• Victoria A. Brownworth

Marching into TV Land: The Lavender Tube on Kate, Andy, Eve and Pam

March 8, 2022 Bay Area Reporter

Sandra Oh in 'Killing Eve'; John Cameron Mitchell and Kate McKinnon in 'Joe v. Carole'; 'The Andy Warhol Diaries '

In William Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar, a soothsayer tells Caesar, "Beware the Ides of March." Well, the Ides of March are fast upon us and the whole world would do well to pay close attention.


Some of us —especially the queer folks— have been warning about Vladimir Putin for quite some time. We recommend watching HBO's Welcome to Chechnya, by Academy Award-nominated director David France (How to Survive a Plague, The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson). The documentary follows a group of activists who risk their lives to expose the persecution, kidnapping and torture of gay men and lesbians in the Russian republic of Chechnya.


There have been reports that Ramzan Kadyrov, the head of the Chechan republic and architect of that violence, would be perpetrating a similar cleansing in Ukraine. Bathsheba Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. office in Geneva, sent a letter to the U.N. warning that Russia has created a "kill list" of Ukrainians to be attacked or detained. LGBTQ activists and other LGBTQ are on that list. (https://epgn.com/2022/03/02/ukraine-russia-and-the-fight-for-lgbt-freedom/|Philadelphia Gay News>)


Griner is accused of having vaping materials laced with CBD oil in her luggage. On March 5, ABC News reported that the U.S. State Department was monitoring the situation and was ready to help in whatever way possible. Griner faces a mandatory ten-year sentence.


U.S. Olympic women's basketball player Brittney Griner


Griner, who is a vocally out lesbian, plays for the WNBA team Mercury in Phoenix. She has also played in the off-season for a Russian team since 2014, which makes it highly unlikely that she actually had CBD oil. The WNBA tweeted their support for Griner on March 5. But the fact that she was arrested three weeks ago and the news was just getting out is indicative of the danger she is in and the restrictions on news media in Russia.


Paralympics

The Paralympics began in Beijing on March 4 and run through March 13. They are being broadcast on NBC's USA Network. The first gold medalist from the U.S. is Okasana Masters, a double amputee. Masters is a biathlete and cross-country skier. She won the women's biathlon sitting sprint, her fifth career Paralympic gold medal and 11th overall medal between Summer and Winter Games.


Oksana Masters was born in Ukraine with multiple radiation-related birth defects from Chernobyl and was adopted from a Ukrainian orphanage at 7 by American teacher Gay Masters. She has won 11 Paralympic medals in 2014, 2016, 2018 and 2022 Games in five sports.


We Love Kate McKinnon

While the world is focused on the rise of totalitarianism in Russia and the assault on Ukraine, the GOP continues to attack LGBTQ people here at home. In Florida, GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis has been pushing "Don't Say Gay" legislation. (Philadelphia Gay News)


On the March 6 Saturday Night Live, Emmy-winning cast member Kate McKinnon, an out lesbian, popped into the show's Weekend Update segment with a long riff exposing just how dangerous the legislation is, at one point noting, "I am deeply gay."


John Cameron Mitchell and Kate McKinnon in 'Joe v. Carole'

McKinnon is also the star, with John Cameron Mitchell, also openly gay and a Radical Faerie, of the new Peacock series Joe v. Carole.


Based on the story of Joe Exotic: Tiger King, the new series was developed after the success of Netflix's 2020 series Tiger King. (previous Lavender Tube column)


In Joe v. Carole, McKinnon plays Carole Baskin, a big cat rescuer. The story opens as Carole learns that roadside zoo owner Joe Exotic has hired a hit man to murder her. Seven years earlier, their rivalry began when Carole built a coalition to shut down Joe Exotic's animal show and cub-petting operation.


The series traverses their separate paths and how they converge. This makes for a sometimes confused narrative as Mitchell is absolute chef's kiss perfection in his role and McKinnon is ... not.


One problem with Joe v. Carole, which is still definitely worth watching, is that Tiger King was so fabulous that it overshadows this series. Another problem is that McKinnon, while very good in her own way here, is simply not the Carole Baskin we know. The fresh-faced McKinnon, who looks much younger than her 38 years, is supposed to be portraying a 50something worse-for-wear Baskin and that remains a disconnect throughout in the segments devoted to Carole. This is exacerbated by her husband Howard being played by Kyle MacLachlan, who's in his mid-60s.


That said, Mitchell is just mesmerizingly good and you can't get enough of his unique and playful and demonic turns in his segments. Mitchell is so good at portraying Joe as a really driven, menacing and sexually obsessed character that we are pulled into the story and kept there.


So yeah; don't miss this. It's so rare that we get such stellar gay characterizations by out gay actors and Mitchell is one of the best. This series, and especially the role of Joe Exotic, could have veered easily into the parodic. But in Mitchell's deft hands we get all the nuance and the slow creepiness of the story arc.


This is also a highly charged, thoroughly gay series and that matters, too. With a stellar supporting cast that includes the always fabulous Dean Winters, William Fitchner, Nat Wolff as Travis Maldonado and Sam Keeley as the object of Joe's erotic obsession, John Finlay. Joe vs. Carole's streaming on Peacock and available on YouTube.


The Andy Warhol Diaries

Directed by Andrew Rossi and produced by Ryan Murphy, The Andy Warhol Diaries Netflix docuseries is powerful, moving and utterly unique. The six-part series follows Warhol from his childhood to the 1960s Factory days to the '70s Studio 54 bustle to his friendship with Basquiat in the '80s. It has pathos, mundanity, introspection, glamour and layer-upon-layer of art. It also has Andy Warhol himself, who appears via artificial intelligence to narrate some of his own story.

This is very much a gay story and one of gender-bending revelations. Early on, the series explores what happens to Warhol after he is shot in 1968 by S.C.U.M. Manifesto author Valerie Solanas. As Warhol recovers from his injuries, he falls deeply in love with Jed Johnson, an interior designer who moved in with him to help him navigate his recovery.


Their domesticity is an almost shocking reveal and pulls the viewer into the story to see a Warhol that was not the Warhol of the headlines or even the movies he made. Warhol's renowned introspection and circumspection gets another look here—and in his own words.


An extraordinary tour de force of a series that could have been yet another flat, repetitive simulation, The Andy Warhol Diaries is a must-see for its verve and drama and slow burn as the pages of Warhol's diaries turn to give us surprising insights into the man and iconic gay artist and filmmaker we thought we knew.


The Thing About Pam

Over the past few years especially, we have queried as a society how and why people continually fall under the thrall of manipulative narcissists, be they world leaders like Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump, or the lady next door, like Pam Hupp, the title character in NBC's new true crime drama series The Thing About Pam. Pam Hupp is the neighbor and friend of Betsy Faria, who was murdered in 2011. Faria's husband Russ was convicted of that murder.

The Thing About Pam is based on coverage from Dateline NBC and is titled after a Dateline podcast of the same name. When Russ's conviction is overturned, a chain of events "exposes a diabolical scheme deeply involving Pam Hupp."


This series, which is Oscar-winner Renée Zellweger's TV debut, is wild. It has everything, but

Renée Zellweger in 'The Thing About Pam'


especially it has Zellwegger as the soda swilling, Midwestern-accent-twanging, menacing neighbor who seems like such a nice, normal person as she crashes into cancer-stricken Betsy Faria's life and frames Russ Faria for her murder.


The addition of the iconic voice of longtime Dateline host and investigator Keith Morrison is the perfect flourish in this remarkably compelling series, with Josh Duhamel, Judy Greer, Katy Mixon, Gideon Adlon and Sean Bridges. It's on NBC and streaming on Peacock.


Queer Eye: Germany

Netflix's original series heads to Germany. Five experts in lifestyle, fashion, beauty, health and design "dazzle a nation and transform lives" in this makeover series.


The first international spin-off of the Queer Eye franchise will see "five local experts steering the lives of their protégés in a positive direction with their knowledge, empathy and, above all, confident queer energy."

Life Coach and former Club Kid Leni Bolt will be the queer eye with "Life" Expertise and is described as "an expert for time management & mindfulness in all aspects of everyday life, a work/life coach, podcast host and

'Queer Eye: Germany' cast

hippie at heart with one mission: to change negative perspectives and help people become happy."


Jan-Henrik, David, Ayan, Leni and Aljosha take the baton in an international spinoff of the Emmy-winning U.S. show.


Killing Eve

The girls are back! Killing Eve has returned for a fourth and final season in one of our all-time favorite series. AMC's award-winning spy thriller pits the world-weary and disillusioned British intelligence agent Eve (Sandra Oh), against the glamorous witty and sociopathic assassin, Villanelle (Jodie Comer). Villanelle is obsessed with Eve who works very hard at excising the woman she both loves and is terrified of from her life. It's so very good.

There are other terrific characters in the series like the brilliant Fiona Shaw as Carolyn Martens, head of the Russia Section at MI6 who brought Eve into the M16 fold. Kim Bodnia is fabulous as Konstantin Vasiliev, Villanelle's handler.


Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer in 'Killing Eve'

AMC says "This season of Killing Eve is more personal, dangerous and emotional than ever before." True that.


So for the ever-unfolding drama on the global, national and local stage and for some banging drama on the tube, you know you really must stay tuned.



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