 million girls don’t have access to education — GASP! I’m sorry, I have to go pee-pee!

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I’m having twins! I hope they’re as excellent as Fred and George Weasley.

That this show exists, championing feminism and celebrating the way Jane’s mother and grandmother empower her to accomplish every thing she’s ever dreamed of, and that it doesn’t shy away from talking about America’s atrocious immigration policy (and the vile garbage the GOP continues to spew at Latino immigrants), and that it is so sure-footed with every storytelling decision it makes, and that it is just such entertaining television gives me hope for the world. Plus, now that Petra has been humanized and she and Jane are friends, there’s no more girl-on-girl violence! It comforts me, at least, when the conversation turns as hostile as it has now, in our current election cycle.


Blindspot

Mondays on NBC at 10:00 p.m.

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God of Mischief? No, there’s no one here by that name. I think you have the wrong number.

Blindspot is the story about how Lady Sif* woke up inside a duffle bag in Times Square one time covered in tattoos and with no recollection of Loki or any of those guys. There is a disgruntled white detective guy wandering around mansplaining everything, which seems like it’s going to be the main plot of the show (and in some ways it is), but then sometimes Lady Sif remembers she’s an Asgardian warrior and she starts doing awesome ninja moves on bad guys. Anyway, the person is charge of Lady Sif and Mansplainer is a woman named Mayfair. Last week, we found out about the illegal surveillance program Mayfair’s been participating in, and also that she has a former lesbian lover named Sofia who works at the White House and has connections to help them make a run for it and avoid prosecution for participating in Project Daylight. Mayfair was basically like, “I love you, but no thank you.” And so Sophia killed herself. The end.

*On the show, Lady Sif is named Jane. Jane Doe.


Scream Queens

Tuesdays on Fox at 9:00 p.m.

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La la la, I used to have to write about Ryan Murphy here, but now there are puppies.

The joy I feel when I get to delete Scream Queens off the Boob(s On Your) Tube formatting template I made in Google Docs is always such a glory. It’s why I don’t delete it permanently. I like the power and pleasure of erasing it, letter-by-letter, every Tuesday.


Rosewood

Wednesdays on Fox at 10:00 p.m.

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You wrote Emily/Sara Harvey fan fic? Are you serious right now?

Pippy and TMI are still alive as Rosewood skids toward its midseason break. They’re orbiting Rosie and serving his story, which makes sense on account of they are supporting characters on a show named after him. Lesbians like these are important on TV, they really are. Just being there and being inconsequentially gay in every episode: it’s actually a thing that matters a big deal. It’s so normal. But it’s not very engaging and, unlike Jane the Virgin, I’m only watching this one for the queers, so I’m really rooting for a storyline to make them more prominent and fully realized.


Code Black

Wednesdays on CBS at 10:00 p.m.

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Girl, you gotta stop letting them typecast you.

I saw a screening of the Code Black pilot at the Paley Center this summer, and it was so bloody and had so much blood noises that my friends kept nervously glancing over at me with wide, terrified eyes while I covered my whole head with my hands and rocked back and forth in my seat; I think they thought I was going to actually vomit. (And I’ll be honest with you: I was close.) I love me some Marcia Gay Harden — Whip It forever — but holy lord, the gore! Hey, but one of the new batch of doctors in the world’s bloodiest ER is a queer lady. An Indian queer lady! A first year resident! I watched a supercut of her scenes so I could introduce you, but there’s no way in Azkaban I’m going to be able to watch this actual show.

Malaya Pineda is the queer doctor in question. She’s got a girlfriend. Sometimes her girlfriend picks her up from work and they smooch in the car. A couple of week’s ago, Dr. Pineda’s ex-girlfriend showed up in the ER, pregnant and in need of an MRI. Turned out she had cancer! Apparently she caught Dead TV Lesbian syndrome from Leslie Shay when she was playing her girlfriend on Chicago Fire. She might live; we don’t know. She was still alive when the episode ended, so it wasn’t lightspeed-spreading Chaikencancer like what Dana Fairbanks died from. There’s always hope.


The Vampire Diaries

Thursdays on The CW at 8:00 p.m.

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Is that fucking Carmilla? We might as well go home. Not a single lesbian in this place is going to pay attention to us if she’s here.

I’m not much into vampires, except for Marceline the Vampire Queen and Buffy slaying them. And Carmilla, too, but not for the lore; I just think she and Laura kiss real good. I’ve never watched TVD and honestly only knew who Elana was from GIF sets on Tumblr (which obviously led me to believe she was kinda gay). (She’s not.) So this weekend I watched as much of season seven as I could to get a handle on this “lethal lesbian couple,” Nora and Mary Louise. I think both of them are half-witch/half-vampires and have been together for like a full century and are only just now getting used to being able to hold hands in public. They’re adorable with each other, but also they are assholes. They maim and murder for giggles and if one of them flirts with anyone else. That is what I know so far; I will keep you updated.

Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle managing editor who lives in New York City with her partner, Stacy, and their cackle of rescued pets. She's a member of the Television Critics Association, the Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer critic. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Heather has written 864 articles for us.

61 Comments

      • Only in my head, probably. But they keep hammering the coming out gay/superhero metaphor (and, minor spoilers, this week Alex spends time angsting about her big secret working for the sketchy government) and you know Kara’s not ditching both the dudes they’ve set up for her.
        Sorry if I got your hopes up.

        • It’s in my head, too. I like to do the opposite of what straight audiences do and just assume queer as default whenever there’s a lady on my screen. But also, even without my queer goggles on, I feel like if we are going to get a queer character out of the main cast on this show, Alex is definitely our best bet.

  1. Wait wait wait. I don’t watch OUAT anymore, but 1. HELLO RUBY. 2. Is she the character who’s gonna be in the queer relationship they said we were getting?
    I’ve never been a Swan Queen shipper (sorry) but I always had a huge crush on Ruby and hoped she was queer from the first scene she had back in season 1. So, I guess wishful thinking sometimes works!

  2. I’m so angry and done with Once Upon a Time, but I wish I knew how to quit it. At this point it’s sort of like watching a slow motion dumpster fire. It’s gross and I want to stop but I’m also really curious if that trash bag full of crap is going to explode when the flames reach it.

    I’m honestly not sure if they’re actively queer-baiting, or if they’re just so stupid and such bad writers that they don’t even realize what they’re implying? Regina straight up used a bar room pickup line, and then tells Emma she can lie to her parents and herself, but not to her, and there’s a difference between not knowing something and not wanting to know it. I’ve never identified with the phrase “I can’t even” as much as while watching that episode.

  3. My ship on Blindspot sank down, but I’m still enjoying this show.

    Heather, you need to ask Stacy for the updates on The Walking Dead, because Tara and Dr. Denise are happening in a very not-dead-yet slow way. I was hoping for some Tara & Rosita but I can work with this.

      • Don’t worry about it because is moving, like I say, in a very slow way, like most of the season (the 2nd part probably is gonna be a blast!!!).

        I have a question, if you don’t mind. Don’t you think that Jane the Virgin should be moved to a full recap? I don’t follow this show but I did notice the passion and love you have for it, overcoming and surpassing just the queer content.

        Particularly I’m suggesting this because it seems that AS is only covering TV shows with YA characters (yes, where the Young Adults looked like 40 year old people). The recaps from OITNB were never finished, The Fosters were dropped and moved here.

        Maybe some people can, but I’m a 35 year old woman and I can’t relate with high school drama. Those times are over, thank Jebus for that.

  4. I want to quit OUAT so badly. But then I see Lana Parilla’s face and I know I’ll be in it another week (…. x another week…. x another week…. x another week). Sigh. I know it’s awful of me, but I just can’t quit her. I will admit that at this point I mostly watch the show just so that I can keep up with the fan fiction, which is INFINITELY better than anything the writers have ever come up with. Perhaps the best fan fiction community I’ve ever stumbled upon- full stop.

    All that said, when Ruby straddled Mulan all breathy like that, my heart skipped a beat. Hot girls straddling hot girls is totally a kryptonite.

    I fell back behind on Jane the Virgin!! I was all caught up when Boob(s) was on hiatus. And now I’m behind again! Boo-hoo. So I can’t read the recaps, sadly. I’ll catch up again soon.

    Heather, I feel you RE: Rosewood, It’s such a simple procedural show and I wish they’d do more with it. But, that said, I’m finding it to be so enjoyable to watch while I wash dishes or clean, etc. I’ve been watching these types of paint-by-number procedural shows my whole life (they are my mother’s- and I’m sure a lot of mothers’, favorite genre), but there is something so great about having one with a majority black and brown cast, a black lead, and a lesbian couple. They are all just there living their lives like its the most normal thing to see on television and not at all revolutionary. I love it and I can’t quit it.

    PLUS, they are adding Taye Diggs to the cast. So, if there are any other Straddlers out there who are fans of 90’s black rom-coms, you already know how exciting this is. It’s going to be a “Best Man” reunion, is what I’m saying. And a reunion of two of the leading men in that genre of movie. So I’m pretty hyped for that.

  5. But Mulan x Merida…? Nah, OT3 Mulan x Red x Merida 4ever.

    And “They’re adorable with each other, but also they are assholes.” hellooooooo favorite type of ship what

  6. I’m like four episodes behind on OUAT because I’m maybe finally figuring out how to quit that show (thank the gods) but I just pulled it up on Hulu and skipped forward to the aforementioned Red/Mulan straddling scene. Worth it…ish.

    • Honestly as long as you’ve seen the episode with Merida (and probably you don’t even have to have seen them) you could watch that whole episode. It is completely unrelated to anything that’s happened in season 5, which is probably the reason it’s the best episode in a long time (also though, Mulan Rouge).

  7. My roomate keeps trying to tell me how good/funny Scream Queens is and all I can think of is the hate AS for Ryan Murphy and I just roll my eyes and walk away. But she loves all the Ryan Murphy shows (Glee, American Horror Story-are there more?), so of course she would like Scream Queens.

    • i don’t hate scream queens even though i know i am supposed to. but i think with a lot of ryan murphy shows — it’s ALL style and very little substance. the first 5 episodes draw you in but you find yourself drifting away as it becomes gradually apparent that the story wasn’t very well constructed and you don’t care about any of the characters (b/c they are usually all racist sociopaths) or what happens to them.

  8. Heather, I have decided that you need your own website. Bear with me – no, I do not know how you would get paid, and yes, I do love AS, but I think we need us a Heather-verse. Yes? A Hogwarts / PLL safe place.

    Think about it. That’s all I’m saying. 🙂

  9. I’m still rooting for Mulan x Merida on this one (it probably has something to do with them being two of my favorite disney heroines!) but Ruby is a great character too, I don’t think I can complain too much if she ends up being the one getting together with Mulan!

    Swan Queen shippers will never be placated though, sorry ABC

  10. I wish to make one note about Ruby and Mulan. When Ruby is in wolf form she is straddling Mulan, but after Mulan manages to change her back to human, she is magically kneeling NEXT to Mulan. Somehow that potion changed her back to human and moved her about two feet over.

  11. No, just no, OUAT.
    I used to be SO in love with that show and it burned me something bad.
    It used to be such a girl power powerhouse, exploring concepts of evil and family, only to deteriorate into a very forced match making costume extravaganza set to vandalize fairy tales for its own convenience and ratings, instead of exploring them, like they did first season.
    I am not straightophobic and I can roll with a straight ship just fine, but watching Hook being smarmy and illogically plastered upon a very gay Emma just hurts me too much to watch.
    Not even the few moments when Regina and Emma light up the room together makes up for that.

    • I had to get on IMDB to look up the actress who plays Elinor because her accent seemed so absurd. Turns out Caroline Morahan is from Ireland, but Amy Manson (Merida) is actually Scottish. There are so many eye-rolling things about this show, but the accents are definitely up there!

    • Ruby isn’t in all that much of the 5 seasons to be honest. You could probably just watch season 1 and be all caught up as she has been more of a background character if not completely absent since then. And then just watch the Merida-centric episode of this season to be all caught up.

  12. I wonder…Emma doesn’t want to be the Dark One, but little by little she becomes corrupted by the darkness. I think for someone like her, who doesn’t want to be dark, the darkness feeds off of the lies we tell ourselves. That we’re okay with the fact that our parents sent us off as a baby. That we’re not afraid of our magic. That we’re okay being the savior. That we’re in love with someone who can’t cure us with True Love’s Kiss. Regina almost got Emma to face her lies. Almost got her to come clean. Almost got her to let go of her fear and admit the truth.

  13. This is, as always, such a great column. Jane the Virgin is the best. But also: can we get some Shonda shout-out about last week’s Grey’s Anatomy? I know we’re not getting episode recaps and they’ve gone a little crazy, but what about Amelia and Maggie’s “check your white privilege” conversation? And Penny standing up for herself and being direct to her boss, thrashing all sorts of stereotypes about women in leadership roles? And Bailey being her kickass self and making Ben do the awkward conversation dirty work?

  14. So, umm…

    In the last installment of BOYT, you mentioned that you’d be discussing Annalise and Eve from “How to Get Away With Murder”…is that still going to happen?

    I mean…because I’m having all of the feels about that relationship and I need to hear other’s thoughts on it.

  15. I wish those who are bitter about SwanQueen didn’t automatically consider Mulan a consolation prize. Not every OUAT viewer is that invested in SQ, or once were but moved on when it became clear that the show was not going there.

    If you want to be angry at OUAT for the direction of the stories (less focus on original characters and more focus on het romance, introducing tons of new characters, etc.) that’s fine; you can even legitimately have complaints about how they handled Mulan’s near-confession in S3 and then dropped it altogether until now. You can also shame them for waiting until S5 before addressing a canon lgbt relationship … but anyone who is saying that OUAT is queer-baiting with SQ is only deluding themselves.

    Yes, Lana/Jennifer and Regina/Emma have awesome chemistry, but that does’t necessarily mean they have to be in a romantic relationship. Yes, I agree with you that it would have been a wonderful and original way to tell both a same-sex romance and a revamped fairy tale if they had “gone there” … But the truth is the writers and creators have said more than once that that’s not the story they are telling. Having heard that, if you still can enjoy the chemistry and be satisfied with fan fiction, then fine. But it’s not queer-baiting if you’ve been told explicitly that it won’t happen.

    Don’t confuse chemistry with subtext; this happens all the time. Two characters have a scene together and they click and everyone talks about the “subtext” if it’s not a canon romantic relationship. That’s not subtext folks. Granted, there have been lines here and there that blur the line with SQ, but just because their scenes sizzle with tension and chemistry does not make their exchanges intentionally subtextual.

    Obviously, I’m not going to convince anyone about that, but there ya go anyway. My main point, though, is that I’m tired of people dismissing Mulan and what may develop for her as canon storytelling, because they can’t have what the ship they want (which was never intended to happen by the people who created the show.

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