Happy Friday! One of the last ones of the year!
It’s technically only tangentially TV/film related, but did you catch Reneé Rapp and Megan thee Stallion’s new single off the upcoming Mean Girls soundtrack, and it certainly is hella gay. Some of the biggest news in queer television this week comes from Survivor — where queer contestant Katurah Topps first won Anya’s heart and is now looking like might win the entire show! British sitcom Such Brave Girls premiered today on HULU in the US, and Kayla found it to be a super queer discomfort comedy at its finest. Drew and Riese got high together and watched Round and Round, Hallmark’s new Hanukkah, and yes the sister is a lesbian! Kayla would like bring your attention back around to The Handmaiden, it has more sex scenes than you remembered.
It’s still End of Year Culture Lists season and here’s what our team rounded up this week:
- The Best Queer TV Scenes of 2023 by the TV Team
- The Best Queer Movie Scenes of 2023 by the TV Team
- The Best Queer Movies of 2023 by Drew Burnett Gregory
Notes from the TV Team:
+ Last week, I neglected to note that Sort Of, the groundbreaking series from Bilal Baig and Fab Filippo, wrapped up its third and final season on CBC Gem. We’ll have more on the show when it debuts stateside in the new year, but I wanted to acknowledge how sad I am to see it end. The show was a persistent reminder that we’re all transitioning, sort of. I’ll miss it so much and can’t wait to see what’s next from Baig. — Natalie
+ For our UK readers: Vigil, the hit British procedural starring Suranne Jones, returned for its second series this week. Amy Silva (Jones) and Kirsten Longacre (Rose Leslie) are called in to determine what caused an Air Force weapons test to go horribly wrong. Though their investigations keep them separated for most of the series’ opening episodes, Amy and Kirsten are still together and are having a baby! I’ll have more on the show when the new season debuts on Peacock. — Natalie
Rap Sh!t 207: “No Parking”
Written by Natalie
In Rap Sh!t‘s second season, we’ve gotten the opportunity to see our protagonists more intimately… more engaging with Mia, Shawna, and Chastity directly, less stunting for fans on Instagram. But this week, the show pivots back to its original form: with our two emcees spitting freestyles over IG Live and engaging with their fans. The format change is abrupt but it signals a change in fortune for the duo; now, they’re back on the grind.
First things first, though: a team meeting. The emcees meet with their manager at the local Checkers and lament that their career’s been stagnant since returning home from tour. Shawna admits that Francois hasn’t returned her calls while Mia confesses that Lamont isn’t being responsive to requests for studio time or new beats. Convinced that Chastity can make stuff happen, they urge her to focus less on pimping and more on managing their fledgling careers. Chastity acquiesces and promises to make a play… starting with hitting up Alex, the flirtatious rep that she met at the Billboard party.
Chastity doesn’t have to try hard: Alex (Brittany S. Hall) invites her to an exclusive Red Bull party and quickly introduces Chastity to her boss. Chastity charms him instantly and Alex… well, Alex looks like she’s ready for a one-on-one afterparty. The thirst! Before they get there, though, Alex and Chastity stop by a dive bar and get to know each other better. Alex is a grown ass woman, ready to take charge and unafraid to ask for what she wants, and it’s clear that Chastity doesn’t really know what to do with that. Alex asks the Duke directly if she’s in a relationship and the normally unflappable manager stumbles to find an answer. Chastity shifts the conversation to safer ground — music and what Alex might be able to do for Shawna and Mia — until they’re interrupted by Melody… a girl who Chastity once tried to recruit to be part of her stable. Chastity scrambles to mask the conversation with Melody — to not give away how she earns her money — but, to my dismay, Alex is undeterred.
Later, Chastity walks Alex to her door and thanks her for all her help. Alex isn’t ready for the night to be over quite yet, though; she invites Chastity inside to talk more and share a drink. Chastity pauses at the door, seemingly wondering if she should mix business with pleasure, but ultimately decides to follow Alex inside. Alex pulls out the tequila and Chastity salts her hand before taking her shot… but then Alex shoots her own shot: sensuously licking the salt off Chastity’s hand. They drop all the pretense and give into the tension that’s been building all night.
The scene that follows is, in a word, hot. Rivaling some of the best sex scenes from The L Word. Admittedly, as a critic, it feels uncouth sometimes to focus on sex scenes… but seeing two black women have sex on-screen remains exceedingly rare. And two black women in an explicit sex scene not directed/written by Lena Waithe? Even rarer. It’s a beautiful thing.
And hot. Did I mention it was hot?
Raising Kanan 302: “Flipmode”
Written by Carmen
I can already tell that recapping this season of Raising Kanan is going to come with some narrative difficulties. Detective Burke was murdered last episode, and she served as a connective tissue between the show’s two lesbian plots at any given minute. Burke had her own love life, but she was also a (manipulative) mentor to Jukebox, Raising Kanan’s central lesbian teen. In fact, Burke’s inappropriate relationship with Juke is mentioned by her captain as one of the reasons Burke found herself under IA investigation.
Jukebox hangs outside the church of Burke’s funeral, a personal goodbye to what was likely the only other gay person she knew. And I recognize that, despite their complicated relationship (after all, Burke only “befriended” Jukebox because she realized she could use their mutual gayness to her advantage, she was trying to lock up Juke’s entire family), Jukebox is a lost gay teen who has suffered far too much loss in her life. Her girlfriend died in Season One, her mother died at the end of Season Two, and now in first episodes of Season Three she’s forced to say goodbye again.
Leaving Burke’s service, Jukebox heads directly to an Army Recruitment Center. She will do literally anything to get out of Queens. I don’t know if the commentary was on purpose, but I was touched that Raising Kanan is highlighting the ways that army recruitment often takes advantage in poor communities and communities of color; a dangling last resort of “hope” for people who feel like they have nothing else to lose or live for. Luckily when she returns home that night, Juke is surprised to see Nicole’s dad of all people drinking with her own father in the kitchen.
I’ll admit that having Nicole’s dad pop up like this, and becoming drinking pals with Marvin no less — I’ve loved Marvin’s redemption arc over the last two years, but I won’t forget his own violent reaction to learning about his daughter’s queerness — is a bit of a stretch. However, I love where we land here, so I’ll briefly allow it. Nicole’s dad has been watching the taped recording of Nicole and Jukebox singing at the mall, and he has a fancy recording industry golf buddy who is looking to start a girl group. He wants Jukebox to audition. He thinks its what Nicole would have wanted.
With Marvin’s encouragement and something else to cling to, Jukebox dodges army recruitment and finds herself at her Uncle Lou’s with her mother’s albums in hand. If she’s going to try for this, she’s going to need help.
Meanwhile, Burke’s girlfriend (I’ll catch her name next week, I promise!) is feeling some guilt now that Burke has died. Last week when the IA investigation began, she wanted nothing to do with her. This week she’s picking up the crumbs of where Burke left off. She also faces some HIGH KEY homophobia from Burke’s father, who blames Burke’s lesbianism for her supposed suicide (cruel under any circumstances, but especially so since we all know… Burke didn’t actually kill herself at all. It was a set up!). I think this is setting the stage for the next chapter of cat and mouse between the Stark family and the NYPD, so stay tuned for that!