Pop Culture Fix: Viola Davis Is Unapologetic About Portraying Ma Rainey’s Queer Sexuality

Happy Winter Solstice/Yule Pop Culture Fix

+ How Viola Davis leaned into Ma Rainey’s queer desire in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.

“In researching Ma Rainey, she was unapologetic about her sexuality. This is a woman who went to orgies. She was arrested at an orgy. I felt like Ma always had a woman with her. A lot of the women who dance with her were her women. She had orgies with them. That was her world. I didn’t want to sweep it under the rug.”

+ Batwoman’s season two premiere photos are here!

+ Emily VanDerWerff wonders: What is television, anyway?

+ Aubrey Plaza isn’t “a total psychopath,” you know.

+ The Wilds has been renewed for a second season.

+ In the queer Christmas movie arena, predictability still outshines realness.

+ The Laverne Cox Show is coming to Shondaland Audio.

+ Elliot Page posted his first public message since coming out.

+ There’s a lesbian couple in OWN’s First Christmas.

+ Below Deck‘s Izzy Wouters comes out as a lesbian.

+ There’s no word yet on a new season of The Bold Type, but Aisha Dee has signed on for a new Australian horror satire.


+ Happy Holigays from Motherland: Fort Salem‘s queers!

+ Portia de Rossi will lead Better Off Ted‘s cast reunion.

+ Lena Waithe’s Hillman Grad has launched a new mentorship lab.

+ All My Children is getting a primetime reboot! Let’s go, Bianca!

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Heather Hogan

Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle senior editor who lives in New York City with her wife, Stacy, and their cackle of rescued pets. She's a member of the Television Critics Association, GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics, and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer critic. You can also find her on Twitter and Instagram.

Heather has written 1718 articles for us.


  1. Shouldn’t we as a collective know better than to be excited for this (second) reboot of All My Children and/or Bianca getting justice?
    The series always had a bit of a “strained relationship” with its queer storytelling and I don’t see anything in this reboot that seems to change that. There don’t seem to be any queer voices involved in the decision making and the writer associated with the reboot apparently worked on Katy Keene a series this very website didn’t find worthwhile to watch as I remember it.

    But maybe I am still bummed out by the last reboot/revival which took all my Bianca hopes spat on them, dunked them in the toilet, took them out back and shot them in the head.

    • when Bianca’s coming out story happened, Susan Lucci and Eden Riegel went on The View to talk about it. Riegel proudly displayed a t-shirt with glittery bold letters that Walt Willey gave her; it said ‘i like boys'(approximately). just noting that in contrast to oscar/emmy/tony winning straight actress Viola Davis, who 20 years later, is talking about lesbian orgies as important character notes for her role. a small non sequitorial historical perspective.

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