Category Archives: Television

Plain, Simple Garak

Elim Garak

One of my favorite characters in the Star Trek universe is a Cardassian. In general, the Cardassians were not known as the nicest of races. Captain Edward Jellico, who was briefly in command of the Enterprise-D, said of them, “Cardassians are like… timber wolves… predators… bold in large numbers… cautious by themselves… and with an instinctive need to establish a dominant position in any social gathering.” The Cardassians were similar to the Romulans in their xenophobic tendencies, and also shared the Romulan belief there is no such thing as luck. Like the Breen, they treated their prisoners with little tolerance or sympathy; they had no qualms using torture to extract information. Some Cardassians were even known to enjoy torturing their prisoners whether there was information to be extracted or not. 

Ideal Cardassian life was one of complete loyalty and servitude to the State and to the family. Like the Chinese, family was the building block of Cardassian society, and as such, the hierarchical system of respect also applied to one’s rulers and one’s family. The Cardassian government was assumed by its citizens to be omniscient, omnipotent, and benevolent; the government was anything but benevolent. An example of the Cardassian approach to life was found in their jurisprudence and criminal trials in which the conclusion was always determined beforehand: the ruling of each case was a guilty verdict; the purpose of the proceeding was not justice in the Human sense, but instead bringing the offender to recognize the power and benevolence of the State. A trial, therefore, was an opportunity for the State to reveal how someone’s guilt was proven by what they considered, “the most efficient criminal investigation system in the quadrant.” 

Almost all Cardassians lived in fear of the Obsidian Order, the chief intelligence agency of the Cardassian Union, whose constant surveillance had led to the sudden elimination of numerous “traitors.” It was said The Order was so efficient a Cardassian citizen couldn’t sit down to a meal without each dish being duly noted and recorded including its preparation and the exact measurement of each ingredient. Dr. Julian Bashir wondered what happened to people who ate something that was “not in agreement” with the Order, and Odo noted that people had “disappeared” for less. Every Cardassian home was equipped with surveillance equipment to keep an eye on its citizens. Only members of the Central Command, the military leaders of Cardassia, could turn off the cameras and only occasionally. The Order was the ultimate Big Brother.

Some of the alien races of Star Trek, especially the enemies of the Federation, had an equivalent in Earth history especially during the Cold War era of The Original Series. The Klingons represented the Soviets, the Romulans were like the Communist Chinese, the Cardassians were representative of Nazi Germany, the Bajorans similar to the persecuted Jews of Europe. Cardassians took control of Bajor in 2319 establishing the Bajoran Occupational Government. Initially, the Bajoran people offered them little resistance. However, the Cardassians rapidly pacified the planet and began a coordinated scheme of strip-mining, forced labor, slavery, and genocide. The brutality of the Cardassian military drove many Bajorans to form a resistance to the Occupation. Using guerrilla and terrorist tactics, the resistance continually harassed Cardassian forces. Under constant attack and unable to subdue the Bajoran resistance, facing pressure from both internal civilian elements in the Cardassian Central Command and from the Federation, the Cardassians withdrew from Bajor in 2369. However, many Cardassians, such as Gul Dukat, continued to want to regain control of Bajor and to exterminate its people.

While the Cardassians were a brutal race, they sometimes showed signs of being a kind and warmhearted people. One of the most complex characters in Star Trek history is one of my favorites, Elim Garak. He was the Cardassian tailor and Promenade shopkeeper of Garak’s Clothiers who lived on Deep Space Nine. He first appeared in the episode, “Past Prologue” where he introduced himself to Dr. Bashir who believed Garak was a spy. As soon as I saw this conversation, I knew Garak would be an interesting character. He proved to have some of the best lines in the series beginning with this: after Garak asks Bashir to stop by his shop if he desires new apparel or some interesting conversation, Bashir says, “You’re very kind, Mister Garak.” To which Garak replies, “Oh, it’s just Garak. Plain, simple Garak.” Right away viewers knew there was nothing plain or simple about Garak. He had previously been an agent of the Obsidian Order but had been exiled to Terok Nor, the Cardassian name for Deep Space Nine. 

The true reason for Garak’s exile is never revealed during the series. When he does tell Bashir why he was exiled, he tells him three different stories all involving a man named Elim which Bashir later learns is Garak’s first name. When Bashir asks Garak, “Of all the stories you told me which ones were true and which ones weren’t?” Garak replies, “My dear Doctor, they’re all true.” Bashir says, “Even the lies?” to which Garak replies in his standard obfuscation, “Especially the lies.” Garak once told Bashir, “Truth is in the eye of the beholder, Doctor. I never tell the truth because I don’t believe there is such a thing. That is why I prefer the straight-line simplicity of cutting cloth.” Garak believed, “Lying is a skill like any other. And if you want to maintain a level of excellence, you have to practice constantly.” Bashir once tried to tell Garak the fable of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.” While Bashir believed the moral to be that lying too much will cause people to never believe a person, Garak retorted he believed the point was, “That you should never tell the same lie twice.” As his father, Enabran Tain, the one-time head of the Obsidian Order once said of him, one of Garak’s basic philosophies is, “Never tell the truth when a lie will do.” Garak once explained his belief that, “the truth is usually just an excuse for a lack of imagination.”

Andrew Robinson

Garak, though, was more than just a pathological liar. Played by Andrew Robinson, originally a stage actor, he is also known for his portrayals of the serial killer Scorpio in the crime film, Dirty Harry (1971); Larry Cotton in the horror film, Hellraiser (1987); and as the title character in the ABC television film, Liberace (1988). Without Robinson, the character of Garak never would have become as intriguing as it did. In fact, the character might have had only one appearance in the series. Robinson commented, “Garak is one of those guys, we all know someone a bit like him who you can’t trust as far as you can spit. The moment you see him you put your hand on your wallet, and the moment he opens his mouth you know he’s going to lie to you, but yet, somehow, you’d rather be in his company than with almost anybody else. He’s a charming rogue, you can’t deny it. Even I get sucked in by him. Although it’s me playing him. When I see Garak on TV, I swear to God this is true, I’m fascinated.” Robinson also said of the character, “He’s all subtext. If a smart guy like Garak says he’s ‘plain and simple’, you realize he’s not plain and not simple. There is a lot going on. Regardless of how innocuous or simple each line is, there’s always something going on underneath that belies the line. And his eyes and the tone of his voice say something different than the words he’s speaking. It’s not an easy thing to work with subtext, but when you do it well, you really get people’s attention.”

Garak was also one of the most sexually ambiguous characters in Star Trek history. Robinson stated in an interview, “I started out playing Garak as someone who doesn’t have a defined sexuality. He’s not gay, he’s not straight, it’s a non-issue for him. Basically, his sexuality is inclusive. But, it’s Star Trek, and there were a couple of things working against that. One is that Americans are very nervous about sexual ambiguity. Also, this is a family show; they have to keep it on the ‘straight and narrow’ so I backed off from it. Originally, in that first episode, I loved the man’s absolute fearlessness about presenting himself to an attractive Human being. The fact that the attractive Human being is a man (Bashir) doesn’t make any difference to him, but that was a little too sophisticated, I think. For the most part, the writers supported the character beautifully, but in that area, they just made a choice not to go there, and if they don’t want to go there, I can’t, because the writing doesn’t support it.” Ira Steven Behr, the executive producer of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, commented, “I wish we could have done a little bit more with the Garak character…. I mean, he was clearly gay or queer or however you want to say it. I think I would have loved to have taken that and seen where that went and how that affected his relationship with Bashir.” I would have loved for the show’s creators to have explored that part of Garak. It took twenty-five more years before we saw LGBTQ+ characters in Star Trek: Discovery. There had been a few hints, or even winks, to LGBTQ+ characters. It could have come sooner and been bolder with Garak’s character, and we wouldn’t have had to wait twenty-five years.

Behr once said, “Garak is a mystery wrapped in an enigma. So, who he is, what he really is, who the hell knows? And I think it took a more sophisticated audience to really get behind that kind of a character, because back in the day, it seemed anyway, that mystery and … I don’t want to say subtlety, but something along those lines … that’s not what people wanted, they wanted their TNG good, bad, everything very clear, everything very clean, everything very understandable. And at the end of the day, everything was safe. Everything was basically safe. And Garak is not a safe character. The fact that now he’s so popular says something about how the audience has matured. And that’s a good thing.” Hans Beimler, a writer, producer, and script editor of many Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episodes, commented, “To me, the guy that embodied the show was Garak. He was a fuckin’ spy, man! He was a bad guy in a way. But you got to know and understand him. And he got to know us and understand us. Even appreciate us. He wasn’t such a bad guy at the end of the show.”

Garak had been intended to be a one-off character; Robinson said he first portrayed the character, because he needed money that month to pay his bills. The producers were impressed with Robinson’s performance and decided to develop the character after Robinson agreed to return. The decision to incorporate Garak into more of the series led to Garak becoming a pivotal character transforming him into someone of importance, of unusual complexity, and of resonance. Garak became known throughout the series for the ruthlessness of his past with the Obsidian Order, but at various times, he uses contacts on Cardassia to help Starfleet and even the Bajorans. He was known to be a witty conversationalist and a skilled tailor, but underneath his friendly and charming exterior, he was a proficient assassin, saboteur, and expert liar able to adapt to a variety of situations. Occasionally, he was used by Starfleet as a backchannel to the Cardassians when a direct message was not possible. By the end of the series, he was a different man. 

On numerous occasions, Garak was seen to have internal conflicts between his morals and his obligations to the Cardassian Central Command. One of my favorite episodes is, “In the Pale Moonlight.” This episode shows the Federation on the brink of losing the Federation-Dominion War. With mounting losses and the specter of defeat, Captain Sisko must put aside his Federation morals in an attempt to turn the tide of the war.  Sisko enlists Garak’s help to “persuade” the Romulans to join the Federation/Klingon alliance. Deep down, Sisko knew Garak could do things that he, morally, could not. Garak tells him at the end of the episode, “That’s why you came to me, isn’t it, Captain? Because you knew I could do those things that you weren’t capable of doing. Well, it worked. And you’ll get what you wanted: a war between the Romulans and the Dominion. And if your conscience is bothering you, you should soothe it with the knowledge that you may have just saved the entire Alpha Quadrant, and all it cost was the life of one Romulan senator, one criminal… and the self-respect of one Starfleet officer. I don’t know about you, but I’d call that a bargain.”


Past Tense

Sisko and Bashir in the Sanctuary District

“Star Trek” is a sci-fi universe with a positive outlook on Earth’s future. The United Federation of Planets uses its Starfleet armada of spaceships for humanitarian and peacekeeping missions. Many of the storylines are allegories of contemporary culture. I will repeat what I said yesterday: from the very beginning, Star Trek has held a firm belief represented by the symbol representing IDIC: infinite diversity in infinite combinations. I agree with the idea that Star Trek can teach us so much about what humanity can become. However, Star Trek often had to deal with the problems of the past to create this future Star Trek universe. As was well-established in the Star Trek universe originally envisioned by Gene Roddenberry, society had to go through Hell before reaching a state of utopia, and the episode “Past Tense” from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is part of an examination of that Hell.

“Past Tense” shows what the United States was like in the 2020s through the lens of the 1990s. The year is 2024. Sisko, Bashir, and Dax find themselves trapped 300 years in the past confronting one of the darkest hours in Earth’s history. The time period is best explained by Sisko who teaches Bashir about 21st century history and the Sanctuary Districts:

Sisko: By the early 2020s, there was a place like this in every major city in the United States.

Bashir: Why are these people in here? Are they criminals?

Sisko: No, people with criminal records weren’t allowed in the Sanctuary Districts.

Bashir: Then what did they do to deserve this?

Sisko: Nothing. They’re just people without jobs or places to live.

Bashir: So, they get put in here?

Sisko: Welcome to the 21st century, Doctor.

Bashir comments to Sisko, “21st century history isn’t one of my strong points. Too depressing.” Bashir would definitely be horrified at the way the United States government and other governments around the world have dealt with COVID-19. But back to the episode, the conditions of the Sanctuary Districts lead to an event known in the Star Trek universe as the Bell Riots. As Sisko explains to Bashir, “The Sanctuary residents will take over the District. Some of the guards will be taken hostage. The government will send in troops to restore order. Hundreds of Sanctuary residents will be killed.” The dialog between Sisko and Bashir continues:

Sisko: I sympathize, Doctor, but if it will make you feel any better, the Riots will be one of the watershed events of the 21st century. Gabriel Bell will see to that.

Bashir: Bell?

Sisko: The man they named the Riots after. He is one of the Sanctuary residents who will be guarding the hostages. The government troops will storm this place based on rumors that the hostages have been killed. It turns out that the hostages were never harmed, because of Gabriel Bell. In the end, Bell sacrifices his own life to save them. He’ll become a national hero. Outrage over his death, and the death of other residents, will change public opinion about the Sanctuaries. They’ll be torn down and the United States will finally begin correcting the social problems it has struggled with for over a hundred years.

The riots over the death of George Floyd and others killed by police may be the start of a change in American history like the Bell Riots were in 2024. We can only hope. In 1995, when this episode aired, who would have predicted that only a few years before the fictional Bell Riots, the United States would see nationwide protests on racial injustice?

Ira Steven Behr, executive producer of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and one of the story creators for “Past Tense,” was inspired to come up with the idea for the Sanctuary Districts through his real-life experience in the early 1990s. In an interview for a Season 3 DVD special feature about “Past Tense,” Behr said:

I was down in Santa Monica one day, and there [were] all these homeless people there, and it was a beautiful day, the ocean, sky, sun, and homeless people everywhere. And all these tourists, and people up and about, and they were walking past these homeless people as if they were part of the scenery. It was like some artist had done some interesting rendition of juxtaposition between nature and urban decay right there in front of me. And the fact was that nobody seemed to care, at all. And I said, ‘There has to be something about that, where does that go? How far do you take that?’ And that evolved into the idea for concentration camps essentially for the homeless.

Dax and the Wealthy Businessman

Behr also stated there is a subtle examination of racism in this episode. When Dax is discovered, she is treated like royalty and taken in by a wealthy San Francisco businessman, but when Sisko and Bashir are found, they are treated like criminals. Of this situation, Behr said, “The simple fact is, a beautiful white woman is always going to get much better treatment than two brown-skinned men.” We see the contrast between the life of the wealthy San Franciscans Dax meets, and the discarded people of the Sanctuary Districts whom Sisko and Bashir encounter.

At the end of the second part of “Past Tense,” Bashir asks Sisko, “You know, Commander, having seen a little of the 21st century, there is one thing I don’t understand: how could they have let things get so bad?” Sisko replies, “That’s a good question. I wish I had an answer.” And, it is a good question. We may not have Sanctuary Districts, but we still have massive inequality. There are serious problems in the United States which our current president has made worse. Trump has highlighted inequalities and injustices in the U.S., at least for some of us. Alternatively, Trump supporters relish the inequalities, because for them, it means someone is less fortunate than they are. It’s the same reason that poor white men who owned no slaves fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War. As long as there were slaves, they weren’t the lowest social class. It was a similar situation in the Civil Rights Movement. Poor whites favored discrimination and segregation because it put them above black people. The same is true today with Trump’s followers—many of whom would rather suffer from the damage done by Trump to the nation’s economy, healthcare status, and many other issues rather than to allow equality in America.

When the episode aired, it received some criticism for being too preachy, liberal, and “soapbox like” something which disappointed Behr, who felt the show had important things to say, and treated a serious situation in a realistic manner; “We’re not going to solve anything with two hours of TV. The homeless are still there. The problem hasn’t gone away. But maybe just one person saw this and started to see the problem in a different way.” The real 2020s may not have Sanctuary Districts, but there are segregated sections to every city; whether they segregate the rich from the poor or blacks from whites or whatever the dividing line is, we still live in a society segregated by race, income status, and a host of other perceived differences. We continue to have homeless and displaced persons. We need to do better.

I will say this though, through most of the Star Trek universe, LGBTQ+ issues were rarely, and never directly, dealt with. Yes, Commander Riker of The Next Generation did fall in love with a nonbinary individual, and Jadzia Dax did have a same-sex kiss, and there were a few other instances, but none dealt with LGBTQ+ individuals. When Voyager and Enterprise premiered, rumors circulated there would be an LGBTQ+ individual on the crew of those ships; it never materialized. It wasn’t until Discovery that we see fully-fledged LGBTQ+ individuals in the marriage of Paul Stamets and Dr. Hugh Culber, plus the character of Jett Reno. I also recognize in Star Trek Beyond Sulu is seen, ever so briefly, in a same-sex relationship which was done as a homage to George Takei, the original Sulu. The Star Trek universe is becoming more inclusive of the LGBTQ+ community, but it’s been a long time coming.


The Best of Both Worlds

Locutus of Borg

On this date 30 years ago, Star Trek had its “Who Shot JR?” moment. The third season finale of Star Trek: The Next Generation aired. This would be the first end-of-season cliffhanger in the history of Star Trek, and it would make TV history as one of the greatest cliffhangers ever. The episode was entitled, “The Best of Both Worlds.” It became one of the best known TNG episodes.

At the end of the episode (and if you have never seen it SPOILER ALERT, but it was 30 years ago), the Borg hail the Enterprise. We see the crew watch in horror as Captain Picard, now calling himself “Locutus of Borg,” utters what many consider Star Trek’s most chilling lines, “I am Locutus of Borg. Resistance is futile. Your life, as it has been, is over. From this time forward, you will service us.” With no other option, Picard’s first officer William Riker orders, “Mister Worf…fire.” The screen goes black with the words “To Be Continued” on the screen. Star Trek fans would have to wait three months until the premiere episode of Season 4 on September 24th.

The episode is considered a continuation of events that took place in the third season episode, “Q Who.” Q, a powerful entity from a race of godlike beings also known as the Q, was introduced in the series opener, “Encounter at Farpoint,” and would serve as a menace in TNGDeep Space Nine, and Voyager. In “Q Who,” Q throws the Enterprise into uncharted space where the ship encounters, and is engaged by, a dangerous alien vessel of a previously unknown species: the Borg. When the vessel instantly and effortlessly overwhelms the Enterprise, Picard realizes that the Federation may not be as ready for the future as he thought.

At the end of “Q Who,” we see the foreshadowing of “The Best of Both Worlds.” Guinan, played be actress Whoopi Goldberg, is seen reflecting upon the events of meeting the Borg in Ten Forward with Picard. Guinan says the encounter with the Borg happened before it should have. She believes it might be possible for the Federation to establish some kind of communication between themselves and the Borg, but for the time being, Humans are just raw material to be consumed. Guinan begins, “Since they are aware of your existence…” Picard finishes for her saying, “…they will be coming.” Guinan ominously warns, “You can bet on it.” Picard comments that perhaps Q did the right thing, for the wrong reasons, to shake humanity out of its complacency for whatever lies ahead.

I always wondered, with the Borg having numeric designations instead of names, why Picard was given the name Locutus. It turns out that “Locutus” is Latin for, “he who has spoken.” The Borg Collective, speaking in one combined voice, tells Picard when he is captured, “To facilitate our introduction into your societies, it has been decided that a Human voice will speak for us in all communications. You have been chosen to be that voice.” Therefore, Picard becomes the voice of the Borg as it moves to assimilate the Federation beginning with Sector 001, Earth.

Part II of “The Best of Both Worlds,” particularly the Battle of Wolf 359, would be revisited in the series opener of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. This episode, “The Emissary,” introduces the character of Commander Benjamin Sisko. In the opening scene, then Lieutenant Commander Sisko, the executive officer of the USS Saratoga, is on the bridge when the ship encounters the Borg led by Locutus at Wolf 359. Locutus tells the Federation fleet, “Resistance is futile. You will disarm your weapons and escort us to Sector 001. If you attempt to intervene, we will destroy you.” With its shields drained and a direct hit form the Borg cube, the computer announces there is a warp core breach in process, and the ship will soon explode. With his captain dead, Sisko begins to evacuate the ship. He goes to his quarters to find his wife and son trapped under debris. He can pull out his son but cannot get to his wife who is already dead. He is ultimately dragged away screaming to an escape pod by another officer. Together with his son and the other survivors, he watches from the escape pod as the Saratoga is destroyed. The episode then jumps to three years later as Sisko and his son are arriving at Deep Space Nine, a station which was orbiting the planet Bajor. Later when Sisko meets with Picard in the observation lounge of the Enterprise, Sisko is brusque and distrusting towards Picard. He begins by “re-introducing” himself, mentioning that he has already “met” Picard (or rather Locutus) at the Battle of Wolf 359. Obviously, Picard is troubled by his memories of the event. Sisko clearly blamed Picard for the death of his wife.

The effects of the assimilation of Picard by the Borg not only runs throughout the rest of DS9 and into the TNG movies, but also into Star Trek: Picard. To me, Picard always seemed cold and distant throughout TNG, but ironically, his assimilation by the Borg humanizes him to the audience. It is a major turning point for Picard’s character, the series, and the entire Star Trek franchise.

In the current political climate, we shouldn’t forget that from the very beginning, Star Trek has held a firm belief represented by the symbol representing IDIC: infinite diversity in infinite combinations. Creator Gene Roddenberry has been quoted as saying, “Until we can value the diversity here on Earth, then we don’t deserve to go into outer space and encounter the infinite diversity out there.”

For any Donald Trump supporters out there, I want to add a quote from a different episode of The Next Generation, “The Drumhead.” In the quote that ends this episode about conspiracies and casting blame, Captain Picard says to Worf:

Mr. Worf, villains who twirl their mustaches are easy to spot. Those who clothe themselves in good deeds are well-camouflaged.”

While most Democrats and people around the world can spot Trump as a mustache twirling villain, most Republicans don’t seem to see it or want to see it. They see his appointment of conservative judges and actions against Mexicans, African Americans, Muslims, LGBTQ+, and others they want marginalize as good deeds, but they need to remember that “Those who clothe themselves in good deeds are well-camouflaged.” Look at what he has done, the lies he has told, the harm he has caused, the mismanagement of government, etc. etc. etc. The list goes on and on. When will you wake up and see him for what he truly is: a sociopathic megalomaniac?


Funny Fortune

Last night I watched Fortune Feimster’s Netflix comedy special Salty and Sweet. I laughed so hard; I was nearly crying. Have any of you seen it? Fortune is a lesbian comedian from North Carolina. She came out surprisingly a little later than I did. She was 25; I was 23. However, like me, she did not realize she was gay for most of her formative years. Living in the South, we didn’t have positive LGBTQA role models. However, unlike my situation, her family has been very accepting, and she is currently engaged to a kindergarten teacher.  

She was in shows like Last Comic Standing and Glee. She’s been a judge on RuPaul’s Drag Race and will be staring in The L Word: Generation Q. She was also in the 2019 Tales of the City. I most remember her from a short-lived sitcom called Champions. I’ve watched her on TV a few times, and I think I saw every episode of Champions which was about a flamboyant gay kid who gets dropped off to his father (who never knew before that moment he even existed) by his mother so he can attend an arts school in the city where his father lives. It as a cute show, and Fortune played a coworker of the kids very straight dad. I’ve also seen clips of her comedy shows, and she never fails to make me laugh watching her stand-up acts. Salty and Sweet was no exception. I hope I didn’t disturb my downstairs neighbor laughing so much. I really recommend anyone who wants a good laugh to watch it, especially if you’re gay and from the South.

World on Fire

Last night, I watched the beginning of a new series on PBS’s Masterpiece called World on Fire. The series follows the hidden lives of ordinary people from Britain, Poland, France, Germany and the USA during World War II. The drama switches its scenes between various locations in France, Britain, Germany and Poland. It features repeated visits to Paris, Warsaw, Manchester, Berlin and Dunkirk.

I really enjoyed the first episode and can’t wait to see more. One of the stars is a favorite actor of mine, the out gay actor Brian J. Smith who plays Dr. Webster O’Connor, a gay American doctor living in Paris.

Did any of you watch it last night? If you did not, I highly recommend you do.


What Are You Watching?

It seems like in the quarantined days, we get to either stare out the window, watch TV or movies at home, or work at our computers. I don’t really want to write about work today. I also don’t want to write about the coronavirus or our idiot president. Although, it’s funny that when I typed “idiot” my predictive text suggested “president” as the next word. Apparently, “idiot president” is a common phrase with Apple users. Anyway, with all of those topics out of the question, there isn’t much left to talk about.

I guess I could discuss Star Trek: Picard, but I realize not everyone has seen it, and I don’t want to be the one who spoils it for anyone. I will say that I enjoyed it. In other TV news, RuPaul’s Drag Race has been interesting, especially since Sherry Pie was disqualified after the season had been taped and will not be in the finale. If you don’t know, Sherry Pie, whose legal name is Joey Gugliemelli, is accused by former classmates at SUNY Cortland and actors he worked with at a theater company in Nebraska of posing as a casting director to get the young men to send him videos of them saying and doing degrading things on camera in various states of undress. VH1 has done what they can to minimized some of her screen time. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens in the rest of the season.

The other show that I’ve watched recently is Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C. J. Walker staring Octavia Spencer. It chronicles the life of Madam C. J. Walker who was America’s first female millionaire, who happened to also be African American. It’s a remarkable story. I’ve watched half the series and look forward to finishing it. I have watched a few documentaries while stuck at home. The first was Never Surrender: A Galaxy Quest Documentary about the making of the movie Galaxy Quest, which was a fun and uplifting approach to spoofing Star Trek. I really enjoyed it, and I always enjoyed the original movie. The other one I watched was Life is a Banquet a documentary on the life and work of one of my favorite actresses Rosalind Russell. Auntie Mame ranks as one of my all time favorite movies, and quite honestly, I’ve never seen a Rosalind Russell movie I didn’t like.

So what are y’all watching in this time of quarantine?


Macy’s Fourth of July Spectacular

It was quite an amazing display. From the rainbow fireworks during “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” to the “galactic battle” during Star Wars to the red and blue during the Superman Theme. I was just blown away. I love fireworks and big musical themes. This was so beautiful and emotional. What did you think?


Television Endings

Two of my favorite shows came to an end: Game of Thrones and The Big Bang Theory. One had the perfect ending, the other was an utter disappointment. Let’s look at the disappointment first: Game of Thrones. Nothing in the whole episode was satisfying. The whole last season was one disappointment after the other. For seven seasons, the show had been excellent, but season eight came along and it all fell apart. On the other hand, The Big Bang Theory ended perfectly. Things were wrapped up nicely and it was one of the funniest episodes of the series. So one disappointment and one perfection. That’s just the way television ends sometimes.


Reality TV

I’m usually not big into reality television, but there are four shows right now that I can’t let myself miss. Number one on the list is RuPaul’s Drag Race. The other three are tied for importance: The Voice, Project Runway, and Project Runway All Stars. I have to admit, I haven’t seen all the seasons of any of these shows. I saw the early seasons of RuPaul and Project Runway but got out of the habit of watching them. Now I’m back to watching them and hate I missed even a single season. Project Runway All Stars is relatively new to me, and I choose which seasons of The Voice to watch based on who the coaches are.

RuPaul is number one for a reason. It’s the best all LGBT show on right now. And let’s face it, drag queens are fun. Yes, there are some annoying ones each season. This season, it’s hands down Silky Nutmeg Ganache. She’s over the top and annoying as fuck because she’s a camera hog. She always wants to be at the center of attention. However, there are some good ones too: Brooke Lynn Hytes, Scarlet Envy, Shuga Cain, and Vanessa Vanjie Mateo. None stand out as the front runner yet, but time will tell.

I like the judges this season on The Voice, and it’s not up against Dancing with the Stars, which is its usual competition and what I usually choose to watch. So far this season seems to have some outstanding talent. There are three from Alabama, and I like them all for their country sound. I usually don’t root for someone on Adam Levine’s team because I don’t think he’s a very good coach even though he’s been on there since the beginning. However, that being said, I am head over heels for Andrew Jannakos of Flowery Branch, Georgia. He’s a very sexy country artist with a deep voice. His voice is as beautiful as he is. I try not to get too attached this early because you never know what’s going to happen in the battle rounds, but I’m hoping Andrew gets stolen and goes all the way to the end. My other top choice is Jackson Marlow of Rogersville, Alabama. He’s on Kelly Clarkson’s team and is also very sexy. Now we wait and see how the battle rounds go.

Project Runway All Stars comes to a close next week, but it’s been an exciting series. Sadly my favorite lost last week. I love Texas designer Anthony Ryan. To me he’s sexy, and I almost always liked what he designed. We are now down to four designers. Who will win is anyone’s guess.

That brings us to Project Runway which years ago moved from Bravo to Lifetime and is not back at Bravo. With the exception of Nina Garcia, everyone else jumped ship. There is no Tim Gunn or Heidi Klum. Without them, can the show even be Project Runway? Bravo seems to think so. Christian Siriano (winner of Season 4) is the new mentor replacing Tim Gunn. Karlie Kloss replaces Heidi. I was skeptical of this one. I love Tim Gunn, but the first episode wasn’t too bad. It’s early, so no designer has jumped out at me, I’m still learning their style aesthetic. So for me, the verdict is still out. Can Bravo bring it home with the newness of the show? I sure hope so.


Sex Education

One of the great things about a show being on Netflix is that you can binge the show all at once. Just sit and watch until you’ve seen the whole season. The worst thing about a show being on Netflix is that if you binge on a good show, then it’s over way too soon. The other weekend, I binged on the British comedy Sex Education. Once I got started watching it, it was hard to stop. In the show, socially awkward high school student Otis may not have much experience in the lovemaking department, but he gets good guidance on the topic in his personal sex ed course — living with mom Jean, who is a sex therapist. Being surrounded by manuals, videos and tediously open conversations about sex, Otis has become a reluctant expert on the subject. When his classmates learn about his home life, Otis decides to use his insider knowledge to improve his status at school, so he teams with whip-smart bad girl Maeve to set up an underground sex therapy clinic to deal with their classmates’ problems. But through his analysis of teenage sexuality, Otis realizes that he may need some therapy of his own.

The show is deceptively addictive. Asa Butterfield is so cute as shy and awkward Otis. He’s just adorable and you can’t help but love him. Add to that, his best friend on the show is gay. Another character has a massive penis. And then there is Gillian Anderson as Otis’s mom. To me she is barely recognizable. Not only is it her natural British accent, but her hair is so different from her character on the X-Files. If you have Netflix, this is a must watch series.