ben + leslie | jerry’s retirement
Here are our predictions, arranged network by network. (NBC’s not looking good, guys.)
As happy as I am that Betty finally got some this week—with a hot soldier no less; you go Betty Coco!—I’m even happier that Bomb Girls cares about exploring what it means for Betty to be a woman who wants other women. Her exchange with Teresa right before they have sex emphasizes so well how being queer, historically, is bound up in the incredible weight and pain of anticipation. That you’ll be found out, that you’ll find someone against all odds, that you’ll be able to live a life that makes you happy, that you’ll get hurt or you’ll lose everything.
Betty, shaking, asks Teresa, “How can this happen so fast?” Which breaks my heart in two, because it’s such a revealing question. Betty’s had to deny and hide and hope every single time she’s felt sexually attracted to someone, positive what she feels won’t be returned and always wondering if maybe it could be. For Betty, desire has always been about waiting at a distance. No one’s ever told her it’s okay or even possible to run.
After kissing Betty, Teresa, bless her, says the kindest thing: “Seems to me you’ve waited a long time.” In response, Betty lets out a small, unsteady “Yeah.” It’s barely audible. I think it’s the most important line in the entire episode.
Teresa isn’t just giving Betty the opportunity to be intimate with someone who’s equally attracted to her. She’s putting Betty’s desires into the context of Betty’s life. She legitimizes them by implicitly telling Betty that Betty deserves to be loved and wanted back. Teresa’s the first person on this show who’s ever explicitly seen Betty for who she is and not only told her that it’s okay, she’s okay—but that she understands Betty’s always been tiptoeing around her own self.
So when Betty manages that shaking “yeah,” she’s also acknowledging how hard these two decades or more of pretending and hiding and hoping and waiting have been. It’s an admission that, to me, is just as profound as Betty openly confessing her attraction to Teresa—and to Kate, for that matter. It’s also a recognition on Bomb Girls’s part that Betty’s story isn’t just about Betty admitting she’s gay. It’s about allowing Betty to vocalize something immensely important: how much effort it takes just to be queer without even acting on it. She’s been fighting a war with herself equal to or greater than the war she’s been helping her country fight.
And as much strength as it takes to battle on those front lines of identity every day, it takes even more strength to say to someone else: yes, I’m fighting and it’s been so long.
We’re still grinning from last night’s appearances by Amy Poehler, Paul Rudd, David Wain, Michael Showalter, A.D. Miles, and Howard Bernstein at Syfy Movies With a View! (x)