first us show

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“Here’s a real question: how have you survived this long when you’re so violently self-destructive?

Andrew cocked his head to one side in a question. Neil didn’t know if Andrew was playing stupid to rile him or if Andrew really was oblivious. Either way it was frustrating. He wondered why no one else had caught on, or if people noticed and just didn’t care enough to say it. Now that Neil saw it, though, he couldn’t look past it. Anytime the Foxes mentioned Andrew’s upcoming sobriety or Andrew’s name popped up in write-ups on the team’s performance at games, the focus was on what a danger he was. People talked about his trial and how it saved them from Andrew. No one said what they were doing to save Andrew from himself.

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Sara Lance taking over typical heterosexual endings (1x08/2x12)

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Amesbury Convent, England. Guinevere & Lancelot meet one last time.
We looked at one another a long time. Then he went on one knee, took my hand, and pressed it to his lips. I caressed his black head, wondering desperately why I should feel so pained by the silver threads I found there. He led me to a bench and we sat silent, looking at one another in a kind of quiet desperation, because we had said goodbye forever, long ago.
— Queen of Camelot, Nancy McKenzie

Taylor Mason

I am really excited about Taylor Mason’s appearance in Showtime’s Billions.

Here’s Showtime’s behind the scenes introduction of Taylor on YouTube, with interview snippets with the actor and the writers.

I don’t know the show at all. It is definitely not my usual genre. No one does any science or magic, you know? It’s a fast-paced businessy financey drama thing. I don’t even remember how I found out, but when I heard that Billions claimed to have the first ever nonbinary character on TV… well, to be honest, I kinda did a skeptical face. The articles are all very US-centric, and explicitly nonbinary characters are not uncommon in some parts of the world. And anyway, “nonbinary character” usually means “gender non-conforming binary character” because that’s usually the best we can hope for. But yeah, I was interested, so I looked into it.

Here’s my TL;DR: Billions is the first mainstream US TV show to my knowledge that contains a character overtly described as nonbinary and whose they/them pronouns are stated in the show and affirmed by almost all of the other characters.

We’re introduced to Taylor, played by Asia Kate Dillon (also nonbinary, they/them pronouns), in the first episode of season 2 - toying with another character about being vegan. They’re a sharp, brilliant, think-outside-the-box intern.

In episode 2 it gets a bit more in-your-face:

That guy in the second shot, Bobby Axelrod, is the very rich, very arrogant boss of macho boy’s club Axe Capital. And he just accepts Taylor’s assertion of their pronouns, no questions asked, no raised eyebrows. Just, “okay.”

Taylor proceeds to seriously impress the very rich arrogant boss guy in the chair.

Taylor isn’t going through some coming out plot, working out their gender and discovering themself. Taylor is out and comfortable and confident in their identity. People who refuse to accept them get bulldozed, either by other characters or by the plot itself.

Later in that episode there’s a scene in which Taylor isn’t present, and Taylor is misgendered by that bald guy, Bill:

It’s hard to capture the tone in this scene. It’s an alpha male showdown, over a nonbinary person’s pronouns. The arrogant guy who misgenders Taylor gets corrected, and then has two guys above him in the pecking order stare him down until he concedes, in body language and facial expression. Taylor’s rich white old guy boss is not gonna tolerate you misgendering them. (Over the next few episodes it becomes clear that Taylor is replacing Bill as Axelrod’s “favourite.”)

Bobby Axelrod upholds the pronouns of every singular-they nonbinary person in this one scene, to everyone watching the show. After that the conversation continues as before. It all happens very naturally as part of a conversational plot to take down a business rival, like it’s important and yet no big deal at all to correct a colleague’s pronouns.

There are people watching this who are nonbinary and going “wow, that’s me.” There are nonbinary people who haven’t worked themselves out watching this and going “wow, maybe that’s me?” There are parents of nonbinary kids watching this and going, “wow, maybe using new pronouns isn’t so hard? Maybe my child is not just going through a phase?” There are nonbinary kids watching this with their parents, thinking “maybe now my parents see Taylor being taken seriously they will take me more seriously.”

This is incredible.

Naturally, I have concerns. I’ve got them on the back-burner because one TV show is not a pattern among TV shows. It does, however, fit a known trend of nonbinary visibility.

Taylor is white, AFAB, thin, young, wealthy, able-bodied, and masculine-presenting. They fit the nonbinary cliché so well that I can’t even find any deviation from it. In reality nonbinary people are very diverse in pronouns, gendered presentation, race, body type, and class. But when newspapers are interviewing these “new” and fascinating nonbinary people, they always seem to choose people mostly like me: white, thin, AFAB, young, apparently able-bodied, androgynous-to-masculine-presenting. (I’ve been interviewed by journalists for articles about nonbinary people that then didn’t even include me in the final piece, because I refused to be seen as a representative of nonbinary people in some way.)

Taylor is also autistic. I don’t know if it’s deliberate, goodness knows writers create accidentally autistic characters all the time, but if you know what to look for in TV-autism it’s really really clear. And people really like to draw attention to the way autism and gender non-conformity overlap, to the extent that articles have been written by and focusing on doctors who believe that some gender non-conformity is directly caused by autism and should not be treated. (Article link. Warning: Daily Mail, general awfulness, etc.)

So going forward, I’m hoping that if and when there are more nonbinary people in TV shows we get to see some femininity, some differing body types, some people of colour, etc. I’m also hoping that we get to see some nonbinary people who are not obviously autistic - characters who express emotion freely and are not somehow brilliantly sharp and intelligent and innovative in one particular area of interest, for example.

But for now, I am thrilled. A TV show is portraying someone like me. In this case I’m lucky because I fit that autistic nonbinary cliché down to the ground, and I am perfectly represented in a mainstream US TV show for the first time in my life. I want other nonbinary people to experience that too, and this is a huge step forward and a long-deserved validation of the nonbinary community. I am excited to see what happens next for nonbinary representation and visibility.

Arc-V Fandom in episode 1: Yuzu has a fan that she hits Yuya with? That’s stupid.

Arc-V Fandom in episode 141: THE FANNNNN *gross sobbing*

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…would you like some toast and jam, george? your favourite is apricot.

Nina Simone for #BlackHistoryMonth

youtube

:”) Moana is a sure fire Disney classic. I can’t wait to see her begin to rollout into park shows and other venues. 

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(some of) my favourite modern rock frontwomen

mitski miyawaki - mitski

marissa paternoster - screaming females

alicia bognanno - bully

laura jane grace - against me!

brittany howard - alabama shakes

sadie dupuis - speedy ortiz

                                                   When the morning glories twine around the door
                                                       Whispering pretty stories I long to hear once more

One day, I hope I’ll be able to write exposition half as good as this…