Boob(s On Your) Tube: “Fresh Off The Boat” Nails The Nostalgia Of Coming Out As A Lesbian In The ’90s

Welcome to your weekly round-up of recaps of all the queer things on your teevee! Did you hear The Bold Type got renewed for two more seasons? It sure did!


Fresh Off The Boat

I don’t waaannna waaait for my life to be oooveeer

Nicole came out on the season four premiere of Fresh Off The Boat this week and it was kind of perfect. You gotta watch it twice to understand how perfect it is if you don’t the coming out is coming. The Huangs have moved in with Honey while Jessica negotiates the price of their former house. It’s there that Evan comes is confronted with Baby-Sitter’s Club #1: Kristy’s Big Idea, the gayest book any teen of the ’90s was going to ever get her hands on in the ’80s. Next up, Nicole picks up Eddie in her Saturn on her way home from the movies. Her friends ditched her to hang out with their boyfriends, which she doesn’t understand on two levels: 1) Boys, blech. 2) They’d made plans to see Jodie Foster in Contact, okay? That means that Ellen’s “The Puppy Episode” happened just a few months ago in Nicole’s world and Ellen herself just became the most famous lesbian in the world and lesbian lesbian lesbian is in the air everywhere. Trust me, I was exactly Nicole’s age at exactly this moment in time.

Nicole invites Eddie to hang out some more, one-on-one, which makes him think she’s into him, which bamboozles him and he ends up blurting out over dinner (free chips and salsa) that he likes her but that he’s got already got a lady in his life. At the same time she blurts out that she’s into girls. It freaks him out a little and that freaks her out a lot; she’d never said it out loud before. By the end of their car ride home, he’s come around and starts pelting her with questions like best friends do. (“When did you turn gay?” “Does this change what kind of jeans you’re gonna wear?”)

I thought for sure a lesbian wrote this episode, but it was actually former Larry Wilmore writer and “gay Australian foreign correspondent” David Smithyman. Nice job, mate.


American Horror Story

Written by Riese

Here, it’s poison

This week’s episode of American Horror Story, “Holes,” filled in some holes and also left some holes unfilled. It also left a gaping hole in my heart and soul, where once upon a time there lived a girl who’d never seen six human beings take turns shooting nails into the head of a young man tied to a chair until he died, blood dripping down his cheeks like blood dripping down somebody’s cheeks. I mean I’ve seen The Wire but this was far bloodier and more explicit than anything Snoop and Chris did with a nailgun for Marlo in Season Four.

“Holes” followed up on a lot of twists suggested last week, like Ivy’s involvement in the cult, and there’s always some satisfaction wrought from exposing the mechanics of previously unclear situations. Last week finally delivered the story’s clear impetus and heart of Kai’s plan, showing an more intellectual and seductive side of his personality than we’d seen previously, and this week was more about plot mechanics than philosophy, returning to bloodthirst and introducing the part of joining a cult where the only way you can leave the cult is in a dead-body-sized duffle bag. Whether or not they agree with Kai, anybody who’s pledged allegiance is expected to obey, which means they’ll have to start doing some serious mental gymnastics to reconcile this behavior with any remaining shreds of humanity anybody has left.

At the top of the episode, Bob gives Beverly the boot for what he sees as her sensationalizing the sensational string of brutal murders going down in their Medium/Small-Sized Michigan town. He’s not sure why she’s always first on the scene, and she’s not sure why he won’t release the video of Serena’s brutal murder, as Kai wishes they would. So, the mini-cult dons their creepy masks and weird Jenny Schecter Circus outfits and murder Bob. Oh but Bob’s got a gimp upstairs, hanging from hooks following a sexual session that left Bob licking blood off the fingers of his latex gloves. They murder the gimp, too. I had to cover my eyes for this entire scene so. It’s Ivy’s first time at the cult murder rodeo and she ends up vomiting in the bathroom, comforted by Winter.

This time, the cult captures the murder on video, hoping it’ll finally strike enough fear into the hearts of their townspeople that they will suddenly summon a fuck to give about Kai’s bid for city council. Beverly’s on the scene, of course, reporting on the tragic death and broadcasting the recording.

Beverly, who seems to be stepping up as Kai’s right hand woman, perhaps to position her to eventually take over the cult, encourages him to eliminate a “weak link,” R.J., who we see in a flashback was a little low-key upset about the locking-the-couple-in-the-coffins murder. Kai gathers Team Cult in his basement to take turns shooting nails into R.J’s head. Ivy’s terrified by the task, but eventually pulls through. Let this be a warning to you all: vote for the Green Party candidate and in due time, your wife very well may find herself shooting a nail into a live human head.

Speaking of the wife! Ally’s slowly going bananas now that her lying wife has left her alone in a giant house in Michigan surrounded by Republicans, saddled by house-related debt, a feeling I relate to intensely on every level available on everything that has ever been assigned a level in the history of levels. Ally tweaks out over a scratch on her neck until she’s certain there are bugs crawling out of holes in her neck, which leads her to scratch herself up so badly she needs bandages. Ally tries connecting with Oz on their supervised visits at the Butchery on Main but she’s so eager it just comes off as “weird.”

Ally’s therapist remains creepy and, we eventually learn but basically already knew, is connected to the cult. Turns out he’s Kai’s brother. Two years ago, when Kai’s Mom shot and killed her useless misogynist husband before shooting and killing herself — which Kai witnessed first-hand — it was Vincent who insisted they keep the bodies in their bedroom indefinitely, covered in lye to mask the smell, so they can rot while the siblings collect disability and pension payments from their parents. Also Vincent doesn’t want this murder-suicide to interfere with his budding psychiatry practice or Winter’s college career.

Vincent asks Ally if there was trouble in her marriage with Ivy before Ally was allegedly almost finger-fucked by Winter’s dangerous nails and to answer that, we’re provided a flashback to September 2016. Ivy’s stressing out about money and the restaurant’s profit margin and Ally’s crawling across the bed like a woman leading a horse to water to see if it will drink except that Ivy is the horse and she hates water. She offers Ivy a gift that Ivy receives with an encouraging, “whatever it is, we can’t afford it.” It’s a WeVibe! Ally imagined they could “have fun like a happy loving couple” but Ivy’s response is “Jesus Ally, what were you thinking?” So they’ve been doing great for a while.

Now Ivy’s cruising around town with Winter, who’s sorry that Oz had to see the video but it was the only way. “This isn’t knitting a pink pussy hat and marching with a clever sign,” Winter tells Ivy. “This is radical action.”

Ivy agrees that radicals are the only ones who ever got shit done, which gives me hope that she’s planning on developing a personality, perhaps a radical one. “I’m ready. I hate this country. What it’s become. I hate my fucking wife for letting it happen. The only thing I love right now is my son and I will do whatever it takes to make the world a better place for him, even if that means burning it all down.” Winter agrees, placing her hand suggestively upon Ivy’s arm as she drives.

Ally, who’s now a full-time neighborhood spy, spots Harrison hauling a dead-body-sized duffel bag from his trunk and shortly thereafter, openly canoodle with Detective Morales in a convenient front-of-the-house windows-open location, which inspires Ally to dash across the street, directly towards the danger. There she finds a large dead-body-sized hole but SURPRISE Meadow’s inside it! Looks like someone’s gonna pull a DiLaurentis and bury that bitch alive. Instead of saving her, Ally runs home to call the police, who are experiencing unusually high call volume, like Comcast. Ally tries Ivy, saying Harrison’s got a hole and he’s gonna bury Meadow in it, but Ivy’s no help, jumping to “Holes? Again? I can’t deal with this shit, Ally,” like somebody who doesn’t want to watch the movie “Holes” again. Then Meadow’s at Ally’s window, pounding, managing to relay some key information before being snatched back: “It’s a cult, Ally, it’s a sick cult and everybody’s in it. The police, my husband, your babysitter, your wife!”

The exposition about Kai’s parents comes when Beverly demands Kai tells her the true story of his life, which he does, ’cause Beverly is special. At the episode’s end, Kai sits by his mother’s rotting corpse, pledging that he’ll become something important someday.

We’re just over the season’s halfway point, and with so much revealed tonight and so much slated to be revealed next week, I’m still unclear where we’ll go from here and how Valerie Solanas and Charles Manson will become involved. I definitely wouldn’t mind if we abandoned every male character on this program and took a time machine back to the Lizzie Borden era.

I do know that next week’s episode opens with a mass shooting, so that’s gonna be a really neat experience for us all to have.


Grey’s Anatomy

Written by Carmen

No, I mean oxytocin

Carina and Arizona are having sex. Lots of sex. Amazing sex. Sex that Arizona claims will erase pain and memory and change you on a cellular level. Their sex will cure whatever is ailing you, that’s what she’s saying (where does a girl sign up?). Carina had Arizona pressed against some kind of surface last night and she is glowing and bragging to April about it. I am so into them already, even though it’s only the third episode.

Later we meet a patient of Arizona’s who is in the middle of a long, painful birth without any epidural or other medication. She has a history of allergic reactions and complications that prevents those type of aids. Carina overhears Arizona discussing the case with Ben and suggests sexual stimulation to increase the body’s natural level of oxytocin instead. Yes, I looked it up for you and this is a real thing. The orgasmic birth movement has been growing over the last decade.

One of the things I most love is that Dr. DeLuca continues to bring what is sometimes seen as fringe segments of women’s healthcare and women’s health care options onto primetime TV. And that it’s being taken seriously. On Friday the Trump administration rolled back some of the birth control protections in this country, in part based on a lie that birth control encourages sexual promiscuity and risky sexual behavior. I am imagining some pregnant woman in Kansas going into her OBGYN’s office on Monday and demanding an orgasmic birth plan! Isn’t that a much better world to live in?

In fact, my only real problem is that I have no idea how to recap the exchange that followed her suggestion for you! It is perfectly choreographed and timed between all the actors so that it’s hilarious and also a bit sexual and oh so awkward all at the same time. I rewound at least three or four times trying to catch it all!

At first Arizona thinks that Carina is referring to nipple stimulation as it relates to their patient. Ben’s response is that he will most certainly not be caressing a patient’s nipples. Just as Arizona is about to explain that obviously Ben wouldn’t be providing the stimulation, the patient’s partner would, Dr. DeLuca interrupts them both. She meant genital stimulation, which she elegantly mimes with her fingers for them both.

https://steff713.tumblr.com/post/166125748688/i-freaking-love-this-scene-dr-orgasms-is

Ben follows up by noting that the patient’s water has already broken, so she is not able to have penetrative stimulation. And oh my goodness, what happens next! Carina starts to to describe the clitoris for Ben, again with more finger miming, in graphic detail: “there is a bundle of nerves OUTSIDE of the vaginal canal…” Ben blushes and stumbles, he tries to explain that he knows what a clitoris is (I feel less certain about that now than I did before he began this conversation) and Arizona tries to save everyone from their collective mortification. Well, everyone except Carina, who is being 100% professional about all of it. I would be remiss not to mention the faces of Dr. Webber and intern Dr. DeLuca, who were forced to listen to the entire exchange! Like I said, there’s a lot happening at the same time.

Arizona ends the conversation with a firm, “No, that’s just not how I do things.” Carina counters, “Rhat’s not what she thought last night” to a mortified DeLuca and Webber once Arizona is out of earshot. No matter, Arizona heeds her medical advice anyway, and the patient is much, ahem, happier for it.

Amelia’s brain tumor has apparently been growing for the last 10 years! It’s a benign grade-1 meningioma, 10 cm long, and growing in her frontal lobe. It’s been impacting her decision-making and impulse control for as long as we’ve known her character, including on Private Practice. I’m confident it’s not unrelated that real life actress Kate Walsh recently came forward as having a similar sized benign meningioma removed two years ago. As it relates to Amelia, I am uncomfortable with retconning so much of her character and personality as being the side-effect of a brain tumor.

Specifically, I’m worried about effect of this retcon on Amelia’s relationship with Owen, who is at her bedside by the episode’s close. And while it’s Owen holding her hand, it’s Meredith — at Maggie’s encouragement — who is cuddled in the bed with Amelia. Sisterhood. That’s the root of Shondaland.

Outside of Carina DeLuca, much of the episode’s heavy comedic lifting was carried by Chandra Wilson’s Dr. Miranda Bailey and Debbie Allen’s Catherine Avery, who were both tasked with showing the famed Dr. Harper Avery around the hospital that his foundation helps to pay for. He’s a sexist ass, even more so than I remembered from his previous episodes. He tries to fire Bailey! But then he drops dead. I guess she’s not so fired after all.

Big shout out to Chandra Wilson for a well directed, extremely funny, still poignant where it matters, episode. She also directed one of my favorite episodes of The Fosters last summer. Her craft has really grown over the years.

Post-Op Thoughts:

+ We had a Zola Grey Shepherd sighting! Zola cameos are one of my all time favorite Grey’s things! Meredith ranting to Zola is so adorable; Zola’s becoming her person…. well, mini-person. And the young actress playing Zola just keeps getting better and funnier with age.

+ Callbacks: Maggie and Riggs’ patient this episode was also Meredith’s therapist from season 12? I honestly did not remember him and had to Google. April talked about her flashmob proposal with that EMT dude from seasons nine and ten. I don’t remember his name and couldn’t be bothered to Google.

+ Shonda Rhimes is very excited to tell you about the BTS video series they are doing leading into Grey’s 300th episode. The series is called Grey’s Anatomy: Post-Op (hey Shonda! I had the name first! By at least one week!) The first episode is about famous Grey’s Anatomy music numbers and includes a Spotify playlist.

+ Meredith Grey is DONE WITH LOVE TRIANGLES! And she’s yelling it for the world to know. Amen, sister.

+ Can you not say ‘clitoris’ on network television? Because the writers’ room went to a lot of pain to find workarounds for the word during Carina and Arizona’s exchange.

+ It’s probably going to be a while before either of these romances make it in the main body of the recap column, just know that Jo and Alex are getting back together while April and Jackson are decidedly not. Also, I don’t know how I feel about Maggie and Jackson?


Queen Sugar

Written by Carmen

What a nice day for a perfectly straight and not gay at all shirt.

I wasn’t able to watch Queen Sugar’s two-part midseason premiere live this week, so I almost missed the earth shake underneath my feet. Thankfully our very own Natalie had my back. She was there to sound the largest and most important alarm that I could ask for:

And oh man, was I right. I was right that Chantal looked amazing. Reagan Gomez continues to have the best dimples on television, and in her hiatus got the perfect pixie haircut to highlight them. I was right that Nova wouldn’t treat her character well. And yes, I did figure out a way to include our tweets in this recap. If I could just screen grab all of our conversations in lieu of a “proper review” I would; Natalie is brilliant and I’m ecstatic to work alongside her and the rest of the TV team at Autostraddle. It’s the second thing — the Nova predictably threw Chantal aside thing — that enraged me and gave me heartburn.

There was so much good in Queen Sugar this week. Micah demonstrated the importance of respecting consent in his budding relationship with Keke; Charley and her white mother had one of the most nuanced, raw conversations about growing up black in white spaces that I can remember seeing on television in a long time; Darla forced Ralph Angel to confront the worst of his own misogyny and told him that if he couldn’t accept all of her for who she is, including her past sex work, then their impending marriage would not work out.

I have been singing to the rafters about the Queen Sugar directorial debut of black feminist giant Julie Dash for months. She did not disappoint. I’ve found Queen Sugar’s lush earth tones and their subsequent utility in exemplifying the richness of the actors’ skin to be one of the show’s strongest calling cards. However, one of the most striking things about the two-part opener is the brightness brought forth by Dash and cinematographer Kira Kelly, providing the actors an entire new canvas to play with. Please consider watching the director’s commentary of the mid-season premiere below; you’ll better understand why many black women who are lovers of film and television are faithful both to Julie Dash’s work.

When Queen Sugar gets it right, they really get it right.

But this week, we have to focus our energy on what they got absolutely wrong: the decision to erase Nova’s bisexuality.

Nova has a front page exposé in the New Orleans Daily News focusing on the far-flung potential of a Zika outbreak in the Ninth Ward. Before the hiatus Dr. DuBois told Nova amid a flurry of kisses that he had a plan to secure public health funding for the lower Ninth, and this appears to be it.

Her article has caused panic and dismay among the black residents of the Ninth Ward, which makes way for Chantal to re-enter our lives. Chantal confronts Nova at home, activist-to-activist. She’s mad at Nova for portraying stereotypes that black people are disease ridden in order to shock white people into action. The cases of Zika in the New Orleans area are negligible, and there is not a single example of local transmission. Nova’s article also unnecessarily amped up fears within their community; she’s trading black emotional safety for white dollars. Chantal — and I — aren’t down with it.

Despite the intensity of their argument, Nova and Chantal’s past romantic relationship is not brought up even once directly throughout the episode. When Nova introduces Chantal to Dr. DuBois, she is “Chantal from the Health Collective” as opposed to Nova’s ex. This is bisexual erasure, flat out. It was the worst kind of misstep Queen Sugar could make, and one that has thus far been beneath them.

Erasure reverberates. I did a cursory glance of Queen Sugar’s social media and recaps of the show written in straight media, both white and poc-based. Chantal reappearance this week is not referred to as Nova’s ex-girlfriend in any of those sources. It’s almost as if the first season didn’t happen. Nova’s queerness shouldn’t be subtextual in a show where her queerness was one of the first things we learned about her. Chantal is more than just an upset activist colleague. They used to fuck. They used to care about each other, intimately. That matters.

My favorite thing about Chantal this week is that when Nova introduces her to Dr. DuBois, Chantal responds to him with a curt “I know who you are” and wouldn’t even shake his hand. Can you imagine the disrespect of having to meet your ex’s boyfriend and not even be properly acknowledged for what you once meant to this woman that you cared for? To have to just stand there and take it?

Once again, much like in the first season, Chantal serves the purpose of being Nova’s conscience. She seems to be the only person in Nova’s life willing to consistently call her out. Chantal has arranged a Q&A in the Ninth Ward to help quell some of the community concerns about Zika. Nova agrees to help and try to better re-connect. DuBois is dubious of Chantal’s intentions. What’s funny to me how quickly I’ve gone from calling Dr. DuBois the Good Doctor over the summer to wanting to call him Dr. Jekyll now, but here we are! To quote the great Ferris Bueller: Life comes at you fast sometimes.

Speaking of dubious intent and ulterior motives, Nova’s article has inspired that outright racist Trump administration knock-off Timothy North to lend “seven-figure help” to public health charity in the Ninth Ward. The fact that Nova doesn’t immediately turn down the money is telling. Chantal tried to warn us all.

I am disheartened. Nova and Chantal’s love story was one I stored deep and cherished. In the director’s commentary, Julie Dash reflects that “Nova is symbolic… She [also] has a heavy burden to carry. The Nova character is so new to the television world — or the public — because women of color don’t get to be Nova on the screen very often. That’s why her character is so important.”

Dash is absolutely correct, Nova has meant more to me than most other characters that I’ve seen on television. She was the first time I saw a black queer woman and sighed relief, because it finally felt like somebody got it. Nova felt real. She has lost her way, and I believe part of it is intentional to the plot. I’m hopeful that she will find herself at the end of this journey.

I choose to believe that Queen Sugar will remember once again that feminism only works at its best if it’s inclusive and intersectional. I want more black feminist visions on film, but I will not take them on the back of queer erasure. Black queer women deserve to be seen; we are not going anywhere.

With the fall TV schedule roaring ahead at full speed, and only six episodes of Queen Sugar’s second season remaining, Heather and I have decided that moving forward Queen Sugar recaps will be happen every third week (that means, once at the remaining midpoint and then once again at the finale). This way I can, you know, sleep at night. We will catch up with the Bordelons at the end of the month and hopefully Nova will have grown a bit by then. Fingers crossed!


How to Get Away With Murder

Written by Natalie

Slytherin Head Girl. You?

The road to redemption for Annalise Keating may have begun last week in Memphis, but true reclamation will happen in the two places we find her this week: sitting in her mandated therapy sessions and inside the courtroom where she’s always thrived.

There’s something shady about Annalise’s new therapist, Isaac Roa — his phone call prior to her session and his presence at the hospital with a hysterical Laurel suggest as much — and I can’t quite yet figure out what it is. Is he working for Laurel’s dad or the District Attorney or for some other dastardly villain that we haven’t met yet? Plus, the specter of Sam Keating looms large; will Isaac be another doctor that compromises his ethics to engage in a personal relationship with Annalise?

Annalise explains to Isaac that she’s practicing law again, selecting her former cellmate, Jasmine, as her first client. She’s a 60-year-old sex worker, arrested by the police for soliciting and carrying a gun for protection. Jasmine has been in the game for nearly 50 years, after having been sold by her father to a crew for heroin. To cope with the repeated gang rape and abuse, she turned to drugs to numb herself and it began a cycle that kept Jasmine in and out of prison.

Determined to save her, Annalise pours over Jasmine’s arrest records, even begrudgingly taking Frank’s copy of her juvenile arrest record. She doesn’t find Jasmine’s innocence on those pages; instead, she finds the justice system’s culpability. While funneling white sex trafficking victims to rehabilitation, the prosecutor sent Jasmine, then a 13-year-old black girl, to juvenile detention. From that moment on, Annalise posits, the system condemned Jasmine to the life she’s led.

“Because that’s what we do to black people, women and gay people in this world. We turn a blind eye, and we tell them that their lives don’t matter. But they do matter,” Annalise proclaims.

The judge returns with an apology for Jasmine, on behalf of the system that failed her. He can’t expunge her record but he agrees to do the next best thing: seal her prior convictions. The move makes her eligible for public assistance and housing and she no longer has to disclose a criminal history when applying for work.

It is the single most unbelievable thing that’s ever been done on this show.

“You know, you are allowed to feel hope in these situations,” Oscar tells Annalise after she shares the details of her court victory. But, of course, Annalise isn’t hopeful. She’s convinced that one day soon her phone will ring and Jasmine will be on the other end, begging for more help.

For much of their session, Isaac has Annalise on her heels — particularly when he compares her plight to Jasmine’s — but the moment he reveals something about himself, the air in the room shifts, and suddenly, Annalise has the upperhand.

“I wish you hadn’t told me that,” she says, after he reveals that he’s a recovering addict himself. She smiles as she relays how Sam went from being her therapist to being her husband. Annalise sits back in her seat with a new confidence, while Isaac sits in his seat, stunned.

Meanwhile, Asher, Michaela, Laurel and Connor are back at school, set to meet with prospective new employers at the Middleton Law Fair. Their law school classmate, Simon, slithers up to antagonize the Keating Four, claiming that none of the law offices actually want to hire any of them, the firms just want an opportunity to get dirt on Annalise. He ends up being kinda right, as all the interviewers question the Keating Four about their former boss. By the end of the day, Michaela gets five callbacks and Asher gets three while Connor and Laurel end up with none.

Later, we discover that Laurel actually got at least one callback, which she skips, focusing instead on plotting her next move. Tired of the sharp barbs Laurel continues to throw his way, Connor shows up to Wes’ old apartment and tries to clear the air between them. I’m indifferent to the conversation that takes place, because despite Connor’s puppy dog tears and admission of self-hate, it feels unearned. There needed to be confrontation between the two this season for the scene to pack the emotional punch the writers were clearly seeking.

Upon arriving at the Caplan & Gold callback, Michaela, armed with Laurel’s research, tries to make a favorable impression on the partners. Asher, being Asher, allows himself to get goaded into fight with Simon and his chances of an internship crash to the floor alongside Simon’s cup. Asher’s quick temper, especially when his family’s being insulted, is what got Emily Sinclair killed, so seeing it flash again here feels ominous. I’m still convinced he’ll be the one to turn on Annalise in the end.

Michaela’s new “Beast Mode” mentality works for her, earning her three offers. Laurel begs her to take the Caplan & Gold job, as it’s the firm that represents her father. Michaela has already taken the job — they offered the most money — and Laurel breathes a sigh of relief. She’s going to use the firm’s resources, including Michaela, to bring down her father and avenge Wes’ murder.

Bonnie’s attempting to settle into her new job as an Assistant District Attorney. It’s not going well, especially since Nate, who’s been appointed Lead Investigator in the DA’s office (thanks to Annalise, of course), refuses to help her with her cases, fearing that it’s all just some scheme that Bonnie and Annalise are working on together.

Bonnie sees Annalise twice — once in the courtroom and then again when the defense attorney visits the DA office seeking records — and she responds like any scorned ex would: lamenting to her best friend (in her case, that’s Frank) and drinking excessively (“I”m going to drink myself stupid until I don’t even remember what her dumb face looks like”). It’s the most Paris Gellar that Bonnie Winterbottom has ever been.

Ultimately, Annalise assures Nate that she fired Bonnie and he quickly delivers the new ADA the information she’d been seeking. They pledge to form a support group — Annalise Anonymous, Nate suggests, because, I guess, “Annalise got me this job and still I hate her” wasn’t catchy enough for them.

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 772 articles for us.

30 Comments

  1. I watched all three TGIT shows because of lines like this: “Because that’s what we do to black people, women and gay people in this world. We turn a blind eye, and we tell them that their lives don’t matter. But they do matter.” It’s a small, but satisfying thing to take in media that is challenging this country and this administration pretty dang directly.

    On Grey’s:

    1 They’re 100% using this tumor to solidify Amelia and Owen for the time being and it’s both annoying and really not compelling. I’m here for the sisterhood, not the forced romantic storylines

    2 Carina is their best new addition in at least 2 or 3 years

    3 Shoutout to Richard Webber for being the team dad to all the wayward docs at Grey’s

    4 Bailey and Catherine Avery were so funny together. Glad Bailey is unfired

    HTGAWM:

    1 Annalise is doing great, and Nate is the bitterest lemon in a box of sour lemons

    2 As much as I want Connor to stop moping around and sabotaging himself, it felt weird that Laurel had to absolve him because he expressed remorse, but it feels equally weird that she hated him so much even after realizing her dad and old friend did the dirty work. Didn’t Connor drag her to safety, or am I remembering that wrong?

    3 Dear Shonda, please stop making Michaela risk it all to rescue Asher from himself. Or at least don’t male us watch his pity parties after she does it?

    4 If Asher makes it through this season without another murder under his belt, I’ll be genuinely surprised

  2. Okay, I’m conflicted. I love Dr. DAYUMLuca, really I do, and the chemistry is real this time. Vast improvement over Pierogi PodPerson. But she still feels – as I suspect every one of Arizona’s love interests will continue to feel – like a placeholder until Sara Ramirez rocks back up in there with THAT HAIR (not that there’s been any indication she’ll do so, but). I recognize that I’m still in the denial stage of my Calzona grieving process and I’m doing my best here, but “my best” still involves missing the shit out of Calliope Iphigenia Torres.

  3. OH MY GOD I HAVE MISSED FALL TV! There’s just so much to catch up on I literally cannot keep up! I spent last night (since my girlfriend was out of town) catching up on Grey’s and HTGAWM, but now I’m behind on Queen Sugar – I love it!

    Re: Grey’s

    Carina and Megan are my two new favourite characters. Both of them are such wonderful additions to this cast, and I really hope they stick around for a while. Everything about that scene with Arizona and Carina was amazing. I really love that Grey’s is bringing back the funny this season – it’s been a LONG time since I’ve laughed this much at an episode of Grey’s Anatomy, and I really appreciate that it’s managed to bring the funny without sacrificing the heart and soul of the show. Amelia’s brain tumour storyline has been very moving, and I loved her scenes with Mere and Maggie and Richard in this episode. But Carmen, I’m with you in really disliking the idea of retconning her entire character around this tumour. Her and Owen have many real problems in their relationship – removing one tumour is not gonna solve them all. I did NOT know about Kate Walsh however, that’s really interesting, and makes a lot of sense with how Shondaland shows have operated in the past.

    I had definitely forgotten about Meredith seeing Dr. Carr in season 12. Holy crap, I thought they just made that up for this episode! I remember her seeing the female shrink back in season 4 (I think it was season 4?) but I did NOT remember this guy at all. Wow.

    Oh, and April’s EMT almost-husband was named Matthew 😛 That one I remember.

    Re: HTGAWM

    Jimmy Smits is definitely shady, but he’ll always be Matt Santos to me, and so I would really like him to not be evil. Though the fact that he’s Latino probably means we’re supposed to assume he’s working with Laurel’s father somehow, but that might be a purposeful red glad.

    As a lawyer, I can usually still enjoy this show despite it’s ridiculous mockery of the justice system, but oh my god, Natalie, you’re right that the judge sealing Jasmine’s record is the most unrealistic thing this show has ever done. Not in a million years would that ever happen. On the other hand, the show seems weirdly committed to making the OCI (on-campus interview) and callback (yes, that’s actually what they’re called) process relatively realistic. It definitely gave me law-school flashbacks, and NOT in a good way.

    Michaela in beast mode is the absolute BEST, and despite how much I love the idea of them working together, I’m sort of pissed at Laurel for ruining that for her. Michaela’s actively trying to turn her life around, and here comes Laurel, dragging her back into the drama.

    Okay, off to watch Queen Sugar now!

    • Thank you for remembering April’s ex by name!

      I searched all the corners of my brain, and I couldn’t get passed “Oh yeah, that dude who proposed during the thunderstorm that almost killed Dr. Webber and then got left at the altar in a barn somewhere”

      And I didn’t know about Kate Walsh either! I was googling her early last week because I heard some rumors that she might be back for the 300th episode. And that was the first thing that came up!

      She apparently started speaking publicly about it in September, leading right up to GA’s season 14 premiere- so I think that there’s a connection there. As you pointed out, it wouldn’t be the first time that a Shondaland actor’s personal medical history made it into the show.

  4. I’ll just go ahead and be honest and say that I don’t like the way Queen Sugar treats bisexuality and this episode in particular is quickly turning me off of the show. Do they have anybody on that writing staff that is apart of the community?

    • I have been thinking about that question a lot, especially this past week. And even after doing some research, I haven’t been able to find any firm information about if there are any queer writers in the writing room.

      I can tell you that the production has hired a lot of queer women, and queer women of color, as regularly rotated directors over the first two seasons. They were actually honored for this at OutFest in LA (one of the largest and best known queer film festivals in the country) just this last summer.

      Furthermore, the queer women directors that they’ve hired are indie film darlings and award winners, including: Aurora Guerrero (Mosquita Y Mari), Tina Mabry (Mississippi Damned), Amanda Marsalis (Echo Park) and Cheryl Dunye (The Watermelon Woman).

      That said, directing is not the same as writing. I can say that writers room is majority women (5 women writers, 3 male writers) and majority women of color (I believe 4 out of the 5 women directed identify as woc). I cannot say for certain or find information on if any of them identify as queer. In general, less has been written about their writing team as compared to their directing one.

      I say this because, I personally still relate to Nova as a queer black woman. I find her to be embodied well. But, there is definitely a major misconnect happening somewhere behind the scenes. We may not know the source of where it’s happening, but we are certainly witnessing the uneven (and dangerous) end result.

    • It might also (or might not- I don’t know) be relevant to this conversation that Nova is the one Bordelon sibling who isn’t in the book that Queen Sugar is based on.

      Ava DuVernau created her as an original character because she felt that Nova- her activism, her queerness, her spirituality- were grossly underrepresented in black characters on television. I have to find the direct quote somewhere, but that was the general summary of her comment.

      Ava was filming A Wrinkle in Time in New Zeland for the majority of the second season and was not as ‘hands on’ as she was during season 1.

      So… that’s another possible point of misconnect that I have been mulling over.

  5. I just noticed the close ups on Carina’s hands in that Grey’s scene. God bless.

    Also, I know this recap doesn’t cover Scandal because there aren’t any queer lady characters on that show, but I just wanna put this out there – Mellie & Olivia need to just hate fuck in the Oval Office and get it over with.

  6. A few thoughts about this week’s Queen Sugar but first:

    Swoon!

    – Like you, I was really disappointed in the way that Nova’s bisexuality was (or wasn’t, as it were) depicted in this episode. Even when I was scrolling through the screencaps from this episode, I noticed there wasn’t one with both Nova and Chantal by themselves in the shot, which, given how intentional this show is in its directing, feels like blatant erasure.

    One of the things that I’ve been thinking about a lot recently (mostly because of The Bold Type) is how writers create intersectional characters but can’t tell intersectional stories…as if those of us who lead intersectional lives can choose which layers of our identity to engage with on a daily basis.

    – Two things in this episode made me livid: first, Nova’s decision to tell Dr. Jekyll about what happened to Micah (and making it about her and not her nephew in the process). That is not her story to tell, especially to someone who is not family.

    And, second, Ralph Angel’s toxic masculinity rearing its ugly head. It’s jarring to witness the warmth with which he engages Blue and Toine and the cruelty which he reserves for Darla. That’s how abuse works, of course, but to see it play out here, with a character I’ve advocated for and supported in these very comments, was unsettling.

    • There could and should have been some kind of indication, at least between the two of them, that Nova and Chantal have history. I think perhaps the audience was supposed to catch that just from their tense energy, the way they surveyed each other. But a more outright mention would have been cool. But I completely understand Nova’s failure to introduce Mr. Dr. First, it’s just awkward in general when you’re current person meets your ex-person. Add to that, I don’t recall seeing any moment where Nova tells Mr. Dr about her bisexuality. So that’s a whole conversation they may not have had, that she may not be ready to have. Then there’s the whole Zika/gov’t money/”possibly selling out your community thing and my ex is here to read me for mess” and introductions become prickly. But, yes, Chantal’s reaction was clear and fully on point. Her whole attitude said ‘My moms didn’t raise me to be treated any kinda way!”

      • Oh, and I love Ralph Angel’s complexity. Absolutely, his reaction to Darla was sickening to watch. But Darla’s strength in that moment was incredible to see. Here’s the thing: I look at these two and think about where they were when they met. He was an outcast from his respected farming family, thieving to take care of his boy, serving time in prison. She’s obviously had some trauma with her family, which likely contributed to her addiction and possibly her sex work. Now they’re both making leaps to be healthier people for their kid and each other. But there are moments when the old Ralph Angel comes out, the one that was scrapping for survival and lashing out to protect himself from disappointment out of fear. We’ve seen Ralph Angel and Darla take steps to be better communicators and respect each other, i.e., that whole thing when he got pissed that she was wearing Charley’s dress and continued to work for Charley while he was pissed at his sister. That scene in the bed was the fullness of the old Ralph emerging. But he met the new Darla who was not having it. She may look fragile but emotionally she is so much stronger than him and he knows it. I believe they will ultimately go to the couples counseling at the church, because they do love each other and he wants to be a better man. At that moment, he just didn’t have the tools to be able to express his fears and insecurities. I think he’s such an important character for men to see, particularly black men, as he’s being pushed to uncomfortable places–like counseling–to be better to the woman his life.

  7. HTGAWM:

    “Because that’s what we do to black people, women and gay people in this world. We turn a blind eye, and we tell them that their lives don’t matter. But they do matter”

    I saw this speech gif’ed at least 6 or 7 times before Thursday night was even over. And it was worth it. I know that others have already spoken about it in these comments, but this is why I remain faithful to Shondaland. It’s a subtle nod to Annalise’s own intersectionality that she connects BLM to the subjugation of women and queer people I this country. Annalise brings all of herself to the table.

    I also need you all to know that I could watch Michaela “BEAST MODE” Pratt forever.

    Ditto, the intellectual chess match going on between Annalise and Jimmy Smits.

  8. – love Carina so far but I don’t see her sticking around long term. “Dr Orgasm” is a great title though.
    – I am also not comfortable with them crediting so much of Amelia’s personality to her tumor.
    – Alex and Jo are dull but I liked Jackson and April
    – how come Derek had less than 2% of his patients die? I thought he took impossible cases and inoperable tumors, those must have a high mortality rating

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