Welcome back to Boob(s On Your) Tube, your twice-weekly round-up of all the queer lady things on the television set. Thank you for your patience as we shake out the kinks in this new column format, with new contributors and new interns. Hopefully, we’ve tinkered enough behind the scenes that we’re ready to start rolling this column out in its full glory. Hang onto your free trade vegan locally knit beanies!
Jane the Virgin
Mondays on The CW at 9:00 p.m.
Jane the Virgin is back in all its telenovonic glory, and I am so happy to see that all the things that made this show my very favorite hour of TV last season are still here and as sweet and silly and feminist as ever. Season two picked up only eleven minutes after season one left off, with Sin Rostro (Rose! *shakes fist*) absconding with tiny Mateo. His disappearance, almost immediate rescue, and inability to nurse allow Gina Rodriguez to showcase her remarkable range, zigging from making me sob and zagging to making me giggle, all in a single breath.
Luisa is back to and as much of a lovable wreck as ever. Like the first episode of last season, she finds herself with a broken heart — only this time it’s because her girlfriend, Juicy, caught her going through a box of her ex-ex-girlfriend, Rose’s, shit. But only because she needed to return the broach that she stole the night Rose broke into the insane asylum to scissor with her so that Michael could trade it for Mateo because really it’s a zip drive with information about all the face transplants Rose did for crime lords in the basement of her dead husband’s hotel before she buried him alive in cement.
(God, I love this show.)
So, Luisa fumbles around and accidentally convinces Petra to impregnate herself with the secret sample of Rafael’s sperm, then decides to learn the hotel business, then gets kidnapped.
Mondays on Fox at 8:00 p.m.
This show is such a mess, and the way they writers are handling Barbara Kean’s bisexuality is like a thousand steps backwards to the dark ages of Sweeps Weeks Lesbianism. I’ve written a standalone essay about this season that I’ll publish tomorrow, after which I plan to wipe my hands of this show and reclaim one hour of my life every week.
Fresh off the Boat
Tuesdays on ABC at 8:00 p.m.
Written by Laura Mandanas
On episode 202 of Fresh off the Boat (which, by the way, has just been picked up for a full second season!) the Huangs are in the market for a new car. After Louis surprises Jessica on their anniversary by bringing her to a car dealership to get a new car (“you can negotiate, just like on our wedding night!”), Jessica flees to her favorite bar, The Denim Turtle. This is a lesbian bar full of butch women that first made its appearance last season in the episode “Blind Spot.”
The running gag is that Jessica doesn’t understand that it’s a lesbian bar; she just likes it because the women are really friendly and “for some reason,” men don’t bother her there. Anyway, this time, Louis follows her into the bar. “This set of testicles bothering you?” the bartender asks. “No Deb, he’s just my husband,” Jessica replies. “Louis, sit down. There’s something I need to tell you.”
The bartender nods knowingly: “Ooh, that conversation. You’re gonna need more Chex mix.” She helpfully pours some and leaves the couple to talk (a double entre-laden conversation about how Jessica regrets not getting free floor mats when they negotiated on their wedding night).
Louis leaves, and the bartender returns proudly. “Band-aid’s off, honey. You did it.” She gestures to herself, “Wiener free since ’83.”
The line could be read as transphobic, and while trans women aren’t really the butt of the joke here, our trans editor Mey Rude weighed in with these thoughts: “It’s not transphobic because it’s making fun of trans women; it’s transphobic because it’s saying that lesbians don’t sleep with trans women and trans women can’t be lesbians.” It’s a reminder that even some of our favorite fictional queer spaces need to do a better. It’s on us to catch this language and call it out.
Tuesdays on Fox at 8:00 p.m.
I truly do not understand my soft spot for this show, but I am happy to report that Intern Karly and Intern Sadie feel exactly the same way I do about it: inexplicably charmed. In the most recent episode, Annalise confronts Jimmy about his control freak ways, revealing that she has been working with him for a decade without him entrusting her with any more responsibility, and also that “every time somebody tries to get real with you, you change the subject.” She nudges him out of the nest and toward learning how to be a good dad and granddad by suggesting chill changes to the restaurant, all of which Jimmy agrees to, until she suggests hiring a bartender — sorry, mixologist — who wears suspenders ironically. Even Annalise isn’t perfect. (Just kidding Annalise is perfect.)
Tuesdays on Fox at 9:00 p.m.
You know how sometimes supervillains are like, “Blah blah blah and you’ll beg for death and whatever mwahaha thing”? For the first time in my life, I am begging for a lesbian character to die. If Sam goes, I can stop watching this show. She didn’t do much of note this week: bailed Chanel out of jail, placed a bet about whether or not Zayday was still alive (she was). The problem with this formulaic mishmash of GIF-worthy moments and tweetable quotes at the expense of, you know, actually telling a story (or actually developing a character) is that it trends. And if it trends it’s never going to end.
Wednesdays on Fox at 9:00 p.m.
Written by Carolyn Wysinger
This week Empire gets raided, which is a perfect opportunity for the stylists to show off a newly rugged-bearded Jamal as he performs for an artist that is creating a vanity portrait. I won’t lie: I got all the sexy queer feels watching the guy swoon over Jamal while his boyfriend stood by confused. When Lyon Dynasty sees the raid on the news ,they believe this is their opportunity to pounce on Empire — until they also get raided. The Feds arrive to ransack their headquarters as well. This does prompt the return of power lezzie Mimi Whiteman and this weird scene where Wall Street Mimi is schooled about street cred in hip-hop by Lucious, who insists that this raid is the best thing to happen to Empire because it makes it an “OG” company that no one can touch. He determines that they will use the press and milk as much money out of it as they can.
Cookie negotiates a truce with Lucious by convincing him that Hakeem and Jamal should film a video together to show that the family is sticking together. I know that recaps are supposed to be light and fun, but here is where I have to insert a little bit of seriousness. Throughout this season, Empire has been attempting to loop in the themes of the Black Lives Matter movement against police brutality. In my opinion, their attempts have been poor and tasteless as the story is taking place against the background of Lucious’ criminal activity. Those that don’t try to paint Lucious as an innocent black man being targeted by the police have instead come off as humorous, misplaced and distasteful.
Early in this episode, as Empire is being raided, Becky films the scene with her cell phone. When an officer take her phone she yells, “You’re violating my rights. Jamal give me your phone.” The line was delivered like a joke, making light of the back and forth between the police and the public about their right to film police activity.
For this music video, Lucious wants to go for a “post-apocalyptic black panther theme,” with the brothers fighting police oppression. (Coincidentally, the episode airs on the anniversary of the founding of The Black Panther Party.) They take the imagery of the Black Panther Party and cross it with Tupac and Dr Dre’s classic “California Love” flick to make a video about getting money and power. I struggle to understand how the writers thought that this would be an appropriate homage to the Panthers at all.
While they are shooting, Cookie is pulled out by the Feds and arrested. After she is thrown in the squad car, she brings back one of the popular hashtags #ifidieinpolicecustody, evoking images of Sandra Bland. Again, the line was delivered as more of a joke and I start to wonder who is writing these lines and are they truly attempting to give screen time to the movement and be culturally relevant or simply trying to use it to get ratings? If they truly are seeking to be relevant they need to work a little harder and not making the work come off as a satire of the fight going on in the community.
Meanwhile everyone is trying to figure out how they can use the case against Lucious to their advantage. Cookie gets arrested by the DA who insists that she give her some info on Lucious to stay out of jail. Cookie feeds her a fake story about how Lucious was fighting with Bunky about the radio deal, which guarantees that the Feds will hold up the deal as they investigate.
Andre is still desperate to get back into Empire and informs his wife that God told him to dig up Vernon; the DA has Lucious believe that she has hidden Vernon as her star witness. Andre decides that if he turns the body over to the Feds, the case will go away and Lucious will have to let him back into the company. They go out to the woods where they buried Vernon but can’t find him. Just when they thought the police had caught up with them it turned out to be Lucious and his shady lawyer, Thursty, who just happens to have a corpse detector. Who has one of those laying around? In true devil fashion, Lucious is impressed that Andre not only killed for him but was willing to turn himself in to keep Lucious out of jail. Our first glimpse of the corpse is sitting in the DA’s passenger seat. Sort of a Halloween surprise, I suppose.
Next week the Lyons go to church. This should be fun.
American Horror Story: Hotel
Wednesdays on FX at 10:00 p.m.
Written by Tina Horn
I was disappointed by this week’s episode, so I don’t know how much I have to say about it. There wasn’t much queer development; hence, its inability to grip me. Copious violence aside, it somehow lacked that certain creepy suspense that I come back to AHS for even when it’s preposterously lacking in cohesion.
However, Gaga had a Lady Godiva disco scene from which I will be deriving GIFs for years to come.
The episode’s high point for me came at the end, when newly-turned pseudo vampire Tristan finds a lumbersexual on Grindr and invites him to the Cortez; upstairs, Gaga barges in on their hookup dressed in military fetish gear for whatever reason. No sooner can our bearded guest manage the very Grindr-esq utterance, “Nah man, vag play is where I draw the line,” than our antiheroes stab him in the throat. Gaga touches herself while Tristan feeds on this gynophobic jerk. Bisexual revenge fantasies anyone?
I’m hoping Chutes and Ladders was merely a sophomore slum, and things will come roaring back next week in the form of La Basset, who reportedly plays Gaga’s ex-lover.
Wednesdays on Fox at 10:00 p.m.
Pippy and TMI broke free from Rosewood’s lab this week! Pippy and her brother try to plan a surprise party for their mom — she’s retiring — but she shuts down their plans and gifts them a surprise make stripper for their effort. (Both Pippy and Rosewood are annoyed by his presence.) And then, for her ultimate comeuppance, Pippy is forced to return to the basement and chain herself to her work station and do forensics all day and all night with no food for five days. Rosewood catches another killer. He and Villa banter. TMI reveals that she’d like to get a sperm sample from Rosewood in case she and Pippy ever want to have a baby. And that’s all there is to another week of this procedural.
Thursdays on ABC at 8:00 p.m.
Written by Aja
At the Haus of Sister Lady Chiefs, everyone gives Maggie carpool grief for loudly boinking the intern, until Karev interrupts them to remind Grey of her dinner party later that night as well as the fact that HSLC sounds like they need adult supervision. (Rude.)
At the hospital, Edwards and Jo shoot the shit about whether or not they should go to Grey’s fancy dinner party but the real action is between April (in denial about the fact that she’s being divorced) and lez darling Arizona (who isn’t sure she should go to the fancy Grey dinner if Callie’s bringing her new flame, Penny). They decide to fish around and see if Callie plans to bring her to the party the whole thing is terrible and awkward and transparent, even more so when Callie says she wasn’t sure if Arizona’d be OK with it.
Arizona responds by acting like Hannah Montana in a scene filmed next to an open locker at junior high, so Callie says, “Totes awesome, I’ll invite her then!” and you can almost hear the audience groan in unison.
A bunch of godawful hospital stuff happens: Amelia tries out a tortuous new method for accelerating brain surgery recovery that triggers Edwards’ childhood trauma, the dummy interns don’t know what a “silver flood” is (a wave of senior citizens coming through the ER as the result of an accident — in this case, a bus crash full of frisky olds) or how to tell next of kin their family member has died, resulting in Grey giving a really beautiful and heart wrenching speech at the end.
Here’s the part where I tell you that my period app was like DING! Hey, girl. PMS is starting and I sobbed my way through the entire episode, during which Arizona has nothing better to do than flip out over meeting Penny and chill with a super cute old guy with an incredible story about how he’s going to propose to the love of his life after she gets out of surgery. They talk and talk and eat Jell-O until she’s forced to leave him alone for 5 minutes. Of course he dies (which reminds me, Grey gives another speech declaring that she’s now Widow Grey and dead inside and no longer riding the orgasm train but it’s fine, she’s fine, EVERYTHING IS FINE, you guys), which sends Arizona straight into a supply closet to have a good cry about how she thought she’d never find love again so it’s a damn good thing that dude died and restored her twisted faith in the resilience of the romantic human heart. April’s there to listen and also burst into tears, so we’re all three of us crying in the supply closet together and what does she do? Wails that she DOESN’T WANNA FIND A NEW SOULMATE BECAUSE SHE ALREADY HAS ONE EXCEPT HE WANTS A DIVORCE. Arizona and I look at her, give her a few motherly clucks, and tell her this shit is not about her life right now, it’s about us. (Rude.)
I’d like to interrupt this recap to give a very important PSA that will make the world a better place: Look, people, if you work very closely or live or love very closely in a small, intimate group, it behooves you not to be an asshole, demonstrate good faith where it’s been earned, and give others the benefit of the doubt. Got it? Awesome.
It’s time for the dinner party. Edwards and wretched Jo scored invites, so they’re there, brave Arizona and April are there, as well as Karev, Grey, and Amelia. Maggie is still at the hospital boinking the intern (again), when Callie pulls up. Arizona downs an entire glass of wine and Widow Grey goes to get the door. When she opens it, Callie’s standing on her doorstep with the redheaded lady doctor who was part of the team that treated Derek. Of course, they failed, so Derek is dead and the theme of the next episode is…
GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER?
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After last week’s episode I decided I was done with Empire, and after reading this recap, I’m even more comfortable with my choice. The black lives matter stuff in the first episode was bad enough, but this just sounds awful. I only really got into it for Cookie, Jamal, and the promise of lesbianism, but Mimi has been a total tease so far, Jamal is now evil, and Cookie is still Cookie but that’s not enough, so I’m just going to go and rewatch Carter-centric episodes of Person of Interest instead.
Everybody your mini-caps are delightful.
I feel like Empire is getting the full Ilene Chaiken treatment this season where she’s trying to tie in current politics and feature a lot of guest stars and be really flashy and have a lot of things happen that don’t make sense and all of it mostly flops and doesn’t add too much to the development of the characters we know and love.
I quit AHS: Hotel after the first episode because nope.
Also I missed the first ten minutes of Fresh Off the Boat last week and that’s when the lesbian stuff happened! AND NOW IT’S NOT ON THIS WEEK FOR SOME REASON. Ugh I love that show and feel a hole in my heart.
I still like Scream Queens I don’t know what’s wrong with me.
You are so right Riese! It feels just like so many icky forced political storylines on the L-Word
I hadn’t ever taken a moment to think about how a lesbian proclaiming an aversion to penis is transphobic, but I absolutely see it now. Thanks to Mey and Laura for pointing that out.
I do have a question. If FOTB’s “wiener free since ’83” line is transphobic, should AHS’s “I draw the line at vag play” line also be considered transphobic? Or am I interpreting things incorrectly?
I realize those sections were written by two different people. I also realize that AHS is Ryan Murphy, and if we took the time to point out all of the flaws in his shows, we’d be here for a while. It was just a thought I had as I was reading through this, about how NEITHER cisgender men nor women should define their sexuality based on the genitalia of their partners.
Excellent mini recaps by all involved. It’s great to read multiple opinions on queer representation.
I had the same thought about the AHS line when I read it. I’m kind of torn. I mean people like what they like and I don’t think that’s it’s inherently transphobic to not be into certain body parts. I do think it’s transphobic to overlook or outright deny the existence of trans people in the community. I don’t think shows like AHS or Fresh of the Boat are purposely trying to exclude gay and bi trans people but that’s what seems to be happening.
There are people that are outright hostile about the presence of trans people in lesbian and gay spaces and those people use similar language to delegitimize gay and bi trans women and men. I guess I just think presenting characters with an aversion to penis or vagina (with the implication that all gay men and lesbians feel the same way) is thoughtless at best.
I’m not a trans woman or man so obviously I could be totally wrong here but those were my initial thoughts on the subject.
I think the “i draw the line at vag play” line came across to me more as cissexist on the part of the writers, because I wonder if they would have had the character say that if instead of lady gaga, it had been a trans man with a vagina, or would he have been fine with a trans woman with a penis? because most gay men are very much not.
So, Rookie Blue and Defiance are out. And Lost Girl is making one of the messiest finales I’ve seen in my life. I promised myself that once the season is over, I’m gonna re-watched it under the influence, I don’t know of what yet, it could be alcohol, drugs or both. Maybe then I could understand what’s happening.
i never thought lady gaga would be the only good thing on american horror story but here we are. i fucking love her on this show.
I KNOW RIGHT? It’s like she was made for this? Or is it rather “the show was made for her”? I don’t know and frankly don’t care but she’s fucking perfect on AHS. Match made in heaven.
It looks like “Other Space” might not get a second season. On the show Tina and Karen had canonically hooked-up, and Tina was still rather bitter about how Karen had both been a pillow queen and not returned her affections.
– I did not know that fresh off the boat was back. Thanks for pointing that out. Gotta catch up.
– I don’t like generic-Sloan intern and Maggie together.
– next episode on Greys will be very awkward, even more awkward than a dinner party at the Adams-Fosters
– Jane The Virgin is absolutely delightful. I love that show.
I guess I was wrong about Callie’s new GF just being code for her vibrator, but this explains why the show was being so cagey about it. Awkward is right.
Re: Maggie, totally agree. I still want Alex to ditch Jo and hook up with Maggie.
100% agree with you about Empire and their attempt to insert Black Lives Matter themes into the show.
Grey’s is making me sobbing into my pillow every week again and I love it.
I decided to quit AHS as soon as I started the episode and realized that it was more than an hour long. My Ryan Murphy level of tolerance has a limit. Speaking of which, I’m weirdly enjoying Scream Queens! WHAT IS HAPPENING WHO AM I WHY
me too i don’t know what’s wrong with me but i really like scream queens
i’m even a little mad with myself for liking it
For Aussie/UK viewers Neighbours is also now into the Steph Scully lesbian storyline previously announced. This week the mystery women from her past turned up and she is a cute redhead called Belinda who is probably a controlling psychopath given the record of Aussie soaps. I’m catching up on the last couple of weeks on tenplay, but UK viewers should be getting these episodes about now.
I disagree re: Fresh Off the Boat and with the broader culture of criticisings lesbians for having boundaries. Plenty of trans women don’t have penises and making assumptions about their bodies is transphobic imo (though obviously not the intent of trans people making the argument)
it’s not criticizing lesbians for having boundaries at all. that joke equated women with vaginas and men with penises, so it really had little to do with a specific person’s sexual preferences and more to do with not misgendering trans women, and actually, misgendering trans men as well, because conceivably, that joke allows for a lesbian who “only sleeps with women” to sleep with trans men.
Genuine question, how is “Wiener free since ’83” translating to “lesbians don’t sleep with trans women and trans women can’t be lesbians.”?
The latter is obviously transphobic but a character (or anybody really) stating their own sexual past/preference without making generalisations doesn’t strike me as offensive.
I admit I haven’t watched the latest episodes though so maybe I missed something or the scene played out differently than described?
Or maybe my views on the topic are just limited so feel free to educate me.
i don’t think anybody is saying that it’s transphobic for a queer woman not be interested in women who have penises or for a queer man not to be interested in men who have vaginas… everybody likes what they like, you can’t really police desire, and as someone mentioned upthread, plenty of trans women have vaginas, too. i think the problem she’s addressing is that the joke equates the “man-free” lifestyle with the “wiener-free” lifestyle, and that’s not accurate, because “wiener-free” also means, in practice, “women-with-penises-free.”
i think the place people get caught up is twofold: 1. that many lesbians only think of penises in a certain context: the body part the patriarchy wants us to submit to and we eventually find empowerment against all odds by rejecting that idea. so then when we’re told that’s not okay to express that newfound empowerment, there’s a lot of discomfort/protest. it’s so tricky and often frustrating to navigate, truly! but… that’s not the only context penises exist in! there’s also this other context, this context of trans women, which is a hugely different context bearing no resemblance to the patriarchal one and a lot more resemblance to that of cis women. trans women are women and as such, are subject to a great deal of body-shaming. so we have to re-configure these generalizations or at the very least be more specific when we express aforementioned sentiments.
2. the difference between feeling a thing and feeling that it’s okay to say that thing or joke about that thing. like yeah, of course, plenty of women aren’t attracted to women with penises, but broadcasting that desire or making it into a joke isn’t funny, it’s rude and a dig at trans women, who are already an oppressed group highly discriminated against. plenty of women aren’t attracted to fat women for whatever reason but broadcasting that desire or making it into a joke isn’t funny, either. “no fat chicks” isn’t funny. and neither is “no trans chicks.” it’s just cruel, really. which is how the joke in FOTB could come off to some people?
“there’s also this other context, this context of trans women, which is a hugely different context bearing no resemblance to the patriarchal one and a lot more resemblance to that of cis women” yes, definitely, like you said, I’m 100% not saying that anyone has to be attracted to anyone, but when you make broad statements like this joke, you’re lumping trans women and cis men into one oppressive, to-be-avoided and even non-woman group.
Thank you both for the replies. Great food for thought :)
Your points defninitely make sense but I have to admit that I still find it really hard to find a good line for those kinds of situations.
If a lesbian (or any person really) is not attracted to penis, at what point can/should that be said?
Broadcasting it, like Riese called it really does seems very exclusionary and unnecessary but on the other hand, is it better to leave it at “I’m a lesbian/attracted to women” and then later – when prodded – amend that to “no, only to women with vaginas.”? I imagine that would be pretty hurtful as well.
And trying to use more trans-inclusive language is complicated as well because equating a body part with a gender like in this case obviously isn’t working but whenever I see people making an effort not to do this it often backfires.
For example, I’ve seen people try to not call period issues “women’s issues” but strickly sticking to talk about periods and vagina’s as to not make trans women feel like they don’t belong to the group “women” which makes sense.
Trans men however felt a language that focused mostly on body parts was triggering their dysphoria.
This is obviously not just about the comment on the show anymore because I do see how the dialogue in that scene could have been handled better.
I’m just trying to improve my language and attitude in situations like this in general because cissexist language seems like a huge problem that should be adressed. I’m just not sure how.
I hope my words don’t offend anyone, if they do, I’m greatful for pointers.
I guess I don’t really get…like, to whom are you having to clarify this? Because yeah, the conversation you are imagining out of the blue does sound really awkward, but it also seems pretty unnecessary.
If you like someone, or they like you, discovering more about them in a sexy way or just getting to know them with that possibility in mind — those convos/explorations will include what parts they have, don’t have, and how they like to use them, identify with them, etc.. But ideally it’s going to occur a lot more organically, and within the framework of trust-building and mutual attraction that you’re starting to negotiate together, ya know?
I didn’t know Fresh Off The Boat OR Jane the Virgin were back! I got some catching up to do!
Come on over and we can catch up together!
Seems like a double standard going on between FOTB and AHS…
I’m so thrilled that “Jane the Virgin” is back…
I realized, a couple episodes into the new season of “Empire,” that I was, essentially, hate-watching the show. I’d stopped liking the show but kept watching it, partially out of habit but mostly because of social media peer pressure (Is that a thing? If not, it should be.). It just seemed like everyone was watching and I didn’t want to be left out of the pop culture conversation.
But then I heard Cookie evoke Sandra Bland’s memory in a preview for last week’s episode as she’s being loaded into a police car…and I just said, “nope, no more.” I’m willing to stomach a lot of things for entertaining TV but the exploitation of the Black Lives Matter movement for…what…street cred? Nope, I cannot abide that anymore.
A few thoughts on Grey’s:
1. Admittedly, I was never a big fan of Jo but whatever affection I did have for that character got stomped out this week. For her to not believe Stephanie’s story AND tell Amelia that she was lying..that’s just unforgivable.
2. Maggie is adorably neurotic. The thing with the intern is not going to work, of course, but…still…she’s adorable.
3. So…am I weird to think that Penny should’ve mentioned Derek to Callie? I mean, I know it’s not something you can just bring up in casual conversation but still. It can’t be a surprise to Penny that Meredith would be at the dinner party…and she didn’t even bother to bring it up beforehand?