Well, it has been quite a Gen Q week, has it not? Jennifer Beals stepping back from the show? What is The L Word even without Bette Porter! I guess we’re gonna find out! Here’s a quick starter on your journey: Which The L Word character is “the one” for you? Or! There’s so many other shows to watch! Riese has a rundown of what’s new and streaming in December! Also this week, lesbians on Andor! Drew wants to know if you agree with her re: Aubrey Plaza and Sutton from The Bold Type potentially smooching on The White Lotus. Shelli ranked Aubrey Plaza’s movie performances. And Drew wrote an introduction to to Chantal Akerman and Jeanne Dielman.
Notes from the TV Team:
+ I don’t want to encroach too much on Carmen’s beat but, a heads up: this week’s episode of Home Economics ushered Caitlin McGee off-screen, as the actress takes maternity leave, which left more time for a story about Denise and her formerly feuding turned poly parents. In a spectacular bit of casting, Denise’s mother, Tamara, is played by Kim Coles (AKA Synclaire James-Jones of Living Single). — Natalie
+ On Mythic Quest, Dana and Rachel are still having individual storylines that have nothing to do with each other but I do hope to see them being adorable dorks together again soon. — Valerie Anne
Queen Sugar 713: “For They Existed”
Written by Natalie
Six years, seven seasons, and 89 episodes after it first premiered, Queen Sugar took its final bow. The show, an adaptation of Natalie Baszile’s 2014 novel by Ava DuVernay, departs with an awesome legacy: as the longest running black family drama on television and as a series that exclusively featured the work of female directors. DuVernay recruited a slate of 42 directors to bring her vision to life: many of them women of color, several of them queer, most of them having exclusively dealt in films before coming to Queen Sugar. The effort launched and rejuvenated so many careers…and that legacy will continue to reverberate across the television landscape for years to come.
Those directors define much of what I’ll remember about Queen Sugar. The sun’s reflection on the waters outside of St. Joe’s. The vividness of the color at Vi’s Pies and on the Bordelon farm. And the melanin…my goodness, the melanin. You never fully appreciate how bad this industry is at filming black and brown skin until you see it done well…and Queen Sugar did that. I’m hard-pressed to think of any show that rivals Queen Sugar‘s masterful directing and cinematography.
But Queen Sugar‘s writing has always struggled keep pace with its lush visuals and it falters once again in the series finale. What began as a “black feminist masterclass” ends with Jacob Boudreaux as the Bordelon’s white savior and by undermining most of its female characters. Days later, I remain mystified by the writing choices.
Nova’s ending, in particular, grates. She finally finds home — in her aunt’s house, in her mother’s room, in the space that she’s inherited — and she chooses to share it with Calvin. All this time, she’s been denying how she felt about him…lying to herself, to him, and everyone else…but now, she admits that she’s in love. To be clear: I don’t mind that the show ends with Nova with a man…or even that it ends with Nova with a white man…I’m bothered that it’s this white man. A cop who brutalized a young black man and was happy to move on without consequences until Nova confronted him. That this show would shroud that history with romance…as if Nova’s love redeems Calvin…is repulsive.
What’s more? Earlier this season, Calvin recalled his recurring dream: him and Nova sitting on an old porch swing, “old and gray and still in love,” and that is exactly how her story ends. It’s not Nova’s dream that they’re living, it’s his.
Sigh. I wanted so much better for this show.
Survivor Episode Eleven: “Hiding in Plain Sight”
Written by Anya!
This episode opens with Karla trying to determine which two people cast votes for her — she knows Owen cast one, and we know Sami cast the other. Sami tries to lie, briefly, before admitting he wrote Karla’s name down, too. This seems great for Karla — as usual, she’s good at prying information out of people without even really trying! However, my good feelings PLUMMETED when I learned that, despite all the implications otherwise, Karla actually HAS told someone about her immunity idol — Cassidy. Oh no! I couldn’t help but wonder why the story editors revealed this detail now — when there are only seven people left … However, this game moves too fast for reflection on editing decisions — next thing we know, there’s a boat at the island, with the message that there’s an advantage idol somewhere in the jungle. After a lot of people walk seemingly right by it, Cody finds the advantage, which states that he has two shots at immunity: (1) if he wins the immunity challenge himself, and (2) if a person he chooses before-hand wins the challenge. Cody puts his money on Owen. The challenge is an “old school” challenge, where you must hold onto and breathe through a metal gate while the tide surges beneath you (a situation that many would consider, correctly, an actual nightmare).
At this point, I’m not even surprised to say that Karla made Survivor history ONCE AGAIN! Both she and Owen lasted three freaking hours in the Last Gasp challenge — bobbing and holding their breath for so long that the rising tide actually became a lowering tide. So, in an unprecedented move, they were both deemed the winners of immunity. HOLY MOLY! And since Cody bet on Owen winning, he was also immune. Spicy!! Leading up to tribal council, Karla seems to have fully turned on Cassidy — she wants her out because Cassidy (so she thinks) is the only one who knows about her idol. I am obsessed with the savagery of this move, but I worry that if Cassidy has told anyone else about the idol (I bet she has, and I bet she told Jesse), Karla will be kicking out her strongest ally to protect a secret that’s already at large. Luckily for Karla (and Cassidy), Sami tells everyone at Tribal Council that he’s playing his shot in the dark, because he’s like, everyone’s against me. He does, and everyone votes for him. He goes home. Man oh man am I nervous for next week!! Stay strong Karla!!
All American 507: “Hate It or Love It”
Written by Natalie
With scandal engulfing the GAU football team, Coop’s first day on campus isn’t the big event it should’ve been but thankfully, Skye is there to celebrate Coop’s accomplishment. Skye snaps the requisite pics (aww, a sweater vest!) and gives Coop the snacks she packed for her. Coop’s nervous though — her professor has a reputation for being hard on his students — but Skye assures her girlfriend that she’s up to the challenge. Once she’s in class, though, things are harder than Coop anticipated. She knows the facts of the case but can’t resist inserting her own opinion into the conversation, much to her professor’s chagrin.
Later at dinner, Coop explains what happened in class and absolutely no one is surprised to hear that Coop allowed her passion to get the best of her. Spencer, Billy, and Laura all remind her that she can’t thrive on passion alone and that law, in particular, requires her to be guided by the facts. Skye encourages her girlfriend to tailor her message to the person that’s receiving it. Coop takes in everyone’s advice and returns to class the next day prepared to do better. And, of course, she does do better, earning praise from the professor.
Meanwhile, Patience hits a huge milestone on Instagram — one million followers — and posts a cute pic and a thank you to all her fans. The celebratory comments start rolling in but are interrupted by someone who accuses Patience of being an industry plant. The comment gets under Patience’s skin but Layla promises to take care of the situation. She heads over to Keating Music and confronts Clay about one of his artists, Petty Krueger, who’s behind the comments targeting Patience. Layla pushes for an apology but Clay wonders if Petty was actually wrong…especially given the way they’ve altered Patience’s sound and style for her new single. Layla insists that the ends justify the means: Patience’s video teaser has already garnered 2 million views. Every step she’s taking, Layla notes, is with Patience’s consent and is helping mature the artist into the next phase of her career.
But, apparently, Patience didn’t get the maturity memo because she’s busy cussing folks out on IG Live in the middle of Slausson Cafe. It takes a stranger coming over and literally taking her phone away for Patience to realize the gravity of her misstep.
Later, Layla double-checks with Patience about her feelings about the image reboot. Patience brushes right past her own feelings and, instead, focuses on the fan response. It’s clear that Patience isn’t comfortable with the changes but feels like she has to sacrifice her comfort to produce a product that’ll sell. Layla doesn’t recognize Patience’s discomfort though and forges ahead with the damage control.
The Sex Lives of College Girls 205-206: “Taking Shots” and “Doppelbanger”
Written by Natalie
Good news, everyone: the Thetas’ charter has been restored and all is right with the world. Of course, the girls make plans to be at every one of the Thetas’ return week parties. I’m not sure why this show insists on making the girls’ entire social calendar revolve around the parties of this white fraternity when there are so many other options but I guess this is what we’re doing.
At the first party, Bela asks the question I’ve been waiting to hear since Leighton came out to the group, “Leight, don’t answer this if this is homophobic: of the three of us, who are you most attracted to?” The question feels like a rite of passage for every newly out queer girl (if your straight friends never asked you, just know they were definitely thinking it) and Leighton does her best to avoid the question entirely…which, for the record, is exactly what you should do IRL. However, as a thought experiment: who are we thinking is Leighton’s actual answer to this question? It’s Whitney, right?
She insists — much to Bela’s chagrin — that none of the girls are really her type. Kimberly presses Leighton about what exactly her type is and she clarifies: her perfect woman is a 5’6″ blonde with good style from a major metropolitan city. Of course, Leighton’s idea of a perfect woman is Leighton. That tracks. And miraculously, a few days later, Leighton meets her…her perfect woman. The blonde (it’s Elinor from First Kill!) tries to park her Mercedes and yells at Leighton for being in the way. Once she steps out of her car, Leighton notices that they have the same taste in handbags and that the girl is “so hot.” She found Essex’s other Leighton.
Leighton reaches out to Willow for help identifying the mystery hot girl and she recognizes her as Tatum, a junior on the tennis team. Willow also notes the similarities between them and realizes that Leighton’s in the “twincest phase of coming out.” Leighton insists that she’s not just interested in Tatum because she reminds her of herself but Willow just smiles and nods, knowingly.
Leighton pushes Willow to introduce her to Tatum and the two concoct a plan to get the tennis star’s attention. They meet during a water break at the tennis courts and Tatum is kind of an asshole. She dismisses Leighton’s plans to attend a comedy show Bela helped organize, claiming she’s not really into campus-sponsored events but noting that it’ll probably be fun for “gen pop.” Ouch. Leighton tries to put the humiliation behind her but when she spots Tatum at a Theta party, the two are seemingly on a collision course.
Tatum mockingly asks about the comedy show and Leighton responds back with some snark of her own: no matter how judgmental Tatum is, she’ll never be as judgmental as Leighton is. Just to prove her point, Leighton “Prada-shames” Tatum for wearing seasons old boots. Apparently, shaming is Tatum’s kink because she invites Leighton to put her number into her phone.
And while I’m glad to see Leighton find someone…there’s something about her in these episodes — how she supported Kimberly throughout her egg harvesting and how she reassured Bela about her comedic chops — that says to me that this relationship isn’t long for this world. Leighton’s not the judgmental character she was when we meet her.
Criminal Minds 1603: “Moose”
Written by Valerie Anne
This week, Tara (who Aisha Tyler has labeled as pansexual) and her girlfriend Rebecca partake in the time-honored queer tradition of riding the elevator together. Rebecca mentions how much she prefers the commute to Quantico from Tara’s apartment vs her own in the city, and implies that maybe they should just move in together. Tara looks at her like a deer in headlights but promises to think about it.
When they reach a dead end in the search for Sicarius, Tara calls Rebecca for DOJ help, which ultimately gets her booted back to the DC office. But after a stressful day, Tara’s priorities snapped back into place, and her desire to not waste any time with Rebecca overrides her trust issues. It’s official: they’re U-Hauling it.
Other things in this episode that brought me joy: Our beloved agents being able to drop the f-bomb now, Garcie being physically unable to bring herself to do it, Emily appointing herself team lead to stick it to the manbaby trying to get her fired, and JJ. Just, everything about JJ always.