Quiet week on the TV front — until today! There’s so much goodness for you in here! But first, this week, Heather wrote about Amity and Luz’s groundbreaking kiss on The Owl House and also recapped Gentleman Jack. And Riese rolled out this month’s guide to what’s gay on streaming on all the platforms!
Notes from the TV Team:
+ Top Chef concluded its 19th season last night and Jo Chan, one of the show’s queer cheftestants, returned to serve as the soup chef to Evelyn Garcia for her final presentation. Working together, they created a four course tasting menu that bridged the gap between the Mexican dishes that Garcia had grown up with and the Southeast Asian flavors she’d grown to love. Though Garcia would come up short in her quest to be crowned Top Chef, the dishes she and Chan put forward were amazing, particularly the second course of crystal shrimp and corn dumplings. — Natalie
+ Outfest’s second annual LGBTQIA+ television festival, The OutFronts, kicks off this weekend and if you’re a fan of queer television — which, I mean, obviously — you’ll want to make time for the festivities. In addition to some live, local panels, this year’s event features panels on our favorite shows that you can watch from the comfort of your couch. Be sure to make time for The 4400′s panel, featuring the show’s creators, cast and incredibly queer writing team, moderated by Autostraddle’s own, Shelli Nicole! — Natalie
+ One of our favorite shows of 2020 is finally back: P-Valley debuts its second season tonight on Starz. We love Uncle Clifford but here’s hoping that the Pynk adds a few queer ladies to its roster in the new season. If nothing else, you can guarantee that the soundtrack will be absolute fire. — Natalie
Stranger Things Season Four, Part One
Written by Carmen
My favorite 80s lesbian Robin came back for Season Four of Stranger Things and not to get too far into the weeds of spoilers — it’s hard to explain the twists and turns of the Upside Down anyway, plus now maybe there’s ghosts!?!? — but she had very little to do.
In our first scene with Robin, she’s riding around with Steve (who’s turned into a surprisingly effective lesbro? Did not see that coming!) lamenting that she still hasn’t asked her crush, Vickie, out on a date — because this is the 1980s, in a small town in Indiana, and asking the wrong girl that question can get very bad, very quickly. Steven reminds Robin that because of their job at the Family Video (our spooky bbs have upgraded from their jobs working as ice cream scoopers), they know that Vickie is G-A-Y, because she always returns her movies frozen where the women kiss. So. There’s that.
(Also because Vickie is played by Anne with an E’s Amybeth McNulty.)
I felt a lot of hope way back then, at the start of episode one, but as I slowly binged my way through all eight episodes that spark went out entirely. Don’t get me wrong, Maya Hawke is still one of the best things about the show, with a easy charisma on camera that cannot be taught (shout out to family genes! Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawke!) but that she skillfully deploys like a true master of her tools. And they do try and play up Robin’s crush on Vickie, who’s also in the band. But for all of the sci-fi mystery whodunit’s and ghost stories and Russians and demogorgons and travels into the Upside Down universe — all of which make excellent use of Maya’s comedic timing and appeal, finding time for Robin to have a girlfriend was simply asking too much.
I think on its own, it would have bothered me less. Admittedly I think Stranger Things 4 is struggling with a bit of cast bloat overall, no one is getting their proper time to shine. And arguably, none of the Stranger Things kids had huge love stories this year. Everyone’s busy as the main mystery unfolds (and whew does it unfold! When all the pieces slotted together in the final episode of Part One, I had full body chills).
But Maya’s sidelining doesn’t happen on its own. Will, who’s character’s disappearance kicked off to the entire franchise, is obviously struggling with gay feelings of his own — and his apparent crush on Mike. Will’s been clocked as gay by Stranger Things fans for years now. I was excited to see Will finally deal with his feelings on screen. Instead, much like with Robin, early hints of an exciting gay storyline just fizzle out with time. In recent interviews Noah Schnapp, who plays Will, hasn’t given much hope that this will even be addressed later — saying that Will’s sexuality “is up to audience interpretation.”
Stranger Things 4, Part Two drops in July. And I’m hopeful that these loose threads of gay get picked back up to a satisfying conclusion before the summer’s over! But for right now, it’s left a real bad taste in my mouth. We’re talking about Netflix’s most watched property! (I can’t help but wonder if that’s one of the reasons why the gay characters are getting sidelined). It’s like swallowing a bitter pill to watch them botch this so royally. It’s hard not to feel like in a sci-fi alternative universe where demon dogs raise from hell and telekinesis is just an average Tuesday — it was the gays that were bridge too far.
Lovestruck High Season One
Written by Natalie
Can I be honest? I did not expect to write about Lovestruck High. I mean, the show was ridiculous…and terrible…and I didn’t want the fact that I’d spent even an hour indulging in it to be memorialized in any way. But, as the show wrapped up its season this week, I found myself walking away with two thoughts: first, despite all the cringey moments you have to suffer through to get there, there’s something touching about what — however unwittingly — ends up being the show’s overall message: love can defy all expectations. Second, and perhaps more importantly: there should be more dating shows featuring queer people. Hopefully those dating shows that are way, way better than this one but still…this show is made infinitely better by the presence of queer people. More shows should follow its lead.
Okay, I should back up and explain what this show is…
Lovestruck High brings together 15 UK singles to live out the American high school experience…or, at least, something like it (classes mostly end up being an excuse to flirt/make-out or throw shade at others). While they’re in school, they’ll meet and interact with one another and, hopefully, spark a love connection. If the couple can successfully navigate the landmines of high school — including the show’s periodic expulsions — and earn the votes of their peers, they’ll be crowned Prom Royalty and take home a $100k prize. What’s different about Lovestruck High is how queer it is: of the show’s 20 contestants, half of them are queer. And if that weren’t enough? Who’s there to guide you through all the cringe-worthy nonsense but the bi-con herself, Lindsay Lohan. Unsurprisingly, Mean Girls references abound.
– One of the queer women gets eliminated.
– One of the straight women? Not so straight, as it turns out.
– Two of the queer women end up going down unexpected romantic paths.
Who ends up with whom? How’s everything shake out? Check it out for yourself: Lovestruck High is now streaming on Prime Video.
Charmed 411: “Divine Secrets of the O.G. Sisterhood”
Written by Valerie Anne
This week opens at Dev’s funeral, where the Charmed Ones are unaware that elsewhere, the Unseen are using the stolen Book of Shadows to recreate the unity bowl in their quest to resurrect the Lost One. Devastated, Kaela decides the life of a Charmed One comes at much too high a price and she storms off. Maggie tries to follow, but when she gets back to the manor, Kaela and her bus are gone.
Mel stays back at the bar with Roxy, because she’s trying to be better about not prioritizing witch business over relationships, and Roxy needs help finding her tiny band. They go to their wee house and find one of them dead, so they follow tiny footprints to find their bandmate.
On the road, Kaela’s bus breaks down and she meets one of the original Charmed Ones (like, in history…not Phoebe, Piper, Prue, or even Paige.) Her name is Ishani and she wants to help Kaela and her sisters avoid the mistakes she and her triad made. The Lost One is an original Charmed One.
Eventually Mel and Roxy learn that the missing Beebop murdered his bandmates for the Lost One, and Mel runs off to find her sisters. Before she goes, Roxy kisses her and tells her she’ll miss her, but Mel doesn’t get the message and promises to be right back. Before she does get back, though, Roxy leaves Mel a voicemail saying she’s not hard to be with, then climbs into her coffin for another seven-year slumber.
After Ishani convinces Kaela that the magic chose her and she has to choose it back, Kaela rejoins her sisters, just in time to watch the Lost One rise. The Lost One wants to end the concept of the Charmed Ones. She drinks of the Unity Bowl and takes back their power; she wants to be the Source. I think? Honestly her past and present motivations are a bit blurry to me but all I know for sure is: the Charmed Ones are in trouble.
Legacies 418:”By the End of This, You’ll Know Who You Were Meant to Be”
Written by Valerie Anne
The Super Squad is still ramping up to fight the Ken Doll God; Cleo is learning that her visions are more…tactile than she realized, and that when she started interfering with her Oracle visions, she became a Fury.
Ben tells the Squad they need, quite literally, fire and brimstone, so the wolves get to work. (Including Finch! Hi, Finch!) Hope trains and avoids answering the question of who has to set off the brimstone explosion because she knows that person will likely die.
Now, I have been fully skipping recapping the underworld storyline except when Hope popped down there because it feels like an entirely different show, but this week’s revealed one fact I felt was worth sharing: Death is a woman. Okay, specifically the Ferryman is a Ferrywoman, a god, and she is played by Tasya Teles, who I love.
Okay, back to business: Lizzie tells Hope that she loves MG but was afraid to ask herself if she loves him back, and Hope understands; she asked herself the question she’d been avoiding and the answer was worse than she feared. The person who has to set off the explosion and probably die? It’s Lizzie.
Between being able to siphon Ken, and by nature of being a Heretic, she has the best chance of both defeating Ken and maybe even surviving. It’s truly their only hope. Lizzie is proud of Hope for actually considering the best course of action instead of trying to martyr herself, and Hope is proud of Lizzie for being so calm and rational in the face of chaos.
The school throws them a pre-victory party, maybe for the ones who might not live to see them win. But in Hope’s speech she makes it very clear: they will win. And she sounds like she almost believes it. Almost.
But unbeknownst to them, the battle has already begun, and Kaleb is the first casualty. I’m REALLY hoping they (or maybe Jen?) can undo that somehow, because Kaleb is one of my faves and even though this show is ending, I don’t want that to be his fate.