I’m Selina, Awards Circuit’s queer Girl Friday for everything LGBTQIA+ on film and TV! This week saw queer folx take center stage on Monday’s Primetime Emmys, a “Sesame Street” controversy involving Bert and Ernie behind the scenes photo-ops from “Men in Black’s” bisexual superstar Tessa Thompson, casting news from “Pose,” and the premiere of queer period drama “Colette.” Let’s get into it, shall we?
Thandie Newton, “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and So Many Folx From “The Assassination of Gianni Versace” Took Home Emmy Gold
The actual ceremony had its ups and downs (the downs usually featuring those boring Maya Rudolph and Fred Armisen sketches), but quite a few LGBTQIA+ actors and their related shows took home golden statues.
There was Thandie Newton who received the Emmy for Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for her stunning work on sci-fi drama “Westworld.” The win shocked Newton, an openly bisexual actor, into thanking a female God and swearing onstage (watch below).
Then we saw Ryan Murphy’s “The Assassination of Gianni Versace” win three awards, with Darren Criss snapping up the award for Lead Actor in a Limited Series of Movie, the Emmy for Directing a Limited Series going to Murphy, and the entire show earning a Limited Series accolade. Murphy’s acceptance speech for the show’s overall win was verbose, with the director dedicating the award to LGBTQ victims of hate crimes, stricter hate crime laws, and Gianni Versace (watch below).
Last but not least was “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” which was the first series in Emmy history to win for Best Reality-Competition Program and Best Reality Host in the same year. RuPaul Charles and the cast and crew received a standing ovation as they took the stage, where RuPaul thanked the TCA on behalf of “the 140 queens we’ve released into the wild” (watch below).
Bert and Ernie Are…Straight?
A Queerty interview with Mark Saltzman stirred up controversy this week when the former “Sesame Street” writer wrote for two of the show’s star puppets, Bert and Ernie, as a gay pairing. He had modeled the muppet’s relationship after his own with life partner Arnold Glassman, and that “more than one person referred to Arnie & I as “Bert and Ernie.””
This, apparently, is a controversial stance to take for puppets on a children’s show.
The PBS series came out to publicly deny Saltzman’s comments:
Please see our most recent statement regarding Bert and Ernie below. pic.twitter.com/gWTF2k1y83
— Sesame Workshop (@SesameWorkshop) September 18, 2018
Deadline also noted that the Sesame Workshop went on to say that, though their muppets do identify as male and possess human traits, they’re still puppets, and thus don’t have sexual orientations. Frank Oz, master puppeteer and former “Sesame Street” director, also said that it’s fine if Saltzman believes they’re gay but “they’re not, of course.”
Ultimately, I can understand why “Sesame Street” is sticking to the “Bert and Ernie are Totally Just Straight Roommates” story. While the children’s series does sometimes go political in the name of acceptance, many involved with “Sesame Street” clearly didn’t conceive the pair as a romantic couple. Why deal with conservative backlash to a story that is, to them, untrue?
But personally, I prefer to think of Bert and Ernie as an old married couple; they certainly seemed that way to 3-year-old me. The pair lived together and often argued, but always came through for each other in the end. Saltzman’s writing was clearly an homage to the most important relationship of his life, and if even one child feels a little more comfortable being themselves by watching Bert and Ernie together, isn’t that reason enough to make Saltzman’s canon reality? What do you think?
Tessa Thompson Starring in the Next “Men In Black” Is Every Queer Dream I’ve Ever Had
I must admit, yet another installment in the “Men in Black” franchise was not of any interest to me. Emphasis on “was,” as a behind-the-scenes snap of Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth in their full on-set has completely changed my opinion (see above). The stars, previously known for their Asgardian badassery on “Thor: Ragnarok,” are the latest pair of government agents tasked with keeping an eye on aliens living undercover in NYC. Tessa Thompson clad in suit and tie, here to keep the peace and launch a thousand lesbian crushes while doing it, is sure to pull every red-blooded wlw to the theater. According to Deadline, the “Men in Black” flick doesn’t have a name or any publicly released plot details just yet, but we do know that Liam Neeson, Emma Thompson, Rafe Spall and Kumail Nanjiani will also star, with Sony planning a June 14 release. But let’s be real, we’re all just here for a sharp-dressed lady.
Sandra Bernhard Promoted to “Pose” Series Regular
Nurse Judy will be back for Season 2 of “Pose.” Sandra Bernhard, who played the quick-witted but tender-hearted nurse Judy Katz at the local hospital’s HIV/AIDs ward, has been bumped up to a series regular for “Pose’s” 2019 season. Bernhard, a bisexual stand-up comedian, actor and singer, is perhaps best known for playing out lesbian character Nancy Barlett Thomas on “Roseanne,” a role she returned to last spring.
While it’s always great to get some tea on the groundbreaking drama’s next season, seeing more of Nurse Judy could spell a bad time for some of “Pose’s” HIV-positive characters. Will someone else wind up on their deathbed next season? We’ll just have to wait and see.
“Colette” Premieres Today, Sept. 21
One of 2018’s queerest dramas is set to bow in theaters today. The biographical period piece tells the tale of Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette (Keira Knightley), who ghost-writes a widely celebrated novel for her famous “author” husband, Willy (Dominic West). As her husband rakes in undeserved praise for the novel she wrote about her own life, Colette fights to take back creative ownership and combats societal norms and limits on sexual expression, according to NewNowNext. AKA, Keira Knightley flirts with girls while wearing a victorian-era suit. “Colette,” hailing from director Wash Westmoreland, sounds like Oscar-bait that actually celebrates queer characters instead of dragging them through a painfully traumatic storyline, along with being an homage to one of France’s most beloved authors. I know what I want to watch this weekend.
Colette premieres in theaters Friday, Sept 21. Watch the trailer below.