jennifer hanigan

a pinch of this and a dollop of that

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Finding Ourselves in Fiction: One Mississippi

(note: some of what I discuss may be considered spoilers)

I will never not be sad that One Mississippi has only 12 episodes.

If you aren’t familiar with Tig Nataro, my advice to you is to call in sick to work, cancel all your social engagements, order some Chinese takeout, and begin streaming all the things.

One Mississippi is fiction, but it’s based on Tig’s real life experiences with breast cancer, the death of her mother, and her relationship with her wife, among other things. As you can imagine, there are some dark themes running throughout. The show is quite serious about them, but it is also full of humor and laughter and love.

There is so much about this show that delights me, from the shared misery of navigating dating and romance as a queer woman* to Tig’s relationships with her brother and stepfather. (Her stepfather’s life could serve as an entire show on its own.) I’ve watched it twice through and will never tire of its understated humor.

There is, however, once annoyance: bisexuality doesn’t exist in the universe of One Mississippi. Even though multiple characters are clearly bisexual, the word is never used once, and instances of being attracted to multiple genders are greeted with confusion. The very idea of being bi+ is so foreign that a chief storyline involves one character repeatedly insisting she can’t want a romantic relationship with Tig because she’s “not gay.” While simultaneously falling in love with her, and spending her nights watching “The L Word” and drinking wine.


What happens when a chem major is bisexual? Yeah.

More than half of queer people identify as bisexual (or pansexual or non-monosexual, etc.). Ignoring the existence of bi+ identities leads to the very confusion that people experience when they find they’re attracted to more than one gender that the abovementioned character experiences. One Mississippi could have done a great service for the queer community by exploring this idea, but instead it reduced each character to being either Gay or Not Gay.

Nevertheless, it is a wonderful show and I cannot recommend it enough. (Be aware that there are some adult themes, a set of fake breasts, and various profanities throughout.)

*Dating women is both easier and more difficult than dating men, in my somewhat limited experience. I have no explanation for this, and can only surmise that being bisexual gives me the power to violate the laws of both physics and reason.


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Finding Ourselves in Fiction: Annie On My Mind

Annie On My Mind is the story of two young women navigating their discoveries about themselves and each other in the midst of adolescence and a homophobic society. It’s definitely a YA novel, but it held my attention (and made me cry more than once).

20180125_052358Amazon states, “One of the first books to positively portray a lesbian relationship, Annie on My Mind is a groundbreaking classic of the genre.” As you can probably tell by the artwork on the cover (mine came from the public library), it was initially published in the early ’80s. The story, however, is timeless and enjoyable.

While sex is discussed, it’s done in a roundabout and euphemistic way; you won’t find any how-to instructions here.

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Finding Ourselves in Fiction: Jenny’s Wedding

Jenny’s Wedding, starring Katherine Heigl as a gay woman whose family has to come to terms with her sexuality, was a bit of a disappointment. That isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy it–It was pleasant in the way Hallmark movies are often pleasant, with the added virtue of being pro-gay and giving a realistic representation of what many gay people encounter. Unfortunately, there was just no chemistry between Heigle and Alexis Bledel. While the love story was not central to the film, it felt as if a cardboard cutout could have been substituted for Bledel without much alteration to the finished product. Still, it was a reasonably enjoyable movie for a night in.

There are no steamy scenes about which to warn you. Not even cardboard ones.


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Finding Ourselves in Fiction: Carol

When free time and inspiration strike, I enjoy writing fiction.  (‘Enjoy’ is perhaps not the right word. Writing fiction is, I think, a form of masochism.)  While pondering a story about two women falling in love, I realized that I’d never read one, and thus had difficulty conceptualizing it.  Representation matters! So now I’m on the look-out for inclusive books, films, and TV shows.  I plan to share them with you as I find them.

Carol, based on the book The Price of Salt, is a beautifully done film—the sets, the clothes, the cars! *sigh*  Set in the 1950s (but filmed/released in 2015), it displays not just the romance between two women, but glimpses into the traumas wrought on queer people by a disapproving society, including the judgment that queerness makes for an unfit parent, and that psychiatric treatment is an appropriate response to homosexuality. I enjoyed Therese’s innocent way of following her own heart and path even as she did not understand it, and the strength both women displayed.

Raciness: There is a single beautiful but fairly explicit sex scene. It can be skipped without missing any plot.

Caveats: The cast is almost entirely white, and one character is a verbally abusive, controlling man.