Tag Archives: LGBTQ

History of the Sitcom Review

The beautiful thing about art is that it is never static. It adapts to both time and culture, giving creators the ability to match what is going on in the wider world.

The new eight part mini-series CNN miniseries, History of the Sitcom, premiered on Sunday night. Each episode focuses on how the sitcom evolved over time and reflects on how it explores the different aspects of our lives from family to work to school, etc. Interviewing actors, writers, and producers, it delves into how this genre has shaped American culture.

I really enjoyed the first two episodes. The first one focused on the evolution of the family sitcom and how it has evolved from the white, suburban Father Knows Best and The Donna Reed Show programs that populated the television schedule of the 1950’s. The second one talked about how sex, sexuality, the LGBTQ community, and the different variations of gender have been seen by audiences.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

History of the Sitcom airs on Sunday night at 9PM on CNN.

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Filed under History, Television, TV Review

Milk Fed: A Novel Book Review

Food is more than the physical nourishment our body needs to function. It can also be stand in for something else in our life that has not been entirely dealt with.

In the new Melissa Broder novel published earlier this year, Milk Fed: A Novel, Los Angeles transplant Rachel was raised Jewish, but those days are long gone. Outside of her job at a talent agency, the most important thing is her physical appearance. She counts calories like the world is ending and can be found after work at the gym, furiously working off whatever she eat earlier that day. Following up on her therapist’s recommendation, she cuts of all communication with her mother for 90 days. Since she was little, Rachel has been constantly reminded to watch what she eat.

Shortly after, she meets Miriam, the zaftig employee behind the counter of one of Rachel’s favorite frozen yogurt places. Miriam is more orthodox in her practice of their mutual faith and intent on making sure that her soon to be new friend is well fed. Taken by Miriam, Rachel goes on a journey of family, faith, sex, and learning to love yourself.

I loved this book. Instead of being one of those obnoxious skinny women who makes the rest of us feel unattractive, Rachel is human, complicated, and completely relatable. I loved her emotional trek as she opened herself up to eating, Miriam (and everything Miriam represented), and learning to let go of the parental criticism that makes itself too comfortable in our consciousness.

Do I recommend it?

Absolutely.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Mental Health

Clueless Character Review: Cher Horowitz

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the movie Clueless. Read at your own risk if you have not seen the movie. There is something to be said about a well-written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations. If you watch enough high school movies, you might get the idea that the popular girls are all versions of Regina George (Rachel McAdams). The surprise comes when we realize that what we see on film does not always match reality.

In the movie, Clueless, Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone) is a modern teenage version of Emma Woodhouse, the heroine of the Jane Austen novel Emma. Living in Beverly Hills with her widower father, Mel (Dan Hedaya), Cher has a good heart, but her head is not always in the right place. She buts heads with her stepbrother Josh Lucas (Paul Rudd) and spends most of her time with her best friend Dionne Davenport (Stacey Dash). When new student Tai (Brittany Murphy) arrives at Cher’s school, she sees an opportunity to do some good in the world via a makeover and a potential match with Elton (Jeremy Sisto).

She will soon learn that what she sees, the rest of the world does not see. Elton would prefer to be with her than Tai. Tai is crushing on Travis (Breckin Meyer), who is equally into her. Christian, her new boyfriend (Justin Walker) is gay. The only relationship that works is out between her teacher Mr. Hall (Wallace Shawn) and Ms. Geist (Twink Caplan). Her pest of stepbrother is not only right about a few things, he is also the right boy for her.

To sum it up: Cher is an interesting character because unlike other similar characters, she is not a b*tch. She is may say and do things to hurt other people, but she does not do that on purpose. She just thinks she knows everything, when she clearly doesn’t. This makes her likable, even if she is completely frustrating to the audience and the people around her.

Which is why she is a memorable character.

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Filed under Books, Character Review, Emma, Jane Austen

Flashback Friday: American Pie 2 (2001)

The difference between high school and college is night and day. Though we may not feel it right away, it is a transformation that will soon become obvious.

The 2001 film, American Pie 2, is the sequel to the 1999 film, American Pie. Jim (Jason Biggs) and crew have just finished their first year of college. Renting a beach house for the summer, they plan a end of summer party that will last forever in their memories. Along the way, shenanigans will ensue and a few lessons will be learned.

First of all, the fact that this film is twenty years old is mind-blowing. I feels like yesterday when I saw in the theater. This is The Empire Strikes Back of the franchise. It is raunchiest and funniest of the three original movies. It is also a love letter to that time in our lives when we are growing, but it is not felt until we can see it in hindsight.

My favorite scene, though it wouldn’t fly today if it was released, is the scene with the “lesbians“.

Warning: this clip has language and imagery that might be be a turnoff to some people.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Filed under Flashback Friday, Movie Review, Movies, Star Wars

How Y’all Doing?: Misadventures and Mischief from a Life Well Lived Book Review

The key element of a memoir is voice. The reader should be able to hear the voice of the writer through the page, as if they are in conversation with one another.

How Y’all Doing?: Misadventures and Mischief from a Life Well Lived, the memoir by actor Leslie Jordan, was published in April. As Covid-19 spread around the world last year, Jordan took to Instagram to share his thoughts about being home all day. He became a viral sensation, drawing in millions of fans with his own unique brand of Southern charm and telling stories that only he can tell.

I loved the book. It is a joy to read. He is as delightful, entertaining, and authentic on the page as he is on social media. I first noticed him when he played Beverly Leslie, the frenemy of Karen Walker (Megan Mullally) on Will and Grace. Of the many side characters, I think I laughed the most when he came on screen.

It is a wonderful book and definitely worth the read.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

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Flashback Friday: Three to Tango (1999)

Love triangles have for the most part, been a staple of the romantic comedy or romantic drama. For this narrative to succeed, the screenwriter(s) have to make this very basic and predictable story their own.

The 1999 movie Three to Tango stars three 1990’s television stars in the lead roles. Charles Newman (Dylan McDermott) is a businessman who asks Oscar Novak (Matthew Perry) to be a companion of sorts for his mistress, Amy Post (Neve Campbell). Charles thinks that Oscar is gay. But Oscar is straight. As Oscar spends more time with Amy, he begins to fall in love with her.

As rom-coms go, there is almost nothing revolutionary about this film. Charles is a dick, Oscar is a nice guy, and Amy is the woman in between them. I certainly appreciate that it is a small step in the direction of a realistic portrayal of LGBTQ characters. But in 2021 terms, its not exactly the ground breaking moment it could have been. My major issue is that Amy has no agency or life other than being a figure of romantic and sexual attraction. Granted, this movie is twenty two years old, but it has not aged well in my opinion.

Do I recommend it? Not really.

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Filed under Feminism, Flashback Friday, Movie Review, Movies

Halston Series Review

Every decade has its own unique style. In the 1970’s, there was one name that represented the height of women’s fashion: Halston.

The new five part Netflix miniseries, Halston, stars Ewan McGregor as the the iconic fashion designer. The viewer is initially introduced to Halston in the early 1960’s. His salon in New York City is besieged by customers after he designs the hat that Jackie Kennedy wears at her husband’s inauguration in 1961. We then flash forward to 1968 when the business has dried up. Despite being a talented designer, it appears that his once thriving career is in the past.

Then the 1970’s dawns and his wildest professional dreams come true. But as his star grows, Halston’s past and his demons begin to catch up with him. Addicted to drugs and pushing away even the closest of his friends, it appears that his genius and talent will be eclipsed by the shadows he can never get away from.

*Warning: the trailer above contains strong language and images of drug use.

The narrative is nothing short of a Shakespearean tragedy. This man is brilliant, driven, funny, eccentric, and devoted to his friends. Among them is Liza Minnelli (a fantastic Krysta Rodriguez) and the recently department jewelry designer Elsa Peretti (Rebecca Dayan). He is also selfish, full of it, arrogant, and thinks that he has all of the answers. McGregor is superb as the title character, painting a complete picture of a man who myth and mystique is still with us three decades after his passing. It is one of the best roles I have seen him play in a long time.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

Halston is available for streaming on Netflix.

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Filed under History, Netflix, New York City, Television, TV Review, William Shakespeare

The Parting Glass Book Review

Within an upper-class or aristocratic household, the relationship between a member of the family and their valet or lady’s maid is a unique one. Though they are employer and employee, there is an emotional and physical bond that has the potential to go beyond the traditional bounds of the relationship.

The Parting Glass, by Gina Marie Guadagnino, was published in 2019. In the 1830s, in New York City, Mary Ballard’s job is that of lady’s maid to Charlotte Walden, one of the most sought-after young women in society. But Mary is not who she says she is. Her real name is Maire O’Farren. Maire is an Irish immigrant who was forced to leave her homeland after being caught in a compromising position. On her nights off, she frequents the unseemly parts of the city, where she gets involved with a prostitute and drinks with friends who are part of an underground society.

Maire/Mary is caught in a bind. She is in love with her mistress, who is having an affair with Maire/Mary’s brother. When the shit hits the fan, she has a choice to make, which has the potential to result in heartbreak.

Starts at 13:22

I have mixed feelings about this book. I love the concept of the narrative, blending a traditional historical novel with an LGBTQ protagonist and the reality of what it was to be an Irish immigrant during that time period. Though the middle of the story lags at moments, the ending is fantastic, and the details are nothing short of perfection.

Do I recommend it? I am leaning toward yes.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, History, New York City

World on Fire Character Review: Albert Fallou

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series World on Fire. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the show.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations. It would be nice to live in a world in which whom one loves is just another aspect of who they are. But the reality is we are judged based on our sexuality and based on that judgment, assigned a value. On World on Fire, Albert Fallou (Parker Sawyers) is a Frenchman whose family is originally from West Africa. He is also gay and in love with American doctor Webster O’Connor (Brian J. Smith).

Before the Nazis invade, Albert just lives his life as anyone does. But things quickly change under German rule. Targeted for his West African heritage, the Nuremberg Laws state that Albert is a second class citizen. Fearing for his and Webster’s lives, Albert asks Webster to smuggle him out of France. He knows that while his partner may be able to fly under the radar for a short time, Webster’s sexuality could be revealed at any time.

To sum it up: It takes courage to be yourself in a world that at best denies your rights and at worst, wants you dead. But, it also takes courage to know when it is better to leave your home and stay alive rather than stay where you are and risk being killed. Albert is aware of the world he now lives in and the tough choices that must be made in order to survive.

Which is why he is a memorable character.

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World on Fire Character Review: Webster O’Connor

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series World on Fire. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the show.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations. The truth of human sexuality is that it has always been a spectrum. But for most of our time on Earth, the only acceptable sexual relationship has been between a man and a woman. It is only in the last few decades (depending on where one lives) that members of the LGBTQ community are free to live and love as they want to.

On World on Fire, Webster O’Connor (Brian J. Smith) is an American doctor working and living in Paris as World War II rumbles on the horizon. He is also gay. Before the Germans invade the country, Webster is able to live openly as a gay man (well, as much as one could back then). Happily involved with Albert Fallou (Parker Sawyers), Webster does not listen to his aunt, Nancy Campbell (Helen Hunt) when she strongly recommends that he return to the States.

Then the Battle of France happens and Webster is stuck behind enemy lines. As both an American and a member of the LGBTQ community, he knows how dangerous it is to remain in France. But his Caucasian complexion and his assumed Christian faith have so far kept Webster off of the Nazi’s radar. Feeling that he has to do something, Webster and his colleague/nurse Henriette Guilbert (Eugénie Derouand), hatch a plan to get prisoners of war out of France before the Nazis can get their hands on them.

To sum it up: I suspect that many people in Webster’s situation would have taken his aunt’s advice. Having stayed for love, Webster is completely aware of the situation he is now in. But. he also knows that doing his part to save lives is dangerous. Having the courage to do that makes him a hero in my book.

Which is why he is a memorable character.

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Filed under Character Review, History, Television