The dating games: The Lavender Tube on reality romance, stranded soccer gals, and school spirits

  • by Victoria A. Brownworth
  • Tuesday March 21, 2023
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Nicole Conn (right) speaking with the cast of 'Coming Out for Love' (photo: Carolyn S. Russell)
Nicole Conn (right) speaking with the cast of 'Coming Out for Love' (photo: Carolyn S. Russell)

For the first time in the bazillion years since it's been on the air, we are watching ABC's "The Bachelor." I have no excuses. I've been in a fragile state since my beloved died suddenly some weeks back and have had a difficult time watching shows the two of us watched together.

She hated most reality TV, except for cooking shows and house renovations, so I kind of fell into the first episode of new season of "The Bachelor" one night after "Jeopardy!" I got inexplicably hooked on Zach and the women and the drama and now I'm invested and have to see who "wins."

That embarrassment aside (I tweet about it, too, so I'm shameless), I'm pleased to discover that there are some queer dating shows in the mix. Lesbian filmmaker Nicole Conn ("A Perfect Ending," "Elena Undone," "More Beautiful For Having Been Broken") has a lesbian dating show "Coming Out for Love" that debuted on Valentine's Day.

Jessica Clark, model and actress who you've seen in that queer Christmas movie, "True Blood" and Bravo's "Girlfriends Guide To Divorce," is the soignée host. Clark introduces the "ladies" in a series of videos, so even if you choose not to watch, you can have a tease or four.

Amber Whittington, a YouTube influencer with nearly two million followers to her "Amber's Closet" platform, is "The Key Master." There are 16 super hot contestants. Let the fun begin.

Conn says, "I'm so proud we are the first out with a reality dating show for our community because I've been trying to make this show for 15 years. It's going to be sexy, romantic and unpredictable. It will be progressive and inclusive, where our newly coming-out lead dates 16 women of all stripes, living in one house, eliminating all but one by the final episode."

There are four "bundles" one can buy to watch, all listed on the website,

Milan Christopher hosts 'Game Changer'  

Got Game?
Not to be outdone in the love match department, Bigo Live debuted "Game Changer with Milan Christopher," which they tout as "the first original live-streaming LGBTQ+ dating reality TV show on social media."

Bigo states, "Unlike other dating reality shows, "Game Changer" focuses on the unique experiences of queer individuals. The first episode featured five queer singles looking for love and a chance to win a date in Los Angeles with Milan Christopher, reality TV's most eligible single heartthrob, hip hop artist, and television personality."

Milan Christopher describes himself to his 1.1 million Instagram followers as "Artist, Actor, Model, Activist, Reality TV Star, Rap Phenomenon & Baddest HotBoy and Executive Producer of HotBoysAtlanta & content curator."

"I'm deeply honored and proud to be part of this groundbreaking show that has received such positive reception," said Milan. "Too often, queer voices and perspectives are erased or marginalized in mainstream media. 'Game Changer' centers the stories and experiences of LGBTQ+ people and showcase the different ways that queer love can exist and thrive."

He adds, "Bottom line: representation matters. Shout out to BIGO for providing a powerful platform for our community to showcase the beauty, diversity, and struggles in our search for love and acceptance."

Tune into the BIGO app for the show and subscribe to BIGO's YouTube Channel.

Where Conn's show has superb production values, BIGO's is much more cable access. But "Game Changer" is fun and flaming, so just settle in and enjoy.

Meanwhile, FYI: Tinder just introduced options for pronouns and non-monogamy in its dating profiles. (Though if you're on Tinder, aren't you broadcasting you are non-monogamous?) The app says the move reflects the addition of an ever-broader user base of Gen Zers. Expect this to feature in the next season of "You" or some other horror series.

We love this show so much and have been waiting for season two. To review, as Showtime explains, "'Yellowjackets' tells the narrative of a team of wildly talented high school girls soccer players who survive a plane crash deep in the Ontario wilderness. The series chronicles their descent from a complicated but thriving team to warring, cannibalistic clans, while also tracking the lives they have attempted to piece back together.

The younger cast of 'Yellowjackets'  

Sophie Nélisse, Jasmin Savoy Brown, Sophie Thatcher and Sammi Hanratty star as the teenagers, while Melanie Lynskey, Tawny Cypress, Christina Ricci and Juliette Lewis portray their adult counterparts as they reveal the truth about their survival 25 years later.

Yes, "cannabalistic clans."

All the players are fabulous. Juliette Lewis and Christina Ricci do psycho well, but Melanie Lynskey is perfection. Her timing is always amazing. Simply amazing.

In season 2, the Yellowjackets barely made it through summer, but now as winter begins to bite — literally — we'll discover if hunger and desperation turn into full-on psychosis with our fine young cannibals.

Meanwhile, 25 years later, each survivor must determine if the darkness is coming for them or from them. Did they leave the wilderness and all that inhabits it behind, or did they bring it with them when they came home? We're being intentionally vague here as spoilers are all too easy to reveal in this series and you want to experience the thrills as they happen!

This is such a totally queer show and has so many layers to it about friendship, loyalty, expectations, devotion, attraction, fear—it's much deeper than the standard "wendigo in the woods" scare-fest. And the performances are fabulous. Season 2 premieres March 26 on Showtime.

Oh and just as an aside, Jasmin Savoy Brown, queer IRL, went Instagram official with partner Anouk in a steamy kissy pictorial.

School Spirits
"School Spirits" is a new really dark supernatural series about a dead girl investigating her own disappearance. It has overtones of "13 Reasons Why" (which we loved) and "Pretty Little Liars" as well as stellar acting, with an astonishingly good performance by Peyton List in the main role as Maddie Nears.

Peyton List (center) and cast members of 'School Spirits'  

The premise is simple yet complicated. As Paramount explains, "Maddie is a teen girl stuck in the afterlife investigating her own mysterious disappearance; she goes on a crime-solving journey as she adjusts to school in the afterlife, but the closer she gets to the truth, the more secrets and lies she discovers."

There's a lot of nuance in this series, which is not usually found in the paranormal and teen angst genres, and of course, queerness, because it's high school angst.

the late Lance Reddick  

Farewell, Lance
Finally, we were stunned by the sudden death on St. Patrick's Day of a long-time fave actor Lance Reddick, who we've been watching for decades in, well, everything. (ABC News)

Reddick was an incomparably good actor. There are many obits out there about him, but we have mentioned him many times over nearly 30 years doing this column. His roles in "Oz," "The Wire," "Lost," "Fringe" and "Bosch" were all riveting. You can stream "The Wire" and "Fringe" at HBO Max and "Lost" and "Bosch" at Amazon Prime.

Reddick was different in every role and brought each vividly and memorably to life. Reddick was only 60. May he rest in peace and may his memory be a blessing.

Every day we are reminded of the fragility of life. So you know you really must stay tuned.

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