2018, celebrity, Inspirational, LGBTQ, pop culture, television

I’M SO GRATEFUL THAT I CAN HATE ON “QUEER EYE”

I find Bobby on Queer Eye annoying and I love that I find him annoying. I love that I can roll my eyes at Antoni loving avocadoes, and I enjoy that I can be confused about what Karamo’s actual role on the show is.

There is a criminal dearth of queer representation in mainstream media, and the small amount that we do have disproportionately illustrates cisgender, white gay men of certain attractiveness and privileges. However, I feel like this is the first time that I can remember seeing multiple, nuanced depictions of queerdom. And that makes me super happy.

A few years ago, Looking premiered on HBO. It centered on three white and white-passing gay, cisgender men in San Francisco. While I personally liked it, the show was widely panned by critics (fairly and unfairly) for projecting a narrow and specific type of queer experience. I do not think that Looking in and of itself was a bad show, and I think that it portrayed a certain kind of experience relatively truthfully. However, the problem was that it was the only mainstream show that really had any queer people as the main focus. So from the get, it had this incredible pressure to portray every type of queer person.

The problem with early representation is that it’s impossible to depict everyone. But with so few options, people (rightfully) want to see themselves represented. It also runs the risk of preventing other queer stories being told because when, if, things fail, people use that as proof of failure.

I started thinking about this when I watched a video from the queens of RuPaul’s Drag Race season 10. They were asked to give their favorite season (season 5), and the simplicity of that struck me. We now have ten seasons of a show about queer people in drag. We have enough to even be able to pick a favorite season. And we have enough to have less-than-great seasons (season 8, I’m sorry). That in itself is a huge victory.

And that feeling reverberated when I was watching Queer Eye. In five years, when Bobby Berk has his own design show and possibly a spot on an HGTV mid-morning show, I’ll probably forget that I found him annoying on the Netflix reboot of Queer Eye. At that point, I’ll hopefully have my own apartment, and I’ll be dying for him to recommend the best way to shiplap the fuck out of my house. In five years, Antoni will be a hot-as-fuck almost-40-year-old in a beautiful New York loft, and Karamo will be…I can’t really imagine but he’ll definitely still be good-looking as hell.

By the way, Bobby definitely has blisters on his fingers from hammering two-by-fours and lower back pain from lugging in antique armoires. In one of the recent episodes, he completely renovated someone’s kitchen, redesigned their closet and all Antoni did was bring the subject to someone else who taught them how to make fresh pasta. I’m screaming!!

I realized how lucky I was to be able to be annoyed by Bobby or Antoni or Karamo; to see a depiction of a queer person and not feel like I have to like them because I have no other option. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my queer forebears. There are so many people who paved the path that I now walk so effortlessly on, people who did it for nothing more than the idea that someday, in their wildest dreams, people like me could breathe a little easier.

I’m working my way through the pilot of Pose (it’s riveting, I’m just totally scatterbrained) and I also listened to a podcast that interviewed Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo, one of the two couples involved in the Prop 8 lawsuit that restored same-sex marriage in California. I have the privilege of being white, able-bodied, cisgender and surrounded by a healthy support system, so I forget too often how many people struggled, and still struggle, in my community.

Representation matters, and Queer Eye and Pose and RuPaul’s Drag Race are more than just TV shows: they’re proof that queer people exist, that they can flourish, that they matter.

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2018, Politics, television

SAMANTHA BEE AND THE THEORY OF PUNCHING DOWN

Header: TBS via Vulture

Two things can be true at once: that’s the case when I’m eating McDonald’s (happy and sad), the case for Schrodinger’s Cat (both alive and dead), and it’s the case with Samantha Bee, comedian and host of TBS’ Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, calling Ivanka Trump, daughter of President Donald Trump, a “feckless c*nt.”

It is completely inappropriate, wildly disastrous to the point Bee was making about the treatment of migrant children, and annoyingly hypocritical of liberals to be more forgiving; it is also, at the same time, categorically different than Roseanne Barr comparing Valerie Jarrett, former senior adviser to then-President Barack Obama, to an ape. These two things can both be true.

In the outrage news cycle of coverage surrounding Samantha Bee, many conservative pundits are calling for TBS to cancel Bee’s show, citing liberal indignation and demands for cancellation of Roseanne. The ABC reboot was cancelled a few hours later. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders herself called for TBS to cancel the show.

“Her disgusting comments and show are not fit for broadcast,” she said in a statement, “and executives at Time Warner and TBS must demonstrate that such explicit profanity about female members of this administration will not be condoned on its network.”

Re the Roseanne Barr controversy, Trump only commented to say that he was owed an apology by Disney CEO Robert Iger for the “HORRIBLE statements made and said about [him] on ABC.” When asked about Trump’s statement, which focused on himself rather than Barr’s comments, Sanders said, “The president is simply calling out the media bias; no one’s defending what she said.”

Here’s the thing: I hate what Bee said. I really like her show, and I enjoy her as a comedian, so I was disappointed and upset by the words she used. I was watching CNN this morning, anchor Poppy Harlow and CNNMoney Senior Media Reporter Oliver Darcey said that Bee’s wording made the story about that, rather than the policy. I agree with that: I think that was probably part of the reason why Bee said it, but I also think that Bee is smart and cutting enough to have made her point without resorting to the c-word.

However, there are several things that separate what Bee said from what Barr said. First, Ivanka Trump works in her father’s White House administration. Several people were calling for Bee to separate the child from the father, but when the child literally works with the father, I don’t think it’s unfair to call her out. Additionally, Ivanka Trump has made the “working mother” her platform, so a policy that brutally separates asylum-seeking migrant mothers from their children would fall under Ms. Trump’s purview.

Secondly, there is the theory in comedy of “punching down” versus “punching up.” When making jokes, “punching down” refers to making fun of people who are more oppressed than you; “punching up” is making fun of people who are more, categorically, powerful than you. Roseanne Barr, a white woman, making fun of Valerie Jarrett, a black woman, using bigoted racial stereotypes is “punching down” because Barr is a racial majority in power and she is using the same logic used to condone slavery to make fun of a racial minority. Samantha Bee, a white woman with a platform, calling Ivanka Trump, another white woman with a platform, a c*nt is not punching down; it’s punching up, or at least punching sideways. Bee, unlike Barr, does not have the continued support of the President of the United States. And if we are to hold people accountable, we need to hold everyone accountable: including the president. Because while liberals can be hypocritical, if you don’t have an issue with the president bragging about grabbing women by the pussy, then why do you have a problem with Samantha Bee?

Thirdly, there is a difference between using a curse word and invoking a racist, bigoted myth used as justification for oppressing an entire race of people.

What Bee did was crass and unfortunate. What Barr did was racist and evocative of horrors that the United States allowed in the not-too-distant past. Lindy West, a contributing columnist for the New York Times, wrote this: “Chattel slavery in America ended 153 years ago. I am only 36 years old, and when my father was born, there were black Americans alive who remembered being the property of white people. Slavery is not our distant past; it is yesterday.” Racism pervades today, arguably as strong as ever. It’s not even hidden anymore; people are openly racist. It’s the reason why, as West points out, Flint, Michigan still does not have clean water; it’s why Trump took such an issue with black players in the NFL peacefully protesting for Black Lives Matter.

Bee made a horrific, rude joke, but it’s not comparable to Roseanne Barr. You can be outraged by what Bee said but still understand that it’s different to Roseanne. Two things can be true at the same time.

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Review, television, Things Happening RN

“ROSEANNE” IS CANCELED

On Tuesday, ABC announced that it would be canceling the reboot of Roseanne after the show’s star, Roseanne Barr, went on a Twitter rant that included a racist remark against Valerie Jarrett, former senior adviser to President Barack Obama, in which Barr compared Jarrett to an ape. Despite tepid headlines calling it “racially charged” or heading into “racial waters,” the remark was just plain racist.

The reaction to it was swift; Wanda Sykes, a consulting producer on the show, announced that she was quitting, Emma Kenney, an actress on the show, Tweeted that she was going to quit. This is after showrunner Whitney Cummings announced last month that she was leaving the show as well.

In a letter, the president of ABC Entertainment Group, Channing Dungey, announced that Barr’s comments were abhorrent and they were canceling her show. Dungey is also the first black American president of ABC.

To talk about this is to talk about how something can be both good and bad at the same time. It is good, categorically, that people had the response to Barr’s comment. It was racist, because Roseanne Barr is racist. It is good that ABC canceled the show, and that people on the show had the reaction they did.

However, Roseanne Barr being racist on Twitter and peddling in racism, bigotry, Islamophobia and conspiracy theories existed before her show was rebooted. Former U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice, who is black, said that Roseanne also compared her to an ape in a tweet. Roseanne also perpetrated the conspiracy theory that Hillary Clinton was running a child sex ring in the basement of a pizza restaurant. That theory led to an armed man entering and threatening the occupants of that restaurant.

ABC did not have a problem with Barr’s past comments, so it’s difficult to assume that this latest remark, even though it is a racist, repugnant comment, was what sent her show over the edge. ABC canceled the show for one reason: because it affected ABC. Without Cummings or Sykes, and with the possibility that several of its actors would leave, the show, and Barr herself, became a financial liability. That is why they canceled the show.

In February 2017, Simon & Schuster dropped Milo Yiannopoulos as a client after acquiring the rights to his book with an advance $255,000. The book deal was tabled after audio surfaced where it appeared Yiannopoulos condoned inappropriate sexual relationships between men and boys. This was decidedly too far for Simon & Schuster, the people signing the same man who was banned from Twitter for inciting racial violence and bullying against Leslie Jones, who called people faggots and derided feminists as “ugly and sexless.” Simon & Schuster did not drop Yiannopoulos because they were offended morally. They dropped him because the bad publicity and optics of keeping him were not worth it. They found worth in him, and subsequently cosigned his words and bigotry, when the benefits of him outweighed the costs.

ABC cosigned Roseanne’s actions because the benefits of her outweighed the costs. When the scales were flipped, they dropped her. It was, and is, business.

This isn’t to say that I don’t think that the people behind these actions, like the executives at Simon & Schuster or Channing Dungey, were not offended by the actions and words of their clients. I think it’s highly likely that they were. But what I’m saying is that everything else, and everything before, they did not have a big enough problem with to stop working with Yiannopoulos and Barr.

I think that there is a place for conservative shows on television, and I think that it’s necessary to have conservative voices in the conversation.  I think it sucks that everyone on the Roseanne show was unceremoniously fired, leaving their jobs and their paychecks in limbo. I think it sucks that Roseanne Barr was given literally a golden opportunity and all she had to do was keep her raging racism barely in check – and she couldn’t even do that.

I think it sucks that the ABC executives who greenlit the show fed into the lie that Roseanne was important because it represented the so-called “silent majority,” white middle-class Republican voters, perpetrating this lie that they are the people who are being marginalized. Losing your status as the only voice can feel like, I’m sure, losing your voice, but that’s not true. Roseanne was not, and is not, the only show that represents white, middle-class Americans. There is, without sounding facetious, countless shows that represent this demographic – The Middle, Bob’s Burgers, Modern Family, The Goldbergs, Family Guy, Fuller House… the list goes on and on.

I understand the push behind reboots; it’s the same reason why I re-watch the same shows over and over against. There is power in the familiar, and there is capital in nostalgia. But the shows being rebooted after remnants, unfortunately, of a time in television where the pre-eminent voices were white, cisgender and straight. What if we put the energy, money and passion that is being directed towards rebooting old shows into creating new ones? What if we created shows that were representations of the present and future of Americans?

The 2016 election uncovered for many Americans the truth of our country: that we are riven with cracks, that we are deeply divided and angry and frightened. I understand the impetus behind rebooting shows like Roseanne, that desire to reach out to different sides of the aisle. But I don’t think Roseanne was the answer. I think the answer is not in encouraging growth from a poisoned root, but in growing something new and wholly its own. There is a way to truthfully and accurately represent what it means to be an American in 2018.

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pop culture, television

VANDERPUMP N’ DUMP

Something I can’t stop talking about is Bravo’s Vanderpump Rules. It is, without a doubt, the best reality television series.

It began as an offshoot of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, and centers on the lounge of Real Housewife Lisa Vanderpump. The show originally portrayed the restaurant’s servers (SURvers) as up-and-coming (ish) models, actors and musicians who were using the restaurant to get by. Now, six seasons in, the cast members have morphed into these weird, emotionally stunted Instagram celebrities who, somehow despite all of the spon-con they hawk, still work at the restaurant and still make the same awful decisions in the latter half of their thirties.

Vanderpump Rules is the greatest show because it’s an actual, deep cut of human psychology. Every single person on the show operates beyond empathy and borders on intolerable. It’s also entirely unscripted. At least a decade into the reality television machine, most things are semi-produced. Fights used coded language that hints at larger, behind-the-scenes drama (that would break the fourth wall if acknowledged). But the drama on Pump Rules is so small, so insignificant, and so completely driven by people who can’t get out of their own way.

Within the first twenty minutes of the first episode of season six, we learn that Jax, a main cast member, (publicly) cheated on his girlfriend of two years, Brittany, with another SURver named Faith, while Faith was working as a live-in home health aide for an elderly woman. This is the first episode.

Ultimately, Brittany, a deeply devout Christian who moved from Kentucky after meeting Jax in Las Vegas, decides to stay with Jax. This is the second girlfriend Jax has cheated on during the show’s run. He cheated on his previous girlfriend Stassi with her best friend, Kristen, who also happened to be the girlfriend of his best friend, Tom.

This initial bomb leaves in its wake deeply troubling ways of coping. There is a lot of internalized misogyny and Peter Pan syndrome on Pump Rules. The guys band around Jax and say that he’s built to cheat, he’s a good person, he deserves another chance. The girls revolve around Brittany and alternately tell her to dump Jax and make him “super-jealous.” Brittany seems hell-bent on “changing” Jax, and he, despite being a serial cheater, finds worth in relationships.

These people act the same on and off camera; they actually are rewarded for behaving badly. But it’s fascinating to watch a group of people endlessly entangle themselves with each other, incapable of not hurting each other, and, despite all of the misery that they cause, remain a group.

Watching Pump Rules, you can catch glimpses of your own personality, the darkest recesses of your being. It’s the id of the reality television world. All of the things you wish you could say, the pettiness and mean-spiritedness and cattiness, are purged away as you watch two 35-year-olds chain-smoke on patio furniture in the alley behind SUR. It’s confession, basically.

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2018, pop culture, Review, Riverdale CW, television

REVIEW of RIVERDALE Ch.26, “The Tell-Tale Heart”

The devil you know.


Grade: B+

A “capo,” or caporegime, we learned tonight, is someone that does the killing – the dirty work of the boss. It widens the web of guilt, attaching other people to the sins of someone else.

Betty assists her mother get rid of the body of the man who came to the Cooper house, a crime that Jughead and FP will eventually get drawn into. Veronica negotiates with Mayor McCoy on behalf of her father. Archie gets pressured by Agent Adams. All of these tangential people are being drawn into the actions of others, almost against their will.

The energy of the episode catapults off last week’s, where, interestingly, Tall Boy was, in a sense, the capo of Mayor McCoy and Hiram Lodge. Now that Juggie knows that Tall Boy was working at the behest of Hiram, he sends back the head of General Pickens to the Lodges and uncovers the nefarious actions of Mayor McCoy – that the Lodges donated hush money to McCoy while she looked the other way on their business dealings.

What I love is that Jughead is, at his core, trying to do a good thing: stop his friends and family from being evicted. It’s getting overshadowed by, you know, covering up a murder but it’s still super nice! Veronica stops Mayor McCoy from going public of her crimes by threatening to release the information of her affair with Sheriff Keller, which would decimate them, their families and their social standings.

Archie is being pressured more and more by Agent Adams, who wants to get Hiram on tape. Archie uses the newspaper coverage of Papa Poutine’s murder to bring it up to Hiram, but Lodge isn’t budging. And when Archie doesn’t deliver the goods (and purposefully misleads the FBI), Adams goes after Fred with some made-up illegal immigrant worker business.

Screen Shot 2018-02-08 at 1.58.50 PM

Source: The CW // Cheryl was criminally underused this episode.

Upon a second visit to the dead body – wrapped in a rug and deposited in an old pipe – Betty discovers his phone, which show that he has a jealous girlfriend and a thriving drug-dealing career. This disproves my theory that he came to the house as a result of Betty or Chic’s cam-habits, but begs the question: is Chic doing drugs? Or is he involved in the dealing?

Betty cracks and involves Jughead in the cover-up. He, then, involves FP who utilizes his “getting rid of bodies” expertise to dissolve the body. He’s learned from his mistakes covering up Jason’s murder and he won’t be getting caught this time. Is it just me, or did we all gloss over the fact that FP got rid of Jason’s body?

After Archie comes clean to Hiram, that an FBI agent approached him but Archie hasn’t squealed, Hiram’s minion Andre – Hot Andre – comes to collect him for a visit with the boss. As the limo descends into darkness, conveniently scraping spookily against finger-like branches, Archie becomes more and more nervous.

And perched on the edge of a cliff, the river frothing below, is not Hiram Lodge. Instead, framed by liquid sheets of dark hair, Hermione Lodge is “the boss.” It turns out that, as we suspected, Agent Adams was not, in fact, an FBI agent. Instead, he was a test for Archie – to prove his loyalty. And the phrase, “capo,” comes back from the beginning of the episode. Agent Adams was the capo of Hermione. But more interestingly is the role, the active role, Hermione appears to be taking. She is not, perhaps, the capo of her husband. She might be an agent of chaos in her own right.

Archie is confused, and betrayed. However, the test worked: Archie didn’t snitch. But with the steely blackness of Hermione’s eyes, it doesn’t feel like a victory. It feels like a warning: that Archie is not safe, not because of Veronica, not ever.

This is the first time that the Riverdale ragtags didn’t involve the police in something that’s happened, and it marks an unholy shift in the narrative for me. Before, they circumvented the (relatively) hapless law enforcement when they had to, but they still were operating on the side of good. Now, with so many people moving to cover up a murder, and some getting deeper into the pull of mafia, our heroes of Riverdale are taking a distinctly antihero approach.

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2018, Review, Riverdale CW, television

REVIEW of RIVERDALE Ch.25, “The Wicked and the Divine”

Are we going to ignore that it seems literally impossible to “decapitate” a bronze statue?


Grade: B-

In things I never thought I would say: I’m completely intrigued by Jughead’s storyline so far. He’s gone from annoying emo Dan Humphrey to annoying Serpent to now intrepid journalist and activist-ish. He’s fighting against the corrupt powers-that-be: Sheriff Keller and Mayor McCoy. But while he’s also fighting the good fight, he’s being tripped up by his old, dumb decisions: namely Miss Penny Peabody.

It’s Veronica’s confirmation, as we can discern from her couture fitting of a white satin dress. When I was confirmed, I wore a one-size-fits all robe and sweated it out with two hundred other 12-year-olds. But to each his own. Veronica’s whole family is coming into town…her crime family. According to Agent Adams, this provides a perfect opportunity, ostensibly, for Archie to dig up some good dirt on the Lodges. However, Archie, newly apprenticed to the Dark Lord, is having trouble balancing his two boyfriends (a problem I’ve never had). He’s been invited to work Hiram’s poker game with other industry kingpins.

Veronica is afraid of bringing Archie into the fold, into the family. Outsiders aren’t usually allowed in, but Hiram sees something in Archie that’s different. And either Veronica breaks up with him to protect him, or she forever keeps him at an arm’s distance. Veronica is grappling with her future in the family: both as a moll and as a scion. But I’m wary of Hiram’s sudden acquiescence about Archie’s role in the family: is he really okay with Archie taking a greater part?

And when Veronica eventually decides that she does not want Archie involved, it may be too late. At the poker game, he overheard two of the kingpins plotting to get rid of Hiram, whom they felt had become too weak. So when he suspects them of attacking, Archie warns Hiram. Veronica attempts to warn Archie off, but he already knows that Hiram is a monster. But then something happens that makes me unclear about Archie’s motives. This entire episode, I was operating under the assumption that Archie, in spite of himself, was actually enjoying being Hiram’s disciple and when Veronica tries to warn his about Hiram’s future plans – of which SoDale is “just the beginning” – Archie stops her from incriminating herself. Is he still loyal to Boyf Numero Uno, Agent Adams?

On the Southside, Serpents are being targeted as the suspects of defacing the General Pickens statue. Sheriff Keller regularly harasses Jughead and his friends with no evidence; Mayor McCoy allowed for the eviction of the entire trailer park. But the call is coming from inside the house. Those evictions spur Tallboy, who hates Jughead, to bring Penny Peabody, angry and irritated and tattoo-less, back into the fold for legal retribution. She, however, wants an eye for an eye: an end to Jughead at her own hands. FP, upon learning that Jughead skinned Penny’s tattoo and broke Serpent rules for attacking one of their own, says that Jughead will be the downfall of the Serpents. Okay, sis.

Juggie and Betty put up flyers to find the head, and get a call from a local scrap company. Someone’s found the head. When questioned, he admits to seeing someone unfamiliar around the scrapyard. In the most obvious twist, it’s Tallboy. He set up the decapitation, possibly with the Lodges, to bring Penny back and get rid of Jughead and FP, allowing him to take control of the Serpents.

Eventually, Papa Poutine, one of the kingpins that tried to get rid of Hiram, has been found dead and the Lodges get a cumbersome confirmation present: the head of General Pickens. Could it be that the Serpents know Tallboy co-operated with Hiram and now they’re taking their revenge?

In all of this drama, Betty’s induction into the world of cam-modeling seems relatively underplayed. If this were anything else, it would be the major storyline, but when I’m watching her and Chic, I can’t even muster up some energy. Betty’s “dark” side is being messily underutilized, and besides the fact that, like, she’s sixteen and that’s totally illegal for her to be a cam-model, I’m just not that interested. I don’t want to explore her darkness in a vacuum. Also Hal, who may or may not have fucked Penelope, refuses to live under the same roof as Chic, is going to a “Share B-n-B.”

Betty is more compelling when she’s putting her Nancy Drew skills to the test, and even more compelling when that puts her morality – and Dark Betty – in question.

And just when Betty and Jughead seem to be rekindling their flame, the lingering omission of her webcam life hangs between them. An omission that might come to light when one of Chic’s, or Betty’s, clients knocks on the Cooper door. A visit that ends with Alice Cooper cleaning his blood off her lacquered wood floor.

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2018, Review, Riverdale CW, television

REVIEW of RIVERDALE Ch.24, “The Wrestler”

Slim Pickens


Grade: B-

Essentially, Riverdale is a show about the power of journalism – that and bizarrely hot high schoolers. The Riverdale Register and the Blue-and-Gold play crucial roles in exposing the seedy underbelly of Riverdale.

Things are reaching a boiling point; Archie is trying to balance sports with being an undercover FBI mole; Cheryl’s mother is running a brothel from their cottage; Veronica is training to be the scion of the Lodge family criminality; Betty is grappling with her newfound brother; and Kevin is running track, wrestling and writing a gossip column! Shockingly, minus the wrestling and the cruising for dick in dark woods, Kevin is me in high school.

The entire episode is framed around Pickens Day: a day to honor General Augustus Pickens. He, bankrolled by Cheryl’s ancestor, settled the land that would one day be Riverdale.

While Cheryl is petitioning to get it renamed to Barnabas B. Blossom Day, the Adults are using it to their advantage. Spurred by the bad press of closing Southside High, the Lodges and Fred Andrews want to sponsor Pickens Day to restore goodwill amongst the So-Dale project. Mayor McCoy, who is getting sudden nosebleeds from the high horse she’s decided to clamber onto (despite banging the sheriff and taking Lodge hush-money), is strongly against it. Also her name is Sierra?

It turns out that General Pickins operates as Riverdale’s Christopher Columbus: honored in the present because of efforts to whitewash his bloody past. It turns out that Toni and other Serpents are the descendents of the Uktena people, who were the original inhabitants of the land that would be Riverdale. But Great-Great-Great-Grandpappy Barnabas B. Blossom (a real Hiram Lodge) wanted the land for development (the maple industry, brothels, saloons and railroads), and hired General Pickins to slaughter the Uktena, 400 people.

Veronica, at the end of the table, casts her vote for bolstering Pickens Day, when Archie comes home. Drama! When he reports this development to Agent Adams – gay love affair – the FBI agent urges him to cozy up to Hiram Lodge by any means necessary. Archie, after learning that Hiram loves wrestling, decides to go out for the wrestling team. Basically, this episode is largely stagnant and dull, but gives us ample shots of Archie being hot. It’s a win, people, except that Archie kind of sucks at wrestling (even Kevin can pin him down, albeit later calling Archie a “1970s’ pornstar”). By the way, Kevin is a straight-up freak and I love it, because it leads us into Betty’s B-plot.

She learns, via Kevin, that Chic is a cam-boy, a digital gigolo, a virtual hooker. This is where I get a little preachy. Chic was put up for adoption, aged out of the foster care system and received no handouts from anybody. What he does to make money is of no business to anyone, least of all the rich, well-to-do famiy that decides to drop into his life unannounced. Although I’m not here for him introducing Betty, who is…16? 15?…to cam-life, or as Jughead refers to it, “The Dark Education of Betty Cooper.”

Betty and Chic bond over their weird rage-flashes and tendency to dig their fingernails into their palms hard enough to draw blood. She’s especially protective of him against Hal, who is, by the way, definitely not the father of Chic. That divide in the family deepens enough that, after a full-out fight on Pickens Day, Hal falls into the treacly company of Penelope Blossom.

The rest of the episode plays out like this: Jughead uses the plight of the Uktena to write an article (journalism!) lambasting Pickens Day as the celebration of slaughter (in the process angering Toni for “using” her grandfather) before all the Serpents protest the festival and, allegedly, desecrate the statue of Pickens.

Archie trains privately (gay) with Hiram Lodge, sinking deeper into treacherous Lodge waters as he defeats Chuck Clayton (remember him?) and earns the respect of Hiram. Oh and Mayor McCoy’s high horse gets in the way of a Josie-Veronica friendship, culminating in the band, “Veronica and the Pussycats.” Oh, and Cheryl realizes her ancestor was a bloodthirsty monster (are you really surprised, Cheryl? Look at who everyone else in your family is!), thus opening up the potential for her to approach Toni.

In the end, Archie denies a call from Agent Adams in favor of chatting with Hiram Lodge, leading us to wonder, “Is Archie getting too deep into the Lodges?” Is he infiltrating or converting? Upon a second watch, I noticed a squid lapel pin on Hiram’s suit. Could Archie be caught in the clutches without him even realizing?

I didn’t love this episode because, despite the ~drama~, it really operated to set up other shoes to drop later on.

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