Dear Willa, Todd, and Tara:
2017 may have sucked in many ways, but it was a great year for TV lesbians. Finally, Orange Is the New Black’s Big Boo isn’t the only butch/stud in the video village. Lena Waithe co-wrote the lovely “Thanksgiving” episode of Master of None, in which Dev (co-writer Aziz Ansari) eats T-day turkey with Denise (Waithe) and her family at various points between 1995 and 2017, and we get to see the long-term complexity of “coming out” from the first time you refuse to wear the frilly dress to the first time you invite an unsuitable partner to a holiday gathering. (I find Ansari an unconvincing actor when he’s in low-key mode, but when he acts out—as when he forced that dimwitted girlfriend to repeat her Instagram name, Nipplesandtoes23, about 23 times—he’s aces.) Claws gave us Quiet Ann (Judy Reyes), who looks sharp and bags babes while hanging with a crew of straight women who love her and appreciate her appreciation. And Madam Secretary added Kat Sandoval (Sara Ramirez), the best-dressed masculine-of-center know-it-all on television—her outfits out-snazz even Michael’s on The Good Place, and that’s a high bar.
Star and Doubt put trans characters front and center in new but not always in positive ways, and Star and Billions featured gender-nonconforming characters—though I wish Asia Kate Dillon’s Taylor was less of a paragon and more like all the other flawed human beings who work at Axe Capital. And the roster of TV bisexuals has also grown this year, thanks to Riverdale and Jane the Virgin and Brooklyn Nine-Nine and The Bold Type and She’s Gotta Have It. I recite these developments not for box-ticking reasons, but because presenting all kinds of women being happy and loved and countering dumb stereotypes about bisexuals and gender-nonconforming people can save lives. And also because I covet Kat Sandoval’s entire wardrobe.
Todd, I know you’re from South Dakota, not Wyoming, but I need you to tell me if I’m an idiot for loving Longmire. (I’m curious about your take too, Tara, since Canada is basically Wyoming with health care and Hell’s Angels.) As a connoisseur of police procedurals, I’m down for any decent cop show, and setting it in wide-open country where you can’t just call for backup added a delightful twist. I’m a Brit, and like all Europeans, fascinated by cowboys and Indians, so throw in a guy who dresses like Roy Rogers, political wrangling over a casino, and jurisdictional tussles with tribal police, and I’m extra sold. But every time a white character does a sweat lodge, or a Cheyenne says something “wise,” I wonder.
The sixth and final season quickly dispensed with several long-simmering storylines I’d found annoying and focused instead on the personal lives of the main characters: Sheriff Walt Longmire (Robert Taylor), Deputy Vic Moretti (Katee Sackhoff), Henry Standing Bear (Lou Diamond Phillips), and to a certain extent, sweet doofus Deputy Ferg (Adam Bartley). The writers room had saddled Vic with some dumb accoutrements over the years—ye olde Philadelphia mob being not even the worst of it—but Sackhoff got to take on some awards reel submission–level acting challenges in the final episodes as well as play out a lovely romance. And the final beat of the final episode was the most satisfactory callback in the history of final episodes.
But, I ask you, what about the ball hairs?