Also, this week, Kayla’s here to teach you how to dress like Max Chapman. Shelli reviewed the delightfully messy House of Ho. She also broke down all of House of the Dragon’s queer connections. Riese watched (but didn’t love) The Devil in Ohio for the queer storyline. Heather’s patience paid off: JoJo Siwa finally showed up in a rainbow tux on High School Musical: The Series. Drew interviewed Jinkx Monsoon. And! She’s coming at you live from the Toronto International Film Festival.
Notes from the TV Team:
+ The Good Fight returned for its sixth and final season this week and already, Carmen Moyo (played by out actress Charmaine Bingwa) is getting in deep with another criminal client. Apparently, she learned nothing from Oscar Rivi! This season, I’m excited to see Carmen — who’s been so relentlessly focused on work since we met her — get a storyline that focuses more on her personal life. — Natalie
She-Hulk 104: “Is This Not Real Magic?”
Written by Valerie Anne
Ever since the first episode of She-Hulk, Nikki has been on my radar. Something about her energy felt a little queer to me, so I was on high alert for clues. My first clue came when she mentioned that she had a date and nary a name nor a pronoun was uttered. Another clue came in this episode when she was talking about Jen’s dating life and said there was a “person” for her out there somewhere. Even if Jen only dates men, Nikki’s language being naturally inclusive is another potential piece of the queer puzzle. But then when she took Jen’s phone and started swiping through her matches on her dating app for her (something I too have done for my straight friends, just for funsies), she gave me all the evidence I need to count her among the very few queer characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe: “Hetero life is grim.”
I hope that’s not the only glimpse into Nikki’s queerness we get this season, but no take-backs! She’s ours now!
Queer confirmation aside, this episode was a fun romp of magic and mischief. The only quibble I have is that this show really tried to convince me, a person with eyeballs, that no one in LA thinks human-shaped Jen Walters is attractive even though she looks like Tatiana Maslany.
The episode ends with Jen finding out Titania is suing her over the newly trademarked name She-Hulk, and in her classic fourth-wall breaking way she says, “I bet there’s a fun tag.” And there is indeed, because it featured everyone’s new favorite side character: Madisynn with two ns and a y, but it’s not where you think.
Queen Sugar 701: “And When Great Souls Die”
Written by Natalie
The seventh (and final) season of Queen Sugar opens with an expansive view of the waters near St. Joe’s. It’s a gorgeous shot — crafted by Kat Candler, one of the show’s cadre of female directors — that’s become a hallmark of Queen Sugar‘s run. That this show could end without a single Emmy nomination for directing or cinematography is an indictment of the entire awards show racket.
But while Queen Sugar‘s visuals have been consistently awing, the writing — and, in particular, the writing around Nova Bordelon’s sexuality — has always been hit or miss. The season seven trailer got my hopes up: in it, Nova’s ex, Chantal, makes an appearance, and Nova dances with gay-for-play extraordinaire, Tracie Thoms. And, much to my surprise, Queen Sugar starts to deliver on that front almost immediately in its new season.
Nova is still with her cultural anthropologist boyfriend, Dominic, but everyone around her is just waiting for the other shoe to drop. At the farmers’ co-op meeting, Nova encounters Ralph Angel’s guest, Mo Evans, and the sparks fly. Mo knows Nova by reputation and admits that she’s checked out her most recent work featuring the descendants of a local 1800s massacre. RA feels the energy between them and, after the crowd moves on, urges his sister to not go there. Mo’s in town to formalize the co-op as part of the South Louisiana Co-Op Federation, and he’s weary of anything messing that up.
“Don’t go pulling a Nova, Nova. I know how you move,” RA tells her. “Don’t. I’m serious.”
Meanwhile, Aunt Vi’s got her own questions about the future of Nova’s relationship with Dominic. It’s been six months, Vi notes, and that’s when Nova usually starts to get antsy. Nova tries to defend herself — she was with Calvin for five years, after all — but given that he was married for four of those years, she realizes maybe that’s not the best argument. She insists that Dominic is great and Vi is thrilled to hear it because Nova “can go through men like water.” Nova corrects her aunt, she hasn’t only dated men, and Vi reminds Nova that she never introduced the family to the ladies.
Nova admits, “There’s no drama with Dominic. We just work together, it’s…nice.”
Nice and drama-free ain’t never been Nova’s way, so it’s clear her relationship with Dominic is not long for this world. Is it all very heavy-handed? Lord yes. They are moving with all the subtlety of a bull in a China shop. That said, as someone who has criticized Queen Sugar for not even acknowledging Nova’s pansexuality even in the smallest ways, it’s such a relief to see it. The revelation that Nova never introduced any of her female love interests to the family absolutely tracks with what we know of her and her tenuous relationship with her father. I’m interested to see if that bit of Nova’s history changes by the series end.
grown-ish 508: “Certified Lover Boy”
Written by Natalie
Cal U is abuzz with the release of the D-List, a ranking of the university’s men by…well…you know. It’s a campus tradition meant to turn the tables on men who have objectified women with similar lists for, basically, all of eternity. A surprise entry on the list? Junior. Zaara’s roommate’s five-star review has him being coveted by every girl (and some boys) on campus and causes Annika to reconsider putting Junior in the friendzone. Witnessing it all makes Zaara glad that she’s not the type to “get sprung.” Instead, Zaara’s more a love ’em and leave ’em type: hooking up with a girl (Yazmine) and then ushering them quickly out the door.
But then something unexpected happens: Zaara can’t get the girl she kicked out of bed out of her head. How does Zaara go from being a commitment-phobe last week to “sprung” this week? Who knows, but she’s here, she’s queer and she’s considering monogamy. Scared by how consumed she’s become by Yazmine, Zaara rushes to Annika for a solution. They pledge to be each other’s sponsor…to help one another deal with these cases of sprung fever. They promise no more texting or social media stalking the objects of their obsession.
Zaara’s first text from Yazmine tests her resolve and, frankly, it doesn’t last long. When she encourages Junior to get out of his comfort zone and try something new, he pushes her to take her own advice and consider a relationship. She texts Annika with an update and the next time we see her, she’s in bed with Yazmine again. Even Yazmine was surprised to get a return call so quickly.
“I thought intimate wasn’t your vibe?” Yazmine questions.
“Maybe you’re my vibe,” Zaara answers before pulling Yazmine back in for a kiss.
Am I a little frustrated that there wasn’t more substance behind Zaara’s shift? Yes. But earlier this week, the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative released a study about the erasure and stereotyping of Muslim characters on popular television…so while I’ll always cheer for more and better, two South Asian women — one of whom is Muslim — in bed together feels like a good place to start.
Roswell 413: “How’s It Going To Be”
Written by Valerie Anne
In the series finale of Roswell, we begin amidst the chaos. Clyde, more powerful than ever, kidnaps Rosa and brings her to Shivani to harvest her regenerative cells. Clyde says this might kill Rosa and Shivani has to decide if her life is worth potentially resurrecting her daughter.
After some searching, Liz tracks Allie down and asks her for help stopping Shivani. The alien dust is blocking her brain and she needs the person who shaped her brain to help her fill in the blanks.
Of course, once the harvesting is done, Clyde reveals to Shivani that he actually can’t resurrect her daughter at all, he just needed to fix his star map. So he chucks her across the room; broke her heart, broke her bones. Classic Clyde.
Eventually the pod squad stops Clyde, through cleverness and grit, and they can get to the good stuff: Michael and Alex’s wedding. Michael sings I’ll Be, keeping with the show’s 90s music theme, and it’s all very lovely and gay.
After the wedding, Liz goes to find Max to propose, but before she can, Max tells Liz he needs to go back to Oasis to save his home planet. Devastated, Liz stress eats some pancakes when her old mentor finds her. Allie reassures her that her relationship is strong enough to survive a little interplanetary travel. In return, Liz encourages Allie to go to Shivani to help her say goodbye to their daughter, too. Before she leaves, Allie pops an antenna headband on to reminder herself of her time in Roswell, and says it “fits like a glove.” As someone who loved the original Roswell, watching the Liz of my childhood hug the present-day Liz in the Crashdown Cafe made my heart happy.
In the end, Max says goodbye to his pod; Isobel and Kyle snuggle by a fire, Michael goes on his honeymoon with Alex, and Max promises to marry Liz as soon as he comes back. This isn’t goodbye forever, just goodbye for now.
Industry Episode 206: Short To The Point of Pain
Written by: Riese
I have no idea why I watched every Season One episode of this program about mostly terrible people doing a lot of cocaine and helping other terrible people get rich while yelling at each other using financial jargon I do not understand BUT I do think it was because I felt certain a lesbian would turn up but aside from a brief predatory moment, one did not.
I believe I have stuck with Season Two because I love Augustus Sackey (David Johnson) and also because a lesbian did show up, right out of a sexy French film: the glamorous Celeste Pacquet.
As Yasmin returned to the desk post-pandemic at Season Two’s start, her dissatisfaction in her role and the culture collided with her enchantment with Celeste, leading her to seek a new position: working for Celeste in Pierpoint’s Private Wealth Management Division. (I think this is what happened, I’m not totally sure)
But more importantly, there was SIMMERING SEXUAL TENSION all season long, teased in the trailer, and every week I felt we were getting a little bit closer to an explosion: either an explosion of sexual tension between Yasmin and Celeste or an explosion in my brain at this show for teasing us with Sexy Girls Can’t Help But Be Sexy For Each Other Queer Subtext in the year of our lord 2022.
Early in the episode, Yasmin confesses to Celeste over drinks that she masturbated thinking about Celeste the night before, and Celeste says sleeping together would be the a good idea but also the worst idea. I was personally crestfallen. Shortly thereafter, Celeste invites Yasmin to a lunch — the day before Celeste becomes Yasmin’s new boss! — but all she ends up eating is Yasmin. It’s honestly a very hot sex scene.
Of course when it’s all over Yasmin gushes that she’s never come so many times in her life. Celeste is like, “yeah duh,” ’cause she’s a seasoned pro. But as she explains to Yasmin that her wife approved the liaison because they have an open relationship, Yasmin’s interest in Celeste seems to immediately transform. I dunno, I feel like if she’s looking for something illicit and dangerous, f*cking her boss is already in that category regardless of whether or not it’s cheating! Anyhow, I hope they bone again next week.
Raising Kanan Season Two (So Far)
Written by Carmen
I have been sort of kicking the can down the road on how to best write about the second season of Raising Kanan, which is currently airing on Starz. Hailey Kilgore’s performance as Laverne “Jukebox” Ganner — Kanan’s cousin — remains one of the best and most thoughtful portrayals of a teen lesbian, let alone a Black teen lesbian, on television. Hell, she was an Autostraddle TV Awards nominee for her performance in Season One, and she shows no sign of stopping yet. Jukebox is just as riveting as she was last year, just as soulful, carrying in equal weight pain and smile that lights up any room.
The overall problem — from a recapping standpoint — is that the second season of Raising Kanan is moving at a snail’s pace compared to Season One. A family crime drama about a drug dealing matriarch and her teen son, this season has really ascribed to the classic Black motto “it’s chess, not checkers” and it has luxuriated in getting all its pieces in place on the board, admittedly to mixed results. But now we are halfway through the season, and it’s time to see where Jukebox falls in this queenpin’s gambit.
Juke has moved out of her homophobic father’s house and in with her Aunt Raq, Kanan’s mother, who has always supported her. She’s still trying to get her music career off the ground, but the producer at her uncle’s studio has let her know that her tomboy masc appearance won’t… move records. The racist parents of her ex-girlfriend still have it out for her (her girlfriend, Nicole, died of an overdose last year, and Nicole’s parents still blame Jukebox for the drugs Nicole stole from her). She’s been looking into her estranged mother, played by Destiny Child’s LeToya Luckett, who hasn’t been in her life since she was a baby, but is back, in a church, and wants to reconnect with her daughter — but there’s a lot of secrets around her mother that her Aunt Raq seems not to want to tell her.
But what’s actually happening is really underneath all those plot points. And that is the quiet, but no less gorgeous and stunning, character building moments that Hailey Kilgore is putting into Jukebox. She’s a steaming kettle left on the back burner ready to explode, each episode adding another pressure point, another tension. And when she goes off, it’s going to be marvelous. I can’t wait to see.