Boobs on Your Tube: Raising Kanan’s Third Season Begs Us To Reconsider What We Mean by “Bury Your Gays”

This week, Drew noticed that somehow “Total Eclipse of the Heart” played during pivotal moments in four completely different queer tv shows or films this year. Random, but true! She’s also here to argue that Anne Hathaway’s newest film Eileen doesn’t deserve to be called Carol for psychos (can you tell Drew had some fun this week?). Also, a follow up to a classic in Black queer cinema, Beyond the Aggressives has arrived just on time for black trans masc representation. In an exciting little diddy, Kayla wonders what each of the adult Yellowjackets would want for Christmas? She also watched the new queer Christmas thriller It’s a Wonderful Knife, and said it’s fun but falls short of a fully slay.

Speaking of the holigays, here are 37 Christmas movies with lesbian, bisexual, queer or trans characters — and also, if you can manage to get 18/30 on this quiz, you’re a certified Christmas Movie Expert and also probably gay!

It’s the most wonderful time of the yeeeaaaaaar and by that we mean it’s time for our annual End of Year Culture Lists! This week we have for you:

And now, here’s what else!

Notes from the TV Team: 

+ Not much info yet but Wynonna Earp star Melanie Scrofano and Kat Barrell aka THE Nicole Haught have written and are co-directing a movie together! No word yet on if the story itself will be queer, but here’s hoping. — Valerie Anne


Raising Kanan Episode 301: “Home Sweet Home”

Written by Carmen

Detective Burke stares at Detective Howard in the season three premiere of Raising Kanan. They are both in a car at night.

Raising Kanan is back for its third season and in addition to once again proving that its by far the best acted entry of the Power Universe (if you’re interested in getting involved, I often describe it as The Wonder Years by way of 90s New York drug empire), with a cast that is constantly pushing above its weight class — it also wins by putting its lesbian characters at the core of its story.

I’ll star with Jukebox, Kanan’s cousin and the show’s heartbeat. Juke’s mother died at the end of last season in a shootout between her Aunt Raq (Patina Miller, the reason to watch) and a rival mafia family. Everyone seems preoccupied with letting Jukebox know that it’s ok to grieve her mother, but I spent most of the time yelling at the TV that her mother tortured Jukebox last year in some failed Christian conversion therapy and she’s better off without her. Alas, family is complicated and though it seemed that Jukebox’s stoicism matched my own, we eventually do see her finally break down in her father’s arms in grief. It’s gorgeously acted and Hailey Kilgore deserves so much more praise for this role than she’s getting. Even if I am personally just fine with Juke’s mother being dead. Ahem.

Speaking of being dead, however, we are unfortunately adding another lesbian to the Dead Lesbian Database because Detective Burke (Shanley Casewell) had a terrible, no good, very bad day. First, when Raq teams up with Detective Howard (Omar Epps, Raq’s ex and Kanan’s father) to cover up the aforementioned mafia shootout, Detective Burke rolls up to out Howard as a liar in front of the entire police department. She is correct, he’s a dirty ass cop in the middle of a massive cover up, but unfortunately the Captain sides with Howard and puts Burke on administrative leave due to becoming an obsessive.

Second, Internal Affairs is looking into Burke, again because of all the boundary crossing, and that spooks her girlfriend, who is also a cop. So, her girlfriend breaks up with her.

Third, Burke gets a call from Howard. He asks to meet her and promises to come clean about everything. Now personally, I don’t know why she took the bait? I guess she was overzealous to get Howard on tape confessing to his crimes? But also if the guy whose family I’m trying to put away mysteriously calls me in the middle of the night to meet him in a undisclosed location, I’m not showing up. That sounds like a death certificate.

And death certificate it was, because as soon as Howard finishes “confessing” he shoots Detective Burke clean in the head. He takes the tape, her gun, and puts his gun in her hand to fake it as if she did this to herself. Two years of pursuit, and this is how her story ends.

If I sound flippant about another lesbian character dying on tv, I apologize. That’s not my intention! But I do think at this point in our TV-watching lives, we should interrogate exactly what we mean by “bury your gays” and when or how its used. In this case, for a series like Power, the deaths are often the whole point. Characters get big showy deaths, especially fan favorites or fan favorite villains. For Burke, however, her death felt kinda mid? After multiple seasons, it’s hard not to notice that her end doesn’t come with the same gravitas that is often granted main characters in the franchise. That was also tue of Juke’s first girlfriend, Nicole, who died in Raising Kanan’s first season. Instead of bemoaning another dead queer character on TV, I am interested in exploring why these two lesbian characters had such lackluster deaths compared to their peers. That’s a much more fascinating analysis… how we use “dying on screen” and when. But alas, perhaps a story for a different day.


Rap Sh!t 206: “U-Turn”

Written by Natalie

Wearing a slightly opened Florida Marlins baseball jersey, Chastity listens to her girls relay what's been going on since she's been away.

A week ago, the girls were riding high: Chastity putting them up in a lux LA hotel, Francois inviting them to brunch and promising a writing session with Pardi, meeting Def Jam execs at a Billboard party…. and then, all of a sudden, it was over… and over in spectacular and tragic fashion, no less. It’s a jarring turn of events for Shawna, Mia, and Chastity, who are forced to go back to the lives they left behind with nothing to show for their efforts.

Chastity returns to chaos: one of her girls has been arrested — thanks to Deja’s refusal to follow the directions she left behind — and another pimp has forced her girls off Biscayne Boulevard. Chastity promises she’ll handle it and, given how she handled the girls’ money woes on the road, I’m already worried and fearing the worst. She pulls up outside a local motel, readies her gun and slips on a ski mask. She proceeds to kick down the doors of her competition’s workers, interrupting their sessions and sending everyone scurrying for their clothes and the exits.

“Y’all don’t work here no mo! Tell Bugs to stay off this block!” Chastity yells as she fires shots into the air. It ends up being more hilarious than scary… but when Chastity slides back into her ubiquitous Caddy to drive off, I worry that the disguise was all for naught. And, sure enough, Bugs knows the threat came from Chastity and immediately returns to take his vengeance. His goons beat the sh!t out of Chastity as he holds her stable at gunpoint. Next time Chastity tries him, Bugs promises, he’ll kill her.

Chastity returns home, bloodied and bruised, to nurse her wounds but, aside from the bag of frozen greens he gives her to reduce the swelling, her Uncle Calvin offers her no respite. Chastity wistfully wonders if he’s going to kill Bugs but he hands her the gun and insists that this is what has to be done to earn respect. Even as they pull in behind Bugs’ car, Chastity hopes that things can somehow end amicably.

“Yeah, you know, maybe you can just, you know, talk to him instead of… you know what I’m sayin’?” she asks, hopefully.

Calvin scoffs at her naïveté and steps out of the car, tucking his gun in his waistband. He approaches Bugs’ car and asks about the incident involving his niece. Bugs touts his restraint — he didn’t “try to do too much to her” — but admits that Chastity was acting out of pocket. Calvin seemingly accepts the explanation and daps Bugs up before appearing to walk away. Watching, Chastity breathes a sigh of relief and mocks Bugs from a safe distance. But then, her Uncle pivots back, walloping Bugs, slamming his body with the car door and, finally, firing a single shot into him.

Calvin slides back into the drivers’ seat next to Chastity, exhales and acknowledges, “I got your block back.”

Without looking at him, Chastity nods and offers her thanks. Inside, I imagine, Chastity’s reaffirming her commitment to make this rap sh!t happen and to leave this world far, far behind… but we’ll have to see how that develops next week.


Black Cake Episode 109: “Nine Night”

Written by Nic

screenshot of covey (left) and bunny (right) riding a motorbike at night in jamaica

It’s the season finale of Black Cake and while many of our season-long questions were answered, they left us with just enough mystery to wonder what a potential season two might include. Each character gets a bit of time to shine in the finale: we see Mathilda giving birth to Covey in an island forest; Byron finds out his girlfriend is pregnant and they don’t see eye-to-eye on their next steps; Mabel reveals that her husband died while she was pregnant with her son; and we finally get the answer to who poisoned Little Man during his wedding to Covey.

Most importantly, I think, is we get some insight into Bunny’s life in the 50 years since she believed her best friend died. Firstly, Bunny’s full name is Benedetta! Eleanor named Benny after her best friend without knowing just how much the two would end up having in common.

As promised, Bunny fulfilled her and Covey’s dream of becoming famous swimmers, changing her name to Etta Pringle and becoming the first Black woman to swim across the English Channel. Covey/Eleanor kept up with her best friend’s career, unbeknownst to Etta, to the point where Benny just thought Etta Pringle was a random swimmer that her mother was obsessed with.

During their Nine Night honoring of Eleanor, Benny of course wants to know how Etta felt after her best friend shut her down after revealing feelings for her. It turns out, Covey took Benny on a joyride on a motorbike and the two had a heart-to-heart where Covey vowed that no matter what happened, she would be a safe space for her queer best friend.

So it only made sense that Bunny would be the one who ended up “saving” Covey by poisoning Little Man’s champagne rather than wait for Gibbs to come up with his own plan.

I loved Black Cake as a messy family story, as a beautiful tribute to the Caribbean, as a reminder that you never really know what someone is struggling with. However, while Bunny felt like she had to hide her identity in the shadows, Benny was busy hiding in shadows of her own: Byron’s, then Joanie’s, then Steve’s. My wish for queer Black women on television and frankly, in life, is that we can be seen in our glory and our fullness without hiding or fear. But hey, if we do get a second season, maybe a light episode where Benny and Bunny take on the perils of the queer dating scene?

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Carmen Phillips

Carmen is Autostraddle's Editor-in-Chief and a Black Puerto Rican femme/inist writer. She claims many past homes, but left the largest parts of her heart in Detroit, Brooklyn, and Buffalo, NY. There were several years in her early 20s when she earnestly slept with a copy of James Baldwin’s “Fire Next Time” under her pillow. You can find her on twitter, @carmencitaloves.

Carmen has written 681 articles for us.

Natalie

A black biracial, bisexual girl raised in the South, working hard to restore North Carolina's good name. Lover of sports, politics, good TV and Sonia Sotomayor. You can follow her latest rants on Twitter.

Natalie has written 376 articles for us.

Nic

Nic is a Senior Product Manager at a major Publisher and lives in Astoria, NY. She is way too attached to queer fictional characters and maintains that buying books and reading books are two very different hobbies. When she's not consuming every form of fiction, you can find her dropping it low on the dance floor. You can find Nic on twitter and instagram.

Nic has written 76 articles for us.

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