Welcome to a full week of having A League of Their Own in our lives! I am so proud of our extensive coverage, of how we’ve managed to stay right on pace with huge mainstream sites on our review and recaps, and beat out nearly all other publications on our fun non-recap coverage. It just goes to show you how important it is for us to get access to screeners, which our whole senior team did for this show. So thank you to everyone who always makes sure we stay in these conversations, even demanding screeners and interview for us on social media. It matters so much that we get to be a leading voice in these conversations!
With that in mind: Kayla kicked us off with her spoiler-free A League of Their Own review. Heather and Carmen have recapped the whole show in a week. (Carmen’s finale recap will be up later today.) Riese brought us the Which A League of Their Own Character Are You quiz that we all needed. Carmen made a comprehensive list of all the shout-outs to the original film. Heather interviewed Melanie “Jo de Luca” Field and Roberta Colindrez & Priscilla Delgado. And, finally, Riese took us on a historical deep dive of the AAGPBL and a modern day walk through the unhinged homophobic reviews over on Amazon. Oh, and here’s our whole team playing softball as little kids.
Also this week, we got the trailer for Tegan and Sara’s TV show. Himani reviewed Never Have I Ever. Kayla brought you more exciting Yellowjackets casting news. Valerie recapped Motherland: Fort Salem. Natalie recapped Good Trouble. And Natalie, Shelli, A. Tony, and Carmen wrote about P-Valley. Kayla also reviewed Bodies, Bodies, Bodies!
Notes from the TV Team:
+ Raising Kanan is back for Season Two, and in the first episode there isn’t a ton of Jukebox, though we learn she’s moved into Kanan and Aunt Raq’s house officially, is still (rightfully) not talking to her father after his homophobic violence last year, and she’s getting interested in finding her absent mom again. Previous casting already announced her mother will be long lost Destiny’s Child member Letoya Luckett, and I’m excited to see Raising Kanan doubling-down on Juke as the heartbeat of the show. — Carmen
+ Reservation Dogs has always been, part comedy, part meditation on grief and this week, the show brings those two facets together in a beautiful, but unexpected, way. Kawennáhere Devery Jacobs does double duty this week: penning the episode alongside the show’s creator, Sterlin Harjo, and portraying Elora, in a return to the rez, as she’s forced to grapple with yet another death. — Natalie
+ If you are looking for a visually fun, tonally silly, but surprisingly deep cartoon-for-adults, may I recommend Tuca and Bertie? It’s on HBO Max and it’s pretty gay and has a lot of fun voice actors. It just had been a minute since we mentioned it here and there was recently an episode that encapsulated the inherent queerness of obsessive teenage friendships and I thought I’d share! — Valerie Anne
+ Rap Sh!t feels like we are about to see more of The Duke a.k.a Chasity (Jonica Booth) as this week it’s all but official that she will become the girls manager. There are only two episodes left so here is hoping that we get to see more of The Duke of Miami and get a little bit deeper into their story. — Shelli Nicole
+ There is a new show on Hulu called Hotties, it’s sorta like NEXT meets Hot Ones and it’s weird and a little bit gay as two episodes feature some dykin’ dates. Two couples are set up on blind dates where they cook spicy foods for each other, during it they eat increasingly hot snacks as mini-challenges. At the end, the couple with the best dish can choose to take $2500 and go on a second date or split the cash and never see each other again. It’s no Love Island or Are You The One? but it can scratch your reality dating show itch. Anyway, this show is low-key gross and odd, and ain’t no way in hell I’m eating and cooking spicy foods, in a hot ass RV, in the middle of the desert on a first, second, or fifth date — but good luck out there in the streets. — Shelli Nicole
+ Look, if you’re not watching Harley Quinn’s third season, get on it! It’s even gayer than season two, and Harley and Ivy are growing as people, as supervillains, and as a couple. This week’s episode is an upside down homage to Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman, and while it’s light on the Harlivy, it’s still really funny. — Heather
The Undeclared War Season One
Written by Natalie
A couple of years ago, Heather asked the TV team, “how and why do you like to be scared by TV and movies?” And while my initial inclination was to be like, “not ever,” the more I thought about it, the more I realized the medium mattered. I can’t do horror scary but thriller scary? That I can do. And The Undeclared War is thriller scary… scary in that way that the dystopian future it imagines in 2024 could easily one day be ours.
In Undeclared War, the UK has been hit by a Russian cyber-attack that inserts malware into the country’s cyber infrastructure, disrupting almost everything…except, interestingly enough, social media. The attack comes just as Saara Parvin (Hannah Khalique-Brown) is starting as an intern at GCHQ, the UK’s equivalent of the NSA. She’s thrown in the deep end of the pool on her first day but her boss — annoyed by her presence — gives her busy work to do. Of course, Saara is a badass…and she manages to uncover a second virus embedded in the first.
Saara’s success leads to her being alienated from GCHQ’s techbros who don’t appreciate being shown up by a rookie. She continues her search — for a solution to the problem, for a sign of what’s to come — with the help of Kathy Freeman (Maisie Richardson-Sellers), a NSA agent working with the GCHQ. After discovering a portion of code that connects to a nearby tech conference, the two head there to meet one of malware’s authors. As they’re readying for the meet, the two decompress in Kathy’s hotel room with a beer. It’s Saara’s first time drinking alcohol and, when she overhears Kathy talking on the phone with her father, she chugs it down.
Tipsy, Saara confesses that her father just died — also on her first day at GCHQ — and she suspects it was a suicide. Kathy comforts her and, after breaking down in her arms, Saara kisses her. Recognizing that Saara’s acting out of a vulnerable place, Kathy pushes her away. Still, they’re drawn to each other after that…so much so that when Kathy’s given the option to return back to the States, she doesn’t go. Eventually, they give into their attraction but the circumstances remain untenable: chiefly, Saara’s live-in boyfriend, James.
Saara: Where are we going with this, ’cause I’m confused. Last night, we were making love, in case you’ve forgotten…
Kathy: Ohmigod, are we really going to do this now? (Sighs.) Um, it’s a friendship, alright?
Saara: (Scoffs) A friendship? What, like a holiday romance?
Kathy: You’re living with James, Saara. Where do you think it’s going?
Saara: What if I wasn’t…living with James?
Kathy: Come and talk to me when you’re not.
That’s the extent of their on-screen relationship. Kathy is recalled back to the States. We don’t even get to see the contents of Kathy’s goodbye note…though, whatever it says, it forces Saara to admit that she’s cheated to James. It’s an unsatisfying end but what we’re given is compelling, due in large part to the chemistry between the pair. Also compelling and underdeveloped? Saara’s relationship with her family and her faith. When her brother, an Imam in training, learns about her work at GCHQ, he chastises her joining an operation that constantly surveils the Muslim community. While he eventually relents, I’d gladly watch an entire series that grapples with that tension.
Ultimately, Saara’s relationships are a sideshow. It’s the work — the undoing of the malware, the unearthing of deep fakes, the thwarting of hacking and election tampering, etc. — that’s the real star…and given how close it is to becoming reality, it’s scarier than any horror movie you could imagine. The Undeclared War is now streaming on Peacock.
The Chi 508: “Sweet Thing”
Written by Natalie
It’s Valentine’s Day in the Chi and everyone’s scrambling to make dinner plans with their lady love, including Victor who finds himself trolling the aisles of the local drug store for the perfect card. He shuffles through the options to find the perfect card — presumably for Fatima — and then makes his way to check out…only to pause, stop and return to the aisle to indiscriminately pick another card, presumably for Tierra.
Victor delivers the card to Fatima and wishes her a “Happy Valentine’s Day.” He apologizes for his behavior the other night, admitting that he was hurt by the thought of her with someone else. They both admit that they like each other and Victor expresses interest in building something real betweem them. But it’ll have to wait: Victor remains constricted by the demands of his campaign. Fatima dismisses his interest. Victor offers a meek protest but he can’t give Fatima any of the definitive answers she needs or deserves. He asks if they can get together later — after he takes care of some business (read: goes on a Valentine’s date with his fake girlfriend) — and Fatima gives him a weak, “maybe” (read: yes). Victor steps up to kiss Fatima goodbye but she puts her hand on his chest and stops him.
When it’s time to take care of some business, though, Victor couldn’t be more disinterested. He barely wants to to put in any effort into going out with Tierra but she reminds him that there’s no showmance without the show. Tierra invites Victor’s best friend, Shaad, and his girlfriend to join them at the Signature Club which Victor protests until he realizes that he won’t be the one paying. At dinner, Victor is loathe to engage in the charade any further, failing to remember that he has an audience in Deja who doesn’t know the relationship is a hoax. Shaad chides him to put his phone down — he’s no doubt texting Fatima and trying to lock up plans for later — and focus on the “beautiful queen” right next to him. Unbeknownst to their partners, Tierra swoons at Shaad’s compliments while Deja gets annoyed that he’s dishing out compliments to another woman right in front of her.
Back at home, Shaad catches Tierra refreshing her make-up and notes that she “looks good enough to eat.” He inquires about the plans for the rest of her night but before Tierra can answer, Victor steps in and warns Shaad to worry about his own valentine. Tierra defends Shaad but Victor insists he was being a little too nice. But, of course, Victor doesn’t want Tierra so he leaves to entertain Fatima. At their dinner he, once again, promises “no more secrets” and, once again, Fatima pretends like she believes him. I don’t know how Victor expects this all to end but I can already see it won’t be good for him.
Meanwhile, Shaad’s forced to call it an early night when Deja abandons him after overhearing him complimenting Tierra again. But then Tierra shows up…having been brushed aside by Victor and Roselyn, she’s looking for someone who wants her and tonight, that’s Shaad. He resists at first but eventually the pair fall into bed together. I can’t wait until Victor hears about this.
“Sweet Thing” also makes a stop at Nina and Dre’s place as the two celebrate Valentine’s Day. It’s cute and everything…they go out for a bit and then eschew their plans to return home and cuddle up on the couch. They wrap their arms around each other and watch their wedding video together. They reaffirm their commitment to each other and make love. Again, it’s cute….but I can’t help but wonder how they got here. Last time we saw Dre and Nina, they were arguing over the decision to foster Lynae. Nina was skeptical that their relationship would survive now everything’s great and we’re supposed to swoon over their rekindled romance? No thanks. I’ll take Dre and Nina seriously again when The Chi does.
The Ms. Pat Show: Season Two
Written by Natalie
Early in the second season of The Ms. Pat Show, Pat’s eldest daughter, Ashley, and her girlfriend (Tanika, played by Miya Golden) show up together for the funeral service for Ashley’s grandmother. It’s an auspicious circumstance under which to meet the family for the first time but Tanika arrives dressed to impress, looking dapper enough to be somebody’s studsband. Surprised by her daughter’s guest, Pat, pulls Ashley into a “muted” conversation:
Pat: Now’s not the time to be introducing us to your new stamp.
Ashley: How is she a stamp?
Pat: Ain’t this the bitch you be licking?
Tanika: (pulls Ashley towards her) You need to tell your mama people don’t lick stamps no more. She need to upgrade her homophobia.
Pat: (pulls Ashley back towards her) Tell Lena Waithe I heard her.
Is it a tad offensive? Maybe. Do I laugh hysterically anyway? Absolutely. That, in a nutshell, is The Ms. Pat Show. But beneath the show’s irreverant humor, there’s a commitment to addressing some serious issues, head on…most of which reflect moments from the eponymous star’s real life. In particular, the show’s handling of abortion this season is probably one of the best I’ve seen. It’s rare that we get to see a married woman, with kids, consider abortion on television and even rarer to see it done so unapologetically.
As with the first season, Ashley isn’t a big fixture but, as with Pat’s other kids, she gets an episode where she’s part of the central story. In it, Pat comes to Chicago to perform at a local comedy club and stays at the apartment Ashley and Tanika share. Though she’s accepted her daughter’s sexuality, in theory, seeing it in practice takes a little getting used to…and it comes out in the form of homophobic jokes. Ashley tries to check her mama’s behavior before it gets too egregious and encourages her to be nice to the woman she loves but Pat’s gon’ be Pat.
The girls give up their master bedroom to Pat for her stay and, as she’s hanging her jacket up, their box of sex toys tumble out of the closet and onto the floor. Tanika and Ashley rush in when they hear Pat groan, only to catch Pat having successfully dislodged a rainbow-striped suction cup dildo from the floor. Tanika admits that she feels violated by the invasion of privacy but Pat insists that she was the one nearly killed by a “dick-alanche.” Jokes aside, Pat tries her best to be the warm, accepting mother that Ashley so desperately wants her to be. But when she discovers Tanika’s cheating on her daughter, all bets are off. Ashley, however, doesn’t see it that way. Instead of recognizing her mother’s concern, she chalks it up to Pat still being angry that she’s a lesbian.
Ashley and her mother eventually make amends, as she returns to Pat’s, broken-hearted over Tanika’s cheating. Hopefully, Ashley will stay a while and she’ll be a bigger part of TMPS‘s third season.
Only Murders in the Building 209: “Sparring Partners”
Written by Valerie Anne
Alice has returned! Briefly, but at least I’m not being gaslit by this show that she never existed anymore. After the blackout shenanigans are over, Mabel returns to her apartment to find Alice waiting for her in the hallway. She has an apology gift, a puzzle, and Mabel reluctantly accepts. She asks if Alice is there to steal more of her trauma for art, but she’s not. She just came to give her the puzzle she hand-made for her, as an apology. Mabel softens a little and says actually she wants to thank Alice, for helping her realize that she doesn’t want her life to be all about her trauma. Her life is more than the bad things that have happened to her. Alice gets hopeful for a moment, but Mable quickly clarifies; she likes Alice, she does, but she can’t trust her anymore. So they can’t be together.
Mabel ends up putting Alice’s puzzle together, and it’s a puzzle of a painting as Mabel as Frida Kahlo, listening to Cinda Canning’s podcast. And this inspires her to put some pieces of their metaphorical puzzle together, and realize that their current mystery is tied into the mystery from All Is Not OK in Oklahoma, which centered around the disappearance of Becky Butler. When Mabel goes to confront Cinda’s assistant Poppy about her suspicions, and Poppy reveals that actually SHE’S Becky Butler.
Roswell 410: “Down in a Hole”
Written by Valerie Anne
Well, Kyle is back in Roswell and things are sufficiently weird between him and Isobel. Even their hug feels bad. So Isobel distracts herself by focusing on bonding with her former mentor as they uncover long hidden memories.
In other queer news, Shivani is excited that Sheriff Liz is the one who took over when Liz agrees to make more alien mist. Liz wants to make sure no one they love is ever hurt again, no matter the cost.
After Liz and Shivani take another hit of the limitless mist, they bring a frog bag to life. Shivani is ready to try it on her daughter right away but Liz tells her to pump the breaks; which is good because the frog dies not too long after.
Liz’s loved ones are starting to notice she’s different; when she goes to get more blood from Rosa, she is short with her, borderline cruel, calling her a junkie when Rosa accuses her of being hooked on the mist.
When the frog does die, Shivani wants to try again, but Liz wants to move on; she knows they’re more likely to be able to find a cure for whatever made Nicole sick than to bring Nicole back to life, but Shivani is desperate.
American Horror Stories Episode 206: “Bloody Mary”
Written by Drew
I’m going to critique this week’s episode of American Horror Stories but I’m critiquing it as a work of art — that in itself is a good sign.
Directed by SJ Main Muñoz and written by Angela Harvey, this episode follows four Black girls — including two sisters — who say Bloody Mary in the mirror three times and summon none other than Dominique Jackson. Jackson’s Bloody Mary presents each of the girls with a task in exchange for their wishes to come true.
Jackson is great as always, as is Quvenzhané Wallis as Bianca, the younger sister. All the performances are strong, it’s well-directed, the dialogue is sharp, there is one extremely effective twist, and it’s actually scary! This is easily one of the show’s best episodes as low as that bar may be.
But I have two frustrations. The first is minor: while it’s always great to see Dominique Jackson and Angelica Ross, by casting them as cis women, the American Horror Story franchise continues to miss opportunities to explicitly explore transness in horror. The more pressing issue is the way the episode uses real history and ends up thematically very muddled.
I like when horror is grounded in real history and real issues. And yet the idea that Bloody Mary is cursed because she murdered a white woman and her Black accomplice who sent her back to slavery is baffling. As is Bloody Mary’s revenge being taken out on this group of young Black girls. It reminds me of the disappointing Candyman remake that introduced real historical pain without the needed focus.
There is so much to explore with race and transness and history within the horror genre. But referencing something, portraying something, is not the same as exploring something.