It was inevitable. First there was the 30 Rock remote reunion, then one from the late, great cult sitcom Happy Endings. This month, the horror movie Host – directed remotely and shot entirely via Zoom – premiered on streaming platforms. And here comes Connecting, a new sitcom for NBC, about a group of friends trying to stay close through video chats during the current global health crisis. Created by Martin Gero and Brendan Gall (Blindspot, The Lovebirds), it stars 30 Rock regular Keith Powell, Ely Henry (Suburgatory), Preacher Lawson (America’s Got Talent), Jill Knox (Keith Broke His Leg), Otmara Marrero (StartUp), as well as queer cast members Parvesh Cheena and (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend) and Shakina Nayfack (Difficult People). They’ve been given an eight-episode order, and if it goes well both on-screen and off, maybe the characters will all get to leave their houses and hang out again. Someday.
Beloved children’s novel Harriet The Spy, by lesbian author Louise Fitzhugh, has endured through the decades, almost certainly bolstered by the fandom of young queer kids who found in it a smart, industrious baby butch (who, let’s be real, was also kind of a brat, but in a great way). Harriet ruled her little corner of 1960s Manhattan, trying to learn everything about everyone, spying on and writing about people who caught her attention. Great news, then, that more than 20 years after the live-action feature film version, it’s being adapted for an animated series on Apple TV+, with the title role voiced by Beanie Feldstein – herself a young lesbian and rising star – and co-starring Lacey Chabert and Jane Lynch. More cause for celebration: it’s written by Will McRobb, who created the legendary, and legendarily odd, ’90s kid-sitcom The Adventures of Pete & Pete. Parents, bookmark this one and help your precocious kid grow up properly.
You know her as a host on Good Morning America, but Robin Roberts has also broken into the producing game, one of the few queer Black women to do so. She’s responsible for the TV movie Stolen by My Mother: The Kamiyah Mobley Story, and will now develop four more films for Lifetime under her Robin Roberts Presents banner. The first to be announced is going to take you to church: Robin Roberts Presents: The Mahalia Jackson Story, a biopic of the legendary Grammy-winning gospel singer and civil rights activist. Born in 1911, Jackson’s long and revered gospel career placed her squarely in the center of the Civil Rights Movement, performing for an integrated audience at Carnegie Hall, at John F. Kennedy’s inauguration, and at the 1963 March on Washington. Orange is the New Black star Danielle Brooks, herself a Grammy winner and Tony Award nominee for The Color Purple, will play Jackson. We’re looking forward to this one, and to some gospel karaoke from the privacy of our couch.
You always knew it would be Lifetime that would go full-tilt Queer Christmas first. Sure, Hallmark just announced they were taking steps to make their annual slate of holiday movies more inclusive of people who are not white and straight, but everybody who watches this sort of thing is aware that Lifetime is the more daring network. (So what if that daring mostly involves movies about suburban swingers trying to murder each other? It’s the thought that counts.) Which brings us to The Christmas Set Up, the first made-for-TV holiday movie to center a gay male relationship. It’s about a lawyer from New York City, returning home to Milwaukee for Christmas with his meddling mother, who’s arranged for her son to “accidentally” run into his old high school crush, now a very successful computer person in Silicon Valley. Just as stockings are about to be stuffed, along comes a job offer in London that threatens to tear up this wholesome homosexual reunion. What will happen at Christmas? You already know the answer, so watch it when it airs just to prove that homophobes don’t hold a patent on enjoying room temperature romance.