Boob(s On Your) Tube: IFC’s “Boxed In” Is “Portlandia” For Lesbians

Boob(s On Your) Tube is your twice-weekly check-in with all the queer happenings on TV!

Boxed In

On right this second


On Friday I told you about IFC’s new queer webseries, Boxed In, and now that I’ve had a chance to watch all six episodes I want to tell you another thing: You’re going to love it. It’s like Portlandia for lesbians. By which I mean it’s sketch comedy full of lovingly crafted inside jokes about living, laughing, loving, breathing, etc. in a very specific community. Each episode is between three and ten minutes long and tackles questions about queer identity. Is a button-down butch or is a button-down femm-y? What kind of people actually thrive at online daying? What are the different categories of lesbians? There’s the SuperStylized Lesbian (which includes Brittani Nichols!), the Old School Lesbian, the MVP Lesbian (who isn’t butch, really; she’s just sporty), the Jew Artsy Lesbian, and, of course, the Trash Lesbians. Boxed in will make you laugh and cringe, but mostly it will make you feel known. That’s no small feat for TV!

Grey’s Anatomy

Thursdays on ABC at 8:00 p.m.

Written by Aja


This episode starts out all bouncy with Meredith Grey wearing the chillest tomboyish outfit ever (low-waisted baggy boyfriend jeans, cuffed, a loose but crisply tailored white button-down half undone, what looks like a classic brown Everlane belt and shiny black patent loafers), braiding Zola’s hair over a bathroom sink. Zola is so grown-up and beautiful! Getting all these kiddos ready for the day is a full-on Haus of Sister Lady Chiefs drill, with Maggie and Amelia each tending to a little one. It’s all very cute until Zola is like, “Mama, why did Auntie Maggie stop having S-E-X with DeLuca?” Oops, turns out the girl can spell. (She is presumably in like the first or second grade, after all.) After the slightest of hesitations, Meredith answers, “Because he just couldn’t handle that she was his B-O-S-S. Do not ever date a man who can’t handle your P-O-W-E-R.” “Okay!” Zola chirps back. Such good advice!


Callie and Arizona meet up in some hipster coffee house. BUCKLE IN, LESBIANS. “We found a place in Preminger!” beams Callie, waving her little arms like a tiny dino cheerleader. “Is it small?” Arizona asks, doing that half I’m-so-happy-for-you, half You’re-so-gross-right-now smile/grimace thing. Also Callie has brochures for schools. (That was fast.) It is now that shit gets real, for Arizona’s face betrays the emotional girding of a person who is sitting face-to-face with Worst Case Scenario #1, full of dread and on the precipice of custody nastiness. “Somewhere sometime you heard me say yes to this, you heard me say, ‘Yes, Callie, please take my daughter across the country,’ but I never said that.” This moment of potential conflict with someone you love or care for kind of defines people, doesn’t it? As Meredith will later narrate, once someone fires the first shot, it’s up to us whether or not to fire back. Speaking of…

At Grey Sloan, Kepnar’s in the ER fielding two frantic moms who believe their sons might be there. One of the boys is definitely a gunshot wound victim, but nobody has any details about how the boy was shot, or by whom. Fair warning: This episode is part of a public awareness dialogue around gun control. This is grim stuff. Children in the US are 16x more likely to be killed in unintentional shootings than those in other high-income countries, and some 70% of unintentional shooting deaths of children could have been prevented if the firearm had been stored locked and unloaded. Everyone at the hospital is visibly shaken by the shooting; the bullet tore through the boy’s abdomen and hit his spinal cord. When the kids’ babysitter arrives, it becomes clear that the shooting occurred after the boy found his mother’s gun (there’s a father, too, so I wonder why the emphasis is on it being the mom’s gun and not “their” gun or something) and the boys both began to play with it. The other mom had no idea she was sending her kid to play where the parents kept a gun in their house; it’s her kid, who is safe, who accidentally shot his friend.

As Callie and Arizona make their way into work, Arizona argues that Callie doesn’t get to make these kinds of decisions for Sofia unilaterally, and Callie responds with both backpedaling and bargaining. When Callie finds Penny to give her an update on how things are going with Arizona, Penny’s response is “Yeah, I’m gonna need to sit this one out” (duh) and “Sorry, that sucks.” Helpful! When Arizona confides in Webber about the whole thing, his response is that everyone needs to slow the hell down and not overreact. Helpful! Guess what we forgot all about in this emotional vortex? J-O-B-S. Turns out Callie’s got an offer from NYU and Columbia is also nipping at her heels, but it’s still shocking to watch her tell Bailey she’s leaving Grey Sloan, and Bailey’s response? “You’re a chief. She’s a resident. So you’re giving up your career to chase tail across the country?” Yeah, that’s…less than helpful.


Moving on! Hunt’s in the OR alongside Karev, Shepherd and Wilson. It’s tense, and it doesn’t look good for the kid. Everyone has an opinion about guns, that a kid ends up every day in someone’s ER with a gunshot wound, whether the mom should be locked up or not, who owns guns and who doesn’t — oops, turns out Wilson does. Karev, who’s been shot before, wants to focus on the surgery, especially since there’s such a high risk of paralysis, but eventually he tells Wilson he doesn’t want a gun around, and especially not “in a box under the bed.” The boy makes it out of surgery, but it’s very unlikely he’ll ever walk again.

Amelia shone throughout this whole episode, switching from an airy ebullience at the start to her familiar, well-oiled instinct to spring into action when trauma strikes, and then finally tempering things with that grave tenderness we’ve come to rely on in the show’s more profound moments. She’s so lovely lately, I’m a fan! When Karev gets home, Wilson’s sitting on the bed with her gun in her lap. She gives him a speech about how she doesn’t need it anymore but, like, she’s still sitting there fondling a gun in front of a shooting victim, and then she puts it in the box and they cuddle like it’s not sitting a foot away from them. Odd. Meanwhile, the thing that hit Maggie hardest about the boy was how it refracted how much she’s come to love her nieces and nephews, it’s crippling, almost unbearable for her. It’s so new and overwhelming and she doesn’t know how Meredith, as a mother, lives with it day in and day out. There’s a strong thread of motherhood woven throughout this episode. How do we move through the relentless of incapacitating terror or the vast black scavenging wings of uncertainty blotting out the sun? Forward. That’s it. Forward and through.

Guys, what if I have a crush on Meredith? She just shooed a catfish guy out of a patient’s room so effectively without touching him at all and I was, like, so impressed and then flustered by it all.

The episode ends with Callie visiting Arizona in the NICU, apology in hand. “I jumped the gun, I’m so sorry. I was carried away when I first told you and I’ve done everything wrong since.” It’s the perfect thing to say, or it would have been if Callie hadn’t already submitted a school application for Sofia, and if that school hadn’t called Arizona earlier that day. She tries to play it down, but Arizona’s got something in hand as well: her lawyer’s business card. “Now who’s jumping the gun?” Callie says coldly. Off they go. The next episode looks a drama-packed lesbian courtroom bonanza that forces everyone to pick a side, and I’m dreading it.

Other stuff: Ben tried to get back in the anesthesiology game but Bailey made it clear he’d be sleeping alone if he followed through on skirting his punishment. Grey made Edwards go on a date with that salacious guitarist ex-patient. We find out that Hunt is the one who told his sister to get on the chopper; he’s been lashing out at himself as much as he has at Riggs. As the final gesture of their cease fire, Kepnar invited Jackson to her ultrasound appointment.

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Heather Hogan

Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle senior editor who lives in New York City with her wife, Stacy, and their cackle of rescued pets. She's a member of the Television Critics Association, GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics, and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer critic. You can also find her on Twitter and Instagram.

Heather has written 1718 articles for us.


  1. Aja, thanks so much for the Grey’s recap!

    I think what I love most about Grey’s is how capable it is of twisting and turning and of integrating new characters. This is only, what, Maggie’s second full season? And I love her just as much as I love Mer and Alex. (Although I keep wanting to see more of her because she’s great and doesn’t get near enough to do.) Also, the rambling, extended chosen family ties in Grey’s is my favorite part of the show.

    My biggest hope for Calzona at this point is that it will end with Callie dumping Penny. Or, I guess, Penny deciding she can’t cope with the situation and dumping Callie (ew, no, Callie is way too awesome for Penny, but I will take any way out at this point).

    • Ugh, yeah I agree, Penny dumping Callie is really the only way out I can see at this point, and that sucks. Where was April talking Arizona out of this? Where was Meredith advising Callie to talk to Arizona before submitting school applications? Bailey’s a divorced parent, where was her helpful advice!? Why are their friends being useless?!

      I’m a lawyer, I’ve recently started doing some family law, and god it is ALL AWFUL. I do not want to watch characters I love go through this process.

      Does anyone know Sara Ramirez’s status for season 13? Is this how they’re going to write her off the show!?

      • I am here to share the bad news that I recently looked into this, and Sara has not officially renewed her contract after season 12 (or at least there has been no press to announce that she has).

        So, all “in story” narrative reasoning aside, I would be prepared for the real possibility that this plot ends in a cliffhanger and/or Callie really moving to New York.

        (If I was a betting woman though, I don’t see Sara leaving Greys- so Callie actually moving cross-country feels more far off. A cliffhanger, depending on if Sara’s contract negation a went too late in the season for Shonda to have a definite answer of how to plan ahead, could be a real thing that happens.)

        • ^^^ If nothing else, I’m almost positive that we are being “gifted” with this story because Sara’s contract negation ran late. The only question is if they hammered it out in enough time for Shonda to write herself back out of this corner with a happy ending.

        • I hope she decides to stay. Callie has been my favorite for a long time. Even before her relationship with Hahn, I loved how much she loved her body (the dancing in her underwear scene!) and resented the way Meredith and Izzie treated her (especially in that scene where Callie wants to talk to her and Izzie thinks she wants to fight). And the navigation between her, Mark, and Arizona even though it wasn’t actually sexual (though there is that one scene where the three of them are in bed together and Arizona goes “this isn’t going to work for me” is suggestive), was a different model of family than even Calzona alone would have been. It felt like possibility.

          • All of this! I also related to early Callie a bunch – the fact that she was a little tomboyish and too open and that she got along with men generally better so when she had her first solid female friend (and then potential girlfriend) in Hahn I got it because I was one of those women who had the same mean girl scars that Callie had and I felt the exact same way when I find a lady I can really relate to and have fun with although I don’t always end up banging them. I loved that she walked around naked in a communal setting and that she fell into love hard, that she nearly always made the first move no matter how awkward it was and how family was so important to her core. Christina was my queen but Callie has always felt like my homegirls and I’m going to be very very sad if she leaves given that right now the only other thing that is sustaining me is Mer & Alex’s friendship.

        • FWIW, Sara’s in the same contract cycle as Chandra Wilson, James Pickens, Jr., Kevin McKidd and Justin Chambers…of those, only Chambers has publicly announced he’ll be returning for Season 13. McKidd said a few months ago that his negotiations were nearing finalization and that he wants to return, but there’s been no public announcement of that. The contract status for Wilson and Pickens are completely unknown so, while what’s happening with Sara seems unusual, it really isn’t.

          • Oh absolutely, it wasn’t my intention to imply that it was unusual. Just that I believe they are writing an “out” in case they need one.

            This isn’t the first time that something like this has happened either. Season 8 ends on almost all cliffhangers for the original cast, Bailey with Ben’s proposal meaning she might have to move to LA, Alex possibly taking the job at John Hopkins, Meredith, Cristina, AND Derek all on the crashed plane.

            The originals all held out in contract negations literally until the day before the finale aired. Shonda had no way of knowing who was returning or not, so she gave herself options if necessary.

            (This was before Sara joined the cycle of contract negations with the originals- Justin Champers, Chandra Wilson, and James Pickens. Both her and Kevin McKidd got bumped into that cycle after the departure of Dempsey and Sandra Oh)

    • I don’t dislike Penny, She is ok. But if getting rid of her lets us keep Callie then by all means ship her away now

  2. I continue to love how Grey’s is taking on the personal life issues that come with being a B-O-S-S. I really appreciate how the show has grown up, has allowed the characters to grow up. (Callie.. maybe less grown up. Not loving this lately, but as others pointed out on the last installment, it actually is in line with who she’s always been. Which is maybe not a good thing. Meredith, Miranda, and Alex–even Richard, right?–have been allowed to evolve as people. Callie and Owen, not so much.)

  3. I cant wait to find out what a trash lesbian is.

    I hope im not one?

    Worried thats the only catagory i connect with.

  4. Are we only doing “Wynonna Earp” recaps for the episodes that Officer Haught is in?


    Oh Aja, truer words have not been spoken. I am not ready for this. Nope. Not at all.

  6. Loved this moment during last night’s “Jane the Virgin:”

    It’s not as good as having LGBT characters on screen, but it still…awesome.

  7. okay so i just discovered a show that must be shared. it’s a doctor comedy drama that on netflix, only one season because it got cancelled, called emily owens md. its really straight and kinda boring but the reason that i’m bringing attention to it is because THE ACTRESS THAT PLAYS MAGGIE ON GREYS PLAY THE CHEIFS LESBIAN DAUGHTER! its like if maggie was gay, only a bit less well written but i don’t care because at least she didnt die

  8. Ughhhhhh Callie. I’ve been frustrated with Callie’s ridiculous ability to think only about herself/her own feelings and desires since The Leaves episode, which was honestly one of the best scenes in the history of Grey’s. Idk if it’s that she’s so class privileged that she’s just used to getting what she wants? Ugh. I love her but she annoys me.
    Fuck Penny. Just go away. No one likes you and Arizona is 100% better looking than you. I loved Amelia’s sneaky way of getting rid of her. Amelia is my patronus. I relate to her so much and always have.
    The complication for me in this whole situation is how I typically approach mothers. Basically, maybe due to retaliation against my intense patriarchal upbringing, I’m hardcore pro-gestational parent. You carried that thing for nine months, you pushed it out or had it cut out of you, that means something. As a future pregnant person, I think about that a lot. I don’t know. Ugh.

    • That was one of the best scenes in the history of the show

      “When I was a kid, I would get these headaches, and I went to the doctor, and they said that I needed glasses. I get the glasses, and I put them on, and I’m in the car on the way home, and suddenly I yell. Because the big green blobs that I had been staring at my whole life, they weren’t big green blobs. They were leaves on trees. And I didn’t even know I was missing the leaves. I didn’t even know that leaves existed, and then…leaves! You, [Callie Torres] are glasses.”

  9. So after a 12 hour shift, instead of getting a shower and going to bed, I sat on the floor and watched all of Boxed In. I’ve missed Amy York Rubin!! Little Horribles was so good and actually so long ago?

    And this was great! The last two episodes were especially wonderful. I certainly feel known.

  10. You should also check out the show Flowers. It is airing on Channel 4 (home of Naomily) and they are doing one episode a night this week. They showed two Monday. It is a dark comedy and it follows a 4-person family — the 25-year-old daughter is a lesbian.

    It’s good — I would have been enjoying the show even without the inclusion of a lesbian!

    • Also recommend this show. It is very dark, dealing with suicide and depression but it’s worth watching for Amy Flowers.

  11. I love Brittani Nichols and cried a little when ‘this content is not available in your country’ populated my screen. What? I was all set to watch it and I was tirrrred….

  12. Bailey is right about Callie and Penny
    And I’m not looking forward to the custody wars
    Oh, and Owen and Riggs can both get on a helicopter and fly away. I don’t care where, just go. Both of you just go away now.

    • Yes yes yessssssssss. 1) I loathe Hunt and have since I first saw him. He was so toxic for Cristina and not only that, he has a horrible fake American accent. No. 2) Why don’t people listen to Bailey?? She is a wise little woman. I’m siding with her in this Ben bs. And she was 100% right about Callie and Penny. The fuck is Callie thinking? And really, the only reason Penny got the fellowship is because Amelia wanted to get rid of her. She didn’t exactly earn it. She’ll crash and burn.

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