I’m Selina, Awards Circuit’s queer Girl Friday for everything LGBTQIA+ on TV! First up to bat this week is Netflix’s “Insatiable,” which has been categorically panned for its bad writing and tired tropes about fat people and bisexuals, really going for fully spoiled veg with its 11% Rotten Tomatoes rating. But elsewhere in the TV world, the queer gods are smiling on us, with premiere announcements and season greenlight coming in for “Marvel’s Runaways,” “Anne With an E” and “The Fosters” spinoff “Good Trouble.” And off on the great big rainbow horizon…is that a “Designing Women” reboot?
The bad news just keeps piling on for one of Netflix’s rare flops. “Insatiable,” a dark teen comedy trying too hard to be a modern “Heathers,” has been widely criticized for fat-shaming its main character, who is literally nicknamed “Fatty Patty.” The optics of Debby Ryan, a former Disney star who dons a fat suit for the role, is terrible, and the reason for Patty’s “Cinderella transformation” (getting punched in the face and her jaw wired shut) is worse. However, some viewers gave the show a second chance, waiting to see if the internet’s first impressions of the series were totally off-base.
Yeah, they weren’t.
The show stays skin-deep and others have masterfully dissected why it’s so terrible. But my personal, deep-seeded beef is with the show’s absolutely awful take on bisexuals. The show’s ninth episode features a convo between characters Bob Armstrong and Bob Barnard after they lock lips, with Barnard trying to convince the other man to explore. “Tell yourself you’re bisexual. We all go through that phase” are his exact words. Oh, but wait, they’re not done! “Bisexuals are like demons or aliens. They don’t exist,” says Armstrong.
Cool. Since I don’t exist, I guess I can cut straight people in line and never pay parking tickets. But all jokes aside, the show’s handling of someone’s coming out is atrocious. While the show does eventually show Armstrong accepting that he’s bi, and that his comments stemmed from internalized biphobia, it’s still a garbage way to “discuss” bisexuality. We get enough weird comments about bisexuality in real life, we don’t need to watch a show try and fail to talk about the subject. Fans are pissed and I don’t blame them. For a studio with an unusually good track record with LGBTQIA+ representation (“Orange is the New Black,” “Riverdale,” “Sense8,” etc.), they really blew it with this one.
In less depressing news, Hulu’s teen superhero show “Marvel’s Runaways” will be back December 21 with its goth and rainbow girlfriends actually repping LGBTQIA+ love in 2018. According to NewNowNext, Karolina and Nico are still a match made in queer lady heaven, with co-showrunner Josh Schwartz promising to keep their relationship front and center during Season 2. We’ll be picking back up with the struggling teenagers right where we left off: homeless and hunted. The runaways, formerly rich, private school attendees, have been forced to fend for themselves, taking shelter in an underground hostel and hiding from their (evil?) parents. We’ll just have to wait and see how Nico and Karolina handle first love in the midst of chaos…and how Gert’s dinosaur is doing out in the urban wilderness.
On another queer kid note, Netflix’s “Anne With an E” has been renewed for a third season after its second was begrudgingly praised for its canonical, very overtly gay love. There’s a happy party of gays and lesbians, Cole comes out, Aunties Josephine and Gertrude were in love (though Aunt Gertrude has already passed), and there’s a lady bicycling in pants. Fans of the original books are still unhappy with the updates “Anne With an E” writers made to the story, which includes several new characters, too much dramatics and stilted dialogue, but if you’re partial to TV shows about baby gays being mentored by cool lesbians, you’ll be seeing even more of “Anne With an E” very soon. Also, sidenote: it’s weird that Netflix could handle LGBTQIA+ characters so well on one show, and completely miss the mark on another. Do better, “Insatiable.”
Fans of LGBTQIA+ family sitcom “The Fosters” will be pleased to hear that “Good Trouble,” the show’s spinoff, will premiere during the winter TV season. The new series, set to bow in January on Freeform, reportedly shows the pitfalls and struggles that come with adulthood for sisters Callie and Mariana. In a new teaser trailer for the series, the pair are seen calling home (probably to their awesome moms) with teary eyes but brave faces. The show will follow in the Freeform steps of fellow ABC spinoff “grown-ish,” which follows daughter Zoey Johnson as she heads off to college. Here’s hoping that “Good Trouble” will be as well-received as its predecessors.
Watch the teaser below, where “Queer as Folk” alum and “The Fosters” showrunner Peter Paige talks about “Good Troubles'” original pitch and the upcoming series.
And finally, the news y’all have been waiting for: “Designing Women” is getting a reboot. Deadline confirmed this week that the sitcom is going through the pipeline at Sony Pictures TV, with original series’ creator Linda Bloodworth-Thomason heading up the project. The project is one of several classic reboots going forward at the studio, with their revival of “One Day at a Time” recently settled into a comfy seat at Netflix.
Per TVLine, the “Designing Women” reboot will be shopped around soon, with no word yet about its original stars coming back for the series. The 1980s-90s sitcom centered on four female designers (Dixie Carter, Delta Burke, Annie Potts and Jean Smart) and their male assistant (Meshach Taylor) who worked together at an Atlanta design firm. The series is iconic for the queer community, becoming one of the first TV shows to discuss the AIDS epidemic and feature comebacks and quips still quoted in gay bars across America. For a lot of gay folx, this series gave them a voice and the confidence to be themselves when the entire world had some nasty things to say. In the hellscape that is 2018, we could use some throwback Southern sass.