‘Sex Education’ is Queer, But the Gayest Part is My Crush on Gillian Anderson

Since her days as Dana Scully on The X-Files, Gillian Anderson has amassed a widespread and, um, vibrant queer fanbase. Basically, we all want her to tear us limb from limb and eat our faces. The British actress, who is queer herself, has riled up her lady-loving fans for years with her austere performances, killer power-suits, and willingness to openly flirt with Kate McKinnon.

Her latest endeavor, a teenage-centric Netflix dramedy called Sex Education, is queer as can be, with lesbian sex scenes and numerous LGBTQ leads. But the gayest part of Sex Education is actually the velocity at which my heart throbs for Gillian Anderson.

One boy in the show refers to Anderson’s character as a “sexy witch,” which would normally be the ultimate compliment, but in this case, barely scratches the surface of her sex appeal. Gillian plays Jean, an acclaimed sex therapist and promiscuous mother to 16-year-old Otis, who is sexually repressed as a result of his unconventional upbringing, being surrounded by phallic statues and jarring conversations about sex. Anderson wears motherhood well, despite usually playing less maternal characters. But she maintains her ever-severe disposition. Throughout the show, Gillian does a lot of staring in a British accent. There’s also some glaring in a British accent, judging in a British accent, and lots of intimidating in a British accent—all of which confirmed that I want Gillian Anderson to step on me.

I’ve written about the queer community’s desire for Brie Larson to punch them in the face—a craving I definitely share. But underneath Brie Larson’s superhero exterior as Captain Marvel, there’s something sweet and endearing about her. The same cannot be said for Gillian Anderson. I am scared of her, she makes my bones quiver, and I want her to stomp on my face and leave an oily black shoeprint on my forehead. What I’m trying to say is: I’m so gay for Gillian Anderson that my desires for her have surpassed normalcy. She has radicalized my lesbianism and I would let her do ghastly things to me, especially as the perpetually lustful Jean from Sex Education.

While I initially watched the Netflix show so I could pretend Gillian Anderson was yelling at me, Sex Education actually turned out to be one of the best shows I’ve seen in the last year. I expected to be bored during the evergreen virginal teenager content, but was pleasantly surprised by how gay it was. Long story short, I ended up unhinging my jaw and swallowing the show whole in less than 24 hours, leaving a tear in the space-time continuum where my TV used to be.

Queerness is ubiquitous in Sex Education, and does what every show or movie should do with sexuality: the show finds the delicate balance between normalizing queerness and removing its shock factor, and illustrating how sexuality can still be a big deal for certain people. For example, there’s Eric, a flamboyant gay guy and best friend to Otis, who is cursed with heterosexuality. What I love about Otis and Eric is that they’re lifelong besties who visibly diverge in personalities, sexualities, and interests: Eric is theatrical in his exuberant temperament and garish outfits while Otis is mild, both behaviorally and in his lackluster wardrobe which says “I’ve been wearing these clothes since I was 11.”

I hate having to say this, but it’s nice to see an unlikely and intimate straight-gay male friendship. It shouldn’t be rare, and I don’t want to call them an “unlikely” pairing, but they are. Otis and Eric are the perfect example of how life should be—straight white males like Otis, when freed from the prisons of toxic masculinity and homophobia, can form close bonds with gay men without feeling like others will think they’re gay by association (which, newsflash, isn’t a bad thing—it’s a compliment).

I’ve seen other straight-gay male friendships attempted on-screen before, like in Set It Up (2018), when Pete Davidson and Glen Powell were paired as besties—but their entire relationship felt forced, like Powell’s straight character was constantly calling out his friend’s queerness, as if to say “Look how chill I am with this dude being gay! I can talk about it without even being weird!”

In Sex Education, there’s no leftover bro detritus or defensiveness. Otis and Eric openly talk about their romantic endeavors and give each other advice on both girls and boys. They dress up in drag to attend a showing of Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Eric playfully grinds on Otis and slow-dances with him at the school dance, just like a pair of girls would do without being judged, labeled, or experiencing gay panic. We, as the audience, can see how special and unique Otis and Eric’s bond is, and how Eric’s queerness is NBD to his best friend. However, Eric’s sexuality is a big deal to other people in his life.

Eric’s father, who teeters on the edge of being openly homophobic, reprimands his son multiple times throughout the series—not necessarily for being gay, but for dressing up and standing out, because he worries about his son’s safety (which is heartbreakingly compromised when Eric is attacked by vicious straight men on the street).

Queerness is also a big to-do for Adam, the repressed school bully who (surprise surprise) targets Eric because he’s got a secret crush on him. We’ve seen this storyline tons of times before—looking at you, Karofsky from Glee. However, when the trope is contrasted with the low stakes queerness of the other characters, it works, as it demonstrates the spectrum of homophobia that unfortunately exists today. For example, it’s worth mentioning that there’s an out lesbian couple in Otis’ high school and no one ever targets them and they’re never the butt of the joke. The couple has a few cringey sex scenes, and later seek Otis’ expertise for sex and relationship advice—which, again, is NBD to him.

Unfortunately, Gillian Anderson’s character isn’t queer (that we know of—the show’s only in its first season and she’s clearly very sexually open). And even though I was totally sated by the range of queerness and LGBTQ storylines that Sex Education had to offer, I was markedly distracted by Anderson’s angular bone structure and Miranda Priestly hair. I would recommend this show to anyone who’s starved for queer content—so, everyone—but I would assign it to any queer Gillian fan. Jean offers the gravity of Stella Gibson in The Fall, the intimidating, lengthy pauses of her character in The Spy Who Dumped Me, and the fiery sex appeal of 1,000 mean lesbian suns.

But be forewarned: Watching Sex Education while crushing on Gillian Anderson will likely create a big gay black hole where your TV used to be—binge at your own risk.

This Kristen Stewart and Stella Maxwell Split Ruined My Holiday

My holiday season was less-than-happy because my favorite celesbian couple broke up just as my gay ass was attempting to start feeling jolly. Kristen Stewart and her (wipes tear) now ex-girlfriend Stella Maxwell are no longer together — and neither is my life.

Yes, it was inevitable. Yes, some have referred to the Twilight star as a “serial dater.” Yes, celebrity couples typically split after two years of dating, but I had such high hopes for this power couple. I thought it would end in wedding bliss at a star-studded, royal style, Chanel custom-designed double dress, celesbian wedding in Paris.

But after two years of high fashion runway shows, exclusive film premieres, A-list Hollywood parties, sharing clothes, cold-pressed juices, and passionate PDA, the hot celesbian heart-throb couple have ended their relationship.

There was a very brief red flag in October, when Stella was suddenly no longer following Kristen’s (private) IG account (someone slid into my DMs and told me — I do, outside of loving celesbians, have a life.) But the error was corrected not long after, and our celesbian queens were once again following each other.

The couple started their relationship in 2016 and I guess 2016 would also be the last great year America saw — it was President Obama’s final year in office and it was the year “Kristella” began.

I am so grateful that I get to exist within the same lifetime as these people. Especially given the mass adoption of social media (not to brag, but Obama follows me on Twitter). In this social media obsessed culture (where if you don’t post a pic of bae does bae even exists?) one thing that stood out about their relationship was that Stella never posted a single photo of Kristen to her 4.2 million Instagram followers — if you were lucky, you maybe could barely catch a glimpse of Kristen’s arm or leg in one of Stella’s stories, but that’s about as much as we ever got.

As you know, the Instagram “follow back” is the re-branded version of the “Facebook relationship status.” For those in your early thirties, you may remember how serious it was if your Facebook relationship status changed. If the other person was actually tagged, it announced your partnership with a photo of the two of you together on everyone’s timelines. It was basically a millennial marriage.

And now with Instagram taking Facebook cyberstalking to heroin-like levels, we can see who followed whom, when they followed them, and how many of their photos they liked. This is an INCREDIBLE amount of information for someone like me who loves to keep up with the latest Hollywood celesbian gossip — but when it led me to finding out that my own ex had finally moved on and had a new girlfriend, I became not-so-fond of these intimate features.

Anyway, time heals all wounds, right? Well, this Kristella breakup has left a gaping puncture wound in my hopeful, celesbian power couple-dream heart. For fans of celesbian culture, Kristen and Stella had picked up where Lindsay Lohan and Samantha Ronson left off in 2008 — simpler times (sans the broken bottles being thrown in nightclubs and the ever so common restraining order) — but Sam and LiLo gave us young queer women a feeling of hope and excitement. At that time and for our generation, Lindsay Lohan was the most recognizable household television and film actress dating another woman. Her openness about dating a woman was monumental; it gave queer women worldwide visibility and validity, even if the press did often attempt to minimize their full-fledged “women who love women” relationship to “gal pals.”

I remember seeing Lindsay Lohan on The Ellen Show in 2009, the year after her breakup with Samantha. Ellen casually talked about how Sam and Lindsay had come to her birthday party together where Sam had DJ’d — ooh, to be a gay fly on that celesbian wall! Kristella gave me that exact same excitement and feeling of being seen. Sam and LiLo existed in a pre-social media world —  but now, I could look at new photos of Kristen and Stella virtually as they were being taken.

One of the highest paid and most well-known actresses Hollywood, the face of a worldwide terrifyingly popular film franchise (I never got the whole vampire thing, tbh), dating one of the most in-demand models — a Victoria Secret model at that — beautifully stunning women that are specifically cast to make men drool over them and make women aspire to be them were dating each other! Kristen was on the FROW (front-row of a fashion show) in Paris watching her girlfriend Stella walk the runway debuting the first look for the new Chanel collection, both of them mingling with Karl Lagerfeld (who seems to be quite fond of lesbian models himself) after the show. It was something straight out of my own fantasies and dreams.

When Stella attended Kristen’s directorial film debut screening in Beverly Hills (which I also attended…with the aforementioned ex…deep sigh), I thought, “maybe Stella and I share some sort of deep universal connection right now —  newly single and quickly moving on with new women.” (And if I may speak for us both, downgrades at that!) No shade to this new girl, Sam or Sarah Stylist Somebody, who looks like an intellectual. Intellectual stimulation from a partner seems to be something Kristen longs for, but she clearly has a weakness for beauty — not that I blame her.  It even happened to me earlier this year, when I attempted to take a long-time Instagram model crush out for a Valentine’s Day date, which crashed and burned after I discovered her black-out alcoholism. The prettiest people do the ugliest things.

The two archetypes Kristen always seems to oscillate between are the silent glamorous beauty or the articulate creative intellectual. Another reason I believe Kristen longs for an intellectual partner comes from a major hint I picked up from a December 2017 interview Stella did with the Italian women’s magazine GRAZIA.  Here is an excerpt from that interview:

I think that excerpt speaks for itself.

Let me be clear: This is not to drag Kristen, nor Stella. I adore them both. I don’t know who broke up with whom, (although my money would be on Kristen calling it quits) or even if it was mutual, but what I do know is that most “high fashion” models are simply not intellectuals and are usually low-key homeless. Not to be shady, but if you travel as much as they do, why would you want to pay rent for a place that you’re barely going to have time to actually live in?

Recent paparazzi photos of Kristen and her new gal, seem to suggest that Kristen has been staying at her new girl’s place—my guess is to give Stella time and space to figure out where her and her little gay dog are going to go. Maybe she can crash with her fellow model BFF Barbara Palvin, or maybe she can be an erotic third with her Russian hottie pal Irina Shayk and Bradley Cooper.

Bella Hadid might even be a good option, SEVERAL Tumblr Lesbians™ believe that Stella and Bella Hadid low-key dated and slept together casually a few years back and that Bella Hadid has ALLEGEDLY taken many a dip in the lady pond. Her close friendship with Kendall Jenner only validates this in my mind. Kendall Jenner’s queerness is an entirely different article. (Catch one of my live stand-up shows to possibly hear my Kendall Jenner Gay theory. It’s deep.)

Maybe Stella could be petty and messy and crash with Kristen’s ex’s ex Cara Delevingne— I’m pretty sure Cara has a home. Although it does seem like she crashes on friends’ couches a lot, like that week she was continuously photographed outside of Gaylor Swift’s New York City apartment every morning? And who could forget how close Cara and Kendall were? R.I.P. “CaKe.”

Remember not too long ago, but also low-key forever ago, when Cara Delevingne dated (and was madly in love with and proposed to) Annie “St. Vincent” Clark, but then St. Vincent broke up with Cara for Kristen and then Kristen broke up with St Vincent for Stella? *Alice Pieszecki voice* Maybe Stella should date St. Vincent! That would be weird and confusing, but also everything.

Or maybe she could Airbnb at  O.G. Silver Lake celesbian Amber Heard’s place while Amber travels the world trying to be the new Meghan Markle. (Jk, love you Amber let’s grab tea at Covell next Saturday). 

Stella could even get back with Miley Cyrus! And yes, Miley Cyrus and Stella Maxwell dated! It was in 2015 and it was very hot and cute.

Possible plans for Stella’s romantic future aside, I honestly feel just as heartbroken over this breakup as Stella and Tripp the dog must. Meanwhile, Kristen is seemingly feeling no pain. If I had her bank account and was the hottest celesbian in the world, I probably wouldn’t be feeling too much pain from a breakup either.

However, this breakup was undoubtedly the WORST part of 2018 for me. After a few days of silently grieving their split, or maybe being in denial about it all, I’m still not quite sure. I was reminded of the way life always seems to restore the balance, how when something bad happens, that usually means something good is to follow. Yin-yang; night, day; happy, sad. We need that balance; we have to have shitty moments so that we can know when to appreciate the good times. Just like this current era the world is experiencing, after this awful phase, we will see more love, more peace, and more unity as a result of all the turmoil we are enduring right now. Once again, the balance of life.

So cheer up, Stella—I’m sure there is some hot, up-and-coming young actress/model/singer looking for a high profile relationship to boost their TMZ ratings. You and your gay dog will have a home again in no time! As for us, the celesbian royal watchers, well, when one door closes, another one opens. And God has blessed us with more hot, young lesbian models. And he even put a cherry on top—they are WOMEN OF COLOR. I wish I were lying when I say I’m crying while typing this, but I’m not.

Allow me to introduce you to the new celesbian power couple of 2019 and 2020—Aqua Parios and Selena Forrest. I can hear you say “Who?” I had never even heard of them until a faithful follower on my @BettePorterGallery IG account DMed me and told me to check them out. (Shout out to @cleopatranising.)

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👭🏽❤ lez be happy😚

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Selena and Aqua are both up-and-coming New York-based models of color that are currently dating each other and recently got engaged. They’re both incredibly stunning and are both extremely out. Just one scroll through Aqua’s instagram (@aqua) and see for yourself— their relationship is on display bold and clear for the world to see *cries*. May I please just say, THANK YOU AQUA. THANK YOU SELENA. GODDESS BLESS YOU BOTH.

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❤️

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I have been dreaming of this day for so long — a young, relevant, hot black or brown celesbian couple and here they are. The best Christmas present of all. Aqua is Blasian (Black and Japanese) from Arizona and Selena seems to be biracial as well, from Cali. I’m not sure how they met, (assuming through work) but they seem to have been dating since sometime in 2014. Congrats on your engagement, ladies. I look forward to you both becoming household names on your rise to the top and seriously THANK YOU for your VISIBILITY and for being OUT and PROUD with your LOVE. We need more of it. I’ll see you both at the wedding.

And goodbye, Kristella! I will always love you. (*Whitney Houston voice* Sidenote: please watch the Whitney documentary if you didn’t. It has ALL the TRUE Robin Crawford Whitney Houston lesbian relationship tea, as well as confirmation that Cissy Houston — Whitney’s mother, did not want her daughter to be gay and did not like her girlfriend Robin.)

Justice For ‘Soda Pop’: Remembering One Of Britney’s Weirdest Songs

Not only did the 20th anniversary of …Baby One More Time fix climate change and end world hunger, but it also led to newfound appreciation of Britney’s debut album. There’s a whole generation of young people out there who weren’t even alive when Godney brought us this precious, precious gift, so it’s gratifying to see her first record receive some love from the Spotify generation as well.

A number of articles and social media rants posted over the weekend prove that hits from the album like “…Baby One More Time” and “(You Drive Me) Crazy” will continue slaying us till the world ends, but there’s one track, in particular, that’s still not getting the love it deserves and that’s “Soda Pop.”

You’d assume that a song that also appeared on the first Pokémon movie soundtrack would be universally loved by all, but to do so would make you even more wrong than the Ash/Pikachu porn that circulates online.

Despite appearing early on the original tracklist between classic singles like “Sometimes” and “Born To Make You Happy,” “Soda Pop” is often dismissed as an unfortunate byproduct of the time in which it was made, much like Napster or The Phantom Menace.

In a brand new ranking of the album’s track listing, Billboard placed “Soda Pop” in tenth place, besting only “The Beat Goes On,” and EW was even harsher when they argued that it’s one of the four worst songs Britney’s ever recorded. We were more generous when we ranked it in seventh place, but on an album full of classic material, “Soda Pop” still deserves to be celebrated and not just because it’s catchy AF either.

Although super-producer Max Martin was the one who elevated Britney to stardom with her debut single, the lion’s share of …Baby One More Time was actually written and produced by Eric Foster White, who basically worked on every song that wasn’t a single and eventually won a Nobel Prize for his work on “E-Mail My Heart.”

Along with reggae star Mikey Bassie, White co-wrote and produced “Soda Pop,” drawing on influences from the seemingly incongruous worlds of dancehall and bubblegum pop. While the song seems to have left a bad taste in the collective mouth of critics everywhere, fans at the time fizzed with joy at Britney’s soaring vocals and her infectious love of soda popping, even if it did sound like nothing else on the album.

Although it’s easy to see now why the song’s reggae vibes might have sounded out of place back in 1999, it’s also clear that the experimental nature of “Soda Pop” would go on to inform the genre-bending that defined later albums like Femme Fatale and In The Zone. Part of Britney’s appeal has always been her weirdness, and it doesn’t get much stranger than singing about opening a “soda pop, bop, shu-bop, shu-bop” to dancehall rhythms.

Scratch that. It does get weirder, but only when you stop dancing around to this carefree bop and take a closer look at the lyrics. On the surface, Britney’s obsession with soda seems to harken back to more innocent times when dates would meet up at their local diner over a chocolate malt. In reality, though, “Soda Pop” might be more interested in the taste of something else altogether.

When Bassie’s guest vocals first kick in, younger me assumed that he and Britney were just enjoying a casual soda together as all good friends do. However, talk of “monster riding to the music tonight” and leveling the vibes “for a wicked time to the end” took on a whole new meaning for older me.

That’s right. It’s not just soda that Britney’s watching “fizz and pop” in the chorus.

Many are quick to claim that “E-Mail My Heart” is the weirdest song that the Princess of Pop has ever recorded, but “Soda Pop” could easily give it a run for its money, which is why this naughty little ditty will remain a fan favorite “on and on until the break of dawn” and beyond.

“Soda Pop” is many things to many people; A cheesy nostalgia trip, a hyper-sexual ode to ejaculaton, a “vibical expedition” that rivals even the work of the “great poet Homer”… it’s tough to fully encapsulate the song’s strange, strange appeal, which is why we’ll leave it up to Weirdney herself to explain:

“’Soda Pop’ is such a fun song, when you hear it you’re just like ‘oh, I wanna go outside and just, y’know, party’ it’s like a really fun summer song everyone, y’know, just, in your car, listening to, y’know, it’s a great song, it’s a lot of fun.“

Truer words have never been spoken.

Image via Getty

INTO Asks: Are Straight People Okay?

Listen, we here at INTO don’t want to come off as judgmental. We’re just concerned, is all. So we’re checking in: Hey, straight people, are you okay?

In this new video, our panelists gather to check in with heterosexuals and make sure they’re doing all right. Judging by some of their social media posts, the answer is a resounding no! For example, take this tweet:

“Is he your child, or is he your boyfriend?” panelist Bella Ja Ja asks. If we’re having to ask, you understand why we’re concerned!

Watch the full video below.

Which ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 4’ Queen Is Most Likely to Return?

Welcome to Drag Race Power Rankings! Every Saturday, we’ll debrief the previous night’s new episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 4 to determine which queens are riding high, and which need she-mergency care. This week, we’re processing the twist-on-twist-on-twist delirium of the final six episode, and determine who has the best chance of returning to the competition this week.

10. Farrah Moan — POTENTIAL RETURNEE (last appearance: 9)

A note before we get too deep into this: According to VH1’s description for the next episode, the return challenge is a Lip Sync for Your Life battle royale, in which all the returning queens will get a chance to come back to the competition. So, with lots of love to Farrah, who looks amazing in her red return look, but I would be shocked if she were to win a lip sync.

9. Gia Gunn — POTENTIAL RETURNEE (last appearance: 8)

I actually think Gia has the lip-syncing skills to get back into this competition, depending on her opponent. But she spent the night of her elimination cursing out RuPaul … so yeah, she’s not getting back in.

8. Jasmine Masters — POTENTIAL RETURNEE (last appearance: 10)

All Stars 4

If there were to be just one returnee, I’d say Jasmine had no shot at coming back. But the description is clear that all the eliminated queens have the chance to come back. Jasmine is a talented lip syncer, and if she gets the right opponent, who knows! All that aside, though, I’m betting on just one returnee, and it’s not her.

7. Valentina (last week: 4)

Valentina

Time to go, Val. You’ve done what you needed to do here — got your lip sync redemption, endeared yourself to scores of fans — and now you’re just blowing up your spot. I enjoy Valentina’s delusions of grandeur as much as the next gay, but let’s send her on her way to Rent Live and narrow down to the strongest competitors left.

6. Naomi Smalls (last week: 5)

I actually don’t think Naomi will get sixth in this competition — in fact, I could see her making top four — but she’s this low because there is just no way she can win. She’s been all but invisible in the edit, and there aren’t enough episodes left to craft a compelling winner’s arc. Naomi is destined to be a bridesmaid in this competition, and considering how strong she’s been overall — though admittedly not this week — it’s kinda sad to see.

5. Latrice Royale — POTENTIAL RETURNEE (last appearance: 7)

The redemption challenge is a lip-sync tournament? Oh bitch, just put Latrice back in the competition right now. That said, if she can’t turn it out after winning her way back in, she’ll be back out the door right away.

4. Monique Heart (last week: 3)

The ooh-ah-ah sensation really did get screwed by the judging this week, earning a bottom placement despite being one of the clear best in the challenge. That’s the tough thing about All Stars‘ final weeks: If you’re not a winner, you’re a potential loser. While she was kind of mopey about it in the workroom during deliberations, I admire her for not getting too defensive on the runway. She’s learning how to work the judges, slowly.

3. Trinity the Tuck (last week: 2)

Trinity really threw Valentina under the bus after practically citizen’s arresting Manila for considering sending her home two weeks ago! Good lord. Trinity’s biggest issue is her inability to keep her eyes on her own paper. When she’s focused and working hard, there’s no one performing better in this competition. If she can get that focus back, I think she’s a lock for the finale, but that’s a big if at this point.

2. Monét X Change (last week: 6)

The biggest rise of the week goes to Ms. Change, who really, truly, and finally pulled her shit together. Both her challenge performance and runway were strong, and while I would’ve personally put Monique in the top two above her, I can’t quibble with the quality of her output this week. If she can keep this energy up, she could truly win this whole thing. But she has one massive obstacle standing in her way,.

1. Manila Luzon (last week: 1)

I mean, come on. If you’re not on the Manila train at this point — which, I’m very open that I wasn’t until recently — what are you doing? She’s slaying this competition, putting forward the most complete package of runway, challenge performance, attitude, and damn good TV of any queen left. In my mind, she’s the winner. Which probably means she goes home in two weeks. But we’ll cherish every moment until then.

‘RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 4’ Recap: Nobody Was Killed at Lady Bunny’s Funeral?

Usually I prefer to proceed somewhat chronologically in my RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 4 recaps, but this week, I think we have to start at the end. And what an end it was! Double lip sync win! Non-elimination! All Star rules finally suspended! A mirror message from Ru herself! Lady Bunny recreating the mirror gag from All Stars 2! And, of course, the inevitable return of the eliminated queens.

It was kind of the kitchen sink approach to reality TV production, and I wasn’t not entertained by it! It was just, you know, a lot. I’m still processing. Here, let’s process together.

Drag Race

The main challenge this week (well, only challenge, the mini-challenge drought continues) is a roast of Lady Bunny framed as a funeral. It’s a fun twist on the RuPaul Roast challenge, which previously appeared in seasons 5 and 9. Season 5’s roast episode was one of the all-time great Drag Race episodes, while season 9’s was … mostly just okay. Better than you’d expect in a season with zero comedy queens.

Two of the worst performers in that roast, however, were Trinity the Tuck (back in her days as Trinity Taylor) and Valentina. Trinity was bottom three, while Valentina was, ahem, lucky to be safe. The stakes are high for both of them going into this week, and they promptly make all the same mistakes they did the first time — despite guest judge Cecily Strong’s attempts to help them during rehearsal. Valentina completely ignores Cecily’s notes to avoid starting too mean, starting her set bitter and never letting up. Trinity, on the other hand, never gets a handle on her comic timing. The two contestants barely elicit a sincere laugh from the judges or audience.

I’m not going to lie to you, dear reader: It’s extremely satisfying to watch the season 9 alliance fail this week. While I enjoy Valentina tremendously as a TV character, and I think Trinity is playing in this competition with a level of technical prowess only previously matched by Alaska and BenDeLaCreme, they’re both carrying around big egos. Valentina has a warped sense of how she performs; she thought her performance in the season 9 roast was good (to quote Ru, “Was it?”), and completely misinterprets the judges’ comments this week. Meanwhile, Trinity once again whines about Manila Luzon’s deliberation process, after the season 3 queen reveals she would’ve sent Monét X Change home last week. It’s satisfying to see them brought back down to earth a bit. I think they both have what it takes to win this season, but I prefer a more self-aware Valentina and a laser-focused Trinity.

Speaking of Manila: She may never be my favorite in the challenges, but I am firmly Team Manila at this point in the race. Positively ridden with guilt that she once again couldn’t save Latrice Royale in a lip sync, Manila cries trying to explain her reasoning for wanting to eliminate Monét. Monét refuses to show Manila even an ounce of empathy for wanting to save her friend, and all but tells Manila that she’s not allowed to sit at the cool girls’ lunch table anymore. Seriously, she and the other girls all join hands in front of Manila as she’s crying, and don’t get up to leave when she does. It makes them look so damn petty.

The girls gang up on Manila again in the workroom, when she says she’ll choose who she wants to eliminate moving forward on a case-by-case basis. (Getting to choose who you want to send home if you win is, you may recall, the literal format of All Stars.) I admire Manila for sticking to her guns — but then again, it’s pretty easy to do when you keep winning. She does again this week, and it’s probably her hardest-earned win of the season. (Though I would’ve also given Manila the win way back in week 1, when she was just safe.) Her roast performance is perfectly pitched, with just enough sight gags — the umbrella! the will! — to balance out her battery of jokes. Her look is perfect, and she’s the only queen to roast most of her fellow competitors plus the judges. It’s surprising that she’s the only one to turn that trick, considering that roasting the full assemblage is usually a staple of these challenges.

Joining Manila in the top is Monét, who maybe wouldn’t be my choice, but I get why she wins. From a pure comedy perspective, she has the most jokes, and they all land. I prefer the Southern preacher caricature her season 10 sister Monique Heart puts on, even though Monique swallows a few of her jokes in her delivery. Monique was the emotional choice; Monét was the comedy-as-art choice. The panel is particularly technical this week — more on that in the final thoughts — so their decision makes sense.

That leaves us with Naomi Smalls, who is just a disaster this week. I’ve been high on Naomi all season, but her lack of wins has left me wondering if she’s really cut out to win this competition. Sadly for the leggy season 8 queen, she falls into the bottom before ever rising to the top, on the back of a one-note performance and shockingly underwhelming funeral drag look. Luckily for her, she is one of four queens in the bottom, as RuPaul puts everyone who didn’t win onto the chopping block. This is likely done for two reasons: to scare the girls, and because Ru already knows no one is going home this week.

Bottom Four

Deliberations are, to be frank, a fucking mess. Trinity immediately seems to realize she’s screwed up by being so aggressive with Manila, and both firmly stands on the strength of her report card while also being conciliatory toward the queen with the power. Naomi is clearly bummed to be in the bottom, and worries her lack of wins will take her out. Despite this, Monét and Manila don’t really seem to consider her a legitimate choice for elimination, though — in fact, the winners practically ask the other one to take on the responsibility of sending someone home this week instead of them.

The consensus choice among the other queens, though, is for Valentina to go home. Trinity immediately names her as the correct option (guess that season 9 alliance only goes so far), while Monique — who outright refuses to do one-on-ones, that’s how certain she is she doesn’t deserve to go home — goes off on Valentina in her confessional for not having a full face of makeup for the main challenge.

I personally don’t care about the makeup issue that much, though it is worth noting how it comes about, and how she responds to Ross Mathews’ criticism. Apparently Val runs out of time in the workroom, unable to finish her set and her face. So she wears sunglasses as part of her costume — but then tempts fate by making a Maskgate callback. She practically dares RuPaul to tell her to take the glasses off, which RuPaul promptly does. This backfires big time, revealing her face is incomplete.

Upon presenting her excuses to Ross, he promptly takes no shit. “I still wish your eyes had been done,” Ross says with the exact right blend of sweetness and bitchiness. The look Valentina shoots back at him could kill, and probably has. So, yeah, Monique’s pissed about that, and while it doesn’t matter as much to me, I can understand being mad if you think you might go home over someone who didn’t even finish beating their mug.

It is hilarious to watch the other queens insist that eliminating Valentina is the only fair thing to do, when just two weeks ago they were lecturing Manila for even considering sending Val home. My guess is Trinity fans will justify her throwing Valentina under the bus by citing Val’s record, but that doesn’t wash for two reasons. One, Val has a win, which should conceivably put her ahead of the winless Naomi. Two, Trinity insisted in that episode that she wanted to take Valentina with her all the way to the top four. Now she wants Valentina to go home in sixth?

The truth is, there is no “fair” when it comes to making elimination decisions on All Stars, and it behooves no one to pretend like there is a particularly “moral” way to do it. Alaska eliminated Tatianna twice and Alyssa Edwards once over Roxxxy Andrews in All Stars 2. Kennedy Davenport eliminated Milk the second she got the chance during All Stars 3 because, to put it bluntly, she just didn’t like Milk. Manila saying she doesn’t want to adhere to one kind of elimination style is not new or novel, and she shouldn’t be ostracized or judged by the other queens because she doesn’t want to pretend.

The lip sync to Aretha Franklin’s “Jump to It” isn’t exactly a close one. Manila has a couple of good moments, but clearly fumbles words here and there, and Monét just really nails it. However, Ru declares a joint win — a head-scratcher of a decision that makes more sense if you look at the other lip sync ties in All Stars seasons. Be it Raven and Jujubee on “Dancing on My Own,” Tatianna and Alyssa Edwards on “Shut Up and Drive,” or Shangela and BenDeLaCreme on “I Kissed a Girl,” double wins tend to come when the performers mostly work together versus against each other. Considering the amount of interplay between Manila and Monét on “Jump to It,” the tie makes a bit more sense. (But make no mistake: If one girl was winning, it’d have been Monét.)

Ru’s other big motivation for declaring two winners is that ultimately, who they chose to go home doesn’t matter. No one goes home this week, and All Star rules are promptly put on hold. What that means — and what the returning queens’ challenge to get back in will be — will have to wait for next week. A return for Latrice or we riot!

Dearly beloved, we have gathered our thoughts here today:

• Cecily Strong and Yvette Nicole Brown both make for good guest judges this week. Alongside Michelle Visage and Ross, they really turn the judging session into an artist’s critique, getting granular about both jokes and looks in a way I love. I’m still holding onto Jenifer Lewis as the best guest judge of the season, but these two are easily the runners-up right now.

• I didn’t talk about the angelic-themed runway this week, but the girls are uniformly very good! Special shout-outs go to Naomi for a Prince-inspired getup, Monét for a gorgeous bleeding heart detail on her chest, and Manila’s dewy Grecian outfit, which makes her look younger than anyone else on the stage. Age 37 looks really damn good on her.

• I have some thoughts about Valentina naming Monique and Naomi as the worst of the week, but I’ll be as generous in my reading as possible and say she just didn’t want to name her friend Trinity. (Even though Trinity didn’t exactly show her the same kindness.)

• With “Jump to It,” Aretha joins Paula Abdul, Britney Spears, Madonna, and Whitney Houston with four songs performed as lip syncs. Getting crowded at the top! (After I included this stat in a previous recap, someone asked why Ariana Grande doesn’t also have four, the long and short of it being that she’s just a featured artist on “Bang Bang.” So you can place her in the same echelon, but definitely give her an asterisk.)

• Naomi’s shade that she’s the only queen left who can give a millennial’s point of view is funnier than any of her roast jokes.

• Monique practically racing off the stage after Ru saves them all, saying “She ain’t gotta tell me twice,” is the biggest mood.

• In the preview for next week’s episode, we see each of the eliminated queens picking a lipstick from one box. My guess? We’re getting a full set of Lip Syncs for Your Life next week, with the eliminated queens getting to choose who they want to face off against. Winners earn their way back into the competition; losers face elimination. That might be too complicated — plus, Drag Race always seems reticent to shell out more money for lip sync song royalties — but we’ll see!

• So both Monét and Manila were going to eliminate Valentina, right? That would certainly make a certain piece of intel season 4 bad girl Willam leaked before the season started airing more interesting…

The next episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 4 will air Friday, Jan. 18, at 8 p.m. Eastern on VH1.

The Weeknd’s New Song is Not Sexy, It’s Boring and Biphobic

Can you believe that in 2019 we still have to deal with the same stale bi- and lesbophobia? 

The Weeknd’s new song “Lost in the Fire” not only sounds like most of his other songs post-“Starboy,” but also puts its listener through an annoying and tired narrative. In the first verse, he’s singing about being sad and alone (again!), but in the second, he starts to opine about a woman who is interested in women, before promising to “fuck her straight.”

The entire stanza is as follows:

You said you might be into girls

Said you going through a phase

Keeping your heart safe

Well, baby, you can bring a friend

She can ride on top your face

While I fuck you straight

Let’s just clarify something here, Mr. Weeknd: No one can be fucked straight. I don’t care how big or powerful you think your dick is, it’s just impossible. Queer women are queer, whether they identify as a lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, or sexually fluid. No amount of your D will fuck up her life into thinking she’s strictly dickly from now on. Should she somehow fall for you, she would not be “straight.” There’s not a switch in our G-spot (should you be able to find it).

Secondly, this shit has been done over and over again. Rappers, in particular, have enjoyed this idea of turning lesbians. A few choice examples:

I take a dyke chick if she like dick I kissed the dyke chick and I liked it Fucking each and every Katy Perry for the night bitch, light this.” A$AP ROCKY
 
I be fuckin’ broads like I be fuckin’ bored/Turn a dyke bitch out, have her fuckin’ boys; beast.” A$AP ROCKY – repeat offender!
 
Girls kissin’ girls, cause it’s hot right? But unless they use a strap-on then they not dykes/ They ain’t about that life, they ain’t about that life.” KANYE WEST – another repeat offender!
 
Black girls say they like girls, say they dyke girls/ Type girls lose their boyfriends to them white girls.” JOEY PURP
 
It’s not just rap, of course — misogyny and homophobia knows no genre — but this brand of braggadocio has been the most consistent there.
 
And yet in 2019, we’re still singing the same old songs about queer women as conquests. As if those same ideas don’t connect to the corrective rapes happening in places like South Africa, or the hate crimes taking place in America as well as the rest of the world. The idea that a queer woman’s sexuality can be changed or fixed is the same faulty, fictitious narrative laid out by those who believe in conversion therapy, which, if you didn’t learn in 20Gayteen, STILL DOESN’T WORK. As if we can’t be trusted to know ourselves and our own bodies.
 
When #MeToo started to go viral and Cara Delevingne spoke out about Harvey Weinstein’s sexual advance on her and how homophobic it was, I wrote about my own experience with a rapper who attempted to challenge my identity, chastising me and my relationship with my partner, and eventually cornering me and forcing me to look at his dick.
 
Reader, I am still gay.
 
That dick was not enticing nor life-changing. In fact, it made me gayer. I was so repulsed by this man thinking he had the magic dick — and, for the record, I am not at all dickphobic — it’s all about the person behind the appendage, and the ones who think their dick is magic are delusional and not great role models. His  Louis C.K. act did not convince me to be something other than what I am because cis dudes, despite the power dynamics they so often utilize to their sexual benefit, do not have this magic ability they’ve convinced themselves they have. And furthermore, if a woman wants to have a threesome with you, it won’t be because you are giving her permission and then dictating how it’s all going to go down. Unless you’re coercing her, which, if you haven’t heard, is not fucking cool. 
 
Frustratingly, media outlets and Twitter are paying attention to “Lost in the Fire,” sussing out clues about ex-girlfriends or Drake disses. We’ve become so used to hearing “dyke” tossed around and boasts about girl-on-girl for the sole pleasure of a dude that perhaps it seems like old news, or something easily swatted away as tongue-in-cheek or some kind of funny song fodder. But compared with how little mainstream representation we have of songs by queer women about queer women, the prevailing storytelling done in popular songs that get major radio play dictates how our sexual identities are framed in the larger picture. Yes, we have Hayley Kiyoko and Kehlani and King Princess and more visibility than we’ve had ever before, but The Weeknd’s reach is massive, not solely because of his artistry but because of the women that he’s been connected to romantically.
 
The way popular music frames sexuality is often problematic because it insists women’s queerness is so fleeting. The Weeknd literally calls it “a phase”; exactly the kind of language lesbian and bi women have been trying to do away with since, like, Sappho. Men just can’t stand that women don’t want them, and songs like this just prove as much. I’m honestly surprised he wasn’t added to the mix of Rita Ora’s “Girls.”
 
Queer women have to endure a special blend of homophobia and misogyny that seeks to invalidate us in the name of keeping a man from feeling emasculated, and as a card-carrying member of Lesbian Club, I can say that these kinds of bi and lesbophobic song lyrics are embarrassing — not just for us, but for you Weeknd. For you, ASAP Rocky and Kanye and Eminem and anyone else who needs to use our identities in order to feel better about their manhood. That is pretty much the exact opposite of our collective job, which is to make sure women are treated with love and respect and to actually have orgasms. 
 
And just in case The Weeknd says, “This was based on a real woman! She said those things!” I have a message for that woman, who believes dating another woman wouldn’t and couldn’t end in heartbreak: You’re probably straight.

‘Lindsay Lohan’s Beach Club’ is a Mess, and I’m Not Sure It’s in a Good Way

Lindsay Lohan isn’t a regular boss — she’s a cool boss.

In her new MTV reality show, Lindsay Lohan’s Beach Club, we see the former child star in a novel role: reformed messy celebrity-turned-business owner. Beach Club tells the story of Lohan and her horny new brand ambassadors recruited from all over the United States to come work at her beach club in Mykonos — the very same beach club where Lohan was filmed doing her strange dance a few months ago.

The cast members all sleep in the same place, some sharing rooms, in the style of MTV’s reality show classic, The Real World. Before I watched the pilot, I accidentally watched a promotional episode that showed brief vignettes to introduce us to Lohan’s new employees. If I hadn’t, I would have absolutely no idea what makes any of these people distinct, because besides one of them having blue hair, they’re virtually all the same. They’re all used to working in nightlife as promoters and bartenders, and now they’re traveling to Mykonos together.

The first episode of Beach Club basically follows the brand ambassadors on their first couple of days in Mykonos, meeting Lohan and training for their first day of work. All of the ambassadors are straight aside from Mike, who is the hunky bisexual from New Jersey. I sense that we’ll get one experimental kiss between Mike and another castmate by the end of season two.

On the first night, we watch the brand ambassadors enjoying dinner at the table before undressing and jumping in the pool for some flirty tension. But then — surprise: Lindsay shows up at their residence to meet them for the first time. Perfectly natural for your boss to show up at your house at night for a surprise visit after you and your coworkers get hammered. Not at all produced. In this scene, Lohan expresses some doubts about how serious some of her new ambassadors are, but really it’s just badly-manufactured tension.

Throughout the entire pilot, the producers frame Lindsay both as a reformed mess and also as an authority figure — and that’s a weird balance to try and strike. While an unannounced visit is something that might happen on a more competitive show like America’s Next Top Model or The Bachelor, that is not what Beach Club is supposed to be. It’s moments like this that make it extra hard to find Lohan convincing as a boss.

BILBAO, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 04:  Lindsay Lohan poses at the MTV EMAs 2018 studio at Bilbao Exhibition Centre on November 4, 2018 in Bilbao, Spain.  (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/MTV 2018/Getty Images for MTV)
Reformed mess Lindsay Lohan hawking for the brand.

The first day follows one brand ambassador in particular. Brent, the resident douche of the cast, is put in charge of managing the pool’s VIP cabana area while everyone else is… off doing other work things? It’s unclear and the show doesn’t really care. A lot of the episode revolves around the flirty relationship between him and the female VIP client — they go swimming together, into dressing rooms together, they kiss. This later comes up when another ambassador, Jonitta, points out that if she were doing anything that Brent was doing with a man, she would get attacked for it, and she’s annoyed at the double standard. That is pretty much the main drama for this episode.

And that’s kind of the problem. Aside from Lindsay, we don’t know these people and none of them know each other, so it’s hard to understand what the stakes are. In contrast, there are many reasons why Vanderpump Rules works as a show centered around Lisa Vanderpump’s employees. First, the cast members all knew each other before the show started. In fact, according to a profile in Vogue, Lisa Vanderpump pitched the show with “an outrageous diagram of hookups, breakups, cheating, and fights between her servers, bartenders, and bussers, all of whom, as in Los Angeles restaurants at large, were very good looking.” The point of the show is that the story was already baked-in, and the audience is just along for the ride. Plus, the heart of the show comes pretty naturally because Lisa Vanderpump herself fits very nicely in the role of omnipotent ruler. She’s believable as an authority figure and as a boss, which is super important for a show centered around a workplace and its ensuing staff drama

One of the better scenes of the Beach Club pilot is when Lindsay is comforting May, another new ambassador, who is feeling overwhelmed on her first day. It’s the one time in this episode Lindsay seems convincing as a boss. Then, just a couple scenes later, Lindsay is trying to tell Gabi, one of the other castmates, that May is feeling down — and asks Gabi to check in on how May is feeling. The problem is, Lindsay literally doesn’t remember May’s name. She keeps describing her as “one of the other ambassadors,” and all the heart that they put into their tender moment kind of goes away.

These scenes serve as a nice summary of what Lindsay Lohan’s Beach Club feels like so far. The premise, the cast, the Lindsay, all of them feel too removed from each other. I’m not asking for authenticity in my reality television, but I would appreciate an attempt at believability.

Twenty Years Later, Britney’s Debut Album Is Still One Of Her Best

Described as just “shameless schlock” and “a pretty great piece of fluff” back when it was first released, Britney’s debut album didn’t exactly receive the rave reviews one might expect from the birth of an icon. Britney herself even looks back at that era now as “bit of a blur,” and when fans rank each of her records, …Baby One More Time usually hovers near the bottom, just one or two places above the often maligned Britney Jean.

While the lead single will continue to be praised and worshipped till the world ends, the rest of …Baby One More Time isn’t always given the same respect, despite breaking every record going when it dropped on January 12, 1999. Much was made of that video and its subsequent impact on pop culture yet again following its 20th-anniversary last year, but now it’s time to give the album as a whole the glory it deserves.

It’s no exaggeration to suggest that music today would be unrecognizable if Britney hadn’t pulled on that school girl outfit and revealed to the world that her loneliness is killing her. Critics are usually quick to point out that without this song, we probably wouldn’t have pop icons like Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry or Lady Gaga, but there’s obviously far more to Britney’s appeal than one single could ever capture. After all, there’s a reason why she didn’t end up as just another one hit wonder and for that, we have the album as a whole to thank.

With just three piano notes and a swish of her pigtails, Britney almost single-handedly revived the teen pop genre, but it was the release of subsequent songs like “Sometimes” and “(You Drive Me) Crazy” that cemented her iconic status. While nothing else on the album could ever quite match up to the superstar power of “Baby,” each of the other singles helped Britney shine brighter and brighter, quickly confirming her status as the new Princess of Pop.  

“Sometimes” was the first song that hinted at Britney’s longevity, proving that she could carry a hit song without sexual innuendo or fierce dance moves. Following the worldwide success of her second single, Britney released “Crazy,” which continues to be remembered long after the film it was supposed to promote slipped from memory.

Hitney’s second UK number one then came from “Born To Make You Happy,” and while “From The Bottom Of My Broken Heart” didn’t match the success of her other singles, it did prove that she possesses impressive vocal chops of her own which could rival the many, many pretenders to her title.

Before Godney decided to grace us mere mortals with her presence, it was the vocal acrobatics of powerhouse singers like Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey that defined ’90s pop. By tapping into the teen market with her beguiling (and perhaps problematic) mix of sex and innocence, Britney brought new vitality to the industry, becoming the biggest superstar on the planet in just a matter of months. 

Detractors would go on to mock the unique quality of Britney’s voice in the years to follow, but the “oohs” and “baby’s” that characterized her first few singles went on to define an entire era of music. Even now, after all of the various lip-sync dramas that have taken place since, it still feels special hearing her distinctive tone on record. It’s Britney, bitch, and there’s no one else quite like her, something which she proved from the get-go with her very first album.

Whether she’s projecting joy on songs like “Deep In My Heart” or singing earnestly about the benefits of electronic messaging on “E-Mail My Heart,” Britney’s voice has never sounded stronger than it did on her debut record. Even in the moments where she belts the hardest, there’s still a rough rasp to her register that dared to sound different in an industry full of emotive divas.

Deep cuts like “I Will Be There” still sound strong, and if you listen closely to songs like “Soda Pop” and “The Beat Goes On,” you’ll hear how she had already begun to experiment with genre in ways that would come to the fore in later albums such as In The Zone. Visionney at her finest.

Britney’s upcoming tenth (!?) album has been delayed due to her father’s hospitalization, but executive producer Justin Tranter has promised fans that there’s a “whole spectrum of bops” coming our way once the project’s finally finished. Where this new record will rank in her overall discography remains to be seen, but in the meantime, listen to some old-school bops on …Baby One More Time again and experience pop princess realness firsthand, untainted by the pressures of fame — before the whole world wanted a piece of her.

Images via Getty

Is The WOW Presents Plus Subscription Worth The Fee?

Want to know something that’s not even slightly unique about me? I like Drag Race. Nay, I love Drag Race. Hell, I’ve watched Drag Race so many times I can quote every season verbatim (except maybe season seven, because, well, it’s season seven). So when I found out that WOW Presents (the production company behind RuPaul’s Drag Race) announced WOW Presents Plus, a streaming network available on iOS, Apple TV, Roku, and Android, rife with original series from some of RPDR’s best queens, I whipped out my credit card, bought a week’s worth of groceries and didn’t leave the house.

This sequestered seven-day binge occurred when the service originally launched in November 2017. Now, I believe I’ve consumed enough content on the platform (all of it) to responsibly determine whether the service is worth its $39.99 annual fee (or $3.99 a month). And, as a self-elected prophet, I’ve decided to bestow this knowledge unto you. You’re welcome.

Something I noticed straight out the gate was that almost every show followed the same format as WOW Presents’ standout series, UNHhhh, featuring Trixie Mattel and Katya Zamolodchikova. Essentially, queens sit next to each other (or do it solo) and wax poetic on a topic in front of a green screen while editors work their magic.

Admittedly, without these unceasing and turbulent graphic treatments, these series would be nothing more than a visual podcast. Series limited to this standard formula include: Bro’Laska (Alaska), Tea with Tati (Tatianna), Bobbin’ Around (Bob), AYO Sis (Aja), La Vida De Valentina (Valentina), Jasmine Masters’ Class (Jasmine Masters) and so on. Are they good? Yes. All of them. Have I watched every episode? Many times. Is there diversity among the series? Not at all.

I understand why: It’s a successful formula that’s cheap and easy to produce. But people are paying money for this content and we deserve more effort. The service does feature some series that veer from the haphazard setup, like His Vintage Touch (where hairstylist Tony Medina styles hair for drag queens and celebrities), Drag Tots (a minutes-long animated series featuring the voices of Latrice Royale, Adore Delano, etc.) Feelin’ Fruity (a bizarre Pee Wee Herman-esque variety series from artist Seth Bogart), Transformations (a lengthier program where celebutante James St. James is given wacky makeovers from world-renowned queens and make-up artists) and others.  

The service also hosts a randomly curated collection of dated documentaries (like Party Monster Shockumentary, Becoming Chaz and Miss Navajo), slapdash Drag Con coverage and other bland, rice cake content that you will probably pass on, but fills the void if you’re super bored. Or high.

What’s arguably best about the service is that you can watch every season of RuPaul’s Drag Race (except Season 1), All Stars and Untucked.  But here’s the kicker: The only reason I can watch these series is because I’m located in Canada. You cannot access these shows in the United States. But if you’re in Europe, I believe they’re also available. Admittedly, these shows only recently became available in my neck of the woods, but I continued subscribing because I fell in love with a few of the series.

My favorite of the bunch, Follow Me, is a short docu-series that follows a day in the life of some of Drag Race’s more popular queens (Gia Gunn, Aja, Miss Vanjie, for example). You learn a lot about the personality behind the make-up, some of which is not always good (coughs – Aja – coughs).  Another promising series is Couple$ for Ca$h, which is kind of – scratch that, exactly – like the Newlywed Game, except it features drag queens and other queer celebrities.

While the majority of the shows are fun and entertaining, many times a season of a series (or the entire series) is only an episode or two. You might get one new episode (which, on average, run about 10 to 15 minutes) on the entire platform a day. It’s also worth mentioning that the search and browsing capabilities are a mess and many of the best series (UNHhhh, Fashion Photo RuView and Bro’Laska) are available for free on YouTube. On WOW Presents Plus, these episodes are uncensored and ad-free.

Admittedly, sometimes it feels like WOW Presents gets desperate for content and juices the crap out of any queen – the lifeblood of the service – who visits the production company’s offices. Shows like 20-Minute Makeup Challenge, Drag Queen Video Dates, Drag Queens React and Gown The House Down are ultimately Trinity The Tuck levels of filler. This clear lack of preparation can be painfully obvious at times.

Wow Presents Plus is certainly not without its faults. There are striking shortcomings and obstacles they need to overcome for a more worthwhile experience, but I’m confident it’ll happen. RPDR was similarly amateur at its inception and is now one of the biggest reality series on the planet with awards under its belt. I have faith that WOW Presents will continue to learn and improve on the service as more people subscribe. Now, is WOW Presents Plus worth the money? I say yes. Per month, it costs about the same as a cup of coffee. But does it compare to Netflix and other popular streaming services? Not even close.