Boob(s On Your) Tube: Lesbian Death, Bisexual Resurrection, Aliens In Love, And The Most Awkward Dinner Party of All Time

Welcome back to your twice-weekly round-up of all the queer happenings on your teevee. I believe this week’s column is the best Boob(s On Your) Tube we’ve ever put together. I am so excited about where we’re headed with our TV coverage at Autostraddle. This is just the beginning!


Grandfathered

Tuesdays on Fox at 8:00 p.m.

Written by Sadie Edwards

Grandfathered - 104

It’s time again to check in with our second favorite Annalise on television. In this week’s episode, we learn yet again that Jimmy isn’t really as bad a guy as we all think he is. After arriving fashionably late to (and completely missing) his granddaughter’s second birthday, Jimmy decides to make it up by throwing his own upscale party at his restaurant, complete with Richie Sambora, massage coupons and rum soaked tiramisu for a group of small children.

This sparks a series of incredibly cute scenes where Annalise is confronted by the one thing she’s completely unprepared to handle: Kids. While she is busy cleaning caviar off the walls and shepherding small children to the bathroom, the entire party turns against Jimmy. Sara’s brother shows up to and tells pretty much everyone there that Jimmy walked out on Sara and Gerald (he didn’t even know Gerald was a thing until recently), even teaching a catchy song about dead beats to the kids at the party.

By the end, though, Annalise has been christened “bathroom lady” and as always things turn around for Jimmy and all is right in the family — even the extended family this time. Every week I wonder why I’m so into this show, and then the next episode is even cuter and funnier than the last. [Heather’s note: YES. That is it, exactly!] Good news for anyone who — like me — digs this level of feel good in their television will be glad to know that Fox is extending the show for at least six more episodes than originally planned, so here’s to high concepts and low expectations.


Scream Queens

Tuesdays on Fox at 9:00 p.m.

BN-KW130_chad_G_20151021063220

When I joined the ranks of lesbian pop culture critics in 2008, no one told me how much math was going to be involved. Writing? Yes, absolutely. Photoshopping? My pleasure! But the other necessary skill of a professional lesbian TV watcher is counting. 41 lesbian/bi characters on primetime broadcast TV. 23 lesbian/bi characters on basic cable. Wait, no, Annalise kissed a woman on How to Get Away With Murder. That’s 64 lesbian/bi characters on TV. Chasing Life and Defiance and Rookie Blue got canned. 63. 62. 60. Lost Girl’s done. 57. Steven Universe reveals two (possibly four) queer Gems! 59! (61?)

It was when Glee aired its fucking “Which Bathroom Should Unique Use?” episode that I really started struggling with the tally. What was I counting toward? Was there some magic number I would reach one day, and then the counting could stop? Because the assumption I was working under at the time — the assumption we were all working under, as lesbian TV critics — was that more was better, because Visibility was the ultimate goal. Visibility changed minds, see? Visibility changed hearts! Visibility was the gateway to equality. And I think for a time that was definitely true. When you’re looking for representation on TV and seeing nothing, the idea of anything seems like a win.

So, I’m watching that bathroom episode of Glee, and I’m thinking about all the inexcusable shit the writers of put Unique through, the slurs, the goddamn Catfishing storyline, and I’m thinking about Finn outing Santana, and Will gyrating all over his students while singing a song about date rape, and about how the writers of Glee couldn’t wrap their minds around the fact that the audience completely rejected Finn and Will as heroes, and, you know, just all of it. The whole infuriating tale. Out loud I said, “Is it even ethical to recap this show anymore?”

But the tally had to go on. My encyclopedic knowledge of queer women on TV demanded it.

GLAAD decided to stop counting queer characters before the 2015-2016 TV season even started. I was determined to push on, though, to watch it all, and process it all, and keep the tally going. Scream Queens and Gotham are the things that broke me. Gotham because it’s straight white fanboy bisexual wish fulfillment bullshit. Scream Queens because: Maybe I’m a curmudgeonly old woman who can’t stand the flippant way these three male writers treat female identity politics? Maybe the idea of letting another Murphy-controlled queer character into my heart triggered some kind of recapping PTSD? Maybe literally every Ryan Murphy show is exactly the same and I could spend that hour making out with my girlfriend instead of living through all the stale jokes I’ve heard before? Maybe I can’t stop thinking about the literal line of dialogue “Hashtag Glee hates women”?

Probably it’s a combination of all of those things. I just wanted to not watch Scream Queens, and so, for the first time in my life, I started rooting for the lesbian character to die. How awful is that? She’s a queer woman of color on TV played by an actual queer woman of color. And I got my wish: This week, Sam died, like she was always going to do. On the best episode of this stupid show to date, she died. (58.) But then, Chanel No. 3 was actually really into her, which makes Chanel No. 3 queer. (59.)

But it doesn’t matter. I don’t care if Chanel No. 3 is a lesbian or if she’s bisexual or if she’s a nonbinary asexual vegan beet farmer living on a queer co-op in Vermont. Sam was a token lesbian whose sexuality was always played for a predatory joke and Chanel No. 3’s queer leanings are never going anywhere important. Sam was visible, but that’s not the thing anymore. We’ve moved past visibility. We’ve moved past counting.

In a truly Shakespearean twist, Glee changed the world so much that I don’t have to ever watch another terrible show written by Glee‘s creators. I could have quit Scream Queens even if Sam hadn’t died. I never had to watch Scream Queens to begin with.


Empire

Wednesdays on Fox at 9:00 p.m.

Written by Carolyn Wysinger

EMPIRE: L-R: Guest star Adam Rodriguez and Taraji P. Henson in the “Be True” episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, Oct. 21 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2015 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Chuck Hodes/FOX.

Lucious is free and he celebrates by reviving his defunct label, Gutter Life Records, and gifting it to Andre. His gift comes in the form of strippers, liquor and trap music. Andre doesn’t look like he is ready to get gutter with them. I really need somebody to explain this Mr. Rogers sweater that Lucious is sporting at this alleged gutter party.

Andre visits with his pastor, played by Malik Whitfield, who is most known for his tour de force performance as Otis Williams in The Temptations movie, spurring a flurry of “Ain’t nobody coming to see you Otis!” memes on social media. The pastor encourages Andre to invite all of his family to his upcoming baptism and confess all of his wrong doings to them: “Your house ain’t clean unless you closet is,” Pastor says. Andre spends the entire episode doing just that, in that same Mr Rogers sweater Lucious was wearing earlier. *sigh* Lucious refuses to listen to Andre, telling him there is no God and he can’t bear to see a stranger dunk him in tap water and act like that saves him. His brothers are more sympathetic, although Jamal tells him that he must make sure that the pastor is not going to try to pray the gay away.

Hakeem introduces his new lead singer to Tiana, who gives her the rundown on how Hakeem likes to get hands on with the talent. It’s almost like the universe is smacking her hand when she later has her bag jacked by two “fans” with a razor blade. After the bag shows up in an Anonymous-like Youtube video, Cookie figures out that they have been marked by someone — presumably Lucious — for a shakedown.

Jamal is still being wooed by the Andy Warhol wannabe in front of his boyfriend. Jamal seems clueless about this guy’s motives. He didn’t even know dude was hitting on him until the painter randomly dropped to his knees, proclaiming, “A mouth is a mouth!” Easily the line of the night. Jamal declines but apparently Michael was all about it because later in the episode Jamal catches him totally enjoying faux Warhol’s artistic head game.

Jamal and superstar Ne-Yo go into the studio to record a track. It is at this point I remember that someone created an awesome Empire drinking game that includes taking a shot every time Jamal sings about his feelings. Get ready to drink!!! Not only does he sing about them, he asks Ne-Yo for advice after Lucious told him he shouldn’t take his girlfriend on the road. Yes, old homophobic-ass-Lucious called Michael his girlfriend.

Which brings us to the return of Gutter Life’s star, Freda Gatz who, is in the studio trying to get the hang of spitting bars in a professional studio. Bre- Z as Freda Gatz is the TRUTH as an MC. The future of hip-hop is on Empire, and she is a butch lesbian, folks. It’s amazing to watch how much care that Lucious puts into the lezzie rapper. It proves that the biggest homophobes love to put their bigotry aside when they see there is a ton of money involved. I think Lucious sees a way to exploit Freda’s sexuality in a way that he can’t with Jamal because gay males in hip-hop are so taboo.

Cookie has a new promoter named Laz, played by hot ass Adam Rodriguez. They are hanging at the Lyon Dynasty studio when they catch two dudes trying to steal the label’s masters. Both of them come out the pocket with guns and demand to know who sent them. No surprise that it was Lucious’ shady lawyer/newest goon, Thursty. Andre confronts Lucious about the hit while wearing the same Mr. Rogers sweater that Lucious was wearing just a few days ago. *sigh* Lucious confirms that Thursty doesn’t act without his permission. Basically stating that he signed off on the hit.

Andre succeeds in getting the whole Lyon family to church for arguably the most boring baptism ever. Where was choir singing “Take Me To the Water”??? The Baptist side of me was not pleased but there was drama when Lucious finally arrived in true devil form, fashionably late. He claims that Freda Gatz’s rhymes reminded him of how important he is to the family and how much he cares about them. Cookie loud-whispers a retort asking him is it the kind of care that sends goons after them when they don’t do what he wants? Hakeem loudly co-signs and Lucious loud-whispers to remind Cookie she is under surveillance. Andre’s wife shoots them all a dirty look, no doubt wondering where the old church sister is to reprimand them for all this talking in church!

The baptism starts, and as soon as Andre is dipped in the “tap water,” Lucious has a flashback to his mother performing a fake baptism on him to make him clean. This triggers Lucious, and he walks out of the church. In case you were wondering, yes, I got my entire life when the choir FINALLY sang some real gospel music, but the Holy Ghost shout was short lived as the music turned into eerie background music when Hakeem gets kidnapped State Property-style in the park. You gonna either get down or lay down.


Rosewood

Wednesdays on Fox at 10:00 p.m.

Rosewood - 105 - 1

Hey, it’s a lesbian subplot! Lorraine Toussaint, aka Vee Adams Foster, is Rosewood and Pippy’s mom. She’s in their business way too much: showing up unannounced at Rosie’s house in the middle of the night to hang out with him and his girlfriend, basically hiring herself to work part time at Rosie’s lab, panicking if Pippy and Rosie don’t text her back within five minutes. But it’s only because her mama bear instincts are so strong. She helicopters because she cares.

It’s good she’s around an extra lot this week because TMI’s phone bleeps a reminder that her dad’s birthday is coming up, and it sends her into a tailspin. See, because TMI’s parents haven’t spoken to her in two years, not since she announced to them that she is a lesbian and in love with Pippy. TIM has literally been counting the minutes that they abandoned her, and so she goes to Donna to ask her how come she’s so supportive of Pippy. Donna says it’s because she loves her and wants her to be happy, and also because there is literally nothing in the world weird or wrong about being gay. And she believes in her heart that TMI’s parents are going to come around and understand that truth one day too. She says she prays for it every night.

TMI: You pray for me.
Donna: I pray for all my babies.

Daaaaaang. That’s a great line. TMI convinces Pippy to ease up off her mama a little bit, and then they hug. What a sweet subplot! That’ll do, Rosewood. That’ll do.


Arrow

Wednesdays on Fox at 8:00 p.m.

arrow-403-01

It is a truth universally acknowledged that when a straight white male superhero dies, he’s coming back to life for absolute sure — but when a minority superhero dies (a thing that usually happens to advance the plot of the straight white dude hero), she is dead dead dead. It is also a truth universally acknowledged that TV writers will be baffled when queer women push back against the tropes that have been damaging us for decades. So it was that these warring Universal Truths played out right in front of our faces last year when bisexual badass Sara “Canary” Lance was stuffed in a refrigerator on Arrow. There was no way the show was bringing her back, but also they kind of had to bring her back.

Enter: DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.

We’ve known for a while that Sara Lance is gonna be a thing on DC’s 2016 Main Event, but we haven’t known how or why or what kind of thing she’s going to be. This week, Arrow decided it was time to start answering that question. And a hearty thumbs up to them for doing it so early in the season, and for making Nyssa, Sara’s “beloved,” a crucial part of her resurrection story.

It starts with Laurel unearthing her sister’s decaying body and tossing Sara over her shoulder like a sack of potatoes and tromping on up to the League of Assassins’ lair to demand they let her borrow their Lazarus Pit for a minute. Basically everyone on this show has enjoyed the effects of that Pit a time or two — Ra’s used it to live for like 160 years — and so why should Sara be denied her chance to bathe in it? Nyssa will tell you why: Because she’s read a lot of Edgar Allen Poe stories and she knows that once a person is actually dead and you make some deal with the devil to bring them back to life, you’re in for a world of gore and heartache.

arrow-403-02

To illustrate Nyssa’s worries, Thea, who also was resurrected (kinda) in the Lazarus Pit is now having the side effect of insatiable blood lust. She wants to kill everything in every way all the time. Her dad, Merlyn, the true owner of The Pit, tells her that there’s a way for her to quench her compulsion to murder — and it is to do murder. Like if you kill just one or two dudes, you won’t want to kill everyone. You’ll feel really not-stabby for a while, in fact. And then when you start getting antsy to smash everyone’s brains in again, you just do a couple more  casual murders, and you’ll feel better. Lather, kill, repeat, as needed. Thea’s real mad about this development, so Merlyn himself tosses Sara’s body in the Pit, so Thea can have a friend, I guess.

Sara does come back to life! But it’s not the Sara we all knew and loved. She’s like a wild, naked beast who wants to destroy the hell out of everyone. Well. Everyone except for Nyssa, who watches with wide horrified eyes as Sara’s body comes back to life. The only thing about Sara that’s the same, it seems, is that she looks like Caity Lotz and wants to keep Nyssa from harm.

They have to chain Sara up, actually. And then Nyssa destroys the pit with her bare hands. Nevermore! 


Steven Universe

Thursdays on Cartoon Network

su-10

Steven Universe is the best written queer show on TV right now, a feminist utopia of fully realized female characters — many of whom are voiced by and coded as women of color — who live and work together and navigate layered interpersonal relationship dynamics while also saving the world. And I’m not talking about Three’s Company-style “Who ate the last yogurt?” hijinks. I’m talking about Garnet is a Gem who is actually a fusion of two other gems — Sapphire and Ruby, who are in a lesbian marriage, basically — and she spends a good quarter of this season being inconsolably hurt and angry at Pearl, who manufactured a reason to fuse with her because she liked the way it felt to be so close to her. Pearl lied about needing to fuse with Garnet, and because Garnet is actually a sacred fusion between Sapphire and Ruby, it was an ultimate sort of betrayal. In fact, Sapphire and Ruby were forced to break apart to handle their individual feelings about it. (Just watch this, okay, and try not to die because it’s so goddamn adorable.)

So on the latest episode of Steven Universe, “Too Far,” we found out maybe two whole other Gems are queer! One of the Gems’ main nemeses so far has been Peridot, a ruthless Homeworld Gem technician. A few episodes ago, though, we discovered that Peridot isn’t actually a giant menace capable of destroying the earth; she’s actually a tiny buddy trying to get home and/or stop The Cluster from smashing the planet to smithereens, and she’s overcompensating for her fears and insecurities by acting like a cold, detached monster. After getting captured and locking herself in Steven’s bathroom, she begrudgingly agrees to help the Gems stop The Cluster, but she doesn’t have a lot of experience with earth manners and human-style interaction, so she’s accidentally pretty abrasive sometimes. Okay, FINE, she’s purposefully abrasive most of the time. But not all the time.

Peridot is actually really learning to care about Steven, which doesn’t surprise anyone; Steven is the most lovable person on TV. What’s surprising is that Peridot is also learning to care about Amethyst. Peridot is really uncomfortable with Garnet (because she’s really Sapphire and Ruby and they’re fused even though they’re not fighting anything and that kind of intimacy between two Gems freaks her the heck right out). And she thinks Pearl is way too bossy. But Peridot likes Amethyst. She likes her-likes her. Peridot discovers it (and we discover it) when she unwittingly hurts Amethyst’s feelings while just trying to make her laugh.

su-8 su-7

Amethyst thinks Peridot is hilarious. She calls noses “scent sponges,” eyeballs “vision spheres,” fingers “touch stumps,” feet “gravity connectors.” When they’re visiting the Kindergarten, though, to get a drill head, Peridot accidentally takes her unfiltered jibber-jabber too far, telling Amethyst that she isn’t living up to her full potential and would be a disgrace on the home planet. When Amethyst shuts down and stops talking to her, Peridot is too distraught to function. “She won’t even look at me,” she complains to Steven. “It’s making me feel … smaller.” Steven explains about emotional wounds and even though Peridot is loathe to make amends — and has honestly probably never apologized for anything in her life — she breaks free from her restraints and saves Amethyst’s life on impulse just a few minutes later.

It’s filmed (drawn) like a rom-com, with Peridot sitting on top of Amethyst, grappling with what this closeness means, and Amethyst looking up in wonder and struggling with the same thing. Peridot jumps up when she realizes what’s happening and screams, “GAH!” and swears it was an accident. Finally, she plays a recording of her home planet log for Amethyst:

This entire planet is backwards! There hasn’t been on experience of correct behavior exhibited by any of these Crystal Gems. I have concluded that they are all defective — but I am no better. I failed my mission and now I’m working with the enemy, and I can’t even get that right. I have apparently “hurt” Amethyst’s “feelings,” which was never my intent. If I’ve damaged my standing with the best Gem here, I’ve made a serious mistake. I’m still learning. I hope you understand. I want to understand. I’m … sorry.

When Amethyst forgives her and wanders off, Steven asks Peridot how she feels. She says, “Big.”

su-2

The good news is Steven Universe is on hiatus until 2016, so you have plenty of time to get caught up on this masterpiece. As always, we thank Mey Rude for bringing this (and so many other perfect things) into our lives.


Grey’s Anatomy

Thursdays on ABC at 8:00 p.m.

Written by Aja

Greys - 1205 - 1

Not gonna lie, this was a brutal episode. Pure, unadulterated Shondaland heartsmash in the Haus of Sister Lady Chiefs.

The episode begins where last week’s left off, Grey the hostess (and can I just take a moment to say I love this look on her — paired with no jewelry and a severe yet comfortable all-black outfit, the aggressive side part/hair flip thing is almost edgy on her, the whole thing feels chic as hell) opening her front door and seeing Penny on her doorstep.

Penny is, of course, both Callie’s new girlfriend and the woman responsible for Derek’s death. (I ought to preface this recap by saying that I’m a sucker for the whole deeply-flawed-but-flawless-woman-holds-it-together-for-a-gathering-until-she-doesn’t vibe. The Hours, Betty Draper, August: Osage County, The Family Stone. When well done, it has the power to lift a somewhat banal occurrence in film or television into something haunting and resonant.) Only Penny and Meredith know that going in, though. As the new couple put their coats down in a room off the foyer, Penny immediately pleads with Callie to leave the party. Callie’s excited and bubbly and thinks it’s just nerves or shyness or social awkwardness and pushes on, feeding Penny a constant stream of hushed, lowdown DL on the other guests as introductions are made. The dinner itself is in shambles and delayed indefinitely; none of these genius surgeons can cook; in fact, the vast majority of them seem to possess a skillset confined solely to pouring various types of alcohol in glasses. (Incidentally, this is more or less what dinner parties at my house look like.)

Meanwhile, Maggie the hostess is MIA on account of a nasty UTI, so she flits between the bathroom and the hospital all night long. Amelia the hostess shines, all warmth and wit and full of hugs. As she embraces Penny, Meredith stares with dead-inside zombie eyes over a blender she’s been tending to for like 15 minutes now, and Karev is watching Mere like a hawk. She drifts away from the blender and into the living room with a cheese plate, where Callie beckons her over to the couch where she and Penny are seated. America wants to disappear through cracks in the hardwood floor. “So…great house. Lived here long?” Penny asks. America is losing fingernails in an attempt to rip up floorboards they can sink through quietly. After a polite but pointed reply, Callie mentions Derek’s passing, and Penny pulls away again, asking to leave. Callie misunderstands and assures her that Arizona isn’t scary — “We’re gonna rip off this Band-Aid!” she trills, and marches Penny over to Arizona, who is buzzed bordering on drunk. We like Drunk Arizona!

Greys - 1205 - 3

Grey runs upstairs to puke and have horrible, horrible flashbacks of the night Derek died. Maggie and her UTI barge in on her for a pee, and then Amelia barges in to remind everyone that the word “dinner” exists in “dinner party” for a reason. Meredith takes a deep breath and goes to set the table, glaring as Penny and Arizona bond over their transitory childhoods, no doubt leaping ahead in her mind to what her children will have to say at dinner parties when they’re adults.

Dr. ‘Over It’ Avery arrives, flustering April, when Arizona corners her with a goblet of wine by the stairs, flushed and happy with how well she’s dealing with this whole Callie’s-GF-Penny jam. In the kitchen, Karev needles Mere about what’s wrong (she can’t even cut an apple, she’s so distraught), Drunk Arizona is primo drunk and saying things like, “Callie picked a Pretty Penny!” and “Maybe I should date Penny!” Have I mentioned that we like Drunk Arizona?! April looks on as Edwards and Avery make small chat, which sends her into superwoman mode in the kitchen; this is our dinner party savior, except no one can save this dinner party. Jo tries to be relevant; as usual, no one cares.

Of course Callie gets called back to the hospital, because Shondaland. “Hey, can you make sure my murdering GF has a good time while I abandon her here with you, Widow Grey?” she asks Meredith, who replies “GO THE FUCK TO HELL, CALLIE!” Just kidding, Meredith nods because that’s what deeply-flawed-but-flawless-women-hold-it-together-for-a-gathering-until-they-can’t do!

After Callie leaves, Meredith tells Penny that she will: a) be a polite guest b) stay the hell away from her and c) then GTFO of her house when dinner’s over. Reasonable! Bailey keeps Penny occupied for awhile, but there’s a brief moment when Penny tries to slip away on her own, despite Amelia’s reassurances that they’re a welcoming, fun bunch. As Meredith drifts over, she overhears this and instead of doing that Southern thing where a woman says the rudest thing in the most sedulously polite way, efficiently getting rid of Penny, she says, “Dinner’s ready!” Penny and Amelia sit next to one another. Alrighty then, let’s get this party started.

Best part of the episode, right here: Callie’s not back yet so Penny says, “We all know how house calls go, one of y’all might have to give me a ride home tonight!” Drunk Arizona, without missing a single beat, goes “Yeah, well, she better get back soon or I might take you home myself! Find a Penny, pick it up!”

Since April’s been chained to the stove all night, she politely asks what Penny does. Her explanation reminds Bailey why her name sounded familiar; she’s a resident transfer starting Monday at the hospital. This is the part where the one thing Meredith had clung to all night — that she could control the evening, control never having to see Penny again, the general fuzzy concept of ever having control over any part of life post-Derek, or ever — completely detonates. This is not a drill. (Note: We are only halfway through the episode.) Transfers of that kind seem rare, so Penny tries to explain, as delicately as she can, out of pure self-preservation and animal panic, the reasoning behind her transfer. Mentioning her shitty old now-closed hospital, Avery asks, “Isn’t that, um…” leaving Meredith to finish, “Where Derek died. Isn’t that right, Penny? Perfect Penny killed my husband,” and then literally, “Let’s pass those peas” before excusing herself from the table.

Greys - 1205 - 4

There is no place worse than that table right now! Which, by the way, Amelia is still sitting at. Next to Penny.

As the group tries to understand what’s happening, with varying degrees of civility, and Penny doing her best to answer their questions, Amelia corrects her when she refers to Derek as Mere’s husband. “Derek was my brother,” and props to Penny’s acting chops, man, you can see her utterly buckle under every syllable from Amelia’s mouth. In the split second of silence that follows, Callie and Owen burst through the front door, howling with laughter. Bailey exhales (we’re with you, Bailey). Callie struggles to catch up with the yawning black hole swallowing up the room and Amelia’s like, “Penny was just going to tell me how she killed my brother.” Callie tries to tell Penny she doesn’t have to explain, but Penny knows she’s got to.

With each detail, everyone in that room bristles with disgust. For her incompetence, negligence, her excuses, and you can see the love and light die right out of Callie. Only loser Jo looks at Penny with empathy, because duh. Penny tries to get up and leave but Amelia’s a runaway train at this point. She wants to know her brother’s last words, which is when Callie slams on the table and says that’s enough. Amelia barks, “Get her out of my house” before storming upstairs.

Meredith and Amelia, after what must be two years of grieving, continue to struggle with one another’s grief. It’s so sad and angry and hard. Callie finds Penny outside calling a cab, and confronts her about such a massive lie of omission. Penny’s answer is a poor one: “It was the worst night of my life.” (Come on.) Everyone else is huddled inside in the kitchen, cleaning up and taking emotional cover. Karev feeds Mere tequila, Owen comforts Amelia, April takes Drunk Arizona home, Jo and Edwards make up and then fight again, and then somehow Penny’s back in the house, and she and Mere are all alone together. Penny says she’ll get rematched with another program, but Meredith says she’ll see her Monday.

It would probably be best for everyone, Penny included, if she went ahead and got rematched anyway, but previews for the next episode put her on Mere’s service. See y’all in two weeks!


How to Get Away With Murder

Thursdays on ABC at 10:00 p.m.

HTGAWM- 205 - 1

This is an impossible show to recap, y’all. It is frankly an almost impossible show to understand. But I promise when Eve comes back, she will appear here with Annalise and I will show you screencaps of them kissing and try my very best to explain to how you they — both individually and as a couple — factor into Annalise getting stabbed to near-death in all these flash-forwards. (Have you noticed how similar the plot of this season is to the sixth season of The L Word? I do realize I will be struck by lightning from heaven for saying that, but it’s kind of true, right?)


Carmilla

Tuesdays and Thursdays on YouTube

Written by Karly

carmilla-001-01

So Carmilla season 0 is like the hiatus U by Kotex videos after season 1: they don’t further the canon plots along. It is technically a prequel, but tells a stand-alone story. Also, these videos are more about U by Kotex, so they hit the product placement so hard. There are tampons everywhere. But Carmilla is my show, to annoy me or not.

Season 0 starts with Laura and Carmilla holed up in a room in the library that is more like a now-defunct torture chamber. Always on brand, Laura Hollis finds some old VHS tapes and decides that they should have a movie night. Carm, unenthused as always, finally agrees. They pop in the tape and go back in time:

The tape is security footage that Carmilla herself recorded a couple years ago. The torture chamber is full of weapons and a giant mountain of tampons and pads. Carmilla leaves and “Some Time Later,” Perry and Mel are pushed inside, freaking out. At the party Perry and Mel were attending, one of the Zeta bros started crowing, and tried to fly off the cabana to terrible results.

Perry and Mel are unlike we’ve ever seen them. Perry is wearing a flower crown and says she came to Silas to see the OtherWorld full of fairies and magic. She burns sage. It’s absolutely wild.

carmilla-001-02

And Mel, far from the archer from the Adonis Hunt, wears thick glasses and is referred to as the shy one. Mel is very concerned with the mountain of tampons and pads because none of the students on campus have had their periods in three months. I say count your blessings and move on, but Mel is really freaked out about it. In fact she rolls off six or so hilarious euphemisms about not having your period. My favorites: The Great Redwing Migration and “no tomatoes on the taco.” Killer.

Carmilla comes in to interrogate them. This is 2 years ago, and she is still the dean’s Grumpy Helper who likes to break fingers. Perry and Mel were the last ones to be seen around the flying Zeta bro, Bash, so Carmilla has to find out who is responsible, and deal with her.

Perry and Mel have no idea what she’s talking about and beg Carm to help them figure out who actually did it. Carm can’t resist pretty faces, so she agrees. They video call Kirsch, a witness, and he remembers he heard a sound like children singing, and before he starting crowing, Bash said something about vanishing Moon Blood and the Eternal Cycle. Who will feel awkward talking about periods after season 0? Nobody.

The first tape ends and we’re back in present-time. Laura really wants to know what happened next: Is it a chicken demon stealing all the periods? Did Carmilla hurt Perry? What even happened to Perry? (I’m more concerned about Perry than Laura is) So Carmilla agrees to watch the next tape. Until next time.

carmilla0-4

[Heather’s note: Is this the first time Carmilla and Laura gazed deeply into each other’s eyes? I think it is! I also love how the camera zooms in because it’s accidental Hollstein trash, just like me.]


VH1’s Out in Hip-Hop + The 10th Anniversary of Noah’s Arc

Written by Carolyn Wysinger

658x400

On Monday night, VH1 aired Out in Hip-Hop and Logo aired a 10th anniversary celebration of Patrik-Ian Polk’s groundbreaking series Noah’s Arc. I can’t think of a night where so much black queerness was represented in television, telling our stories and making us visible. It was a little too much for my black queer hear to hold but I thank God my FVR could handle it!

Autostraddle readers may wonder why I’m writing about a show focused on me. The answer is very simple: There was a space in time where there were no black gay images on TV anywhere. There were gay shows like The L Word and Queer As Folk, plus a plethora of movies featuring gay white folks — but there hadn’t been any major black gay stories on the big or little screen since Paris is Burning in 1990. Then, Logo had the nerve to order up a whole series about black gay men by writer Patrik-Ian Polk, who was fresh off his movie P.U.N.K.S. The debut of Noah’s Arc became a touchstone moment in black queer media. It was a show where black gay characters weren’t simply “the black one” in the white gay community. These men navigated the black gay community, frequented black gay clubs (the club scenes were filmed at Jewel’s Catch One, a legendary black gay club in Los Angeles), and struggled with living and loving as black gay men in Los Angeles.

Most importantly, watching <em.Noah’s Arc was like watching family on the screen. The show highlighted real life artists, performers and other well-known folk from the black gay community that we all know as legends, but the white gay community had never heard of them. Noah’s Arc may not have focused on queer women. but for many in the black gay community, both men and women, it was the first time we were made prominently visible. When I watch The L Word‘s lesbians go to riot grrrl parties in West Hollywood, it’s very nice to see all the girl-on-girl action, but when I watch Noah and his friends hit the ballroom floor in Noah’s Arc, that resonates with me like home. When they go to black Pride at the beach, that feels like somewhere I have actually been. Honestly, I have been at LA Black Pride Beach Party many times, only missing the year Noah was filmed there (le sigh). Their stories and the community they existed in allowed me to feel seen in a way The L Word never could have, and I get the same giddy feelings hearing its theme song that I get when I hear TLW song.

Had it not been for a groundbreaking show like Noah’s Arc, I don’t think a discussion about homophobia in the black community would have ever found a home on television. But over on VH1, that is exactly what is happening. Out in Hip Hop was a townhall event hosted by ABC NEWS reporter TJ Holmes, inspired by the first gay couple to ever be featured in the Love & Hip-Hop series Miles & Milan. The show brought together an incredible panel, including Miles & Milan, Big Freedia, Pastor Kevin Taylor from my home church Unity Fellowship Church, Karamo Brown of the Real World, Nneka Onuorah director of The Same Difference, journalist Clay Cane, Felecia “Snoop” Pearson, and rappers Cakes da Killa and Siya.

Attempting to tackle all of the issues surrounding the relationship between the LGBT community and hip-hop was certainly a daunting task to take on in just one hour. Issues like use of language and coming out could easily have their own hour, diving deep into background and context. The aim of the show was to get the discussion started and finally put these issues into the mainstream consciousness.

From the top of the show, TJ made it clear that the discussion would be about being gay in hip-hop and the black community at large. The platform gave the panelists the opportunity to center the conversation on the black gay experience in a way that we have not been able to do so publicly. Cakes Da Killa had a wonderful moment where he made the intersectional experience of being black and gay center stage. We often talk about how hard white gays fight for marriage equality while often ignoring issues that queer people of color still face. Cakes put it in context for the mainstream crowd by stating: “There are people who live on the pier…that is still a lot of people’s reality. So I feel like getting caught up in this whole gay marriage hysteria and pandemonium we’re missing a lot of the smaller issues and smaller battles that affect people of color.”

Many of the topics were discussed through a very male lens. When the panel was asked why hip-hop artists can’t come out, the conversation turned to the boys club and how artists can’t be taken seriously if they aren’t seen as one of the guys. The subject of language again focused on the stigmatization of gay men in hip-hop and the use of words like “faggot.” Clay Cane brought up a great point about songs that we love, like Ice Cube’s “No Vaseline,” which exists solely to emasculate the members of NWA using homophobic imagery and language.

There wasn’t an opportunity to get into how nomophobia in hip-hop affect queer women, until the conversation shifted to gender expression and what was considered acceptable in hip-hop. Nneka Onuorah offered some great insight into the double standard in how gender is portrayed. Why is it that the community can’t get behind a masculine of center artist such as Siya but can get behind a femme presenting artist such as Nicki Minaj? Is it because she is scantily clad and selling sex in a way that straight men read as being just for them? The industry has a history of pressuring women who come into the game as tomboys to change their images in an effort to appealing to male listeners. That point was brought up to Siya more as a question instead of a historical reality. When you look at artists like Queen Latifah, MC Lyte and Eve and see how their appearance changed over time, you have to ask yourself how can an artist who is not just tomboy but very masculine expect to break the barrier into mainstream success? These issues of acceptable gender performance must continuously be challenged by artists who are willing to be themselves. As Big Freedia put it, you have to have faith in being yourself fearlessly. The faith of a mustard seed can move mountains.

Speaking of which, the faith the conversation took a bit of a contentious turn when TJ welcomed mega pastor Jamal Bryant to the program as they discussed the impact of the black church on the black gay community. Even with a gay pastor sitting there on the panel as a testament to the fact that it is possible to be black, queer and Christian, the conversation turned heated as Pastor Bryant spouted the oft heard opinion that people should hate the sin and not the sinner. He even went so far as to say that the panel was levying reverse discrimination against him for not agreeing with their opinions. Many times when we have these conversations about the divide between the black gay community and the black church in public forums, the quick answer from white gays is “Why would you even want to be part of an institution like the church?”

I wrote a piece on Everyday Feminism about reconciling your spiritual walk when you come out as queer , which was was embraced by black gays while being hotly contested by white gays. It is important to understand how important the church is to many black folks and how large a role it plays in our lives both spiritually and culturally. I was glad that Pastor Taylor was on the panel to dispel the myth that you can’t be gay and a person of faith. The Unity Fellowship Movement played a huge role in my personal journey in reconciling my faith and my sexuality and I was glad that they had a seat at the table for this discussion. I believe that this discussion coupled with the recent episode on Lyanla Fix My Life about gay pastors may really work to save a young black child’s life as they labor under the weight of these two communities. Journalist Clay Cane, also a panelist, has an amazing documentary called Holler If You Hear Me coming to theaters about this exact topic. The trailer aired on Monday night and I am so excited to see it.

Much of the information that was highlighted in Out in Hip-Hop is old news for many of us that navigate this community on a daily basis. The power of the show was found in the fact that these issues are being discussed openly on television, something that would not have been heard of ten years ago when Noah’s Arc first aired. All of the issues covered through discussion Out in Hip Hop were addressed through Patrik-Ian Polk’s iconic characters just ten years ago. In an age when we are celebrating the multitude of black shows on major networks, we can’t ignore the slowly changing attitudes towards black queer stories in media and how the visibility of one makes it possible for the others to be made. Many of these issues are still unresolved but perhaps now that the conversations have been started, now that our community is finally in a space where they are open to hearing, maybe we can finally start a process of creating a community where it is safe to be black and queer in music, on TV and in our own communities.


A very special thank you to Sadie and Karly for the screencaps in this column. What we’re going to accomplish here in the coming months would absolutely not be possible without these two committed interns. 

Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle managing editor who lives in New York City with her partner, Stacy, and their cackle of rescued pets. She's a member of the Television Critics Association, the Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer critic. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Heather has written 772 articles for us.

39 Comments

  1. So, In the process of getting screengrabs this week I realized that I hadn’t seen Grey’s Anatomy in like 3 years… that was a hell of an episode to reintroduce myself to it.

    And I’m with Dr Bailey, I’m a big fan of drunk Arizona

  2. 1. I gave up on Grandfathered this week (last week?) when there was a “friendzone” joke, because I’m so sick of the idea of the friendzone and the nice guy. I tweeted about the use of the word, and one of the producers tweeted back “Did you keep watching to where, 5 seconds later, the term was criticized?” and I responded with “You mean when Stamos joked about it being offensive to feminists and Peck saying it was “but it’s easier”? Yes. No thanks.” and he didn’t answer, but it made me even more over it.

    2. I also gave up on Scream Queens during episode 2, so I’m glad I’m not the only one who isn’t loving this show and doesn’t like how it’s treating its characters. THANK YOU.

    3. Is anyone else getting major queer vibes from Laurel on HTGAWM? I think she and Michaela are my new Hannily. Between Laurel telling Michaela to dance with her, the shock on Laurel’s face when Michaela said she’d never had an orgasm, and then the joke about the orgy this week with Laurel saying “she’s mine” and then winking, I’m convinced that the two of them are going to hook up. (Can you imagine if we had two interracial couples featuring bisexual women? I’d send Shonda a fruit basket.)

  3. “The good news is Steven Universe is on hiatus until 2016”

    I just ran out of eps to watch, not good news to me!

    But if you haven’t seen in there’s a bunch of shorts, one which is of Lion trying to fit into too tiny boxes

  4. I swear, nothing Merlyn does on Arrow ever makes any sense. Like, last season, he was all, “I have to make Thea kill Sara to get the League off my back, but I’m still going to stick around and not avoid them at all, I guess?” And then this season, he’s like, “No way, we can’t resurrect Sara. This is srs stuff.” And then he’s just like, “Well, ok, I guess we can because it’ll help Thea somehow, but I’m not going to explain how at all. Don’t even ask.”

    But I guess I’m happy Sara is back. But I hate that it was at the cost of Nyssa and Laurel’s friendship (or possibly more than that) because I thought they were super cute together and basically the only thing I liked about last season.

  5. I never thought I’d say this, but Peridot is so cute! Once she learns to chill out and unlearn the homeworld bs I hope she becomes part of the main crew.

    Also I had no idea Carmilla was still on… I know what I’ll be doing this weekend

  6. Aaaahhhhhh noooooo I do not trust Peridot! I don’t think she likes Amethyst for Amethyst, she likes Amethyst because Amethyst is a Quartz and Quartzes are the only Gems worth liking. “The only good Gem around here” that’s totally based on status/caste rather than anything intrinsic to Amethyst.

  7. Your mention of The L Word and HTGAWM reminded me: anyone else notice that Angela Robinson’s listed as a consulting producer?

    —-

    I came into last night’s episode of “Grey’s Anatomy” wanting to hate Penny. How could you not…she had the audacity to show up to a dinner party with Grey-Sloan doctors?! Yes, normal hospitals are large enough that not all doctors would know each other but you’re dating a member of the board! Did her backwoods hospital lack the capacity to Google? She didn’t research the hospitals she was applying to? I mean, c’mon…

    I really wanted to hate her…and, yet, by the end of it, I didn’t.

    What happened to Derek was awful, of course, but there wasn’t a doctor at that table who hadn’t made a mistake or had an attending usurp their judgement. Can none of those doctors appreciate that every patient that they’ve ever lost us someone’s Derek Shepard? Maybe they’re not brain surgeons, but the patients that they’ve killed are someone’s spouse, parent or sibling…

    I wanted to hate her but in the end, I hated those doctors, sans maybe April, for not being able to muster even a little bit of sympathy…for continuing to pile on and exacerbate her pain and guilt.

    • Yeah those were both big problems for me too – Penny’s seeming inability to Google, and the GSM docs’ inability to sympathize. Hopefully that’ll change now that Penny’s sticking around.

    • I actually liked that the doctors didn’t emphatize. Well, Kepner did somewhat, but it was their honest reaction in the moment. It would have not have been honest for them to be like “we forgive you,” seconds after learning that she was there on the night their loved one died.

    • When Penny brought up getting imaging of Derrek’s head and that male doctor was like “NAH. You are both younger and a woman so I’m shooting that down.” I was hoping to see her character again. And Shonda did not disappoint. So I hope Penny learns how to become confident while working with the badass Lady Chiefs.

  8. Scream Queens is boring and tasteless. There’s not a single issue being treated appropriately, even though, I know, that’s not what they’re going for. It just bothers me that a show can be so shallow.

  9. There seems to be a lot of Peridot hate in these comments, but she’s quickly becoming one of my favs! I love her and i can’t wait for her and Amethyst to fuse. I also love that Heather called her a “tiny buddy” which is totally true.

    Also, Heather, your takedown of Scream Queens was brutal and wonderful (even if it is a show that I’m still watching).

    • As predicted by fans, the Peridot redemption story is in full effect and I really like it! All her snarkiness is coming from a place of self-protection and self-doubt, as we saw in this last episode. I hope she and Garnet can work out their issues. I’m expecting an episode at some point where she comes to terms with Garnet living as a fusion. And I really hope there is an Amethyst/Peridot fusion coming. I mean, I ship it.

      • I also love Peridot and I love the idea of Amethyst and Peridot getting together. I think we’re seeing what Rose Quartz deeply believes and what Steven believes: that everyone has good qualities to them and that everyone can be redeemed. Peridot is a product of home world thinking, that certain gems are better than others and that fusion is bad, and that gems should take over the other planets. But her time on Earth is teaching her that those beliefs are bullshit. And she’s starting to see the Crystal Gems for who they are. I love it. I also think that Amethyst and Peridot complement each other very well.

  10. What you wrote under the Scream Queens section was really inspiring. Thank you for that. Queer characters aren’t always breakthroughs, especially if they’re cliched and stereotyped and often dead for bad reasons.

    As for Steven Universe, though, it made me (a non-binary lesbian) feel a little weird to see the Gems referred to as “female characters”. According to Rebecca Sugar (as well as Matt Burnett), the Gems are not a binary female sex or gender: https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/2e4gmx/i_am_rebecca_sugar_creator_of_steven_universe_and/cjw7efv for a link to it.

    Non-binary people can still, of course, use she/her or “female” pronouns, as well as identify themselves as lesbians or mothers if they feel mostly female, just not completely. And I think that’s what the Gems are!

  11. I really liked Noah’s Arc – it was a fun show. I watched it with a friend of mine. It resonated with both of us, but even just looking at my friends’ face as we re-watched it a million times, it was obviously Important to him in a different way – I’m really happy something like that was allowed to exist for him to see himself in.

    I loved that you guys showcased it here, thanks 🙂 Fond memories were brought back.

  12. As an asexual Vermonter who spends a lot of time helping out at a farm whose main product is beets, I just gotta say if your hypothetical character ever came to TV, I’d be pretty much obligated to watch it no matter how awful.

  13. Greys:
    – Meredith’s party was more awkward than the Adams-Foster’s dinner party. That’s quite an accomplishment. The tension at the dinner table could be felt thought the screen
    – I like drunk Arizona! More please! I also really like her friendship with Kepner
    – And good on Kepner for showing sympathy for Penny. In my opinion Penny is getting blamed more harshly than she should be. If I recall correctly her mistake was not insisting about Derek getting a CT
    – I’m not fond of the new interns at all, the one I dislike the least is generic-Sloan but even so I don’t want him with Maggie.
    – Kudos to Debbie Allen for directing a great episode. Kudos also to Ellen Pompeo who did a great job with Meredith’s scenes
    – Really liking this season

    • “And good on Kepner for showing sympathy for Penny. In my opinion Penny is getting blamed more harshly than she should be. If I recall correctly her mistake was not insisting about Derek getting a CT”

      SO MUCH THIS. I get that emotions are really high because the person that died was someone they cared about, but christ – EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM has killed someone by screwing something up. ALL OF THEM. And her mistake wasn’t one made of carelessness or laziness – it was made of inexperience. As doctors at a teaching hospital, you would think they would get that.

      I really hope she gets a moment of vindication at some point later in the season. It’s not like she was the neurosurgeon who didn’t care enough to leave his dinner to come do surgery.

  14. About Debbie Allen directing this episode of Greys….yo!! I firmly believe that Debbie Allen saved Greys. Shonda is the queen Debbie is the damn GOAT and I think that her influence started the shift on Greys cause it had died on the vine. Ever since she started consulting and directing more episodes it has found new life! Just like she saved A Different World all this years ago and so many other series. She gets major props!

  15. “Steven Universe is the best written queer show on TV right now”

    I’m so happy other adults feel as strongly about this show as I do, especially Professional Lesbian Pop Culture Critic Heather Hogan. Also, #TeamAmedot

Contribute to the conversation...

You must be logged in to post a comment.