New Fall Television: The Good, The Bad, The Promising and The Stupid

Reasons I know it’s autumn:

  1. The pumpkin spice latte is back at Starbucks.
  2. Everything I could possibly consume now comes in optional pumpkin flavors.
  3. I can wear a sweater and beanie at all times, and no longer be accused of insanity.
  4. My favorite shows are returning like the Jedi. Or the King. Or whatever non-nerdy thing is known for its remarkable return.
  5. New shows are premiering and making me feel like a giddy schoolgirl at the start of a crush.

When you’re done listening to Bon Iver and running around in the leaves, you should make yourself something warm and cinnamon-y and watch pretty people do pretty/funny/dramatic things on television. Here are some new and shiny faces that you should know about:+

 

The New Normal (NBC)

There’s a lot to unpack in this image

For better or for much worse, Ryan Murphy is the gay ambassador to mainstream television. His newest show tells the tale of an L.A. gay couple and the single mom they hire as a surrogate. One Million Moms has already started their trademark “why are we letting homosexuals outside where they can be seen” ruckus, which is ironic given the fact that Ellen Barkin’s character counts herself as one of them. I can’t say I’m terribly jazzed about this series. I can say that I’m pretty much not okay with it. It’s typical Ryan Murphy fare, with a whole lotta stereotyping and celebrity cameos to distract from the plot. There’s also some really shitty things said about lesbians, including the main characters referring to them as “ugly men.” Like, really Ryan Murphy? Is that fucking necessary? The one bright and shining star of this episode was Julie Goldman’s face, which reminded me that I’d rather be watching In Your Box Office. Apparently Leisha Hailey will be on the show later on in the season, but I love her so much that I want to sweep her up and carry her away before she can be a part of this Shit Train to Shitville. September 11, 9:30 PM EST.

 The Mindy Project (FOX)

You see that girl on the far left with the very awkward “just got shoved into the picture” pose? I am always that girl.

Mindy Kaling is totally adorable, guys. I love seeing female comedians do well, and I’m glad she’s finally having her moment. Sure, the Straight Girl Unfulfilled Without Boyfriend narrative is tired and a little dangerous, and maybe I can see where this show is going a little too clearly, but the jokes are pretty smart. Kaling is just the right amount of self-deprecatory, and it’s funny. It’s sad when I am shocked and amused by a comedy pilot being genuinely funny, but this managed to make me laugh, and that is no small accomplishment. There’s also enough guest appearances by SNL and The Office alums that it took me a second to realize this is broadcast on FOX and not NBC. If you like cute and funny girls who are also doctors, you should check this out. September 25, 9:30 PM EST.

 Elementary (CBS)

Lucy Liu should replace every traditionally white male role, let’s make this a thing.

Has the Sherlock Holmes narrative been exhausted yet? In the last five years, there’s been the movie series with Robert Downey Jr., the loose reinterpretation via House M.D., and that BBC show with the hobbit and the guy with the intense browline. Are we all Sherlocked out? No, I say! Because in this version, Watson is played by Lucy Liu, and if you can’t get down with that then there is just no hope for you. Gender-bending is my favorite way to remake anything – I’m still waiting with bated breath for the all-female version of The Expendables. This series’ Sherlock is fresh out of rehab, and Dr. Joan Watson is his roomie there to keep him sober. They live in Brooklyn and solve mysteries and say snarky things to each other! I’m on board. September 27, 10 PM EST.

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Partners (CBS)

The dude on the far left’s face is my reaction to this entire trend.

Can I be the one to say this? Okay, I’m gonna be the one to say this. Do we really need another show on rich white thirty-something “sassy bottom/straight top” gay men this season? Was that necessary? Simply having a white gay man on a show, or even a show where a white gay man is one of the main characters, does not mean that we can give it a gold star for diversity and walk away happy. Here’s a show based on the lives of the creators of Will and Grace. My only feeling about it is that I’d like to see a show on a network television, comedy or drama or dramedy or I don’t even care, where a lesbian is the lead. A queer lady of any orientation, really. Let’s do this, mainstream. I know you suck at everything that isn’t patriarchy or heteronormativity, but can you just try? For me? Thanks, mainstream. September 24, 8:30 PM EST.

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Beauty and the Beast (The CW)

He got that scar from a catfight on the runway.

Beauty and the Beast is the Disney movie I most identified with as a child because I too am French and a brunette and hairy all over love to read. The CW has its own version of the fairy tale starring Kristin Kreuk and someone whose name is Kiwi Jay Ryan. I would be more behind this if they were both chicks and making out all the time, or if he was actually super ugly and beastlike instead of having a SMALL SCAR ON HIS CHEEK but you know, details. Let’s hope they do this right and don’t sell abusive relationships as romantic. Cross your fingers, kids. October 11, 9 PM EST.

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Nashville (ABC)

I can’t with this weird posing shit.

A soap opera about Nashville, you say? I would be cool with this show if I hadn’t seen all the promotional material, which has the main female leads in super awkward physical poses. Like look at this image up here. How freaking uncomfortable does Connie Britton look? And I’m pretty sure Hayden Panettiere’s typically short arms have been photoshopped to the approximate length of her legs and where is her head sitting on her body and nothing about her stance is human oh my god I feel disturbed. I saw posters on the NYC subway this weekend and was thoroughly creeped out by the weird angle of Connie Britton’s head as she sat on the guitar throne. Anyway, this show is about country star drama in Nashville, and since it’s a soap opera, it is probably also about kissing drama and money drama and surprise love children drama. But it’s country music, so they can write some ballads about it! October 10, 10 PM EST.

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Revolution (NBC)

That’s a lot of frigging bows and arrows for a group shot.

Since the inability to access the Internet and thus Autostraddle is probably the worst thing we can imagine, here is a show about it. And it’s not just the Internet, it’s electricity and apparently all forms of energy that have inexplicably stopped working (??? I am by no means god’s gift to physics or science or numbers in general, but aren’t there ways to generate energy that don’t require modern technology?). This leaves the world in a post-apocalyptic state, which is very “in” right now thanks to Katniss and Co. And if you like bow and arrows, holy bajeesus this show has a ton of them! Bella Swan’s dad and a pretty lady in a leather jacket and some other people have decided to go on a quest to return the ring to Mordor and bring energy back to the planet. Then they can get back to downloading their Real L World torrents already. There are also some swords. September 17, 10 PM EST.

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Vegas (CBS)

ASDFGHJK

I know. This is an image from The Matrix. Unfortunately, Vegas is not about Trinity kicking ass all over the place, but I couldn’t find any good promotional images for the show and as a website for queer ladies, I figured that the only takeaway point you need is that Carrie-Anne Moss is on this show. Otherwise all the other main characters are male, and either for or against the new sheriff in town, played by Dennis Quaid. Yawn. Carrie-Anne Moss wears green and is Carrie-Anne Moss. September 25, 10 PM EST.

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 The Carrie Diaries (The CW)

Her lime green leopard print sweater matches her eyes.

I think we’ve all spent an afternoon watching Sex and the City reruns while finishing off a tub of cheese popcorn. If the second movie didn’t turn you off the franchise entirely, The CW is reigniting your interest by creating a show about Carrie in high school. The premise of SATC was four women having sex in the city because they were of legal age to do so, so I’m not sure if this is going to become First Base and the City or Probably Statutory and the City. Midseason.

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Emily Owens, M.D. (The CW)

Everyone’s looking at me like they know exactly what I did last night.

Emily Owens was super nerdy in high school and doesn’t like high school drama. Good thing she is now an adult who works at a hospital? Wrong! This hospital is just like Seattle Grace and full of high school drama. Sorry, Emily Owens. You’re the one who decided to work at a hospital on The CW. What did you expect, girl? Mamie Gummer, who plays Emily Owens, is Meryl Streep’s daughter FYI so maybe Meryl Streep will guest star at some point. And yet I feel like Meryl Streep is incapable of showing her face on a television show because it is too holy to be seen there. October 16, 9 PM EST.

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Made in Jersey (CBS)

About to go Snooki on these bitches.

Remember in Legally Blonde when no one took Reese Witherspoon seriously because she was a girly girl who wore a lot of pink? Turns out the legal world is currently not taking girls from Jersey seriously. I will probably watch this. I have a super duper soft spot for Italian-American girls and I would totally split a cannoli with the leading lady if you know what I mean. My only complaint is that her accent is super duper bad and will probably bother me for a while. Like, I’m not expecting Fran Drescher here, but I’d like to at least feel that you come from the general vicinity of the tri-state area. September 28, 9 PM EST.

 

 

Full-time writer, part-time lover, freelancing in fancy cheese and cider.

Kate has written 131 articles for us.

69 Comments

  1. I am pretty sure I must be the only one… but I actually liked The New Normal. I definitely agree that the stereotypes were flying everywhere, but I also thought the juxtaposition between the gay characters/their allies and the bigoted grandma/other haters actually presented a pretty positive narrative. The gay characters/allies come off as big hearted, while their foils come off as small minded and hateful. The more tired anti-gay tropes the writers play out through the grandma and other characters of her ilk, the worse that perspective will look–and the better the pro-gay perspective.

    Also, there are at least *some* non-stereotypical aspects to the show. The doctor character breaks a lot of mainstream gay stereotypes–he plays sports, gets in a fight in the latest episode, and doesn’t know anything about fashion. Also, though I agree that the husband/wife dynamic could be perceived as stereotypical, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the existence of couples like that should be erased from portrayal in the media.

    In re the lesbian jokes, call me insensitive, but I actually thought they were kind of funny. I have to admit though that I kind of like offensive humor and believe that if a few biting jokes are made about gay women, then I can make a few about gay men right back. I don’t mind laughing at myself once in a while (as long as I can laugh at you right back haha).

    • I think the “biting right back” thing would actually require a lot more lesbians to be producing television shows, though. Ali Adler may be writing, but she doesn’t really have too much room to make fun of her boss.

      Murphy is still coming from a place of privilege – white, male, affluent. He doesn’t have the room to be casting those kinds of stones, even if he’s gay.

  2. I don’t watch much TV, but I saw a couple of episodes of The New Normal and the only redeeming thing about it is the adorably precocious little girl.

    Also, I think “Go On” deserves mention not only as a really good show, but also because of the diversity of (female) characters. And yes, there is a lesbian character, Anne, who is very matter-of-fact about it, and no one has made any snide comments about her yet, not to mention she looks and acts like A REAL LIFE LESBIAN (LIKE US!) She’s not male-gaze beautiful, nor is she some run down plumber with a stringy mullet. From what I’ve seen of Go On, and as someone who is not a television person, I highly recommend it.

  3. oh my gosh, I’m with you on this – like, how many shows can there be whose premise is, “Look at families today! They’re so different now, there are so many! Like straight people and gay men! Look at how adorable these gay men are, they’re just like a straight couple but a little more sassy! How entertaining!”
    but the thing is I will still totally watch them because I love Andrew Rannells and that guy who played Marc on Ugly Betty. Maybe it’s a stereotype but I still think it’s brave & important to “be really gay” and I identify more with the fashion-oriented/theatrical/flamboyant/dare I say more “femme” gay characters anyway. It used to make me sad that as a femme lesbian I’m less visible but if I were a femme gay man I’d be much more easy to spot.

  4. ok, it just seems to be me that thinks this since no one else mentioned it: to me it seems both glee and the two episodes of the new normal for sure have stereotypes, that’s the point almost. they stereotype everyone to the fullest, and that’s where the laugh comes from.

    but the issue I have with this method of comedy, is there is the insider joke of “god, people are that awful/racist/essentialist” and there’s the outsider joke of “haha, racist person, haha, gay dudes, haha lesbians that look like men.”

    so we’re all agreeing that it’s not good that this exists, I just feel these shows aren’t trying to show the alternative good version (cause that is boring, or not mainstream enough) and instead go for the entertaining/join in on either level of consciousness of bigotry/idiocy/stereotypes in our country.

    ps, interesting character development in both shows (beyond some icky one-liners). and the second episode has a different tone than the pilot in the new normal, maybe cause of the endless grey gardens references???

  5. FOR REALZ! Its very sad when the only respectable gay/bisexual ladies I can think of on TV are Inara (and possibly Kaylee) from Firefly and Tosh from Torchwood, and one of them is a fancy prostitute and the other was seduced by a predatory lesbian alien, and both of them are femme as fuck. Gimme my representation!

    (Im supre drunk. Hopefully this makes sense?)

  6. Revolution: Eric Kripke writes a show where all the protagonists are white and all the characters of color are morally grey at best/framed as evil/probably the enemy. -_- I couldn’t be less surprised if I tried.

    And even with JJ Abrams in the mix to temper it down a bit, I don’t trust Kripke writing a female protagonist. With a few exceptions in the first season, all he ever did on Supernatural was fridge women and write them as evil and have his male characters be CONSTANTLY super misogynistic.

  7. So, The Mindy Project is a centered around a heterosexual woman following the line of thought that, “Omg, I can’t be complete without a man in my life.” How wonderful. How original. I can’t wait. :/

    Also, I just want to say, The New Normal is incredibly offensive and just generally horrible, including the acting.

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