A Media Representation Review of 2016

Well, we all know this year was terrible, but some good stuff happened in terms of media representation. Some terrible stuff happened also. As I have for the last two years, I’m gonna talk about the things I’ve read and watched this year, new and old, and let you know what’s worth checking out and what isn’t.

As I did last year, I’m not gonna mention anything I’ve already blogged about extensively and I’m only gonna bring up something I’ve mentioned in one of these before if something big happened or my opinion about it has changed. I should also mention that I’m behind on a lot of shows right now, but in particular, I’m WAY behind on How to Get Away with Murder, The Fosters, and Empire, and so can’t comment on what they’re up to.

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Alex and Kara on Supergirl – image source

NEW:

Ghostbusters: Delightful. So much fun. Please watch it. There were no comments about any of the women’s bodies in the whole film! It was a relaxing and nonstressful male-gaze-free experience.

Moana: There are for sure major criticisms of Moana out there that you should definitely read and keep in mind. That being said, the movie was super enjoyable and made me weepy.

Zootopia: This movie was so good. I was startled by how much I enjoyed it. The message of the movie is kinda weird, though – like, it somehow manages to be both anti-violence-against-black-men and pro-cop at the same time? The systems of oppression in it make no sense and don’t translate to the real world at all. It’s difficult for me to imagine watching the film from like… the level of awareness at which the message would be helpful? I don’t know, man, I got distracted by this a lot while watching, but I was still super into it

Voltron: Right, so this is a Netflix reboot of the 80s cartoon, and I don’t know how this worked in the original, but the one character, Pidge, is revealed to be a girl named Katie who took on a false male identity (to enroll in a school she got banned from while investigating her brother’s death or something). But when this was discovered, everyone was like, DUH WE ALREADY KNEW, which is a common shitty trope when it comes to LGBT representation. Not that that IS automatically LGBT rep, but, like, that’s the trope they’re utilizing. Plus they somehow avoided using any pronouns for Pidge on the show from this point on and the producers are using “they/them” pronouns for Pidge in conversation, but it’s unclear what their intentions are or what’s going to happen in the new season. I fear they’re going to just keep not using pronouns on the show and sort of appropriating the nonbinary experience to avoid actually Dealing. It’s messy. Fun show, though.

Gilmore Girls A Year in the Life: Yikes!!!!!!!!!! Amy Sherman-Palladino hasn’t learned shit in nine years! You’ve probably already heard everything I could possibly say though.

Shadowhunters: Alright. First of all, I fucking love this stupid show. It’s so much fun. Second of all, it’s very clear that they put a lot of care and effort into their queer characters, and they’re adding another one this upcoming season. That being said, they don’t always do a great job. I’m not sure if the new showrunners will do a better job because they seem to be continuing this mindset that it’s possible to have characters experience internalized homophobia while also claiming the world they’re in isn’t fundamentally homophobia. Straight people claiming queer people are oppressing themselves. Chill.

Stranger Things: Super fun, though not the best thing I’ve ever watched and needs to improve significantly in how it treats its women.

Fuller House: Weirdly not as terrible as I anticipated about queer people? I really thought they wouldn’t acknowledge that queer people exist, but they do, and they do a decent job of making jokes about gayness wherein the gay person isn’t the butt of the joke. Like at one point the joke was that the teenagers DIDN’T find a gay joke funny. Also, they code the eight-year-old son as gay pretty strongly, but also he has a girlfriend now, so like… desist. Also also, I like to imagine how much Candace Cameron hates having to say all this not-conservative stuff.

Star Trek Beyond: Sulu is gay now, which is cool. Don’t get me started on the lack of queerness in scifi.

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Bex Taylor-Klaus as Audrey on Scream. She also voices Pidge on Voltron. – image source

ONGOING:

Scream: This show backed itself into a weird corner by having most of its core crew be white and straight. They have to add more diversity, but those diverse characters are the same ones who need to be killed off, so not only are they killing their only black character, for example, but they’re also not developing her very much, and no viewers really bother to get attached to her on the assumption that she’ll die? And the queer girl was finally given a girlfriend – but the way the show works, we HAVE to suspect her of being evil and/or eventually getting murdered. It’s exhausting. I’ve almost quit watching a bunch of times, but I like the recently-out-irl queer character, Audrey, too much.

Orphan Black: They unburied their gay, which is nice.

Carmilla: Well the webseries ended but now they’re making a movie! Carmilla has plenty of storytelling flaws but it’s nice to see a webseries about lady-loving, with a major nonbinary character, receive so much support. It’s worth watching.

Pretty Little Liars: Buried yet another gay. Only reason I’m still watching is I thought season seven had 10 episodes, until I got to like episode eight and realized there was a second half to the season. Oops kill me!

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Continues to be weird and bad about race. I only got through the new season because of the relationship between Tituss and Mikey the construction worker whom I adore.

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Rebecca and Josh from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend – image source

NEW TO ME:

Supergirl: This show is the love of my life and got me through my last semester of grad school. It’s dorky and earnest and feel-good. And now it’s doing an absolutely amazing job with Alex, who met a girl and realized she was gay this season. This happened around the time that the election was happening so I was particularly emotionally unstable, but I imagine I still would have cried a lot even if that was not the case. Please love yourself and watch this show.

Mad Max Fury Road: Yeah, I’m super late, I know, but this movie was fun as hell and so subversive. Not much I can say that hasn’t already been said.

The Raven Cycle: A really nice queer YA series. Definitely some flaws in the storytelling but still ultimately worth it for the characters. There’s a bisexual boy, which barely ever happens in media!

Grace and Frankie: Yo, this show is so good? Old people! Being sexual! Being gay! Having complex lives!

Fun Home (the musical and the book): I saw Fun Home: The Musical right before it went off Broadway during the summer and it was one million degrees and I cried for like a half an hour straight and it was the most disgusting I’ve ever been but it was worth it. The book is also really, really cool. It’s about a girl who finds out her dad is gay right after realizing she is; unfortunately her mental illness is barely addressed in the musical but his is there just as strongly as in the book.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: Often I think I’m going to die from secondhand embarrassment while watching this show, but it’s worth it. Admittedly I haven’t seen any of season two yet, but the main character is a mentally ill Jewish woman who’s in love with an Asian guy who is romanticized and sexualized in a way Asian men normally aren’t, plus there’s a gay guy and an older guy who realizes he’s bi, plus a couple of women of color as major characters. The honest depictions of mental illness on this show are a huge deal.

Bojack Horseman: I already talked about how this show revealed one of its main characters is asexual, but this season also had an abortion episode that subverts all expectations of abortion episodes, and got even realer about mental illness and addiction. Hard to watch sometimes but important.

Jenny’s Wedding: This movie is a goddamn trainwreck. You know, it’s the one with Katherin Heigl and Alexis Bledel getting married except they look like they’ve never met before and are perhaps different species. It’s entirely about Katherine Heigl’s family Dealing with her being gay and being selfish about it. It’s something that should’ve been made 10-15 years ago; it might’ve been progressive or important then, but now it’s a waste of money and time.

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Poussey :(:(:(:(:(:( – image source

CLASSICS:

Cadet Kelly: Gay as hell and shoulda been gayer.

Bring It On: Gay as hell and shoulda been gayer.

What I Like About You: I was obsessed with this show in middle and high school. It would be on TV four times a day and I would watch it all four times. So, like, why does it mostly suck now? It did not age well at all. Also, most of the characters should have been bisexual/they are and don’t realize it.

EXES:

Orange is the New Black: I stopped watching a couple episodes into the new season when I heard they killed Poussey, a black lesbian.

Check, Please!: This is that hockey webcomic I recommended last year. Basically, it’s a queer story that’s VERY obviously written by a straight person, doesn’t let you into the characters’ heads at all, and is capitalizing on closeted #drama.

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Gina Rodriguez is a beautiful angel whose show I need to watch – image source

PROSPECTIVE:

I still haven’t managed to see Rogue One. Oops.

Well, let’s see, I still haven’t watched Jane the Virgin or Fresh Off the Boat or Xena like I’ve been meaning to.

I’ve heard good things about Moonlight, a film about a gay black man that’s doing very well, and I also want to check out Kubo and the Two Strings.

Apparently the CW is making some edgy dark adaptation of the Archie comics, which I know nothing about, in which one of the Sprouse twins will be playing Jughead, who’s asexual in the comics, and they haven’t said either way if he’ll be asexual on the show or not, so it looks like I’m getting strongarmed into watching and blogging about Riverdale when it premieres.

Right now I’m watching Skam, a Norwegian show that’s kind of Degrassi-ish but like… better quality. It’s got some gay characters and some mentally ill characters and seems to be dealing with it all pretty well, but I’ve got Thoughts about its ambitious but complicated framework and will probably post about it when they reveal next season’s protagonist.

Anyway.

Let me know if you disagree with anything I’ve said here or have any recommendations for me. And please let me know if you have thoughts on how I plan to move forward with Flashback Friday in the new year.

Here’s hoping for an inclusive and, you know, nondisastrous 2017.

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