Scream, queens: The Lavender Tube on spooky shows, fictional and factional

  • by Victoria A. Brownworth
  • Tuesday October 18, 2022
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Charlie Carver in 'American Horror Story: NYC'
Charlie Carver in 'American Horror Story: NYC'

This month, the small screen gives us some big scares. Here's a roundup of the best new shows, and a bit of scary political news.

Cast members of 'American Horror Story: NYC'  

American Horror Story: NYC
If, like us, you were a denizen of the club scene in New York City in the 1980s, then season 11 of the Ryan Murphy/Brad Falchuk "American Horror Story" series is for you.

"AHS/NYC" is set in New York City during the 1960s, '70s, and '80s. The teaser trailer's focus on leather, bondage, kink and blood suggest a less supernatural and more real-life horror story this time around. The storyline has been kept tightly under wraps, but the teaser is hot.

We admit we have a love/hate relationship with this series. Some seasons have been absolutely brilliant, others unbearably self-indulgent, tedious and gory for gore's sake. We'd welcome something fresh and more grounded, and this season portends to be that.

In a series of posters of the characters, the creators have given hints to how the story will evolve. We can't wait.

"AHS" stalwarts Sarah Paulson and Evan Peters won't be in season 11. But Zachary Quinto returns along with "AHS" regulars Billie Lourd and Leslie Grossman. Also in the cast, the great Patti LuPone and the brilliant Denis O'Hare. Sandra Bernhard, Kal Penn, Rebecca Dayan, Kyle Beltran ("Inventing Anna"), Dot-Marie Jones ("Glee"), Charlie Carver ("The Boys in the Band"), Joe Mantello ("Hollywood"), and Russell Tovey ("Years and Years") are also in the ensemble cast.

"AHS/NYC" premieres on FX with two episodes on October 19 at 10pm ET/PT with two episodes to follow weekly over five weeks; also on Hulu.

Queer For Fear
This being Halloween month, you'll want to watch Shudder's four-part docuseries from Bryan Fuller ("Hannibal," "Pushing Daisies"),"Queer For Fear: A History Of Queer Horror," which delves into what queers have brought to the horror genre and the history of the LGBTQ community in the horror and thriller genres. Queer people love the Otherness of witches, warlocks and all things supernatural.

"I remember in seventh grade after reading 'Dracula,' having feelings about it and going, 'Something more is going on here,' then looking up Bram Stoker, seeing he's married with kids and being disappointed," Fuller told IndieWire during a recent interview.

The series of course discusses the many iterations of vampires and Dracula, Frankenstein and so much more, from Mary Shelley to Bram Stoker to Hitchcock and Clive Barker, It's a queer fest from the encoded and subtextual to the blatant and overt. It's absolutely captivating and totally fascinating.

He's back! Season 2 of "Chucky," Syfy/USA's fantastic horror/black dramedy series created by Don Mancini, is queerer and campier and scarier and better than season 1 which was, you know, fabulous.

To recap season 1: Jake Wheeler (Zackary Arthur) is a gay teen who's bullied at school and in his family by his father and his over-achieving cousin, Junior. Jake makes scary art with dolls purchased at yard sales. That's where he finds the vintage Good Guy doll, Chucky, at a yard sale.

But things go awry quickly since Chucky is possessed by a serial killer, Charles Lee Ray, who then terrorizes Jake. Chucky kills Jake's abusive and anti-gay father horribly, then tries to get Jake to kill Junior's girlfriend who is also his prime bully, Lexy (Alyvia Alyn Lind).

But instead Jake decides to align with Devon (Bjorgvin Arnarson), a classmate who hosts a true crime podcast on whom he has a major crush, and Lexy to take down Chucky. Which ends in a whole lot of mayhem.

For season 2, Mancini, who pivoted off his "Child's Play" film franchise for the series, draws on his own queer and Catholic childhood. He takes his three main teen characters —Jake and now-boyfriend Devon and Lexy— to a Catholic boarding school, Incarnate Lord, for violent juvenile offenders.

There's a creepy priest, Father Bryce (Devon Sawa), who uses a lot of sports metaphors and locks Jake in a room to think about things, and won't let more than one student go to the restroom at a time because "the devil's playground" is always nearby. Yet Jake and Devon are rooming together, and kissing!

In the show's parallel story line, Jennifer Tilly continues to chew the scenery as Tiffany Valentine and herself in over-the-top vintage John Waters fashion with her lovers Chucky (voiced by Brad Dourif) and Nica (Fiona Dourif). And now, her kids, Glen and Glenda, (yes, this is the gayest inside-joke show ever) are visiting.

Mancini has opened his casting as well as his storyline to embrace as much LGBTQ as possible. Twins Glen and Glenda are played by Lachlan Watson, who is non-binary and pansexual. Watson was featured on a Netflix-produced talk segment titled "What I Wish You Knew: About Being Nonbinary," where they discussed gender identity with other non-binary celebrities Jacob Tobia, Liv Hewson, and Shiva Raichandani.

In an interview about the series, Mancini told Them magazine, "There's a real connection between the horror genre and outsiders. I think a lot of fans and practitioners are attracted to horror because it's traditionally been a haven for people on the fringe or who've been made to feel on the fringe."

Mancini's grateful that the series has attracted a loyal LGBTQ following. He said, "Having gay and trans fans get in touch with me to tell me that it meant a lot to them, that means the world to me, cause it makes me feel like I'm not wasting my life."

Having spent nine long years in Catholic school, we definitely are a fan of how Mancini is situating the parallels of religious and criminal punishments. And the Hogwarts-esque element of Incarnate Lord is unmistakable and yet another twist to the plot; on USA/Syfy and Peacock.

The Rookie: Feds
We love those TV moments where art imitates life. There was one of those on the October 11 episode of "The Rookie: Feds." October 11 was National Coming Out Day and in an amazing scene Simone (Niecy Nash-Betts) hears someone singing outside her father's house as she is going in. The androgynous singer, DJ, whose gender is unclear to Simone, is played by Nash-Betts's real-life wife, Jessica Betts.

There's a lot of sizzle as the two check each other out and by episode's end, DJ is in Simone's bed. In-between, Simone comes out casually to her father and his all-female book club, which includes DJ's mother.

January 6th Committee Hearings
In news, aka real-life scares, the season finale of the January 6th Committee ended with a bang of never-before-seen video of beloved San Franciscan Speaker Nancy Pelosi. It revealed her as the person actually running the country during the Insurrection when Donald Trump had abdicated his responsibility as president and Mike Pence was hiding from Trump's minions who were calling to "Hang Mike Pence."

Pelosi was calm, in total control and even respectful of everyone's titles. She spoke kindly to Pence via cell phone, telling him to stay safe and not let anyone know his location. She worked with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Majority Whip Jim Clyburn like they had coup attempts every day. And she treated Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and GOP Whip Steve Scalise with a respect they prove daily they are unworthy of.

She called on the Virginia governor and many others to get control of the situation and it was, given all we know about the fact that she was under as much threat as Pence, an amazing display of leadership under extraordinary pressure.

Yet as awesome as that reveal was (which she has never spoken about, because she doesn't need to stoke her own ego 24/7), it was video from her office prior to the Capitol being attacked that was the best of Pelosi.

As things were heating up and Trump was agitating to come to the Capitol with "his people," as he was referring to the rioters, Pelosi said, "If he comes, I'm going to punch him out."

Pelosi said. "I've been waiting for this, for trespassing on Capitol grounds. I'm going to punch him out, and I'm going to go to jail, and I'm going to be happy."

A staffer is overheard saying, "I'd pay to see that." Wouldn't we all?

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