Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Live-Action Lesbian Romance Novel

I would like to talk, for just a moment, about expectations. As queer women – lesbians, bisexuals, trans and nonbinary folks – we share certain expectations about our representation in the media. Unfortunately many of those expectations center around rarity, disappointment, tragedy, and possible death. It’s the whole Bury Your Gays, Dead Lesbian Syndrome media phenomena. For us, happily ever after remains the rarest of rarities. (Like I watched a seemingly innocuous newish lesbian movie that shall remain nameless the other day that all it did in the end was make me feel sorry for Mena Suvari.)

So I think that’s why I came into “Gentleman Jack” with my guard up. My expectation was for horrible things to happen – interspersed with glimpses of happy gayness if we were really lucky. I mean, this is a late 18th and early 19th Century noblewoman who refused to conform to the demands of femininity of the era, and instead blazed her own trail and wore her heart very much on her sleeve.

Obviously, in a dramatized version of her life, the hardship of such differentness must be the central theme. Right? This is why with each episode I watched with partially held breath. Would this be when the horrible homophobic shoe would drop? I instinctively tightened my shoulders in anticipation of whatever was coming.

Now, this show is based in real world realities, so homophobia certainly happened on screen. But it was just one of many obstacles of lovers had before, you know, being able to call each other lovers (also, while neither is named Cindi, they very gayly share the name Anne/Ann). So there was homophobia and the coal industry and societal norms and sexism and classism and lot of other issues that made the rich tapestry of Anne Lister and Ann Walker’s love story.

And, after watching perhaps The Most Swoony Romantic Lesbian Scene Ever Dedicated To Screen (i.e. that “Gentleman Jack” season finale scene), I can finally relax my shoulders. They made it. And not only did nothing truly terrible happen (well, I mean, there was the whole trying to slit her wrists thing, but it seemed a rather feeble attempt so…), but it all ended so unbelievably well.

Like I don’t think, even in our most femflashy/fan-ficy/lesbionicy daydreams we could have believed one day we would watch a lady, in uncharacteristically mannish period dress, and another lady, in characteristically feminine period dress promise themselves to each other in a freaking mountaintop proposal with sweeping vistas of the spectacular West Yorkshire countryside as backdrop with the light so golden and true it only ever happens in the movies. Yet, there we were, all watching it happen.

And it was glorious. And I think I squealed. I know I clapped. It was like walking into a live-action lesbian romance novel, and then some. Now, bring on Volume Two!

Monday, June 17, 2019

The Most Interesting Psychopath in the World

I sincerely apologize in advance, but I’m about to have one of those, “Oprah, Uma. Uma, Oprah.” moments. So here goes. Jodie Comer, meet Tatiana Maslany. Tatiana Maslany, meet Jodie Comer.

Why, do you ask? Because few other actress working on television today are as thoroughly impressive and undeniably chameleon-like as Tatiana Maslany. But Jodie Comer is one of them. While I loved her in the first season, I was astounded by her in the second season. Her Villanelle is one of the most electrifying anti-heroines on screen right now. She is The Most Interesting Psychopath in the World, and then some.

The way, in particular, Jodie can make her eyes light up with perverse joy during a kill is, like, goddamn. Just as impressive is her ability to switch accents and personas on a dime, which only furthers deepens the Tatiana comparisons. And – as far as I can tell – they haven’t once used her real accent, which as a Liverpudlian is a sweet scouse.

In short, Jodie Comer is very, very, extremely, extremely impressive and is it weird that if I had to be murdered, I would want to be murdered by her?

Friday, June 14, 2019

My Weekend Crush

It’s been an incredibly hectic week, I am behind on all of the things. But at least I have Kacey Musgraves as my soundtrack. I know I’m a latecomer to loving “Golden Hour.” I didn’t get into it until after she won all those Grammys. But now I listen to it on repeat. And I don’t even like contemporary country music. But then Kacey, like Brandi Carlile, are just out there making their own beautiful music no matter the genre. And, you know, there are rainbows. So it’ll be all right. Happy weekend, all.

Thursday, June 13, 2019


So, just this once the “S” stands for “Sporty” and not “Straight” because, um – well, you know. The United States Women’s National Team opened their FIFA World Cup play with a 13-0 route of Thailand. A few naysayers said the ladies shouldn’t have run up the score like that. But 1) This is Group Round play so scores freaking matter, and the more you score the better you have a chance of moving to the next round, and 2) When do they ever ask male athletes playing at the highest level to take it down a notch?

Oh, yeah… Never.

Instead this opening match was yet another example of the startling performance vs. pay wage gap between men’s and women’s sports. The record-setting game for the USWNT was:

- The most goals ever in a Women’s or Men’s World Cup Game (13)
- Tied the most goals scored by a man or woman in a World Cup game (5 for Alex Morgan)
- The most ever second-half goals scored in a Women’s or Men’s World Cup Game (10)
In the last 17 years (between June 2002 and 2019), the USMNT has scored 12 goals in all its games of World Cup play.

Meanwhile, in under two hours this past Tuesday the USWNT scored 13 points in one game World Cup Play.

All this, of course, makes it all the more galling that the women’s national team makes so much less than the men’s national team. Like much, much less.

Bottom line: Women’s sports are exciting. Women athletes are exceptional. Women athletes deserve equal pay. Period.

And, just in case, this is how female members of the USWNT hug each other (with their legs in friendship and otherwise) when they score. And, I think we can all agree we’d like to see a lot more of that.

p.s. Special shout out to the out members of the USWNT (remember, I said out): Coach Jill Ellis, Forward Megan Rapinoe, Defender Ali Krieger and Goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Kate Pride

I won’t lie, this isn’t the funniest “Billy on the Street” ever. Pretending Kate McKinnon is Reese Witherspoon? That’s a waste of both Kate McKinnon and Reese Witherspoon. And Reese wasn’t even there. Alas, it is still Kate McKinnon. I am but one lesbian woman, I cannot resist. It is Pride Month, after all. Honor our icons and such. And, unquestionably, the best part about this clip is the Obvious Lesbian who immediately 100-foots Kate McKinnon and says as much to Billy. May we all be Obvious Lesbian Acknowledging Kate McKinnon some day.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Portrait of a Swoony Lesbian Historical Romance

Good Lady Story Year continues, unabated. And it couldn’t have come at a better time what with “Gentleman Jack” finishing its first season last night and our Swoony Lesbian Historical Romance options suddenly lacking. At this year’s Cannes Film Festival the “buzziest” film was queer French female writer-director Céline Sciamma’s “Portrait of a Lady On Fire.”

The description is as such:

The French-language film stars Noémie Merlant as Marianne, an 18th-century artist commissioned to paint a portrait of eligible bachelorette Héloïse (Adèle Haenel) to be used in pursuit of the perfect suitor. The problem is that Héloïse has no intention of marrying, and therefore refuses to sit for the portrait, forcing Marianne to pose as her lady’s maid to gain her trust.
And, according to reports, she gains more than just her trust as this is being described as a “queer love story.” So it’s kind of like, “Won’t you come up to see my etchings?” But make it gay.

Now, I wasn’t sure I was familiar with Sciamma’s work until I looked her up on IMDB and, lo and behold, she wrote and directed both the 2007 teen lesbian drama “Water Lilies” and 2011 trans/non-binary drama “Tomboy.” In short, she’s the real deal.

“Portrait of a Lady on Fire” took home the Queer Palm (the first time a female director had won the feature honor) and Best Screenplay overall.

The clips are light on the lady-loving-lady stuff. But in tone, and style the film certainly piques my interest. I mean, is this new weak-in-the-knees feeling I’m feeling what all those straight ladies who won’t stop going on about “Outlander” get to feel like all the time? Because, damn.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Wander Cate

Who gets to tell stories matters, a lot. When stories are told exclusively by one group, you tend to see exclusively one kind of story. Like, gee, it does not show at all that in the eight full seasons of “Game of Thrones,” only four episodes were ever credited to female writers and only one episode was ever helmed by a female director. In eight damn years. Meanwhile the most exhilarating shows on TV right now are all made by and about women. Think “Killing Eve.” Think “Vida.” Think “Fleabag.” Think “Gentleman Jack.” Anyway. It’s not that those kinds of stories are inherently bad, it’s just that there are so many other stories that are just as good – if not better. And those stories never get told.

So I have this irrationally optimistic hope that a movie like “Where’d You Go, Bernadette” will give us another viewpoint on motherhood – and in association womanhood. Yes, I know, it looks on its surface just like a witty, almost light-hearted look at a midlife crisis from a female point of view. That alone would be different. But there’s this radical idea that women – even mothers – could want more from life than just a family. It’s the radical idea that women are people who have dreams and ambitions and narcissism and imagination and everything else. Or maybe I’m just being irrationally charmed – as usual – by Cate Blanchett’s everything. Either way, I’m going to see this movie.

Friday, June 07, 2019

My Weekend Pride

Well, as you no doubt have probably noticed thanks to the sudden eruption of rainbows on everything, it is June which means it is Pride Month which means it’s time for a little history lesson. Don’t worry, this is a “Drunk History” lesson. While drinking and driving is bad, drinking and learning valuable history about our LGBTQ forbearers is always a good time. Especially on this, the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. So it only seems fitting that trans rights pioneers Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera (who are highlighted in the above boozy segment) will finally be honored with a permanent monument near the Stonewall Inn in New York City. If we don’t learn from our history, we are doomed to keep having to punch Nazis until the end of fucking time. Happy Pride Month, kittens. Happy weekend, all.

Thursday, June 06, 2019

Gender Fuck Gemma

I realize I still have some unresolved feelings about the “Game of Thrones” finale and unrelenting continuation of the Patriarchy both on screen and in real life. And I’m starting to realize I have some equally unresolved feelings about watching so many shows that glorify the Oligarchy (“Game of Thrones,” “Gentleman Jack”). All this is just a fancy way of saying isn’t it weird that the same actress plays both Yara Greyjoy and Marianne Lister? I will confess to it taking me way (way, way) too long to figure out that the lovely Gemma Whelan plays both on “Game of Thrones” and “Gentleman Jack,” respectively. I do wish Marian had a little more of Yara’s Gender Fuck energy – in the liking the ladies department in particular. But then I guess there can be only one in any one family at a time on television. I also can’t be the only one rooting for a few more Marian looks into the camera.

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

Lady Storytime

While June is LGBTQ Pride Month, May should be retroactively named Good Lady TV Month. In the last week of May I watched the Season 2 finale of “Killing Eve,” the first two episodes of the new season of “Vida,” the entire second season of “Fleabag” and the continuation of the first season of “Gentleman Jack.”

I’ve honestly never felt more exhilarated by all the diverse female-led, female-told, stories on television. (All that, and I also went to see “Booksmart” last week – so it was really just Good Lady Stories, Period, Month.)

Truly, it has felt like a good, long, passionate kiss right smack dab on the lips. I won’t mention any of the other bases might have been passed. Not because a lady never tells, but because it’s nobody’s goddamn business what women do with their bodies. And we are more than capable of telling our own stories.

Tuesday, June 04, 2019

Tank Top Halle

Full Disclosure: I do not like guns. I do not own any guns. I do want all the gun control.

That being said, the lizard part of my brain grew up watching American TV and American movies so I therefore cannot resist a good fictional (and only ever fictional) shoot out. So it is that spirit which I share this video of a mostly tank-topped Halle Berry showing off her shooting skills while training for “John Wick: Chapter 3.” Gotta love that double tap. Ahem.

I will also admit to having an outsized fondness for the operatic violence of the whole John Wick franchise. It’s, like, finally – an action movie series that admits that life is just random bursts of violence, chaos and inequality, but at least we get to pet dogs sometimes.

p.s. For those who don’t like even seeing guns, you can still enjoy some Halle Berry tank top action, plus some bonus lady-smooching-lady action from when she dropped by Jimmy Kimmel Live to give some needed inspiration to guest host/everyone’s favorite stud Lena Waithe.

Monday, June 03, 2019

Music Monday: Chika Edition

If you have not been formally introduced, please allow me to introduce you to viral sensation/rapper extraordinaire Chika perform on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” with guest host Lena Waithe (but, seriously, can she just host it always?) This is just another reminder that art - the high, the low, the middling - all exists to make us feel and think and experience something, anything. And the best art also makes us act.

p.s. As an added bonus, because it’s now Pride Month after all, here is her reworking Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” into something actually awesome.

Friday, May 31, 2019

My Weekend Dorothy

I realize last month I missed my 13th blogiversary last month (April 24, to be exact). My, how the years have flown by. So it only seems fitting to give a little love to the woman who inspired the name who inspired the blog who inspired all Friends of Dorothy the world over. I don’t know whether “Judy” will do the inimitable Judy Garland justice. But I am pretty curious to see how Renee Zellweger does giving it the old post-collegiate try. Plus, who can’t listen to “Over the Rainbow” once or twice or infinity times more? I mean, it is almost Pride month, after all. Happy weekend, all.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Gender Fuck Gentleman

I have lots of feelings about “Gentleman Jack.” Mostly I feel delighted this very detailed and completely unique historical lesbian drama exists - and was just renewed for a second season. I also feel rather swoony about Suranne Jones’s unapologetic swagger as Anne Lister. But then there’s a part of me that also feels - a little too frequently for my liking - cringey as I wait for the historically accurate homophobia to happen.

Now, some of this is because this is a 19th Century story mired in the realities of the time it is being told. But a lot of the cringing is because I’ve found myself more and more wanting to watch stories about LGBTQ people – even historical pieces – without knowing some form of inevitable homophobia will happen. While it is still important to tell the stories of our coming out and stories of the very real misery, injustice and violence that has befallen our community, we grow weary of those being our only stories.

It’s like, “Yes, I Know This Is The Bad Place, But Can I Lady Get A Happy Story Just This Once?” (This, as I’ve mentioned, is part of the reason I loved “Booksmart” so much.)

The good news is, I have some faith in Sally Wainwright’s smart storytelling (yes, yes, I understand there are lingering “Last Tango In Halifax” resentments). I trust that the writers will not let the homophobia be the only thing driving Anne and Ann’s love story, but just another unfortunate obstacle to overcome. So I will try to get over my reflexive fear of being narratively gay bashed, and just enjoy this epic, sweeping, first-of-its kind lesbian historical romance. (Yes, yes, I know I can just read up on Anne Lister’s real-life journals to see how it all turns out - but I’m being told a story…)

So while, yes, the real (and on-screen) Anne Lister is a bit of a classist snob (like, how can she hate a man who sells carpet that much, ahem), she is also an entirely relatable lesbian woman. I mean who hasn’t wanted to storm about in nice pantsuits, push around a bunch of mediocre white men, make-out with her (way too mousy) girlfriend who happens to have the same first name (I told you, relatable lesbian storyline is relatable), and get a fair price for her coal. Well, you know, mostly relatable.