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
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
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.
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.