Monday, December 18, 2023

TV: Four dramas that capture Americans

Despite the writers and actors strikes, four dramas have gripped America -- one ended today, one ends Tuesday and a third ends next month.  The fourth, the one we wish would end apparently won't end for some time.


First up, the one that ended today: FELLOW TRAVELERS.  The SHOWTIME mini-series is based on Thomas Mallon's novel about the romance between Hawk (Matt Bomer) and Tim (Jonathan Bailey) that develops in DC and finds them living through McCarthyism, the Vietnam War, the era of AIDS.  

Jelani Alladin, Matt Visser (who's added another "s" to his last name since FIREFLY LANE) and M3GAN's Allison Williams deliver in supporting roles.  All three are amazing and worthy of applause.  And the chemistry between Matt and Jonathan is so strong.  Matt accomplishes to much with a layered performance that pulls you into the self-serving Hawk.


Hawk is seductive, hoarsely taunting Tim, "Yeah, open up. Yeah, now show  me what my boy really wants.  To walk into the fancy Georgetown party with my smell on him?  Yeah?  Does he want to chat with the Kennedys and the Grahams with the taste of me in his mouth?"

The scenes between Matt and Jonathan are layered and either crackle or rip at your heart.

Though set in the past, the mini-series is surprisingly pertinent.  For example?  Closet cases like Senator Joseph McCarthy and his assistant Roy Cohn are still around attacking LGBTQ+ people. Or did we all miss Moms For Bigotry co-founder Bridget Ziegler?  She's attacked the LGBTQ+ community, she leads book bans, she is behind Florida's "Don't say gay" policy, earlier this year she and her friends like fellow Mom for Bigotry Melissa Bakondy to attack Tom Edwards during a Sarasota County school board -- smearing him falsely as a "groomer" because he is an openly gay man.

Bridget was a hateful bigot.  But, turns out, she's also a "B."  Bitch?  Oh, yeah, absolutely.  But that was always known.  The fact that her husband -- the head of Flordia's GOP -- is now accused of raping a woman led to the revelation that Bridget's a "B" -- a bisexual.  While attacking same-sex relations in public, turns out Bridget and her husband were having an affair with a woman.

WWSBB quotedeports: Support Our School's Lisa Schurr stating of Bridget, "She's vilified the LGBTQ community, while at the same time having a sexual relationship with her husband and another woman.  We don't care who she has sexual relationships with.  She's a grown adult.  The issue is, you can't have a bisexual relationship and at the same time vilify the LGBTQ community."

 Before a character commits suicide in FELLOW TRAVELERS he talks about how some people will try to destroy our democracy with hate and he could have been talking about the disgusting Bridget.


When Emmy nominations are handed out, they should start with Matt Bomer for his performance in the mini-series.  They shouldn't end there.  Certainly Noah J. Ricketts' performance as drag queen Frankie is award worthy.  Ricketts' delivers a memorable performance throughout but it's when Ricketts explains what it was like not even being noticed and then how being noticed came with curses that you really see what he can do.

And what FELLOW TRAVELERS can do is hook you, it's highly addictive. 

A MURDER AT THE END OF THE WORLD is an FX and HULU offering that finds the creative team behind THE OA -- Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij -- delivering again.  Britt's not playing the lead character -- like she did in THE OA -- she's playing Lee.  Brit Marling's the lead as true crime-er Darby who gets invited to a retreat thrown by Lee's husband Andy Ronson (Clive Owen).  Twists and turns abound and, spoiler alert, there's more than one murder.  Strong supporting performances from Joan Chen, Alice Braga and Raul Esparza.  When you think you know what's going on, a new wrinkle, a new twist.  It keeps you on the edge of your seat.  It wraps up Tuesday.

The third show is also FX and HULU, FARGO.  Season five kicked off last month and has a top notch cast.  Jennifer Jason Leigh plays evil billionaire Lorraine Lyon whose son Wayne (David Rysdahl) is married to a woman Lorraine detests -- Juno Temple's Dot.  Jon Hamm's in the cast as well -- he's a crooked sheriff and he's Dot's abusive first husband who wants her back -- is trying to kidnap her to force her back, in fact. There's one twist after another.


Last week, Rebecca and Stan offered ''fargo talk with stan" and "FARGO talk with Rebecca" -- a conversation about the show.  They've hailed it as the return of fall TV and cover every episode each week.   Check it out and you'll see why.  It wraps up January 16th.

Now for the fourth drama, the one we wish was over but it came with no end date.  QUEEN FOR A DAY.  Haven't heard of it?  You know THE WALKING DEAD, right?  And THE TALKING DEAD?  Well QUEEN FOR A DAY airs on every network and it's version of THE TALKING DEAD airs on HULU -- ON THE BRINK with Diane Sawyer and Rachel Scott.  


In BACKLASH: THE UNDECLARED WAR AGAINST AMERICAN WOMEN, Susan Faludi notes the 50s game show where women would serve up their "pitiful self-denying lot and the audience voted on the most hanky-soaking tale."

Is there a better description of women's rights in the United States since the death of ROE?


How could you miss, for example, Kate Cox.  A Texas woman who got pregnant and wanted the child, Kate's life should have been perfect but life's rarely that simple.  Not only was there a problem with the fetus but her doctor advised she might not be able to get pregnant again if she tried to carry to term.

Once upon a time, Kate Cox could have faced this rough decision and made a choice.  

The death of ROE changed that.

She's not allowed to make a choice.

She went to court and Judge Maya Guerra Gamble ruled that she could have an abortion and that it was "unforgivable that she was forced to go to court."  It wasthat unforgivable.  What followed really piled that on. The Texas Supreme Court overruled the judge.  Kate Cox had to leave the state to get an abortion.

As Dr Bhavik Kumar told Amy Goodman last week on DEMOCRACY NOW!, "While Kate’s story is personal and unique to her, this is very, very similar to what I hear from hundreds of people. And before the fall of ROE, I would be able to help these folks, even if they are in a difficult moment, to at least get through it, to be able to live their lives on their own terms and to decide what’s best for their future. In this case with Kate, it might have been to have children at some other time and hopefully have a healthy pregnancy that she can carry to term.

Judicial nominees to the Supreme Court, please note, lied in confirmation hearings and swore they respected precedent, often insisting that ROE was settled law.  And after 50 years, it should have been settled law.  There are no laws telling men that they can't have certain healthcare.  

It's only with the bodies of women, of poor people, of people of color and of LGBTQ+ people that hate merchants feel they have the right to decide for others.

Grasp what a corrupt bench of liars did.  A woman had to beg the court to have an abortion -- a procedure that was medically necessary according to her doctor.  She had to beg.  She had to go public.  She had no right to medical privacy because an illegitimate Supreme Court stripped all women of the right to privacy. 


This is the program viewers want to turn away from.  Americans want ROE codified.  They want the medical decision left to doctors and patients.   


 For more on the post-ROE reality, see Betty's "Rot in hell, Clarence Thomas" and Elaine's:



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