Tuesday, October 05, 2021

Law & Lesbians

Streaming services give us a seemingly endless supply of quality (or at very least trashy and addictive) content in small, bingeable doses. In the past month alone we’ve completed “White Lotus,” “Nine Perfect Strangers” and most of “Only Murders in the Building.” They’re so easy to digest because most of these seasons run 8 to 10 episodes, 12 if you’re lucky.

But then there’s good old-fashioned broadcast TV. You know, the kind that runs 22 to 24 episodes as reliably as the sun rises and sets each day. I’ll be honest, I haven’t latched on to too many new broadcast series these past few years because, um, they usually aren’t as interesting. But one thing our reliable square friends are good at doing on broadcast TV that can sucker me in every time is your friendly neighborhood crime procedural.

And, dammit, if I’m not sucked in all over again thanks to “NCIS: Hawai’i.” The spin-off of the “NCIS” universe (yes, I know, groan) is as pleasantly predictable as you’d expect from a cheesy cop show on primetime American television. But, dammit again, if I haven’t already set up a series recording for two reasons.

Because, one, they made Vanessa Lachey the series lead, one of the first times that I can tell that a solo female actress has been at the head of major crime procedural franchise like this (and not automatically paired with a co-lead male actor). Even her character bio lists her as “first female Special Agent in Charge of NCIS Pearl Harbor.” Meanwhile solo dudes a plenty leading the teams on “NCIS,” “NCIS: Los Angeles,” “NCIS: New Orleans,” “CSI,” “CSI: Miami,” “CSI: NY, “Criminal Minds,” “Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior, “Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders” and so on, and so forth…

And, two, because they made two of the show’s female stars gay for each other from the start. Yasmine Al-Bustami plays NCIS agent Lucy Tara, part of Lachey’s team, and Tori Anderson plays Defense Intelligence Agency agent Kate Whistler, who they seem to be positioning as often at odds with the NCIS team over chain of commands issues. So, you know, work AND romantic tension abounds. The series begins with their Will They/Won’t They status firmly in the “Already Did It” category. And now it seems the two women are trying to, uh, keep things professional with very unprofessional results.

Is there already a shipper name? Who can resist a short, feisty brunette with a tall, coldish blonde dynamic? Not me, clearly. I am weak. And the Will They Keep It Up/Won’t They dynamic is more delicious because, FUCK, we’re all adults and no one is vying for valedictorian of chastity school here. The show is from a trio of creators including Jan Nash, who #Gayzolli fans will remember as The Lady Who Took Over As Showrunner From Janet on “Rizzoli & Isles.” But here, they’re actually gay for each other — what a concept! Right now they’re the only overt romantic coupling on the show which, again, what a concept! (Though they are very unsubtly trying to play out the Will They/Won’t They between Lachey and Enver Gjokaj’s ridiculously square-jawed Navy Captain. Gotta give the straight something, I guess.)

Also, I see Whistler drinking wine out of a repurposed jar. Hello, lesbian culture.

Also, I see you little lip bite. Now that’s not even playing fair. Queer gal Kryptonite right there.

Now, I know what you’re thinking already. Is this just Copaganda? Of course! Yes! Abso-fucking-lutely! Our national (international - more on that tomorrow) love of police procedurals helps elevate a heroic mythology about law enforcement that all too often sadly does not hold up under closer (or truly any) scrutiny. But, obviously, these kinds of shows draw us in with soothing narratives about good guys conquering bad guys in a neat 42-minute package each week. Do I still watch it if they put a strong female lead in charge and/or make some of the strong female characters smash with other strong female characters? Of course! Yes! Abso-fucking-lutely! As I’ve already fully confessed, I am weak and clearly easily manipulated by the media.

Anyway, I sure hope they keep the fireworks up between these two because for me they elevate what is essentially your solid B crime procedural to Must Watch status. Again, I am weak and the prospect of 22 to 24 episodes with the chance of lady flirts and hookups throughout sounds pretty OK to me. You’d better not just feed us table scraps on this relationship, show. We want and deserve to feast.

p.s. Was I the only one who thought Whistler came out of her room in only that sweater? The scourge of flesh-toned pants strikes again (plus, I was watching on an iPad so, uh, time to check the prescription).

1 comment:

Carmen San Diego said...

Aw man, now I have to start watching NCIS? Okay then let’s do this
Can’t resist this couple