Boob(s On Your) Tube: All of Samira Wiley’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” Season Two Storylines, None of the Torture

It’s Boob(s On Your) Tube! Your one-stop shop for the week in queer TV! This week on Autostraddle dot com, Valerie Anne prepped you for the new season of Wynonna Earp. Kayla and Carmen and Natalie made a list of 18 LGBTQ women of color crushing TV this year. Kayla also recapped another fantastic episode of The Bold Type. Riese and I chatted about GLOW season two’s big gay storylines. I cried all over the place about Steven Universe. And Kayla ranked the Emmy nominees from Mommi to Mommiest.

Speaking of which, so many lesbian and bisexual and queer women were nominated for Emmys this year! Evan Rachel Wood for lead actress in a drama series for Westworld; Samira Wiley for outstanding guest actress in a drama series for Handmaid’s Tale; Lily Tomlin for outstanding lead actress in a comedy series for Grace and Frankie; Kate McKinnon for outstanding supporting actress in a comedy series for SNL; Jane Lynch and Wanda Sykes for outstanding guest actress in a comedy series for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and black-ish, respectively; Jane Lynch also fro Host for Reality/Reality Competition Program for Hollywood Game Night; Ellen DeGeneres for Host for Reality/Reality Competition Program for Ellen’s Game of Games. Sarah Paulson for outstanding lead actress in a limited series or movie for American Horror Story: Cult; Cherry Jones for outstanding guest actress in a drama series for Handmaid’s Tale; Carrie Brownstein for Variety Sketch Series for Portlandia. Also Viola Davis got snubbed on lead actress but did score a nod for her guest arc on Scandal, which is relevant because she is not gay but is my girlfriend.

I don’t have an update on Younger this week because my DVR didn’t record it and Spectrum keeps telling me it is “not available right now” on demand. Next week! Here’s the other goings on from the TV world.

The Handmaid’s Tale Season 2

Written by Carmen

The season two finale of The Handmaid’s Tale dropped on Hulu Wednesday morning, and I couldn’t help but wonder how things worked out for one of our all-time favs Samira Wiley, errrr, I mean Moira.

From Heather Hogan: “Her face is literally perfect”. I hardcore agree.

But first, a disclaimer: I watched the first season of The Handmaid’s Tale last year, so I have a basic understanding of the major characters and their relationship to each other. That said, I only made it through the first two episodes of the second season before I decided time lost in the trauma in Gilead was not how I wanted to spend my one, precious life. I think The Handmaid’s Tale is one of the most important shows on television, even when they get things wrong. (To be clear, they do get a lot wrong, especially when it comes to certain themes of race and all the torture porn.) Personally, I just couldn’t handle it anymore! I combed Wikipedia for general plot points, and then fast-forwarded around so I could just watch Moira’s parts. I may be missing some details! I may get some things wrong! But as they say, “Nevertheless, She Persisted!” What a rollercoaster we are on!

Where we left off at the end of season one, Moira escaped the brothel where she was forced into sex work and safely made it to the American asylum community in Toronto. (Yes, the implication of Americans’ being in need of asylum and finding themselves actually welcomed at the border of a neighboring nation, given our current political field, is purposeful and not lost on anyone.)

Moira’s second season arc is about working through some pretty severe PTSD. She’s moved into an apartment with Elizabeth Moss’ husband (also safe in Canada) and another American refugee. Together they are forming their own, new kind of tentative family. It’s sweet — but also, sad? The whole show is sad, so that’s not new.

One night, Moira finds herself drinking away the painful memories of her past at a Toronto gay club. There she catches the eye of a cute girl and they next thing you know they’re fingerbanging in the bathroom. I was so happy for Moira that she finally got to have sex on her own terms! Consensual sex on this show is rare and fleeting, I’m hard pressed to think of another character who’s even had the chance?

Today the Autostraddle TV Team had to decide if “fingerbanging” was one word or two. It’s a tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it.

Too bad, that joy wasn’t meant to last. After Moira finishes her hook up, she turns her partner’s down the offer to, ahem, have the favor returned (if you know what I mean). She grows cold and distant in the bathroom, shaking off her partner’s advances. When the hook up asks for her name, Moira tells her it’s “Ruby.” The name she went by as a sex worker in Gilead. My boor baby, she’s so broken! She can’t let anyone in.

Later, in a flashback, we find out that in the time before Gilead, Moira was once a pregnancy surrogate to pay off her student loans. That’s how she met Odette — her OB/GYN turned fiancée. We don’t get to watch enough of their relationship develop on screen, but it seems like it was full of smiles and laughter!

“We could’ve had it allllllllllll….”

In the wake of a bombing in Gilead, Moira finds out that Odette died sometime ago, alone on the streets. She leaves a picture of them in remembrance at a public memorial in Toronto. It’s her first step in really beginning to heal from the trauma she’s been put through. PS: Samira Wiley still has the best smile on television, and it’s made even more effective and special thanks to its sparring use on the show.

The last time we see Moira this season, representatives from the Gilead government (and Elizabeth Moss’ captors!) are visiting Canada on a diplomacy trip. Moira, along with her found family in Canada stage a public protest to raise awareness against them. In the final shot of her, she’s banging on the Commander’s window, holding a sign that says “My name is Moira.”

F*ck yes.

My heart! She’s Ruby no more.

(Alexis Bledel’s Emily is The Handmaid’s Tale other major lesbian character. Her work in the role is phenomenal. Unfortunately, her plot is way too intimately tied to the central violences of the season for me to watch it and still be able to sleep at night! What I gathered is that she somehow escaped the toxic waste labor camp that they sent her to, and after a few other bloody plot twists, is now safely on her way to Canada for asylum with Elizabeth Moss’ baby in tow. It’s my dream that Emily gets together with Moira in Toronto and they become the new Lesbian Avengers ready to reign down pain on the patriarchy! It’s time for the revolution, this show needs it. Stay tuned!)

Quick Hits

Critical Role Campaign Two, Episode 26

On last night’s episode of Critical Role, since they are down three players (Laura Bailey and Travis Willingham are on parental leave since they just had a baby, and Ashley Johnson is back to filming Blindspot), they had a guest playing with them, and it was none other than arguably the cutest human on the planet, Ashly Burch. You might know Ashly from the first installment of Life is Strange, where she voiced Chloe Price (and others), or the billions of other games and cartoons she has lended her voice to. Or just from being a tiny ball of adorable with a badass haircut. Her character was butch and brass and our resident gay disaster* didn’t know how to handle herself and eventually flirted with her, as she is wont to do. (*We don’t know for sure how Beau identifies yet beyond “super into Yasha” so I’m using gay as a general term here and because “gay disaster” has a nice ring to it.) Ashly’s character, Keg, seemed to be on board, because every time Beau did something badass, like extract a sac of toxin from a fallen monster with graceful expertise, Ashly would said, “Keg is aroused.” It was a good gay time for all involved. — Valerie Anne

Claws 205: “Vaginalologist”

Reunited and it feels so…temporary

With a episode title like “Vaginalologist,” you’d think this episode would’ve been gayer, but no such luck. We did, however, get a glimpse of a newly reunited Arlene and Quiet Ann at the unveiling of Polly’s new male revue. They’re there just long enough to wish a newly engaged Desna well before sneaking out and enjoying some vaginalogy of their own at home.

Looming over Ann’s rediscovered happiness is Arlene’s work with the Sarasota Police Department, who’s moving closer to unraveling the pill mill/money laundering schemes. I fear that Ann’s well-deserved happiness may be short-lived. — Natalie

Mi Familia Perfecta

Breakfast and a laugh with the future in-laws

Tonight, Mi Familia Perfecta, Telemundo’s Party of Five-esque telenovela, takes its final, if premature, bow. As secondary characters on the show, Megan and Génesis didn’t get nearly enough screen-time and it certainly faltered when it came to showcasing intimacy, but we still got to see Megan be fully embraced by Génesis’ family and friends. Their storyline was adorable and affirming and an important step for Spanish-language television. — Natalie

General Hospital and The Young & the Restless

Remember our roundtable on TV that breaks our hearts? Well, few things have broken my heart quite like daytime television…and, yet, I’ll keep coming back to soaps because I believe in the potential of the genre to impact the audience.

A trans woman playing a trans woman. Still a novel concept to some.

Last week, Autostraddle reader, Shez, alerted us to a new story on General Hospital. Cassandra James joined the soap’s cast as Dr. Terry Randolph, an old friend of Elizabeth Webber’s who returns to Port Charles to visit her friend and consult at the hospital. But, in the years since they last saw each other, Terry has transitioned (James is a trans actress) and General Hospital gives her the stage to share her journey with Liz, her fiancee and the audience. I’m hoping that we’ll see more of Dr. James in the coming weeks.

Can lightning strike twice for Mariah and Tessa?

Meanwhile, over in Genoa City, it looks like…maybe…possibly…the Mariah and Tessa storyline that stalled last year, could be picking up again. Thanks to an effort by Mariah’s ex-boyfriend, Devon, and her new wingman, Kyle, Mariah and Tessa find themselves tricked into having their first date.

I’ll let you know, as things progress, if my faith in daytime is vindicated or if I’m just Charlie Brown to daytime’s Lucy, continuing to chase after that elusive football. — Natalie

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

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The TV Team

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

The TV has written 232 articles for us.


  1. Good to see the Critical Role shout out. One of the reasons my interest in campaign 1 waned a little is that it felt oppressively straight, so it’s been a lot of fun watching Beau exist as a character. (I know a few of the c1 characters weren’t straight, but I felt like their queerness got either sidelined or played as a joke 90% of the time.)

    • Pretty sure we weren’t watching the same show then because Kima/Allura and Vax/Gilmore definitely weren’t “sidelined” or “played for laughs”.

  2. Yay you’re including Critical Role! Ashly and her character were both great. I wouldn’t say the episode was a good gay time for all involved, though. It was a bad gay time for one queer character in particular.

    • Ditto. It was a good gay time until the last hour and then it was a no good, not fun at all time for a different kind of lavender menace.

      On the upside, Ashly is gonna be on again next week.

    • Molly will be fine, as long as they can find a druid sometime within the next month (or year?) Even if they have to do Reincarnate, Molly will still be Molly, just likely as a different race (or, if they’re as lucky as an npc in our campaign, exactly the same as before).

      • A level nine druid though. Who’s willing to do a huge favour for a bunch of randos. Matt is not super free with the rezzing. VM only had one death before their team could fix it themselves, and that was of a devoted cleric with a temple of her order nearby…

        Their best case scenario seems to be running into someone from his old blood order, or something involving the dodecahedron, IMO.

    • IN MY DEFENSE I hadn’t watched the last hour when I wrote this. I wanted to get something in for Boob Tube but that episode went HELLA LONG and I stayed up as long as I could but I would have been up til 3am EST (when I have to wake up at like 7am for my job) if I had finished it. I’M SORRY. I DIDN’T KNOW. :sobs:

  3. Younger was okay this week. It’s annoying me because at the beginning of the season they were saying how Charles finds out and the show will become less about her lying about being 26 but yet it seems to be more at the forefront than ever before. No Charles. Liza went out with Christian Borle who found out the truth about her and decided he would make some cash by writing a story about her, when the Vanity Fair editors were calling everyone to fact check she used a “age fluid” excuse and squashed the story. Her daughter was back this week doing some weird shit with bread for extra money on the internet (which wasn’t really explained but totally creepy). Lauren did a launch party for an edible makeup line and had a gender fluid assistant. And Kelsey got her kissy flirt on with the Obama speech writer guy that they courted the other week. Oh and Miriam Shor directed this episode.

  4. Thanks to Carmen for writing this, I still haven’t watched Handmaid’s Tale because of the torture, I’ve only read about it. A largely torture-free story arc involving Samira Wiley would be nice and I’d get some idea what it’s like IRL. Just have to keep the remote within reach at all times.

  5. For Handmaid’s Tale – which I don’t watch, and didn’t read either, I love Margaret Atwood but brrr –

    Anywayyy, as I was saying… I got a very bad feeling reading about the Gilead government on a “diplomacy trip” to Canada. Very bad.

  6. I can’t even read the recaps of The Handmaid’s Tale! I don’t know how people are actually watching it. Thank you for this stress-free summary. I wish Samira Wiley would act in a meet-cute queer romcom for a change.

  7. Seconding the thanks for the no-torture Samira Wiley recaps. I don’t have any plans to watch the show but I appreciate the summary and screen cap!

  8. Another thank your for the Handmaid’s Tale recap. I have zero regrets about opting out of this season (season one was almost too much for me) but also I’m soooo curious ?

  9. Did anyone watch the Harlots season two trailer and catch the kiss I think shared between Jessica brown-findlay character and Liv Tyler’s character?

    In episode two of season two the brothel owner Ms. Quigley mentions that Charlotte (Jessica) seems fasincated by Lady Fitzwilliam. And Guys if this becomes a thing I might die.

  10. So, I’m pretty sure that nobody knows a lot about this but Margaret Atwood is having a nice little fight with Argentina’s Vice President, Gabriela Michetti.

    The fight is related with the abortion debate now happening in our Senate. Lets just say that Michetti has some problems with the subject, she’s even against abortions in the case of rape, and this has been legal in my country since 1921.

    Margaret Atwood published this open letter in a newspaper:

    Nobody likes abortion, even when safe and legal. It’s not what any woman would choose for a happy time on Saturday night. But nobody likes women bleeding to death on the bathroom floor from illegal abortions, either. What to do?

    Perhaps a different way of approaching the question would be to ask, What kind of country do you want to live in? One in which every individual is free to make decisions concerning his or her health and body, or one in which half the population is free and the other half is enslaved?

    Women who cannot make their own decisions about whether or not to have babies are enslaved, because the State claims ownership of their bodies and the right to dictate the use to which their bodies must be put. The only similar circumstance for men is conscription into an army. In both cases there is risk to the individual’s life, but an army conscript is at least provided with food, clothing, and lodging. Even criminals in prisons have a right to those things! If the State is mandating enforced childbirth, why should it not pay for prenatal care, for the birth itself, for postnatal care, and – for babies that are not sold off to richer families — for the cost of bringing up the child?

    And if the State is very fond of babies, why not honour the women who have the most babies by respecting them and lifting them out of poverty? If women are providing a needed service to the State – albeit against their wills – surely they should be paid for their labour. If the goal is more babies, I am sure many women would oblige if properly recompensed. Otherwise, they are inclined to follow the natural law: placental mammals will abort in the face of resource scarcity.

    But I doubt that the State is willing to go so far as to provide the needed resources. Instead it just want to reinforce the usual cheap trick: force women to have babies, and then make them pay. And pay. And pay. As I said, slavery.

    If one chooses to have a baby, that is of course a different matter. The baby is a gift, given by life itself. But to be a gift a thing must be freely given and freely received. A gift can also be rejected. A gift that cannot be rejected is not a gift, but a symptom of tyranny.

    We say that women “give birth.” And mothers who have chosen to be mothers do give birth, and feel it as a gift. But if they have not chosen, birth is not a gift they give; it is an extortion from them against their wills.

    No one is forcing women to have abortions. No one either should force them to undergo childbirth. Enforce childbirth if you wish, Argentina, but at least call that enforcing by what it is. It is slavery: the claim to own and control another’s body, and to profit by that claim”.

  11. I know I’m like, 8 months late to the conversation but I’m just now watching Handmaid’s Tale season 2 and I need to talk about it and I hope to God someone sees this.

    If you skipped season two or just read recaps or whatever, YOU MISSED THE VERY BEST PART EVER.

    We’re treated to a flashback of Emily’s former life. She is a smoking hot, super brilliant scientist and college professor. Like seriously, Alexis Bledel doesn’t normally do it for me but pre-Gilead Emily really does. She initially wants to fight being forced back into the closet, but eventually decides to flee the country with her family. Her wife is Sylvia, played by Clea Duvall, and their small adorable son Oliver that Emily gave birth to using one of Sylvia’s eggs.

    Let me tell you — Alexis Bledel and Clea Duvall had some serious chemistry. Their scenes are short but their kisses are long and they look so good and natural together and my dear god, I want a spinoff that is their pre-Gilead life together.

    How did Sylvia and Emily meet? What was their wedding like? How did they decide who would get pregnant and with who’s egg? Did they plan to have more kids? What does Sylvia do? Can we just watch them meet and date and fall in love and kiss each other’s faces, please? And raise their adorable little boy? And see Emily fight the patriarchy as a STEM professor? THIS IS THE QUALITY TEEVEE I DEMAND. This is my new favorite show. I would buy every season on DVD and watch them over and over and over.

    If you want to watch just this episode, it is episode two. But be warned — as we obviously know, Emily’s wife and son were able to escape to Canada but Emily is stopped at the airport and not permitted to go. Watching her say good-bye to her wife and son was pretty gut-wrenching, especially as someone who is a non-bio mom. :/

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