Blog: Our weekend watchlist, LGBTQ+ edition


Image via Wikimedia Commons

The “Moonlight” theatrical release poster.

By The Pitt News Staff

Valentine’s Day is a day of love, but here at The Pitt News, it is also the day we release our annual Sex Edition, which this year had an LGBTQ+ focus. To continue with this theme, this Weekend Watchlist features series and movies with a strong LGBTQ+ presence.

“Glee” // Victoria Pfefferle-Gillot, Senior Staff Writer

Fox // Created by Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Ian Brennan // Grade: A

As a huge musical theater geek in middle school and high school, it’s a wonder I was never into “Glee” when it was on Fox from 2009 to 2015. However, within the past year I’ve fallen deep down this musical rabbit hole, thanks to the show’s presence on Netflix, and it has become my TV comfort food. “Glee” centers around the misfit teens of William McKinley High’s show choir club and their various struggles with school, social pressures, relationships, bullying, loss and their dreams for success, among other things.

Music is at the heart of “Glee” and each of the songs performed in the show is threaded into the plot and moves character development forward. The show’s six seasons have everything from showtunes to Top 40 songs, a broad enough range that you’re sure to recognize something. The writing can be cheesy, inconsistent and soap opera-like at times, but the music, the amount of positive representation and exploration of deeper and neglected themes makes up for it.  

Romantic relationships on “Glee” tend to be fleeting and laughably dramatic at times, but there are a few “ships” that come out the other side full and strong. While I love “Klaine” — Kurt Hummel (Chris Colfer) and Blaine Anderson (Darren Criss) — the continual arc of “Brittana” — Brittany Pierce (Heather Morris) and Santana Lopez (Naya Rivera) — is one that is more inspiring to me overall. Santana and Brittany loved each other from the start, but despite Brittany’s openness and support, Santana was afraid to be who she was. The most heart-wrenching part is watching Santana come out to her abuela, someone whom she loves dearly, and being disowned because of it. Brittany and Santana’s relationship remains strong throughout the series and they serve as positive representation on “Glee” for young LGBTQ+ audiences.  

“Call Me By Your Name” // Vikram Sundar, Staff Writer

Sony Pictures // Directed by Luca Guadagnino // Grade: A+

“Call Me By Your Name” is a heartwarming tale of two men embracing their repressed homosexuality and, on a deeper level, discovering themselves in a large and foreboding world. The film hinges on the intimate chemistry between Elio (Timothée Chalamet) and Oliver (Armie Hammer), who bring depth and gravitas to their respective characters through facial expressions and body language. You truly empathize with these characters because their impossible relationship feels genuine and authentic, under the scrutinizing zeitgeist of 1980s Italy. Every scene, from Elio and Oliver biking along the lush foliage of the sun-dried Italian landscape to the pair lying by the clear blue, reflecting lake, staring into the JMW Turner-esque clouds, is connotative of our own jovial memories and forlorn desires.

In a sense, this film could only be helmed by Luca Guadagnino, who understands the distinctive subtleties of sensual relationships, as captured eloquently in his earlier works, “I Am Love” (2009) and “A Bigger Splash” (2015). It’s the subtleties, like their jocose playfulness in the lake and lingering goodbyes, that make us feel genuine empathy for Elio and Oliver as if they were distant friends of ours.

“Call Me By Your Name” is a rare film, one of the few to showcase controversial subject matter and raw human emotion in a way that lets us sit back, loosen up and take in the beauty of love and life.

“The Bold Type” // Sarah Connor, Culture Editor

Freeform // Created by Sarah Watson // Grade: A-

As a young woman hoping to pursue a career in journalism, I was shamelessly excited when Freeform (formerly ABC Family) announced a show following three women in their mid-20s working for a magazine in New York City. “The Bold Type” centers on a journalist at the fictional magazine “Scarlet,” Jane Sloane (Katie Stevens) and her two best friends Kat Edison (Aisha Dee) — the magazine’s social media manager — and Sutton Brady (Meghann Fahy) — a fashion assistant at “Scarlet.”

The show was inspired by former editor-in-chief of “Cosmopolitan” Joanna Coles. Though on the surface, it may seem a bit “Sex and the City”-esque, “The Bold Type” presents a more realistic version of being a 20-something in New York. Viewers watch the main characters experience highs and lows within work, friendship and relationships.

One of the most compelling storylines is that of Kat, a bisexual black woman who develops a strong connection to an artist from Iran, Adena El-Amin (Nikohl Boosheri), who visits New York as an artistic photographer for “Scarlet.” Adena identifies as a lesbian Muslim woman, and the show does not shy away from the discrimination she experiences as a minority. The bullying Adena faces based on her race, religion and sexuality is tough for Kat to understand, even though she is also a queer woman of color. The struggles help their relationship grow stronger, and the romance between the pair creates an excellent example of intersectional representation.

“Queer Eye” // Siddhi Shockey, Staff Writer

Netflix // Created by David Collins // Grade: A+

In all my years as a TV viewer — and now Netflix streamer — I can safely say I’ve never been a fan of reality TV. In a world overrun by the Kardashians and “The Bachelor,” I’ve never really felt like that genre held any interest for me. That was until I watched “Queer Eye.”

“Queer Eye” is a reality makeover show hosted by five gay men, fittingly named the “Fab Five.” The show originally aired in the early 2000s under the title “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,” with the mission to find tolerance of the LGBTQ+ community. Now, the show is fighting for acceptance. By traveling throughout Georgia, the Fab Five strives to help reshape people’s lives for the better, helping with their love lives, mental health and sense of fashion along the way.

Each member of the Fab Five has their own role to which they bring their own flair. Bobby Berk, the interior designer of the bunch, helps to revamp and optimize living spaces while adding in a touch of personality to each room. Antoni Porowski — whom I’ll admit I have a huge crush on — teaches the men how to cook for themselves or even for a family, setting up cute romantic dinners and housewarming parties along the way.

Tan France, the fashion guru, is blunt and hilarious in his critiques of their host’s closets. Karamo Brown, the self-help genius, brings a personal touch to every episode. Whether he’s pushing someone to go out of their comfort zone or take charge of their talents, he’s the guy that’s always in your corner. And lastly, my absolute favorite, Jonathan Van Ness — the queen of all things hair — with his light sense of humor, catch phrase “yes henny!” and handlebar mustache, you are sure to be rolling on the floor laughing.

But “Queer Eye” isn’t a show meant to simply change the way you look. It’s rooted in finding self-love and acceptance. Each of the members of the Fab Five brings a unique, interesting and heartfelt experience to each episode, sharing their own journeys with viewers as well. They’ve opened up about past discrimination and rejection from their families and society to help shape the journeys of their hosts. (Be sure to have tissues on hand!) Whether it’s mastering a hairdo or returning to the church after many years of lacking acceptance, “Queer Eye” reminds us of the richness and beauty that self-love can offer.

“Moonlight” // Apoorva Kethidi, Staff Writer

A24 // Directed by Barry Jenkins // Grade: A+

“Moonlight” follows the story of a young man’s journey through all the highs and lows of his life and his quest to find peace with himself. It is difficult to effectively display certain inner conflicts one may experience while coming of age, but this film stunningly portrays three chapters in the life of a young, black boy named Chiron (Ashton Sanders) and his struggle whilst growing up gay.

Told through three important stages of Chiron’s life — first as a young boy nicknamed Little (Alex Hibbert), second in his teenage years where he is actually referred to as Chiron and third in his adult years where he goes by the nickname Black (Trevante Rhodes) — “Moonlight” depicts his journey of self-discovery and sexuality while growing up in a rough Miami neighborhood. A bright point in his life is Juan (Mahershala Ali) who serves as a father figure for him over the years.

“Moonlight” wasn’t intended to overtly wow us or give us knowledge about something we didn’t already know. Rather the film allowed us to enter and follow a life that I’m sure many have never considered living. Yes, we know something about poverty, queerness, masculinity and blackness individually, but to see the conflict of it all so intricately woven together allowed the complexity of some people’s lives to be seen in an uncensored way.

“Moonlight” wasn’t supposed to give us some grand finale or even answers, but simply to present a narrative that we often don’t see. And that’s what makes it so simple, painful and outstandingly beautiful.