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In 1999 there was a (fake) rap group named the Nasty Bitches, starring some very real 90s-2000s R&B and rap stars. And on that very premise alone ABC’s new nighttime soap Queens had me hooked.
Who do we have? Professor Sex is played by Eve (from the Ruff Ryders, her name on the show? Brianna), Xplicit Lyrics is Brandy (from everywhere in the 90s, on the show? Naomi), and Butter Pecan, an unfortunate but historical accurate nickname for Puerto Rican, is played by Nadine Velazquez (she’ll be Valeria, and Nadine is the only not famous former musician in the cast, which is… a choice). For our very gay needs there is Da Thrill played by Naturi Naughton from 3LW (she’ll be Jill, let’s get going).
20 years later and now Jill is a conservative Catholic living in Montana with her husband Darren.
The only glimpse we get of the real Jill is when Tina, her secret girlfriend, comes over in a Prince shirt and flannel to check on her. A quick hug turns into a long embrace, eyes meet, then flicker down to lips, the mood shifts. Jill pushes Tina in just a little, like it’s a magnet, and then they are kissing. Tina graces under her breast, through the sweater. They both gasp. And then.. Jill pushes away.
She can’t do this. She promised Tina that she would tell Darren about them, and she hasn’t. She’s still battling with the internalized homophobia she’s had since she was a kid. Tina knows that Jill loves her, but she’s unwilling to being anyone’s secret.
When the “Nasty Bitches” (they’re going by “Queens” now because.. they’re in their 40s) reunite, Jill starts to find more of her past self. Which is great because while I love Naturi Naughton in pretty much anything (she was my favorite part of the original Power series and her take on Lil Kim in Notorious is legendary), “church girl” really doesn’t play to her strengths.
The group saves a new up-and-coming rapper — modeled somewhere in the vein of Doja Cat meets Megan Thee Stallion… I guess? — from a drug overdose largely due to Jill’s advocacy (she even punches the girl’s manager out, for good measure). Then she confesses to her friends, she’s gay. And she loves Tina.
It’s a start. The bigger leap comes later on stage, when as Da Thrill, Jill changes all the lyrics to to the group’s biggest hit to be about Tina live from the stage — Tina watches at home, mouth agape.
Here we go!
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