In the 15 years ago since Queer as Folk premiered on Showtime, a great deal has changed in the depiction of gay characters and relationships on television. The modern classic series, which followed a circle of gay friends in working class Pittsburgh, was a definitively important elemenet in this shift, and stands as a precedent for today's more progressive programs like Looking, True Blood, and even Game of Thrones.
Queer as Folk showcased a bustling gay community that glorified sexual comfort. Comedian Hal Sparks played central character Michael who, along with his best friend/eternal crush Brian (Gale Harold), would try to navigate single life with a little help from their friends. Brian had a complicated life that included a teen paramour, Justin (Randy Harrison), a child with his lesbian friend Lindsay (Thea Gill), and an endless array of sex partners.
Despite having premiered a decade and a half ago, the series still stands up the test of time. It was cutting edge in exploring the issues of HIV, homophobia, and even auto-erotic asphyxiation on one occasion. The series shows the ups and downs of life, but with a particular sensitivity to the gay community, like finding a partner who is out, navigating open relationships, and handling dating someone who is HIV-positive. The series also has the kingpin of supportive TV parents in Debbie Novotny (Sharon Gless). There are also notable guest appearances by Rosie O’Donnell, Matt Battaglia, and Chris Potter.
Over the course of the five seasons the show was on the air, in managed to foster new attitudes toward the depiction of homosexuality in television. Queer as Folk showed that the gay community deserved to be included in our national pasttime of soapy WTF moments, cheesy storylines, and onscreen sexual charisma. The show might seem problematic by today's more progressive standars by portraying some corners of gay society as promiscuous, hard partying, and drugged up. But it did open up the doors so that all of the gay community could eventually find its way on television.
Check out Queer as Folk on Netflix.
Holy. Crap. The penultimate episode of Arrow Season 1 had so many OMG moments and shocking reveals that I’m pretty sure that this could have functioned as a season finale for any other series. But since this is Arrow, this was just a normal, action-packed episode. Let’s get right to it, shall we?
The first scene of "Darkness On the Edge of Town" is the one we released early, where Malcolm decides to "pay" seismologist Dr. Brion Markov for his services… only, not with money, but with an arrow to the chest. The Dark Archer killed all the Unidac employees, destroyed the lab and all their notes, covering up his tracks. When he does use the Markov device, there will be nothing to tie Malcolm to the “natural” earthquake that destroyed The Glades. Basically, the lesson here is never do a favor for Malcolm.
Back at the Arrow lair, Diggle and Felicity update Oliver on their tracking of Moira now that they know she is in league with Malcolm for The Undertaking, but so far she hasn’t done anything out of the ordinary. Oliver, however, doesn’t know how to process the fact that his family and oldest friends (the Merlyns) are behind all the evil he’s been fighting ever since he returned from the island. He decides it’s time to ask Moira, face to face, as her son, for the truth.
Before he can leave Verdant, he’s ambushed by Laurel who wants to discuss that little matter of Oliver confessing that he still loves her. She realized that she was ready to admit that she has feelings for Oliver, too. She caught Oliver when he was embroiled in an Arrow mission that only reiterated his belief that he can’t be with anyone thanks to his life. So, he lied and said he hasn’t changed, leaving Laurel confused and heartbroken.
Back at the Queen’s mansion, Walter finally came home! It’s hugs all around and a delicious brunch to welcome him home, but he isn’t exactly in the brunch mood. Something tells me he isn’t going to want to dive back into to the family life with Moira after his 6-month captivity, as evidenced by the kiss brush-off he gave her.
Thea and Roy are getting their Veronica Mars on, with a bit more of a criminal side. They’re still hot in their pursuit of the vigilante, but they haven’t found any real clues to lead them to the Hood. They did find out via eavesdropping at the police department that the copycat archer is connected to Merlyn Global.
When Oliver confronted Moira about Walter’s kidnapping, he started to drop his façade, and you could tell that Moira saw something different in her son that shocked her. But before he could get any real answers, they were both knocked out by tranquilizer darts. I bet the hooded assailant is Diggle in Arrow’s hood!
And look at that, I was right! It’s Diggle in the Arrow suit, just absolutely going to town on beating up Oliver in order to scare the truth out of Moira. As much as Diggle and Oliver made up last week, you can tell he’s enjoying beating up Oliver just a little bit after their fight over Floyd Lawton. Just don’t hurt Ollie’s face too much!
Their plan worked: Moira spilled the truth on everything. Unidac Industries. The Markov device. Malcolm’s plans to level The Glades. Robert Queen’s involvement with the plans before he died. Once they were sure she told them all she knew, Diggle cut Moira and Oliver loose, and left. Oliver couldn’t even look Moira in the eyes knowing what she had done!
Now that Team Arrow has new information, it’s back to the Arrow lair! Felicity looks up Unidac Industries – noting that Queen Consolidated acquired them seven months ago, the same time Felicity and Oliver met! Anniversary! – and figure out that Malcolm plans to level The Glades with a device that creates man-made earthquakes. They also figure out that since the other archer was the one responsible for what the media is calling the Unidac Massacre, that means the other archer works for Malcolm. Little do they know it’s actually Malcolm, but that will come later.
Since Det. Lance found a connection between the copycat archer and Merlyn Global, he asked to speak with someone at the company… and of course they sent Tommy. That’s just adding so many levels of awkward to the conversation, especially when Laurel walks in on their meeting. After Tommy leaves, Lance puts a tech guy on the job of snooping around their network… hey, isn’t that exactly what Felicity is trying to do? Lance and Laurel also got in some father/daughter bonding when she told him the reason she and Tommy broke up was because of Oliver. Lance’s two least favorite guys in all of Starling City, and his daughter has to date both of them. Poor guy. Silver lining? Lance has noticed the difference in post-island Oliver and gave his kind-of approval to Laurel. That’s a huge win, and also made Laurel realize that Oliver lied earlier about not being any different now.
Felicity wasn’t getting anywhere hacking into the Merlyn Global network, so Oliver figures out a way to get her inside the actual building to download the files they need to find the Markov device. Shenanigans ensue when some random paper pusher guy tried to get on the same elevator as Felicity and Oliver, and even tried flirting with her! But Ollie shut that down and knocked him right out of the elevator car. Was that a hint of jealousy from Ollie? #Olicity shippers, discuss!
While Felicity works her tech magic, Oliver uses his time to confront Tommy about Laurel. While Tommy came off as misogynistic, referring to Laurel as a consolation prize, Oliver put him in his place. He reminded Tommy that Laurel isn’t property, and makes her own decisions. She chose Tommy, and that should be all that matters. Oliver isn’t to blame for their break-up.
On his way out, Oliver ran into his sister, and finally got the chance to meet Roy. That handshake is going down as one of the scariest encounters ever. Oliver warned Roy and Thea away from pursuing the vigilante since everyone who gets close to the vigilante ends up dead. Oliver plays the disapproving older brother part well! Too bad it didn’t work on Roy: he’s still set on finding the hood, so he can teach Roy to be like him. Apparently, Roy lost someone a while ago and doesn’t want it to ever happen again. Thea made him choose, though, the vigilante or her, and Roy chose the vigilante.
Walter’s chilly demeanor when he first got home is finally explained: he knows that Moira had something to do with his abduction, and served her with divorce papers.
Det. Lance’s tech guy struck out trying to hack into Merlyn Global – duh – but he did notice Felicity Smoak had tried to do the same thing. Looks like part of Team Arrow is being brought in for questioning... again!
Back in the Arrow lair, Oliver had an epiphany: his father’s mission to clean up the city meant to stop The Undertaking. Once he did that, he’ll have cured the disease, and his work will be done. He could be done with being the vigilante, live a normal life, and could actually have a life with Laurel. Is there truly a light at the end of the tunnel? Oliver seems more hopeful than we’ve seen him all season!
It truly does look like Oliver thinks there’s hope for him and Laurel, since he went straight to her place. With a real smile on his face, he told her he’s ready to admit she’s the one who means the most to him, and cue the passionate sexytime! Too bad Laurel didn’t shut the drapes first: Tommy got quite the eyeful. This is officially the beginning of Tommy going dark.
Oliver went to confront Malcolm as the Hood, because the Markov device wasn’t where they thought it would be. When Malcolm refused to give it up, Oliver shot an arrow, meant to kill him… but Malcolm CAUGHT IT WITH HIS BARE HAND. Ollie’s wide-eyed surprise meant he understood now that Malcolm was the Dark Archer. Cue one of the greatest fight scenes Arrow has yet to show. In the ensuing chaos, Malcolm broke Oliver’s bow, and knocked him out to dehood him. When he realized the vigilante was Oliver, he let out a horrifed, “Oh no…”
In this week’s island flashbacks, we finally learn the entirety of Fyers’ plans: he’s following orders to shoot down any incoming and outgoing aircrafts near China, thus grounding all air travel in and out of China indefinitely. That would cripple China’s economy, especially once Yao Fei, a rogue element from China’s own military, took the fall – which he will, since Fyers shot both Slade and Shado. He does manage to slip Oliver a knife before donning his old uniform and recording a video taking responsibility for the destruction of all the aircrafts. We also got the glimpse of the high heeled feet of Fyers’ boss… who could she be? And after Yao Fei finished his video, Fyers SHOT HIM IN THE HEAD.
Once again, I say: whoa. While this could certainly have been a season finale, we still have one more hour left to go of Season 1. I could try to predict what’s coming, but honestly, all bets are off at this point. Who will survive The Undertaking? Will The Undertaking happen? Will Tommy go dark? Will anyone else find out Oliver’s identity? What will Malcolm do with Oliver? We’ll find out next week in the season finale of Arrow, “Sacrifice.”
The best quotes from “Darkness On the Edge of Town:”
Felicity: Are you okay?Oliver: My mom and my best friend’s dad are involved in a conspiracy that may have dire consequences for the city and I’m pretty sure they murdered my father. I’m not planning on using the word okay anytime soon.
Felicity: The last time the vigilante paid your mom a visit you got shot and I got to play doctor with you. Ugh, my brain thinks of the worst way to say things.
Thea: I’m really sick of us all having to go through a lot, you know?
Det. Lance: The arrows are black, not green.Police Chief: The copycat archer again.Det. Lance: The psychopaths are color-coding themselves now. That’s helpful.
Felicity: Let me get you an icepack for… everything.
Oliver: Felicity, are you hacking into the Merlyn Global mainframe?Felicity: Hacking is such an ugly word, no… Yeah, totally hacking into the Merlyn Global mainframe!
Oliver: Anything?Felicity: Just for the record, I will pump my fists in the air and scream ‘Yes!’ if I get in.
Felicity, dressed as a Big Belly Burger delivery girl: I have a super deluxe big belly buster for a Mr. Andrews. I think he’s in security. He a good tipper?
Oliver: Don’t look down.Felicity: Too late! I should mention that I’m afraid of heights… which I just learned right now!Oliver: Hold on to me tight.Felicity: You know I imagined you saying that to me under different circumstances. Very platonic circumstances.
Felicity: This is my hack face. I always look like this when I’m about to hack.
Tommy: Why so serious?
Follow Sydney on Twitter: @SydneyBucksbaum
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We’ve been waiting ever-so-(im)patiently for the return of the CW’s newest hit drama Arrow to return for the last four episodes of its freshman season, and tonight we will finally be rewarded. Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) and co. are back in "Home Invasion," and our favorite hooded vigilante has got a whole mess of problems with his family, his friends, and even his colleagues on Team Arrow.
We last left off with Ollie’s sister Thea (Willa Holland) teaming up with her new boyfriend Roy Harper (Colton Haynes) to track down the Hood, Ollie's mother Moira (Susanna Thompson) caught in the nefarious plans for The Undertaking of The Glades, his best friend Tommy (Colin Donnell) allying himself with his father Malcolm (John Barrowman) — aka the Dark Archer — and his partner Diggle (David Ramsey) out for revenge, Team Arrow be damned. Honestly, with friends and family like Oliver’s, who needs enemies?
Unfortunately, Starling City’s insidious underbelly doesn’t exactly see things that way, and Oliver will have a whole new slew of enemies to try and cross off his List tonight. First and foremost, Floyd Lawton — a.k.a. Deadshot — once again rears his one-eyed head, and according to everyone’s favorite IT girl Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards), Deadshot stirs up some trouble within Team Arrow and outside of the team.
"Dun dun dun, Deadshot! There is tension that happens between Diggle and Oliver when Deadshot comes into the case because whether or not you see him in each episode, Floyd Lawton is always on Diggle’s mind 100 percent," Rickards tells Hollywood.com. "He wants to get revenge. He cannot go on living with Deadshot there. And Felicity does not want to see Diggle get lost in that."
When Oliver doesn’t exactly see eye to eye with Diggle’s "blood quest" against Lawton, it’s up to Felicity to bring her two boys back together. "I see her as the point of this triangle and she’s going, 'Okay, you guys are individuals and you need to work this out,'" Rickards reveals. "In this episode, she’s trying to fuse together again the connection between the other two points of their triangle. It gets a little rocky, for lack of a better explanation."
Maybe if Deadshot was Team Arrow’s only concern in "Home Invasion," they would actually stand a chance to really work through their issues in a timely manner. But unfortunately for Oliver, Diggle, and Felicity, they will also have to deal with a new villain that presents a challenge they’ve never faced before.
Angel alum J. August Richards makes his debut tonight as Mr. Blank, an assassin who Richards doesn’t like to define in such black-and-white terms. "You call him a villain but I don’t think he sees himself that way, nor do I see him that way," Richards tells Hollywood.com. "He sees himself as a businessman who’s been hired to do a service. And beyond that, he has no sort of judgment behind it or not. He is an assassin who is brought in to keep a few witnesses quiet and he is very serious about what he does for a living."
While any normal assassin wouldn’t present major challenges to Oliver and company, Mr. Blank has a special talent that makes Team Arrow’s job much harder than usual. "He lives his whole life to be invisible so that he can creep out of the shadows to take people out and then creep right back in," Richards reveals. "He’s not easy to track down. He’s a master of disguise without ever changing his costume. That’s how good this guy is."
And what’s scarier than his talent for disappearing is his "dead in the eyes" personality. "This character has no empathy for people at all. He might understand human emotions but he doesn’t understand yours or how you’re feeling. That doesn’t even cross his radar," Richards explains. "However, he is one of those people that can read the emotional temperature of a room easily. He is very connected to spaces and the emotional temperature of rooms, but not to people at all. I call him a sociopathic Nate Berkus."
With his sociopathic nature and penchant for hiding, it sounds like Mr. Blank will present challenges both to Oliver and Felicity. "He’s a villain like I don’t think we have ever seen before," Richards teases. "He creeps in and out of places innocuously and I think that makes it very difficult for Oliver to spot him. And who says that Oliver does stop him?"
On that ominious note, we’re left to wonder if we’ll see more of Richards’ Mr. Blank in the future… perhaps Season 2? "I don’t know [about being back]. I think we’ll have to wait and see," Richards teases. "But I will say this: I had an absolute ball working on the show. I love the crew, the cast, and it was an amazing experience."
One character we know for sure we’ll be seeing more of is Felicity, thanks to her promotion to series regular. Rickards was "elated" when she heard the news she would be sticking around Arrow in a larger capacity. "It’s huge news for me and for Felicity. I get to spend more time with her and more time with this awesome cast that I’ve become really good friends with," Rickards says. "If I had to say goodbye to Felicity that would be heartbreaking."
Saying goodbye to Felicity would be heartbreaking for fans as well, thanks to the dedicated army of "Olicity" shippers hoping to see Oliver and Felicity get together romantically. "She’s got this hunk of a superhero on her hands. That’s kind of the dream," Rickards says. "I think what the audience really loves is the tension. Felicity does too. That’s a natural thing for her. But I don’t know, I’m not the writers! I don’t even think they know where it’s going to go. They just burn through storyline like crazy."
While Rickards may not be able to predict if/when Olicity might happen, she does understand the why fans are so connected to the pairing of Oliver and Felicity. "I think what we do get to see is her admiration for Oliver and his admiration for her and their love for each other," Rickards explains. "The more you get to know someone on that level, the more connected you are to them. And the friendship keeps growing, that family-like feeling, that love-like feeling between her and Diggle, her and Oliver, and Oliver and Diggle."
Tune in to see that friendship between Oliver, Diggle, and Felicity tested when Deadshot and Mr. Blank enter the scene on Arrow tonight at 8 PM ET/PT on The CW.
Follow Sydney on Twitter: @SydneyBucksbaum
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We’ve been waiting all season for the introduction of Jessica De Gouw’s Helena Bertinelli/The Huntress on Arrow, as she's the female version of Stephen Amell’s Oliver Queen/Arrow. Last night’s “Muse of Fire” delivered our first look at the mob boss’s daughter, and the final product was a little underwhelming. But before you raise your voice in disagreement, here me out. Let’s back up.
When we last saw our hooded vigilante, he was getting some much needed mother/son bonding time at a diner, and while he still has some trouble remembering family commitments it seems like he got through to his mom. Moira explained to Thea that they really need to cut Oliver some slack after his five years away. The time on the island changed him, and maybe that’s not such a bad thing. I mean, think about it: five years is a long time, and if you haven’t changed in that time, no matter where you are or what you’re doing, something is wrong. We all change and (hopefully) grow as time goes on. So Oliver was marooned on an island for five years… that’s a bit different than living in society, going to school or work, and interacting with your family and friends, but life events – no matter how normal or bizarre – shape our character. It’s time for Oliver’s family to understand that after five years of separation, Oliver isn’t the same person he used to be.
And let’s not forget, of course Moira is going to defend Oliver’s habit of keeping secrets seeing as how she’s been plotting in secret with “The Well Dressed Man,” who finally was identified last night as... Tommy’s father! Who else totally saw that coming the moment his father appeared on screen wearing a fencing mask? That was a nice way to tie in this mysterious character to the already established Arrow story. Especially with the introduction of the Bertinelli mob group, it’s time to focus the scope of the Arrow universe. We don’t want too big of a web of characters because that is when plot points start to fall through and things get confusing.
Speaking of the Bertinelli mob, Oliver finds himself working for the mob boss in order to find out who is attacking his colleagues, because his mother got caught in the crossfire. After taking Bertinelli’s daughter Helena out for dinner to discuss a contract, Oliver finds himself with a big ol’ crush on Helena. She is the first person to ask him if he ever misses the island, and understands that the island changed him that no one else gets. He seems relieved to finally be in the company of someone who he doesn’t have to lie to – except about his secret vigilante mission. Well, that is, until he runs into the Huntress and pulls off her motorcycle helmet, revealing Helena! Turns out, Helena is even more perfect for him than he previously thought. They fight their way out of a sticky situation together, and Helena utters a familiar line after breaking someone’s neck, “I had no choice, no one can know my secret.” You could see it all over Oliver’s face: this girl is ME. He was one part shocked, two parts impressed, and a million parts smitten. He was a goner, crushing hardcore, one candy heart away from doodling Mr. Helena Bertinelli all over his notebook. The two vigilantes end the episode in a liplock, both secrets exposed to the other, all walls broken down.
But while the story worked for me, De Gouw left a lot to be desired.The chemistry between her and Amell is lacking (though I have to say, he was pulling more than his own weight this week, really working his emotions as hard as he could. Plus, chasing down that motorcycle? The guy can RUN). It felt underdeveloped, and forced. I didn’t feel for Helena. Maybe the story was too rushed, and they tried to fit too much into one episode. Or maybe De Gouw wasn’t the right choice for Helena. We’ll just have to wait and see how she pans out next week.
Finally, Tommy was cut off from his family’s money and went on a date with Laurel. When Tommy broke the news to Oliver in a move that was both mature and territorial, Oliver let Tommy see his true self for one fleeting moment. Gone was his fake smile, and out came the deadly threat, “If you hurt her I will snap your neck.” There was a shocked silence, before Oliver’s fake smile was back and Tommy was convinced it was a joke. Little does he know that he just saw who his “best friend” really was, and that he really does have to worry about Oliver snapping his neck...
Follow Sydney on Twitter @SydneyBucksbaum
[Photo Credit: Jack Rowand/The CW]
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Widening the thematic scope without sacrificing too much of the claustrophobia that made the original 1979 Alien universally spooky Prometheus takes the trophy for this summer's most adult-oriented blockbuster entertainment. The movie will leave your mouth agape for its entire runtime first with its majestic exploration of an alien planet and conjectures on the origins of the human race second with its gross-out body horror that leaves no spilled gut to the imagination. Thin characters feel more like pawns in Scott's sci-fi prequel but stunning visuals shocking turns and grand questions more than make up for the shallow ensemble. "Epic" comes in many forms. Prometheus sports all of them.
Based on their discovery of a series of cave drawings all sharing a similar painted design Elizabeth (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie (Logan Marshall-Green) are recruited by Weyland to head a mission to another planet one they believe holds the answers to the creation of life on Earth. Along for the journey are Vickers (Charlize Theron) the ruthless Weyland proxy Janek (Idris Elba) a blue collar captain a slew of faceless scientists and David (Michael Fassbender) HAL 9000-esque resident android who awakens the crew of spaceship Prometheus when they arrive to their destination. Immediately upon descent there's a discovery: a giant mound that's anything but natural. The crew immediately prepares to scope out the scene zipping up high-tech spacesuits jumping in futuristic humvees and heading out to the site. What they discover are the awe-inspiring creations of another race. What they bring back to the ship is what they realize may kill their own.
The first half of Prometheus could be easily mistaken for Steven Spielberg's Alien a sense of wonder glowing from every frame not too unlike Close Encounters. Scott takes full advantage of his fictional settings and imbues them with a reality that makes them even more tantalizing. He shoots the vistas of space and the alien planet like National Geographic porn and savors the interior moments on board the Prometheus full of hologram maps sleeping pods and do-it-yourself surgery modules with the same attention. Prometheus is beautiful shot in immersive 3D that never dampers Dariusz Wolski's sharp photography. Scott's direction seems less interested in the run-or-die scenario set up in the latter half of the film but the film maintains tension and mood from beginning to end. It all just gets a bit…bloodier.
Jon Spaihts' and Damon Lindelof's script doesn't do the performers any favors shuffling them to and fro between the ship and the alien construction without much room for development. Reveals are shoehorned in without much setup (one involving Theron's Vickers that's shockingly mishandled) but for the most part the ensemble is ready to chomp into the script's bigger picture conceits. Rapace is a physical performer capable of pulling off a grisly scene involving an alien some sharp objects and a painful procedure (sure to be the scene of the blockbuster season. Among the rest of the crew Fassbender's David stands out as the film's revelatory performance delivering a digestible ambiguity to his mechanical man that playfully toys with expectations from his first entrance. The creature effects in Prometheus will wow you but even Fassbender's smallest gesture can send the mind spinning. The power of his smile packs more of a punch than any facehugger.
Much like Lindelof's Lost Prometheus aims to explore the idea of asking questions and seeking answers and on Scott's scale it's a tremendous unexpected ride. A few ideas introduced to spur action fall to the way side in the logic department but with a clear mission and end point Prometheus works as a sweeping sci-fi that doesn't require choppy editing or endless explosions to keep us on the edge of our seats. Prometheus isn't too far off from the Alien xenomorphs: born from existing DNA of another creature the movie breaks out as its own beast. And it's wilder than ever.