Boob(s On Your) Tube: Scream Queens, Empire and Rosewood Add Even More Queer Women to the Fall TV Lineup

We are only five days into the first official week of the 2015-2016 TV season, and already:

+ Barbara Gordon got agency and swagger on Gotham.

+ Grey’s Anatomy kicked off season 12 with a Very Special Episode about a teenage lesbian couple who got hit by a train and both of them lived.

+ AND VIOLA DAVIS MADE OUT WITH FAMKE JANSEN BECAUSE ANNALISE KEATING IS BISEXUAL.

But wait, there’s more! (There’s a reason we decided to split this column into a twice-weekly situation.)


Scream Queens

Tuesdays on Fox at 9:00 p.m.

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I’m part of an elite group of patriarchy smashers knows as the Lesbian Blogger Community.

To exactly no one’s surprise, Scream Queens plays like if Rachel Berry had a drug-induced camp-horror fever dream a la Spencer Hastings on Pretty Little Liars, which actually sounds kind of cool when I type it, but only as a standalone episode of a show I was already forcing myself to watch for work. What I’m saying is you’ve seen these Scream Queens characters before, even if you’ve only seen the pilot episode of Glee because Ryan Murphy has one idea and he bends every new show he creates inside that idea. The fact that he’s joined here by Ian Brennan and Brad Falchuck — alone again, with no writers room — just makes the Glee juxtaposition even more inevitable.

Emma Roberts plays Quinn Fabray, Lea Michele plays Artie, Skyler Samuels plays Rachel Berry, Abigail Breslin plays Brittany, Nick Jonas plays Blaine Warbler, and a presumably fifty-year-old man plays Finn Hudson.

Jeanna Han plays a lesbian character named Sam (“or Butch or Mac or something”). She does not play Santana Lopez because there is truly only one Santana Lopez and — as Murphy & Co. proved when they tried to create a New Santana along with a New Rachel and a New Quinn and a New Finn and a New Puck because THEY CAN SERIOUSLY ONLY WRITE ONE SET OF CHARACTERS — Naya Rivera is what makes Santana Lopez the fully realized unicorn-monster that she is.

On Scream Queens, New Directions is a sorority, but instead of being outsiders, they’re the ultimate insiders … until Jamie Lee “Sue Sylvester” Curtis launches a vendetta against them and makes them take in outsiders. One of those outsiders is “Predatory Lez,” Sam, who is only on-screen for a hot second, and who I think gets murdered in the first three episodes. Wide-eyed Grace wants to return her mother’s former sorority to its glory days, full of girl power and lasting friendships and come on y’all Don’t Stop Believin’. Gigi “Schuester” is Kappa’s national president and a resident do-gooder who wants to help Grace see her dreams come true. What’s standing in Grace’s way is more than just mean girls! There’s a real live murderer on the loose!

Everything else is the same, though: Minority-on-minority crime, everybody is dressed like a house full of dolls after an apocalypse, no one has a filter and everyone says the most horrific and ~subversive~ shit to each other, and a couple of jokes you actually can’t help but laugh out loud about no matter how bitter of a former Glee recapper you are. For me it was: a sorority white party “where everyone is encouraged to wear white-slash-be white.”

If Lea Michele is your fave and you want to see her act, I mean, just FULLY unhinged, stick around until the next episode, at least.


Empire

Wednesdays on Fox at 9:00 p.m.

Written by Carolyn Wysinger

Empire is back! The Lyons family picks up where we left them: Lucious has been in jail for 3 months and Cookie has put together a #FreeLucious concert where the artists talk about Black Lives Matter and the mass incarceration of black men. Everyone asks why they are doing an event to free Lucious when it is clear that he killed Bunky. Even Al Sharpton tells Cookie that he can‘t back her on this one because Lucious is guilty. Hakeem is still mad that Lucious chose Jamal to run the company, so he and Cookie have a plan for a hostile takeover. Andre is still waking up in cold sweats and his wife is pressing him about that little matter of them murdering Vernon.

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On the real, your Brokeback Bette Porter thing is working for me.

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CHANGE THE CHANNEL, BURN THE TV!

Meanwhile Lucious is in jail along with Cookie’s friend that murdered the guy she thought was leaving her mysterious roses. He informs Lucious that the gangster Cookie ratted on, Frank Gathers, is being sent to their prison. Lucious doesn’t seem concerned and I wasn’t either when Frankie arrived and turned out to be Chris Rock. What is this, CB4?

We meet new lezzy character, Mimi Whiteman, who is a possible investor that Cookie is trying to impress to finance her Empire takeover. To help her cause, Cookie throws a huge all girl party to give Mimi her choice of the woman that she wants to sleep with. Ultimately, she tasks Anika with the job of sleeping with Mimi to get on her good side.

There are still some things I am trying to figure out about the Cookie/Mimi dynamic. This is more than simply Cookie catering to Mimi’s preference for women, and I have questions. Cookie seemed a bit too cozy with Mimi at times, almost as if there was something between the two of them. Could we see a story there in the future? Is anybody ready for the heat that would be generated between Taraji P Henson and Marisa Tomei? I’m still feeling out the Mimi character. It’s obvious that she is going to be the wild card this season, but I’m excited to see a power lezzy on network TV.

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Drip-drop, drip-drippity-drop.

Back in jail, Lucious crosses paths with Frank and his daughter, who my gaydar pegged as queer even before I knew she was rapper Bre-Z.

Cookie’s sister Carole figures out that Frank Gathers really is behind the roses that Cookie has been receiving. In a flashback we learn that their friend ratted Cookie out to Frank in jail after Frank had him beaten and tortured. Cookie finds a large gift with a bow on it at her door. When she gets in the house Carole is waiting for her. They open the box together to find their friend’s severed head inside, Godfather-style. Cookie visits Lucious in jail and asks him to “take care of it.” He responds by having a sit down meeting with Frank and then having him killed by other inmates, thus ending the short CB4 era on Empire.

Later that day, Cookie, Anika, Andre and Hakeem (on a hella cool hoverboard) do a slow motion stroll into the Empire board room to inform Jamal and the board about their hostile takeover financed by Mimi. They assure Jamal the point is not to take control from him but protect the company from Lucious. They arrive to find out that Mimi has double-crossed them and joined forces with Jamal and Lucious to maintain control going forward. Cookie charges the fiasco to Anika, who did actually sleep with Mimi and sums the whole mess up in one fabulous quote: “You can’t even dyke right!”

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THIS IS THE WAY IT’S THE WAY THAT WE LIVE

This week’s episode was a good start and left so many questions for the writers to answer throughout the season. I admired their attempt to loop in the Black Lives Matter, even though I didn’t think the Lucious storyline was a good way to do it. I felt it played into the view that black men who brutalized or incarcerated deserve it. They had lots of celebs, which was fun and we cannot forget the super gay meeting Jamal had with Lawrence from Fashion Queens. Lawrence SLAYED the song “You Make Me Feel Mighty Real” by legendary disco queen Sylvester. I’m looking forward to a fun roller coaster this season! Follow Hashtag #autoempire to tweet your thoughts on this week’s episode of Empire.


Rosewood

Wednesdays on Fox at 10:00 p.m.

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I think your mom would love us more if we got some babies like Stef and Lena.

It seems like Bones would be an easy show to replicate, but Fox has never been able to do it, no matter how many backdoor pilots they try to spin out of a series that is now entering its eleventh season. That show has survived its will-they/won’t-they romance by answering the question with a resounding “I do!,” a dozen time slot shifts, killing off more than one beloved character, and a complete inability to gain traction on social media. Bones should have plummeted in ratings and been cancelled years ago, but it LIIIVVVVES.

Rosewood is Fox’s latest attempt to recapture the Bones magic and while it doesn’t succeed right off the bat, there’s promise. Beau Rosewood is the Brennan of the show, only he’s a freelance pathologist. Detective Annalise Villa is the Booth of the show, a hard-working police detective shouldering some shame about her past. It’s gender-flipped Bones with two lead characters of color, and also it’s set in Miami, so it’s very bright and everyone is dressed like lawn flamingos the whole time. But the main thing about Rosewood is Beau’s two lab partners are his sister Pippy and also a woman named Kathy. They’re lesbian ladies engaged to be married! The show doesn’t dance around it or mask it; their sexuality is a huge part of their characterization from the moment they appear on-screen.

Another solid bonus for this show is that Lorraine “Vee” Toussaint plays Beau and Pippy’s mom, like she plays Lena’s mom on The Fosters!

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Hello, yes, I would like to order one hundred foster children and one jackass entitled son, please.

You’ve seen this pilot episode a hundred times in your life, I don’t need to describe it to you. It’s going to be a case-of-the-week series where Villa wants to play by the rules and Beau arrogantly assumes he knows better and convinces her to go off-book. Sometimes he’ll be right. Sometimes she’ll be right. They’ll kiss in the season one finale (if the show makes it that long), and Villa will shut it down because they’re partners, you know? They respect each other too much to have a fling. (But it will be more than a fling to him, can’t she see??)

But in between that age-old structure, there’s a chance we’re going to get some lesbian adorableness with Pippy and Kathy. Pole dancing classes for their honeymoon was a thing that came up this week. “Sugar bear” is a thing one of them called the other one. It’s actually a pretty huge deal that Fox greenlit this show with those two queer women front-and-center like that. I’m cautiously optimistic about where it will go.


Grey’s Anatomy + How to Get Away With Murder

Thursdays on ABC at 8:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m.

These two shows will be folded into Boob(s On Your) Tube going forward, but for today they made an appearance in their own article, celebrating the return of TGIT with such queer style.

I’ll see you Tuesday!


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Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle senior editor who lives in New York City with her partner, Stacy, and their cackle of rescued pets. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr.

Heather has written 700 articles for us.

28 Comments

  1. I’m not really down with celebrating the Mimi character just because she’s a lesbian. She’s a predator and a user who plays with people like toys. She’s somewhat more tolerable it’s true because she’s an attractive woman instead of the disgusting old men most billionaires are, but she’s still scum and she doesn’t get a pass because she’s gay.

    • can we find her character compelling, though? she’s definitely a terrible person, but stories need villains and people with shitty ethics to be interesting and have conflicts, and Empire has quite a few characters who are only looking out for themselves or using people.

          • tbh i was working while i was watching it so i probably shouldn’t say anything else in case i may have missed something? — like i need to be the commenter i want to see in the world and stop talking. i guess in general though i just meant that you can’t actually separate the character from her gender / race / sexuality, the same actions have very different meanings based on the inherent power the person does or does not possess in society.

          • She’s a billionaire. She possesses all the power in this situation and she uses it to play with people like they’re her dolls. It’s fine by me if people find the acting compelling. I just m seeing way too much celebration of her because she’s a lesbian and not enough condemnation of her lying and manipulating. I would hate this person regardless of gender. Although, admittedly a good bit more if they were the (far more common in real life) lecherous old white guy.

          • Mimi being a lesbian makes a difference in that that kind of character isn’t one we’ve necessarily seen in media before, and she isn’t the only lesbian on this show, so it’s representation with regards to character quality and diversity.
            Some people like watching villains that are vivid personalities. (James Bond films ride on the strength of their villain. So do horror franchises.)

            It’s like saying if all of the characters on Glee were straight white dudes, their actions would be inexcusable. Well, yeah. For that matter, that most of the Glee characters’ actions were written by white dudes makes a difference. A lot of their actions were inexcusable anyways, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still have fun watching them. Enjoying their existence (some delicious aspect of their personality, or just the eyecandy factor) doesn’t equate supporting their actions.
            Plus, Mimi’s actions don’t exist in a vacuum. How did she come by her money? Was she born with that manipulative personality, or did she learn it? If the latter, from whom, and why? Her identity and backstory doesn’t justify or excuse her actions, but they do inform them in ways that another character’s (straight, black, male, bisexual, middle class, non-american) would not. To start with, what separates Mimi’s dealings from Cookie’s?

          • You are missing my point. I’m disagreeing on any individual thing you wrote here. I’m saying the tone of this article and others I’ve seen on tumblr are far too celebratory that she manipulated a woman into sex. She is not cool. She is not badass. She is a scumfuck. Get me?

        • I totally get what you’re saying here, and I definitely do think we could stand to hold our applause on certain characters whose only redeeming quality is that they’re gay. But I do think Empire is a show in which nearly everyone has done fairly despicable things, including screwing over their own family to succeed and using sex as a weapon. That isn’t uncommon (and you could say is kinda overdone) in the post-breaking-bad tv world but I DO appreciate shows like Scandal, How to Get Away With Murder and, yes, Empire, where the anti-heroes and people doing highly questionable things for selfish reasons are NOT the same boring white dudes and get to be women, pocs and queer people. You don’t have to like that type of story-telling where everyone is double-crossing their own mother every other episode but I think there’s certainly value in allowing a diverse range of characters to be morally grey (to say the least, maybe murder etc goes beyond morally grey). You know?

  2. Every year we find out that there will be a lesbian or bisexual person in a show and then the show starts and I am like um, where are they? or is there sexuality ever going to be mentioned? (e.g., weird loners) and i was so surprised that within five minutes of rosewood kicking off that both lesbians were right there, front and center, being lesbians, and then were lesbianing throughout the entire show! what a world.

  3. Lol about Ryan Murphy’s shows. I can’t speak for AHS (YET!), but I started watching that show Popular from the 90’s, which is basically Quinn and Rachel as stepsisters and who hasn’t read that fanfic? (Actually, is that a fanfic and can someone point me in the direction of it?)

  4. I bingewatched the entire first season of Empire in the last three days, and now I need to talk about it.

    So. While I understand the creative reasons for making Jamal the new Luscious, I REALLY don’t like it. He and Cookie were what hooked me to this show, and I don’t like what he’s becoming since taking over Empire.

    Also. Is it just me, or was that #FreeLuscious concert the WORST? While these characters are not perfect by any means, it still really squicked me out to have them hypocritically using an important movement like #blacklivesmatter for their own selfish, greedy purposes.

    Finally. Were we all scammed into thinking Cookie is bisexual because of the promos with Marissa Tomei’s character? Do any of us think that’s actually going to happen now? Not that it’s completely off the table, but I’m feeling a little manipulated, essentially because I started watching this series three days ago in part because of the promise that Taraji would be kissing ladies. Don’t get me wrong, Cookie is still a fantastic character, and totally worth the time I spent catching up on the show, but I’m definitely feeling a bit cheated.

    So. Many. Queer. TV. Feelings.

  5. I watched Rosewood and didn’t hate it. I’ll probably watch it again.

    I really disliked Empire, the whole predatory lesbian character thing doesn’t sit well with me at all. So I won’t be watching that again.

    And I can’t force myself to watch Scream Queens so I’ll be passing on that as well.

    Need better shows…

  6. I had higher hopes for Scream Queens. I know, I know, Ryan Murphy, I should have known. But the cast is solid and I thought the premise and genre was pretty fun. However I actually just found myself bored a lot during the 2 hour premiere. Giving the show one more episode to make any sort of positive impression on me, otherwise I’m out. Although her character is a total caricature, I didn’t mind Chanel (Emma Roberts) and some of her slayer burns, were pretty much the only laughs the show gave me.

    Oh Empire, how I love you so. I don’t really love what they’ve done to Jamal, it’s so far from what he was at the start of season one. I’m all for character development, but this transition from outcast to mini-Lucious feels a bit rushed… I like Marissa Tomei as an actor, but I wasn’t really feeling her character. Hopefully they’ll flesh her out a bit to be more than just the predatory lesbian, because she’s definitely got the chops to portray an interesting and nuanced character. I’m all for villains, and I think we’re at a point where most viewers can discern that “evil-ness” in a gay or lesbian character is separate to their sexuality.

  7. I had VERY mixed feelings about scream queens, I wanted to like it, i mean, it has some actors (and pop singers) i like, and i love camp and slasher movies, but it just didn’t hit the mark for me. A lot of it felt like a not as clever, not as funny and not as scary Scream 4, and it was hard for me to not compare the two since both are called Scream (something), both are about murderers killing youngish people, and both star Emma Roberts.

    Also, ugh, thanks for reminding me that there will never be another santana lopez. I spend at least five hours a week ranting in my head about how great of a character she was and how much ryan murphy screwed her over. i just really miss santana lopez.

  8. Tuesday evening, 6:30pm central time: Sitting at my computer a reminder pops up that Scream Queens premieres in 30 minutes. I begrudgingly make my way to the couch and mentally prepare for what I’m worried will be two hours locked in a dollhouse of poorly executed generic tropes. Why watch? Well I’m a masochistic Looney Tune with an unhealthy addiction to any sort of mystery.

    The mystery aspect was about as disappointing as MTV’s Scream. Think of the classic and SUPER obvious horror movie tropes and boom you have your killer.

    Emma Roberts as a mean girl will never get old but Chanel is missing something I can’t place my finger on. It’s not the acting, it’s something missing in the writing of the character (sidenote: I’d love to see her and Sasha Pieterse in a mean girl face off). Lea Michele has officially been typecast in Ryan Murphy’s book and it’s a damn shame. Although, watching her fetishize a corpse while wearing an ice cream cone boob sweater was entertaining PURELY because Lea Michele is a beyond talented actress. Ariana Grande… you will not be missed (re: dance w/ devil & Twitter debacle).

    Ignoring the lack of originality in general story-line and beyond generic execution of the classic character archetypes, I couldn’t help but cheer and award style points for each of the Red Devil’s kills. The murders and immediate character reactions to said murders were and, I’m guessing, will continue to be the only saving grace for Scream Queens.

    I’m going to give it a few episodes to redeem itself but I’m holding my hand precariously close to the big read eject button. Ryan Murphy & co. please don’t force me to hit the button.

  9. I wanted, but shouldn’t have expected, more from Scream Queens. I love Halloween, and was looking forward to having some campy Halloween stuff to watch for the next month, but when Emma Robert’s character said “white mammy” my eyes glazed over, and it was painful to watch any more for me. Everything felt so loud and forced and harsh, even the “funny” scenes. It was just too much.

  10. – I’ll really miss Jenn’s Greys recaps.
    – “You can’t even dyke right!” Is already the best quote of the year. Jamal being an homophobic towards the femmy singer rubbed me the wrong way.
    – WTF was that with that gorilla suit?
    – I’ll pass on the Ryan Murphy show, thanks

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