Boob(s On Your) Tube: “Grown-ish” Goes After Internalized Biphobia

Welcome back to Boob(s On Your) Tube! Happy One Day at a Time Season Two Day!

Did you catch this week’s extra woman-powered Supergirl? Valerie Anne sure did! Carmen, I dare say, has still not recovered from this week’s Black Lightning. (Nor, frankly, have I; and probably you haven’t you either.) Also a couple of lesbians showed up on The End of the F***ing World and Riese immediately demanded a spin-off.

One thing I forgot to mention last week is: In an effort to bring the very best queer and feminist TV writing to you in 2018 we’re freeing up some of our TV team’s time by only putting gay things in Boobs Tube. Arizona, for example, was MIA basically on this week’s Grey’s Anatomy so there’s no Grey’s in here. (Also that Arizona standalone episode rumor was a lie!) Annalise wasn’t doing gay stuff on HTGAWM this week (unless you count her toxic relationship with Bonnie as gay stuff) (which I kind of do, to be honest) so that’s not in here either. Don’t worry, we’ll still be following and covering these queer characters who are definitely still queer even if they’re not having sex with other women on-screen; we just don’t want to spend so much time covering the not-queer stuff that other queer and feminist TV doesn’t get our full attention.

In addition to next week’s regular recaps, Carmen’s coming at you with a ODAAT review, I’ve got a Grace and Frankie Season Four piece on the way, and who knows what other gay miracles the modern television landscape holds.

Here’s this week!


grown-ish 105: “C.R.E.A.M. (Cash Rules Everything Around Me)”

Written by Natalie

White tank tops are queer culture, though, right?

This week’s grown-ish picks up in the place that seemed inevitable last week: Nomi’s broken up with Dave, the previously unnamed bisexual guy she met at the bar. She’s still in her feelings about it, though, so she goes to Zoey’s room to vent and get some advice. Unfortunately, Zoey’s out, so Nomi’s left to talk to Ana, whose “What Would Bristol Palin Do?” t-shirt should be enough of a signal that this is not going to go well. But Nomi’s desperate, so she persists.

Nomi explains that she had to break up with Dave because, after he came out to everyone as bisexual, the way that she looked at him changed. Now, every interaction she witnesses between him and another guy seems fraught, even if Dave had done nothing to really provoke that reaction. When Nomi looks to Ana for some comfort or advice, she’s met with a blank stare; Ana couldn’t even be bothered to listen.

Still desperate for some perspective, she turns to Aaron…which, I mean, our girl is not making good choices right now. When she explains that she’s broken up with Dave, the biphobia just pours out of Aaron — “Oh! ‘Cause he’s gay?” —and it even makes Nomi, who’s dealing with her own internalized biphobia, wince. She tries to explain the spectrum of sexuality to Aaron, but he refuses to accept that male bisexuality is a thing. Aaron’s ignorance seems timely, as young, queer people of color continue to grapple with revolutionaries, who, like Aaron, call themselves woke, while sleeping on the discrimination that QTPOC face.

Finally, Nomi takes her case for breaking up with Dave to the man himself. Again, this is not a good idea! As a general rule, you should only have the “this is why I broke up with you” conversation with people that explicitly ask for it! But Nomi needs closure. Unsurprisingly, Dave offers her none.

For a while, he just sits there, listening, as Nomi processes her biphobia out loud. Two guys sleeping in the same bed together is weird, she says, and two guys kissing each other is not hot. Nomi concedes that she’s a hypocrite and says, “I just feel like if you’re into guys, too, then how can I ever be enough for you?”

Then, Dave responds with an epic read: “That’s not about me being bisexual. That’s about you being insecure.” Dave’s right. He’s absolutely right. And the look on Nomi’s face as he picks up his stuff and walks away suggest she knows that too.

It’s easy to look at Nomi and the confidence she exudes and forget who she really is. The impulse to take her face value, to believe in the certainty with which she advises Zoey to embrace her sexual liberation, or to accept the cavalier way which she careens from one person to the next, is unfair. Her confidence and certainty are every bit as fake as the code-switching that Jaz and Sky do. Nomi is not who she seems. Whatever this show has shown us about her, Nomi Segal is still in the closet.

The closet can drive you to a lot of unenviable places — Nomi’s internalized biophobia and her homophobia is a product of that — but, as a viewer, it’s still hard to hear, especially from a queer character. For now, I just hope that Nomi grows to understand and accept herself more and that grown-ish will show us how she grows through that process.


The Fosters 512: “#IWasMadeInAmerica”

Written by Carmen

You are home with me, right where you belong.

Stef’s birthday is this weekend, and her first love/ next door neighbor Tess wants to celebrate. Stef tells her that they usually have a backyard party with their gay friends (specifically Jenna, long term The Fosters fans will remember her as a perennial source of hot mess). Tess is still interested in coming over, with her husband, because she is for sure two steps away from a late-in-life come out and doesn’t know how to deal with it yet.

The night arrives and Jenna had every woman in attendance bring a single friend, because OF COURSE SHE DID. But then, even in a party with so many queer women it could double as the population of Portland, Jenna zeroes in on Tess — the supposedly “still straight”, married neighbor, and Stef’s first love — to flirt shamelessly with. Stef tells Jenna that Tess is married, and their mutual history, and Jenna still won’t be deterred! She is nothing if not always on brand.

Speaking of Stef’s troubles, we have to address her growing panic attacks. Mike first mentioned in the winter premiere that she’s gone back to holding her breath for long periods of time, a habit he hasn’t seen from her since they were married. Then she started obsessively cleaning, which Lena pointed out to her. And finally Brandon, in a rare moment of actually being a decent human being, offers to play the piano for Stef while she lays down on the couch to relax, the way they used to when he was a little boy.

Stef is overwhelmed and unsure, it’s been so long since she’s been allowed time to just bring her walls down. The swoop shot on Teri Polo on the couch, as the natural light washes her face, and a single tear falling, is simply striking. Polo is putting her all in this role right now.

Meanwhile, Lena saved Anchor Beach from going private! But the board still elected to keep asshole Drew as the principal, instead of giving Lena the rightful role she’s earned by now. So with the help of the rest of the teachers on staff, Lena stages a coup with the board. She’s instated as principal and Drew gets fired. Nothing but respect for my President.

Ximena and Callie have been working together on a protest at the local college speech of Shiloh McCullen, an anti-immigration right wing pundit. They hope that they can bring more attention to Ximena’s ongoing case. The day of the protest, McCullen is using her speech to rattle off inaccurate statistics about the dangers and violent cost of immigration in the United States.

Callie gets up to speak. She argues facts. DACA recipients are required to have no criminal record, out of 800,000 DACA recipients in the United States, less than 1% have lost their permits due to criminal activity. With eyes and cameras on her, Callie goes on to talk about Ximena. Poppy and Mariana watch with wide eyes, Mariana with her phone ready to record, as the audience starts to boo. Callie keeps going, she takes a deep breath and asks her question.

The music swells, and you see all of the protestors from Callie’s row stand silently and unveil the posters she made — each with a different picture of a DACA recipient’s face painted over the American red, white and blue. They are Girl Scouts, and high graduates, some of them are sitting on Santa’s lap. They are us. The message couldn’t be more emotional or pitch perfect — but Callie brings it right on home: “What is an American?”

The boos get louder, but the protestors will not move. Mariana records every move as they turn, facing all of the television cameras in unison. Being an American is about more than birthright. We know it, 87% of American citizens support the DACA program. As quiet as it’s kept, those in the loud minority who continue to oppose DACA know it too. That’s what exactly scares them. We cannot let their fear govern what makes this country great.

The protest makes The Huffington Post. With Callie’s help, Ximena’s case has broken into the national news cycle. The girls freak out and then XIMENA KISSES CALLIE RIGHT ON THE LIPS!!! So…. Yeah. Wow. That happened.

Come on, Roller Derby has to make ONE of these Foster Adams girls gay.

The episode ends with Stef and Lena in bed, late in the night. Lena is fast asleep, but Stef’s eyes are wide. She wakes her wife, scared. She can’t breath. There’s a heaviness, it’s on her chest, and she can’t get past it. She doesn’t know what to do, and she has no other choice anymore but to ask for help. She’s crying and Lena asks how she can help.

Stef tells her, “Just hold me”. And Lena comes in tight, she wraps her body against her wife and strokes her hair, whispering that it will be OK, while Stef cries— finally, really cries.

That’s where we leave them, holding each other through the storm.

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 884 articles for us.

28 Comments

  1. this week’s episode of grown-ish was incredibly frustrating. I am really hoping that the series does not drop the ball, and that they show Nomi growing out of her internalized biphobia.

  2. Looking forward to the One Day at a Time review, season 1 made me cry almost as much as Coco did! I feel so seen when I watch ODAAT because it is so much closer to my life growing up than any other show or movie or book I’ve ever seen.

    That could be me me coming out to my grandma, my parents, my little brother. Me growing up in a community layered with things like who passes as white and who is legal and who speaks what languages that still manages to pull together across all our divides. Ugh, now I have feelings again, and I’ve only seen 2 episodes of season 2 so far.

    (It does sometimes feel a little after-school special-y but that can be fun when it’s touching on nuanced issues that don’t get enough discussion.)

  3. I am a child of the 90’s and I remember when Wu Tang released the song and it was played on the radio. I would sing the hook…Cash Rules Everything Around Me…C.R.E.A.M….Get the money, dollar dollar bill y’all. But it took me 20+ years and Grown-ish to realize that Cash Rules…was a acronym for C.R.E.A.M.

    As for Grown-ish itself, and as I mentioned last week it could be because this is no longer my demographic but the show, the characters, and the acting are all terrible, I have no idea why/how it was given a season 2.

  4. When Ximena was teaching Callie to skate in the last episode I was really hoping this was coming, but no one in The Fosters ever does what I think they will, but they did!!! I hope they continue to make good, gay choices

  5. Are we still allowed to talk about grey’s in the comments because holy shit this was one of THE BEST episodes out of 14 seasons. When Bailey and Ben were teaching Tuck how to respond to police I was BAWLING.

    • Hey all!

      Yes, I really hope we keep the Grey’s Anatomy conversation going in the comments, even when we don’t give it a weekly write up!!

      Thank you for getting the ball rolling, Chloe. I also thought the scene between Bailey, Ben, and Tuck was the worth the entire episode. When little tween Tuck started doing the “My name is… I am X years old.. I have nothing to harm you” speech! MY HEART!

      I wish we had more time with the wrap up of the domestic violence storyline, but once again I thought Camilla Luddington was A+ with the material given to her.

      Is anyone else a little terrified of “Dark April”? Her cold, dead eyes in that last shot went straight through my soul.

      • When the episode started with an April voiceover, I was NOT happy, because I wanted the continuation of Jo’s storyline, but holy CRAP did that episode work. I think every part of it was perfect, with the exception of April going home with that intern. Ew.

        Jo busting out laughing worked for me because I did the same thing when I made the realization she was going to get to decide his ultimate fact. That irony, wow. I’ll admit though I didn’t see the organ donation coming – when Jenny said she’d wanted him to rot in prison and Jo said “I have an idea” I was worried her idea was going to be to keep him on life support indefinitely. Organ donation is definitely the better solution. And let me just repeat again how GRATEFUL I am that Alex is not a murderer. Ya’ll we’re right last week, thank goodness. Karma’s a bitch.

        I also think this is the best BLM-adjacent episodes to have ben written in the past few years. I mean, it was always going to be, because Shonda. But also, I wonder if Jesse Williams didn’t have a hand in constructing this storyline? I really hope he did. The whole time I kept thinking how glad I was that Jesse Williams got to be the actor who was in that role. I honestly think that I wouldn’t have had the same power coming from an actor who didn’t have the same level of activism as Jesse Williams.

        And then Bailey, Ben, and Tuck. Wow. I’m really glad they put that scene on television.

        This was all-round a really wonderful episode. I continue to marvel at the fact that Grey’s is continuing to put out episodes of this character 14 years into it’s run. That is simply remarkable.

    • This was seriously one of their best in a while!

      Bailey and Ben giving Tuck the talk, and Jackson speaking on behalf of little kids of color with the audacity to exist in their own neighborhoods all really hit home.

      I also love that Jackson shared the story of him being accosted as a teen with April because she is a parent of a brown kid and we need more from our white friends and partners than we get when it comes to keeping black and brown kids alive.

      April’s naivety, her willingness to trust and believe that officers are just scared, and not biased against kids they deem as threats will probs be relatable to a lot of people, and Jackson’s admission might just show them that even the black and brown people who they love are being victimized by this system.

      I also loved Carina, still trying to flirt with Arizona and April’s ending monologue/spiral. It all really worked for me.

    • Also Jo/Mer/the character played by Bethany joy Lenz all in unison basically saying fuck you to the abuser was SO affirming and strong. I often talk about the fact that Meredith isn’t my favourite but the truth is she’s been AMAZING this season and has really grown into this fierce supportive strong woman (I think the show really shines when the drama is shifted away from her a bit)

  6. I really hope Grown-ish continues to address Nomi’s internalised biphobia and homophobia because, whilst they partially called out it this ep through Dave’s response, it only really scratched the surface of everything that was wrong about her views on male bisexuality and wasn’t satisfying enough. I hope she fully realises her mistakes.

  7. I continue to be surprised how much I’m enjoying grown-ish! Maybe it’s because I spend a lot of time around college students, but the portrayals from these young actors feel pretty true to life. And I think the actresses playing the twins have excellent comic timing! They give me some of my biggest belly laughs of the week.

    My real problem is that while I’ve never been a huge Zoey Johnshon fan (even in the original black-ish show), I have come to enjoy almost everyone in her crew EXCEPT Nomi. And I really want to love her! I am prepared to love her! I just can’t seem to connect with her. Her character just has some real grown up to do, and I hope the show lets her do it.

  8. I once tried to parse out in grown up sounding way why bisexual men aren’t as believed as bisexual women and I hate that still all I got is “people believe too strongly in the power the penis”
    As if I don’t have the vocabulary or something to dress it up in academese and am left looking like some fuckin Zardoz weirdo.

    But it’s the fucking truth either way you splice.

    “It’s an organ that taints what ever it touches” direction OR “It’s the best thing ever of course someone want it more than the other options” direction

  9. Please stop posting spoilers on the main page! Ximena kissing Callie was like the very end of the episode that I watched less than a week after it aired but it was already spoiled by the headline :(((

    (But seriously. I love reading this stuff. I just wanna wait until after I watch the episode!)

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