The “Gay-to-Queer” TV Game, Ruby Rose’s Garden Party With Shane, ABC Family’s Brand New Name and Other Cool Stories

Autostraddle’s Pop Culture Fix is a weekly round-up of the queer arts and entertainment news you need in your life.

Top Stories

ABC Family Is Changing Its Name to “Freeform” because the new hip young generation of cool kids are turned off by the “family” part of “ABC Family.” (No word on how they feel about the network continuing to air The 700 Club.This is actually really valid, except that Freeform is also a strange choice for a media property that doesn’t even remotely reflect the actual definition of the word “freeform.” ABC Family president Tom Ascheim says the name change feels like an “evolution,” not a “radical departure,” adding that the network will remain focused on telling stories for an audience “navigating the wonderful, fun, exciting, and scary time in life when you experience the most firsts – first car, first apartment, first job, first love, first heartbreak – all the firsts that exists between who they are and who they want to become.” The Los Angeles Times says they’ve dubbed this group “Becomers” and seem devoted to acting like “Becomers” isn’t just the same 18-to-34 demographic all networks are going after. The Wrap goes inside this very important decision for all the crucial details. Also, they cancelled Chasing Life, probably because it was a terrible show (with a good queer storyline but still, basically, a terrible show).

What the fuck is happening with Emily and Hana

What the fuck is happening with Emily and Hannah in this graphic

+ New Deep South, a new webseries from “The Front,” follows the lives of queer people of color in the deep south — the first episode takes us to Mississippi and was created by Rosie Haber, with cinematography by Lauren Cioffi.

+ Have you ever wondered what it’s like to have a dinner party with Ruby Rose and Phoebe Dahl? It involves mostly barefoot people, a farmhouse-like kitchen, a meditating Buddha by a rectangular pool, a life-size wooden alligator, and a tree with brightly colored bras dangling from the branches. A TREE WITH BRIGHTLY COLORED BRAS DANGLING FROM THE BRANCHES. So what we have here is the granddaughter of the man who wrote James and the Giant Peach having ten humans over for dinner with her girlfriend Ruby Rose, a DJ whose boobs you’ve seen on Netflix. There are tree swings, a haunted house, watermelon salad, mention of a horse and buggy, grilled corn, white wine, white linens, and white people. A lot of white people. One of them is Kate Moennig:

"Look at me with a tiny piece of watermelon in my hand!"

“Look at me with a tiny piece of watermelon in my hand!”

The article meanders its way into important topics like the “do-gooder” companies owned by the Dahls, like Faircloth and “Cartwheelers, a group that aims to help women have more fun.” As I’m sure you predicted, “Dinner conversation moves seamlessly from Rose’s thoughts on whether Orange Is the New Black will drastically change her life (she doesn’t think so) to why Corley doesn’t plan to return to director Peter Berg’s boxing gym of choice to Rose and Phoebe’s complementary star signs.” Everything about this article is incredible, basically.


+ .mic has put together a gay-to-queer television matrix for a ton of popular television shows with some kind of LGBTQ action:

“Gay” shows are much more invested in categorization and convention. Their LGBTQ characters are often wholly positive role models, with emphasis on normality.

Likewise, for a show to be queer, it should include fluid sexuality, daring content and ambiguity when it comes to identity. The queer parts of a series aren’t likely to be hoisted up by the mainstream — though they may break down the barrier and allow such attributes to become the norm.


My Take On TV talks to Julie Goldman and Brandy Howard about The People’s Couch`, which premiered last night and I hope you watch because it’s so funny and Julie and Brandy are the greatest. Phyllis hates the show, though:

Brandy: Also, one thing I get a lot – people either love it or hate it.  We definitely get a lot of people that hate it.

Julie: Including my mother…

Brandy: Yeah, Julie’s mom is like “it’s unwatchable!”

Julie: In my eyeballs…looked me in the eye and said the show is not watchable. “Can’t watch it. We’re not watching it!” Both my parents.

Brandy: “It’s unwatchable Julie!”

Julie: She looks me in the eyes and said “It’s unwatchable Julie.  The show is unwatchable. We can’t even sit down and watch for you!  We can’t. We can’t. We don’t understand?  What is it?  Does anything happen?”  No, nothing happens, I’m on a TV show. That’s what’s happening. “Yeah, but we don’t even hear you talk that much….what are you doing?”

+ Before Buffy, there was Xena, and and she changed television.

+ Our besties gets a shout-out in The Best of Netflix’s Strong Female Lead Category: “The ladies of The L Word could teach a master class in mutual support. Over the course of Ilene Chaiken’s long-running Showtime series about a group of gorgeous lesbians living in Los Angeles, women forge and set flame to romantic relationships with stunning speed and regularity. Also, Shane (Katherine Moennig) has sex with literally everyone.”

+ “…there seemed to be a lot of value placed on male approval, something Jules spent the entire film searching for, and ultimately finding in her intern. Jules values Ben’s approval and opinion over all else—after all, he is the last good, chivalrous guy on Earth.”

+ Boobs on Your Tube says goodbye to Chasing Life, celebrates the glory of Annalise Keating’s love affair with her college girlfriend, recaps Carmilla, Empire and Grey’s Anatomy, and gives you mini-caps of Scream Queens, Lost Girl, Grandfathered and Rosewood.

+ We’ve been watching a lot of Miss Fisher (THERE’S A LESBIAN IN IT!) So has Mallory Ortberg.

+ Pop culture syllabus: The Muppets.


+ The concept of “bystander syndrome” began with the murder of Kitty Genovese, a lesbian whose murder was witnessed by 38 people who did nothing to stop it, and now her brother Bill, along with documentary director James Soloman, have made a documentary about Bill’s journey to separate fact from fiction in his sister’s case. I’ve been fascinated by this case since I first read about it and am really eager to see the film.

+ By the way I saw Freeheld and I loved it and you should too.

+ The editor of The Advocate did a better job than me at finding somebody on their team to write a story about the LGBT films that did and didn’t get LGBT history right: basically, none of them did. But some of them did better than others!

+ Historian Lillian Faderman talks to Huffpo Live about Hollywood suddenly realizing that you can make movies about lesbians and that people will go see them. Sometimes people who aren’t even lesbians themselves. It’s wild!

+ Magnolia Pictures’s Tangerine is launching the first-ever Oscar push for a transgender actress in Hollywood history.

+ The new Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part Two trailer is here and we are less than two months away from seeing the whole damn thing:

+ Lesbian French-Belgian filmmaker Chantal Akerman died by suicide on Monday. She was 65 years old and was responsible for one of the first-ever lesbian sex scenes on film.

+ More than five people made movies about women this year, so WHO WILL WIN THE AWARDS?

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Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in nine books, magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. She's Jewish and has a cute dog named Carol. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3184 articles for us.


    • Right? They had one lesbian character who appeared once every blood moon AND THEY MURDERED HER.

    • they also had “friday night lights” in there which um i mean they had a minor lesbian character for 30 seconds and another minor lesbian character for 30 seconds but there’s very little about that show that i’d qualify as gay or queer. besides that tami taylor is in love with me

    • ugh so I went to the source and this is what they have to say : “Supernatural (2005-present) What does a showrunner do when a huge number of his series’ fans want the central characters — brothers — to get together? Over the years, Supernatural has indulged fans’ wishes in small ways, including directly acknowledging them in multiple episodes. The show would never actually go there, of course.”

      Wait, so you’re making the show lean more towards queer because of the incest wishes than you are towards gay because of the ONE ACTUAL GAY CHARACTER ?!

      As a research scientist, I am appalled and would send back this paper with a 0 for methodology.

    • Yeah. Queerbaiting is not queer content.

      The whole thing seems like an excuse to argue that shows with no queer characters/relationships are actually gayer than shows with queer main characters. Which is an argument I’ve seen before on the most tin-hatty parts of tumblr.

      I’m also baffled at Star Trek’s scores. It seems like 28 seasons and 12 movies of going out of your way to be like “look how straight everyone is!” would lose you points.

    • this is why you should only trust articles that deal with queer women in pop culture from queer-lady websites run by queer ladies, obvsi

    • i’ve been trying to figure out the perfect excuse to write about it. when we first started watching it i was like WAIT, is that a gay character? and then when it was confirmed we died on the spot

  1. What I’m getting from that Freeform graphic is that Sparia and Hannily are def happening in PLL season 6B.

    • YES!

      At first I only saw the top half of the pic and thought “Is this a queer fantasy version of ABC?”

  2. when people ask me what camp is like i’m just gonna show them that picture of the garden party.

  3. Didn’t know until reading this article that Phoebe Dahl is related to Roald Dahl. That’s just super cool. And DAMN I want that house. And that food.

  4. Chantal Akerman deserves a proper tribute. It’s hard for mere words to express what an important figure she was to feminist cinema and cinema in general, but someone here ought to at least try. It’s a bit distressing to see the minimal coverage on mainstream sites, the very mainstream that ignored her, give her more of her due than a site focused on culture for queer women.

    (Also, don’t recall her ever identifying as a lesbian.)

  5. Kitty Genovese is A lesbian?? As a former psych major, I feel like it was a major oversight for my psych textbooks not to mention this.

    • yeah she was living with her partner Mary Ann Zielonk at the Kew Gardens apartment building that she was murdered outside of. not surprised they left that out of the textbooks, of course…

  6. The Miss Fisher books have even more queer content in them (for better or for worse, kind of. Like it seems to try and make a statement about the lack of LGBT rights at the time, but the material just isn’t deep enough for that, so Miss Fisher ends up “pitying” a lot of people).

  7. That garden party, tho — is that where queer LA hipsters go when they die, if they’re good?

  8. Yes, but will Freeform continue to be feverishly enthusiastic about Harry Potter Weekend? Because that’s what I’m about.

  9. Re: + Magnolia Pictures’s Tangerine is launching the first-ever Oscar push for a transgender actress in Hollywood history.

    They won’t get nominated, instead though Eddie Redmayne will.

  10. I feel like its a little offensive to use gay as the term for “normal” characters. Kinda implies you have to identify as queer in order to have any kind of radical politics. But whatever, list is a little silly anyways.

  11. I find this ABC Family thing fascinating because I remember when they went from being The Family Channel, and then Fox Family.

    About 10 years ago, my college roommate and I had a long conversation about why on earth it was called “family” anything, which (because we are nerds) led to Actual Research. We learned that a) the “Family” part of the name, and b) the showings of The 700 Club, were enduring parts of the contract from way back when the Christian Broadcast Network owned the channel. I guess they found a way out of part a)?

    All that aside, #freeform is at least as bad as “Syfy.” And I’m a “Becomer.”

  12. I’ll miss Chasing Life! It’s true it was a horrible TV show but as a 16 year old bi/queer girl it was amazing to see someone who reminds me of myself on TV. Queer representation is hard enough to find but a relatable teenage girl who is bi (and not afraid to use that word!)?!?!

  13. Sorry, but this gay to queer scale is ridiculous. The inclusion of bi/fluid characters is really important, as is allowing for morally ambiguous or non-role-model LGBTQ characters, but… when you look at literally any independent work made by LGBTQ people or by allies who want to put in a ton of LGBTQ characters, you DO see those things.

    The reason those things don’t show up in ‘mainstream’ (I’m not using that word as a condemnation of perceived “normal people” or their tastes, but to refer to work that’s trying to appeal to as many people as possible, and that usually has some gatekeeping factor from above) entertainment is the same reason you don’t often see explicitly gay/lesbian characters front and center in ‘mainstream’ entertainment. And that reason is, obviously, because when you’re trying to appeal to an audience of mostly straight people, some of whom are going to be alienated by too much LGBTQ content, you don’t want to do anything that centers LGBTQ people or non-het attraction any more than you have to. So you’re not going to see many complex out protagonists, and you’re not going to see many straight-assumed protagonists fall in love with someone of the same gender and have it turn out to be a serious thing that matters, but it’s for the same reason: because the people involved in making mainstream entertainment will never care about gay people having fun and getting complex characters as much as they care about not alienating straight people.

    And seriously, this chart has the weirdest justifications for something being “queer.” Gilmore Girls is queer because it values female friendships? Teen Wolf is queer because it takes place in an accepting setting and has shirtless dudes in it? Hannibal is queer because “the show works like a dreamscape, making every pierced limb and gush of blood double for more sexually overt images, disassembling in its wake any certainty in Law, sanity or even identity.” (I would argue that Hannibal is actually pretty queer, but what does that even mean?) And what the fuck is with putting “gay” and “queer” in opposition like “gay” is some safe, conventional, pretend-perfect thing, and “queer” is radical and edgy and different and awesome, when heteronormativity is also an ideal and in competition with both?

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