Boob(s On Your) Tube: “Ackley Bridge” Tackles Internalized Homophobia and Islamaphobia with its Lesbian Muslim Character

There are boobs on your tube and this is where we talk about them! This week Carmen wrote about Kate McKinnon and Ellen DeGeneres being held hostage in vintage cars by Jerry Seinfeld. Kayla recapped an all-new Bold Type. Valerie got you going on the new season of Wynonna Earp. Yvonne wrote about all the tomboys that made you gay. And I wrote about the queer storylines in season two of Anne With an E, had some hardcore amazing feelings about the new Batwoman TV show, folded you up into my warm embrace to share the news of Disney’s gay-as-heck Hocus Pocus sequel, and made a She-Ra list I hope you’ll love. Here’s what else!


Ackley Bridge 207

Written by Natalie

You know how sometimes you want a thing so much and then that thing comes and, technically, it is what you wanted but also it’s not at all what you wanted? Like that time I wished for more diversity in the US Senate and then Harold Ford announced he was thinking about challenging Kristen Gillibrand in the primary? You’re like, “yes!”, but also: “noooooooooo!”

That was Ackley Bridge this week. The upside? Nasreen Paracha finally got herself a girlfriend. The downside? The new girlfriend, Sam Murgatroyd, is, to quote Nas’ BFF, Missy, “a three, on a good day.”

When we first meet Sam, she’s dressed as a chicken (looking back, that should’ve been a clue) and handing out fliers for the Halal Chicken shop outside Nasreen’s mosque. As Nas, her sister, Raz, and mother rush in for morning prayers,* Sam snags Raz’s sneakers and escapes on her motorbike, but not before Nas catches a glimpse of Sam’s face. Later, Nas confronts her about the theft in the school parking lot and when Raz yells, “Go on, Nas, let the lezza have it!,” the tense confrontation turns physical.

Starts with a fight, ends in love

(Sidenote: We’ve seen a rise in the number of queer Muslim female characters on television — and by rise, I mean, there used to be none and now there are at least three — but we’re given a limited window through which to see characters interact with Islam. This representation of Nas, as a girl comfortable with her sexuality, who goes to mosque and eats Halal, is so important. Faith is about so much more than how it feels about who we sleep with.)

Once the school’s administrators give Sam and Nas their punishments, the pair go their separate ways and the staff are left to consider how to set up an Ackley Bridge LGBT support group. Alone in the bathroom, Sam is attacked by Raz and her friends; they hold her down and scrawl “DYKE” on her forehead. Meanwhile, Nas wonders if Raz’s anti-gay bigotry towards Sam will be directed at her when she comes out, but her thoughts are interrupted by Sam striding defiantly into the cafeteria, the slur still visible on her forehead.

“A little crazy, little sexy, little cool/Little rough around the edges but I keep it smooth”

Sam climbs up on the table and shouts her truth, “Have you all had a good look?! Yeah? This is what a dyke looks like! You think you can embarrass me? Scare me? Well, you can’t! Cos I’m a lady-loving — no, you can’t watch — raving lesbian! And I don’t care who knows!”

When Nas goes to check on Sam, she assures her that she had no hand in what happened and is curious about Sam’s experience in coming out. Sam clocks her as gay and, as Nas offers a defensive response, Sam forces a kiss on her lips. Nas is unimpressed. The next day, when she spots flyers for the new LGBT support group at school, Nas shows up for the meeting, only to find Sam alone in the classroom. This time, though, it’s Sam that sees Nas without her mask on and she gets up and follows Nas into the bathroom. Nas denies that she wanted to to the support group meeting but Sam urges her to take risk and gives Nas her number.

Of course, Nas texts her and, after a few exchanges, Nas is convinced to leave her best friend’s engagement party for a meeting with Ackley Bridge’s lady-loving raving lesbian. The girls flirt and dance and one thing leads to another and they’re hooking up. It happens way too quickly for my taste but Nas is so freakin’ happy after it happens — the audience is treated to the imaginary parade going on in her head — that you can’t help but be giddy about it too.

Some people see fireworks, Nas sees whole ass parades

That happiness is, of course, short-lived, because the next time we see Sam, she’s participating in an anti-Muslim rally. She’s chanting along side the bigots as they talk about taking back their country and Nas is so hurt to see her, she grabs one of her sister’s eggs and tosses it right at Sam. Later, Sam shows up at Nas’ flat seeking answers. The conversation they have is so deeply, deeply uncomfortable and so very, very necessary to witness, no matter where you live.

(Sidenote #2: It’s a little bizarre that the show doesn’t acknowledge that Nas’ mother knows about her daughter’s sexuality and is supportive, in her own special way.)

When everyone’s back at school, word gets around that Sam and her cousin were at the anti-Islam march, and they’re being ostracized. Sam defends herself, contending that attending the march doesn’t make her racist, while her cousin points out that if Sam really were racist she wouldn’t have slept with an Asian girl (that’s not how racism works, FYI). When her classmates don’t believe Sam’s defense, her cousin pushes her to out Nas, but she refuses.

Some gaps just can’t be bridged…

The kindness is enough to earn another audience with Nasreen but it’s futile. Nas knows that the differences between them is are just too vast to overcome. Sam tries to hold onto what they have, saying that, perhaps, if her family got to know Nasreen as she has, they’d change, but even she realizes how preposterous that sounds. Instead, she apologizes, wraps Nas in a hug, and the pair part ways.


UnREAL Seasons 3 & 4

Written by Riese

UnREAL, an apparently not-lesbian love story about two sociopathic women in an emotionally abusive relationship with each other who produce a Bachelor-style reality television program together but somehow never have sex with each other, dropped its entire fourth season onto Hulu this past Monday. I saw Faith, the lesbian from Season One, in a screencap of a Season Four episode, and that was all the ammunition I needed to justify marathoning the entirety of Seasons Three and Four in two days. I’d seen the first two seasons before but hadn’t cared much about the third. I liked Season Three and centering a bachelorette who was incredibly successful but found it to be lonely at the top, because that’s a thing I can relate to!

Season Four was… unexpected. It’s a very cynical program, you know? It’s disturbing and cynical and brutal and Season Four was very uneven in its treatment of sexual assault and also Rachel… damn, girl. What the holy hell? I was shocked and appalled and I guess I was supposed to be but sometimes I just wanted to break the TV. It was coherent and compelling, but politically empty. (Which is fine, but it used to be politically full, you know?)

But, I am here today to tell you that a new lesbian character was introduced in Season Three, and her role continues in Season Four. She’s a power lesbian executive played by Tracie Thoms, who also plays gay in 9-11 and played gay in RENT, which is exciting. There’s also some tertiary lesbians — a reporter in Season Three played by Stacey Farber from Degrassi, and, yes, Faith returns for one episode of Season Four. She plays a therapist who is called in to moderate a conversation that was… I wanted to break things, I guess? Would be how to describe it.


Younger 506: “Sex, Liza and Rock & Roll”

Written by Heather

I heard a rumor that straight women watch this show to see if Liza’s going to end up with Josh or Charles, which is so funny to me because the best thing I can say about that love triangle is it doesn’t turn me off from watching the show. What I personally have been waiting for is Maggie and Diana to come face-to-face, which happens this week, and I hope it will only be the first meeting of these spectacular minds and jewelry boxes. (For this particular outing, Diana is wearing a statement necklace that is just some ceramic peacocks booping their foreheads together beneath her chin. Maggie loves it. Diana uses it as an excuse to bemoan the “rompers and fanny packs” and Liza’s generation.) The reason they finally run into each other is because Maggie’s art is at the Whitney, and Diana is obviously on the board.

It’s good to see Maggie having such success. She even piques the interest of some fancy buyers named Penelope and Luca. (She’s totally going to sleep with Luca.)

Hello.

Oh wow, some women really are just… straight.

The main story this week, though, is Liza heading off to Shutter Island to try to get Chrissie Hart’s memoir off of her. Chrissie Heart is just basically Joan Jett as played by iconic lesbian root Gina Gershon. Charles is there, too, whining and being a jackass to Liza, as per the usual this season. He bolts and she stays and she does get the book, and when she walks into his office the next morning wearing such a power suit, she drops it on the desk like it’s a microphone. I said, “damn” right out loud when she did it.

Lauren, however, has the best line of this episode in her very limited appearance. When she found out Liza was hanging out with Chrissie Hart, she freaked out at Kelsey. “I framed her Rolling Stone cover, remember? With the snake tits? And I kissed it good night for an entire year.”

With the snake tits!


Quick Hits

The Young & the Restless

Summer storylines on soaps are supposed to be the equivalent of a beach read: compelling enough to distract you from whatever else you could be doing and pleasurable enough that it fits right into whatever relaxing thing you already had planned. This week in Genoa City has not been that — it’s been one heavy storyline after the next — but, thankfully, we had the Mariah and Tessa reunion to add some light to an otherwise bleak canvas.

Mariah and Tessa – After a long hiatus, I’m not mollified by this but, you know, it helps

After their first official date, the pair updated their relationship status, complete with hand-holding, touching, a ridiculous amount of flirting and two kisses. While out, they’re caught by Mariah’s co-host/sometime nemesis/sometime friend, Hilary, who speaks for the entire audience when she says, “finally.” But before the girls can get too cozy in their love bubble, Tessa lies to Mariah about having to work and Mariah catches her in the lie… and even worse, Mariah catches Tessa lying and hugging another woman.

Well, that light didn’t last long, did it? — Natalie

Queen Sugar 308: “Come, Clad in Peace”

I haven’t been giving space to the other things that Queen Sugar is doing well this year, because I have become so blinded by rage over what has happened with Nova. In that vein, I want to say that I think the central plot this year of Landrys forcing all of the black farmers off their property in a ruse to get the land back and sell it to a private prison is really compelling. I think exploring the prison industrial complex is important, and exactly the kind of content that I want from this show! I also love that it’s giving room for us to spend more time with Prosper, who has long served as a surrogate father figure for the Bordelon family and deserves his due.

Also, Queen Sugar remains the most beautiful shot show on television. Look at these images from this week’s episode of Rutina Wesley as Nova saged her family’s land for cleansing and protection:

Truly a work of art. (The show is rapidly building to Nova having to tell Charley about her relationship with Remy. Which means I am rapidly building to pulling out all of my hair and going hoarse screaming at the sun! Will it happen before next week? Possibly! Stay tuned to find out!)— Carmen

How to Get Away With Murder

Remember that time Tegan Price and Annalise Keating worked on a case together and, after AK wins it all (as she’s wont to do), Tegan says, “She’s still hot. I’ll give her that?” Remember that?

And do you remember when Tegan just casually mentioned that she was queer and that she wasn’t having sex? And when Annalise Keating, bisexual badass, also admitted that she was walking through a sexless desert? Remember that?

And then remember how Pete Nowalk, the cruel, cruel man that he is, gave us nine episodes after that and none of them involved Annalise and Tegan scratching that itch together? Remember that?!

Well, fear not! Bcause this fall, Pete Nowalk will have another chance to right this egregious wrong when Tegan Price becomes a regular cast member on HTGAWM.

She’s back.

There’s pretty much only two ways this can go: either she’s sleeping with Annalise or she’s gonna end up murdered. Fingers crossed, it’s the former.

The Originals 512: “The Tale of Two Wolves”

Ok. No one on our team is currently watching The Originals. But we never miss a gay wedding, so please enjoy this photo of Freya and Keelin’s nuptials! And then meet us in the back of the reception hall for a slice of cake and the family photo! — Carmen

The Autostraddle TV Team is made up of Riese Bernard, Carmen Phillips, Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya, Valerie Anne, Natalie, and Heather Hogan. Follow them on Twitter!

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13 Comments

  1. Riese I hear you about season 4 of unreal, wow. WTF Rachel?

    I liked most of the season when she was kind of having her Walter White thing you know? Like it’s really cool we have female characters who can have that same kind of development men have been having on tv forever.
    But then that ending? Idk. I feel like she should have gone like Walter White because it’s kind of what she deserved in the end.

    I still think that therapist throwing all professionalism to the wind in season 3 and being like “I’m not your therapist anymore so I can tell you I love you and we’re gonna be together forever isn’t this great?” just came out of fucking nowhere and was weird as fuck. Way to ruin a good character.

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