Ilene Chaiken Invites You To Thank Ilene Chaiken For “Empire”‘s Lesbianism

Autostraddle’s Pop Culture Fix is a weekly round-up of the queer arts and entertainment news you need in your life.

Teevee Shows

+ ABC and ABC Family are determined to be the only two networks you need in your life. In addition to the myriad queer female characters split between the two of them, they’ve now greenlit a Nicki Minaj-produced Fresh Off the Boat-style comedy about growing up in Queens with her Trinidadian family. Oh, and she’s gonna star in it too!

“Nicki Minaj is a force to be reckoned with at everything she touches,” said ABC Family’s EVP Programming and Development Karey Burke. “Nicki is an international superstar, yet not everyone knows how inspiring and hilarious her true story is, and we can’t wait to share it with the world.”

Yes, please!

+ Ilene Chaiken gave the most gloriously Ilene Chaiken answer to TVLine about where Marissa Tomei‘s Mimi Whiteman character came from on this season of Empire.

As we talked about the arc, we realized Rich Whiteman was an important character — and he also needed to be an interesting one. At that point, someone in the room — I can’t remember who — said, “Let’s make her a lesbian.” Actually, it was probably me. And we just had some fun with the idea of the lesbian billionaire. We talked about all those male conventions you were referring to, but why not play with them? Nobody tried to pull us back, and we just went for it.

“Someone in the writer’s room had this brilliant idea, and by ‘someone,’ I mean ‘me.'” Anyway, Mimi’s gonna be around for five episodes, until the midseason finale.

+ The trailer for Netflix’s Jessica Jones — a show I am very excited about, and which will feature lesbian couple Harper and Trish Walker — is here! You can relate!

+ Twitter wants to make it even easier for you to live-tweet TV.

+ I haven’t been covering Masters of Sex in Boob(s On Your) Tube, even though Betty was back a little bit this season, because it has gone off the rails in an irredeemable way. Alan Sepinwall over at HitFix discusses what the hell happened.

+ Hello the trailer for The X-Files has arrived.


+ If you are ready to watch Dianna Agron star as a lesbian finally, you’re in luck. The trailer for Bare has landed, and that is exactly what she is doing. She plays a small-town lady who falls in love with a drifter, played by Paz de la Huerta. The Hollywood Reporter reviewed the film after the Tribeca Film Festival. They weren’t crazy about it.

Fans of Glee will relish the opportunity to see actress Dianna Agron getting down and dirty in Natalia Leite’s drama about a repressed young woman living a dead-end, small-town existence who finds her horizons expanded by her burgeoning friendship with a free-spirited stranger played by Paz de la Huerta. Unfortunately, that’s the most intriguing aspect of Bare, which purports to explore serious themes even as it posits the idea that the way to truly blossom is by becoming a stripper. The film recently received its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival.

You should watch the trailer anyway. Agron gets more character development in the 90 seconds here than in the final three seasons of Glee.

+ Hey, but reviewers are going BANANAS over Carol. Flavorwire said the only word to describe it is “flawless.” Also, it looks like Todd Haynes actually kept the book ending in tact!

That tentativeness continues well into the relationship. When they take their first car ride, Haynes pods down the dialogue, puts the music up front, and plays the scene in tight close-ups; it doesn’t matter what they’re saying, but how they’re listening, with longing eyes and knowing smiles and hesitant, grazing touches. They continue to quietly circle each other during an impromptu road trip, in the car and in hotel rooms, both afraid to take the plunge they so desperately desire.

What happens after that is for you to discover; suffice it to say that the film, like the novel it’s based on, doesn’t traffic in the kind of pay-for-your-sins tragedy which stifled so much queer art of the era, nor does it make easy heroes or villains of anyone involved.

+ Ellen Page’s Lioness, the real-life story of Lance Corporal Leslie Martz, the closeted lesbian marine who led the first all-female engagement team in Afghanistan, has found its director and it’s a woman! Acclaimed cinematographer Reed Morano will helm the film. (Fun fact: Morano is the youngest member of the American Society of Cinematographers, and she’s one of only 14 women out of 345 members.)

+ Ellen Page and Julianne Moore understand it won’t be “that simple” for Freeheld to completely eradicate homophobia.

Celebrity Corner

+ Out magazine profiles lesbian artist Nicole Eisenman.

+ Team USA has suspended Brittney Griner for the beginning of training camp.

+ Please enjoy Ellen and Portia challenging Ben Falcone and Melissa McCarthy at The Not So Newlywed Game.

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Heather Hogan

Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle senior editor who lives in New York City with her wife, Stacy, and their cackle of rescued pets. She's a member of the Television Critics Association, GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics, and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer critic. You can also find her on Twitter and Instagram.

Heather has written 1718 articles for us.


  1. Nicki Minaj showwww!!!! So excited!

    That Dianna Agron movie looks like one of those queer lady movies that makes you feel all yucky inside after watching it. Even that trailer is going to take a few more Ellen clips to get out of my system.

  2. Masters of Sex has devolved so much I now just watch it for:

    +Virginia’s outfits
    +Betty’s accent

    Full stop.

  3. So now that Ellen Page is out, she’s basically becoming a lesbian avenger where every project is an amazing LGBTQ-themed indie film and in her spare time she goes to stuff like Haiti’s first Pride and crashes Ted Cruz’s BBQs.

    The hero we deserve.

      • I think if we basically supercut Freeheld, Ellen Page’s Instagram, and that movie where she cut off a child molester’s balls, we could actually make that movie.

        • Here’s a game: If Ellen got a group of Lesbian Avengers together, who else would be on her team? Who would be their Coulson?

          • Well these aren’t all lesbians, but just off the top of my head:

            Notorious RBG
            Tegan’s cat
            Big Boo
            Mona Vanderwall
            Audre Lorde
            Evan Rachel Wood Bisexual

          • Ellen Page’s Lesbian Avengers
            Hannah Hart
            Evan Rachel Wood Bisexual
            Michelle Rodriguez

            Kate Moennig could be their version of Master Splinter

    • She is killin’ it. A superhero. The tagline would be something like “After years of glass closet, she came out With A Purpose.”

      I want her to have a successful non-LGBT role though, just to show that she still can get these roles after coming out. It’s important. Also, “Tallulah” just sounds awesome.

      • Comment award this whole thread please and thank you
        And a poster for Ellen Page: Lesbian Avenger with that tagline is just begging to be made

  4. Okay, I need to see Carol like RIGHT NOW, I don’t think I can wait any longer.

    I missed Dianna Agron’s face (and voice).

  5. Ok, that clock, I’ve done that, Mondays are hell most of the times.

    And a little something…


  6. I’m also very excited about Jessica Jones. It’s now my Unicorn, the one new show of Fall Season that will not suck.

    The Twitter news is relevant to my interests. I don’t follow hashtags, so I am outside the whole TV live tweeting thing. This could help.

Comments are closed.