Karen Townsend

Contributing Writer


Latest from Karen Townsend

Hyped as an awards show sure to be full of surprises, the only real surprise is that there was so little political commentary in the words uttered by Hollywood celebrities. The 91st Academy Awards ceremony aired February 24 on ABC live from Los Angeles. The show had no host so celebrity presenters walked out as their names were announced.



Network television show writers are nothing if not predictable. It seems it is impossible to write an episode of primetime programming without reverting to far right stereotypes in order to portray white men as violent, hateful bigots.



To watch network television these days, a viewer would think that angry, violent white nationalists are lurking everywhere. It’s certainly a narrative that Hollywood pushes in Trump’s America. The latest fictional hate crime to take place in Chicago occurs in the February 20 episode of Chicago Med titled “We Hold These Truths.”



In the February 19 episode of Freeform’s Good Trouble, “Swipe Right,” one of the ladies living in the Coderie celebrates having her first threesome by bragging to all her friends. After all, a man would never "feel weird" about it. In this case, Mariana Adams Foster (Cierra Ramirez) is unwittingly drawn into a threesome. She is rescued from a boring date by a handsome guy named Eli at a nearby table.



The innocent event of a parade was used to spout anti-gun dialogue because, if you listen to the doctors on ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy, random gunfire is everywhere and no one is able to avoid being a victim.



In a bit of a twist from the standard pro-illegal alien stories on network television that bash ICE, the February 12 episode of Fox’s Lethal Weapon instead bashes the United States Border Patrol. The episode "Coyote Ugly," portrays Border Patrol agents as evil, murdering human traffickers with the L.A.P.D. coming to the rescue of an illegal Mexican whistleblower against them.



For reasons I don’t quite understand, Netflix has brought back its reboot of liberal Norman Lear's One Day at a Time for a third season. It began airing February 8 and the central theme of the teenage daughter’s lesbian sexuality is in your face from the very first episode. And, of course, there are a few random swipes at President Trump, too, throughout the thirteen episodes.



Former First Lady and perennial liberal superstar Michelle Obama helped to open the 61st Annual Grammy Awards program airing on CBS February 10. Host Alicia Keys introduced her friends as they came on stage to pay homage to their love of music. Lady Gaga, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Jennifer Lopez accompanied Mrs. Obama. Michelle from the south side of Chicago spoke of her lifelong love of music. There wasn’t anything special in what she said but the audience went nuts at the mere sight of her and remained standing throughout her time on stage.



It's a somewhat regular script these days. Two white police officers stop a vehicle occupied by two black men driving down a city street, within the speed limit, for no apparent reason. The black driver of the car ends up getting killed by a white cop. To complicate matters, the other black man in the car is a Chicago cop working undercover to bust up a heroin ring. The February 6 episode of NBC’s Chicago P.D. added another twist to the tale, though. In “Night in Chicago,” two men running for Mayor try to play the death of the black man to their own political advantage.



The random plot twist of gay conversion therapy from a previous episode of The CW’s Riverdale is brought back in the February 6 episode titled “Chapter Forty-Seven: Bizarrodale,” and this time the Catholic nuns at Sisters of Quiet Mercy are said to have "twisted the soul" of an intolerant father back when he was a teenager. Also, along the way, we hear that outing gay people is bad unless it is a conservative politician.



In order to work in an episode that deals with racial divisions in our country, Freeforms’s Good Trouble, a spin-off of The Fosters, brought in the two lesbian moms of Callie and Mariana for a visit. Airing February 5, “Parental Guidance Suggested” brings in Lena Adams Foster's (Sherri Saum) campaign for California’s State Assembly and the racist who attacks her on the campaign trail.



Netflix’s Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt has come to an end. The last six episodes of Season Four were released on January 25. There is a last shot at President Trump included in the usual zany madcap episodes, though, and clearly, the writers wanted to mock his wealth and physical health. And, oh yeah, Trump's going to Hell. How brave of them.



The big, dramatic moment of Jazz Jennings’ "gender confirmation" surgery arrived in the January 29 episode of I Am Jazz titled “It’s a Girl!” After four seasons of Jazz and the Jennings family turning their lives into a reality show on TLC on the issue of transgenderism, Season Five is all about the physical transformation, both before and after.



The 25th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards (SAG) aired on TBS and TNT in a two-hour live production on January 27. Just as I was thinking that half-way through the show politics had not entered the fray, unlike last year, then Patricia Arquette won the SAG Award for the Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Limited Series.



It’s 2019 and still Trump’s America so I guess it is to be expected that a young woman turning 30-years-old in Manhattan would feel good about flipping the bird at Trump Tower while celebrating her birthday. The gesture is filmed for social media, complete with skull emojis. How mature!



The continuing saga of Florida transgender teen, Jazz Jennings, takes us through the last steps approaching her "gender confirmation surgery" in the fifth season. In the episode titled “Caterpillar to Butterfly” that aired January 15 on TLC, I Am Jazz shows the final preparations that the Jennings family make as they prepare to travel to New York for the surgery. Jazz’s mother, Jeanette decides it would be great fun to throw a “Farewell to Penis” party.



Hollywood is welcoming the new year with the start of the awards season. The 76th Annual Golden Globe Awards aired January 6 on NBC. Though the show was mostly tame in political rhetoric from the award winners, presenters, and hosts, that streak was broken when Christian Bale won the Best Actor Award for his role as former Vice President Dick Cheney in the movie Vice. Along with thanking Satan for inspiration, he also mused about playing Senator Mitch McConnell as the next in a series of "charisma-free assholes."

 



The season finale of Murphy Brown aired on CBS December 20 and the script included snarky remarks about Vice President Mike Pence and Senator Ted Cruz. Corky Sherwood wants to interview Pence and she maneuvers a way to ask him some questions in an unusual way, while Cruz gets a terrible insult randomly thrown his way.



Though not even making it through the first elimination round of contestants in the 2018 Miss Universe pageant, Miss Spain Angela Ponce was awarded her very own segment during the show. Televised on Fox December 16, Ponce was celebrated as the first transgender woman to enter the contest and given a standing ovation.



The topic of white nationalists was handled in a heavy-handed way during the December 9 episode of Fox’s Rel. Rel (Lil Rel Howery), an African-American man, is a charge nurse in a Chicago hospital. In “Hate & Hip Hop,” his patient turns out to be a racist who fainted during a white nationalist protest rally. The white patient isn’t impressed when Rel calls him a blood brother, as they both have O negative blood.