Shelli Nicole is covering another film festival; this time it’s SXSW. She reviewed Cora Bora and interviewed Meg Statler!!! She reviewed Who I Am Not. She reviewed Bloody Hell. She reviewed Swarm. And she’s not done yet!
The Last of Us’ first season came to a tear-jerking end this week, and of course Nic and Valerie Anne were here to recap it all for you! Also here to recap it all? Drew, with a brand new Drag Race rundown. Heather reviewed Perry Mason’s second season and introduced our new TV Team series, I’ll Watch Anything. Anya introduced you to the queer women of Survivor’s newest season. We heard A League of Their Own was coming back for four more episodes. Then we heard it was still fighting for #MoreThanFour. Riese reminded us of all the sapphic shows that have been cancelled after one season. And Heather made a list of TV comedies where lesbians are actually in on the jokes.
Notes from the TV Team:
+ This week on Tournament of Champions, two chefbians stepped up to face the dreaded randomizer…though, thankfully, they didn’t have to face each other. In the first contest, celebrated pastry chefbian Elizabeth Falkner faced Joey Sasto in a battle that required: chicken thighs as the protein, rutabagas as the produce, metal skewers as the equipment and buttery as the style. Falker offered a Turkish chicken thigh with rutabaga hummus, a dish so creative that I was surpised Falkner didn’t take the victory. She lost by just one point.
In another battle, James Beard award winning chefbian Karen Akunowicz went head-to-head with Christian Petroni. The randomizer forced the chefs to work with pancetta as a protein, arugula as the produce, a ricer as the equipment and boozy as the style. Akunowicz was successful at showcasing the protein and the style in multiple ways which helped her secure the win. There’s a rematch with the chef that defeated Akunowicz in the last edition of TOC. Go gays! — Natalie
+ This week’s episode of NCIS: Hawai’i was a real testament to the growth that Kate Whistler’s undergone over two seasons. She’s no longer the DIA agent to felt like she had to be in control at all times…here, she’s admitting that there’s something she’s not immediately good at and allowing herself to be vulnerable with both Lucy and Jane Tennant. — Natalie
Station 19 610: “Even Better Than the Real Thing”
Written by Carmen
It all started with a lasagna.
In season three of Station 19, when Maya and Carina were still in the verrrry early stages of their relationship, well, there was a lot of sex. But also, there was lasagna. Lasagna baked by Carina and brought to the firehouse to surprise her girlfriend before pressing her hard up against bookcase. There was Maya telling Carina that she didn’t know how to have a girlfriend, because she was worried that she broken. There was Carina telling Maya, “I’m not in the habit of fixing broken people.”
There was them, this lasagna was them.
And I believe that’s why this week, Maya baked Carina a lasagna. Because she was right, she has been broken, but also she is healing and she wants to heal the hurt she’s caused Carina, too. So on her first day back at work, while the rest of Station 19 is out on a call, she tells Jack that she’s going to skip over to Grey Sloane to win back her wife with baked cheese and noodles.
Carina, who is in a meeting with Bailey, doesn’t respond with the warmth Maya was hoping for. Carina’s been asking for space, you see, and Maya is trying to respect those boundaries — but she also wants her wife to know that she’s here. She’s ready to fight for their marriage. But Carina does let her in the office, which is a start. And after Maya leaves, Carina does eat some of the lasagna at Bailey’s suggestion. Her wife made it for her, and she’s been having such a bad day.
That was a mistake, because Maya — overeager, overzealous impatient puppy of a woman Maya — she maaaaybe took the lasagna out a little bit early, in a rush to get it to Carina while it was still hot.
(An aside from the home cook in me: All the parts of lasagna are fully cooked before they go into an oven, and taking it out early should not have caused food poisoning — if anything, just undercooked noodles. But don’t let me ruin a good time!)
Here is Carina, back in the hotel room she’s been living in, sweaty, and nursing a toilet bowl. Maya shows up, having heard about the unintentional pain she’s caused, and at first Carina turns her away. But patiently, Maya stands by the bathroom door. I’d say it was even romantic, if it were not for all the vomiting. And wow, Station 19 sure did commit to the audio effects of the vomiting.
Eventually, when she’s done yelling at Maya, Carina relents. Having gotten it all out — her physical guts, her sticky emotions, her hurt, all of it — she slumps against the bathroom wall. She’s cold. Can Maya bring her a blanket?
Never have I seen a woman sprint across a hotel room to be helpful as quickly as Maya Bishop to bring her wife a blanket, and if I didn’t already know she was a Gold medal winning Olympian, there would be no doubt. In a flash, she’s by Carina’s side, wrapping her softly in a rust colored throw from the bed. Carina leans against Maya, she lets Maya hold her softly, her cheek pressed against the sweat of Carina’s hair. They talk almost in whispers, so much said without being said.
Maya doesn’t want to leave. She’s afraid that if she gets up and walks out the door, she won’t see Carina again. But Carina promises this won’t be their last time.
For one, she’ll call Maya in a few hours so that Maya knows that she’s OK. And for second, well Carina doesn’t say anything about what comes next. But I have a good feeling about this.
Survivor Episode Three: “Sneaky Little Snake”
Written by Anya
What happened with our three gals this episode! Well, at the start of the episode, we go back to the Tika tribe, where everyone is trying to get Sarah on their side. The main take-away from our time with the Tika tribe is that Carolyn is thriving; she and Yam Yam have a truly incredible rapport and friendship that I hope lasts the whole season long (and beyond!).
On the Soka tribe, our girl Frannie is still apparently flirting it up with Matt, and everyone seems to agree that their showmance puts a target on both their backs (I agree), because no one likes to keep people that are so obviously loyal to each other around — it’s threatening!
Firefighter Danny seems to be the only person this season that figured out exactly how to use the birdcage idol — he hid the fake idol back in the birdcage, LITERALLY EATS THE NOTE SAYING IT WAS FAKE, and then Matt discovers the fake idol with the note saying it’s real. Poor Matt! He may be getting played and duped on like, every level!
None of our queer gals are on the red tribe, so not much to share there, although we do learn that Matthew made a fake immunity idol and Jamie discovered it (when she wasn’t busy like, eating every worm she could find) (I mean that literally, she got really into eating worms???).
At the challenge, Claire sits out again, for the third time this season, Jeff is sure to point out. The Soka tribe loses the challenge which means they have to go to tribal. Back at camp, Danny rallies folks to vote out Claire, arguing that she hasn’t contributed at all during the challenges (true).
But the part that REALLY stands out is when Frannie tells Claire who she wants to send home, and how they’ll make it happen. Her face completely shifts when she tells Claire that Matt is “predictable, and extremely malleable.wp_postsCLAIRE! Do those sound like the words of a little lamb in love, or the words of the titular SNEAKY LITTLE SNAKE who will eventually control this game?!?
Unfortunately, Claire does end up getting voted out, and Frannie herself switches her vote to Claire — ultimately, I think, a strategic move to stay aligned with her tribe, when it became clear that nobody else with a vote (Matt lost his in the first episode) wanted to keep Claire around.
Sigh… and then there were two. Let’s see what Carolyn and Frannie do next week!
How I Met Your Father 208: “Rewardishment”
Written by Valerie Anne
This week’s episode is all about Rewardishment. Everyone in the group has something they’ve been putting off, so they give themselves 48 hours to do them. If everyone does their task, they all get a reward. Ellen picks Megabed Sleepover (I have done this, 10/10 highly recommend), and everyone agrees to it. If one of them fails, they all fail, and they have to accept a punishment: drinking shots of the bar’s drink mat drippings.
Some of these things definitely would take more than 48 hours in the real world but we’re in sitcom world so they all get cracking. Ellen’s task is to stand up to her coworker who sits next to her in an open-plan office and puts her bare feet on their desk which, in my opinion, is a war crime. Ellen practices standing up to Rhonda to an empty chair but once she’s faced with Rhonda and her new “office snake”, she can’t do it. So she takes her brother to the office to practice, but Rhonda interrupts. Her snake gets loose and bites Jesse, and Ellen snaps. Even though she put up with months of abuse quietly, as soon as Rhonda’s actions affected someone she loves, Ellen stands up to her.
All of the friends accomplish their goals, though they all take a trip to the ER for one reason or another; but unfortunately Jesse doesn’t nail his hula hooping trick until 10 minutes past the 48 hour mark. So they all take their shots and end up right back to the ER. But they all rage-loved each other into doing their tasks, because friendship, and a win’s a win.
The Watchful Eye 108: “Spellbound”
Written by Valerie Anne
This week, after telling her boyfriend that Ruby is not the key to their fortune, but a baby, and their plan is donezo, Elena heads to the Greybourne to end her undercover adventure. While she’s packing, she gets a visit from Jocelyn, who begs her not to go, saying there’s more to learn.
This takes us to a flashback to 1944, when Jocelyn arrives at the Greybourne to apply for a nanny position. Mrs. Iris Greybourne has two kids, but can’t have any more. After a quick chat, she gets the job, and senses a spark with Iris’s husband Alistair while she’s at it. Eventually this leads to a full-blown affair and a baby; Jocelyn tries to quit, saying the baby daddy is some rando, but Iris offers to take the baby in and make the infant a Greybourne, protecting them for life. Eventually playing nanny to her own daughter takes its toll, and Jocelyn wants to run away with Ruby and Alistair. Alistair gets cold feet, and Iris catches Joceyln stealing her baby back, and in a struggle for Ruby, Jocelyn bashes her head and falls unconscious. Iris calls her brother, a Winthrop, and even though Jocelyn isn’t dead, he yeets her out the window. Then he goes down to the secret basement and kills his brother-in-law and pays the chief of police to say they’re both suicides.
In the present day, Elena goes on an apology/goodbye tour, which ends with her hooking up with Matthew. Which still feels icky even though she quit but whatever.
Ginny and Alex meet up, Alex saying Kim practically floated away after saying goodbye to Ginny. Ginny says she doesn’t want to mess things up, but Alex reassures her that she can’t. Alex says the reason she came is that something fishy happened in the elevator; it seemed like Mrs. Ivy and James knew each other. They do some Nancy Drew-ing and find out that James was fired from being a nanny months ago, so he’s been lying to them for a while.
The last stop on Elena’s tour is Mrs. Ivy’s, where she vouches for Matthew on the way out, but then is distracted by the photo of Jocelyn, Iris, Alistair, and baby Charlotte Ivy. She whispers a goodbye to Jocelyn, and we get one last pop into the flashback one last time and see Iris Greybourne change baby Ruby’s name to Charlotte. After Elena leaves, Mrs. Ivy hears Jocelyn sobbing in the secret room, so she plays the piano to drown it out, which explains why she ignored Elena last night.
On her way out, Elena stops to tell Roman that the money in this building is passed down through the Winthrop line, and Elena just realized that Mrs. Ivy might not be a Winthrop, so maybe, just maybe, they can leverage this info and finish their get-rich-not-so-quick scheme once and for all.
Gotham Knights 101: “Pilot”
Written by Valerie Anne
Despite CWDVTV seemingly going dark, one show slinked out of the shadows: Gotham Knights. It’s about a bunch of teenagers who live in Gotham City, but specifically Bruce Wayne’s adopted son Turner, who starts off the show by trying to get us to feel bad for him because he “doesn’t fit in” with all the other rich kids at his rich kid school, even though he doesn’t seem to have trouble getting half the school to show up to Wayne Manor on a dime for a party. Poor little rich boy.
Other teens of interest are: Turner’s best friend, the tech-savvy Stephanie; a girl named Carrie who turns out to be Batman’s Robin; Duela, who is The Joker’s daughter; a bisexual girl named Harper who is a genius but dropped out of school because her father was abusive, and her trans brother Cullen, who doesn’t want his sister to keep fighting his battles for him.
The premise of the show is that Batman is dead, and Turner, Duela, Harper and Cullen are being framed for his murder. Turner is being accused of wanting to inherit Bruce Wayne’s money faster, and the troublemaking trio is who the GCPD are accusing of being the hired hitmen. Well, hit-teens. DC regular Harvey Dent is seemingly the only non-corrupt cop amongst a sea of corrupt cops, but the A in ACAB doesn’t stand for “a few.” So.
So, the truth is: I am bitter that the CW chose this version of Gotham instead of Ryan Wilder’s Gotham. So that might be tainting my opinion. And pilots are hard. But despite this show being up my alley on paper, I found it a bit…dull. “The cops are corrupt” is not new or exciting, and trading a show about a team of badass and hilarious people lead by a Black lesbian for a team of dramatic teens lead by a straight, cis, white boy feels like a downgrade.
Things I did like about this episode: Obviously love that a bi and trans character were introduced right off the bat. I also like that they’re siblings because more than one kid in a family being LGBTQ+ is more common than TV thinks. And I also liked that Robin is a young Black girl. And I do think Duela is pretty funny. End of list.
Maybe there’s an alternate universe where Javicia Leslie’s Batwoman never existed and Gotham Knights excited me more. But I’m tired of Batman stories for a reason, and I have a feeling a Son of Batman story isn’t going to stray too far enough from that to be my jam. But I’ll keep you updated!
A Million Little Things 506: “Mic Drop”
Written by Natalie
It’s Greta’s birthday! To kick-off their celebration, Katherine surprises her girlfriend with breakfast in bed and then invites Greta to determine what the rest of their celebration will bring using an origami fortune teller…which Katherine calls a “cootie catcher” and, honestly, that revelation is the most shocking thing about this episode (did you know that’s what these things were called?!). The cootie catcher reveals that the couple will be celebrating Greta’s birthday weekend at Martha’s Vineyard.
The fortune teller is just one part of the nostalgic weekend that Katherine has planned, though: they drive to catch the ferry in the exact car that Greta drove in high school. On the radio? Donna Lewis’ 1996 pop earworm, “I Love You Always Forever.” Greta wonders if their trip down memory lane means that Katherine will finally return the hypercolor slap bracelet she borrowed and never returned. They trade jokes about the bracelet and everything is going swimmingly until the VW Bug sputters out and they’re left stranded on the side of the road.
With an hour until the tow truck arrives and no chance of making the ferry, Katherine and Greta opt to take a stroll along a nearby beach. They walk along the beach and happen upon a picnic with a rainbow slap bracelet in the champagne bucket. Greta looks around and realizes that they’re on the beach where she once asked Katherine to Homecoming. Katherine acknowledges that it seemed like the best place to come to right her past wrong. She’s realized that things over the last few years that felt like setbacks were actually just redirecting her path towards Greta.
And then Katherine gets down on one knee and proposes. The very thing she said, three episodes ago, she didn’t want to do. “Never gonna happen,” she said. So much for that. Greta says yes and now they’re engayged. Yay…I guess.
Here’s the thing: this storyline is fine. It’s fine now and, aside from the Greta’s tattoos, it would’ve been fine in 2004 when Massachusetts first legalized gay marriage. That is not a compliment. If TV writers want to pen queer stories to show how committed they are to equality, great…but the way to do it is to afford those queer characters the same complexity and depth afforded to every other character on-screen. AMLT hasn’t done that with Katherine and Greta and it feels like an absolute waste of Grace Park and Cameron Esposito.
Good Trouble 501: “Shot in the Dark”
Written by Natalie
Last season, in the wake of Maia Mitchell’s departure, Good Trouble decided to try something new. The show had always tackled serious issues but only just enough for the audience to feel the emotion, to build the empathy, to understand a character’s motivation, before pivoting towards the character’s experience and activism. It was about creating good and necessary trouble, to paraphrase the late John Lewis, and somewhere, in the crafting of season four, they forgot that. Instead, the show asked the audience to have sympathy for characters they didn’t know (Joaquin’s sister’s cult) and to be moved by circumstances that the show wouldn’t name (Isabella’s mental health). Malika’s storyline notwithstanding, the show became a shell of its former self.
I tuned in this week hoping there’d be some indication that the writers understood their misstep and were looking to right the ship. I did not get that affirmation. Maybe it’s too soon to judge — you can’t turn around a trainwreck of a season in one episode, right? — but they changed the theme song to something far more ominious so I am not optimistic. So what’s going on at the Coterie? Let’s see…
– Mariana’s safe, relatively speaking; it’s Evan whose body we heard hit the ground in last season’s finale. She returns to the Coterie, still caked in his blood, and reports that he’s stable but in a medically induced coma. Mariana spends most of the episode by Evan’s side at the hospital, being interrogated by his ghost. Evan’s attorney stops by to alert Mariana that Evan made her his proxy: she’s the acting interim CEO of Speckulate.
She’s stunned but doesn’t give into the emotional weight of any of it until she walks into her loft to find her best friend/sister standing there. CALLIE’S BACK, Y’ALL!
– Malika returns to the Councilwoman Lucia Morales’ office and receives a hero’s welcome for stopping the sweep. She pitches an idea to Lucia: use her discretionary fund to address the immediate housing needs of those living at the encampment. Lucia’s interest is peaked and she rewards Malika with a job offer: deputy policy director. I’m shocked, Lucia’s chief of staff is shocked and Malika needs a little time to consider the opportunity.
But now, suddenly, Malika has an work/life balance issue. I don’t mind that this is an issue — it’s a real issue for a lot of political staffers — I mind that it’s being brought up when the circumstances of Malika’s life haven’t changed. She opts to take the job but establishes some firm boundaries in hopes of achieving a better work/life balance.
– Apparently, someone in the Good Trouble writers’ room heard about Reboot’s cancellation so they decided to take one of their stories and give it to Alice. Thanks to Sumi, she gets an opportunity to join the writers’ room — with three cantankerous, but funny, old white men — on “America’s Funniest Ferrets & Friends.”
– Isabella and Gael have a beautiful baby girl (Lyric) and Isabella insists on keeping her. She apologizes directly to Jazmin and her husband and, though clearly heartbroken, they are far more gracious about it than I would be. Gael’s still stunned by Isabella’s about face and hopes she’ll come to her senses once the euphoria of new parenthood wears off. Isabella overhears the confession and, the first time they’re separated — Gael’s out buying diapers — she takes the baby and runs.
Truth Be Told 309: “Only Little Secrets”
Written by Natalie
Surprising absolutely no one, Eva’s a suspect in the murder of Andrew Finney. Detective Aames shares that cameras caught Eva in the parking garage minutes before the murder and Poppy responds by telling Aames about Eva’s likely motive: she was once one of Finney’s trafficked girls. Aames urges Poppy to stay away from Eva now that she’s a suspect but, of course, Poppy doesn’t listen. She shows up at the high school…not to warn Eva about the police investigation but to search Eva’s office when the principal steps out. I try not to hate Poppy in this moment for being more invested in solving Finney’s murder than helping a friend grapple the the trauma she pushed to unearth.
For her part, Eva’s consuming all the news of Finney’s death, as if she needs the reassurance that the monster that destroyed her life is finally gone. She presses Poppy on investigating and bringing down more of the johns and insists that this is how she’ll heal from her trauma. She joins Poppy at her home, watching the videos used to blackmail the johns. Among those videos? One of Andrew Finney with an underage girl. Eva watches the video and recognizes the girl (Nadia) from her days in the trafficking ring. If they track Nadia down, Eva surmises, they might be able to bring down the trafficking ring once and for all. Poppy tries to reign Eva in but the principal refuses to be slow-walked. Eva puts it to Poppy plainly: she knows Nadia’s last name and if Poppy wants to find her, she’ll need Eva’s help.
“Oh, yeah…ain’t no fun when the rabbit got the gun, huh?” Eva asks mockingly (I laugh impossibly hard at this).
Sometime later, Poppy stops by Eva’s office again and finds her phone left unattended and unlocked on her desk. She picks it up and checks Eva’s Questeur DMs (her name is @Bottom2TopEnergy and, again, I find myself laughing out loud). This time, though, Poppy is caught snooping and Eva asks the podcaster what she really wants. Poppy insists that she just wants the truth and Eva invites her to explain what the truth is, as she sees it. Poppy claims that Eva lied to her and just used Poppy to get closer to Finney…and when she couldn’t get justice, she went to see him. Realizing that Poppy thinks she killed Finney, Eva tells her what she told the cops: she didn’t kill Finney but she wishes she had.
“I wish I could trust you,” Poppy admits.
“Did you ever?” Eva shoots back.
Turns out Eva was telling the truth: a witness saw a younger girl pick up the car that killed Finney. To get back at Poppy for her lack of trust, Eva calls her podcast company and shares the truth about Poppy withholding information. But, after a candid talk with Trini, Eva recognizes that she went too far and reaches out to Poppy to make amends. They go together to meet Nadia.
After Eva apologizes and recommits to making amends, Nadia offers her forgiveness. But Eva quest to make amends may have died on the courthouse steps: she jumps in front of a gunman aiming for Trini and takes a bullet to the gut