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05 April 2012 @ 11:24 pm
Like an Adele Song  
*Emerges from isolated cave* What month is it? No, seriously. I've been in what feels like a work prison for the past four months, a sensory deprivation tank, where I was only allowed to look at a computer to write code with my brain only able to spit out occasional tweets and sometimes a paragraph or two on Tumblr. But all that is behind me. I am free and finally able to enjoy life again ... as poor programming nomad in search of another gig, but who cares about all that when I can FINALLY write long paragraphs about the gay things I love. Who needs money, right! *Sets up a tip jar*

When last I left you, back in 2011 before Whitney Houston died and when Rick Santorum was still considered a "fringe" candidate for the Republican nomination (oh dear lord, I have been gone a while), I was more or less lamenting about the lack of gayness on North American television. Spain, England and, well, Spain were filling the hole nicely since pretty much every other gay on US TV was either in background (are Callie and Arizona even on Grey's anymore?), dead or cancelled (THE PLAYBOY CLUB... NEVER LETTING YOU GO!). As if it heard my violent sobbing at night over the lack of good gay representation, Canada decided to show me some mercy and gave me Bomb Girls. I am pretty much assuming that everyone has heard about this series already and have probably seen all the episodes and you don't need me to explain how this show is perfect, not just because of the gay, but because everything about it is perfect. Everything I have ever wanted in a TV show. Oh, Canada. You are too good to me. You send me Pat Kiernan and now this! I might even have to learn your national anthem.

But back to Bomb Girls... if you are one of the two people reading this right now who haven't seen the show yet. First, what is the matter with you? Second, stop reading this and try to find a way to watch it. I'll wait. I'll be here when you get back. Set in a munitions factory during World War II, the series follows women who are called to action and thrust into the work force, many for the first time and the invariable obstacles that follow. This is the kind of series I've been hoping for because it is such a rich time period to set a show in. Women got their first taste of real economic freedom during this era and there was really no going back after that, as much as the 1950's tried to force women back into the kitchen and their roles as subservient, obedient housewives. But wait, I am getting ahead of myself and this could turn into a lengthy dissertation on proto-feminism and the confluence of world and social moments creating a "perfect storm" in which female power - economic and social - was a real possibility for the first time. NERD! You might be asking yourself, when does this post get gay? Hold on. Soon. Before I get into the gay, I will state at the outset that if you've only seen the Kate/Betty storyline via YouTube, I would implore you to find the entire show because all the characters are fantastic. Gladys Witham (IMPECCABLY played by Jodi Balfour) would be my favorite character if Kate and Betty didn't exist. Gladys, you are perfection and I really do need to show you more love on Tumblr because... so perfect. Ditto for Lorna Corbett (the always awesome Meg Tilly). I could write a fifty page essay about how these show is the most honest and adult portrayal of female sexuality (as in wanting to have sex) and desire and ownership of said sexuality I've seen in a drama in a long while with these two at the heart of it.

And now gay... We have arrived at the tricky part of this post where I try to explain why I love Kate and Betty so much, both separately and together, without just repeating over and over again MY EMOTIONS, MY IRRATIONAL EMOTIONS, OHMIGOD BETTY'S TEARS KILLS KITTENS, KATE WHY WON'T YOU LET YOURSELF BE HAPPY WITH THE FIRST REAL FAMILY YOU HAVE EVER HAD, LOVE EACH OTHER, KIDS, LOVE EACH OTHER! Insert GIF of Tobias sobbing in the shower from Arrested Development here. *Take a deep breath*

Betty McRae, you beautiful rule-breaking moth. The tough, no-nonsense farm-girl turned star factory worker with a heart of gold. Like many other characters I've adored over the years, she is a hard candy shell with a soft, marshmallow center and most of her melting is reserved for Kate. Although not made explicit, one gets the feeling that Betty ran away from her rural life to get a decent shot (her only shot) at having a life without the expectations of a husband and children dictating her life. For women like Betty, the war couldn't have happened at a better time. It was a chance at freedom. She probably felt different and didn't really understand those feelings until she came to the big city. I imagine (what else do I have to do for a year until the new season but imagine) Betty has taken baby steps towards living her life as a gay woman or as much as society would allow back then, but I don't think she completely and fully understood who she was, as a gay woman, until Kate entered her life. She has probably never been in love before and certainly wouldn't have let those feelings gestate as they did had she not felt a bit "safer" to let them happen. She is completely unable to control the way Kate effects her. I love her for trying to hide it, but her devotion to Kate is completely written all over her face every time she looks at her. Oh, Betty, if you are trying to hide your feelings, your face didn't get that memo.

Kate Andrews, you beautiful tropical fish. The runaway looking for a new life away from her abusive father. The thing I love most about this character is that on the surface she appears shy, insecure and perhaps a little fragile, but really, she is one of the strongest women on the show. Running away from everything she has ever known to be literally someone else takes all kinds of balls and a strength she is probably not aware she has yet. She is the marshmallow outside with the hard tootsie roll center. She has a quiet strength which effects those around. Notice that within a few weeks of her arrival, she becomes the moral center of her friendship with Gladys and Betty and she slips into that role effortlessly. Disappointing Kate is like choking The Little Mermaid with a bike chain (thanks, Dan Harmon). Kate has lived such a sheltered life that one can imagine "exploring her sexuality" was not even a thought that entered her mind, but you know she is completely devoted to Betty in a way that isn't entirely friendship. Sure, it's part hero-worship, part respect and admiration, but she has some of those same feelings for Gladys and she never looks at Gladys like her feelings are about to consume her. There is a tenderness in her interactions with Betty that are absent in her other friendship. What I like most about her character is that these feelings and their subsequent actions towards Betty are completely natural to her because she has no real concept that her feelings for Betty shouldn't manifest themselves in hand-holding and hugs. When Kate stares at Betty in her "totally in love, Disney-face" way, I can't help but think of her as the Ark of the Covenant from Indiana Jones ... how could Betty possibly have a defense for such face-melting stares (thanks, Dan Harmon, again). There is none...unless you cover your eyes.

And with that introduction full of sentence that make no sense (I'm rusty at this), here are my ten favorite scenes between the church mouse and the brave gay toaster.

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"I'm Kate...Kate Andrews..."


Kate: My lock.
Betty: Don't worry there's a dead bolt on the front door.
Kate: I need this to lock.
Betty: What do you think we are all a bunch of crooks here?

Why I Love It: Aww, look at precious Kate trying desperately to connect with Betty on her first day at the rooming house and getting shot down immediately. This is one of the things I liked about this first meeting between the two, Betty was having none of it because she was probably used to newbies coming in and out of the factory and also because she figured this new girl would soon fall into a place among the other girls so why bother having a civil conversation with someone she wouldn't really speak to again... other than the perfunctory greeting in the hall. AND LOOK AT KATE'S PRECIOUS DISAPPOINTED FACE. Kate didn't let Betty's gruff first impression deter her from making Betty her friend.

"Do You Want to Try a Twirl?"


Why I Love It: And let the melting of Betty's shell begin. I don't think Betty had any possible defense for this. How could she when Kate was so adorable asking her to dance when she realized that she could dance with a woman. When Kate and Gladys have a similar dance later in the season, it doesn't have this same tenderness and warmth. The dance between Kate and Gladys was all fun and games, but this feels like a promise of something more. And this is probably the first time a woman has asked Betty to dance and her face is stunned happiness. For Betty, I feel like this dance symbolizes Kate's acceptance of her, unconditionally so. She doesn't care that Betty doesn't act like the rest of the girls and will never shun her for that. With Kate, she could just be and Kate likes her just as she is which is why Betty falls immediately into a place by Kate's side.


"You're safe here now... I'll Make Sure."


Betty: Bruises. Scars on your back. Kate, what happened?
Kate: It's none of your business.
Betty: Whatever you're running from, you're safe here now. I'll make sure.

Why I Love It: As soon as Betty falls into a place by Kate's side, she adopts the position as Kate's protector, the knight in shining armor that will keep the beasts at bay. She doesn't pressure Kate into spilling the secrets from her past, but instead makes Kate feel safe and one gets the feeling that safe and protected is not something Kate is used to. I love Kate's little smile as soon as Betty just explodes her feelings all over her. She knows Betty means it and she loves that Betty means it. For her part, Betty sulks against the wall as soon as Kate leaves because a) she is like "okay, I almost said too much and almost word-vomitted my feelings all over the poor girl" and b) she realizes just how much she feels for Kate. "I AM IN LOVE WITH A GIRL, GREAT!" She knows she is playing with fire and she knows she will probably get burned, but at this point, nothing is going to stop her from being around Kate as much as she can. She is your hope and your doom, Betty!

"Well, You're Kate Andrews Now"


Betty: It's okay, you can do this.
Kate: I've never even worn one of these before.
Betty: Well, you're Kate Andrews now. New name, new job, new life. Okay?

Why I Love It: As I mentioned on tumblr during one of the few moments I was released from work prison to think about something other than work, the reason I simply adore this scene is that Betty manages to make Kate feel safe and secure in a situation when she should have felt the exact opposite, but a few words and just looking at Betty made Kate feel like it was all going to be okay. She didn't need to feel afraid while a creepy guy was taking her photo because Betty was there and she would never let anything happen to her. This is probably not a feeling she is used to and I think that is why it is so special. The one place she should have felt safe and protected was with her family, but I don't think those are terms she would associate with her life before, but here she is in a situation that is actually mildly threatening, but it is fine because she is with someone who makes her feel those things that she should have felt all her life but probably never really has before. This scene could have been played a bit more as a "Betty lusting after Kate in a bathing suit", but I think this scene makes clear that Betty's feelings for Kate are not from that place, they are about something deeper. Not to say that Betty doesn't have a momentary "Well, well," when Kate reveals herself, but she pushes those feelings promptly aside because she knows Kate needs her.

"I think I'll Be Having Better Dreams Now"


Kate: I am so lucky I met you.
Betty: You know those nightmares you're having. If you ever want to sleep over here...
Kate: That's very kind, but I think I'll be having better dreams now.

Why I Love It: Look at adorable Betty trying desperately to hang on to her last visage of swag and failing miserably and completely. She gives Kate a hair pin and then invites Kate to sleep in her room if her nightmares get too much to bare alone. I see what you are doing there, Betty. The only person who doesn't see what you are doing there is Kate, but she still loves giving you way too many tender hugs and looking at you longingly and adoringly. You two precious, kids. I imagine that Betty is trying to be as subtle as she possibly can be here, but she probably has no point of reference for expressing feelings for your best friend that don't come off as love declarations. For her part, Kate has no idea how much she effects Betty and her oblivious innocence is one of the reasons I like this scene so much. Betty could only "get away" with such boldness (well, boldness for her) because Kate is so inexperienced in flirtation. And, let's face it, Betty is probably just as inexperienced. These two! She is terrible at hiding her disappointment when Kate rejects (for now) her offer. Once Kate leaves, Betty looks at Kate's photos - practically porn in those days - and she allows herself to feel those other primal feelings.

"You're on."


Betty: I just dream of a place of my own and now thanks to the war, I stand a chance of getting it. Maybe I should send a thank you card to Hitler.
Kate: Betty!
Betty: Of course I'd need housemates .. or at least one.
Kate: You're on.

Why I Love It: Third row of screencaps ... Ark of the Covenant! Cover your eyes, Betty! Look away from those adoring eyes and that Disney face! Betty feels safe enough in her feelings for Kate that she asks her to move with her. Her swag is back when she asks the question because she knows Kate likes her - friendship wise - to really consider moving in with her. She wants to keep Kate in her life for as long as she can before the inevitable husband and kids. This scene also outlines exactly what Betty wants out of life, a place for herself, a place of her own that no one, not her family and certainly not a man, will have claim to. She wants her independence and she is willing to share this dream, a dream she has probably entertained for a while, with Kate. Romantic! This is, like, practically proposing.

"Maybe Next Time .. Just You and Me!"


Gladys: She's got something special.
Betty: Next thing you know, she'll move out of the rooming house and go on tour.
Gladys: Don't you think you're overexaggerating?
Betty: What do you know about anything!
Gladys: You're lucky to have such a good friend.

Why I Love It: I highlight the Gladys and Betty dialogue here for two reasons, one to talk for a hot second about how AWESOME Gladys is (seriously, though, I WANT TO BUILD STATUES TO YOUR EPIC AWESOME, GLADYS!!!) and two, this interaction reveals Betty's greatest fear about Kate ... that she will leave and never look back. I don't see her jealousy of Leon and Kate's friendship as jealousy specifically for Leon (because the man wears a wedding ring and is probably spoken for), but what he represents - the life Kate is supposed to have and it is a life that will have no room for Betty. If she leaves to get married, she leaves. If she leaves to go pursue her singing career, she leaves. She leaves and that is what Betty fears most. She cannot give Kate a life that Kate might want for herself and it breaks Betty's heart. But wait, let's get back to Gladys (STATUES! MONUMENTS! BRIDGES NAMED AFTER YOU!) who realizes exactly how deep Betty's feeling for Kate go and just how much they aren't friendship feelings. You can almost hear everything click into place for Gladys and, bless her heart, she reacts in the most supportive way possible without actually blurting out "Oh, you're gay and in love with Kate, amazingballs!" Gladys probably has a gay uncle she loves dearly or an aunt that hasn't met the right man yet and lives with a "roommate". She is worldly like that. I love that when Gladys says "a good friend", it is dripping with air quotes. It almost feels like there should be a cartoon bubble appearing over her head as soon as she utters it just to emphasis that ... she knows what is up and it isn't the words she just said. If Gladys's role next season isn't to act as a quasi-cupid to bring these two idiots together, I might cry because I just know that both of them will be in love but way too hurt to act on any feelings. Later, when Betty and Kate are alone back at the rooming house, Betty asks Kate on a date ... without actually asking her on a date in direct terms... and Kate brings up Leon which punches Betty in the gut once again. She will never be what Kate wants or needs .. or so she thinks.


"I Wished On The Moon For You."


Betty: I'm a clod.
Kate: With tin ears.
Betty: Both.

Why I Love It: Betty needs to tell her face that if she wants to keep her grand, epic love for Kate a secret, she shouldn't be looking at Kate like there is absolutely nothing else in existence. After a fight where Betty lets her jealousy of Kate's new, emerging life outside of their friendship get the better of her, she goes to Kate's gig with Leon's band to apologize. Something tells me Betty isn't the type to apologize often or at all, but she knows she hurt her friend and can't bear to be on Kate's bad side for more than two minutes. Kate's anger evaporates within seconds and she again looks at her friend like she is the only thing that matters. Again, she looks to Betty to calm her fears just as she did during the photoshoot and looks at her friend while singing a love song because... that's what friends do. This Ark of the Covenant business is even deadlier when the ark can sing love songs. Face melting. No defense. None.

"I Really Like You, Kate."


Betty: I really like you, Kate.
Kate: I like you too, Betty.

Why I Love It: Was I the only one who yelled "Betty, don't do it!" when first watching this scene? I will say first and foremost that this scene couldn't have ended up any other way and if Kate had reacted in any other way then how she reacted, it would have been a total betrayal of the character. Kate is many things - loving, giving, sweet - but a person with her upbringing and during this time period would react with nothing up disgust and anger. That said, OH KATE WHY MUST YOU SHATTER BETTY'S HEART INTO A MILLION PIECES?!? One of the criticisms of this scene I've heard over the past few weeks was that it struck many as odd that Betty would makes a move in such an open way, but I think we have to remember a few things, one ... the underground bar looked like it might have been liberal for the times and two ... Pearl Harbor just happened and Canada promptly declared war on another country, meaning the war was becoming endless with a real possibility that attacks could escalate and even come closer to home... in other words, end of the world!! If ever there was a moment to just go for it and feel more alive, it is when the world, as you know it, has been sent down a more uncertain path. Still, Betty, what are you doing?! Before Kate has time to process what is happening, her instinct is to kiss Betty back (SHE KISSES BACK, Y'ALL ... FOR ABOUT SECOND) before she promptly realizes that what they are doing is not what friends do. Kate's reaction is anger, shock and horror, but also betrayal. She thought her friendship with Betty was one thing when Betty thought it was something completely different. She thought she had an honest, pure relationship with Betty, but it wasn't that at all. Of course, her reaction was straight out of the Christian-right handbook. Gross! Disgusting! Once Betty leaves, one can see the wheels turning in Kate's head. Once the feelings of betrayal have disappeared, she has to admit to herself, she kind of liked it. Betty's kisses didn't really awaken any feelings in Kate (her feelings for Betty have been there since day one), but they refocused them into something different and the possibility that Betty could be someone she could be in love with. Betty's kiss was like putting on glasses ... it is not like the world changed as soon as she put those glasses on, but now the world is clearer, sharper and she realizes that big blob of feelings she thought was friendship was actually a big sign that reads "Yo, you in love with your best friend, girl!" Yeah, the sign was written by a gay man, but I digress. Next season, I don't expect Kate to suddenly be completely okay with these developing feelings, but she has certainly been placed on a path of self discovery. She needs to figure out what she wants without her past and society telling her what she is feeling is wrong.


"Don't leave. I love you!"


Betty: Please, Kate, don't leave. I love you.
Kate: I don't want this anymore and I never wanted you. Good-bye.

Why I Love It: This scene is like listening to an Adele song just after the love of your life dumps you for someone with bigger breast while also pouring lemon juice into your eyeballs. *Bites lip to keep from crying* Like any human being with her upbringing, Kate decides to run back to her abusive father rather than face the fallout from Betty's kiss and deal with what it might mean if she feels the same way. For Kate, this new life as Kate Andrews was all a lie. Her best friend was really in love with her. She was building weapons that kill people. She was smoking, sinning, singing her feelings ... frankly, this just sounds like an awesome Saturday night, Kate. Betty tries to reason with Kate, but she has made up her mind to go back to her former life. Betty uses the only weapon she has left in her arsenal. She tells Kate that she loves her and when Kate hears it, she doesn't react like someone disgusted by it, but rather she looks like someone who wants to say it back, but doesn't know what it would mean if she did. One of the most telling things Kate says is that she never wanted this life and that she never wanted Betty ... which is an odd thing to say to someone you claim not to be attracted to. It is like that way I say "I hate chocolate" when there is a big bowl of chocolate on the table and I'd like nothing more than to stuff my face in the bowl of chocolate, but I know I shouldn't so I just look at it longing and say "I never wanted you!" Bad analogy, but you know what I mean. Betty's worst fear is realized .. not only does Kate leave her life with a tepid good-bye, but she leaves her life to go back to the life she swore she would never go back to. She is lost and heartbroken and it is awful. As I noted in this tumblr post and this one, the show terrifically parallels the two significant moments Betty and Kate shared in the hallway ... the first when Betty promises to protect Kate and realizes she has feelings for Kate and the last when Betty admits those feelings and fails to protect Kate from the man who abused her. But more than that, the light and happiness that was in Kate's being the entire season appears to have left her. She is just a sad, empty shell. The light in her eyes is gone and the Kate that was the happy, little center of a circle of friends has gone away. She just looks so sad and almost like a different person. Rip my beating heart out of my chest and show it to me before I die, show. Okay, these Indiana Jones references are getting out of control and I apologize. In conclusion, I HATE EVERYTHING.

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And if you haven't read anything above and just looked at the pretty pictures, my feelings about Bomb Girls season one can be summed up, succinctly, with the following:

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How I'm Feelin': coldcold
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the stars are the street lights of eternity: Handsur5amaj0r on April 9th, 2012 04:39 am (UTC)
Hmm... I never watched this before. :/ But the picspam is oh so pretty. Great way to promote this show! :) Count me on board on this ship!
Jet: Bomb Girls Kate/Bettyjetgirl78 on April 9th, 2012 05:12 am (UTC)
Thanks so much for the comment. I am glad you liked the pretty.