Pop Culture Fix: Subversive Lesbian Handmaids, Award-Nominated Lesbian Handmaidens and Other Maiden Stories

Welcome to your weekly pop culture fix, featuring important news from the last week in pop culture. Surprise!

The Teevee

+ It was announced last week that Alexis Bledel will be playing a subversive and dangerous lesbian in Hulu’s much-anticipated adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale. You can read about this and so many other lesbian and bisexual characters in the 2017 Winter TV Preview I published this morning. GLAAD says Samira Wiley is ALSO planning a lesbian so actual dreams will be coming true.

+ Broadly went behind-the-scenes of our new favorite show One Day At A Time and talked to 24-year-old queer television writer Michelle Badillo:

As a queer person working in mainstream entertainment, do you have other reservations, or hopes, about portraying queerness on TV?
My hope is that people, especially young people, have something to look at that makes them feel okay. As a teenager, I googled, “Am I a lesbian?” and “Am I a psychopath?” in the same day. If I had any context for lesbians, I might have known I wasn’t fundamentally broken. My other hope is that it normalizes queerness for people, but that’s my reservation too. I have a fear that instead of queer culture widening the scope of the mainstream, the mainstream will narrow the individuality of queer culture.

+ The Black Queer & Trans Representation In Star Is Everything

+ Netflix’s The OA weaves a gentle queer narrative


‘Moonlight’ was named Best Picture by National Society of Film Critics but Guy Lodge of The Guardian wonders if Moonlight shows that gay cinema has to be sexless to succeed.

+ Lesbian film The Handmaiden leads in nominations for the Asian Film Awards.

+ Indiewire is getting stoked for Sundance 2017 with a list of the films they’re looking forward to. Pretty much all of them look fantastic. Highlights relevant to your interests include:

  • Horror anthology “XX” is made entirely by women, including Annie Clark
  • Marti Noxon of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “UnReal” tells the story of a young anorexic doing “out of the box healing” in “To the Bone”
  • “Noviate” looks at America’s postwar relationship with religion from inside a convent, featuring actresses like Melissa Leo and Dianna Agron.
  • A documentary about the Gawker saga: “Nobody Speak: Hulk Hogan, Gawker and Trials of a Free Press”
  • Strong Island, a documentary from William Ford about the murder of his brother, Yance, who was shot by a 19-year-old white mechanic who claimed self defense against Yance, who was black and unarmed.
  • Dee Rees of Pariah and Bessie is getting lots of buzz for “Mudbound,” an epic period drama set in the post-WWII South.

+ The story of the 1964 murder of lesbian Kitty Genovese was the subject of a documentary film, “The Witness,” last year. Today is was announced that lesbian producer Christine Vachon’s production company Killer Films is heading up a narrative adaptation of the documentary.

+ Kenzo Pays Homage to Queer Safe Spaces in Powerful New Mini-Film

+ With “Discovery,” Star Trek Has Opportunity to Meaningfully Include Queer Identity In Series

“I Am Not Your Negro” Should Be Required Viewing For All Americans: On the James Baldwin documentary.

+ Lovesong stars Riley Keough as Sarah, who is dissatisfied by her husband and heads off on an impromptu road trip with her buddy Mindy, played by Jena Malone. Eventually, sexual tension builds and queer shit goes down, and it’ll hit theaters February 17th.


+ Syd the Kid dropped a new single called “All About Me.”

+ Cheryl Dunye: This Is the Most Important Time to Make Queer Art

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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

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  1. Also of note, Cassandra on TNT’s The Librarians had a queer storyline in the last episode. At first I thought it was just going to be entirely subtext with some flirting (in the style of Myka & HG), but then the flirting escalated, and the episode finished with an actual, honest-to-goodness kiss. And they didn’t kill either character! I was pleasantly surprised!

    • Cassandra’s been flowing this way for quite a while, if not from the beginning. I had my doubts as to whether the writers would go from ‘fanon to canon’ as Kristana (I think it was) so awesomely put it, but they did. Maybe the ‘don’t kill the Lesbians/Gays’ is starting to filter up. :)

  2. I’m very curious about Alexis Bledel in this part. I’ve never felt like she’s had chemistry with anyone on screen before, but maybe she’ll pull it off this time. Regardless, I’m VERY excited about The Handmaid’s Tale. The story deserves a well-crafted retelling on screen.

  3. Blegh @ the OA being a queer story. Because dance is gay? Really? I get the argument about chosen families but you could say the same about any generic show about friends, and I would barf if anyone suggested how I met your mother was a queer show. I like the idea of queering things and I don’t think queer has to be about sexuality, but hard nah in this case.

    • I think it’s more to do with the fact that all these characters feel alienated or unsafe in their own homes, and have found a group of people they share this feeling with. It does resonate with specific queer narratives (even though I’ve got a happy family situation i still recognise that)

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