Oh hey, did you see that Autostraddle TV Team original member Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya is our new MANAGING EDITOR? YES SHE IS! Join our whole TV Team in congratulating her! This week, Drew watched about ten billion films out of NewFest and wrote about several of them, including: Leading Ladies, Death and Bowling, The Novice, Love, Spells and All That, and a whole bunch of shorts. Also! Christina recapped The Morning Show, Carmen recapped Twenties, Valerie Anne recapped Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl, and Nic recapped Batwoman. And also we shared an exclusive clip from Girl In The Woods.
Notes from the TV Team:
+ I have been watching Our Kind of People on Fox because I want to recap it for y’all, but literally none of these episodes make sense? I’m not saying that I’m not enjoying them! But also once its over I have no memory of what happened. Anyway watch if you want to see Black Lesbian TeensTM and a lot of campy drama straight out of Empire’s playbook. — Carmen
+ Coming soon, to the CW: All American returns for its fourth season on Monday and 4400, a reboot of the cult classic, debuts afterwards at 9PM. — Natalie
New Amsterdam 405: “This Be the Verse”
Written by Natalie
Lauren Bloom’s earliest memory is hearing her father call her mother a drunk. Once she understood what that meant, she did everything she could to keep her mother from drinking, including downing half of her mother’s martini — “the more [she] drank,” she thought, “the less [her mother] could” — at the tender age of seven. Those early moments set the course for both of their lives and cement their lifelong tumultuous relationship. But what if the thing you thought you knew about the people closest to you, turned out to be wrong? That’s the question at the center of this week’s episode of New Amsterdam.
The hospital’s incoming medical director is already making their presence felt by slashing the Emergency Department’s budget but Leyla refuses to let Lauren wallow. They’re finally back on the same shift and tonight they get to enjoy a romantic dinner together. Lauren adopts her girlfriend’s optimism and pledges to not let anything ruin her day…but as soon as the words are out of her mouth, she hears her name being called by a familiar voice. It’s her mother, Jeanie!
Her mother complains of a stabbing pain in her lower abdomen and Leyla rushes to her side. Lauren is unmoved — literally — and assures Dr. Shinwari that she need not investigate the pain any further. Her mother’s not in pain, Lauren laments, she’s just trying to score pills. She notes her mother’s constricted pupils as evidence that she’s just looking to get high. Jeanie tries to convince her daughter that her pain is real but Lauren refuses to believe her. With a tear rolling down her cheek, Lauren blasts her mother for trying to make her the accomplice in her scheme.
“She doesn’t need a doctor, she needs a shovel so she can finish off the job,” Lauren snaps.
But later in the ED, Lauren hears her mother’s voice and finds Jeanie and Leyla tucked behind a curtain. Bloom pulls her resident aside and asks if she realizes that she’s being used. Leyla concedes that maybe she is but she admitted Jeanie and ordered a rapid detox so that she can make an informed decision. Every bit of the warmness and cuteness that we’ve seen from Lauren this season is gone: she’s cold and unforgiving when it comes to her mother. She assures Leyla that her mother will do anything to get her next fix but Leyla’s committed to seeing if Jeanie’s pain is real. Lauren scoffs and wishes her luck.
When Lauren discovers that Leyla’s prescribed pills for her mother, she storms back in and tries to shove Jeanie out the door. She criticizes Leyla for giving narcotics to a known drug addict but Leyla assures her, she never gave Jeanie the pills. The promise of pills calmed Jeanie enough to conduct an ultrasound which revealed an enlarged spleen. Leyla’s preliminary diagnosis is Lyme Disease but Lauren rejects it: her mother has an enlarged spleen because of her alcoholism and she’s known it for years. Lauren cancels the prescription order and tells her mom to go score somewhere else.
Tired of being bullied, Jeanie lashes out, reminding Lauren that she’s also an addict. When she realizes that Lauren and Leyla are together, she seizes on it and uses it as a cudgel to beat up on Lauren more. Lauren screams, ordering her mother out of the ED — even as she groans in pain — and gives her a prescription for the pills she wants. Lauren retreats and Leyla catches up to her, urging her, again, to look at her mother’s ultrasound. Lauren’s dismissive at first — and a little hurt that Leyla’s not more concerned about her emotional well-being (a valid point!) — but eventually gives into Leyla’s persistance. It’s not alcoholism or Lyme Disease, Lauren recognizes after looking at the scans, it’s endometriosis. Her mother was telling the truth and, maybe, has been self-medicating this entire time.
“I’ve judged you my whole life. I mean, I’ve thought awful things. But you were in pain, and you needed my help,” Lauren tearfully confesses at her mother’s bedside. “And I am a doctor, I’m your daughter. I…I should have…I am just really sorry, Mom.”
American Horror Story 1010: “The Future Perfect”
Written by Drew
American Horror Story: Double Feature has ended with a fun and satisfying finale. This half season continues to be far superior in its past storyline, but here the two merge giving Death Valley the best of its four episodes.
Mamie Eisenhower is Deep Throat and still alive in 2021. If this is indeed Sarah Paulson’s last time on American Horror Story, she’s found a fitting end. It’s all so silly and yet so well-played — it really does justice to the 1950s sci-fi it’s riffing on.
This episode also gives half-alien Angelica Ross the most to do and it’s so much fun watching her spar with Paulson. Unfortunately, the episode is still undercut by Kaia Gerber’s performance but fortunately her character is decapitated and turned into a baby machine for the last part of the episode.
Neither Red Tide or Death Valley were perfect, but they both had so many pleasures. The shorter episode runs for these stories works really well and I’d gladly welcome this format again. I just wish the show would focus more on its interesting characters and talented actors and get less attached to having boring cishet white protagonists!
Hightown 201: “Great White”
Written by Natalie
When Hightown returns for its second season, it looks like Jackie Quiñones has finally got her shit together. Gone is the Provincetown party girl, who drank and snorted and fucked until the sun came up…now, Jackie’s 50 days sober and regularly attending meetings. Even when it looks like she might be regressing — buying drugs from a local dealer on Halloween — she’s really just being proactive: attempting to build a case for the narcotics unit of the Massachusetts State Police. But tattooed on her left breast is “Junior,” the name of her former sponsor, her surrogate brother and best friend…a reminder that the ghosts of Hightown‘s first season still haunt her. She’s traded one addiction for another: Jackie wants, desperately, to avenge Junior’s death and hold those responsible for it — namely drug kingpin, Frankie Cuevas — accountable.
Realizing that she won’t be able to accomplish her goal through her liaison position — which offers her a one day respite from work as a National Marine Fisheries Service Agent — Jackie tries to draw closer to the State Police. She allies herself with Leslie Babcock, the only other woman working in the unit, and continues to support Ray Abruzzo — her unlikely partner from last season — in his bid for reinstatement. But when Ray’s hearing goes awry, Jackie sees an opportunity: she approaches the unit’s new lieutenant and convinces him to turn her liaison position into a (probationary) full-time gig.
After a visit to Junior’s memorial, Jackie shares the news of her new job with her surrogate dad/Fisheries partner, Ed. He laments how things have changed on the Cape and asks Jackie why she has to be the one to tackle the Cape’s drug problem.
“I don’t know,” Jackie admits. “I just do.”
The next day, she’s on the streets with Babcock, ready to take down whoever’s selling the “Great White” that’s killed three kids already. Unbeknownst to them both, they drive right by the guy who’s likely going to cause headaches for them all season.
Home Economics 205: “Giant Jenga, $120”
Written by Carmen
This week on Home Economics it’s game night, which has already been turned up to a level 10 situation because Connor’s new girlfriend (Jessica) is actually his brother Tom’s old girlfriend from when they were all kids at camp. Except Conner never knew that because Tom always referred to her as “Camp Girl.”
The story about Camp Girl is that she was Tom’s like true summer love girlfriend and he fell so deep, then she stood him up for the end-of-summer dance and it broke his little teen heart into a thousand tiny teen pieces. He spent the whole car ride home crying about it to his sister Sarah.
Now Camp Girl is a chapter in (adult) Tom’s new book. If she’s coming to game night, Tom wants to know who she left him for all those years ago.
And this is where the plot thickens, my friends! Sarah pulls Denise aside and confesses to her wife that “the guy” that Camp Girl left Tom for? It was her all along! LE GASP. No but seriously, one of the best parts of the episode was Sasheer Zamata long pause gasp face, eyes wide, as she says.. “Wait is Camp Girl, Dock Girl?”
(How many nicknames did poor Jessica have!)
So Dock Girl was the first girl Sarah ever loved and she had no idea that Jessica felt the same way, until the night of the end-of-summer dance when Jessica stood Tom up and came to the docks, giving Sarah first gay kiss.
Tom doesn’t know and Sarah makes it her business to keep it that way! First pulling Jessica aside into a storage closet (Jessica assumes that Sarah is trying to hit on her and holds her face in her hands! It’s very cute) and asking Jessica to please keep the secret. Jessica also uses this moment to confess to Sarah that their dock kiss was monumental for her too, that’s how she discovered she was bisexual.
A comedy of errors ensues and it ends with Sarah spilling the beans on the big secret herself anyway!
After discovering the truth, Tom has a heart-to-heart with his sister. In a surprisingly serious and heart thumping moment for a family sitcom, tears weld up in Sarah’s eyes and her voice cracks, explaining why she kept the secret when they were teenagers, “I had feelings for a girl for the first time ever, and I was ashamed and confused, if I told you the truth then… it would’ve meant coming out.. and I couldn’t even come out to myself.”
Tom understands. After all, as he tells Sarah, “This whole time I thought Jessica was a chapter in my book, but she really was a chapter in yours.”
Queens 101: “1999”
Written by Carmen
In 1999 there was a (fake) rap group named the Nasty Bitches, starring some very real 90s-2000s R&B and rap stars. And on that very premise alone ABC’s new nighttime soap Queens had me hooked.
Who do we have? Professor Sex is played by Eve (from the Ruff Ryders, her name on the show? Brianna), Xplicit Lyrics is Brandy (from everywhere in the 90s, on the show? Naomi), and Butter Pecan, an unfortunate but historical accurate nickname for Puerto Rican, is played by Nadine Velazquez (she’ll be Valeria, and Nadine is the only not famous former musician in the cast, which is… a choice). For our very gay needs there is Da Thrill played by Naturi Naughton from 3LW (she’ll be Jill, let’s get going).
20 years later and now Jill is a conservative Catholic living in Montana with her husband Darren.
The only glimpse we get of the real Jill is when Tina, her secret girlfriend, comes over in a Prince shirt and flannel to check on her. A quick hug turns into a long embrace, eyes meet, then flicker down to lips, the mood shifts. Jill pushes Tina in just a little, like it’s a magnet, and then they are kissing. Tina graces under her breast, through the sweater. They both gasp. And then.. Jill pushes away.
She can’t do this. She promised Tina that she would tell Darren about them, and she hasn’t. She’s still battling with the internalized homophobia she’s had since she was a kid. Tina knows that Jill loves her, but she’s unwilling to being anyone’s secret.
When the “Nasty Bitches” (they’re going by “Queens” now because.. they’re in their 40s) reunite, Jill starts to find more of her past self. Which is great because while I love Naturi Naughton in pretty much anything (she was my favorite part of the original Power series and her take on Lil Kim in Notorious is legendary), “church girl” really doesn’t play to her strengths.
The group saves a new up-and-coming rapper — modeled somewhere in the vein of Doja Cat meets Megan Thee Stallion… I guess? — from a drug overdose largely due to Jill’s advocacy (she even punches the girl’s manager out, for good measure). Then she confesses to her friends, she’s gay. And she loves Tina.
It’s a start. The bigger leap comes later on stage, when as Da Thrill, Jill changes all the lyrics to to the group’s biggest hit to be about Tina live from the stage — Tina watches at home, mouth agape.
Here we go!
Legacies 401 & 402: “You Have to Pick One This Time” & “There’s No I In Team, Or Whatever”
Written by Valerie Anne
The witches are back just in time for Halloween! Hope is still hung up on that sentient jar of mayonnaise but, because of pandemic complications, the first four episodes of this season were originally intended to be part of Season 3, so I have faith that we’ll move away from our Malavore Maladies soon enough.
I also have no idea if Finch will be around much longer, because while Finch and Josie had some really cute scenes in these first two episodes of the season, things went awry… Finch wants to get to know Josie (and Lizzie!) better, so she bonds with them using personality quizzes (I wonder which Gen Q character they are) and Finch volunteers to be siphoned, and being a source of energy for her girlfriend was such a cute metaphor I was ready to RUN WITH. Josie even invites Finch to visit Caroline in Europe with her over break! But along the way, Finch also learns that Josie and Lizzie are Gemini witches, and twins at that, so Josie has no choice but to tell her about The Merge.
And Finch isn’t sure she wants Josie’s baggage without a lifetime guarantee. She doesn’t want to watch her die. So instead she says Goodbye, Love and leaves Josie crying on a park bench. I’m still rooting for those supernatural kids but also wouldn’t be mad if Josie finds comfort in Hope’s open arms. Just saying.
Nancy Drew 302: “The Journey of the Dangerous Mind”
Written by Valerie Anne
Y’all should we be worried about Bess Marvin? That sweet baby angel is dabbling with magic, which is cute and fun especially since her first spell was to protect her buddy Ace, but she’s decided to learn it from Nancy’s ancestry Temperance. Temperance tells Bess she’s destined for greatness in a way that frankly sounded a little groom-y, and Temperance has all the characteristics of someone Bess could easily fall for: short hair and soft features like Lisbeth, blonde hair and an old supernatural soul like Odette. Also the spell she did might have affected Temperance’s cat?? Unclear. I’m all for Bess and Temperance recreating Under Your Spell from Buffy but I just hope Bess’s friend make sure she’s protecting her heart in the process.