Friday, April 17, 2015

My Weekend Crush

So “Orphan Black” is back and I am of course excited. For two seasons now it has been one of the most thrilling shows complete with one of the most exhilarating performances by an actress I’ve seen on TV. But here’s the thing, I’m really not really thrilled about Project Castor. The twist of male clones to me is kind of, well, disappointing. It’s not that I think they’ll do a bad job with the storyline. Or that I think they’ve picked a bad actor to portray the boy clones. But it’s just that from its start “Orphan Black” has been about the struggle for female agency. It’s about these women taking their lives back from the unseen forces attempting to monitor, control and modify them. It’s been about these women, these fascinating women. And now it’s about these women and these guys. Call me grumpy, but I don’t want to share.

Yet, I’m still open-minded. I love this show enough to trust they’ll do a good job with these new characters and do good by these women we know and love. Plus the promos, particularly the “You Don’t Own Me” nature of the campaign, highlights and magnifies the show’s central theme of agency. So I have faith they won’t squander the good thing they’ve got going with this story and their force of nature of a star. In Tatiana Maslany we trust. Happy “Orphan Black” weekend, all.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Women of a Certain...

Look, I’m naturally going to be interested any show with two female leads. I’m naturally going to be interested in a show with Lily Tomlin as one of those female leads. And, you know, Jane Fonda is no slouch either. So when I heard about the new Netflix series “Grace & Frankie” I was thrilled. Like, seriously, how fun. And then there was the LGBT aspect with the husbands of Grace (that’s Jane) and Frankie (that’s Lily) coming out as gay and in love with each other (they’re played by Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston, respectively).

And the trailer looks fun, too. Like a Nora Ephron turned into a full-length series. I mean, who doesn’t want to watch Lily and Jane rib each other. The only way it could be better is if these two ladies fell in love, too. Late-in-life coming outs for everyone!

While normally I would be a little cranky about a show as unabashedly about rich white folks as “Grace & Frankie” seems to be, I think given the other unprecedented nature of this series I can cut it some slack. I really can’t think of another TV show centered around septuagenarian women. Can you? Women of a certain age so very rarely get the spotlight. “The Golden Girls” was about a group of women in their 60s (in fact Estelle Getty’s Sophia was actually a year younger than her “daughter” Bea Arthur). “Hot in Cleveland” is mostly about women in their 50s and 60s – and Betty White, bless her heart. So a show about two broads in their 70s, yeah, that makes me pretty happy.

This is the beauty of choice. Subscription streaming services like Netflix and Hulu – and the expansion of cable offerings – have helped broadened the field. We can have shows about women of all ages and colors in prison, a trans parent and her adult children, a doomsday cult survivor and her new actor, dancer, homosexual roommate. I could go on. And that makes me very, very happy.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Trailer Watch: True & Dark

So late last week two new trailers for two new shows were released. One was for the second season of the anthological drama “True Detective” on HBO. The other was for the new graphic novel-based series “Dark Matter” on Syfy. They couldn’t be more different. One is sci-fi, one is crime drama. But each one of them interested me for only one reason and one reason alone. Can you guess the reasons for each? Yep, you guessed it. A lady being a badass.

Let’s start with “True Detective.” I didn’t watch the first season because I’d heard all about its celebration of white male misogyny and I just don’t have time to invest in that sort of bullshit, no matter how good the acting and beautiful the cinematography. I just So I wasn’t expecting much from the trailer and for 99.9 percent of it met my exact expectations. Grim-looking white guy. Grim-looking white guy. Grim-looking white guy. And then, all of a sudden, hellooooo, Rachel Mcadams.

Yes, sometimes all it takes is a badass-looking lady walking purposely with a gun in her hand to pique my interest.

So then let’s move to “Dark Matter.” This is based on a graphic novel and set on board a spacecraft where it passengers wake with no memory of their past lives. While the story sounds interesting enough, I really only care because Zoie Palmer. She plays the ship’s Android. So I watched the whole trailer playing “Where’s Zoie?” And then, BOOM. Fuck. Yeah.

Yes, sometimes all it takes is a badass-looking woman walking purposely with a lead pipe in her hand to pique my interest.

Is it shallow to reduce two trailers to their two most important screencaps? Maybe. But sometimes all you need is just that one frame. So, which seemed most promising to you? Admit it, all you cared about was Rachel and Zoie, too.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Tank Top Tuesday: Wrecking Ball Edition

Do believe the hype. Do. If you have not watched the Anne Hathaway vs. Emily Blunt “Lip Sync Battle” episode, run – do not walk – to your television. It is one of the most fun half hours of television you will watch this year. The show is just a joy. I mean, if your heart isn’t filled with indescribable happiness while watching the full video of Anne Hathaway sing “Wrecking Ball” in a tank top and tightie whities then I highly doubt your ability to feel glee. This is my new go-to video to watch when I need a little pick me up. How can the world possibly be all terrible when this is happening? It can’t, that’s how. Yep, this is what happens when high school drama nerds really, really go for it as adults, folks. Happy Tuesday, universe.

Monday, April 13, 2015

So Ready

It should go without saying that I am 100-fucking-percent ready for Hillary. I supported her candidacy in 2008. I supported her as Secretary of State. I support her now. I think she’ll make an amazing president. I am thrilled beyond belief that I’ll get to vote for her again. Yes, she has her haters. Actually I feel sorry for them because if they put even half the time, effort and determination they put into hating her just think of all the good things they could actually accomplish in the world. Right, but enough about them. It’s a Hillary party and you’re all invited. Hello, Madam President. You are damn right I am ready.

p.s. I am still trying to figure out how I feel about the H-arrow. I will say, it is bold. I will say that.

Friday, April 10, 2015

My Weekend Orange Crush

So if you’re a gay lady and were anywhere near the Internet yesterday you probably already watched the new “Orange Is the New Black” Season 3 trailer like 3,000 times – possibly more. You’ve also probably already made your food delivery order plans for June 12. But, hey, that’s still a long-ass way away (56 days and counting, yo) let’s go ahead and dissect everything we can from this first trailer. If we can process and argument about doing the dishes for a day and a half, we can certainly spare 15 minutes for this. Happy weekend, all.

1) They Got The Band Back Together

Taystee, Poussey & Black Cindy look thick as thieves again. Not that I’m saying they’re all thieves. Wait, wasn’t that what Black Cindy is in for? Anyway, metaphor withdrawn. I’m just happy they look so happy together again.

2) Big No

Oh, Big Boo. What? Butch down, BUTCH DOWN.

3) Major Headlights

You know you want to know exactly what Flaca told Maritza that made those nips stand at attention.

4) Turnabout Is Fair…

Yeah, Alex, we know how you’re back here. We know exactly how. Though, I am curious how she got that shiner.

5) Once Upon a Mattress

Hey, what happened to their mattresses?

6) A Rose is a Flirt

Look, I’m as much Pipex/Vauseman as the next gay gal, but I also approve of this Ruby Rose flirting. I approve very much.

7) Where’s the Beef?

Dammit, are Gloria and Sophia fighting? Can’t we all just get along?

8) Big Tucky? Pennsaboo?

I approve of this Big Boo/ Pennsatucky friendship. I really, really do.

9) Give Peace a Chance

Aw, man, Tank Girl and Piper are fighting, too?

10) Love Means Never Having To Say You’re Sorry for Hitting it With Two Other People and Aliens

Oh, Crazy Eyes, how I’ve missed you so.

BONUS: Man, after watching “Going Clear” I’m even less OK with Scientology, but damn, if Laura Prepon isn’t still on my “Free Pass” list. I can’t help it. Alex Vause can get it.

p.s. Yo, is that Vee in the background of No. 6? I was such a lesbian I did not notice because, you know, Ruby Rose.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Map to Frances

As I get older – and believe you me, it’s happening fast – I fret like everyone else about the aging process. More gray. More lines. More creeks when I stand up after a prolonged period of sitting still. You know, the whole deal. And as a woman in this society I’m also acutely aware of the pressure to continue looking forever 21. Given that, it’s unfair to pass summary judgment on women who give in to the relentless drumbeat for agelessness. How can you not when every single indicator in our society tells us youth is all that matters? But it’s also important to laud those to resist the temptation to tamper with our essential humanity. Life is just a continual process of getting older until the second we stop getting older altogether. That’s not being nihilistic, just honest about a process we all go through.

While it doesn’t baffle me how hard we fight it – because, duh, we all fear the end – it does perplex me why we don’t embrace all the good things our advancing years can represent. Wisdom. Love. Experience. Compassion. Look, babies are cute and all, but they don’t know shit. Same goes for most young adults. Yet somehow the most desirable human state is exactly that age. Yeah, yeah, I know about biological imperative and survival of the fittest and optimum child bearing ages and all that. But it’s 2015 and we have watches that send texts and phones that play movies. We’ve clearly evolved. Wouldn’t it be nice if our thinking about beauty did as well?

Right, so this is clearly a long-winded, rambling way for me to introduce this video of Frances McDormand taking about the aging process. I’ve always admired Frances and found her work to have a particular fearlessness about it. There’s an honesty and intelligence and intolerance for bullshit she imbues into every role. I’ve also always found her rather sexy, in an I-don’t-give-a-fuck-what-you-think kind of way. And I still do now that she is 57 – gray hair, wrinkles, the whole deal. But then, I find a life well lived looks good on anyone.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

More, More, More

So, you know how I’m an enormous lezzie, right? Well if you’ve been here any length of time you also know I’m an enormous feminist. I think the two go hand-in-hand, actually. The thought of separating myself into identity compartments that never overlap or interplay is ludicrous. Anyway, you know this already of course because it’s the same for you. That’s why we’re all here hanging out in the first place.

So given that context it gives me great pleasure to announce that I’ve started writing for Indiewire’s fantastic Women and Hollywood, run by the tireless Melissa Silverstein. I’ll be their queer columnist and write a couple times a month for the site.

Don’t worry, I’m still going to be writing and recapping for AfterEllen. And I’m still gonna keep typing up my brain rambles here of course.

I’d appreciate it greatly if you’d hop over to Women and Hollywood and take a look (and leave a comment if so inclined) at my first column. In it I tackle the essential lesbian entertainment question: “Do we need another ‘L Word?’” A sampling:

The urgency to see ourselves reflected on the TV screen isn’t as great because we’re already there. Sure, we may not be there en masse in one show, but we’re on so many others we are no longer so desperate we’ll drink the sand. And, just as crucially, the diversity of lesbian and bisexual female characters has increased.
You can read the whole thing here. Thanks, as always, for stopping by and reading the crazy things that go through my head.

As a further thanks, here’s Anne Hathaway singing “Wrecking Ball” to Emily Blunt. First the grinding. Now this. I just, I just think we live in such wondrous times.

Monday, April 06, 2015

Happy to Be Here

So I believe in giving things a fair shot. Even things that at first may seem like things that I won’t, you know, like. Sometimes my first impression is reaffirmed, sometimes I’m pleasantly surprised. When I first heard about “One Big Happy” I was, duh, happy. Liz Feldman and Ellen DeGeneres teaming up to make a sitcom with a lesbian lead? So much happy. Sure, it was about a lesbian and her straight male best friend. Sure, the lesbian was pregnant. But, you know, still – she was a lesbian. Sometimes that can be enough.

Then I saw the previews which were…a little weak. First, it is a multi-camera show with a laugh track which makes it feel a little dated. Second, there was too much of the straight male dude making boobie-grabbing hand gestures. Third, have I mentioned how much I dislike laugh tracks?

But I was determined to give it a chance because I think Liz is incredibly talented and very funny and also who doesn’t want to support an out lesbian show creator? Also there’s the Ellen component and I believe they take away your toaster oven if you don’t support The Great Panted One.

So I watched the pilot. And it was…a pilot. Pilots, particularly comedy pilots, have a very tough job. They have to introduce the characters and set a tone and bring some laughs and make us want more all in 22 very short minutes. I can’t say “One Big Happy” won me over with its first episode. I thought it was sort of meh. Not great, but also not the worst thing I’ve watched. Though, to be honest, if I didn’t know Liz was behind it and I didn’t want a sitcom with a lesbian lead to succeed on network TV, I might have stopped watching right there and then.

But I stuck with it. And the second episode was better. The characters felt more real and less like words on a page repeated enthusiastically. The comedy, while still broad, hit with more consistency. And then last week, I watched again and I laughed, like I really laughed. It brought a couple genuine belly laughs and they felt good. It’s not perfect yet, obviously. But I can see a rhythm developing that is encouraging and I am happy I get to watch it again.

The stars are likeable – particularly the always comically winsome Elisha Cuthbert and the very bubbly Kelly Brook. Granted, I always feel like Nick Zano is struggling to enunciate with a glob of peanut butter stuck to the root of his mouth, but it doesn’t take away from the emerging chemistry between the three (no, not like that, quit it, you).

Here’s the thing, “One Big Happy” is extraordinary for its ordinariness. It’s not edgy even though it has that most rare of television unicorns, a lesbian protagonist. It’s aimed right down the center, down to its CBS-worthy multi-camera format. It’s saying, “Hey, you on the couch, you like big, friendly comedies that make you feel comfortable and smile and maybe even do a little of the laughing for you? Come, sit, enjoy.”

This is not an insult; this is an observation. “The Big Bang Theory,” “Two and A Half Men,” and “Everybody Loves Raymond” are/were all shows that basically follow that formula and are/were hugely, hugely popular. That a show about a single pregnant lesbian and her male best friend/baby daddy who has unexpectedly married a large-bosomed English woman he just met is following that path is in a way very encouraging. This is not niche programming, this is as mainstream as comedies get. It’s basically “Three’s Company” but with more interesting – and honest – sexual politics.

And that’s where, and how, “One Big Happy” could do so much good. It’s not trying to be one of those shows critics adore with a teeny-tiny viewership. It’s trying to be a show a lot of people love and watch every week. Gee, imagine that, a show with a lesbian lead that millions of Americans tune in to watch each week just because it makes them laugh and feel good. Hey, nothing wrong with that. Nothing at all.