Too darn hot: The Lavender Tube on Celine, 'Orphan Black,' and 'General Hospital'

  • by Victoria A. Brownworth
  • Monday July 8, 2024
Share this Post:
A scene from 'I Am: Celine Dion' (photo: Amazon Prime)
A scene from 'I Am: Celine Dion' (photo: Amazon Prime)

One summer when we were on assignment for our then MSM newspaper job, we had to drive from Fresno, where we were working on a series about pesticide poisoning and the children of farm workers up to San Francisco to interview a doctor for the story. It was nearly 90 degrees in Fresno at 5am when we left and we wore a sleeveless sundress. When we got to San Francisco it was 65F and raining and the doctor offered us an afghan and a cup of hot tea to warm up. Oh, for those days.

Vice President Kamala Harris (photo: The White House)  

It's a too-hot summer literally, metaphorically and politically this year. As we write this, Death Valley is the hottest place on Earth, except perhaps in Washington, D.C., where we are watching the worst season of "Succession" ever.

The New York Post wrote on July 7 that "America may soon be subjected to the country's first DEI president: Kamala Harris... The most irrepressibly fatuous politician in America may become the leader of the free world because the Democratic Party is unable to break its DEI stranglehold." (

This is a family newspaper, so we won't say what we're thinking, but the "Yellowstone" marathon we just watched has nothing on how the next 119 or so days are going to play out. The pundit class thinks they are living "The West Wing" in real time. But it's more like "24" or "The Americans."

Which is why tuning in to one of the most inspiring and heartbreaking documentaries in ages is worth the mood change.

"My voice is the conductor of my life," says the incomparable Celine Dion in the new Amazon Prime original film. Directed by Academy Award nominee Irene Taylor, "I Am Celine Dion" gives us a raw and honest behind-the-scenes look at the iconic superstar's struggle with a life-altering illness. Serving as a love letter to her fans, this inspirational documentary highlights the music that has guided her life while also showcasing the resilience of the human spirit.

The new documentary detailing Dion's disease includes a traumatic scene where the music legend is unable to speak or move due to severe muscle spasms.

And yet her heart does indeed go on. Dion has long been a champion of the LGBTQ community and it's painful to see her suffer so terribly. But this is an amazing story. While you will weep through it if you're human, it's empowering and uplifting and so worth your time.

In 2019 James Corden went to Las Vegas for a Carpool Karaoke made for CBS primetime to grab up Dion to help him get through town. In addition to singing her classics, sge proves she has a song for any moment. James teaches her "Baby Shark" and the two give away pairs of Dion's precious shoes. And stay for a Titanic-sized end to their afternoon together.

"Orphan Black: Echoes" is the sequel series to the original that aired in 2013. Krysten Ritter stars as Lucy, a woman trying to find out where she came from and who she is.

Krysten Ritter and Avan Jogia in 'Orphan Black: Echoes' (photo: AMC)  

She discovers in episode 1 that she may be part of the clone experimentation process that former protagonist Sarah Manning and her "sisters" were. Lucy finds herself unable to remember the details of her life and it all pivots from there.

Created by Anna Fishko, based on "Orphan Black" created by John Fawcett and Graeme Manson, the series is set in 2052 in the same universe as "Orphan Black." The 10-episode series premiered on June 23, 2024, on AMC, AMC+ and BBC America.

"Orphan Black: Echoes" is phenomenal and one of the queerest things on TV right now, with gay and lesbian and nonbinary characters. Ritter is fabulous as bisexual Lucy. She's angry, hurt, and heartbreakingly real as she flees the people who literally made her and tries to build a life for herself with Jack (the gorgeous hot Avan Jogia) her boyfriend and a former army medic and single father to daughter Charlie (Zariella Langford-Haughton) as who is Deaf.

Dr. Kira Manning (Keeley Hawes) is Lucy's creator and has a deep bond with her that is revealed over time. A lesbian scientist deeply enmeshed in cloning experimentation, she's the wife of neuroscientist Dr. Eleanor Miller (Rya Kihlstedt) and mother to Lucas (Jaeden Noel). She is the daughter of Sarah Manning, the protagonist from the original "Orphan Black" series.

Jordan Gavaris in 'Orphan Black: Echoes' (photo: AMC)  

Eleanor was originally Dr. Kira's professor while they were researching drugs for a cure for Alzheimer's Disease. Part of their story is Kira using her questionable ethics to save Eleanor's life.

Keeley Hawes, a British actress and three-time BAFTA nominee, hits a perfect pitch as someone who thinks she may have overstepped some ethical boundaries in her work, which she most definitely has on a myriad of levels, though always, she tells herself, with the best of intentions.

Jordan Gavaris plays Felix Dawkins, Kira's artist uncle. Gavaris reprises his role from the original "Orphan Black" series and could not be gayer. (Gavaris is gay in real life.) There are some fabulous scenes with him in a bar with Kira that we won't spoil, but OMG, it's the best.

Another key player is Jules Lee (Amanda Fix), an adoptive teenager of wealthy parents who looks like Lucy and who Lucy is sure is a younger clone version of her.

"Orphan Black: Echoes" is absolutely riveting TV and Ritter is doing her best work since "Jessica Jones." It's immersive and queer AF.

Daytime dramas have a mixed relationship with LGBTQ characters, as we have noted over the years here. But the current storyline featuring Blaze (Jacqueline Grace Lopez) and Kristina (Kate Mansi) on "General Hospital" is superb and raises some intriguing questions about how perspective has shifted on queer people, media and branding in recent years.

Blaze —the stage name of Latinx singer Alison Ramirez— and Kristina Corinthos, founder, CEO and director of a local LGBTQ center in Port Charles, New York, where "GH" is set, have been lovers for a year now. Their relationship has been complicated by Blaze's career and her being in the closet and Kristina choosing to be a surrogate for her sister Molly's baby.

Jacqueline Grace Lopez and Kate Mansi in 'General Hospital' (photo: ABC)  

Kristina has had to navigate Blaze's closetedness as well as dealing with Blaze's mother, Natalia Rogers-Ramirez (beloved soap veteran Eva Larue), who is virulently homophobic. But the two love each other wildly and have even fantasized about the baby being theirs.

But true love never runs smooth on soaps. Natalia vents about the relationship between her daughter and Kristina to Ava (Maura West), who has her own agenda as she was trying to build a relationship with Sonny Corinthos (Maurice Benard), the father of her young daughter and also Kristina's father. It's a truly ugly homophobic rant and not something anyone would want made public, let alone a manager of musicians, which Natalia is.

When Ava discovers that she accidentally recorded Natalia, she decides to use that recording to take down Natalia in Sonny's eyes by giving it to the local tabloid newspaper "The Invader," which was previously run by Kristina's mother, Alexis Davis (Nancy Lee Grahn).

But when the recording goes viral, unintended consequences are manifold and Ava tries to walk it back—but the internet is forever and unforgiving. Blaze has also been the face of Deception cosmetics, but they decide they must cancel her because they can't be perceived as supporting either a closeted spokesmodel or inadvertently, homophobia.

Then the board at the center that wouldn't exist without Kristina ousts her because she is with a closet case; bad optics that undermine their message.

The pièce de résistance is Blaze's label, which her mother convinced her would drop her if they knew she was gay, instead drops her for hiding that she is.

It's a heartbreaking series of events, but Kristina tells Blaze she's in it for the long haul and no one should force anyone out of the closet. We hope these two can make it. They are the kind of power couple that make soap operas soapy, and Mansi especially is doing great work here; on ABC Monday through Friday and online.

Finally, our other job is politics, and we want to say for the record that the last time a party moved to take the sitting president out was July 1974 when Richard Nixon was about to be impeached and possibly indicted. Joe Biden isn't a criminal — that's actually his opponent — and it's been positively dystopian watching the canceling of Biden and possibly his vice president for some new shiny object who may or may not be the governor of this state.

And look up Project 2025 in your spare time. That's the chapter that awaits in a second Trump presidency. It ain't pretty for the gays, folks. (

So, for the Sturm, the Drang and the global heat, you really must stay tuned.

Never miss a story! Keep up to date on the latest news, arts, politics, entertainment, and nightlife.
Sign up for the Bay Area Reporter's free weekday email newsletter. You'll receive our newsletters and special offers from our community partners.

Support California's largest LGBTQ newsroom. Your one-time, monthly, or annual contribution advocates for LGBTQ communities. Amplify a trusted voice providing news, information, and cultural coverage to all members of our community, regardless of their ability to pay -- Donate today!