Boobs On Your Tube: Samira Wiley Shines as Bessie Coleman on “Drunk History”

Welcome back to Boobs on Your Tube; and Happy One Day at a Time Day, friends! Don’t you worry, Carmen is in full binge mode and will be writing about season three next week! This week, Heather wrote about Steven Universe‘s season five finale and Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists and made a list of the 25 best lesbian and bisexual dates in TV history to give you a little inspiration for Valentine’s Day. Carmen recapped a really sweet and kickass and also kind of maddening episode of Black Lightning. Kayla recapped a finally very gay episode of Riverdale. Natalie recapped Stef and Lena’s first and perfect visit to Good Trouble. And Rachel wrote brilliantly about Natasha Lyonne and this brilliant season of Russian Doll.

Here’s what else!


Drunk History 604: “Trailblazers”

Written by Carmen

Children gather around, I’m about to tell you a story about how lesbians fly planes.

From the first time I heard that my imaginary girlfriend Samira Wiley was going to be playing actual black history icon, the late pilot Bessie Coleman, in Comedy Central’s standout series Drunk History, I knew I was a goner. Samira’s a close ringer for the flight master, Drunk History is one of my favorite shows, and Black History Month is already my favorite time of the year. What more can you ask for?

If you’ve never seen Drunk History, their whole deal is that a comedian and/or historical expert gets verrrry drunk and then, while inebriated, tells the whole story of a famous historical person or event. Comedy Central then edits that into a script and it’s performed – drunk burps, swear words and all – by professional actors. The concept started off as web series for Funny or Die created by Derek Waters and Jeremy Konner.

Which is to say, trying recap an episode of Drunk History makes no sense out of context! That’s kind of the whole point! Instead, here’s a little about Bessie Coleman:

Yeah, she said what she said. (via Drunk History on Facebook)

Bessie Coleman was the first woman to earn an international piloting license, which is only made all that much sweeter by the fact that she was black. She’s also the first black American woman to hold a pilot’s license, period. She was born to a family of sharecroppers in Texas and ended up in Chicago as a a part of the Great Migration. With the help of a wealthy black benefactor, she was able to travel to France to become a licensed pilot. When she returned to the United States, she was unable to be hired literally anywhere because… racism. She became a successful air show pilot instead and saved money to open a piloting school for African Americans. Unfortunately, she never got to accomplish that final dream. She died in a 1926 plan crash at 34 years old.

Samira Wiley’s Bessie Coleman is perfection! First of all she’s smartly and hilariously narrated, and Samira takes time to find every nuance in her comedic performance. We’re used to watching Samira in weep-fests like Orange is the New Black or her Emmy winning turn in Handmaid’s Tale. It’s easy to forget her easy going comic timing, but that’s on full display here. One of the trickiest parts of Drunk History is that actor has to play the role with a genuine earnestness, no matter how ridiculous the pre-recorded lines, or the entire illusion falls apart. It’s a lot harder than it sounds and Samira really nails it.

SWOON

(Also if you’re the kind of person who goes weak in the knees at Samira’s smile ** cough cough not that I know anything about that cough cough ** then you really need to run to your DVR immediately and fire this episode up IMMEDIATELY. You won’t regret it for a second.)

Last few cool things about Bessie Coleman –  every year black pilots and aviators fly their planes over her grave to honor her life’s work. In 1992 when Mae Jemison became the first black American woman to travel in space, she kept a photograph of Bessie with her on the Space Shuttle Endeavour. If you take Drunk History‘s word for it, this is what Coleman’s photo told her every day:

“Bitch, you got this! I did all this for you. You betta eat this shit up alive because I lived and died by the – WHAT!?!? – The propeller and the plane! I did that shit for you to be in a in a fucking spaceship!”

Bessie Coleman died doing what she loved and believed in. She wanted us to call her by true given name, “Queen Bess, Bitch.”  And Yes m’am, we shall.


All American 112: “Back in the Day”

Written by Natalie

Last week, during the CW’s session at the winter edition of the Television Critics Association Press Tour, the network confirmed new seasons from some of our queer faves: Black Lightning and Charmed. Missing from their list, though? All American. The critically acclaimed show hasn’t found its footing among the CW’s superhero/supernatural line-up — though, somehow Dynasty got renewed, despite its abysmal ratings — and will have to wait until May to hear if it’ll get a second season.

Executives at the CW hope that All American‘s move to Netflix in March will help the show build its fanbase and justify renewal. I hope they’re right because there is no show on the CW — or on broadcast television, frankly — doing queer representation better than All American. Yes, All American is a show about football and Spencer’s rise but they’ve carved out plenty of space for Coop’s stories, making Bre-Z, ostensibly, the show’s co-lead. It’d be a loss for all of us if Tamia “Coop” Cooper’s story ended after just one season.

This week, Coop arrives at home only to find the apartment door already open; inside, Tyrone’s made himself comfortable on the couch. Eviction notices litter the living room: the landlord won’t allow Coop to takeover Shawn’s lease because she’s a minor. Coop’s considering filing for emancipation but Tyrone advises against it. He urges her to go home and reconcile with her parents instead. But what sounds like thoughtful advice is really just a smoke screen: being emancipated means that if Coop ever got arrested, she’d be tried as an adult… which, I mean, yes, that’s true, but there’s a pretty good likelihood that she’d be tried as an adult regardless, what with her being a 16+ year old black girl in a gang from South Central Los Angeles and all. Coop brushes off Tyrone’s advice — she’ll just have to avoid getting arrested — and Tyrone looks not at all pleased to have his advice ignored.

A brief moment of happiness for Coop…

Later, Coop’s strolling down the block with Spencer when someone shouts her name. She looks up to see her dad standing outside the apartment gates. This show doesn’t afford Coop many moments of pure joy but the smile on Coop’s face, as she runs into her father’s arms, is that kind of moment. Once they’re inside, we learn that her father’s been out of town until just recently and missed all the theatrics between Coop and her mother. He spots the emancipation papers on the table and Coop explains that she needs them signed, in order to stay in the apartment and take care of herself (again, not exactly how things work). Coop’s father says that he wants her to come home and claims that his wife is ready to accept all of Coop. He invites her to breakfast at the house tomorrow to see her mother’s change-of-heart up close.

Everything about this alleged turnaround seems suspect but I get why Coop shows up the next day with Spencer in tow. No matter what we’ve been through with our parents, there’s still some small part of us that craves their love and acceptance. They enjoy breakfast outside and the tension between mother and daughter is thick, despite Coop’s father’s attempt to lighten the mood by telling funny stories. But when Patience calls — and Coop gets up to take the call — the thin veneer of tolerance that Coop’s mother has been showcasing, breaks. Coop’s mom clings to her bigotry and says that no one — not her husband or Tyrone — is going to make her change her mind. Turns out that Tyrone interceded to make sure that Coop didn’t go the emancipation route. Coop’s dad could bring his daughter back home or he would lose his job at the trucking company.

Dope and heartbroke.

Coop’s heartbroken by the revelation but musters up the courage to say, “You know what? I’m dope as hell and y’all gon’ realize that one day. The messed up part? It’s probably going to be too late.”

When she gets home that afternoon, Coop’s father is waiting for her outside. He assures her that he always wanted her to come home but admits to using Tyrone’s threat to compel his wife to go along with the plan. Coop believes the only thing he was trying to do is save his job but he’d rather lose his job than lose his daughter. He hands her the signed emancipation papers — both he and her mom signed them — but he’s only giving her what she wants to ensure she has a place to live, he won’t ever stop fighting to reunite his family.


How to Get Away With Murder 512: “We Know Everything”

Written by Natalie

When Amirah Vann’s Tegan Price was bumped up to series regular for HTGAWM‘s fifth season, I was really excited. Two queer female characters of color among the main cast of one of my favorite shows on television? YES, PLEASE. But the optimism I began the season with — maybe Annalise and Tegan will hook up or maybe Michaela and Tegan will — has been steadily eroded and while I was sure that the destruction of Annalise and Eve’s love would be the worst of it, last night’s episode had me worried that I’d underestimated Pete Nowalk’s capacity to ruin everything. I wondered: Did they make Tegan Price a series regular just to kill her?

Let’s review the evidence, shall we?

Annalise Keating, here to save another man from himself.

After his arrest last week, Gabriel calls his professor/unwitting stepmother to provide for his defense. Over the objections of the Keating Four (and Oliver), Annalise steps in as Gabriel’s attorney, hoping to suss out whatever information Gabriel might have given to the FBI about them. Her plan works and she discovers that the district attorney — Ronald Miller, Bonnie’s ex-boyfriend who got murdered, in the season opener — was working with Gabriel to investigate Annalise. Everyone thinks that Gabriel’s facing charges related to Miller’s investigation or the disappearance but the judge announces that Gabriel’s being charged with domestic terrorism for his involvement in the Ferguson protests in 2014. The prosecutors produce an image — one reminiscent of the iconic photo of Edward Crawford — of a masked man tossing a can of tear gas back at police and claim it’s Gabriel.

The storyline gets dealt with relatively easily: Frank’s been watching the Gabriel since he arrived at Middleton and Laurel discovers the FBI planting the masked man’s hat in Gabriel’s apartment in the surveillance video. Annalise presents the video — which she spins as a product of Gabriel’s self-monitoring — as evidence and the case is immediately dismissed. HTGAWM has always incorporated the stories of real life injustices into their storylines and usually I find it commendable. The show’s able to highlight an issue, like recividism or the underfunding of public defenders, and add some real depth to the conversation. But, here, the evocation of Ferguson in “We Know Everything” felt capricious and, given what happened to Edward Crawford, cruel.

Michaela is Lucy, I’m Charlie Brown and I keep trying to kick that damn football.

Meanwhile, Tegan meets up with her old FBI handler, Claire Telesco, to find out if Jorge Castillo — Laurel’s father and the client Tegan flipped on last season — is behind the DA’s murder. Telesco says there’s no evidence to support that theory and, instead, points a finger at Annalise. She urges Tegan to pass along any information she comes across that might implicate her colleague and promises that the FBI will protect her if she comes forward. When she arrives back at Caplan & Gold, Michaela comes in to try to smooth things over after having been caught in a lie last week.

Michaela offers Tegan something that, sort of, resembles the truth: they wanted to hold off on filing the civil suit to keep the FBI’s light from shining brighter on Nate. Tegan, however, isn’t satisfied and draws impossibly close to Michaela and asks what else is going on. Michaela promises, on her unborn child, that there’s nothing else… and no sooner are the words out of her mouth than Emmett appears to ask about Gabriel’s domestic terrorism charge. Michaela is mortified and Tegan’s stunned that she nearly fell for Michaela’s lies again.

Having failed at lesbianing her mission, Michaela heads back to the house to regroup. After conferring with Oliver, she pitches a new idea: keeping Tegan on the sidelines (and away from the FBI) by sending her anonymous e-mail that suggests that someone knows that she was the Jane Doe in the Antares case. If Tegan thinks that the FBI can’t protect her, Michaela rationalizes, she won’t go to them with any new information and, instead, she’ll just stay quiet. Laurel points out that if her father sees the e-mail, he’ll have Tegan killed, and Michaela retorts that he can’t do that from prison. Michaela has been through too much on this show to be this dumb and naïve.

“I thought you liked Tegan?” Connor asks.

“I love her,” Michaela admits. “That is why I know what will scare her.”

Tegan, you in danger, girl.

Once Annalise is convinced that the e-mail can’t be traced back to them, she tells Oliver to send it. And, to her credit, Michaela’s right: when the e-mail pops up in Tegan’s inbox, she looks petrified and when Telesco calls later, she ignores the call. But either it never strikes Annalise, Michaela and Oliver or they just don’t care that Tegan’s not going to be the only person to see that e-mail. Predictably, the C&G IT department flags the “Jane Doe” e-mail as suspicious and they pass it up the ladder to Emmett. Without revealing the substance of the e-mail, Emmett asks Annalise about Tegan and she comes to the young lawyer’s defense. Surprised by Annalise’s reaction, he calls IT to get access to her e-mails… less to investigate any wrongdoing on Annalise’s part, I suspect, but more to find out if there’s something romantic going on with Tegan and Annalise. I WISH, EMMETT, I WISH!

“Emmett’s watching you,” Annalise warns. “I don’t know why, and I don’t care but I vouched for you so watch your back, because clearly something weird is going on right now.”

Maybe I’m worried about nothing. Maybe Michaela’s e-mail won’t get the woman she loves killed. Maybe Emmett won’t give that e-mail to Jorge Castillo, as he’s (possibly) legally bound to do, to get Tegan out of the way so he can romance Annalise. Maybe I’m wrong but this season, HTGAWM‘s writers haven’t given me much cause for hope.


Quick Hits

Siren 203: “Natural Order”

Hi there, me again, here with your weekly #hornyformermaids update. This week, in an attempt to learn more about Ryn’s siren song and why it affects Ben the way it does, Maddie decides to record it to compare it to other animal and ocean sounds. The problem is, Ryn can’t sing without a human present, so to avoid Ben losing his whole entire mind, Maddie decides to stay in the room while Ryn sings. She puts on noise-cancelling headphones and turns on the equipment, and at first I was afraid that the song wasn’t sound-based at all, but I don’t think Maddie heard the song after all. She did feel a connection to Ryn though, an admiration for her grace and beauty as she sang.

Maybe the song Ryn was singing was “Sweet Caroline.”

After the song is over, Maddie asks what it feels like when she sings, and Ryn says it makes her feel good, and she wants to sing to Ben again, but she knows it hurts him so she doesn’t. Maddie decides they should keep this fact a secret, because Ben is barely hanging on as it is.

The preview for next week looked pretty steamy so I look forward to have more to report! — Valerie Anne


Legacies 110: “There’s a World Where Your Dreams Came True”

The twins finally returned to Legacies, and with quite the bang. The latest monster-magnet artifact, the urn, attracted a Jinni (not to be confused with a genie… though similar in wish-granting concept) who, after briefly scanning the room, picked Lizzie as the most obviously selfish among them. Lizzie’s first wish was very Cordelia in The Wish, and wishes Hope never came to the school. That reality is a bit of a bummer since the school didn’t have the funding it does in our reality, and Hope ends up finding her way there anyway, so Lizzie decides to do a little revision and her second wish is that there was never a Salvatore School at all.

In this reality, Josie is the more assertive twin, and homecoming queen, their dad is day drunk, and Hope is the HBIC of Michaelsons, a supernatural school for the badass. When Hope invites the twins and their dad to the school, Hope and Josie start flirting relentlessly and Lizzie decides this is worse than Hope being teacher’s pet with her dad.

This makes more sense to me than Hope/Landon tbh

So for what she thinks is her final wish, Lizzie wishes Hope was never born, which sends the world into chaos since Hope was the reason her dad never went full beast-mode. In this reality, the worst of them all, Lizzie found out about The Merge, something that happens to twins of the Gemini Coven on their 22nd birthday, and instead of waiting to see if Josie would win, Lizzie killed Josie. Penelope is there mourning her ex-girlfriend (or maybe current girlfriend in this reality, who knows) and can’t believe Lizzie would show her face.

You can tell it’s a hellscape because her hair is crimped.

But luckily in the end, Lizzie unburies the gay and wishes things back to the way they were in such a way that also doesn’t give Jinni access to the urn she wanted. Lizzie hugs her sister, happy as we are that she’s alive, though unlike us doesn’t really know why.

In conclusion, Hope is also queer, because Jinni insisted that everything that was happening were potential realities, and Hope was the one to put her hand on Josie’s leg, so that means she’s queer in our reality too. No take backs. — Valerie Anne


Star Trek: Discovery 204: “An Obol for Charon”

My favorite space butch, Tig Notaro’s Jett Reno, was back on last night’s Discovery, once again saving the day and proving that this Star Trek is the nerdiest of all Star Treks, with all its math and hard science. Reno’s converting antimatter into lithium to power Discover’s propulsion unit, “old school,” despite the protests of Stamets and Tilly who are happy running the ship off spores. First Reno calls them farmers and when Stamets tries to clap back she tells him she’s “un-insult-able,” especially by a guy who powers a ship off the mushrooms she picks off her pizza. Turns out she’s super right about the spores, which are literally trying to kill them all. She’s 2-0 and I can’t wait to see more of her deadpan excellence. — Heather

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

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7 Comments

  1. I am going *immediately* from this article to watch said episode of Drunk History. I love history and I love goofy renditions of things and Bessie Coleman is the co-number one Bessie in history (along with Bessie Stringfield, motorcyclist extraordinaire).

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