Friends, hello and welcome back to another queer TV round-up. You’ve probably noticed that we are the only publication on earth that tries very hard to cover every single TV show with LGBTQ+ women and nonbinary people — and you also probably realize what a rare and very cool thing that is. If you like what we do here, it’s an awesome time to donate to our help us stay thriving and swooning over stories with you. We’re on day two of our 2022 fundraiser and already HALFWAY to our goal.
This week, Darcy ranked Buffy scenes by absurdity. Riese brought you Generation Q’s season three premiere photos. Kayla wrote the heck out of horror history in her coverage of Queer for Fear. Heather cackled and screeched about Monarch. And Drew reviewed Please Baby Please.
Notes from the TV Team:
+ Reminder: The NWSL will crown its new champion tomorrow, in primetime (!), on CBS (!!), as the Portland Thorns face the Kansas City Current at Audi Field in Washington, D.C. — Natalie
+ Starting Monday, queer badasses Amy Schneider and Mattea Roach return for the Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions! — Natalie
+ Nate’s got a boyfriend on All American: Homecoming! She tried to keep it a secret because the last time she and Nico dated, hearts were broken and tears were shed. Suffice to say, the reunion does not go over well with his BFF, Keisha, or with the crew that Nico’s alienated in his role as SGA president. — Natalie
+ Another Helms sighting on this week’s Grey’s Anatomy! Stop toturing us! Bring our girl back home. — Carmen
Vampire Academy 110: “Ascension”
Written by Valerie Anne
The season finale of Vampire Academy was action-packed to say the least. The Strigoi attack is in full swing and only the Royals are able to get out like it’s some kind of fucked up vampire Titanic. Even Mia, who is Moroi but not Royal (at least, not today), can’t get on a van. And of course, once they’re safe, they don’t plan on coming back for more vamps until sunlight, so it’s every vamp for themselves.
Rose was well on her way out of town before all this chaos, but as soon as she senses Lissa in danger, she’s back in a heartbeat.
Meredith knows about some tunnels she thinks they can use to take some down, and Rose will use her Strigoi senses to help them. Meredith is shady about why she knows about what we learn are Alchemist tunnels, but we never really get an answer there so we better get a Season 2.
Mia eventually finds Lissa and helps her get away from the rioting vamps, but Lissa can’t bring herself to leave when she has healing powers and there are so many injured people around. So they stay behind. Andrei escapes his captivity and finds his sister, who is thrilled to learn her brother is alive…only to see him get killed by Strigoi right in front of her. Though what she doesn’t see is that actually he was turned…
Eventually Meredith and Mia are reunited, and Mia cries into Meredith’s shoulder. They have to separate briefly to fight, but Mia uses her illegal battle magic to save Meredith. Later, when things die down, Meredith finds Mia in her room and at first they just cry and hold each other. Mia asks Meredith to stay, and Meredith kisses her as a response…but then gives her a quiet, “yeah,” for good measure. They’re safe for now, and more importantly, they’re together.
Meanwhile, Lissa and Rose quite literally drive off into the sunset together, but somehow they’re not the gay ones on this show. Sure, Jan.
I really liked the worldbuilding this show did this season and I hope this isn’t the last we see of these plucky vamps and their complicated politics.
Survivor 4306: “Mergatory”
Written by Anya
My favorite moment in this episode happens early on — when Owen is listing out all the various idols, advantages, and disadvantages at play right now. You know who is the ONLY PERSON who has told no one about her idol? Yes, that’s right, Karla! The ability to keep this to herself speaks volumes for her game play (and we, ahem, saw this strategy work *quite well* for someone in the *very recent past*).
As host Jeff Probst likes to remind us whenever he gets a chance, Survivor is full of twists and turns — the contestants have to compete to make the merge. Everyone draws rocks to determine teams, and Noelle draws the gray rock, meaning she must sit out and choose which team to align with — win or lose. Noelle chooses the blue team, which is, notably Karla’s team! Karla gives the challenge her all, so much so that she hits her hand hard enough that it’s bleeding everywhere — but she never gives up, and blue manages to PULL OFF THE WIN! Wow. This means the blue team is safe at tribal tonight, but everyone else is at risk of going home. At the merge feast, Karla enjoys some much-deserved food and beer. I’m starting to get a sense that one of Karla’s biggest assets is her ability to simply listen — it’s one thing to be emotionally intelligent (which she is) and it’s another thing to be able to absorb and retain information without letting on that you’re doing so. Everyone’s scrambling to make a vote after the feast, and the only person who seems grounded and calm throughout is Karla (of course). Elie, in particular, is trying to pull off way too many things at once, and unluckily for her, Gabler is dead set on voting her out. The votes are all over the place at Tribal, but Elie goes home. Somewhat confusingly, Karla cast her vote for Owen — I’m not quite sure what she was going for with that, to be honest! Maybe she knew there were enough votes for Elie and she wanted to be able to say he didn’t play a perfect game at the end? Hope we find out next week!
9-1-1 606: “Tomorrow”
Written by Natalie
Early into 9-1-1‘s run, the show gave us Hen’s backstory: the story of how she went from a career in pharmaceuticals to the badass firefighter/paramedic that we all know and love. But this week, the show endeavors to take us a bit deeper into Hen’s world: with the beginning of Hen and Karen’s (#HenRen) love story.
Hen and Karen’s love didn’t come so effortlessly. Karen shows up for her blind date (in 2010) acting completely stand-offish and like she’d rather be anywhere else. Hen calls out her attitude and Karen is both taken aback and charmed. The two settle into an easy rapport. Hen has such a good time that she can’t even be too mad at her BFF, Howie, for ambushing her with an unexpected blind date with his neighbor. Howie makes no apologies, he needed to push Hen to get over her toxic ex, Eva.
But even if Hen’s over her ex when she meets Karen, she’s not immediately ready to jump into something serious…and Karen seems like the serious type. Karen insists that she could not be so serious this time and the pair fall into bed together. Of course, eventually, they do get serious until Eva re-emerges — with the offer to give Hen custody of her unborn son — and breaks them up. But when Hen gets injured at work, Karen rushes back and they reconcile.
Back in the present, Hen still hasn’t submitted her final resignation paperwork. Karen pushes her wife to submit her papers to Bobby so that she can fully move onto the next chapter in her life. Hen agrees to talk to her captain later but before she can, Diedre, the social worker, shows up. Because of their situation, #HenRen have been taken off the agency’s emergency placement list much to Hen’s surprise. Hen pushes back but Diedre reminds Hen that her life is about to change, dramatically…a realization that Hen hadn’t fully grasped until that moment.
With Hen technically unemployed, Denny joins his other mom for “Take Your Child to Work” day. He spends the morning at her side learning about Karen’s work as an astrophysicist. But an experiment in the lab goes awry and there’s a massive explosion. Thankfully, Denny escapes unscathed but Karen’s not so lucky. The team from 118 arrives on the scene and Hen follows closely behind. Hen tries to suit up to join the rescue efforts but Bobby refuses to let her come along. He promises that he’ll bring her wife back.
The team finds Karen huddled with one of her colleagues who’s lost an arm in the blast. Bobby orders Karen to follow Buck out of the building and she begrudingly follows. On the way out, she hears a noise and snatches the flashlight from Buck’s jacket to investigate. They find another colleague with a hurt leg and Buck has to carry him out. Before they can leave, they get news from Hen and Athena about danger from coolant and Karen recognizes the danger posed by the clean room lab (it’s a bomb, basically). Karen helps Bobby navigate through the building and, together, they mitigate the danger.
Finally, Karen gets out. She hugs her wife and son and assures everyone she’s okay. But she can’t catch her breath and eventually collapses, revealing some shrapnel stuck in her side. Even with her wife feverishly trying to resuscitate her, Karen codes in the ambulance. They shock her back to a normal rhythm and, after surgery, it looks like she’ll be okay. The experience makes Hen reflect on what kind of life she wants to have…and it’s the one she’s been living. She tosses out her resignation papers and embraces the dream life she’s always had.
All American 503: “Feeling Myself”
Written by Natalie
When All American returned this season, I touted the growth that we’ve seen in Coop’s character. She’s found her purpose and is pursuing it with a vigor that she had once reserved for her music. Am I a bit remiss that she can’t do that and find love again? Yes, but you know…baby steps. Plus, compared to how the show is dealing with Patience? Coop’s story feels like a revelation by comparison.
This week, Patience is moping around the Baker house, lamenting that her album underperformed while everyone around her (including Coop) are doing big things. It’s an understandable reaction, I suppose, to your record not doing numbers but this mopey, self-obsessed, flighty version of Patience seems so at odds with the Patience we first met…the Patience who came to music reluctantly. At any rate, Leyla reminds Patience that she’ll be attending the Millennium Gold Gala later that night.
Well, not the actual gala….she’ll just be walking the event’s red carpet which, apparently, is a thing that people do. Patience walks the red carpet, looking fabulous, and Coop reports that her mother’s keeping up with all of Patience’s big moments. I suppose the lesson here is that sometimes it’s hard to see your own wins but I really wish All American devoted more time to developing Patience’s character…or, at the very least, writing her consistently.
Meanwhile, a new case falls onto the docket at Laura’s firm: Amina’s grandparents are suing Preach for full custody, insisting that the reformed gang member is an unfit parent. Coop’s stunned and assures Preach that no one’s going to take Amina from him. Her new colleague at the firm, Darius, urges caution though: the two strikes on Preach’s record complicate his case. Laura chimes in in agreement but assures Preach that they’ll do everything they can to help. She pushes Preach to tell Amina about the situation because the custody judge will want to hear from her about with whom she wants to live. Coop insists that Amina’s not going to disappoint her dad by saying she wants to live elsewhere and Laura encourages Coop to get to the truth.
Coop approaches Amina at the park and explains the situation. As predicted, Amina affirms her desire to stay close to her father and tenses at the possibility that the judge might decide otherwise. Coop promises that she won’t allow that to happen and later Darius rightly chastises her for making a promise that she can’t keep. Coop insists that Darius listen to her because she knows Preach and while Darius acknowledges not knowing Preach, neither will the judge. All the judge will know is Preach’s record.
To address that, Coop solicits character witnesses for Preach’s custody case, starting with Coach/Principal Baker. While she’s at the Baker house, Laura announces that she’s taking Coop off the case. She’s way too close to the case to be an asset, Laura notes. She appoints Darius as lead on the case and encourages Coop to give Darius room to work. So much for the glow-up?
Queen Sugar 708: “Never to Be the Same”
Written by Natalie
This season of Queen Sugar has offered a carousel of romantic temptations for Nova Bordelon. Everyone, including her Aunt Vi, has been waiting for the moment where Nova gets antsy and forgoes her relationship with Dominic and every week, seemingly, brings someone more alluring.
First came Mo, the representative of the southern Louisiana federation of co-ops. Cute, forward, as committed to land preservation and history as Nova is. Then Chantal returned. Still fine, still committed to social justice and still knows Nova as well as anyone. Both women have an easy rapport with Nova and it makes Dominic a bit weary but Nova repeatedly affirms her love and commitment to him. But then Dominic leaves on a trip to the Sudan and a storm blows Nova’s ex, Calvin, back into town. He was the love of her life once, she wrote in her book, but now she can only think of his transgressions. Calvin tempts her, more than anyone else has thus far — he wants her so desperately — but still Nova doesn’t give in.
Nova takes her ability to fend off other potential suitors as proof that she’s changed. She’s committed to Dominic, she loves Dominic. Billie’s impressed by her ability to get the closure she needed from Calvin and pushes her to get that same closure with Camille, her first love.
Nova tracks Camille down and approaches her as she’s taking out the trash and recycling. It’s been a long time since they’ve seen each other but their chemistry sizzles as if no time has passed. They exchange pleasantries and Camille offers belated condolences on the death of Nova’s father. She admits that he’d stopped at the store a few times — a store she’d re-opened with her ex-wife — and encouraged her to reach out to Nova. He even slipped Camille Nova’s number. She never called, of course, because she didn’t know how Nova would react to her contact, but the revelations about her father’s behavior are awing for Nova.
When Billie outed Nova to her father, their relationship was irreparably damaged. But if her father had shown this kindness to Camille and her wife and if he’d urged Camille to reach out to Nova? Maybe her father wasn’t as far gone as Nova had assumed. Maybe he always saw her.
Part of me worries that this was all Camille was brought back for Nova to discover this about her father. Maybe she was just another stop on the carousel. But there’s something in the way that Camille and Nova interact. The intensity with which they stare at each other, as they jot their numbers on the other’s hand. The swagger with which Nova asks, “Will you call me this time?” I swooned (and watched it multiple times). This can’t be it. It can’t just end here.
The Rookie: Feds 105: “Felicia”
Written by Natalie
While on assignment in the West Indies — wearing a fetching wig that she’s dubbed “Felicia” — Simone gets a call from DJ (AKA real life hersband, Jessica Betts). She confesses that their secret is out: she told her mother about their relationship. The news sends Simone scrambling to admit the news to her father before DJ’s mom can. But before she can reach out to her father, their operation in the West Indies is compromised and Simone’s forced to dump her phone. Simone’s quick thinking and an assist from the FBI ensure that she, her partner and the witness that’s being hunted escape unscathed.
By the time Simone’s finally able to reach her father (Cutty), he already knows about her relationship with DJ. He laments how awkward things are going to be for him and DJ’s mother, Ruth, when Simone and DJ break up. Simone scoffs at the notion. The father-daughter conversation is interrupted by Ruth who makes plans for a double date between the couples later that night.
The double date goes surprisingly well until it doesn’t. Mel, a friend of Cutty’s, stops by to drop off some records and misgenders DJ in the process. Simone gently corrects him but instead of making a hasty exit, he digs his hole a little deeper. Mel snipes that Simone “might as well date a dude” and her father take umbrage to his remarks. He gets heated and kicks Mel out of his house…and then, bizarrely, Ruth gets mad at Cutty instead of the guy who misgendered her kid? Ruth explains that she’s lived with a man with a short temper before and she doesn’t want to go through that again. The double date and the relationship between Ruth and Simone’s dad ends abruptly after that.
The next day, Cutty laments his change of fortune but he stands by his refusal to let Mel (or anyone) talk down to his child. Simone insists that she doesn’t need him to fight her battles but her father pushes back: because her sexuality is confusing (though oddly enough, he seems to understand it just fine), sometimes he has to fight for her. Simone notes that she’s an equal opportunity lover and above all, love is love. DJ interrupts their conversation — which, thank goodness, because it made no sense — and hands Cutty some flowers. They’re her mother’s favorites and if he goes over now, armed with the flowers and an apology, maybe he can rekindle their relationship.
Left alone, DJ apologizes for having shared the news of their relationship without talking to Simone first. Simone accepts the apology and pulls DJ towards the bedroom to let DJ make it up to her.
American Horror Story 1103: “Smoke Signals” and 1104: “Black Out”
Written by Drew
There’s a moment in the third episode of American Horror Story: NYC when Russell Tovey’s Patrick Read goes undercover and hooks up with a potential suspect. It’s dirty and sticky and hot and for a brief moment I thought maybe I was wrong about this storyline. Maybe Ryan Murphy remaking Cruising with an openly gay protagonist was an interesting choice.
I need to stop being so generous to that man.
A mere one episode later he gives us a scene where Patrick comes out to his boss (in the 80s?? what??) saying: “I am proud to carry this badge. I am a gay policeman. Nothing about who I am stops me from doing what I do.”
It seems like just two years ago cops were getting canceled and Cops was literally getting canceled — Hollywood insisting they were reassessing their relationship to and portrayal of the police. But Cops came back and all that’s changed is the propaganda has become less subtle. We live in a world where Ilene Chaikin got her own Law & Order, Niecy Nash came out only to star in a procedural, and Ryan Murphy and his team of straight men are writing monologues like that.
It’s a shame because these episodes are not devoid of interesting and well-constructed scenes. Joe Mantello as Gino remains a real bright spot. Charlie Caver, Isaac Powell, and Zachary Quinto are doing really nice work as well. It’s interesting to watch these gay characters grapple with their own internalized homophobia in the face of multiple mortal threats.
Unfortunately, the show’s conservative streak is not just in its pro-cop slant. Once again, Ryan Murphy is equating BDSM and leather bars with evil. It’s kind of interesting in that it’s clearly an expression of his own internalized homophobia and shame but he doesn’t bring enough self-awareness to make that exploration worthwhile.
These episodes confirm Jeff Hiller’s Mr. Whitely as one of the killers along with the leatherclad Big Daddy — who I’m guessing is a ghost. Hiller is an effective villain but it does result in a dynamic where the dangers are “any gay man not hot enough for Fire Island” and “leather daddys.”
I do believe these are Ryan Murphy’s biggest fears but I’m not sure why we should care. Except, of course, that Murphy is one of the most — if not the most — successful gay artists in Hollywood and his impact is deep. His fears become our fears. His biases spread like a contagion.
Station 19 604: “Demons”
Written by Carmen
It’s Halloween on Station 19 and Captain Beckett is annoyingly into it? Like in that way that frat bros are into Halloween because it gives them an excuse to be an asshole? As in (and this is not an exaggeration) he goes full Carrie by pouring fake blood on Maya and somehow that’s not considered workplace harassment? So now her hair is dyed strawberry pink — even after four shampoos, the food coloring Becket used won’t come out — and she smells like old cheese, because she’s out of clothes. Yeah, she’s not doing great.
The reason Maya is out of clothes is because she won’t go home. She’s avoiding Carina because all they do is fight and Carina wants Maya to get the therapy that’s obvious to literally everyone that she needs, but Maya won’t listen because that is the Maya way. Carina asks Andy if Maya’s talked to her (while Carina does Maya’s laundry for her, in an effort to help her wife self-care. God, I love Carina) and Andy basically says — this is how Maya was raised. She works too hard and when she’s upset she works more on top of that. But just because that’s what someone’s always done, that doesn’t mean it’s not dangerous. Ruiz tries to talk Maya. Having been a former Captain himself, he recognizes the signs of burnout. Maya tells him that he willingly gave up her position, she was forced out of hers, he has no idea what that feels like.
Except during the big rescue of the episode — which takes place at a haunted maze on fire — Maya pushes herself too far. She ignores Beckett’s commands and even though she saves a father and his son (was anyone else terrified for a minute there that we were going to lose her? Something about that hero music was so ominous to me!!), she really fucks up her ankle in the process. When they get back to the station, Ruiz lets Maya and Beckett both have it. Maya is a danger to herself, she’s a danger to her team, she’s working too hard and she’s making mistakes because of how tired she is. If Beckett doesn’t do something, someone is going get hurt or die.
Of course, because he is a void of leadership in a potato sack, Beckett takes all of Ruiz’s rightful anger and then unloads it on Maya, rather than owning up to the fact that his torture of her is what started this whole thing to begin with (though to be fair, that might have something to do with the fact that Maya bought him alcohol a few weeks ago — I have not forgotten). Beckett requires that Maya take some forced rest. Maya promises Carina that she’s finally going home. And for a second I thought we were getting a happy-ish ending, Maya and Carina finding their way back to each other (Carina called her “bambina” even!). But instead the last shot of the episode is Maya, still fully clothed in her uniform and boots, sobbing while she sits on the floor of the shower in the Station 19 locker room. She takes off one of her boots to reveal a swollen ankle, from maze save.
I don’t think we’re done quite yet.