Boobs (On Your) Tube: “Gotham” Still Has No Idea What To Do With Its Bisexual Characters

Can I be honest with you? This is the first TV season since Glee premiered that I haven’t felt optimistic about the state of queer women on television. I’m am super psyched that Maggie Sawyer is coming to Supergirl next week (and will be triply happy if she really does start a relationship with a bisexual Alex Danvers), but that’s really all I’m finding to be excited about. This week is a perfect example of why. No queer stuff on show’s with established lesbian/bi characters like Grey’s Anatomy, How to Get Away With Murder, and Younger. No queer stuff on shows with new lesbian/bi characters like The Real O’Neals and American Housewife. Scream’s Halloween special promo made it seem gay, but nope! Betty’s girlfriend got killed on Masters of Sex while giving birth to their baby. 

It’s a sorry state of affairs when I’m legitimately disappointed that baseball playoffs disrupted Fox’s regularly scheduled programming because I was expecting the gay highlight of the week to be Rosewood. Rosewood, y’all.

There’s a queer storyline in the Black Mirror’s new season in an episode called “San Junipero,” and we’ll cover that next week, but it’s … complicated. We need to talk about it for a minute before we write about it.

Do you know what that leaves us with this week? Oh, friends. It’s Empire and Gotham. It’s taken five episodes of each show to have enough queer content to make two paragraphs out of it.


Gotham

Mondays on Fox

babs

Remember when Gotham premiered and Rene Montoya existed? Latina lesbian Rene Montoya, one of the most beloved badasses in comic history? Sigh. Yeah. Well, Barbara is back to her same old hijinks this season. She and her girlfriend-ish, Tabitha, own a club in Gotham where dirty dealers do dirty deals. Because they’re surrounded by criminals all the time, and because they’re both Psychotic Conniving Bisexuals, Barbara and Tabitha are in the business of learning everyone’s secrets and exploiting them. Except, of course, when it comes to Jim Gordon. Barbara’s still in love with him, so when he shows up asking her to dime out gang leaders, she does it.

She says he must be “monumentally screwed” if he’s rolling up asking for her help, and of course he is. At one point she also says, “It’s Gotham, baby; we’ve all got flair!” Which is actually really good, really classic Gotham villain talk. Unfortunately for Barbara, all the other villains get hours of screentime and the show still has no idea what to do with her. Season one, she mostly sat in her apartment waiting for Jim. Season two, she mostly sat in jail waiting for Jim. Season three, she’s mostly sitting in her club waiting for Jim. She’s so boring even Tabitha is thinking of dumping her to get back together with her stupid horrible boyfriend. The only time they touch each other, it’s so I Kissed A Girl male gaze-y I can’t even deal with it. But you know they brought on a whole bunch of new villains this year, including Mad Hatter. Dude villains, of course.


Empire

Wednesdays on Fox

Hey, guess what? I’m not going to include a photo from Empire because it’s either going to be Freda Gatz in an orange jumpsuit and chains, or Freda Gatz in an orange jumpsuit and no chains but with her face beaten beyond recognition. Because if you’re a Black lesbian on TV, you’re either going to: 1) be in jail, 2) be dead, 3) be a PSA for white people who somehow don’t know police violence against Black people is a real thing, 4) be a sidekick to a white main character. The only other option is to be on a Shonda Rhimes show. Or on The Fosters. (But not on Freeform, just in general, because whooooo boy, Pretty Little Liars.) Anyway. Feda Gatz. You’ll remember in Empire’s season two finale that she shot Lucas on the red carpet because of how he’d had her father murdered.

Lucious has the audacity to visit Freda in jail and ask her why she’s mad at him. And then even more audacity to ask her to record a song for him. She does, and of course Lucious is doing it for Jamal; he’s trying to inspire him to record his new album. Well. “Inspire.” More like “guilt and coerce.” It helps, but then Jamal decides what he really needs to do is get Freda out of jail, especially after he goes to visit her and she’s been beaten down by some of his fans. Jamal hires a lawyer and gets an emergency hearing and the argument they use is that Freda shot Lucious because she wasn’t in her right mind because Lucious exploited her as a recording artist. That works and the judge lets Freda out on bail to await trial.

When TVLine asked our old pal Ilene Chaiken about Freda, she said Freda would be a part of this season. “She’s part of our story,” Chaiken said. Translation: “She’s an agency-less catalyst in a story centered on Jamal.”

Also, I think Empire has forgotten Tiana is bisexual.

I can’t end on something this bleak. Hey, speaking of Taraji P. Henson, Fox is giving Hidden Figures a limited December release date, which means they know it’s going to pull down some Oscar noms! That’s something to get excited about!


Maggie Sawyer is coming into our lives next week. Come on, Maggie. Be the hero we need this TV season.


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Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle senior editor who lives in New York City with her partner, Stacy, and their cackle of rescued pets. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr.

Heather has written 506 articles for us.

47 Comments

    • 0

      Yeah, and the one Rose scene was dynamite.

      I am curious whether Luisa is going to willingly get back together with Rose, despite her murderous gaslighting ways, or whether she’s going to resist because Rose is so terrible, or some combination of both. Either way I can’t see it going well but am dying to see it happen.

      • 0

        If it were me, I would get back together with Rose, no hesitation! But I imagine Louisa will try to resist Rose. She’s been trying since day one, really. It’s a shame that Rose will probably meet a bad end, since she is a villain. I just hope she doesn’t die… Again!

  1. 0

    It might be worth checking out episode 4 of Black Mirror season 3 which was just released today (Friday 21st October) on Netflix. In contrast to Black Mirror’s usual soul crushing dystopianism (there are the other episodes for that), it actually has a genuinely sweet queer female romance as the central spine of the story that left me in tears (in a good way).

  2. 0

    i know that, in the face of such limited representation, it seems wrong to nitpick, but: it’s difficult not to be dismayed that they took one of the only positive portrayals of a butch lesbian in comics (maggie) and made her uber-femme.

  3. 0

    Jane the Virgin was really annoying. According to the “previous on” part Louisa/Rose is more “cray-cray” than Aniezka sleeping with Rafael while pretending to be Petra (the show has always gone: “look at those crazy lesbians, amirite.”) And Micheal is such a controlling dick. And Suzanna wasn’t even real..

    I haven’t seen all the episodes of Queen Sugar, but that show has a lot of awesome women!

    The most gay non-gay show this week was Lucifer. Maze is bi-sexual, or I guess she is pan – technically, so I hope you maybe at least post a screen shot or two of her some times, since she is awesome.

    • 0

      I hadn’t noticed the cutaway to the news scroll, but after doing the mental calculations of who we *know* is still alive (I never assumed Eve was one of our options, so I was basing my count on Michaela, Laurel, and Bonnie), I realized that we are only down to the male semi/regulars: Nate, Connor, Asher, Wes, or Frank…. Anyone have any random or informed guesses on who’s ending up dead?

      I am so used to women (of color) characters getting killed, that I never expected the final list to be all men. I actually felt gutted but confident that it was going to be Michaela, honestly. So now I feel completely turned around!

    • 0

      yay

      The tinest yay ever because I ain’t fucking rewarding people with gifs and shiny shit for not burying their gays this one time; when they’re going to do it anyway some other time and be all proud of “how dramatic” the super obvious turn for the terrible was.

      <_<

    • 0

      I hadn’t originally assumed it would be Eve, but then someone on another site including her in their list of possibilities, and then I was almost POSITIVE it WOULD be her, because 2016 has been a dumpster fire. I was SO HAPPY to find out she was going to get out alive and one of the men is going to die.

      Though, the cynical part of me has to mention that Laurel is not out of surgery yet, so I’ve still got my fingers crossed for her. She’s my favourite character after Annalise and Eve, and I will be heartbroken if she’s not back for season 4.

  4. 0

    As long as lesbian and bisexual female characters aren’t written by lesbian or bisexuale female writers, there really is no hope. I have a strong feeling that TV as we know it will be a fully dead medium reeeeally soon and tbh I’m kind of happy about this.

  5. 0

    I know you only briefly mentioned it in your summary but American Housewife seems to have a made some significant tweaks in their 2nd episode.
    Leslie Bibb’s character seems to have been scrapped as were the majority of the adult plastics. The daughter was recast and revamped to be more of a jock than a junior plastic and the lesbian best friend’s tumultuous (in the process of) divorce seems to now become an amicable (already are) divorce. The fat jokes also got tamed since she is no longer comparing herself to the stick thin plastics.

    The tally also rises on potential new love interests for Arizona. They’ve cast Bridget Regan (who can be a potential), are bring back Tessa Ferrer as Leah (Arizona’s “ex” and also potential) and have just cast Marika Dominczyk (Scott Foley/Teddy’s husband Henry/Shondaland favorite’s wife) for “secret” role for an undisclosed amount of episodes. This seems like the best option for an Arizona love interest, if fans take a liking to her she could stick around for a while. Then again Shonda hasn’t treated Arizona (or Calzona) with the greatest respect so I find it hard to believe she would go to great lengths to keep the love interest casting so hush-hush if they even cast a “name” person at all.
    A quick side note Marika has played a lesbian before on a show called North Shore. It aired on Fox and if I remember correctly her character was willing to have a threesome with some guy to please her girlfriend and I think maybe even wound up pregnant (ugh!) but don’t quote me on that, it was a while ago. Also fun fact Nikki DeLoach was on that show North Shore and she played the firefighter that Arizona flirted with last season.

    • 0

      As excited as I am about Bridget Regan being on Grey’s Anatomy, I get the feeling it probably won’t be as a love interest for Arizona. For one thing, Bridget is recurring on like two or three shows as it is. I doubt she is going to become a regular and even if she does they will probably just stick her with one of the men.

      It’s probably going to be one of the other two. I’ve already made it known that I pray it isn’t Leah. So I hope it ends up being Marika’s character. The Leah/Arizona dynamic was just so one-sided and toxic that I just don’t buy that the writers would be able to tell a believable love story with them without completely retconning their history. Arizona was never in love with Leah. She used her for sex period and went running back to Callie as soon as she was willing to take her back. Leah was so hurt by Arizona’s behavior towards her she filed a complaint with the hospital and seemingly never got over it. It’s one of the reasons she saw no point in staying in town. I don’t even understand why Shonda is bringing back the character at all. It’s not like she was a fan favorite that people were clamoring to see again. But the actress is George Clooney’s cousin so…. there’s that I guess.

      • 0

        All true. I don’t think it will be Leah or Bridget’s character unless Bridget’s character is just a one off for Arizona for people to see her with someone other than Callie and then Marika’s character comes in later and she’s Arizona’s next relationship. Maybe TPTB learned something from the Callie/Penny pairing because Callie went from Arizona to Penny and yes Callie had other dates but they all really happened off screen.

        • 0

          Yep! I’ve also been watching these casting notices, and I’d be willing to put strong money (metaphorically) on Marika Dominczyk as Arizona’s new love interest. I think Leah is going to be a red herring and that Bridget Reagan’s character is someone else entirely– could she be Owen’s sister in a flashback maybe? Do we know her character’s name yet?

          Maybe I’m just hopeful for Marika because I’m already a fan of her work? And I think she’s gorgeous?

          I want someone good for Arizona. If I can’t have Calzona anymore (and really, Calzona hadn’t been what they once were for many years even before their divorce and Sara Ramirez’s subsequent exit), then I want a worthy successor.

    • 0

      I have so many mixed feelings about that episode. I highly recommend to anyone thinking about watching it to stick with it because everything does become clear and then once you know everything watch it again being in the know.
      On the one hand I love how it unfolded (definitely made more sense the 2nd time around) but on the other hand I didn’t like the way it ended. Without giving too much away, how could their last meeting go the way it did and then the follow-up was a-okay. It seemed rushed (maybe not the right term) to me. I felt like a big chunk was missing from where they left off to where it ended.
      I am also super pissed that they gave us these glorious characters for just that episode, like I need/want more of them, more of their story. Get on it fanfiction writers.

      • 0

        I’m actually glad it ended the way it did because it deviates quite a bit from the usual Black Mirror formula of utter despair for all the character’s involved. Especially when you compare it to the two episodes that came before this one. I was preparing myself to be horrified at the end but I was pleasantly surprised at the outcome. That said, this is definitely not a show I would recommend to people who aren’t into dark and depressing shows because literally every other episode of Black Mirror is definitely that. San Juanipiro almost felt it’s own stand-alone backdoor pilot. I definitely wouldn’t mind seeing an entire season of Kelly and Yorkie shenanigans but it’s almost better this way. I would rather have one really great episode of their story than a whole season/s of the potential soul-crushing bullshit we usually get with wlw storylines. This particular tv year has been brutal for us so I’m laughing at the fact that it took some British writer of a sci-fi horror anthology to actually give us a really well-done love story.

        • 0

          Yeah the premise of the series itself doesn’t appeal to me but I was seeing so many positive things about this episode that I had to watch it. Even part of the way through watching it I was completely confused and was going to turn it off (hence the suggestion to watch it through then watch again) but I stuck with it. As I wrote As much as I liked it, it felt incomplete or missing some pieces I would have liked to see.

          • 0

            Waiting with BATED BREATH for your thoughts on Black Mirror, which I just flatly adored, and hence must be missing something possibly awful/profound. Which is very typical of me! And why I love reading your teevee thoughts!

            (Whatever else, it was oh so beautifully shot. And acted. And definitely worth watching. So say I.)

            In anachronistic netflix boob tubing I am nearing the end of season 3 of PLL, which I’m guessing is pretty much peak McCullers, and which I am therefore absolutely basking in right now. Gads I love this show.

          • 0

            In case anyone either turkish or cyclone is concerned I am stalking their teevee thoughts, this wasn’t supposed to be a reply, and is exactly why I never trust myself to leave comments.

            (Heather’s tv thoughts I stalk unabashedly.)

    • 0

      Queen Sugar is getting it’s own stand-alone season review by one of my fav Autostraddle writers! So that’s going to be special and pretty fun! Meanwhile, since it’s not in the weekly Boob(s) article, usually one of a few of us watching start a conversation thread here in the comments almost every week. There are about 3 or 4 of us regulars? We’d love to chat.

      Queen Sugar was on hiatus this week, but next Friday we will be back on it! Look for us!

  6. 0

    hi!,I love your writing so a lot! share we communicate extra about your article on AOL?

    I need a specialist in this house to solve my problem.
    May be that is you! Having a look forward to see you.

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