Hello everyone and welcome to Queerly Recommend, the podcast that’s all about recommending queer movies, books, TV shows, and more. I’m Kris Bryant and I’m a contemporary romance writer with almost 20 books about women loving women.
And I’m Tara and I review queer romance fiction at The Lesbian Review, Lambda Literary and Smart Bitches Trashy Books. So we actually don’t have listener questions today. But we do have one listener follow up and we thought we’d kick it off just by sharing that. Wynnde shared in response to Kris’s official recommendation. It was last time that was The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, right?
Yes, the time before last.
Every time I go to say that book my brain wants to say, “The seven wives!” Like that’s not the title. No, that’s not- but so Wynnde said, “I have a rec for anyone who loved Evelyn Hugo. I can’t believe this didn’t occur to me before but Neither Present Time by Caren Werlinger is a really good comparison. Flashback storytelling, fated mates. Just a lovely and bittersweet story highly recommended”. So thank you, Wynnde, for passing that along. I bet people are going to jump on that one.
Yeah, I bet cuz like everybody jumped on the Evelyn Hugo train.
Except for me.
Oh my god. Yeah.
I will. I will. I’m just, I’m very much in a podcast listening place, not an audio listening audiobook listening place. I tried listening to an audio book recently that- well, it was the audio book for Hidden Figures, which I had been super excited about. It was finally my turn from the library. I put it on, I was like, “This is really good”. And then my brain was like, “It’s too long. It’s too long. No more than an hour.”
Here’s the problem. Here’s the problem. It didn’t grab you from the beginning. Whereas I- how many audio books in my life have I listened to? You know the answer.
It’s like maybe that. Maybe ten. And so this book was so good. The audio book was so good that I listened to it twice.
I still can’t believe you listened to it twice.
I know. So that right there should tell you drop everything and just pick it up.
But I’ve started listening to the You’re Wrong About podcast.
But you can do that. But you need to do this for me.
Okay. I do, I do I gotta buy it. But I will. I will.
And and definitely, really the audio book, because somebody put a post on one of the social media sites and said, “I’m finally jumping on the bandwagon. And I’m gonna read this book”. And everybody’s like, “No, no, I’ve done both. You need to listen to the audiobook.”
Was it Georgia Beers? Because she recently posted she’s like, “I’m doing it. I’m finally doing it”. And all I could think was, “Kris Bryant would tell you that you should listen to the audiobook.”`
Okay, Georgia bears doesn’t give a shit about what Kris Bryant says. She’s gonna read the book. And I’m like, “Everybody listen to the audiobook.” Truly because I’m that person, you know, but I- the audiobook was just so good. So good.
I believe you.
I’m going to be very disappointed if you pick up the book and not the audio book, as I have highly, highly, highly recommended in my life.
Now you’re activating the most belligerent part of mysef.
No, I know. Yeah. When I when somebody tells you you need to do something and you fight back with No!
Yeah. When someone tells me to do something, or tells me not to do something. There was one time, did I ever tell you about-
Don’t listen to the audiobook! Do not listen to the audiobook.
Did I ever tell you about the time that I had spite ice cream?
No, but please. Tell me.
I was in Toronto. It was before the pandemic but I was in Toronto, and I was there for a work trip. And I was staying with one of my best friends. She’s only watched the movies with. And so she’s like, “Okay, you got to try this ice cream place.” Because I was like, “I want to try ice cream. This is what I want”. So we went to some like a total local staple that’s been there for more than 50 years kind of place. And then we went to another place where you get to actually watch them make the ice cream because they do it with dry ice. And that was really fucking cool. Yeah, it was super cool. And there was another one that I don’t remember. Oh Diperie, which I also love is another Canadian – I wouldn’t call it a chain – but it’s like out of Quebec. And then they have like one here in Calgary, one in Toronto. And then one of my co-workers, because I was in the office and one of them was like, “Well, did you try Bang Bang ice cream?” And I was like, “No, man. I haven’t. This is my last day”. And I’ve had ice cream at three places already, and another coworker turned to me and he said, “You better not have that ice cream. You’ve had too much ice cream.” And I was like, “Well, guess what?”
We’re getting some Bang Bang!
And I went to Bang Bang and it was the best of all of them. So we have any Toronto listeners that have not tried Bang Bang Ice Cream yet or if you are going to visit Toronto, you absolutely must go. It is so good. I had a miso and sour cherry ice cream.
No roasted cherries. I know that sounds weird. I thought it was weird. And I asked them, I was like, “What’s that like?” And they said, “It tastes like cheesecake”. And I said, “Oh, okay”, and then I tried it and it tastes like cheesecake. It’s so good.
Lucky. I’m not you know, I’m not real big on ice cream. Believe it or not, it’s it’s not my treat. No, that’s not my thing.
Oh, that is definitely Oh, big time. Big time. One of my things. Well, what is your treat?
Everything but. I just I you know, I love sweets. I love sweets, but I never got into ice cream. And I don’t know why that is.
I wonder if it’s because you never had real good ice cream.
See, everybody says that. It’s like fish. I don’t like fish. And everybody’s like, “Well, you just have never had it prepared correctly”. I’m like, “No, I don’t like fish. I just don’t like it”.
People say that to me about brussel sprouts, too. And I’ve had all kinds of ways. I’ve had people say to me, “No, even people that hate brussels sprouts like it this way.” And they’ll do it with like bacon and sugar. And I’m like, “Yeah, it still tastes like Brussels sprouts”. The only time I had it that I really really liked it, was this like super fancy restaurant here in Calgary and they fried it in duck fat. And they drizzled lemon over it and put some chilies and it’s you know what it is? Is because it tastes like duck fat. Everything tastes better with duck fat.
See now I’m out on that one. I don’t eat duck. I don’t do duck fat. What? No.
The best. The best way to roast potatoes.
I actually did not eat turkey on Thanksgiving because I have this thing where sometimes meat just tastes gamey to me. You know, I don’t eat a lot of meat. I don’t eat beef. I don’t eat pork. The only thing I do eat is poultry. And every once in a while I’ll get something that tastes gave me and then I’m out for like a month. I won’t eat it. Anything.
Don’t eat duck.
Yeah, everybody says it’s-
Yeah, you’d hate it.
I’m out on that. Nope. Not doing it.
Huh. All right. So Chris. Yes. What have you been watching or reading since we last spoke?
Well, even though I have like a ton of deadlines. I actually beta read a book this week. And I did it on Thanksgiving. After dinner. I went ahead and quickly beta read a book for somebody. But also I binge watched Hanna: Season Two. No, I’m sorry. Season Three. Season three.
Oh my gosh, Hannah is it’s- I think it started off as a movie several years ago. And then it turned into a series. So it’s basically teenagers, teenage girls, who are trained to kill.
Assassins, they’re assassins, teenage assassins, and it’s just really interesting. So I literally binge watch season three. Well, so yesterday, so took me like- I did watch like the first- first episode. I think I watched it on Thanksgiving night. And then I finished it up on Friday. So I did that. And then I finished The Morning Show Season Two. I finished that. And I started Wheel of Time which is on primetime- Amazon Prime. It’s kind of Game of Thronesey type stuff.
Yeah, cuz they’re, they’re adapting the Robert Jordan series. I’m mostly tempted because Rosamund Pike is gorgeous. But I haven’t read any of the books and I’ve heard if you haven’t read the books, it’s a little harder to follow.
They say that there are over 2700 characters in the books. So I’m basically just watching it for visual effects.
And does it hold up for that?
It does, it holds up pretty well for it, you know, and I kind of understand what’s going on. But I don’t know any of the backstories or, you know, I’m the kind of person that goes into something just to be entertained. I don’t need to know, like, the 600 year history of it. I just need to know, like, what’s happening on screen and who this person is. Just, you know, just that the surface level is what I need to know, because I’m not really watching it. I mean, I am but I’m also writing so yeah, I guess as long as I kind of have the overview I’m good. It’s entertaining.
I still- I admire, but I don’t understand how you can watch TV and write but still follow what is happening in the TV show. That’s the part that I don’t understand. It’s like, how are you actually taking in what’s happening? I don’t get it.
I just it’s the best way for me to write. It’s worked so far.
Absolutely. I’m not knocking it.
No. Although I will say like, if I am at my desk out- if I’m working, working, and I’m at my desk, and I’m sitting up and I’m in a chair at a desk. I do write- I can I can bang out some pretty good words. But it’s not. It’s not a comfort thing for me. That’s like when my mind’s like, “Okay, we must work we must write?” Whereas if I’m on the couch, I’ve got a lot of things going on. I’ll- you know, I’ll can get like 2000 words a day that way.
Yeah. Well I mean, you see online, all these people are like, “Hey, I wrote 8000 words today. I wrote 12,000 words today”. I’m like, “How? How did that how how is that possible?”
Are these people day jobs, but also, it seems like they declare that on the day that it happens, but it’s not happening every day.
No, but even still, like on a good day, I’ll get 4000 and I’m exhausted. Like I’m exhausted.
So I don’t understand. But anyway. Okay, so what about you, Tara, what have you been reading and watching?
Alright, so Drag Race UK is over. And it’s, I don’t know. It was a season. So Crystal Versace won, and I believe that she is the youngest winner in the Drag Race franchise history, either on her own or she might be tied with Aquaria, who was the winner I think for season 10? I don’t remember.
So Crystal Versace is gorgeous, like truly, truly, truly stunning drag queen, so beautiful, and ended up having more range than I expected because I thought she would show up and only be able to serve looks and not be able to do anything else. And you know, for the acting challengers. She was quite funny. For the improv challenges. She was not the best. But it’s been interesting watching the reaction online, because a lot of people are pissed off that she won, very similar to the last season of Drag Race UK where everybody felt that somebody got robbed. And I kind of got to say, I agree because the other two queens that managed to the top three, so talented, so funny, incredible singers.
And there’s one in particular- so here’s a weird thing about Drag Race UK, there is no cash prize at the end of every episode, like there is in the US and Canada. I think it’s some kind of a regulatory thing in the UK. Like, I think there’s just something that says that you can’t win cash prizes on shows.
Oh, that’s weird.
It is super weird, because it’s like these queens are putting in as much work as the other franchises. And they don’t get to recoup any of their costs for it. I suppose they can book more lucrative gigs later, so that’s good.
But they get at the end of each episode. If they’re the winner of the episode, they get what they call a Ru Peter badge. And Crystal Versace got two. Kitties Got Claws got two. But Elle Vaday got four.
And was so good and such a powerhouse and did not win that season. And so I I’m a little bit bitter.
Sounds like it.
I get that like her final lipsync was not as good. But also like, is it- Are we truly giving out like, the winner of the whole season based on one single lipsync? Or does like the whole season not count? That’s the thing that I don’t understand.
I can answer this. I can answer this to it. I can answer this because I have been watching The Great British Baking Show. And this comes up a lot and the final, like the season finale when it’s down to three. It’s interesting because what it was down to four everybody who who everybody thought Yuergen was going to make it to the finale because he won Star Baker like four times. So it’s kind of the same situation. And he just totally like crashed and burned on that episode. And so they had to take it from that week. You know how everybody did that week, because they were all like the final three, were all really good. And so it’s just basically they couldn’t go, they couldn’t do like an overview of the season. They had to do strictly for that particular one because everybody came in on equal playing field. So they had to do it for that. And it’s sad because Yuergen was pretty amazing. But he just screwed up one thing. And so I feel like that’s kind of what’s going on here.
Mm hmm. Well, all I gotta say is just as for Juergen and Ella Vaday, that’s what I would like to see. Ah, so that is over. Canada’s Drag Race is still going on. And yet again, I had another week where I woke up the next morning and said, “Who was sent home?” So I just, I don’t think it’s the- it’s not the most compelling season of drag race, anything.
It’s all right. But I’ve been watching another show that more than makes up for it. One of my colleagues, when she found out- she’s pretty new to our company, and when she found out that, you know, I do this podcast, I do the book reviewing whatever she’s like, “Oh my God, you need to watch a show. It’s on Showtime. It’s called Work In Progress.” I’m like, “Oh, okay. And I started watching it and holy shit”. She is right. And if anybody hasn’t watched it yet, you absolutely need to watch this show. It is so super queer. Abby McEnany, she heads it up. She came out of improv in the improv community in Chicago, and she describes herself as a fat queer dyke.
Like she looks very, very butch. To me. She looks like a kind of fat Tim Cook. I don’t know. If you look- it’s honestly, it’s not at all a dig. That’s just what I see. Like if you had them in a show together be like, “Yeah, okay, they would be siblings that would make sense to me”. And so the first episode is Abby, basically talking about how her life sucks. You know, she’s 45, she’s single. She hates her job. She hates a lot of things. And she decides to count out 180 Almonds. She saw it as a microaggression that a colleague was like, “Oh, I went to Costco here have these healthy almonds”. And she’s like, “Fuck you. Are you saying I’m fat, like you’re buying me healthy food, what’s going on?” And so she counts out 180 almonds and everyday she throws one away. And at the end of at the end of 180 days, if her life isn’t better, she’s going to kill herself, is what she says.
But the way the show was going so far, I’m pretty sure she’s not going to kill herself. She in that same first episode, a waiter asked her out. It’s a trans man who’s much much younger than her. I think he’s 22. She’s 45, like I said, and so there’s something really sweet that it’s kind of developed between them. I’m a few episodes in, they meet Julia Sweeney, and go really kind of hard in on the idea of she talks about how Julia Sweeney ruined her life with the Pat character from Saturday.
Do you remember that character?
(makes uncomfortable sounding Pat noise)
(makes a longer uncomfortable sounding Pat noise)
Yeah, and talking about how like, you know, as a butch woman, like as a woman whose gender is ambiguous, when you look at her, that Pat character actually did a lot of harm. And the thing that I love about this show is that Julia Sweeney doesn’t show up for one episode and then disappear. She’s on regularly. And they continue to talk about this. And I know that like Julia Sweeney is playing a character that is Julia Sweeney. But at the same time, I find it really interesting that it’s this like, in a way kind of doing the work and properly apologizing to the queer community in a way that like, you know, a quote in an article wouldn’t have done it, you know, a tweet series wouldn’t have done it. The show goes hard on that, on the consequences of that kind of thing. And shows Julia Sweeney trying to learn more and trying to do better, which I love.
I also love there have been times where I was like, “Oh, God, what kind of fuck ups are there going to be on the trans rep?” And it’s just not there. And I was like, “Hmm, I there’s a lot of like, competence here, what’s happening?” And then I found out that Lily Wachowski writes, directs and produces the show. So I mean, when you have a trans woman helming, right, that helps, right? So it’s very funny. It’s very, very quirky.
I hate giving this away, because it was such a delight to watch. But I feel like it’s worth giving a little bit of content warning, in case it’s gonna be a problem for anybody in the first episode. So it opens with Abby talking to her therapist about all the things that are awful in her life. And her therapist actually dies like during that, like she gives her speech and her therapist is dead. And so if that’s likely to be triggering to anybody, you might want to skip past the first 10 minutes or so. And then you can kind of go on, but like, it’s very good. We love it very, very much. In terms of what I’ve been reading, so Lee Winter, I don’t think it’s a surprise to anybody. Big, big, big fan of her books. She has a new book coming out on December 8, The Awkward Truth. And I did a thing that I don’t usually do, although I did it for Brit Ryder as well.
Mm hmm. Go back and read the book.
That the new book is a spin off of and so The Awkward Truth is a spin off of The Brutal Truth. And I thought, “Alright, I’ll give this one a try”. And here’s the thing about my complicated relationship with The Brutal Truth. I liked it. The first time I read it, I thought it was a fine romance. But to me, it didn’t like, catch my heart the same way that some of her other books did like The Red Files, and like Requiem for Immortals. So I was like, like, I liked it. But like, for me, it was like, oh, it’s it’s not like Lauren and Catherine Airs. I love them. Like, you know, sometimes you just like one of an author’s books more than others. But I’ve seen so many people talk about how it’s like the ultimate ice queen book, and especially recently that I finally I was like, “You know what? There’s a new one coming out. It’s time to revisit it”. And I’m here to say that I was wrong. I was so wrong about this book, because it’s so fucking good oh my god.
I read almost all of it yesterday and it is not a short book. I’m not sure how long it is but it’s not you know how like some lesfic books you pick it up and you’re done in like three or four hours.
No, I read most of yesterday. Like I was just reading most of the day to read this thing, and I think I’m about 20 minutes from the end, finally. So what I love is, I fully agree with everybody who says that Elena Martel is an incredible ice queen. Yes, absolutely. And watching her thaw is so so good. That is my favorite, like watching the growth, seeing the relationship build. What I will stand by, as not my favorite. You and I talked about this a little bit before we started recording. My main thing is that the burn is so slow in this book, that in my head, I’m shouting, “Just fucking kiss all ready! Because you know you want.” And it takes them a really long time. I looked it up just to actually be sure they don’t have their first kiss until the 84% mark of this book.
And also the book I just looked and it has 362 pages. So yes, it takes a while to get to that first kiss.
It takes a really long while. And I mean, to be fair, it’s good. But like, and they’re not even actually, together together until past the 90% ,ark. Which for me, like, I like a slow burn. But for me, that’s an awfully slow burn. So I think if you’re a reader who loves slow burn, I mean, definitely read it. But like if you love the slow burn that like is torturous. Oh, this book is for you. Right up there with Lola Keelly’s first book, The ballet one that also has one hell of- Well, no. Does it have a slow burn? So I’m trying to think of how to put this. You will have much better words for this because you actually live and breathe story construction in a way that I do not. But kind of that the point in the story at which the reader is sure that a happily ever after is happening. Bam. Yeah, what’s that thing called? Is there a name for that?
Uh, I just write it. I don’t know. I know there’s an arc. And I know where it’s supposed to be. It’s not the climax of the of the movie. See, there you go again. climax of the book, but no, sweetspot? I don’t know. Yeah.
Well, in the case of that book, it doesn’t happen until like, 2% until the end.
And you’re on a full on panic by that point.
Like this is gonna happen.
And I mean, specifically for The Music in the Mirror. Like, the thing that I appreciate with The Brutal Truth, in contrast to the Music in the Mirror is that I’ve known for a long time, like, by the time they get together, sure, it’s past the 90% mark, but it’s very, very, very clear that it’s going to happen. Whereas in The Music in the Mirror, I was genuinely still concerned at the 95% mark. I’m like, “How the fuck is she gonna give me a satisfactory happily ever after?” So anyway, Awkward Truth coming out December 8. I haven’t read it yet. I will report back. But The Brutal Truth – I eat my words – is so fucking good.
And I think Elena Berto might be Lee Winter’s best ice queen?
I know. And I still adore Katherine Ayers. But But Elena, you know, like, I just I don’t know, the heart is fickle, I guess.
I’m sure you’ll have a lot of support with that. I’m sure a lot of people a lot of readers will agree.
Also notable, I think this is the first time since the pandemic started that I have gotten so sucked into a book that I’ve read pretty much the whole thing in one day, and it’s not been a novella. So also, kudos to that book. Yeah. All right. The last thing in terms of reading and watching and this is the reason that people are like, “What do you mean, there’s no listener questions?” Listen, we didn’t even try to go get any. We didn’t do any. Like, we didn’t have any planned preamble to this although I did go off on an ice cream tangent because I will always go off on an ice cream tangent because I love ice cream. Because since we last spoke, I watched The Happiest Season and we talked about should we do a commentary track for this? And I didn’t really give you much room to have an opinion on it because I refused to watch it again. I hated it. So much.
Now keep in mind that I did watch The Rocky Horror Picture Show twice. And I did it for you.
Okay. Okay. So here- Here are my thoughts on that.
The first half of Rocky Horror is at least great.
Right and last half is horrific.
The last half is deadly boring and you’ll never get that hour back of your life, and I apologize
Twice, two hours!
But like, The Happiest- I don’t know the last time I’ve had a film make me as angry, as Happiest Season. And I actually really felt like I could not in good conscience ask our listeners to watch that goddamn train wreck of an abusive relationship film.
Now, we have to start off by saying that The Happiest Season came out last year.
And I watched it last year, and so many people were either like, diehard fans or “Fuck this. This is the worst movie ever”.
And so I watched it. And I really wanted Tara to watch it. And she was like, “I don’t think so.” Because there’s too much- like it was too far apart. Like nobody was just kind of meh about it. It was either one extreme or the other. So finally, Tara, watched the movie. I watched it last year, and I watched it again. So we could discuss because it’s been a year.
So I do think it was interesting that it was actually meant to be a theatrical release. But unfortunately, you know, COVID got in the way.
I think that was huge. I mean, that is huge for the community.
Right. Right right right.
But if only it hadn’t been so painful to watch. I just like- the whole time I wanted to save Kristen Stewart. And I’m, I’m- Kristen Stewart is quite similar to this movie is one of those people love her or they hate her. I am generally Kristen Stewart neutral. I don’t know, I don’t seek her out. I won’t avoid something if she’s in it. But in this particular case, she made me love her because I felt like she was in a hostage situation. And I wanted to extract her from there.
And all the people that said that her character should have ended up with Aubrey Plaza’s character. I was like, “Yeah, yeah, let’s do that. Let her be with Riley”. Because- Okay, so for people who don’t know what this movie is about, I suppose we should probably describe it.
Oh, why don’t you read the blurb?
I’m not gonna do that. I don’t have in front of me. But I will describe- laughs
-laughs- Well, will you do it fairly though. I guess you’re you’re pretty heated right now.
I’m gonna do my best. So this movie has Kristen Stewart as Abby and her girlfriend is Harper, who’s played by Mackenzie Davis. And they seem very, very happy. It seems like they’ve been together for what probably a couple of years, right? I guess so.
Because they moved in together after, like six months ago. That’s how that- Yeah.
Yeah. And Abby is not really big on Christmas. Her parents had died however many years before, she doesn’t really celebrate anymore. And Harper is like, “I just wish that you would like Christmas.” She takes her on a walk, kind of- like a neighborhood walk of, I don’t know, their town or whatever.
Christmas Lights walk.
Yeah. And she’s all swept up in the moment and says “Why don’t you come to my family’s Christmas. It’ll be amazing”. And Abby is like, “I don’t know, I’m supposed to pet sit all these pets”. And Harper’s, like, “You can find somebody else to petsit all the pets Just come with us. It’s gonna be amazing”. The next morning, Abby says, “Yeah, I’m gonna go and I’m really excited”. And Harper’s, like, “You don’t have to if you don’t want to.” And that was the time my stomach started to fall because I was like, “Oh, no. Oh, you have regrets”. And they’re in the car on the way there. And Harper says. “So my family doesn’t know that I’m with- remember how I told you last summer that I told my family that I’m a lesbian and that we’re together and it was really good”. And she was like, “Yeah”, and she’s like, “That didn’t happen”. And she’s like, “It didn’t go well?” And she’s like, “No, no, I didn’t tell them”. So Abby is walking into a situation where everybody thinks that she is an orphaned roommate.
A straight orphan roommate.
And Abby had been planning to propose to Harper and ask Harper’s dad for her hand. And basically-
And Harper’s dad is kind of a jerk, because he’s running. He’s a politician. He’s running for mayor. So he needs the perfect family. And he has three daughters. That are- they, they all- everybody has flaws. And so but but- What’s her name again? Harper? Harper is perfect in his eyes. She’s successful
Yeah. She’s the golden child, because the youngest child is very, very quirky. And she is writing speculative fiction novels. And the oldest daughter is married and was like this high powered lawyer or something like that, and dropped out of that so that she and her husband, they both quit their jobs and they’re creating like curated gift baskets or something like that, like these really bougie baskets that are really expensive. And he’s like, “Well, Harper you’re the only one I can depend.” And it- Okay, so this is supposed to be a rom com.
And I didn’t laugh.
Okay. Let’s start off by saying, Dan Levy-
Yeah, he made this whole movie worthwhile.
And he had some pretty funny moments too. So I had to laugh with him, like all of the laughing scenes were with him.
Like all four of them?
Well, yeah. And he has the most beautiful speech of the whole movie. And to be fair, I think this is the speech where it’s supposed to turn around all the viewers like me, where he basically says to Abby, who’s like, “I don’t know that I can do this anymore. I think I just need to go”. And he says something to the effect of “Some people, some queer people get to have really good coming out experiences, where their family still loves them regardless. And some people have really, really bad coming out experiences. And every person who has to come out has trepidation going into it, because they don’t know what kind of experience they’re going to have. Is it gonna be good? It’s gonna be bad. It’s gonna be somewhere in between”.
And as he was saying, all of that, I was like, “Yeah, I can- I can kind of- I can kind of understand that. That is absolutely true”. For me, though, I felt like it was too little, too late. Because it’s not just like Harper pushing Abby to the side. We’re- I don’t- I feel like we should have at the beginning of this said, we’re probably going to have a lot of spoilers as we talk about this, because I don’t see how we can talk about this without spoilers. So-
Also, I don’t recommend anyone watches this film anyway. So I do not feel bad about spoilers. But if you don’t want to be spoiled, I don’t know jump ahead like 10 minutes or something. That would be better, but I just felt like, the way Harper’s family treated Abby is so bad and Harper let them do it and encouraged some of it. And then for me, it was even, even worse than all of that is like Harper just continuing to hang out with her ex boyfriend.
The whole time. Like you bring this person here, who was supposed to be the love of your life. Who doesn’t know any of these fucking people, and you let your family treat her like shit. And then when you’re all out- you bring her out to a bar with your straight friends who you are not out with. And when she says she wants to go, you just hang out with your ex boyfriend for another three hours.
Yeah, that was it. It was rough. It was rough.
That was like, I- I just-
I would have left.
I would have left too.
I would have left. I mean, without a doubt. I’m at that age where it’s like, “Yeah, fuck this. I’m out”. I mean, I don’t need to stress. That is just. That, it was bad.
The thing I-
Oh, no, what were you gonna say?
You were still going. You go girl.
I was still going. So I also read some interviews with Clea Duval. She’s the director and one of the co-writers on this. And she was talking about how, you know, she pulled from personal experiences and whatever. But the thing that she talked a lot about in those interviews is how we are seeing Harper in the worst four days of her life. And that this is really kind of about Harper’s growth. And you know, that there can be redemption even in the kind of the worst four days of someone’s life. And I was like, “Oh, okay, I kind of get it”. And she was referencing even details like, Harper wears big baggy clothes when she’s on, look at the winter coat that she has when they’re walking around the neighborhood. But then she has to wear these really fitted things when she’s around her family. And they were like, all these details that I hadn’t been able to pick up on. Because, I mean, it’s a winter coat.
Winter costs are bulky, and like I think if this movie had had an extra scene at the beginning, where we see Harper and Abby really happy together, and you see who Harper actually is, because the argument was basically that Harper slowly and slow- like she kind of regresses over the course of the film into who she is when she’s around her family. But I didn’t get to see who she is when she was with Abby. I didn’t feel like that one scence of them walking around the neighborhood gave her a good sense of who she was because immediately the next morning she had her like, “Oh, fuck, what did I do? What am I bringing her into?” So I think that had been there. I might have been able to empathize with her more, but I just didn’t have that kind of connection. So again, the whole time. I was just like, “No get- get Abby out. Harper needs therapy”. I still think Harper needs therapy, but like, “Get Abby out. Get her with somebody who wants to be out”.
Give me that movie.
Exactly. And we also need to talk about the other abuse in this.
The other sister.
Oh my god, the things that they do to Jane is- It’s awful. I mean, she’s super quirky and they treat her like the family embarrassment. And they actually keep her in the basement. And they say because she had night terrors, but really, they’re just embarrassed by her and it’s just, it’s awful. Like, this family is horrible.
Here’s the thing that’s wild to me. So Mary Holland plays that character. She’s also a co-writer on this film..
What? And maybe she was going for humor, but it did not work.
The humor of Jane did not work. It made her look so desperate to be needed in this family. And it’s like, you know, trying to please her abusers. You know, that’s- and she’s, how old is she in this movie? 26?
27? Around there?
Yeah, somewhere around there.
Yeah. And it’s like, at that point, you know, just find your own place. I know. And she is a battle person that family 100% The only one I hang out with, right? Yeah, because she’s fun and quirky and a little bit different and odd. And but then, you know, they have her coming across as desperate. And just for any sort of attention, any sort of love. She’s desperate for this. And it’s so sad. It is supposed to come across as funny, but it actually is very sad.
Well, on the one time I did- one of the few times I remember actually laughing out loud. No, I think she was in both scenes. So the one was when one of them is holding the box of, of bottles of wine.
And it falls and they pick it back up. And she’s like, “Oh, maybe it’ll be fine”. And then the bottom falls out. I don’t know. Physical comedy gag made me laugh the other one. I laughed. And then I was like, “Hang on. That’s actually really mean.” Was at the end when- so the parents are Victor Garber and Mary Steenburgen. And she says something about, “And we gave up on Jane when she was biting all those kids in preschool”.
Which I was like, on the one hand I was like, Ha-ha.” And then I was like, “No, wait.”
That’s- you’re four years old.
You gave up on a toddler.
What kind of monsters are these parents? So what else did you like? I liked one other element. No, I liked two elements.
I thought that at least the kissing scenes were organic. I liked that. I felt the chemistry. Which I’m trying to- I’m looking for the positive. So that’s kind of- I have a thing with that. I need to know on screen- It doesn’t matter if it’s a heterosexual couple or a homosexual couple. I need to feel the chemistry. It needs to be there.
And I feel that they did have that chemistry. So I felt that. So that was good. I felt good about that. Yeah. So what about you? What was one thing you liked about it?
I like that two of my favorite drag queens are in this movie. So there is a great scene probably like- again all the people that hated it were like, ‘the only good scene in this movie is at the drag bar”. And I was like, “Yes it is”. Now I think it- we had different reasons for thinking it was the best scene. Everybody else liked it because that was where you saw Abby and she was out with Riley, who was played by Aubrey Plaza and just like the chemistry between these two is so good. I can’t even imagine how much fanfic was written about them. I kind of want to go find out now. I will look it up later.
But at that drag bar, they had two of my favorite drag queens very much in RuPaul’s Drag Race. So winner of season five Bendel- Nope, Jinkx Monsoon is the winner of season five and then from season six, and All Stars Three BenDeLaCreme and they are so- I mean, they’re just phenomenal and if you want to see more of them, and especially more of them doing like Christmas stuff. There’s the Jinkx and Dayla Holiday Special, which I think you can rent on Amazon Prime I’d have to check. But it’s definitely something that’s available. It came out last year when there was no touring due to COVID. So that for me was the- and Dan Levy. Definitely. It was wonderful.
Well, another thing I want to point out that I thought was kind of cool about this movie. One of the other things was that Kristen Stewart had a great job. She was a pet sitter. Like how awesome is that?
Yeah. At the big family Christmas party. She looked very good.
Yes, that was one. Yes. For sure. Like, everybody has a picture. Like on Twitter. You see it where it has her wearing that kind of a suit with the like, didn’t bother to yeah, button up the shirt.
No, and the tie’s undone and but hanging around the neck.
Like everybody, like I am- I’m one of those people. I’m not a Kristen Stewart fan. I’m just not. I mean, I liked Twilight. I did watch the movies. I think she just doesn’t act. And she just doesn’t act. I mean she kind of plays the same characters and that she’s you know that whole-
What about in this movie though?
So she did a better job. She did a better job for sure. But I would just like to point out I still think she’s kind of an ass because like she does all these movies and everybody teases her about her inability to act and then she gets nominated for, I think like an Emmy or something. She’s up for Princess Diana.
Oh, I don’t know.
Or, yeah there’s something she got nominated for. And she’s like, “I don’t give a shit”. I hate it. I hate it when people do that. I hate it when when musicians do that, they get nominated for something. “I don’t give a shit”. No, you do. It’s like Pearl Jam. Like they were nominated like years and years ago for something they’re like, “Yeah, fuck that. We’re out. We don’t care”. Yeah, you care. You do. So and I feel like Kristen Stewart kind of needs this. This whatever. I don’t know what what it’s for. I don’t know if it’s if it’s Emmy, Oscar. I don’t know. Golden Globe. But whatever she’s up for something, and she’s like, “I don’t give a shit”. And I’m like,” Yeah, you’re fucking lying”. Anyway, okay, I’m done. So I still have bitter feelings. You know? I mean, yes, she did a good job in this movie. But overall, she’s still on my No List.
I think the other thing that’s worth noting and is probably a pretty good segue into official recommendations.
Ah, okay. Good.
Is, you know, part of the conversation last year’s even for the people that were sticking up for this film, even if they didn’t like it. They said, like, “Look, it’s not perfect. It has lots of problems. But hopefully this means there’s going to be more representation”. And this year, because that was, wasn’t that the first? So there was that and then there was that other one from Telefilms. But like, this was the first queer holiday film that was going to get a theatrical release. Yeah, like, that’s huge. And there were very few, even of the Christmas romance, or rom com films. I think this was one of the very first that had lesbians, like there just weren’t that many. And if you look this year, there are a handful of them that have lesbians in them. So Kris, what’s your official recommendation this week?
So I kind of have to preface this. So we all know that I love Twitter. I’m like a Twitter whore. Twitter is great for my ADD. And like my thoughts are like all over the place. And so I spend most of the time on Twitter scrolling. So this is me. I’m like, fuck politics. I hate him. Oh, he’s such an asshole. Oh, I love that book, too. Like, oh, what a cute puppy. Oh, I’ve never seen what the bottom of the elephant’s foot looks like you know, this is my thought process all day long. Oh she’s got the cutest baby. Oh, great. Another actor far right actors throwing money at Kyle Rittenhouse. Yeah, things like that. That’s what I’m doing. I know that we- we’re not gonna about it. So so then I saw this tweet. Somebody I’m friends with retweeted this tweet. It was by Canadian actress Allie Lieberts. Canadian.
Oh, good people.
There you go. So this was the tweet, it said “spoiler alert. And then there was like a little rainbow. And every time a bell rings, Nora gets the girl. Never thought I’d see the day that I’d be playing lesbian in a Hallmark Christmas movie. This is progress. And I’m proud to be a part of it”. That was the tweet.
So I saw the rainbow and I saw Hallmark and I was like, “Oh my god, I must check this out”. Like I’ve said 1000 times on the show that I’m a Hallmarker or not a Lifetimer. I just like Hallmark movies, because they’re sweet, and predictable. And just pour some syrup on me because I love the sticky sweetness, you know, zero angst over the top happiness. So I’m like, :Oh, my God is just the first lesbian Hallmark movie”.
Mm hmm. It is, isn’t it? Is it?
And then I thought, like, “Is this like the first lesbian Christmas Hallmark movie?” Also no.
I know. A lot has happened in the past year. But I was committed at this point, because I had a back and forth with the actress on Twitter. And so I’m like, “Okay, now I have to I have to watch this movie”. And so it’s available on Hallmark streaming service, Hallmark Movies Now. And it’s called Every Time a Bell Rings. So I literally melted into this small town Christmas movie, and I’m gonna read you the blurb because I’m really bad at this.
Three sisters reunite in their hometown of Natches, and discover – it’s in Mississippi – and discover their late father’s planned one last scavenger hunt for them to find the family’s Wishing Bell, an annual holiday tradition. As they search for clues their bond is rekindled and they find hope and healing. So the movie starts off. And they’re- I don’t know how old they are. 10? 10 years old or so. And they’re on their sweet little girl bikes. And they’re on the scavenger hunt on Christmas Eve to find the Christmas Bell. So their father hides the bell somewhere in town, this cute little awesome quaint town and leaves clues everywhere for the girls to go find like, “Oh, we have to go to the baker and get this clue and blah, blah, blah”.
And then it fast forwards 20 years and the girls have finally come back into town. Like their father has passed so they’re spending the holiday with their mother and this is the first time they’ve been together as adults.
I think so. Yeah.
Seems odd, but okay.
So it’s like two are really successful, one had kind of a failed professional life. And so basically, here’s what you have. You have three storylines. So you have two heterosexual sisters and you have their storylines. And then you have the lesbian and her storyline. So you are- your screentime, though is, is short, it’s shortened because it’s not a primary- I mean, it’s a primary, but you’re sharing it with two other storylines. So here’s the thing you need to know about this movie.
Like nobody, nobody drives a car except for like, nobody drives a car. Like when the girls go to- like they decided to go on the scavenger hunt, like their dad put one last one together. And so they get on their childhood bikes with the little baskets and like one has a bright red one. One has a bright blue one. Yeah, and little baskets. And so they go on the scavenger hunt, because nobody has a fucking car in this place. Except for the good looking guy who like has one of those awesome old time trucks.
Oh, yeah. The kind you only see in a Hallmark film.
Exactly. Exactly. So I’m like, this is so Hallmark. And his name is Liam. And so anyway, so it’s just it’s that that was that made it Hallmark key that I was like, Okay, it’s totally corny, but I’m in. But I will say that this movie does discuss real problems, you know, but not in a Lifetimey way more- It’s a Hallmarky way, but it’s like seriously serious problems. You know, one sister is worried about having a baby. Is she ready? Another one just got out of a bad relationship. And of course, of course, they have, like the lesbian failed professional life. So she goes back home, I know, she goes back home. She’s like working on the family business to try to-
I’ve read a Georgia Beers book like this.
It’s been done. So she just happens to be grabbing lunch at the one awesome diner/outdoor restaurant, you know, that like every town has one, and it’s perfect. And it’s, you know, decorated so perfectly. So she meets the love interest. And she kind of gives her a recommendation of what to eat. And so they start talking. And it turns out that the love interest – and God helped me I can’t think of her name – and her mother are in town. They are vacationing, in Nachus, the small little tiny town in Mississippi. But they’re from somewhere in Louisiana. So it’s like a two hour drive.
Yeah, so basically it’s cute because it’s a Hallmark movie. So, you know, there’s no like, love scenes, they just have kissing scenes. And it’s cute. You know? And, and, and the acting you know, just adorable. Everything. You know.
Is the kissing believable?
The kissing is slightly awkward. And I think it could just be that it’s because it’s the first kiss.
And you know, there was that- So I mean, at that part was kind of portrayed real. It wasn’t like, you know, scooping her face and smooching on her. It wasn’t like that. It was like the real tentative like, maybe this is the time for us to kiss.
And they kissed, you know, and it was sweet. So you know, the acting is smooth and totally believable. And the transition scenes were really good. It you know, it was a true Hallmark movie, like, like they put the money into this movie. And they made it sweet and cheesy. And I totally loved it. I mean, it hit all of my boxes.
That’s so good. I want to try and see if I can find that one here in Canada because I’ve decided this is the year that I just want to embrace like, total cheese ball Christmas.
Yes. This is it. And I was like, you know, I cheer on all the relationships in the story. I cheered on the woman who was married, I cheered on the heterosexual romance that was blooming. And then of course, you know, the lesbian. I was in. I was like, “I want all of-” And the mom was the mom from the movie Cujo.
I’ve never seen Cujo.
A real throwback
Yeah, Stephen King, Cujo that sort of thing.
But anyway, she was in it. I love seeing movies, where the- and a lot of this happens a lot in Hallmark movies. Where kind of – I hate to say the word has been – like has been actors from the past show up in Hallmark movies later in life. And I love that.
Yeah, the “Hey it’s that guy” actor.
It’s kind of watching anything on the BBC where you’re like, “Hey, I know that person!” Because they’ve been in everything else on BBC.
Yeah, the BBC, the 12 actors and yes. So that is what I watched this week. What about you? What is your official recommendation for us?
Alright, so my official recommendation is not a Christmas book, but I would call it Christmas adjacent. Christmas happens. And during this book, it is called Read Between the Lines by Rachel Lacey. And it has a bookstore owner, Rosie Taft. She’s, you know, she took over the store in Manhattan. She took it over when her mother passed away, but the only thing is she you know, she doesn’t have a girlfriend, hasn’t had one for a long time. But she’s kind of struck up an ongoing conversation, possibly a tiny bit flirtatious in Twitter DMs with her favorite author, who goes by the name of Brie.
Brie writes lesbian romance. Not that this kind of thing ever happens in our community ever, ever, ever-
ever, ever, ever in the history of lesfic has this ever happened in our community.
I love that it just feels like inside baseball. I was like, thinking about people. And that’s all I’m gonna say about that. But anyway, so she, you know, she’s tried to get- because she learned that Brie lives in New York, somewhere and she you know, she’s invited her to do a signing at her store. And Brie’s like, “No, no, no, I’m so so private. I’m a very, very private quiet person”. But things kind of go bad for her when she gets an eviction notice for her store that basically says, “You’ve been an incredible tenant, but you got to go”. Now, this letter came from, you know, Breslin, I forget the name of the company like Breslin property, something, something, something like that. Whatever. It’s like a big ass property company in New York City. But Jane Breslin is the one who sent her this letter. And you know, she by day works for the family business. By night, she is an author named Brie.
Oh, let me guess: it’s just business.
It’s just business.
But she doesn’t know.
How does she not know?
Because the- she thinks it’s just a fan. She doesn’t know that this fan also owns this bookstore.
How does she not know?
Because this is a reinterpretation of You’ve Got Mail.
I was gonna say this sounds really familiar.
Yes. Yeah. And so I so enjoyed this book. And even in the acknowledgments it said, I- listen, don’t yell at me. I always skip to the end of books, that is just a thing I do.
We haven’t talked about this before.
I think we have but I, I just blocked it out. Because I’m like, “That can’t be right”. So every time you tell me I’m like, in total shock.
Occasionally, I don’t. Occasionally I don’t. But I almost always do. Although Kindle changed some settings recently. This made it harder. So I do it less often now. And I’m just like, “Fuck you Kindle. I’d like to be able to do this more. Give me back my back button, give me my back button back”. But I saw the acknowledgments. And she kind of was like, “And yes. If you think this was inspired by a certain film from the 90s it was.” I hadn’t seen the film in so long either that I was like, “You know what, I’m just gonna watch it”. Because, you know.
Well, and also, it had been so long and I wanted to see how much the book follows the film. Because, you know, it’s not uncommon for fanfic to turn into original fic in lesfic, there’s tons of tons of authors that have done it. But also there are times, you know, when we’ve heard about books that perhaps stay too close to the original. And so I was just curious, how close is this to the original. And I thought it did a really, really lovely job of updating it, first of all, to where we are now, obviously, like AOL email is not a thing anymore, so I thought, you know, putting it in Twitter DMS is really clever, because yeah, that is often like how author/reader interactions happen. Speaking like as a reader who has talked to a whole bunch of authors through Twitter DMs or Facebook DMs.
This is true who has received DMs in the Twitter.
But like, so watching You’ve Got Mail, I realized it doesn’t hold up as well as I would have hoped.
Because basically everything from the point at which Joe realizes who ShopGirl actually is, you know, when he goes into the coffee shop, and he’s a complete and total dickhead to her.
And then kind of- and then realizes that like, “Oh, no, wait, but when I’m with her, she makes me happy”. So he decides to woo her and doesn’t tell her that he’s the guy but uses this inside information to bring her around so that at the end of the film, and I’m sorry if I’m spoiling the final line of a film, but like it’s been out since the 90s. So I’m not that sorry. But she- when he shows up she says, “I hoped it was you. I wanted it to be you.” And I was like, “Fuck that. He gaslit you, he manipulated you. This is not okay”. And so what I love is that there is zero gaslighting in this book.
Except she doesn’t know where this person, like people know where I- I guess, I don’t know. But people usually tell me like what their jobs are. “Okay, I can’t talk now I’ve got to go to work,” or whatever. And they usually say, “Oh, I work here. I do this for a living”. I just feel like if you have a back and forth with someone, like I know what you do, you know what I do.
So she didn’t, she didn’t say bookstore because she didn’t want it to be weird that she had invited her.
But she asked her.
Yeah, but not through those DMs. Like when she invited her to be a part of the store, it was like an official request from the store as the owner versus like, “I am just a fan interacting with this author”. And she didn’t tell her that she was from the bookstore because she didn’t want it to be weird. She didn’t want it-
Did she have like some weird name like shop girl57 or whatever?
She had something.
I was gonna say cuz, how do you not as a evictee? Or evictor? Like when you’re getting rid of somebody, look, “Hey, this girl’s name just happens to be blah, blah, blah. Hey, I think I’m talking to somebody by that name”.
Well, I mean, there are a lot of people on Twitter that are completely anonymous because they-
Disbelief. Yeah, I get it. Yeah.
Yeah. So I just I can’t remember.
Well, that’s okay. I mean, I it’s, it’s yes, I get it. And I’m sorry for like going down and like, “What about this and what is that?”
This is unbelievable. This is unbelievable. This total fiction book. It’s bullshit.
Like, I don’t want somebody to like look at my stuff that closely. So as long as as a feel good, and you know, it wasn’t a gaslighting.
No, not at all. No, no, it was okay. So her twitter handle was AureliaRose113. Which, you know, that is not, you know, given that her name is Rosie, you know, like it would have been, it was different enough. So yeah, I like that the reveal comes much, much, much sooner in this book than it does I think that would have been a bigger problem. And so I felt like they were able to build a relationship on like, really solid, fair, equitable ground, in a way that wasn’t possible in You’ve Got Mail unfortunately. Although I did think it was cute that there’s a dog in there named Brinkley. I thought that was a nice little carryover, which is the same name as the dog. The dog who is the best character in You’ve Got Mail. No, that’s not fair. That’s not fair. I really liked- see now I feel like I’m doing a thing about You’ve Got Mail and about this book.
Sorry. I didn’t mean- I think it’s my fault. I could be wrong,
But isn’t it Meg Ryan’s- I think it might be Meg Ryan’s cutest role ever.
For sure. The cutest. Yes. Cutest for sure.
She’s so cute in that because she’s a fucking psycho in Sleepless in Seattle. That is not a cute movie, that does not hold up. She is a stalker. But like, she’s so cute in You’ve Got Mail. Like, some of her inflections in how she says things and some of her like, when she like races across the room and the way she runs. It’s just so cute. And so yeah, okay, this is the Meg Ryan appreciation time. And I’m talking with that.
Yeah, so I think the thing that I liked, I can’t point to similar lesfic books, but I feel like I have read stories – I’m almost positive I read stories before – where you’re like, “How are they going to get together, given the fact that one of them has done something, that ‘it’s just business’ but like, it’s directly detrimental to the other person’s livelihood”. And I feel like it really digs into that, it doesn’t gloss over it. And the way it handles it is really, really good. And I love seeing Jane, trying to negotiate the whole, like, she doesn’t actually want to work for her family’s business. She wants to be an author full time. She wants to be a lesfic author full time. And how do you make that work? What are the realities of it, because while the fan base, or the following will say for lesbian romance is passionate, and they you know, especially if they’re a fan of a specific author, they will buy every book, they will show up every time, they will do everything- they will support Patreons, like they will do things to try to make this financially viable for the author. It is still a small niche sectionof publishing.
There are not many authors that I’ve heard of that can live off of their own writing alone, especially if they’re single.
I thought the realities, the realities around that were handled really well. The other thing that I thought was really cute, is that this is very much a book that knows it’s a romance novel, and is playing with that and was like, “Well if this was, you know, Jane contemplating- “Well, if this was one of my books then maybe this wouldn’t happen!”` Like it’s it’s almost like a meta it- like it just feels very meta like it’s a romance novel commenting on romance novels. It’s very cute.
Well it does sound cute, it really does.
Yeah. So I have never read Rachael Lacey before. I am absolutely going to read her books again. There is another book that I believe is going to be coming out this spring that follows one of the side characters. So Rosie, her best friend who kind of helps- the the store is Rosie’s, very much. But like Leah is obviously like her right hand person. You know, she handles all the numbers, like that kind of thing and so Leah is going to find love in the next book, and I’m very excited to read about that. I think it’s gonna be a lot of fun.
So that’s all for this episode. Thank you so much for joining us and listening to me rant at length about my most hated movie of all my life, definitely this year, if not my life. If you’ve enjoyed this show, and if you’ve enjoyed this rant, and we don’t, I don’t think we rant that often. But if you enjoyed it, please hit that subscribe button wherever you listen to podcasts so that you will get notified whenever we have an episode come out. If you have a friend who you think would like the show, please tell them about it. And if you’d like to support the show, we also have a link to our ko-fi in the show notes where you can send little money our way which will go towards just you know, upkeep and keeping the show going. You absolutely don’t have to, it’s totally not necessary, but it’s there if you’re interested.
Right. And if you want to connect with us on your favorite social media sites, just search for queerlyrecommended on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or you can email us at email@example.com. And you can also find Tara and I separate on all of these same aforementioned social media platforms. And we’re out. Goodbye everybody.