Hello and welcome to the weekend! Did you survive the CW’s red wedding of cancellations yesterday? We did, but only just barely! But in happier television news, Heather promises that Girls 5Eva is both sillier and gayer in Season Two. Valerie says that the girls of The Wilds prove that we don’t need the new addition of boys! Kayla reminded us all about the first season of Hacks and then came back with the toxic work wives ready to go in for a second season of chaos. Carmen called the trailer drop for Netflix’s First Kill “like Buffy had a baby with the good seasons of PLL” so you know we’re there! Gentleman Jack took its lesbian drama onto the magic railroad. And speaking of Gentleman Jack, did you see the Autostraddle crew look great in our fancy clothes at the special premiere dinner that HBO invited us to attend?
And for all our horror gays, in honor of today’s auspicious holiday Kayla wrote you The 13 Gayest Things About the Supposedly Straight Horror Movie “Friday the 13th”!
Notes from the TV Team:
+ There wasn’t a lot for Carina and Marina this week on Station 19, but there was a really moving storyline involving a trans teen during one of the crisis team plots, which leads to Theo talking about his best friend from high school and the violence he faced from his family. The only reason I didn’t write a full recap is because due to a few unexpected emergencies, I’m the only editor in office today (and we’re short on time) but if you’re a Station 19 fan, it’s worth the watch! — Carmen
+ On Grey’s Anatomy, Teddy and Owen started therapy. And Teddy seemingly has gone from being the token transphobic parent to the “I AM READY TO GET THIS RIGHT” over-ally parent — quite a turnaround for a single episode, but sure. Leo still is happy being a girl, but doesn’t want to change his pronouns at this moment, and is honestly mostly passionate about having string cheese snacks, because he is four. Amelia and Teddy have a little sidebar about this (Yes! I want more of the Grey’s Anatomy bisexuals club please!) and Amelia lets us know that she’s seemingly still dating Hot Doctor Kai (exciting info!) and that dating them has helped Ameila chill about labels and definitions, that’s not what makes someone worthy of love. Teddy takes the advice, and also gets Leo some ice cream. — Carmen
+ Chris Alonso’s been adrift on S.W.A.T. since the loss of her friend/roommate, Erika, but since discovering a local safe house for undocumented women, she’s found new purpose. But this week, that purpose is threatened when the safe house’s owner/manager, Mama Pina, reveals that she has stage four cancer. Chris scrambles to find housing for all the undocumented women but, ultimately decides a change of course — for her — is the best solution. She gives Hondo her two-week notice: she’s leaving S.W.A.T. to take over running the safe house.
Because Street has never been able to read the room, he makes Chris’ departure from the team about him. He urges her to take advantage of them not being on the same team to finally giving a relationship a chance. Chris resists and Street finally decides to stop trying to make them happen. — Natalie
+ On All American, the next stage of Coop’s pre-trial diversion program requires her to get a real job but she finds the application process frustrating. When she reaches out to Mrs. Baker for help, she inadvertently finds her niche: she’ll assist the former ADA in setting up her law practice. It’s a perfect fit, really, given Laura’s growing client base in Crenshaw and Coop’s knowledge of the neighborhood. But in order to secure her new gig, Coop will also have to enroll in college…and I’m anxious to see how Coop’s come-up changes the way people (read: Patience) sees her. — Natalie
+ Legacies wasn’t new this week but I wanted to express my SADNESS that it was cancelled, effectively ending the 13-year run of the…well, legacy of The Vampire Diaries. There were so many more stories to tell with those queer supernatural teens. :( — Valerie Anne
+ I agree with Nic — Carmen
So that's…All American, All American: Homecoming, The Flash, Kung Fu, Nancy Drew, Riverdale, S&L, Walker, Walker: Independence, The Winchesters, Gotham Knights.
By my count that’s 8 male-fronted shows…with All American(s) and Kung Fu as diversity plays? Okay, CW. We see you.
Naomi 112-113: “Ready or Not” and “Who Am I?”
Written by Natalie
For most of Naomi‘s inaugural season, Naomi McDuffie’s parents confound. On the one hand, they are these idyllic, loving parents but, on the other, they lie to Naomi repeatedly. Even when they realize the scope of the threat against their daughter, even when the lies put Naomi in greater danger, they just keep lying. They kept repeating — to Naomi, to Dee, to whomever — that they were just trying to keep their daughter safe but the words rang hollow opposite the stories that showed that Naomi definitely wasn’t safe. It just didn’t make sense…and while it wasn’t the show’s lone storytelling flaw, it felt like the most egregious. But, in the final moments of the show’s first season, Naomi offers an explanation for why the McDuffies have been behaving the way they have.
“You took me from my birth parents,” Naomi realizes. “They were trying to save me. You shot them, you left them for dead.”
It shouldn’t have taken 13 episodes to get to this revelation — and disjointed compendium of lies that preceded it isn’t the gradual build-up to a heel turn that the writers’ think it was — but it felt like a milestone….a point at which Naomi could finally realize its potential. They’d finally found their sea legs and now the show could truly capitalize off the talent and charisma of their lead, Kaci Walfall, and sail. Maybe we’d even see Naomi finally meet her hero, Superman, via a crossover event with Superman & Lois. But, of course, that’s not going to happen: on Thursday, Naomi was one of six shows axed by the CW. It is the first show in the DC Universe to be cancelled after just one season.
They’ll make excuses for Naomi‘s cancellation — just as they have with the others — but the truth is, they never really gave it a chance to be great. As the CW does so often, particularly with properties fronted by women and/or people of color, publicity was rare and extended breaks between new episodes were frequent. It is becoming increasingly difficult not to acknowledge the pattern. It’s hard to look at what the CW’s kept and what it’s cancelled and not think that the days of daring to defy are truly over. It’s hard to look at what’s been cancelled and what’s been called up and not feel like the CW’s chose their audience…and we are, most definitely, not it.
Charmed 408: “Unveiled”
Written by Valerie Anne
I’m SO sad this show got canceled just as it was finally on the upswing again, but alas, they did not survive the CW Massacre. But we still have a handful of episodes left so let’s enjoy them while we can!
This week, Ruby is being stalked by her evil ex-step father, a demon appropriately named Earl. Since her girlfriend is out of town, she enlists her favorite Charmed One for help instead. Which is appropriate because the only reason he was able to find Mel is because of the dark (magic) web ranting about the Charmed Ones and doxxing everyone associated with them.
While Mel and Ruby make voodoo-esque dolls of protection, Maggie and Kaela go to visit Kaela’s birth parents, who they learn, through a series of sticky, unfortunate events they learn that they are just regular humans and not witches at all. So they don’t solve the mystery of why Kaela is a Charmed One, but Kaela does get to know her sweet, human bio parents, and I’m happy for her.
After Mel and Ruby finish the protection dolls, Earl finds them, so Mel matchbooks them to the bar, where they recruit Roxy’s help. Since Earl can clone himself, they decide to use something called a Nightingale Potion to borrow Ruby’s voice. The only catch is, they both have to kiss her to get it. Ruby consents and immediately Roxy grabs her chin and kisses her and compliments her on said kiss…and I already loved Roxy but if I had been on the fence this would have sent me flying off. Whew.
The trio of badass witches manages to take down the demon and thankfully says the line I was waiting for, “Goodbye Earl.” As Ruby and Mel agree once more to just be friends, Ruby basically tells Mel she ships her and Roxy, and Mel didn’t think Roxy was into her, but Ruby disagrees. And so together we all shove our little ship off the shore. Let’s go out with a bang!
9-1-1 517: “Hero Complex”
Written by Natalie
Still harboring her suspicions about Jonah, Hen goes to Claudette’s funeral to get more information about her medical history. She sneaks into the family bathroom during the post-funeral reception and finds Claudette’s blood pressure medication. She takes what she’s found to Chimney who admits that an elevated heart rate and smoke inhalation could’ve lead to her cardiac event. But, Chimney notes Claudette didn’t have an elevated heart rate following her rescue so he starts to consider that his partner might be onto something.
The pair sneak into Bobby’s office at the firehouse to get a look at Jonah’s write-ups for two cases that both ended with cardiac events. The only thing out of the ordinary in Jonah’s reports are his use of overly flowery language, detailing his “valiant” efforts to save lives. Meanwhile, Chimney breaks into Bobby’s computer and discovers that Jonah’s only been with the LAFD for 14 months, after stints in Chicago, Miami, Dallas and Denver. The two nearly get caught making their escape and Hen starts to second guess their efforts. Chim reminds her that they have an obligation to the people who need help…the ensure that the person who shows up, in their moment of need, will work to save them. After talking to Jonah’s other LAFD paramedic partners, Hen heads home, thinking she and Chim have hit a dead end. But Karen recognizes Jonah’s pattern for what it is and pushes Hen to look back at his suspicious track record because “nobody starts with murder.”
Karen’s words spurn Hen to action. She researches Jonah’s history and finds his origin story. As a kid, Jonah Greenway was riding to school when his bus driver had a heart attack, mid-route. When the bus finally crash to a half, most of the kids escaped out the emergency exit door but Jonah made his way to the driver and did chest compressions until the ambulance arrived. The quick thinking saved the driver’s life and earned Jonah massive adulation: TV interviews, a key to the city and a scholarship. After she relays what she’s learned to Chimney, Hen posits that Jonah’s trying to recreate the experience he had as a kid, over and over again.
Hen and Chim rush over to Buck’s place to talk to his news reporter girlfriend who was at the scene the day of the call center fire. They review her footage and find a shot of Jonah injecting something into Claudette’s IV…something that wasn’t necessary and something he didn’t log in his report. With some tangible evidence, Hen and Chim finally feel confident enough in their theory to take it to Bobby. Chimney pushes for a rush on Claudette’s toxicology report to confirm that Jonah injected her with something he shouldn’t have. Bobby shares Hen and Chim’s theory with the LAFD Chief who, immediately opens an investigation into Claudette’s death and re-assigns Jonah to light duty.
When word reaches Jonah, he immediately figures out that Hen’s responsible for his reassignment. He calls her and threatens to show her what she’s capable of. Frightened and fearing Jonah will target her family, Hen calls Karen and tells her to take their son over to Bobby and Athena’s immediately. But Karen reminds Hen that it’s not her that Jonah’s jealous of, it’s Chimney, so Hen rushes over to check on her partner. When she arrives, the door’s open and Hen calls out for Chimney. She gets no answer so she pulls out her phone, only to have Jonah sneak up behind her and inject her with something.
She awakens to find herself tied up, forced to watch as Jonah stops Chimney’s heart and then shocks it back to life. Once she notices Chim slip out of his restraints, Hen distracts Jonah long enough for Chim to plot their escape. Chim uses the defibrillator to knock Jonah out and, as he crawls over to Hen, the police arrive. Jonah’s arrested and the partners are set to the hospital for overnight treatment. Later, Hen stops by Chimney’s room and thanks him for believing her even when she didn’t have the evidence to back up her theory. She calls him the best friend that she’s ever hand and admits that she can’t imagine what she’d do without him in her life. Thankfully, Chim points out, she won’t have to.
New Amsterdam 419-420: “Truth Be Told” and “Rise”
Written by Natalie
Can I be honest? These episodes are not New Amsterdam‘s best… in fact, “Truth Be Told” might be the worst episode of the show to date. Freema Agyeman’s Helen recovers from her post-stroke aphasia entirely off screen (using disability as a plot point is a choice!). The effort to remove Veronica from her perch as New Amsterdam’s medical director — a story which has lagged for far too long — is thwarted again…and, in prolonging it, the show makes Veronica look like an impulsive idiot and Max look more interested in vengeance than a win. And then, there’s Lauren Bloom who, after scolding Casey for interrupting a conversation with her young patient, starts to wonder if she’s a bully.
By the end of the episode, Casey assures Lauren that she’s not a bully. He admits that Lauren can be “bossy, super impatient, moody [and] temperamental” but insists she’s not a bully. He notes, “bullies go out of their way to hurt people. They prey on the vulnerable. You lift people up.” Of course, Casey’s right: Lauren Bloom is not a bully…and to devote time contemplating that, as if it’s a serious possibility, feels like a tremendous waste. That feeling is compounded by “Rise,” the week’s second New Amsterdam episode, which makes clear that Bloom is the furthest thing from a bully…even to her detriment.
An impulsive purchase of the medical clinic puts Lauren, Casey and Max back under Veronica’s thumb. I guess whatever money issues pushed Veronica to fire many of these same people earlier this season have resolved themselves. Lauren and Casey are sent back to the Emergency Department but with one notable change: Mark Walsh is now in charge. Everyone, especially Walsh, expects the decision to draw Lauren’s ire but she’s perfectly content with the new arrangement. Walsh keeps waiting for the blowback to happen — afterall, he assigned Lauren the color tan on his white board — but it never comes. Bloom is kind, respectful and supportive and Walsh finds it all very jarring.
“What you can do is drop the long con, cause I’m not buying it,” an exasperated Walsh tells her. “Enough with this respectful and nice garbage. Where’s the real Bloom, huh? Did you kill her? Did you kill her?”
Lauren confesses that she’s been doing cupping and acupuncture sessions with Dr. Castries and it seems to be helping. She assures him that she’s okay with him being the boss and that not having to shoulder that burden is a relief. But, quickly, that burden becomes too much for Walsh to carry. Torn between protocol and saving a patient, he realizes that he’s not ready to make those calls and offers the keys back to Dr. Bloom. And even though it’s a burden, and even though she’s the healthiest she’s ever been without it, Lauren takes the weight off Walsh’s shoulders and reclaims her role as the head of the ED.
It’s not the only time in the episode when Lauren sacrifices herself for someone else. Leyla delivers Lauren her latest installment and admits that she won’t need to borrow any more money. Her case isn’t winnable, Leyla laments, because her housing situation remains unstable. Without hesitation, Lauren invites Leyla to use her address but Leyla explains that it’s more than just having a place to pick up her mail. Her immigration case worker would have to visit and conduct interviews. Again, Lauren doesn’t hesitate: she invites Leyla to move back in. Leyla’s weary — she knows she’s a trigger and she doesn’t want to threaten Lauren’s sobriety — but Lauren insists that she can do this. I only wish I believed her.
A Million Little Things 419: “Out of Hiding”
Written by Natalie
You know that distracted boyfriend meme? The guy’s walking down the street with his girlfriend when another girl catches his eye. He’s so caught up in checking out this other girl that he doesn’t even notice his girlfriend looking on, disapprovingly. I was convinced that this episode of A Million Little Things was going to be the personification of that meme…and while I wasn’t entirely wrong, it didn’t exactly work out the way I thought/hoped/prayed it would.
Word that Shanice Williamson has come out of the closet is spreading and Greta rushes in to update Katherine when she finds out. Katherine admits that she’s known but that she didn’t tell Greta because she didn’t feel it was her place to out Shanice. Greta understands that — she would’ve told a lot of people, had she known — but she’s a little less understanding when she finds out that Katherine and Shanice once kissed. Knowing about the kiss puts Katherine’s trip to New York in a new context and Greta’s dismayed that Katherine neglected to tell her she was “spending the weekend away with someone [she] had a history with.”
Katherine apologizes for not telling Greta and, honestly, the conversation should’ve ended there. No one’s interests are served by hearing what happened in New York but, apparently, Katherine Kim is the most honorable lawyer on the planet and she pushes forward and spills all the tea. She tells Greta about the bracelet, about the loaded invitation from Shanice to spend the night and that Shanice found out she had a girlfriend after their phone call. Greta pieces it together and realizes that Katherine spent nine hours with Shanice and didn’t bother to bring her up. Katherine notes the hypocrisy — Greta didn’t tell Katherine she was married when they first hooked up — but, really, that just underscores Katherine’s dubious intentions. Greta realizes that she and Katherine may have jumped too quickly into this relationship. Katherine was just out of her marriage and freshly out of the closet and she was in the middle of a divorce. She suggests that the pair take some time and space to figure out what’s best for them, individually.
Katherine tries to reach out, repeatedly, but is met with radio silence from Greta. But you know who she does get a call from? Shanice Williamson, who wants to grab lunch while she’s in town. Katherine’s assistant, Carter, encourages his boss to explore things with Shanice so she doesn’t spend a lifetime wondering what might have been. Suddenly, I am a very big fan of Carter’s.
At lunch, Shanice regales Katherine with her post-coming out paparazzi experience and thanks Katherine for giving her the push she needed. She reaches over and touches Katherine’s hand but immediately pulls back, recalling that the lawyer’s in a happy relationship. Katherine corrects her: she’s not technically in a relationship right now. Finally given the green light, Shanice makes a direct overture, inviting Katherine to join her for a trip to Miami. She adds, “Katherine, I left you once for Miami, and I don’t want to make that same mistake again.” I swoon and wish I could go help Katherine back her bags.
But because the TV Gods insist on denying me all the things I want, Katherine doesn’t make the trip to Miami. She realizes she’s using Shanice in an effort to make Greta jealous and it’s not fair to her. Shanice encourages Katherine to go fight for what she wants and Katherine does just that. She heads straight to the tattoo parlor to talk to Greta but she’s not there. After Katherine drops the L-word, Greta’s assistant, begrudgingly, admits that her boss is at the Animal Hospital because her cat is really sick. When Katherine arrives at the hospital, Greta admits that it’s not the best time: they’ve just had to say good-bye to Patti LaFur. They. And right at that moment, out walks the ex-wife, Julia, into Greta’s open arms. Later, Katherine cries as she tells Theo about Patti but it’s clear her tears are about her heartbreak.
To his credit, when Clark and his wife sit down for their meeting with Rome, he apologizes outright. Still, though, the apology feels insufficient…in part because putting a “whites only” sign over the water fountain feels a bit heavier than the ambiguous apology Clark offers, but mostly because we’ve seen the repercussions of that torment in Rome’s life. The teacher doesn’t dwell on their shared history and, instead, keeps the focus on Maddox. The parents scowl every time Rome uses Maddox’s preferred name and proper pronouns. They chalk this up to just another phase like when they were obsessed with yoga or crystals or going goth. But Rome corrects them: “I don’t think what’s going on with Maddow is the same as being way into The Cure.” Rome insists that his class is about capturing the truth on film and asserts that while Maddox is in his class, he gets to be who he is. Maddox’s father reads into Rome’s statement and it’s clear what’s about to happen.
Sure enough, the Ainsworths run to the school’s dean and blame Rome for the “Maddox problem.” They’re among the school’s most prolific donors and threaten to pull all their funding if Rome isn’t fired immediately.
Top Chef: Houston 1911: “Family Vacation”
Written by Natalie
If Restaurant Wars is the challenge where queer cheftestants on Top Chef shine, the family challenge — the episode where a family member participates in the elimination challenge in some way — is our achilles heel. In back-to-back seasons now, first with Maria Mazon and now with Ashleigh Shanti, the queer cheftestant has been undone by the family challenge. That feels oddly poetic.
Things don’t start badly for Ashleigh. In the elimination challenge, she excels, preparing a seafood platter on the shores of Galveston, Texas for Padma and Top Chef alum, Shota Nakajima. The challenge requires the chefs to create one cold preparation and one hot. Ashleigh offers a gulf oyster with country ham and kanzuri barbecue sauce for her cold preparation and peel and eat jerk shrimp for her hot preparation. Her platter earns her a spot in the top three but Evelyn is able to edge her out for the win. As the winner, Evelyn gets 30 extra minutes of cook time for the elimination challenge.
For the elimination challenge, the chefs are hosting a family reunion at a lush Galveston beach house. They’re given dossiers of the attendees’ preferences and are challenged to create a dish based on those likes and dislikes. It only takes Buddha a second to realize that his dossier is from his wife and Evelyn quickly susses out that hers is from her father. Sarah — freshly back into the competition from Last Chance Kitchen — recognizes her dossier as being from her sister…who lies about a mushroom allergy because she really doesn’t like mushrooms. Ashleigh figures out that her mom’s likely the subject of her dossier and decides to make one of her mother’s favorites: paella-inspired heirloom rice with red shrimp and calamari. It sounds amazing but from the outset I worry…just mentioning the word paella sets up a whole set of expectations.
The family members interrupt the chef’s cook time (no one seems annoyed by this, surprisingly) and the tears start following. When she spots her mother, Ashleigh notes, “My mom just kind of has this gentle touch and soothing voice that, like, I just melt. I hope at least my tears season this dish well.”
Like Maria last season, Ashleigh gets in her head during the cook and prematurely takes her squid off the griddle too early. The dish is so undercooked that Padma spits hers back out in her napkin. Even though Nick and Sarah made mistakes with their dishes but none more egregious than that. It’s Ashleigh’s time to pack her knives and go. She’s disappointed by the elimination, obviously, but you get the sense, as she leaves the kitchen, that she’s truly grateful to have had the opportunity to stand on her own and grow through the judges’ critiques.