Have you voted in the Sweet 16 of our Best First Kiss March Madness yet? If not, hop on over there and do that and then come back here to talk about the week in teevee!
Well, Toni and Cheryl had their first kiss on Riverdale and Kayla recapped that! Things are getting rough for Anissa as season one of Black Lightning draws to a close, and Carmen’s all over that commentary! One Day at a Time is coming back for another season! Sara Ramirez’s coming out on Madam Secretary was oh so very good.
And here’s what else!
Legends of Tomorrow 316: “I, Ava”
Written by Valerie Anne
This week’s episode opens with Sara saying she’s leaving. Much like she (wrongly) thinks Ava will be better off without her, she (wrongly) thinks her team has a better chance at finding all the totems if she’s not there on the verge of a murder spree. She’s dead-set on leaving, nothing could convince her to stay…until Gary shows up and says that Ava is missing. Then suddenly Sara’s head’s in the game and she goes rifling through Ava’s desk to Ava’s parents’ doorstep in Fresno before you can say NOT NOW, GARY.
Sara’s nervous about meeting Ava’s parents, but once she’s inside she quickly becomes suspicious. She uses her detailed knowledge of her ex-girlfriend to call their bluff and it’s soon revealed they’re actors. They say they were hired to pretend they’re Ava’s parents, but one nuance of the way they said it was missed by the Legends: they said they were pretending to be Ava’s parents…FOR Ava. They don’t put it together til later that this means even Ava doesn’t know these aren’t her parents. But I did and I was SAD about it.
When they get back to the Time Bureau, Ava is there, looking like she’s been crying and/or is hungover; she says she was visiting her parents in Fresno, and since Sara knows this to be a lie, she steals Ava’s wrist tech thingy and steal the mothership to go to a classified time and place. 2213 was Ava’s first mission, and no one is allowed to go there, and Sara soon realizes why.
The city is full of Avas. It’s like Helsinki up in here, clones everywhere you turn. Sara starts to freak out a little but she, Ray, and Gary head to Ava Corp. Ray accidentally makes a new Ava and also wakes up a pre-made Ava. Sara is now disheartened. She thinks Ava lied to her about who she is, and that it means what they had was as fake as the carbon copy of her lying here.
Said carbon copy, upon waking up, threatens to kill them for breaking rules and, despite how weird it is, Sara fights her and has Gary tie him up. The real Ava shows up, confused, and Sara tells her to drop the clueless act. But as soon as Ava sees the clone of her own self being 3-D printed, she passes out.
When Ava wakes up she doesn’t remember why she fainted, and Sara is worried about telling her. But then, in the middle of Ava’s rant about seeing her ex in vegas and joining the dating app Upswipes and how she feels horrible about all of it, an entire Ava Army shows up.
Then Ava starts to properly freak. But Sara assures her it doesn’t matter where she came from, this isn’t who she is. HER Ava is not a mindless clonebot. She’s extraordinary. Ava (rightly) begins to panic about her memories not being real but Sara assures her she’s real. And so are her feelings for her.
She calls her a badass and says now is the time to get past this because they have to fight the Avabots.
And so they do, back to back, heart to heart. Back on the Waverider, it’s clear that Sara’s impulse to run has faded now that Ava is back, now that she knows that maybe Ava has as much baggage as she does.
And they’re going to get to the bottom of things. Rip recruited Ava, so that’s where they’ll start looking for answers.
Star Episodes 209 & 210: “Climax” & “Rise From the Ashes”
Written by Carmen
So much has happened on Star since I recapped the first season for you last fall. Quickly, Star is a musical soap opera that’s follows the dreams of four young, poor, women of color: Star, the show’s protagonist; her younger sister Simone; their best friend Alex; and Cotton, their godsister who is transgender. The four young women all live with Queen Latifah, who plays Miss Carlotta, Cotton’s mother and Star and Simone’s godmother. Star, Simone, and Alex have been working together as a music group and are trying too claw their way into the industry, Carlotta is their manager.
When we last talked about the show, our focus was on Cotton. The role gave black trans actress Amiya Scott the opportunity to make history as the first out trans person to star as a series regular on network television. That’s groundbreaking by itself. Over the course of its second season, Star has extended its LGBT representation further, as teenage Simone explored her sexuality. The season opened with Simone being taken out of Miss Carlotta’s foster care due to her consistent drug use. She was placed in a detention facility, and that’s where she first met Karen.
Karen and Simone started off enemies. Karen made fun of Simone’s ambitions, mockingly calling her “Superstar”. She was jealous of Simone’s support system outside of the facility, as well as her racial privilege as a mixed race black girl. However, after Karen’s roommate committed suicide, the dynamic between the girls shifted. They became inseparable as they fought together to maintain their humanity while being treated as a statistic. When Simone was finally released from custody, Karen turned cold. She knew that Simone would forget her the second she got back to the outside. Simone held her best friend’s hand, and looked her in her eyes. She brought Karen in for one of the most romantic kisses I saw last fall, and promised that she could never forget her. Maybe Karen felt like she was invisible, but to Simone, she was the entire world.
Karen later runs away from the detention center, and into Simone’s arms. At first Simone hides her in the recording studio that she’s been working at with Star and Alex. She visits Karen during the day and together they make whispered promises of a future together. Simone is going to make it as a recording superstar, and she will use her fame and fortune to take care of Karen every step of the way. Karen’s eyes glisten. Simone holds her face in her hands and promises, “You don’t have to be homeless no more. Not when you got me.”
Then Simone, afraid of Karen being caught hiding in the studio, gives her girlfriend the keys to Miss Carlotta’s house to spend the night. She tells Karen that she’ll be safe there, but she didn’t know the house (along with Miss Carlotta’s hair shop on the first floor) would catch fire that night.
This week, in Star’s spring premiere, we found out that Karen died in the flames. It’s an awful and inexcusable use of the “Bury Your Gays” trope. The only brief thing I was thankful for was that Cotton, whose abusive ex-boyfriend likely started the fire, did not die along with her. Losing a trans black woman in an act of domestic violence would have been too cruel and true to life to bear as a cheap soap opera twist. However, losing young black queer women in brutal acts of domestic violence has a lot of the same real life implications. Queer and trans people of color, particularly low income queer and trans people of color, remain some of those most effected by violent hate crimes in this country. It’s impossible to think of young Karen, on the run and alone, dying in that fire and not think of those statistics.
In Karen’s death, Simone comes out to her family. She lost the love of her young life, and spends most of the premiere episode in mourning. Miss Carlotta knowingly hugs her, and promises her that they will face this devastation together. Simone cries with Star, and wonders out loud if this means she’s a lesbian. Star tells her that it doesn’t matter; their love comes first. Simone will always be her sister.
Star and Alex sneak Simone out of Miss Carlotta’s in the middle of the night, so the group can mourn together. They give Simone a can of spray paint and keep watch as the teenager marks a brick wall in remembrance of her young love. Just as Simone is finishing her memorial, the radio crackles alive. The girls finally have their first song on the radio. Simone looks up to the sky and thanks Karen, who she knows is looking down on them and protecting them.
Once Upon A Time Episode 714: “Girl in the Tower”
Written by Carmen
We were gifted last week with Robin and Alice’s “meet cute” — and wow, was it one for the story books. Alice, still locked in a Rapunzel-esque tower due to Mother Gothel’s curse, wishes on her birthday for her freedom. As she blows out her birthday candle, giant ogre troll comes crashing into the tower. He gently offers Alice his hand. Just like that, our young curious mind is finally allowed to leave her captivity.
The next year on her birthday, Alice visits her father, the new Captain Hook (he’s completely separate from the Captain Hook of the previous seasons, even though he’s played by the same actor. This Hook is actually a decent human being. Anyway, please don’t ask the details). Mother Gothel has poisoned Hook, and the poison activates whenever Alice is around him, so she must keep her distance. New Hook is gathered around a campfire with Regina and Zelena. While spying on them, Alice is caught by Robin — who has her bow and arrow drawn on the intruder, not knowing who she really is.
Alice explains her situation and Robin’s face melts into a warm, heart filled, puddle. She promises to pass Alice’s love onto Hook. She shares with Alice that she’s on an adventure of her own. She plans to live up to her father’s legacy by shooting down the troll that has been wreaking havoc on her family’s kingdom.
Alice recognizes the troll in Robin’s story as her own wish troll from the tower. Robin sets off, and Alice chases after her. She will protect the troll at any cost. Together they spend the episode getting in and out of trouble. They crack jokes about their childhoods, they sneak around and get into mischief, and every time Robin looks at Alice her eyes turn into heart shaped emojis. Alice is fully whimsy that just barely covers the lonely depths of darkness. Robin has a rough edge on every word that is desperately trying to hide her softness. Together, they are simply magnetic.
Over the course of their adventure, Robin tells Alice the story of how she once hot-wired her Aunt Emma’s iconic yellow Volkswagon. She has to explain what a car is first, but Alice gets the joke. Later, when the two women are about to be engulfed by an angry mob set on killing the troll, Alice wishes the Beetle to them out of thin air! Robin is astonished, but Alice doesn’t think it’s a big deal — after all, in a wink to her original fairytale she tells her young crush, “I sometimes wish at least six impossible things before breakfast”.
Later, Robin helps Alice face a hard truth: Since Alice wished the troll into existence, she also has to be the one to wish the troll away. He may be her friend, but he’s causing a lot of hurt. Robin promises, Alice is not alone anymore. Alice has her.
In their cursed personas, Alice (she goes by Tilly in Seattle) is cleared from the murder charges that Gothel framed her for. That night, in the middle of street, she bumps into a new young woman under the streetlights. Margot (our Robin) is just back in town after spending a year backpacking across Europe. She has a copy of Alice in Wonderland cradled in her arms.
Watching Alice and Robin feels almost bittersweet. They are everything I ever wanted from Once Upon a Time. They are romantic and adventurous and full of charming, quirky chemistry. Watching them together feels like watching the early years of Snow White & Prince Charming. They are proving that Once Upon a Time could take their gift for big screen, fairytale romance, and apply it to their queer characters. As a long time fan of the show, on a certain level that feels validating — I knew they had it in them. But, it also feels infuriating, because if they had the potential for this level of compassion toward their gay characters, then they could have done this earlier.
This epic romance, no matter how bright or how great, taking center stage as the show burns off the remaining episodes before their cancellation is not what their gay fans deserved. There’s no way around that, and I promise not to mention it every time I write about the show over the next month. To do that would not be fair to Alice and Robin and the story that they’re telling. However, just watching it last week, I couldn’t shake the bitter feeling in the back of my throat. It’s now clear already knew how to write an gorgeous and exciting queer romance, they simply chose not to do it.
Arrow 616: “The Thanatos Guild”
Eh hem. I mean. Hello, I’m here to tell you Nyssa was back on Arrow this week. She’s been unmentioned entirely since the island exploded, with no on-screen confirmation she was alive, until she showed up this week to stop a sector of the League of Assassins that grew back like a tumor from killing Thea Queen. She was fierce and funny (she called Felicity her sister-wife) and I’m pretty sure she went to a lesbian bar in a leather jacket. She successfully saved Thea’s life, and is now going with her on a journey to stop these assassins from raising Malcolm Merlyn from the dead. Whether or not we’ll ever see any of that on screen is debatable, but apparently Sara Lance is going to be back on Arrow for the season finale, and I hope against hope Nyssa will be there, too. I know Sara has Ava now, but I just want them to be friends. They’ve been through so much together. The rest of Arrow is still very boring, in case you were wondering. — Valerie Anne
Station 19 103: “Contain the Flame”
I would like you all to meet Maya Bishop. She’s a firefighter at Station 19 of the Seattle Fire Department. Station 19 is the much hyped Grey’s Anatomy spin off that premiered last week, and we here at Autostraddle have been keeping our eyes peeled for a gay lady firefighter in their midst. We are happy to inform you that Maya is our lucky gal! Maya is a former Olympian and best friends with Andy Herrera, the show’s protagonist. Last night, while sharing beer and vodka on the front porch of Andy’s house with friends, Maya recommended that they all engage in some better self-care. For Maya, that self-care means lots and lots of sex, with “a series of ladies and gents… monogamy is for the weak, or the very, very dedicated”. Introducing her bisexuality in the midst of a joke about being promiscuous definitely runs the danger of playing into a long established bi stereotype. At the same time, I love seeing a woman on television who is in charge of her body and her desires. Let’s see where we go from here! — Carmen