Boob(s On Your) Tube: “Black Sails” Fridges The Bisexual Heart Of Its Show

It’s always such a heckin bummer when I get to write one Boobs Tube headline about a bunch of women kissing on each other’s faces and then the very next one is about a dead bisexual main character. More on that in a second; first, I shall tell you that Sam Green is going to be chatting with Jasika Nicole about the second season of Underground and other good things! Hopefully we’ll have that for you next week!

Plus also, did you read:

Dorothy Snarker’s The Good Fight 104 recap

Valerie Anne’s Supergirl 215 recap

Our Buffy the Vampire Slayer 20th birthday roundtable

+ Riese’s When We Rise review

Here’s the rest of the very sparse week in queer TV.


Black Sails

Written by Valerie Anne

HAPPY BIRTHDAY BUFFY

MAJOR BLACK SAILS SPOILERS AHEAD!

In this week’s episode of Black Sails, just past the halfway point of the final season, the show lost its backbone. Ripped it out, threw it in the dust. Eleanor Guthrie is dead. Beautiful, bossy, bisexual beauty…murdered. By a random nameless soldier. After four years of surviving against all odds, of being strong and smart and cunning. She was uncharacteristically outwitted by her husband, kept apart from the woman she once loved (and maybe always will), and slain. My heart is broken.

I know not a lot of you watch Black Sails. I know a lot of you will only feel the rage of another queer woman on TV murdered to propel a man’s storyline. And that’s okay, that’s good rage to feel. But my rage goes a little deeper, because Eleanor Guthrie was the very center of this show. She commanded respect from men who didn’t even respect the law, loved and lost and fought like hell to get what she wanted. Since the moment we met her, she was making her way from out of her father’s shadow, and she could barely relax ever since.

Here are some things that went down in the past two episodes.

Eleanor found out that Mr. Scott, the first man to see her for the leader she was, was actually using her the whole time. Though this does bring us a great Eleanor quote; she says it to Flint when he says that despite Scott’s trust in her being a lie, she did usurp her father, she did get control of Nassau (until she lost it), she did get herself into a position of power when she did that control. And she says:

“Always with a man behind me doing his damnedest to bend it all to his benefit. My father, Scott, Charles, you. So many goddamn men here. Too many goddamn men here.”

+ There’s an invasion on the island – Eleanor’s husband brought Spanish troops to the island. Max is scared for Eleanor and sets off to find her, but never does. She never gets to say goodbye.

+ Jack is pissed that the first thing Max said to him after betraying him was, “I came to find Eleanor,” but she doesn’t care.

+ Max and Anne reunite and Max says she loved Anne but isn’t really sorry for betraying her, so Anne tells her to gtfo.

+ When Flint tells Eleanor it was her husband who brought the invasion, she doesn’t believe him, even though she is always one step ahead of everyone but apparently not this man who once kidnapped her, sure, why wouldn’t she trust him…

+ Eleanor wistfully wonders out loud if it’s possible to live a life of uncertainty if it’s with someone you love (important pause) and who loves you back. As if maybe she’s wondering if running away with Max would have been the better option. If it could ever be an option.

+ Eleanor is attacked by a random soldier. Despite it being her and Madi against him, he kills Madi quickly. (Another strong woman, a woc no less, also killed to give Silver manpain. HAVE I MENTIONED HOW MAD I AM AT THIS SHOW.) Eleanor fights, bless her heart. She fights and fights. She punches and stabs and smashes and shoots and literally lights him on fire. But she was stabbed and even though Silver survived getting his leg cut off and Vane literally died and came back to life once, Eleanor won’t survive this stab wound.

+ Eleanor, despite the fact that she was bleeding out, tried to save Madi as the house went up in flames, but it was too late for all that.

+ The last face Eleanor sees is Flint, and the last thing he does is lie to her. HE LIES. TO HER FACE. So that she won’t know her husband is a monster. I know he thinks he was doing her a favor BUT I DISAGREE.

+ The last time we see Eleanor, she’s dead, a fly is on her body, and her husband holds her and cries like he has any right.

Max said it best. “It wasn’t supposed to end like this.” She’s pretty mad. I think she might be the only one to come out of all this on top. “Eleanor is dead. Anne is nearly dead.” And the governor is in HER FUCKING CHAIR. That’s literally what she calls it. “My fucking chair.” She says it again, and each word stabs me in the heart. “Eleanor is dead. Anne is nearly dead. And I want him to pay for it all dearly.”

And so do I, Max. So do I.

Also I was crying so hard I forgot to stop the video and I watched the behind the scenes clip and the dudes were like, “Ah yeah Eleanor dying sucked I guess but it was inevitable. BUT DID YOU SEE THOSE EXPLOSIONS.” and that made my tears so white-hot with rage they evaporated on my cheeks.

I used to try to justify things like this. Try to see it from a writer’s point of view. Try to understand. Because I thought that was the option that would hurt the least. Surely it’s all a big misunderstanding. But I’ve learned so much over the past year, and now I know it’s okay to say, “You hurt me for no reason, and that’s not okay.”


Grey’s Anatomy

Oh uh she swallowed her contact

Save it

Man, Grey’s Anatomy has done some sad junk over the years, but has there ever been anything as heartbreaking as Richard Webber’s face when he saw Arizona and Minnick getting ready to make out in the on-call room? He was her wing man! Minnick is his ARCH-ENEMY! Honestly, at this point, April, Jackson, and Arizona are the only holdovers on his team. And then he walks in and finds this after he asked Arizona to dinner and she turned him down. I wish he didn’t look so sad. I wish he had just seethed, “Menace!” again and stormed out.

Before that happens, Arizona and Minnick spend the day flirting about perogies how Minnick can speak Polish. They decide to have a quick little nap on the couch before they go out on a real date, but they fall asleep and the sun goes down and the sun comes up and they wake up sitting up, together. Arizona gets weird and says, “I guess we, uh, spent the night together.” And Minnick sweetly says, “I guess we did.” And that’s when Webber comes in.

I flip flop on these guys because I want to see Arizona in a relationship so badly and I like the kind of character Minnick is. The archetype. But their chemistry is weird, right? Not adorably awkward; just kind of awkward-awkward? Also, where is Richard even going to sleep now? He’s not going to take Arizona up on her offer and he’s not going home to Catherine. I wonder if that mattress Callie slept on in that little nook she nested in is still around.

CALLIE COME HOME.


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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 563 articles for us.

39 Comments

  1. I understand the outrage over Black Sail’s recent episode. It just seemed SO out of the blue to have two big deaths happen at the same time in a completely unnecessary way. Both those characters were so incredible and represented strong women we rarely ever see. A commanding woman of color and a strong bisexual woman.

    I’m glad Max and Bonney are reunited and I don’t think Anne will stay down for long, it just sucks that there’s only four episodes left. Even if Max and Anne do reconcile I don’t think there’s much time left to give them screen time to properly process their feelings although, this show has surprised me with brilliantly written scenes between those two in the past so who knows.

    A part of me is hoping against all odds that some how Madi came to before Flint got there and made her way to safety, but I know that may be a pipe dream. The only saving grace of this show for me, at the moment, is that there are three queer people still alive who are key members of the plot.

  2. What really gets to me is that Eleanor, one of the strongest and most significant characters since episode 1, was fridged to punish some asshole who didn’t show up until last season and who only exists because the show needed a generic villain. Suddenly Eleanor’s motivations and role on the show were subsumed by this guy whose name I can’t even remember, and then she had to die so that he feels bad. It’s misogyny all the way down.

    For some reason I’m still giving the show the benefit of the doubt and assuming that Madi isn’t actually dead, but who knows.

    • So much this. The entire way they’ve been writing Eleanor with the Governor made no goddamn sense. They gutted her for this piece of shit dude.

      What’s weird is that clearly one of the writers still got it, because she still had those moments/lines about men always behind her trying to bend things to her will. “Too many men.” SO WHY DIDN’T SHE SEE THAT WITH THE GOVERNOR, TOO? It makes no damn sense.

      Still holding out hope for Madi, too. Still holding out hope that Max takes it all, in the end. But really, really fucking pissed off at the writers for pulling this shit, after getting so much right for so long. I’ve been defending this show, recommending it to people, and then boom, same bullshit as ever…why does this feel so familiar….

  3. Being Mary Jane had a small queer moment this week. MJ met her boyfriend’s kids last week, so this week she met his ex, with whom he’s still close. MJ gets very confused and threatened, then the ex kisses her to shut her up and explains that she’s a lesbian.

  4. Seriously SERIOUSLY they just killed her off!? Just like that!? And we never even got a proper Max/Elinore reunion and yeah no cuz there little “heart to heart” in the dungen or whatever didn’t count!
    Jeezus lesbian tv heaven is getting pretty crowded now days isn’t it

  5. Greys: I feel the same way, I want Arizona to be happy but there is something awkward about her and Eliza together. I would say its the way Eliza was introduced in such a harsh way but that would have had no effect on her with Arizona as a matter of fact their chemistry has seemed to decrease from the 1st glance they shared through the conference room window and then the elevator scene. Callie has some big shoes to fill and it was actually something Elizabeth Hendrickson said at the BAM panel at ClexaCon that I related to Calzona and Minnick. She said that they brought Lena on (who had the 1st kiss with Bianca) so if it backfired it wouldn’t ruin the BAM dynamic. And that’s what I think, they brought Minnick in to test the waters with Arizona being with someone else or even as the rebound but she’s not here for the long haul.

  6. You Me Her continues to have the women together and the man on the outside in their triad, and a pretty scene of Izzy and Emma in a bath with plenty of bubbles as Emma tries to cope with Emma high on Mollies. The teaser for the next episode suggests that might be about to change, as the fact they’ve had sex with a man comes back with a vengeance.

    Imposters which I started watching after seeing a mention on this site, finally had a tiny scene of the how Cece met Maddy and them dancing together. They’re still short-changing the lesbian story-line, although Cece is turning out to be a better character than she looked at first. You really don’t want to be watching it as a show for representation of LGBT characters, although there is one clearly lesbian character and like I said, she’s turning out to be better than her first appearance – they don’t write lesbian well, but they write their women pretty well. That said, I’m mostly watching it now for Uma Thurman who is more or less playing The Wolf from Pulp Fiction, but she’s much more menacing. It’s a relatively slow-moving show compared to a lot of them, so it might be one to consider if you’re a fan of ScandiNoir, although it’s faster than The Bridge and the like.

    • Oddly enough, I stopped watching You Me Her last season after getting frustrated with disparity between the couples so it’s ironic to see that idea be the central to the story of Season 2. I guess I’ll tune into the second season to see if the writers are as self-aware as it sounds.

  7. Oh man, I’m so sorry for everyone who watches Black Sails. I hope you’re giving them hell on social media. After the outcry from Lexa’s death, shows have literally no excuses any more.

    Re: Greys

    It was obvious from the beginning that Richard was going to catch them. I’m actually much more interested to see how this affects Arizona’s relationship with Richard than how it affects things with her and Minnick. Making Richard her wingman was one of the best things this show ever did with Richard, who imo has been kinda superfluous since he stepped down as chief.

    Oddly, I thought Arizona and Minnick had better chemistry in this episode then they have in the past. They felt more natural together. But that doesnt erase the fact that Minnick is still a doctor who put a kid in danger due to her own ego and incompetence. And it’s weird that Arizona seems to have disregarded that.

  8. Grey’s Anatomy: Is Shonda on vacation? Did she just stop writing this show and no one bothered to tell us? Is she spending all her time on Scandal and The Catch, leaving the writing on Grey’s to some Shondaland interns? There has to be some explanation because this show is awful.

    Meredith vs. April. April vs. Jackson. Jackson vs. Catherine. Catherine vs. Richard. Richard vs. Minnick. Riggs vs. Karev. Karev vs. Deluca. Owen vs. Amelia. Everyone’s fighting and it’s so taxing to watch. The bickering was so omnipresent that even saving the life of a newborn didn’t carry much emotional resonance.

    Jane the Virgin: All the concerns I had about the three year time jump were realized in the most recent episode. It made sense for Jane to fast-forward through the grieving period but it hampered everyone else’s character development. Rafael broke up with his girlfriend, Petra got dumped by her boyfriend and Xo got engaged and I found myself not caring about any of it because we never really got to see those relationships evolve.

    The highlights of the episode: the exploration of Jane’s implicit gender bias and the narrator’s hilarious reaction to it (“All of the men in your life love it! Not that you care what we think”) and a guest appearance from Yvonne Orji (Molly from Insecure). Hopefully, the next episode will be better.

    Imposters: So, if you read my initial comments about Imposters, you’re probably surprised to see the show reappear in my BOYT comments…to which I say, “girl, me too.” But, somehow, my television ends up on Bravo on Tuesday nights, out of some bizarre hope that this show will get better.

    Here’s the thing: to enjoy this show, you have to let go of any expectation that the lesbian character (Jules) and her relationship with Maddie/CeCe will be treated with the same reverence as Maddie’s relationships with men. We got our first glimpse into Jules and CeCe’s relationship in the most recent episode but even those memories were encroached upon by Ezra and Richard. The girls’ relationship is not going to be treated the same–it’s just a way of proving how duplicitous Maddie really is–and if you can accept that, the show can actually be pretty entertaining.

    I managed to forget my expectations long enough to genuinely enjoy watching the exes scam their way to Seattle, but revisiting Jules and CeCe’s meeting brought it all back.

    (And, for the love of God…this is the network that launched the Housewives franchise…can’t they get Inbar Lavi some better wigs?)

    Random TV Notes:

    – Jennifer Beals (Bette, The L Word) is starring in the new series, Taken on NBC. Her character reminds me a lot of her role on Chicago Code but the show’s nowhere near as good.

    The Catch is back on ABC, taking over How to Get Away With Murder‘s place in the Shondaland line-up. That means Rose Rollins (Tasha, The L Word) is back, looking as fine as ever, and Gina Torres (Zoe, Firefly) has joined the cast for the second season.

    • That episode of Grey’s was taxing to watch! I didn’t mind the bickering of the Avery, et al family as much as the stupid Karev/Riggs case. Because Alex was right, and yet they all go along with everything like the ends (saving the kids life) justify the means (stealing a heart from UNOS when there were better options for this infant’s life-long survival). And usually they would actually delve into the morality/gray areas, but there was too much other stuff going on in this episode to even do more than rush it though, even though Karev/Riggs interactions have major potential to impact Riggs/Grey. It’s just really annoying.

      • @brabkeb, two things bothered me about the fight between Karev and Riggs: first, it seemed like a precursor to tension over Meredith’s time and their place in her life, much like Jo and Meredith had when Alex became her person, post-Cristina.

        Second, neither Karev nor Riggs asked the chiefs of their respective departments for help in mitigating the disagreement on treatment options. Why wouldn’t Arizona or Maggie be called in to offer their perspectives?

        • Totally, @pecola.

          That’s what makes it the worst! Maggie was even called in (sort of, at the end?), and she basically treated the whole thing like it was bickering and they all just needed to get along and grow up. Or something?

          So I’m right there with you. And it just contributed to my annoyance! It was all treated as some sort of personality conflict (dudes being dudes), versus some sort of real, technical, different-approach thing that you would elevate formally to the chiefs (who are women)! Even the Maggie interaction seemed like a drive-by, and was really poorly handled by her as Chief. And, yeah, where was Arizona?

          So much stupid.

          I don’t mind conflict. I also don’t expect total realism. But the writing was really sloppy here in a contrived way that I didn’t appreciate.

          To turn two kids’ lives and those of their families into some sort of “dudes” pissing contest, *and* have it handled that way by everyone else was maddening. Particularly when the point seems to be Meredith/Alex vs Meredith/Riggs (with a little bit of what’s his name who Alex assaulted thrown in). I understand there potentially being personal tension, but this just destroyed characters by making them dumb and borderline immoral with no real motivation.

  9. “MAJOR BLACK SAILS SPOILERS AHEAD!”

    Oh, thank you. I had no idea what had happened since that title wasn’t transparent at all.

    I just started season 1. Not cool, guys. Not cool.

    • Friend, you’re three years behind on Black Sails.

      SPOILER ALERT

      .

      .

      .

      There are three bisexual characters on this show and we can’t just not write about them until we’re sure everyone who reads our website is caught up. We didn’t say names and we used a boat as the feature image. If you’re three years behind on a show, whatever show it is, you’re going to get spoiled if you’re on the internet.

      • I mean, to be fair the spoiler is also in the little blurb that shows up on the Autostraddle mainpage. You don’t need to click on the article to read the spoiler.

  10. Come on, Heather! I’m only four episodes in and even I knew who the title was referring to.

    Plus, being three years behind is no crime. I had just started the show based on the recommendations on here, so seeing it spoiled by this very website is doubly bitter.

    I maintain this title was not cool, and not in line with what you usually do. I had managed to stay unspoiled at every other entertainment/gossip site I follow, who stick to the vaguer “something major happened” or “something not that chill happened” type titles. Even “Black Sails kills a major character” would have been okay! This is not.

  11. I totally agree. After episode 4 this season I wrote a paper Titled “Why Black Sails is one of the most Feminist Shows on TV.” So I blame myself I totally jinxed it. “How is it that a show that is created, written and has a mostly male cast be so feminist and explore female’s fluid sexuality so well.” Yeah I asked for this crap didn’t I. 🙁

  12. On Black Sails, I took Eleanor’s “too many men” comment much less sympathetically. She might have seen Mr Scott as the first man to see her as a leader, but she was also her family’s slave (“your family’s property” he says in season 1). That she was offended that the man her family owned didn’t trust her and was working for the betterment of his own family just makes her oblivious to the fact that her oppression isn’t the only one out there.

    This might be an unpopular opinion, but (and this may change when we see the rest of the episodes) but at this point I don’t think she was fridged. I don’t think the writing has been as good this season as it was in 2 or 3, but I don’t think her death *is* propelling any of the men’s stories forward. I could see the argument about Madi for Silver (if she’s actually dead, which I don’t believe, but we’ll see tonight) or Miranda’s for Flint, but I don’t think Eleanor’s death really changes the story for Woodes Rogers or any of the other men. We still have four episodes, so maybe things will happen that will make me eat my words, but right now I think she owned her death.

    I didn’t mind the anonymous solider either, especially since she got to light him on fire first. It wasn’t as dramatic as say Blackbeard’s, but at the same time if everyone started getting a dramatic death, it would lose most of the shock value as more of them happen. At this point I’m assuming everyone who’s not in TI (or who didn’t live to old age IRL) is going to get killed off in the next few episodes, but if I’m wrong and everyone but Eleanor gets a nobler death that will be a different story but at this point it could go either way.

  13. Eleanor and Max broke up in the second episode of the show. Anne had almost a season long coming out and more episodes for figuring out stuff after that. I’ve always been Anne >>> Eleanor and Anne + Max scenes have been my favorites of the show.

    Eleanor did get a tragic death, which is a symptom of women being written/created by men -> Women exist in the context of men, though I didn’t mind it so much on black sails – I always expected Eleanor to die, especially after she went all-in against the pirates. Also, I was more upset that Eme died. The show have had 5 main women characters? of whom 2 is bi and 1 is gay (or 2 gay, I dont know if Max is bi or not) and 1 was allied (5th one is Eme) so even if one queer woman dies I am still very happy about their representation.

  14. Because the representation of women-loving women on TV is so small and the percentage of those that end in death so high, the debate can be had about whether it was “fridging” or just “bury your gays”, or some other “woman bucking the patriarchy must die” as a trope, but the fact remains that it does fall into a trope. And since we’re not in a place as a society where we see non-tragic endings for non-straight women as a matter of course, all such endings–whether well-done, in-character, makes sense for the show, etc. or not–are poor choices on the parts of the show runners/writers/producers.

    I’m not saying, “don’t do it!” I’m saying that if they do, it’s *always* problematic in the context of representation in this day and age. I’m saying that these choices have real negative effects on the psychology of marginalized populations.

    Maybe one day that won’t be true. That day is not today.

    • I can understand wanting to look at the percentage of characters whose stories end in death across the medium (or even across pop culture) as a whole and I wouldn’t want to downplay any real negative effects. But I think ignoring the range of representation within a single series for any single group means missing the potential power of having a diversity of representation within that one show (or film, book, game, etc). With three more episodes, I don’t know how Black Sails is going to end, but at this point do any one of the queer women on the show really have the singular burden of carrying the representation torch all on their own?

      And that’s without getting into intersectionality. There are other marginalized identities being represented in other characters (some of whom are also queer women), and leaving that out of the discussion misses another part of the picture, especially if you’re talking about the psychological effects on marginalized groups overall.

      This show has definitely had missteps, but it has done a decent job of not making (most) of the characters tokens, and the one thing that does is (mostly) prevent the framing of any one person’s story into the representative story.

  15. “Ah yeah Eleanor dying sucked I guess but it was inevitable”

    INEVITABLE

    Just re-watching DS9 and already afraid of *that* death. It gutted me at the time. Because until that moment I sincerely believed they were on our side (they probably were, in the 90s).

    I’m also interested in hearing why male authors believe it’s INEVITABLE for a strong/queer female character to die (even Xena). Is it wish-fulfillment? Are you just robots of the patriarchy with a reverse-chip? C’mon guys, spill the beans.

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