Boob Tube ’09

Step away from the keyboard and lose yourself in one of this season’s queer and queer-friendly shows on a big, small screen near you

Monumental Breaking News: The “L’s” are back and this time they’re up close and personal.  Variety is reporting that Showtime has greenlit a reality show version of everybody’s favorite Sapphic TV hit, The L Word. Ilene Chaiken, who brought us Bette, Tina, Shane, Jenny, Alice, Kit and friends will executive produce The Real L Word: Los Angeles. The show will feature six real live lesbians living in Los Angeles and is slated to debut in 2010.

The office remains fertile ground for hilarious hijincks, and Better Off Ted is blessedly mockumentary-free, giving a fresh absurdist look at cubicle-land. Portia de Rossi is the show’s chief pleasure, with her hair in a business-boss bun and her deadpan acceptance of crazed coworkers. As she lords over underlings at Veridian, a multinational corporation that feels no shame in valuing money over humans, de Rossi makes soulless business look delicious. Premiere date TBA.

We’re always pleased to see a butch in the kitchen. So we’re delighted that the sixth season of Top Chef cast two of the hottest dyke chefs since Josie Smith Malave. Preeti Mistry, who unfortunately gets “offed” early in the season, is the vaunted Executive Chef for the Bon Appetit Management Company at Google. Ashley Merriman is a badass tattooed chef from Seattle; the Seattle P.I. called her joint, Branzino, the best new restaurant of 2008. Her stated vices, red wine and bourbon, have us salivating to share a glass with her. It’s clear that neither contestant shows any Lisa Fernandes-flavored villainy. Wednesday 10pm ET/PT.

With the close of The L Word, we’ve missed Katherine Moennig’s smoldering stare and sexy, lanky limbs. So we’re thrilled to see her back on the small screen; this time, on network TV, holding a stethoscope, a scalpel, and a medical degree (instead of haircutting scissors and a doctorate in doing-the-ladies). On Three Rivers, Moennig plays Dr. Miranda Foster, a brilliant young surgical fellow with a quick temper and defiant tendencies. She also needs to prove herself equal to her famous late father, also a brilliant surgeon, as she builds her name with an elite team in the charged world of organ donation. There’ll be plenty of emergency-room action to go around, and Moennig will be someone to watch, stat. Premieres Sunday, October 4, 9pm ET.

Wanda Sykes is one of our favorite out comedians, and thankfully she’s one of the busiest this TV season, too, reprising her popular role as Barb on The New Adventures of Old Christine. We rolled with giggles during the premiere of the fourth season, when Christine (the perennially hilarious Julia Louis-Dreyfus) graciously offered to marry Barb, her best friend, in order to protect the latter from deportation. Christine is still a world-weary divorcee, and Sykes’s signature humor keeps the wisecracks crackling. The duo’s chemistry has kept it charging into a fifth season on CBS, and more capers promise to bring lots of belly laughs. Premieres Wednesday, Sept. 23 8pm ET/PT.

Jane Lynch is the master of thinly veiled, hilarious malice. Dress her brutally sharp comedic timing in a pink tracksuit, and the hilarity quotient ratchets up to brilliant. We loved her as that creepy divorce lawyer in The L Word, and we love her now as the sabotaging cheerleaders’ coach in Glee, which follows a charming group of high school misfits on their quest for singing stardom. Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison) is the big-hearted teacher shepherding the kids’ resurrected glee club, and Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) is the cheerleading coach who hopes they fail. Premieres September 9, 9 pm, ET/PT.

Cherry Jones is one of the most gifted lesbian dramatic performers we have. As the leader of the free world in 24, Jones plays President Allison Taylor, who must cope with international crises with barely enough time to finish her inauguration ceremony. The revolutionary, pulse-pounding show, with the renegade hero Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) at its helm, shows Jones in a pleasingly tense, powerful position, with more disturbing controversies building as the show races into the its seventh season. Premieres Sunday, January 17, 9pm ET/PT.

Wanda Sykes is becoming one of the most ubiquitous lesbian comedian faces on the small screen, and we still can’t get enough. Thankfully, she’s finally got her own TV series, The Wanda Sykes Show. It’s a late-night gig that’ll give paler, older, yawn-worthy dude hosts a run for their money, with Sykes getting her own mic to trumpet her guffaw-worthy interpretations of the world at large. Each show will also include sketches, panels of experts (and not-so-experts), notorious friends, and scenes of Sykes wreaking amiable havoc in public. No target will be left unmocked: politicians, pop culture icons, and bloated radio hosts have been warned. Premieres November 7, 11pm.

We were thrilled when Wanda Sykes became the first LGBT and African American woman to host the annual White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner, and we covered our mouths with glee when she stuck it to anti-gay bully Rush Limbaugh. Now, HBO gives us more reason to celebrate the queen of self-uncensorship; Sykes taped her second live comedy special in Washington, DC this fall. Her first politically-tinged HBO comedy special in 2006, Sick and Tired, won her an Emmy nomination. With her coming-out speech to the public in October 2008, we’re sure her yet-to-be-titled 2009 special will be all the more rewarding. To witness her acid commentary on politics and daily life in front of a helpless, worshipful audience, watch HBO’s schedule in October 2009.

Rosie O’Donnell returns to her role as patron saint of families with her documentary A Family is a Family is a Family: A Rosie O’Donnell Celebration. O’Donnell’s first groundbreaking portrayal of LGBT families showed all their normalcy with 2006’s All Aboard! Rosie’s Family Cruise; her new doc promises the same uplifting representation. Single, adoptive, gay, and biracial parents are all included in a beautifully mixed challenge to the notion of “traditional” family, and the parents’ equally diverse kids describe their caring households in awww-inducing interviews. Animated songs by They Might Be Giants and Sweet Honey in the Rock are interspersed with the real-life joy of all kinds of kin. Keep your eyes on HBO’s schedule for February 2010, and get your Tivo ready.

In modern London, Tala, a serially-engaged Muslim Jordanian woman, prepares for her ridiculously elaborate wedding to her latest male fiancé. Then she meets Leyla, a shy, young, Christian lesbian of Indian descent. The ensuing passion, set against a multilayered backdrop of cultural differences, brings a riveting upheaval to both women’s complicated lives, while the family that watches them provides plenty of dramedy. The timeless tension of tradition versus love makes I Can’t Think Straight a steamy, can’t-miss film for this fall. Premieres September 4.

California has its modern troubles today as a bankrupt state, but the film Heat Wave imagines Los Angeles County reaching apocalyptic temperatures, threatening to turn the region into a devastated desert. A lone, gorgeous, female scientist, played by Jamie Lunar, is the only one who can prevent destruction of instant global-warming proportions. Premieres October 2.

Alec Mapa is a hilarious Filipino American gay man whose performances have been a staple of several big-name shows; he was wonderful in guest roles at Ugly Betty and Desperate Housewives, and he held his own with Adam Sandler in You Don’t Mess with the Zohan. We’re happy to see that he’s finally moving into a spotlight of his own with his comedy special Alec Mapa: America’s Gaysian Sweetheart. Expect lots of riffing on his Catholic upbringing. Premieres September 25.

Season 6 of Project Runway premiered to huge ratings on Lifetime in August, heralding the return of some of TV’s favorite fashion icons. Heidi Klum, Tim Gunn, and judges Michael Kors and Nina Garcia will once again dole out the praise, or not, to the freshest crop of would-be designers this side of New York Fashion Week. We’re looking forward to plenty of snippy clashes between the sixteen gorgeous contestants, barely censored, edgy catfights, stunning design and bitter catchphrases.  Thursdays, 10pm, ET/PT.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream is an enduring Shakespeare favorite; what theatergoer hasn’t giggled at its chaos of love, its jokes about short women, and that crazy donkey head? Logo updates the Bard with its merry pro-gay morality tale in Were the World Mine. A shy gay boy, Timothy, is subject to all sorts of abuse at his single-sex private school, and on top of it is tasked to school his mom on why being gay is okay. The familiar setup gets a subversive jolt when Timothy is cast as Puck in the school play, and he discovers a magic love potion he uses on stage is real, with a twist; everybody sprayed with it falls in love with the first member of their gender they see. Timothy’s town full of homophobes gets their gay on, with ladies on ladies and jocks on jocks. The film’s upending of anti-gay sentiment has won it accolades from over 100 film festivals, and we’re sure it’ll inspire some adoring sonnets from new viewers once it screens on Logo this fall. Monday, September 7, 9pm.

Yes, Rachel Maddow makes us swoon, what with her nerd-chic glasses, her sneakers, her stately chin, and her signature short-cropped coif. If our girlfriends left us for her, we would understand. But we also love Maddow for the hotness of her commentary on The Rachel Maddow Show. While she’s not above giggling over the word “teabaggers,” her takedowns of everyone from shouty health care protesters to the architects of Guantanamo torture are blisteringly fact-based, and the respectful, measured way she treats her guests brings a much-needed dose of sanity to cable television. There are many reasons why she muscled Larry King out of the number one ratings spot, and we can’t wait to see more of them. Weeknights, 9pm ET.

Since long before the era of Prop 8, In the Life has tackled some of the most underrepresented issues in the LGBTQ community today. This fall, the show continues its sensitive, skilled reportage, highlighting poverty and racial injustice, the current state of the AIDS vaccine, the still-brutal problem of hate-driven “bullycides” for targeted children in American schools, and the role of LGBTQ folks in the arts. We’re looking forward to excerpts from C Reed’s documentary Preacher’s Sons; Reed is a heterosexual female filmmaker who followed the journey of two fathers—one a minister—who lovingly raised five troubled foster sons in the conservative American Heartland. Visit to find out when episodes screen in your zip code.


This month, the nation’s most beloved lesbian entertainer, Ellen DeGeneres, begins the seventh season of her highly-rated daytime talk show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show. The first week’s guests include David Beckham, Lady Gaga and Kate Beckinsale. Expect another incredible season of Ellen’s signature wit, and of course, dancing. Check your local listings for air times.

For their latest docudrama, Police Women of Broward County, TLC sets their cameras on four female officers kicking ass and taking names, following them from undercover drug stings to the very moment one of them places her knee in the small of a brawny suspect’s back. We’ll see them in quieter moments, too; at home, where they care for their young children, and in the office, where they’ll jostle elbows with their male counterparts. Thursdays at 9pm ET.

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