Pop Culture Fix: Clea Duvall and Natasha Lyonne Play a Lesbian Couple Again and Other Stories

Welcome to your weekly pop culture fix, where we’ve been carbonating your art since 1969, the same year that The Gap was invented. 


+ Queer actress Clea Duvall is premiering her debut feature The Intervention at Sundance, and the cast includes Melanie Lynskey, Natasha Lyonne, Colbie Smulders and Alia Shawkat. Duvall told Flavorwire that “Melanie and Natasha are her oldest friends” and so obviously it was a thrill to cast them in her directorial debut film! Canoodling in But I’m A Cheerleader leads to eternal friendship, obviously — and yes, the two will be playing a couple in The Intervention, although reviews note that Lyonne’s character is “underused.”  To up the queer factor even more, it was scored by Tegan & Sara. Most reviews are lukewarm, but we’re obviously all going to see it anyhow.

+ The First Girl I Loved, another Sundance debut, looks familiar but also awesome:

Its central couple is a classic coming-of-age mismatch: Anne (Dylan Gelula, excellent), is a nerdy, gawky (but of course actually quite pretty) yearbook editor, and Sasha (Brianna Hildebrand, similarly excellent) is a softball star. Neither of them quite understands what’s going on: Anne is clearly romantically drawn to her more popular, beautiful classmate, and Sasha finds herself reciprocating, though the question of whether they’re an actual thing is one they themselves dance around. And the way they speak — or, rather, all the ways they “speak” — reflects that.

+ Netflix and Amazon are changing the Sundance game by “striking early and often for the fest’s most sought-after films — shelling out big bucks and infuriating traditional buyers in the process.” But Nate Parker, the star and director of the slave-rebellion drama Birth of A Nation, which is Sundance’s buzziest film thus far, took Fox Searchlight’s $17.5 million offer over Netflix’s $20 million, wanting the film to have a “large theatrical experience.”

+ Ellen Page is debuting Tallulah at Sundance, and according to Queerty, had a thought or two about being a gay actress:

Zachary Quinto is out, and he stars in one of the biggest blockbuster franchises. I have four projects coming up – all gay roles. People ask if I’m concerned about getting pigeonholed. No one asks: ‘Ellen, you’ve done seven straight roles in a row – shouldn’t you shake it up and do something queer?’ There’s still that double standard. I look at all the things I’ve done in movies: I’ve drugged a guy, tortured someone, become a roller-derby star overnight. But now I’m gay, I can’t play a straight person?”

+ Also debuting at Sundance: Lena Dunham’s fashion documentary, Suited, about queer-friendly tailors Bindle & Keep and her genderqueer sister, Grace.

Movie Shows

+ #Oscarssowhite: Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science’s CEO Dawn Hudson talks exclusively to The Hollywood Reporter about sweeping changes to the process and institution they have initiated in the wake of this year’s Oscars whitewash:

“With unanimity, the group voted in a sweeping array of reforms that included the appointment of three new governors by the president (typically they are elected by the Academy branches), the diversification of the executive and board committees and new rules that require voting members to be “active in motion pictures” and to renew that status every 10 years.”

Check out this team picture:

Governors Group Photo


+ Focus Features had announced the Lile Elbe Fellowship, granting $10,000 to a trans filmmaker who apparently will be so good at budgeting that they can actually make an entire movie for only $10,000. The winner will be mentored by Nina Yang Bongiovi (Fruitvale Station, Dope), writer/director Derek Cianfrance (The Place Beyond the Pines) and producer Christine Vachon (Boys Don’t Cry, Carol), which is pretty amazing. The Mary Sue asks, “I can’t help but wonder if Focus is offering the Lili Elbe Fellowship as a bit of a mea culpa for their incredible misstep in the casting and production of The Danish Girl. Calling it the Lili Elbe Fellowship kind of hits the nail right on the head, doesn’t it?”

+ 10 upcoming 2016 releases by and/or about people of color!


+ The first trailer for Ellen Page’s Gaycation is here! Well, technically it’s on Buzzfeed, you can’t watch it here, you can only watch it on Buzzfeed. But it exists, is the point. Related: Viceland’s 24-hour TV network debuts February 29th and will include lots of stuff about drugs, food and homosexuality.

+ Ava DuVernay‘s new television show Queen Sugar will be directed entirely by women, mostly women from the “black independent film space”!

+ Canadian queer Muslim comedian Sabrina Jalees talks to AfterEllen about writing queer storylines for the upcoming NBC sitcom Crowded!, coming out, and more.


+ Tickets are on sale now for Dinah Shore, and the talent lineup already features comedian Lea DeLariaDJ Mary Mac and DJ Samantha Ronson.. The website promises opportunities to hang out with your favorite L Word and Real L Word stars, including Clementine Ford and Hunter Valentine, now and forevermore, and forever again, amen.

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Marie Lyn Bernard, aka Riese, is an award-winning writer, blogger, journalist, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in the midwest, lost her mind in New York City and is currently making it work in California. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better, The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image and The Hazards of Being Female," "Dirty Girls," and "The Best American Erotica of 2007," magazines including Nylon, Marie Claire, GO, Curve, Interlude, and CollegeBound, and all over the web including nerve.com, Jezebel, Queerty, Emily Books and OurChart (RIP). She was the recapper for The L Word Online and host of Showtime’s Lezberado and her personal blog has earned many dubious honors including Best Personal Blog 2008. Riese has spoken about blogging, community-building, feminism, cyberculture and sexuality at places like BlogHer, Yale, New York University, The University of Chicago and The Museum of Sex. A graduate of the University of Michigan, Interlochen Arts Academy and The Olive Garden's week-long training intensive; she enjoys eating foods, having big ideas, reading books & talking to her stuffed dog, Tinkerbell. Also, she's Jewish. Follow her smokin’ hot adventures on twitter. Contact: riese[at]autostraddle.com

Riese has written 2896 articles for us.


  1. I already had Laurel Holloman wave at me at Dinah, and then had picture taken with Kate and Leisha. Can I say I got to hang out with the cast? Or do I have to go to this years Dinah to schmooze with the cast?

  2. My favorite Oscars commentary, by the brilliant Lynn Nottage:

    “It seems to me a boycott of the #OscarsSoWhite is redundant since folks of color have already been excluded. I prefer the idea of a sit in.”

  3. So my own little Oscars fantasy involved Chris Rock telling Charlotte Rampling that he’s leaving the stage to her…then, as he goes outside turning to Samira, Queen Latifah, Viola, Oprah (and a host of other incredible actors), and saying “Okay, I think we got them all…lock the doors!”

  4. I love Ellen Page, but is anyone else feeling a little iffy about the whole “Gaycation” thing. Maybe it’s mostly the name that gives the impression that the experiences of international LGBT populations facing serious danger are gonna be framed as a “travel adventure show.” The trailer didn’t look so bad, and I hope that the show will give complex, culturally and historically accurate depictions of queer people in different countries without playing into “white savior” tropes—but that’s a whole lot of hoping . . .

      • Yeah, maybe I’m just getting nervous since reporting on international queer people so often goes really wrong (both in a “look at these exotic freaks” kind of way and/or in a “look at this oppressive/backwards culture” kind of way). I don’t think this show will fall into the first category and I’m hoping it’s nuanced enough not to fall into the second.

        From the trailer I’m kind of expecting an international queer docu-series version of HONY: oversimplified, but still empathetic/humanizing. Which would be better than a lot of what’s out there.

        • I think they do the “look at this oppressive/backwards culture” in their own american backyard as well so that could be good ?
          And in some bits of the trailer it looked like it was also about celebrating queer identity around the world.

          • That’s true. I don’t mean that oppression in other countries shouldn’t be criticized, just that it’s frequently done with an attitude of superiority and “we clearly know better” (despite knowing very little about that country’s specific problems). Being equally critical of American politicians is a good sign. I’ll be watching optimistically :-)

          • Yep. I wonder if they’ll address the responsibility of Americans missionary in Africa regarding some African countries becoming more and more anti-lgbt

    • It’s horrifying but I think it’s actually Sky Arts, is that still hollywood ? But yeah same difference.

      The weird thing is Joseph Fiennes has come out saying he was “shocked” as if he hadn’t gone to a freaking casting call…
      Also I’ve read stupid shit like “oh but Michael Jackson was white at that time”. Ahem no he was never white though…

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