Buckle up, because we had a week! First, Valerie told us more about Andrea’s past and how she relates to Lena Luthor (and therefore her girlfriend, Supergirl) on Supergirl. Drew had Sunday dinner with the cast and creators of One Day at a Time — where publicly crying was a dress code requirement. Riese accomplished some major deep dive research into exactly how a lesbian or bisexual character gets their name on television (spoiler alert: lots of Kats, lots of Susans). She also reviewed Jessica Biel’s lesbian journalist in Limetown, a terrifying Facebook Watch thriller starring so many of your favs including Lena Adams Foster and Jodi from The L Word. Speaking of terrifying, Kayla wrote yet another soliloquy to Riverdale‘s Cheryl Blossom, who is the show’s most interesting character AND NOT JUST BECAUSE SHE’S GAY (but, let’s be real — that helps).
Riese and her special edition co-host Drew Gregory (hi Drew!!) dropped a new episode of To L and Back, chronicling the famous season three quinceañera episode — which, get this, includes special commentary from former Autostraddle senior editor Yvonne Marquez and her wife Gloria!!! You don’t want to miss it!
Notes from the TV Team:
+ On God Friended Me, it looks like Ali is going into the family business. Things haven’t been working out in grad school, and after some consultation with her pastor at the LGBT church (Peppermint from RuPaul’s Drag Race) Ali decides to give a sermon and see if that helps her find her way. It does, and that path is leading right to the pulpit. — Carmen
+ Grace is still on Black Lightning!! I don’t mean to sound so shocked, but that makes three out of the first five episodes so far. That’s definitely a record for this show and their uneven queer representation. This week she’s playful with Anissa, gets to know Uncle Gambi, and helps keep Anissa’s Black Bird secret safe from the ASA by using her shape-shifting super powers. — Carmen
+ Atypical star Brigette Lundy-Paine came out as non-binary. Sending you lots of love Brigette, from all of us on Autostraddle’s TV Team.
American Horror Story 909: “Final Girl”
Written by Drew
AHS: 1984 is over. And it never escaped purgatory.
Much like its collection of hot teen ghosts, the ninth installment of Ryan Murphy’s iconic anthology series ended up stuck between past trauma and the possibilities of the future.
My main interest entering this season was how Angelica Ross’ Nurse Rita would be handled. Would she merely be a supporting character unworthy of Ross’ endless talent? Or would the show actively write back to the exhaustive (and exhausting) history of trans women killers? Well, the answer, ultimately, was neither.
It was a joy to watch Ross receive the material that she did. Even Pose never quite gave her the range AHS allowed. And oh my, does she have range.
But after the thrilling reveal that Rita wasn’t Rita at all, but a serial killer-fascinated psychologist in training named Donna, Ross’ storyline became sort of safe. In fact, the whole show did, despite its immense gore.
The final episode of AHS: 1984 focuses on Jingles’ son searching for answers in 2019. The show ends on him and Jingles and their family, four seemingly straight cis white people.
“I guess we’re both the final girl,” Brooke says to Donna. But are they? Yes, they both live. But Brooke is the protagonist (alongside Jingles) and Donna’s story centers around her. Being the “final girl” isn’t just about survival. It’s about narrative importance.
That’s not to say it isn’t radical that Ross lives through the series, even getting some fun old age makeup. Hell, it’s radical that she was there to begin with. But it shouldn’t be! There are two approaches when creating inclusive art. You can celebrate yourself for including people who always should’ve been included anyway. Or you can actually take that individual and explore their full humanity, pushing back against film history, and pushing forward to something more interesting. AHS: 1984 was a step. A very fun step. But there is so much more one can do with the horror genre, specifically with the horror genre and trans people. Maybe next season.
9-1-1 308: “Malfunction”
Written by Natalie
I haven’t seen the new Harriet Tubman biopic. Despite my love for all things Janelle Monáe, my rationale is simply this: however good Harriet is, it could be better than Aisha Hinds’ turn as the famed abolitionist on WGN’s Underground. Though she’d built an expansive TV resume before she stepping into Harriet’s shoes, that role announced to the world what Aisha Hinds was capable of, and in the years since her fans have been waiting for a show to take advantage of her talents. This week, 9-1-1 did just that.
Throughout her shift at Station 118, Henrietta Wilson is out of sorts. She’s late to work, she’s distracted on calls, she’s barely communicating with her partner. It’s not until she gets home that we learn the reason behind it: her wife is still in mourning over the loss of their six embryos. Hen tries to gently nudge Karen out of bed but the pain is still so raw, it feels like a shove. Karen accuses her wife of not feeling the loss, but Hen assures her that she’s not alone in her grief. When Hen missteps and refers to the embryos as just an idea, Karen recognizes that her wife didn’t see the embryos as an extension of her… and, thus, doesn’t understand her pain.
Hen’s carrying her own pain, along with a growing resentment of her wife for allowing her grief to obscure the life she still has with her and their son. She hates herself for even saying the words out loud, but Athena reminds her that she’s just venting to her friend not directing her ire at Karen. As long as Hen needs that outlet, Athena promises to be there.
The next day, though, Hen’s still distracted at work. Hen’s driving a patient, along with her co-workers, in the ambulance and everything is going well until it isn’t. Hen activates the emergency vehicle pre-emption device which should ensure clear passage to the hospital but something malfunctions and she ends up t-boning a teenage driver on the way to her debut for the L.A. Philharmonic. It’s a testament to Hinds’ performance in this episode that I (and probably every other 9-1-1 viewer) rewound the accident about a thousand times trying to figure out which driver was at fault.
Once Hen realizes what’s happened, she jumps out of the ambulance and tries to help the wounded driver (Evelyn, as Hen notes from a discarded Starbucks cup). Back-up arrives and takes over the effort to rescue Evelyn, while Hen watches in absolute agony. The shock of it all starts to hit Hen just as Athena arrives. Witnesses (and their smartphones) are gathering and Athena tries to reign in her despondent best friend. Investigators are coming, Athena warns, and Hen needs to be prepared to let go of her feelings and answer their questions with the facts. But it’s not clear how much of Athena’s warnings Hen actually hears because she’s still focused on Evelyn… until her crew stops working and it’s clear she’s dead. Hen collapses against the fire truck, crying and wailing — seriously, I think Aisha Hinds’ wail might haunt me in my dreams — and it’s all just awful.
S.W.A.T. 307: “Track”
Written by Natalie
As a general rule, I don’t like cop shows and, in particular, I don’t like cop shows on CBS, which tend to flatten their portrayals of police officers and lionize them. Those shows cling to a firm rule: the cops are the “good guys” and the criminals are the “bad guys.” Those kind of portrayals contribute to an environment where police are uniformly believed even when the circumstances don’t warrant that faith. But I gave S.W.A.T. a shot because the show’s creator, Shawn Ryan, has a reputation for creating more complex portrayals (see, The Shield and the Jennifer Beals-fronted Chicago Code). To the show’s credit, they’ve succeeded in pushing the boundaries of the everyday cop show.
That is, until now. This week, S.W.A.T. fell pray to the same “good guys” narrative that hampers lesser police procedurals.
When the episode begins, Chris is at home, painting a feature wall with Kira. They’re cute and flirtatious until Ty interrupts and the warmth of the moment is lost. After Kira excuses herself to get ready for work, Ty approaches Chris about the imbalance in their triangle: he feels she’s not as invested in their relationship as she is in her relationship with Kira. Later, after a work assignment doesn’t pan out, Deacon approaches Chris about how reserved she is today. Initially Chris brushes off his outreach because she knows how Deacon and his wife, Annie, feel about her home life. And here’s where S.W.A.T. starts to go astray.
“You know that wasn’t a judgment of you,” Deacon says. “Annie’s issue was you talking to Lila about it and in a way that made it hard for Annie to explain it to her. That’s all.”
This is absolute bullshit. Last season, Annie told Chris that her “threesome thing” was not normal, right or moral. She said that if she’d known about Chris’ relationship with Ty and Kira, she absolutely would not have Chris the godmother of her newborn child. It had nothing to do how Chris described her relationship to their daughter, Lila; it absolutely was a judgment of Chris and for the show to suggest otherwise is absurd. Instead of grappling with the fact that Deacon’s wife said something so ridiculously fucked up, S.W.A.T. resigns itself to the age-old trope of “good guys” vs. “bad guys.” The show firmly plants Deacon and his wife among the “good guys” with little regard for the depiction of its queer character… or how it might feel for that queer character to hear that she’s “not normal” from one of the “good guys.”
Deacon offers to listen to Chris’ problem and she explains Ty’s concerns about their unbalanced relationship. She concedes that he might be right: things with Kira just flow effortlessly and while things are good with Ty, it requires effort. Deacon urges Chris to tell Kira how she really feels, even if it means upsetting the relationship, because a marriage will only further expose the fault lines.
Later, Kira stops by SWAT HQ and Chris is honest with her. She tried to love Ty because she loved Kira but it hasn’t worked. Chris asks Kira if she can imagine a future where it’s just them and freaks out when Kira doesn’t respond right away. But Kira calms Chris with an assurance that she’s in love with her, too. She admits that she’s been having doubts about the wedding and wonders if her feelings for Chris are the reason why. They promise to talk to Ty together later but when the time comes, Kira relents. She’s invested too much time into this relationship with Ty, Kira says, as if they’re about to enter a business contract, not get married. Kira says she loves Ty — not “in love” like she is with Chris, mind you — and she can’t throw it all away.
“Just wait till after the wedding, okay?” Kira begs. “You’ll find a way to be happy with both of us.”
From the hurt that flashes across Chris face, I cannot imagine that happening.
Nancy Drew 106: “The Mystery of Blackwood Lodge”
Written by Valerie Anne
Things are steaming up on the Bess/Lisbeth front. (I believe we’re going with #LisBess for this one.) After a very awkward first official date because of Bess’s nervousness, the gals go where every queer lady couple goes on their second date: a masquerade ball. Okay technically Bess just ran into Lisbeth there, Bess on a secret mission and Lisbeth working security. I’m actually not entirely clear on what Lisbeth’s role is in this town, if I’m being honest? Maybe just odd jobs for rich folks? Honestly it doesn’t matter all that much, I’m just happy she’s here.
I also don’t think they’ve really established on screen why they like each other beyond the initial attraction. I have to imagine there are some offscreen conversations we missed out on, because while I totally understand why they’re into each other, when at the end Lisbeth tells Bess she likes her and wants to make it work, I don’t REALLY know why? But I like Bess too, and also there are ghosts afoot, so I’m not going to hurt myself thinking about it. I’m just going to enjoy our sweet secretly British nervous nellie getting the girl in the end.
Also this is neither here nor there but it seems that Maddison Jaizani, the actress who plays Bess, is hangs out with Ruby Rose a lot, and combined with the fact that this is her second time playing queer in a row (which is exactly 50% of her IMDb credits), I’m wondering if maybe she’s one of us?? A girl can dream.
Legacies 205: “Screw Endgame”
Written by Valerie Anne
Legacies hasn’t been too explictly queer lately but I thought it was high time we checked in on our queer witches. Also because they mentioned Penelope this week, and used her magic book to make Josie cry, and I’m in my feelings about it. Hope and Lizzie spent the episode in a classic sci-fi loop with an 80s arcade twist, and even though their day started with Lizzie trying to get Hope to break Josie and Landon up because Hope and Landon are meant for each other, it ended with them smashing the patriarchy (and a minotaur) and deciding that the concept of endgame is ridiculous and there are more important things for teenage girls to be fighting for/about/against than teenage boys.
Also just that the general idea of fate is screwed up, and by buying into it they were stripping themselves of agency and, well, hope. Also Hope. She wanted to jump into the pit again because she believed it was all she was good for.
I just really liked this girl bonding episode for the two of them, and while I agree Josie could do better, and while I really hope they’re not using Landon as a tool to spur her into darkness (because she had plenty of darkness without him), overall I’m still really loving this witchy little show.
How to Get Away With Murder 608: “I Want To Be Free”
Written by Natalie
So, we’ve reached that part of the How to Get Away With Murder season where I have so many more questions than answers about the show, that writing about it seems like a folly to endeavor. But, if I’m going to confused, at least we can be confused together.
With Cora on assignment abroad — flanked by plenty of security — Tegan steps back into the role of lead counsel in Nate’s civil suit, once Bonnie is forced to the sidelines. Annalise tries, once again, to push Tegan off the case but the new C&G Managing Partner persists. Annalise accuses Tegan of chasing a losing case for ego but Tegan insists that that’s not the reason. She reminds Annalise that she lost her entire family in a plane crash and, in the aftermath, Jorge Castillo helped her. His help didn’t come free, of course, it came with a lifetime of strings and now, finally, she’s ready to be free of all of them. Annalise accepts Tegan’s answer and even offers to help but Tegan assures her that she’s got it handled.
“Then I don’t have to cancel my date tonight,” Annalise quips. Tegan barely masks her surprise before Annalise adds, as she’s walking out the door, “Now who’s jealous?”
When Governor Kerry Weaver’s testimony doesn’t go as hoped — she gets an underling to take responsibility for a misstep — Tegan, Bonnie, Nate and Annalise regroup at C&G to strategize. Annalise suggests putting Bonnie on the stand to implicate Ronald Miller in the murder. Bonnie expertly uses her time on the stand to press the state to offer immunity to the person (Officer Gladden) who first implicated Miller in the scandal. Much to my surprise and Tegan’s jubilation, it works. Meanwhile, Annalise orders Frank to do whatever he has to to ensure that Gladden tells their version of the story to the jury. But before Frank can threaten Gladden, Annalise calls him from the hospital: someone — the Castillos — cuts the brakes in Bonnie’s car and she’s been in an accident. After learning that Bonnie’s going to be okay, Frank confronts Nate about his unrelenting pursuit of his father’s killer, at everyone else’s expense.
+ Following a side conversation between Frank and Nate, Tegan has finally put together that Nate’s behind Ronald Miller’s death.
+ From the very beginning of this season, I’ve thought that the answer to #WhoKilledAnnalise was “no one”… she faked her death and is sitting on a beach somewhere, standing in the sun with the love of her life (maybe Tegan, maybe Eve, but definitely not Robert). And while the end of this episode very much suggests that VIP Results has “Justine” on her way out of the country, I wondered: Why would Annalise Keating telegraph her plan by making it the solution to her interns’ Criminal Law Exam? If she’s “dead” and there’s no body, wouldn’t everyone immediately suspect that Annalise — who is most definitely the Queen in the “Snow White” parallel — had faked her death?