Happy Holigays, friends! We’ve got a huge merch sale going on, with so many cool new A League of Their Own items, including a hat you’re not going to find anywhere else!
This week, Dani wrote about The Karamo Show’s power of healing. Valerie Anne penned a tribute to the final season of Dead to Me. Riese recapped an all-new episode of The L Word: Generation Q, Lily wrote about Autism, homoerotic friendships, and Mosquito Y Mari. And Shelli ranked Aubrey Plaza’s movie roles.
Notes from the TV Team:
+ This week on All American, Patience is working on a new single that she’s sure will have everyone rocking. Her label wants to drop a music video along with the single but when Patience shows up to set, she finds clothes, dancers, and pyrotechnics that feel like a radically different vibe. The creative director, Gia, apologizes but insists that she intended for the new vibe to establish some separation between Patience, the artist, and Patience, the person. It’s enough to convince Patience to try again…only this time in shorter stilettos. — Natalie
+ Following its initial three episode drop, Leverage: Redemption has shifted to an episode per week release, much to my chagrin. Still, I love this show so much and the new season continues to give my everything I’ve always loved about Leverage plus gay! This week, Breanna’s got a second date with Allie, a vegan kinetic artist, but she gets pulled away by some family business (read: thwarting an attempted robbery and murder!). The date ends abruptly but Allie’s so impressed by Breanna’s candor that she welcomes another opportunity to get together. — Natalie
+ A reminder for our Canadian readers: the second season of Sort Of debuted last week on the CBC. The first season was so, so good — the show was one of my favorites of 2021 — and I’m jealous that Canadians get to enjoy the second season before Americans do (it debuts on HBO Max on Dec. 1). — Natalie
+ It seems like Monarch is setting up The Big Bisexual Cheating Reveal for the season finale. These past few episodes, GiGi keeps saying, like, “Well I’M never involved in the Roman family drama” and “At least *I* don’t have any secrets to hide or hide from.” Which: She was the one who ended up walloping Nicky’s husband to a bloody pulp. She was stopping him from murdering her sister, but that is A secret, at least. Also Nicky’s doing blackmail about it so it’s only a matter of time. — Heather
+ Dolly Parton’s Magic Mountain Christmas is airing on NBC next Thursday, December 1st. It’s wonderful. — Heather
Criminal Minds 1602: “Sicarius”
Written by Valerie Anne
After 16 seasons, and at least two queer actors in the main cast, we finally, finally have queer series regulars on Criminal Minds. Aisha Tyler’s Tara is dating Nicole Pacent’s new character, Rebecca, in the newest season, which they’re calling Criminal Minds: Evolution. I was so excited when I saw Nicole Pacent strut into the room because, knowing she’s queer IRL, I was ready to assume her character is queer until proving otherwise…and then mere moments after she walks back offscreen, her queerness (and Tara’s) is confirmed. Emily Prentiss actually clocked it before I did! As soon as she’s alone with Tara, she socks her in the arm and asks how long they’ve been a thing. (This furthers my theory that Prentiss is also queer, but that is neither here nor there.) Tara admits Rebecca isn’t the first woman she’s dated, and says they’ve been a thing for a few months now. Emily is immediately supportive and excited to tease Tara about her new relationship, and specifically how giddy she is about it. Later, Emily calls Rebecca Tara’s girlfriend in front of the rest of the team, presumably because of how chill Tara was about it and the fact that she didn’t ask her not to tell anyone? Felt a bit like a bold choice but it went well so it’s fine. JJ says, “Wait did you say girlfriend?” with no emphasis on girl – she says it as if she is just surprised Tara has a beau she didn’t know about.
Criminal Minds is one of my comfort shows – something about the formula + the characters really does it for me; every time JJ comforts a victim, a wound inside me heals – and I feel like I’ve been waiting my whole life for this moment. I can’t wait to see where this goes.
All American: Homecoming 206: “Free Your Mind”
Written by Natalie
A while back, as part of a conversation about another show that I’d been (surprise!) critical of, a reader asked what one piece of advice I’d give to the showrunner. Lots of ideas floated in my head — listen to the TV Team! don’t listen to shippers! — but, ultimately, I settled on a simple answer: they should watch more queer TV. It’s advice I’d give to any showrunner, really. Sometimes I think showrunners are so focused on creating their singular vision that they forget to look at the landscape. They write not knowing what’s been done (repeatedly) and what hasn’t. They write not knowing what good queer content in 2022 looks like…they don’t know where the bar is…and, as a result, the chances of them exceeding that bar are slim to none. It feels very much like All American: Homecoming falls into that category.
Right now, the bar for storytelling for nonbinary characters — and in particular, black nonbinary characters — is P-Valley‘s Uncle Clifford. While I don’t expect the CW’s Bringston to compete with STARZ’s Chucalissa, there are lessons to be learned from where the bar has been set: lessons about telling stories beyond identity, lessons about telling love stories involving gender nonconforming characters, and lessons about giving nonbinary characters comparable screen-time. These are lessons that All American: Homecoming hasn’t learned. They don’t know where the bar is.
This week, Nate’s relationship with Nico ends. It’s for good reason (more on that in a second) but still it’s frustrating. The show never gives us a real reason behind why they got back together — after what sounded like a tumultuous previous break-up — and it never incorporated Nico into Nate’s Bringston family. The show doesn’t give comparable time to Nate’s relationship than it does to, say, Simone’s burgeoning relationship with Lando, despite both Nico and Lando starting out as antagonists. And forget the intimate moments: we’re offered little more than a chaste kiss. All American: Homecoming wants plaudits for featuring a nonbinary character on network television but the show cannot rest on that. The bar has been raised and it desperately needs to catch up.
Back to the break-up: Nate joins Nico at a planning meeting for the Black Legends Luncheon. Nico’s just going through the motions, recycling the same focus and theme from previous years. Nate proposes a new idea — a plan to incorporate different, lesser known student organizations into the luncheon — and while her idea is well-received by in the planning committee, Nico quickly brushes it off. Later he tries to make amends with flowers but Nate confesses that some committee members support her idea. She pushes Nico to let her run with the new vision and Nico, begrudgingly, agrees.
The show is a resounding success but, for Nico, the positive response grates. By the time Nate stands center-stage to recite a poem, inspired by her boyfriend, Nico is nowhere to be found. Later, she confronts him for his disappearing act. She reflects on all the times she’s had to dim her light for him but Nico insists that he never asked her to do that. It’s at that moment that Nate realizes their relationship won’t work. She tearfully proclaims, “I have been through too much, fought too hard to exist as me. I shine too bright, and damn if I’m not proud of that. I will never dim that light for anyone ever again.”
The Sex Lives of College Girls 203-204: “The Short King” and “Will You Be My Girlfriend”
Written by Natalie
Leighton Murray has come out at unique time: her post-coming out hoe phase coincides with the start of cuffing season at Essex University. That means the roster of potential hook-ups is DEEP: Leighton adds her face pic onto her dating profile this week and the invitations just keep coming. She reports to talking to 30 girls on the apps and her roommates are both shocked and thrilled for her (“that’s like two basketball teams,” Whitney notes in the most apt simile that’s ever existed).
“Look, I’ve lived in the closet for, like, my entire life. I could never just approach someone out in the open as myself. So now that I’m out, it’s my turn to catch up,” Leighton proclaims. And boy, does Leighton catch up…lingering looks in class and the cafeteria lead back to Leighton’s bed. She hooks up with one woman after another after another.
But there’s a downside to having your hoe phase coinciding with cuffing season too, right? The expectations are different. If you know you’re on the roster, you know things are casual — it’s all “Wham! Bam! Thank You Ma’am!” — but in cuffing season, you’re looking for warmth and intimacy, even if only for a season. Cuffing season isn’t serious but it isn’t really casual either. Anne doesn’t bring cookies to Suite 103 if she knows she’s just another slot on the roster. Claire doesn’t play nice with Leighton’s roommates if she knows that she’s only there for a one-time hook-up. Cat doesn’t buy a candle for Bela’s lactose intolerance if she understands that things are casual. Leighton’s in her hoe phase but those girls are there for cuffing season…and that’s where Leighton fucks up: she doesn’t reset those expectations (or those of her roommates, TBH).
Predictably, it all blows up. Two of Leighton’s roster spots — Molly and Jess (who are exes, natch) — show up to visit Leighton at the same time. Molly brings flowers, Jess has Phoebe Bridgers tickets…tell-tale signs that they were leaning into cuffing season. An argument breaks out when Molly and Jess realize that Leighton wasn’t serious about either of them. Leighton defends herself, reminding them both that she told them she was taking it slow, but when Cat shows up to return Leighton’s underwear, it’s clear that there’s nothing slow about the way Leighton is moving. Before they can gang up against her roommate, Whitney dismisses Molly, Jess and Cat, reminding them that “Leighton can bang who she wants, this is not Bridgerton.” Exhausted, Leighton collapses on the couch and admits that navigating the interconnected nature of Essex’s queer community is going to be a challenge (Has Leighton never seen The L Word? Did she learn nothing from The Chart?).
But, even as Leighton’s roster gets cleared, her hoe phase leaves her with one lasting thing: chlamydia.
After getting her diagnosis, Leighton is sent home with pills and instructions to tell all the women she’s recently slept with about the STI. She rationalizes not telling her recent conquests, though, by noting that whoever gave it to her didn’t give her the heads up. But just when Leighton thinks she can ignore the situation, it shows back up at the one place that Leighton least wants it: the Kappa house, the sorority that Leighton wants so desperately to join.
Turns out, one of Leighton’s hook-ups, Natalie, is among her rush class and she confronts Leighton about giving her chlamydia. Leighton brushes her off and then bad-mouths Natalie to the Kappas. To exact her revenge, Natalie uses her turn in a “Secret Seat” game to tell everyone that Leighton gave her chlamydia. Worried that she’s ruined her chance to become a Kappa — her mother’s sorority, you’ll recall — Leighton calls and texts, repeatedly, in an effort to apologize. When her Kappa friend seems unmoved by her apologies, Leighton resigns herself to defeat but, as luck would have it, both she and Whitney get invitations to join.
Mythic Quest 301-304
Written by Valerie Anne
I wasn’t sure what this season of Mythic Quest would look like with most of our friends scattered to the wind, but they have found plenty of fun ways to cause chaos in each other’s lives. And, despite the fact that Rachel doesn’t even work in the building anymore, they still found a reason to keep her around, which I appreciate. This show wouldn’t be the same without Ashly Burch’s quirky energy.
AND, while in Episode 302, Dana and Rachel try to sneak into their old testing room to have sex and end up accidentally making a litany of HR violations at a company neither of them work for anymore, Episode 303 proves that they are both still being developed as individuals while also still being adorable girlfriends. Dana is becoming a mini Ian while Rachel goes to brunch and goes tank crushing with Poppy and Jo, and also having some development ideas for Mythic Quest as she sneaks around their kitchen to steal snacks instead of going back to school, where she’s miserable.
Unrelated and maybe only relevant to me, but I didn’t put together that Caitlin McGee is the customer service woman in this show. She showed up this season and I was like “Wait has this always been Sarah from Home Economics” and it turns out it has been. I guess I just didn’t file her face in my memory banks until she played Sasheer Zamata’s wife.