Boobs on Your Tube: “All American” Just Keeps Getting Its Lesbian Story Right

It’s Boobs on Your Tube time once more, which means you’ve made it to another weekend! This week Heather reviewed the new Hulu/Channel 4 series The Bisexual and Netflix’s unbelievably gay remake of She-Ra and Sally4Ever (with special guest star Autostraddle Sally!) and Melissa McCarthy’s Can You Ever Forgive Me?  and also published our first year-end list of 2018 — the best lesbian and bisexual movies! Kayla recapped the latest episode of (not gay enough) Riverdale and you simple must check out her But Make It Fashion essay/photoshoot: Nancy Meyers But Make It Gay: Wearing a Chunky Beach Sweater When Your Life Is Falling Apart. Carmen recapped a sexy as all hell episode of Black Lightning. And Valerie Anne went to camp with Sara and Ave on Legends of Tomorrow and protected Alex at all costs on Supergirl. Here’s what else!


All American 105: “All We Got”

Written by Natalie

We’ve talked before on Autostraddle about our own battles with internalized homophobia and how it can manifest at the most inopportune moments. Even when you think you’re over it, even when you’ve left that oppressive environment behind, even when you’ve got yourself an amazing girlfriend…it just shows up, uninvited, and impedes you from being the person that you want to be. It’s rare to watch a show grapple with that, as All American does this week with Coop; in that way that good representation does: it was both amazing and oddly discomfiting.

So let’s recap:

It’s Spencer’s birthday and Coop’s integrated into the family’s celebration: she joins their early morning birthday call and the dinner later that night. Spencer thanks her for helping him track down Asher’s stolen car but warns her that getting Shawn’s help likely comes with strings. Coop doesn’t bother to tell Spence that she already knows that. Afterwards, Coop heads over to Patience’s house for some quality time with her girlfriend. While Patience, no doubt, enjoys making out with Coop at home, she wants to go out on a real date…she wants her girlfriend to find time for her, instead of splitting all her free time between Shawn and Spencer. Coop makes excuses for why they can’t go out and tries to pull Patience back into their makeout session but Patience isn’t having it and she asks Coop to leave.

We’re not in Crenshaw anymore…

Turns out, the excuse that Coop gave to avoid going on a date with Patience was a lie: she didn’t have a shift at the barbershop the next day, she was joining the rest of Spencer’s family for a visit to his home-away-from-home in Beverly Hills. The Baker family matriarch, Laura, has insisted on throwing Spencer a party and it’s the first time Spence’s Crenshaw life gets invited into his new Beverly Hills life. Unsurprisingly, Coop doesn’t settle as easily into the high life as Spencer does: she doesn’t understand why the cater waiter, responsible for greeting guests as they enter, can’t sit down.

Once she settles down to eat with Spence, Coop realizes that they share a common issue: both of them are still living their lives for the parents who have rejected them. Coop doesn’t live at home anymore and she has a great girlfriend who adores her but she’s still trying to live her life to appease her homophobic mother. Spencer urges her “to roll with the people who always been there for you…who always accept you for you” and Coop heads back to Crenshaw, determined to take his advice. She confesses to Patience that she wasn’t at work, she was at a party in Beverly Hills.

“Why would you do that?” Patience asks, after Coop apologizes for lying.

“I was afraid you’d ask to go. Not because I’m ashamed of you, but because I’m ashamed of me. My mom put me out because of who I am and deep down inside, I felt like maybe she’s right about me,” Coop answer, spilling all her internalized homophobia out on the floor.
But, in Patience, Coop’s finally found someone that accepts her for who she is and she doesn’t want to lose that. Sport Ivory’s “Traveler’s Hymn” echoes in the background (perfect song choice!) as Coop asks Patience to help her become the person she wants to be…the person worthy of having Patience in her life.

AWWWWW!

Patience agrees, of course, and the next time we see the couple, they’re strolling down the street together, happy and unafraid to show that they’re together.


Charmed 505: “Other Women”

Written by Carmen

Well, that was a heartbreaker.

When I asked the rest of the TV Team how to write about this week’s Charmed in roughly 500 words or less, Valerie helpfully recommended that I include 500 cry face emojis and call it a day! She’s probably not wrong. I don’t know how else to describe Mel’s impossible decision to let go of Niko forever in order to protect her from the demons that are stalking the Charmed Ones.

I know that mourning a death isn’t exactly the right time to point this out, but they look so beautiful.

Niko’s understandably having a hard time right now. Her partner, Trip, was framed in death by one of the elders, a governing body that presides over the light magic realm and often tries (both in the original series and the reboot alike) to “pull the strings” and manipulate the Charmed Ones. The elder, Charity, had good enough reason to frame Trip. He witnessed the sisters performing an exorcism after all. So, after he died by accident, she framed Trip for the string of murders that have been happening across town lately. Still, the puzzle pieces don’t quite line up, and Niko is becoming obsessed.

Niko does what she does best: work the case. She gets pretty far, tracking down Trip’s detective layer filled with new information about the murder of the Charmed sisters’ mom, and how her death may connect to other recent murders of middle-aged women across the country. Unfortunately, unraveling this mystery puts Niko firmly in the crosshairs of a shapeshifting demon assassin who wants the original murders to remained covered up.

The burning GREEN fires of hell?

They definitely let this part out in Catholic School.

After the shapeshifter nearly kills her in a hellfire, Mel comes to a devastating conclusion: She asks the elders for help finding a spell that will erase Niko from her life. The spell will alter history so that the two of them have never met. As she tearfully explains to her sisters, she’s going to lose Niko either way. At least this way, Niko gets to live.

Solemnly the Charmed Ones gather in their attic as Mel sets the circle for their spell. When the time comes, Harry encourages her to spend her final moments with Niko – the sisters can take care of the incantation from here.

Now *THAT* is how you cry on camera!

Mel goes to Niko, who’s still spinning out about Trip and the murder of Mel’s mom and what it all means. Mel freezes her. She croaks out that this is the only way. She must protect Niko, even if it means sacrificing literally everything. She will always love her. She believes that their love will carry them through, even when they can no longer remember it or each other. Melonie Diaz lays her heart into every word. Upstairs, the sisters start the chant. Mel and Niko’s memories shimmer around them – smiles, laughter, shared food, their first kiss. Then all the memories turn into sand falling at their feet.

Mel reaches out to her girlfriend, attempting to stroke her face, to maybe kiss her one last time. It’s too late. Niko turns into dust at the stretch of Mel’s fingertips.

A love to stand the sands of time.

Mel doubles over in grief, crying out in agony. Her sisters join her, but how can you help manage a heartbreak like this? You can’t. Words can’t soothe this pain. Hugs won’t heal it. With a few days to nurse her broken heart, Mel works up the bravery to check for Niko on social media. She’s healthy — happy even. And she has no idea Mel ever existed. Mel found a way to save her, but what did that decision ultimately cost them both?

It’s rare (arguably unheard of) in television for the emotional weight of a series to depend on its central queer couple, especially from the opening episode. In less than five episodes, Niko has provided us with comic relief, action-intrigue, and a calming hand. Mel’s struggle with keeping her witchy secret “in the closet” from her girlfriend gave the fantasy series one of their most stand out, grounded moments thus far. Mel and Niko have been beautifully written, which is why the full weight of Mel’s decision is felt from the moment it leaves her lips. They are Charmed‘s central romance, and their compelling, even if shortened, relationship is what makes what happened on Sunday particularly hard to suffer.

This is the double-edged sword. It’s great that the most established romance on Charmed thus far has been a lesbian love story. But, the burden of being the core romance is that you also become the show’s engine of drama and conflict. It has to burn at least a little, or the audience won’t come back next week. Which is to say, I’m in no way convinced that Niko and Mel are over permanently. I hope that I’m right. This quite simply can’t be the abrupt end to what would’ve otherwise been something so epic.


Quick Hits

The Good Place 308: “Don’t Let the Good Life Pass You By”

Heather

Supernatural 1406 “Optimism”

Umm, does this count as coming back from the dead?

Charlie was back on Supernatural last night. Charlie? you’re saying to yourself. Charlie who was murdered to death and stuffed in a bathtub? Yes, that Charlie. JK, this is an alternate universe Charlie. She’s from Apocalypse World where Sam and Dean were never born and so things were pretty chill until the mid-70s and then the demons won and now, well: apocalypse. AU!Charlie is still a lesbian. She used to have a girlfriend but like Canon!Charlie, that lesbian was stabbed to death by some demons. It’s my understanding that AU!Charlie now lives on actual earth and last night she did an adventure with Sam, the end of which led to him asking her to join their Hunter squad and her laughing in his face and saying she’s going to live on a mountain with good wifi where a TV lesbian can enjoy a moment of peace. Good for you, Charlie. — Heather

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend 405: “I Am So Happy For You”

So Valencia and Beth might be moving to New York together?? Heather is supposedly also moving but only across town but based on the way they presented this information to Rebecca last week they made it sound like they were saying goodbye, but this show is barely still good as it is, they can’t lose two of their funniest and characters. I mean Heather is the only thing grounding this chaos to reality so they’d just float into oblivion without her, right? So I have a feeling maybe this move to New York won’t work out but whatever happens, I hope we see Beth again soon. — Valerie Anne

The Flash 505: “All Doll’d Up”

Canon queer speedster Nora West-Allen continues to be at the forefront of this season, and continues to be cute as a goddamned button, but all she did this week that was even remotely queer is work through her mommy issues. Which is relatable. — Valerie Anne

The Young and the Restless

Well, that went downhill quickly, didn’t it? I thought we’d get a little bit of cohabitating bliss before Y&R reaffirmed the #1 rule of soaps — “no couple that gets screen time can be happy” — but oh, no…Mariah and Tessa’s stint as a cohabitating couple ended before it ever really got started.

Oh, how I long for happier times

The girls wake up in their shared apartment, happy but still unsettled. Mariah’s determined to get everything unpacked and organized, starting with the closet. She clears some of Tessa’s stuff out of the way, including the duffel bag that once held a boatload of cash, and makes room for her own. When Tessa runs, Mariah proudly shows off her handiwork and notes that she also got them a new mattress and tossed the old one out. Tessa lashes out at Mariah for getting rid of her things without asking and storms off before Mariah can even figure out what’s happening.

Mariah returns to the apartment later, believing that she overstepped because she’d adopted capriciousness with money after living Newman-adjacent for so many years, but Tessa’s left an apology card and wine in hopes of making amends. Where’s Tessa, you ask? Oh, just downstairs, pulling the money out of the discarded mattress and back into her duffel bag — SHE’S GOING TO THE MATTRESSES, LITERALLY! — and who’s there to witness it all? Mariah, of course.

When Mariah confronts her about it the next morning, Tessa lies and lies but Mariah’s bullshit detector is set on high. Every excuse that Tessa makes, Mariah’s there to poke holes in it…and Mariah refuses to build a life with Tessa with this huge $250k lie hanging over them. In hopes of salvaging her relationship, Tessa comes clean: she’s been trying to scam the rich people of Genoa City since she got to town and her plan only faltered when she fell in love with Mariah. She admits that she got the money from Nikki Newman to keep her secret but Mariah keeps pressing Tessa for the details. Eventually, Tessa reveals that she’d blackmailed Nikki, Sharon, Phyllis and Victoria to keep their roles in JT’s murder a secret.

So, admittedly, when this whole blackmail storyline started, I didn’t want to believe that Tessa was behind it…partly because I want Tessa to be a reformed bad girl, but also because making her the culprit just seemed a little too obvious. Everyone in Genoa City knew that Tessa was desperate for money but, apparently, none of us knew exactly how desperate. Cait Fairbanks’ scenes this week, as a desperate but self-assured Tessa, were probably some of her best work yet (related: Fairbanks’ musical alter ego released a new single this week). — Natalie

Star 307: “Karma”

Simone is still thinking all of her thinky-thoughts as she processes her feelings for Nina. As she figures shit out, she confesses to Alex, her best friend and one of the members of her singing group, that she slept with Nina at the beginning of the season. Alex is currently going through an adultery situation in her own relationship. As you can imagine, she was less than understanding of Simone’s plight. — Carmen

Station 19 207: “Weather the Storm”

The pained smile of someone who finally got it all, but it’s going to cost her everything

I’ve got some good news for Maya the Bisexual Firefighter, and then I’ve got some bad news. The good news is that her promotion to become Lieutenant was approved by Seattle FD! The bad news is that if she accepts the promotion, she’ll have to leave Station 19 for good and join the team at Station 23 instead. (The intriguing news is that I’m at least 78% sure that Station 23 is the homebase of Maya’s hot girl hook up from last season. Hmmm….) — 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!

The TV has written 43 articles for us.

14 Comments

  1. So happy to see a review of Charmed! Oh man that Charmed episode hurt! It felt soon to have such a major shakeup with the couple but I’m already invested and love Mel and Niko! With how central they’ve been I don’t see this being the end either so hopefully that’s not just wishful thinking! It was shot and acted so well, loved their memories on the sand!

  2. Re: Charmed… On one level, I can understand why they would do it for narrative purposes and it was beautifully done, but on a much more selfish and gay level, I’m annoyed that Niko was essentially written out (although I think she’ll come back) and we still have to put up with Harry.

    Re: The Good Place… My love for Janet is eternal and ever-growing. Okay, so: that episode proved again that Eleanor is attracted to Tahani, which we all know, and that Michael can show people memories of the various reboots, which means that there is a plausible narrative option for them to show us that attempt where Eleanor and Tahani were soulmates! In this essay, I will

  3. Ummm… I don’t think Trip was killed by an Elder- he was struck by a flying pipe. I suppose an argument could be made that Charity used the pipe to kill him- but it didn’t seem like that in the episode, and I couldn’t find any online reviews that blame it on Charity. It was terrible how she framed him for the murders, though.

    I thought Mel’s decision to change her history with Niko was terrible. First, anyone with even a passing understanding of time travel can tell you there are always horrible unintended consequences when you mess with time. It’s never a good idea. Ever. Even Harry warned the sisters to be careful and think carefully before doing the spell- which made them pause for about two seconds before forging ahead.

    Second, this is yet another example of Mel assuming she knows best and making an irresponsible and careless decision. I keep wanting to like Mel, but she keeps being way too hotheaded, stubborn and reckless and making it really difficult to enjoy her character. She does things like almost killing Macy with the spell Harry told her not to use, or placing everyone at risk by refusing to listen and communicate with the Elders. She’s even more immature than Maggie, and it’s really disappointing.

    Third, Mel basically unilaterally decided to erase Niko’s memories and change her life, completely without Niko’s consent. That is not okay. Mel making this decision to “protect” Niko without Niko’s consent is very controlling, and is another sign of her immaturity and stubbornness. These types of self-sacrificing grand gestures are often romanticized in media, but in reality this is taking away a person’s choice and has no place in a loving relationship between equals.

    I was really excited about Mel- a queer Latina witch- yes, please! She started out as my favorite, but after several weeks of watching her be stubborn to the point to idiocy and her lack of maturity, she’s now my least favorite of the sisters. I hope she’ll mature and learn that stubbornness is not the same thing as strength.

    • You’re right; I should have worded my commentary better RE: Trip’s death. I know he was killed by a flying pipe. But Charity is the one who “fixed it” to make it look like Trip died of suicide instead. And, as you pointed out, framed him for the murders. So in that light I think of her hands as the final hands of his “death,” you know?

      I’ll change my wording to be more specific in the recap.

      I hadn’t thought of the memory forgetting spell in terms of consent, but wow I absolutely should have! That’s a really important point.

      I’m… enjoying Mel’s impetuousness? Maybe that makes me an outlier, and I definitely understand why that’s not an enjoyable quality in real life outside of fiction, but something about her strong-headedness and impulsiveness works for me. To speak in Harry Potter terms, she reminds me of a Gryffindor in all of the most interesting (but also, infuriating) ways.

    • Thank you for mentioning CONSENT. I was furious and shocked as I watched this episode, which framed Mel’s choice to violate her girlfriend as “poor poor Mel’s brave sacrifice”! Your memories help create your personality; if this was a real-life ability by someone, it would be truly scary.

      I quit Buffy over Willow’s magic addiction/violating of her GF’s mind, and I quit Charmed over this.

    • I am 100% with you on being angry about that choice. “I get to decide how to protect you, without your choice, because I love you and I have magic(/experience/skills/whatever)” is one of my very least favorite tropes.

      And yet, something feels different? Like, I’m never forgiving the 10th Doctor for pulling this shit twice, and it’s not a choice I’m proud of Mel for, but I still find her a compelling character in a way I don’t find 10. (Maybe because usually the people making this choice are straight white dudes? It doesn’t make it better but it does make it different.)

      (Also, I can’t pinpoint any evidence, so it’s possible I’m just making it up out of sheer stubborn denial, but it also felt like the show wasn’t quite framing the spell in a positive light, either, like it was a poor choice and they know Mel’s got room for growth.)

      • I agree with you a 100%… the spell was never framed to be romantic or good or without bad consequences. And I think that’s been true for almost all of Mel’s bad decisions so far. That’s the main reason I don’t “hate” her, like a good chunk of the fandom does so far,…. she’s fucked things up but every time there’s a lesson there, so it’s all just part of her growth.

    • Yes to the entire conversation. This is precisely why I would love an AS recap every week about it, since there are many great things in it and others that would be so interesting to explore und discuss further – the disabled-and-evil trope from the first episode, that they haven’t discussed consent in this bit etc. etc.

  4. Those were definitely the right screen-cap-recaps of the Good Place! On the one hand, I still wish Eleanor got to act on her feelings rather than just joke about them. On the other hand, my bisexual brain made 100% of those same observations about Tahani and Janet.

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