Boobs on Your Tube: Sara Ramirez Breaks Hearts in Madam Secretary’s Family Separation Episodes

Hello, and welcome to the first Boobs on Your Tube of 2019; we missed you! We all took at least a little bit of a holiday break, but we still published some great TV stuff while we were away.

Riese really wants The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel to make Susie actually gay. Carmen ran down the revolutionary year for Latinx butches and wrote about This Is Us’ coming out story. Natalie brought you an exclusive look at the new gay character on Good Trouble and reviewed the pilot episode. Kayla appreciated the extra gayness and extra evil hotness of the parents on this season of Marvel’s Runaways. Valerie Anne thinks you should give the Canadian comedy Letterkenny a try. Rachel provided all the commentary you need on Marie Kondo’s Tidying Up. Riese gave her annual state of the lesbian and bisexual TV union and published her annual winter TV preview. Heather recapped the Golden Globes, made a list of 16 feel-good shows to help you kick off the New Year, and is practically begging people to be watch Derry Girls at this point. (You won’t be sorry!)

Now! Here’s what else has happened so far in 2019!


grown-ish 201-203

Written by Natalie

It’s only right that Freeform would christen the start of 20-Bi-Teen with the return of Nomi Segal on grown-ish…the girl who last season issued a clarion call that was truly ahead of its time: “It’s L-G-B-T! Respect the letter, bitch!”

I stan a legend-in-the-making.

Before she left for summer break, Nomi swore that she’d come out to her family but, with the prospect of losing her parents’ financial support, Nomi remains closeted and forced to entertain whatever nice Jewish boy her parents find for her. It’s a small price to pay to kick off her sophomore year at Cal U in a luxurious on-campus apartment with her girls, Ana and Zoey. Only problem? The apartment’s summer residents got a little too lit and left the apartment a mess. Thankfully, though, there’s no problem in college that can’t be solved by inviting a bunch of people over, plying them with free booze and tacking “party” behind whatever activity you want done (i.e., painting party). Before long, the apartment’s immaculate and Nomi and her roommates are toasting to what’s to come.

While there haven’t been any Nomi-centric episodes of grown-ishso far this season, she’s been an integral part of the crew’s antics this season. She’s learning how to make the jump from friend to roommate, by asking Vivek to curtail his drug sales inside the apartment — to others, not to Nomi herself, of course — as it makes Ana uncomfortable. She’s a little more oblivious to Zoey and Ana’s discomfort at her coming into the bathroom while they’re using it but unlearning those bad habits is going to take time. Season two of grown-ish has brought more tension within the friend group — particularly in “New Rules,” where Zoey, Nomi and Ana all run afoul of the unwritten and unspoken rules of friendship — and it’s added a nice edge to the show. What’s less appealing about the second season, though? The grounding of so much of the narrative in today’s technology; texting, Snapchat, Instagram, filters etc. all feature prominently in the season’s first three episodes. While it might seem resonant now, technology changes quickly and grown-ish dates itself by including social media that could be obsolete tomorrow.

What’s in store for Nomi in Season 2? Well, her uncle is no longer lurking around campus as the Dean of Students — his job has been filled by the girls’ season one professor, Charles Telphy — so at least she won’t have to worry about being outed to her family when she hooks up with someone at Cal U. According to Nomi’s portrayer, Emily Arlook, “This season Nomi is still definitely the outspoken one in the group and not afraid to share her opinions, ever. She’s still very promiscuous with boys and girls and then, as time goes on, is kinda realizing that that type of lifestyle isn’t as rewarding as it once was.”

And who might be Nomi’s svengali, as she navigates the difficult terrain of monogamy and coming out? None other than Shane McCutcheon, herself. According to TVLine, Kate Moennig will join the cast of grown-ish in Season 2, playing Paige Hewson, the out lesbian professor of the gender studies class (natch) that everyone’s taking.

What college has on-campus apartments with bathrooms that look like this?

It’s early yet — the Nomi-centric episode of grown-ish is slated to be the fifth episode of the season — but can I go ahead and voice my support for an Ana and Nomi pairing? It may sound like a stretch since Ana’s ostensibly straight and ultra-conservative but, from where I sit, the chemistry between the two girls has been bubbling since early in the first season. MAKE IT (MORE) GAY YOU COWARDS!


S.W.A.T. 212: “Los Huesos”

Written by Natalie

On its face, S.W.A.T. might be the type of show you’d avoid — it’s a show about law enforcement procedural on CBS and that combination is rarely worth your time (I’m looking at you, FBI and Seal Team) — but you’d be wrong to consign S.W.A.T. to the dustbin: it is a good show. It’s, subversively, pushing the boundaries of the everyday procedural in a way that resonates with me: top notch writing (led by Shawn Ryan who’s done some of my favorite TV shows), diversity for more than just diversity’s sake, Shemar Moore and, of course, out bisexual actress, Lina Esco, who plays Chris Alonso, S.W.A.T.’s lone female member (who is also bisexual). If your parents are regular CBS watchers, S.W.A.T. is a show you can feel good about encouraging them to watch.

That said, let’s examine why we’re really here: Lina Esco in this suit.

I’m pretty sure A Simple Favor is responsible for the uptick of women in suits on television and I approve.

Women in suits are my catnip, I’ve always known this, but the velvet blazer plus those tattoos. Girl, I SWOONED.

*Fans self* Okay, now back to this serious recapping business…

In “Los Huesos,” the FBI comes calling: the cover of one of their undercover agents, Adrian Cruz, has been blown and he’s been captured by the gang he was infiltrating. While LA S.W.A.T. takes on the responsibility of finding Agent Cruz stateside, the FBI asks Captain Jessica Cortez (Stephanie Sigman) to pick up an old cover from her gang unit days and infiltrate Los Huesos in Mexico City. Hondo is reluctant to send his captain and ex-girlfriend into the heart of gangland on her own so they tap Chris to help. She jumps at the chance without hesitation.

Jessica earns the favor of Raul, the leader of Los Huesos fairly easily — men are predictable trash — but his lieutenants are not convinced. Raul gives Jessica and Chris a task: find one of his former soldiers, Chato, that’s gone AWOL and bring him back for Raul to torture and kill. If they’re successful, Raul will allow them both to join his crew in Los Angeles. Of course, Chris and Jessica can’t hand Raul another victim so they improvise: they capture Chato and stage his escape and execution. They bring Raul back video proof of what happened and its enough for convince Raul to provide the address to Los Huesos’ safe house in LA. Chris covertly sends the information back to her team and she and Jessica try to keep their cool until their flight leaves.

Another excuse to see Lina Esco in this suit, don’t mind if I do

Before leaving, Raul hosts the pair at a rooftop party and Jessica uses the opportunity to seduce more information out of Raul…and, of course, it works and he reveals how his crew has been disposing of all the people they’ve killed in LA. Meanwhile, Chris keeps her eyes on Raul’s lieutenants and when she notices a change in their demeanor, she realizes their cover’s been blown. She steals someone else’s gun and she and Jessica make their escape through the kitchen. On almost any other procedural, particularly those on CBS, Chris and Jessica’s cover being blown would mean they’d have to hide out, fearful that the gang would discover their location, or, worse, they’d be captured and tortured for our amusement, until the man-driven calvary rode in to save them. But S.W.A.T. is not like your typical procedural: women are their own heroes.

Jessica and Chris outrun the goons and slip into a storage room to get the drop on them. Chris hands Jessica the gun which she uses to take out one of the bad guys as they run past. She holds the cartel leader at bay while Chris takes one of his armed henchman with her bare hands.

“How do you like my pretty face now?” Chris says, towering over the henchman, pointing his own gun at him. Badass. They return to LA, the conquering heroes, and celebrate with the team.

The only thing missing from this episode? Chris’ partners. Earlier in the season, Chris became part of a polyamorous relationship with a woman she’d been dating, Kira, and Kira’s fiancé, Ty. Now, personally, I thought Chris should’ve run for the hills because Kira wasn’t open about her polyamorous lifestyle from the outset but Chris decided, after meeting Ty, and hearing more about polyamory, to give it the relationship a try (polyamory on CBS? I told you this wasn’t your everyday procedural). But when Chris and Jessica go on this ridiculously risky assignment, Jessica’s new boyfriend, David, shows up at S.W.A.T. HQ, clearly nervous about his girlfriend’s fate, while Chris’ partners are nowhere to be seen. You could chalk it up to the fact that we’re used to seeing Chris go into dangerous situations while Jessica’s more of an administrator these days, but still…it would’ve been nice to see Kira and Ty fretting right beside David.


Madam Secretary 510 & 511: “Family Separation, Parts 1 and 2”

Written by Carmen

Of all the horrific headlines in 2018 to cap off a year in which it felt like every one of my nightmares was coming true, nothing – and I mean nothing – broke me down like the family separation policy enacted at US/Mexico’s border. I couldn’t fathom it. Children traveled miles with little more than the clothing on their back being pushed away from their parents in a country they didn’t know and language they didn’t speak. Mothers being lied to so that they would sign paperwork that deported them without their children. Babies in cages. Little girls dying. Every turn more abominable than the one before. It turned (and continues to turn) my stomach. I couldn’t sleep at night.

So when Madam Secretary announced that it was going honor it’s 100th episode by tackling the issue in a two-part event, I was anxious. I couldn’t imagine the weight of our current reality playing out in Secretary of State Elizabeth McCord’s much more comfortable universe. It felt like the episode was set up to either disappoint, or leave me gutted without recourse. There was no in-between.

In Madam Secretary‘s fictionalized version of the humanitarian violations happening on our border, a racist governor of Arizona has established his own version of the Trump administration’s policy. Upset over a border security deal struck between the White House and Mexico that he finds lacking, he declares that families caught entering the United States at the Mexican border without proper paperwork will be separated. Much like the Trump administration, the governor believes that cruelty of the policy will act as a deterrent to keep families from entering the country via Arizona.

This plays out from the point of view of Daniel, a young Mexican boy, and his mother. Once they cross the border, Daniel’s mother attempts to declare asylum, but instead they are arrested. She promises Daniel that she will return to him as soon as she fills out the paperwork. Anyone who’s seen the news this year knows that doesn’t happen. Daniel is taken away to a detention center in a bus full of screaming, crying children looking for their parents.

After negotiations between the White House and Arizona break down, Secretary of State McCord goes to visit the detention centers herself, along with the Mexican Ambassador and her policy advisor Kat Sandoval (who, like the actress playing her is a bi-racial Mexican-American citizen). If I thought the episode was unbearable before, nothing could prepare me for the gut punch of entering the center. A prison, for children who did nothing wrong. For children who are seeking liberty and freedom. They are being left to soil themselves on yoga mats in freezing temperatures. Elizabeth gets into a fight with the security officers while Kat zeroes in on a young boy, Daniel.

She smiles at him, speaking in Spanish. She tells him that he’s named after her favorite book in the Bible. He tells her that he believes his mother is dead – there is no other reason he can think of that she would abandon him here. Kat’s face crumples into a thousand pieces. She promises him that she’s not dead, that she loves her son and wishes she could be with him. She reaches through the gate with her fingertips to touch his. Anything at all to provide human comfort. It doesn’t seem to make a difference, but how could it?

Elizabeth McCord gets arrested in political protest and Kat turns her attention towards her father. He happens to live in Arizona. It’s clear from her nerves right away that they don’t get along, and I think anyone could have guessed why. I’ve been excited to dig a bit deeper into Kat’s backstory since they announced the casting of her dad back in the fall, but ultimately it was hard for me to get invested. Kat’s father doesn’t approve of her sexuality. He doesn’t approve of her gender presentation. And honestly, it all felt a little… done before. It’s perhaps a gift and a curse that Sara Ramirez happens to have also played on of the most iconic bisexual characters on television, with an iconic coming out that already involved a difficult father. I’ve seen Sara Ramirez make angry faces and cry in front of a stubborn Latino patriarch unwilling to budge. This rang similar, if not more shallow. It’s been over a year, but there are times when Kat still struggles to find her way out of Callie Torres’ shadow.

Kat’s willing to momentarily put aside the painful differences with father because she’s come to ask him to finally apply for US citizenship. She worries that in the current political climate, his Green Card will no longer be enough. She filled out all the necessary paperwork already and bends down to meet her father at eye-level. “Promise me,” she begs. Taken aback by the strength of her emotions, he nods in agreement. It’s not enough.

“Prométemelo,” she tries again in Spanish.

“Hija, te prometo.”

That’s it. She stands, satisfied, and walks out of his house. No hug, no joyful reunion or forgiveness. That’s was never what this was about.


Quick Hits

The Young and the Restless

Last time we checked in with Mariah and Tessa, the impact of the Big Little Liars’ kidnapping of Tessa was reverberating across the canvas: it forced Mariah and Tessa to admit their love for one another and recommit to making their relationship work and drove a wedge between Mariah and Sharon. Surprisingly, Tessa insists on not coming between mother and daughter and pushes her girlfriend to make amends. Mariah’s understandably reluctant but ultimately gives in and goes to spend time with her mother.

But even though Sharon wants her daughter nearby, she can’t resist the opportunity to reaffirm her opposition to Mariah’s relationship. Mariah reminds her mother about what Nikki once did to her and warns Sharon that she’s going down that same path with Tessa. Sharon brushes off the comparison and points out that she encouraged the relationship until she found Tessa’s lies untenable. Ultimately, Mariah accepts Sharon’s disapproval but warns that if she keeps actively trying to hurt Tessa, she’ll cut her out of her life. Still, the thought of Mariah being forced to choose between her mother and her girlfriend doesn’t sit well with Tessa and she tries to bow out. Mariah catches onto her plan and convinces Tessa that her leaving wouldn’t solve anything. Eventually Sharon agrees to a truce.

Natalie

Coronation Street

There was a moment in Corrie’s New Year’s Day episode when Carla’s getting the latest Kate and Rana update from their father and she says, “You know what? It’s impossible to keep up: apart, together, baby, no baby,” and Carla was definitely speaking for me at that moment. It’s been a rollercoaster for Kate and Rana since we last checked in. Let me try and sum it all up for you:

After realizing that their relationship is filled with lies — Rana making excuses to delay having a baby, instead of admitting that she doesn’t actually want a child, and Kate concocting the baby making scheme behind her fiancée’s back — Rana suggests that they give each other some space. Kate storms out, crushed, and eventually ends up at the office of her solicitor, Adam, to tell him that the deal with Robert is off. They opt for some midday libations and then it’s off to trope city: baby-obsessed lesbian gets herself sauced enough to sleep with a straight man and steal his sperm. Thankfully, Kate stops herself before things go too far but the damage has been done.

Kate rushes home to tearfully apologize to Rana and finally admits that her dogged pursuit of a baby is her way of coping with the loss of her brother. As the couple makes amends and promises honesty to each other from now on, Kate omits the story about her nearly sleeping with Adam…which, of course, Rana finds out about anyway. Things blow up spectacularly and Rana ends their relationship…and, for a moment, it looks like things are over between them. But that moment quickly passes when, after a failed attempt to move on and the threat of Kate hooking up with her ex, Imogen, Rana decides she wants Kate back. The pair rings in the new year on the Cobbles together.

The New Year doesn’t start nearly as well for Coronation Street‘s other lesbian, Sophie Webster. She’s so focused on finding a way to get her mother out of prison that when Paula shows up, clearly still interested in her former girlfriend, Sophie can’t even see it. Thankfully though, Sophie, her step-father and her traitorous aunt seem closer to finding the key to getting Sally out than they’ve ever been so, hopefully, after that, we’ll see Sophie make romance more of a priority. — Natalie

General Hospital

Last time we checked in on GH, the show was on the verge of having Kristina, who’s been lost since she broke up with Parker and came back to Genoa City, join a new-age cult. That storyline is still progressing, much to my chagrin, and Kristina’s left the apartment she shared with her sister and moved into the cult’s group house. I still have no idea where they’re going with this but I imagine that things with Kristina and the “Dawn of Day” are going to get much, much worse before they get better.

That said, things are looking up for Kristina on the romance front…well, sort of. Her best gal pal, Valerie, stops by the bar while Kristina’s setting up for a private event. We get to hear Valerie as open about her romantic failings as she’s been her entire run on GH and it breeds a sense of intimacy between the pair. Kristina takes advantage of the moment and leans in for a kiss and then another and another. It’s not the first time they’ve kissed — Valerie kissed Kristina once to make Parker jealous — but this is the first time it’s done with intentionality. Eventually, Valerie remembers she’s not gay and runs out in a panic. Kristina’s mortified that she misread the signals (she didn’t) and messed up their friendship.

The pair keep their distance after that until they cross paths at a New Year’s Eve party. Valerie and Kristina exchange pleasantries but Valerie can’t get away fast enough. But when the countdown ends and a new year begins, they look wistfully at each other across the ballroom. — Natalie

Critical Role Campaign 2, Episode 46: “Storm of Memories”

I haven’t watched last night’s episode but we haven’t had a Boob Tube since “Storm of Memories” and HOLY QUEERNESS BATMAN! Not only did we get without-a-doubt confirmation that Yasha is also queer (giving my Beau/Yasha shipper heart even more hope) but we learned that Yasha has a beautifully tragic/tragically beautiful queer backstory. They’re going all in on the queerness this season and I love them more and more each week. And it’s satisfying my need for Ashley Johnson to play queer that Blindspot has been denying me for YEARS. — Valerie Anne

The Autostraddle TV Team is made up of Riese Bernard, Carmen Phillips, Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya, Valerie Anne, Natalie, and Heather Hogan. Follow them on Twitter!

The TV has written 56 articles for us.

10 Comments

  1. oh my goodness, critical role!!! yes!

    i get so excited every time ashley comes back, even when it’s just for an episode or two. the incredibly awkward beau/yasha flirting is hilarious and honestly so validating for disaster lesbian culture. yasha’s backstory (and the playlist they put up for her on spotify) sliced through my heart like magician’s judge through, well, everything it touches. anyway, super excited to see my favorite nerdy d&d stream included on here! <3

  2. Carmen, I’m glad I’m not the only one that found the episodes of Madame Secretary wanting. It wasn’t the stuff with her dad that bothered me — yes, it did have kind of a “been there, done that” feel to it but I try to distinguish between me and the typical CBS viewer who might not have seen that conversation happen before.

    The thing that bothered me was that she left…the most visibly Latinx member of the staff, the person that looks most like those kids in those cages and parents in those internment camps…and she just left. She wasn’t part of the policy negotiations at all, she didn’t talk to her boss who was stuck in jail…she just left and, instead, her “stealth Latino” colleague, Jay, gets to take the lead on the issue.

    A real political staffer would not do that; the job is putting aside your own personal issues to work for the good of the country. She should’ve been in the room, making decisions, confronting the governor, talking with the president and senators to get a deal done…and if she was as touched by those kids as the first of the two episodes made it seem, she would’ve been. It didn’t make sense from a storytelling perspective or as a reflection of what a committed staffer would actually do.

    That fact let me further know that this show’s not really invested in Kat’s character beyond the fact that they’ve got Sara Ramirez playing her.

    • I think I would have more forgiving of these (very correct) points if the scenes with her father had been able to land for me. I would’ve said “yes Natalie you are absolutely correct, but look at all my feels!!!

      But that didn’t happen, so instead I’m just going to say, “Yep! You’re absolutely right.”

      And I have some other theories about the investment that Madam a Secretary seems to have stalled out on, re: Kat (in these two episodes she recycled no less than two or three exact outfits from her first season, and they didn’t even bother to re-tailor them so they fit akward on the body! It was… messy). But I’m not ready to talk about them in a public forum just yet. I want to see where the show goes first.

      That said, the scenes in the detention center were the stand out of the episodes for me. Kat talking to Daniel hit so many of the notes I wanted from her.

  3. I’m rooting for Naomi/Ana too! But I heard somewhere that they’re setting up Ana with one of the guys this season, which I think is a stupid decision.

    Also, I need to bring this up here: during these last few weeks we got one of the first lesbian kisses on network television here in Mexico. Which is groundbreaking in so many ways, specially because it’s in a telenovela, a genre where gay people just didn’t exist except to be the butt of jokes. The couple is known as Juliantina (Juliana and Valentina) and of course you can find their scenes on YouTube with English subtitles. I’m excited about them, even if they’re small steps it’s still progress for my country.

    • @mgseo That’s such great news! I’ve been hearing great things about Juliana and Valentina’s storyline on Amar a muerte (which folks can also watch in the States on Univision). I tried to find a good playlist for them on Youtube but, even with my limited knowledge of Spanish, so many of the subs seemed out of sync. Thanks for reminding me that I really need to look again.

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