Political punditry & topical humor

  • by Victoria A. Brownworth
  • Tuesday October 23, 2012
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Raise your hand if you can't wait for the election to be over. If you live in a swing state like we do, you are reciting the texts of TV political ads in your sleep. Which is not very restful. And as one pundit noted on PBS last week, if you haven't made up your mind yet, you're an idiot.

Of course we're sick to death of all pundits. But we can't help finding Donna Brazile, former campaign manager to Al Gore (the first African-American to direct a major presidential campaign), current Vice Chairwoman of the DNC and ever-alluring closet case, amusing and ironic. (But please come out, dear, you would be such a role model for young political queers, especially lesbians and African-Americans.) Brazile is a commentator on CNN's The Situation Room and American Morning, and is also a consultant for ABC, where as a regular on This Week her deft trouncing of her Republican peers is, well, peerless. We were especially amused this week when she waited for guest Newt Gingrich and fellow conservative pundit George Will to finish bloviating about the final debates, then ripped into them with characteristic flair. At the end she noted that she was trying to be nice, in case they ended up as partners on ABC's Dancing with the Stars. "I'd be leading, of course," she quipped. Wouldn't we love to see that?

Speaking of people we heart, we are just loving Kate McKinnon, the new addition to SNL. The show is always at its best when it goes topical, and McKinnon's turns as Ann Romney and Martha Raddatz have been hilarious. She's also done Ellen DeGeneres so well we think Ellen should have her on Ellen and let McKinnon guest host for part of the hour. We're pretty sure McKinnon is slated to become the new Amy Poehler or Tina Fey. She's that good.

If you missed the amazingly beautiful commentary from Sally Field (Brothers & Sisters) in support of her gay son Sam Griesman, check it out. Field was given HRC's Ally for Equality Award last week. We loved Field's character Nora Walker on B&S, and now we see her support of her gay son Kevin on the show was not just acting. If there were more parents like Field, there would be fewer LGBT kids hating themselves.

One final comment on TV vs. the Election Process. CNN's Candy Crowley has been dissed as much as ABC's Martha Raddatz was lauded for her moderating of the second presidential debate. TV news remains a male enclave, even in 2012. Crowley was only the second woman to moderate a presidential debate in the 52 years they have been airing. The last one? Carole Simpson of ABC, in 1992. So: two women, 20 years apart, over a 52-year span. Yes, Raddatz was superb. We would say she's the best moderator ever seen on a political debate: on point, no nonsense. "We're moving on now." Was Crowley up to that standard? No. But she didn't sleep through the debate like Jim Lehrer. Just for the record, both candidates, while touting their individual achievements on women's issues, shot Crowley down when she tried to get them back on topic or keep them on time. Romney might as well have put her in a binder.

ABC's 20/20 co-anchor Chris Cuomo bagged the exclusive first broadcast interview with Victim # 1, the young man responsible for bringing to light the long-term sex abuse of young boys by Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, sentenced to life in prison last week. Aaron Fisher was 15 when he went to police about the abuse, which began when he was 11. The story he told on 20/20 was grisly. Fisher detailed trying to escape Sandusky's advances and stalking. He told Cuomo, "He once followed my bus home from school. I took off running, but he drove on the opposite side of the street, onto oncoming traffic to catch up with me. I ran up an alley, and he went to my house and parked out front."

Fisher's mother shared how when they first contacted authorities about the abuse, when her son finally revealed what had happened, she was told to "go home and think about it." "Think about what?" she asked.

Fisher said he was breaking his anonymity to make it clear to other victims of sexual predators that they are not alone and bear no shame. It was Fisher coming forward that forced the three-year grand jury investigation into Sandusky's assaults on boys, assaults known to Sandusky's peers at Penn State, notably head coach Joe Paterno, but which were covered up to protect the school's legendary football program. Sandusky stated at his sentencing hearing that his victims, including Fisher, had invented their stories to gain notoriety (because everyone wants to be labeled a sexual abuse victim, of course). In advance of the interview, Sandusky's attorney Joe Amendola told ABC that this was exactly what Sandusky had been saying, that he was the innocent victim of young men looking to cash in on a story.


Kohl mine

Speaking of abuse, we're not sure how we feel about the current storyline on CBS' Emmy-winning political drama The Good Wife involving America's sexiest TV lesbian. We speak about the kohl-eyed Kalinda (played with elan by Archie Panjabi), the secret or not-so-secret crush of nearly every lesbian TV-watcher in America. Kalinda has lured us in with her leather mini-skirts, smoky eyes and no-holds-barred tactics as an investigator for Lockhart/Gardner. She can wield a baseball bat better than A-Rod.

But when her errant, violent yet sexy British thug weasel of a husband Nick finally tracked her down last season, we feared for Kalinda's safety. When the new season began, Nick moved himself back into Kalinda's apartment and they began fighting in earnest (she's tough, but there always seem to be guns nearby), we got nervous. That nervousness was ratcheted up a notch this week when Nick demanded that Kalinda serve him breakfast. After she cracked eggs into a cold pan then tossed them at Nick, we could see things were escalating.

Kalinda has repeatedly told Nick that "things are different now," meaning she's no longer tantalizingly bisexual but a full-fledged lesbian. Last week, Nick and Kalinda were out together having ice cream. As they sat side-by-side in the little parlor, Kalinda making lesbians everywhere swoon as she licked her ice cream cone with perfect erotic passion, we see Nick slide his hand under her barely-there skirt. Her face changes and we know what's happening. But she doesn't give in to his attempts at pleasuring her. He says, "Don't you remember this?" and she replies, "I remember you used to be better at it."

Enraged, he removes his hand and sticks the two fingers he just had inside her into the center of her ice cream cone. She sits there for a nanosecond, then just continues to lick her ice cream. If past is prologue, then subtext is everything here: Kalinda is not afraid of a little, shall we say, pussy with her dessert.

When The Good Wife cuts from the breakfast scene with Nick, where she tells him to clean up the mess, to Kalinda in bed with her FBI agent lover Lana (the luscious Jill Flint), and Lana comes up from under the sheet, we know that Kalinda really is over Nick, even though he is far from done with her. Kalinda has always appeared to swing both ways, but we've only ever seen her in bed with women, even though she uses her sexual powers to entice men into giving her the information she's looking for in this or that case. When she leaves Lana's apartment, with Lana standing on her balcony looking out at Kalinda, naked except for a sheet pulled around her, Nick is waiting outside. He doesn't let her see him. But we see the look on his face. He is so not happy.

When Kalinda goes to meet Lana at a bar the next night and Nick pops up behind Lana as if he's just some nice guy she's met and has been chatting with, Kalinda has had it. Kalinda pretends to go take a phone call, and Nick follows her. He stands in front of her and spits out, "Dyke!" She punches him right in the face, so hard he falls over. Ah, rough justice. Gotta love it, sometimes.

We don't hear the word "dyke" on TV much. In fact, we can't remember the last time we heard it in a scripted TV series. It's like the "n" word. But it does have dramatic power. When Nick says it to Kalinda, it's violent, vicious, hateful. It's the worst thing he can think of to say to her. But after he says it, she returns to Lana.

The next day Nick tells her, "Stop with the college dorm stuff, I'm back now." As if Kalinda's lesbianism was just marking time until Nick hunted her down again. Except it's real for her, no matter what sexual tension she might still feel with Nick. And so she says, once again, "Things are different now." And we know they are.

CBS seeks to change its failing grade with GLAAD by pumping up the gay on The Good Wife. Kalinda may be the only character playing out queer on the show since Alicia's gay brother dropped off the storyline, but the show has had out gay actor Alan Cumming for several seasons (he's magnificent) and added Nathan Lane this season. They have also brought in ER alum Maura Tierney, who plays a lesbian political strategist who in her very first appearance last week asked Alicia out for drinks. Lovely.

Speaking of queer shows and showrunners, Ryan Murphy needs to pick one of his three shows and run with it. Glee has deteriorated terribly since Murphy has been putting his energy into The New Normal and American Horror Story. AHS is back for a second season, and the show that would have been cancelled one episode in on network is striving for an ever-more-edgy new season. Out queer actor Zachary Quinto is talking up the new season big time. We loved him on Heroes, and we really love him on AHS. He does creepy better than almost any actor on the small screen.

If Murphy is going to pick a show, AHS is the one to focus on. But then turn Glee over to someone who will breathe life back into it. Because while a dozen people are watching AHS on FX, tons of teens who need the positive messaging of Glee are being set adrift on Fox. And that's just wrong. That said, AHS has a luscious two-parter scripted for Halloween. And nothing says national gay holiday like a queer actor on a show by a queer showrunner, right? So you really must stay tuned.