WonderCon 2018: Where TV Happens

Well that was a heck of a weekend.

I’ve been to ComicCon before, back when it was actually, you know, about comics. WonderCon is a lot more and, if the name wasn’t a clue, is as much about fandom as comics. Not to say I didn’t make the rounds and tell people like Sergio Aragonés how amazing he was, or mention to Larry Hama that I maaaaaay have all of his original G.I. Joe comics in my office at home. I certainly didn’t break out into a sweat meeting Terry “Strangers in Paradise” Moore. Nope.

But much more than just some well deserved comic fan kvelling, WonderCon gave me an opportunity to get some feet on the ground for, what else, television.

We are a TV site after all.

There were a lot of time slots that crossed over. Like if I wanted to go to Gay Geeks I would miss part of Reverie. And basically my whole schedule was messy like that. I made some hard choices and concentrated on the programs that were most applicable to… us.

So here are some TV secrets from WonderCon.

Sneak Peek

A lot of TV shows have sneak peeks where they show exclusive episodes of their shows to whet your appetite. Bad news first. There are not a lot of queers in what’s coming soon. At least not based on the first episodes, there are no queers coming soon. I know, it sucks. Good news? The shows look interesting. So hey, good TV.

Reverie (NBC)

It has Sarah Shahi. She’s on my badge. I had to go.

The show has an interesting premise. Sarah Shahi is Mara Kint, a former hostage negotiator who has had a bad run of it after her sister and niece died at the hands of her sister’s whacko husband. A nice murder suicide for you. Mara’s been self medicating until her old boss Charlie, played by Dennis “Indeed” Haysbert, needs her help for his company. Apparently some people who use Reverie, a virtual immersion world, get stuck.

I mean. Who knew people would rather stay in online fantasy worlds than the real one.

After I stopped giggling about the many oddities of Shahi being in simulations all the time, I found I was a little undecided about the show. It’s not bad, but it feels heavy handed and like it’s trying a little too hard to dramatic. I’m not a fan of the special lingo used in the show, but at the same time I was entertained and delighted by the surprise twist at the end. For Person of Interest fans, you’ll grin evilly with me.

There were no queers in the episode, but the lead programmer pinged my non-existent gaydar as a little queer coded. Hah.

Screener Review on Reverie

Weird PoI vibes. Sarah Shahi can jump into my dreams to resume me at any time.

Cloak & Dagger (Freeform)

Yet another Marvel superhero story. Hoooo boy. The only Marvel comics I read as a kid were G.I. Joe and ‘Nam, so I’m not as up on it as I could be. I did have a brief X-Men phase, but was burnt out quickly with crossovers. And Spider-Man? I liked the cartoon.

All that is to say I don’t know the real origin story. I know a little, that Cloak can control darkness and teleport, while Light has daggers of light. And like everyone else in Marvel, they’re in New York. This version moves them to the Big Easy of New Orleans, and they acquire a richer tapestry to drawn from for the mystical nature of powers. This is not much used in the first episode, but there are hints of what it will be. They also didn’t make the black kid the homeless drug using one, so that was nice.

However. This is on Freeform. And this is dark. Like attempted rape, drug snorting, dark. Like I actually thought “Y’all are putting this on Freeform?!” It felt more like Netflix Jr. Which maybe reflects the next shift in what Freeform will be. Considering Siren, maybe this new Cloak & Dagger is their future.

Screener Review on Cloak & Dagger

Uneven but interesting enough to warrant watching at least two episodes.

Lost In Space (Netflix)

Danger, Will Robinson, this is not your momma’s robot. And it’s also not that weird movie with Joey from Friends. In fact, this show feels like Earth-2, a show I swear only I watched… The show isn’t paint by numbers, but it’s predictable in that you can see what’s coming next by the proper application of foreshadow. Like eye shadow, use just enough to accentuate, not obscure.

This is absolutely not Ozzy and Harriet in Space, and I enjoyed the show quite a lot. This time, they’re not alone, which makes it much more interesting. It’s going to be on Netflix on April 13 so get ready to get lost.

I’m giving this a .5 to queer because I think there might be some in the future. Pun intended.

Screener Review on Lost in Space

This is not your momma's Lost in Space.

Siren (Freeform)

I have a whole thing about this being about actual sirens and not mermaids, and I’m super nerdy… If you’ve read The Odyssey, then you know a mermaid isn’t a siren. A mermaid is half fish, half human, and sometimes sings but are generally helpful to men. A siren is, often, depicted as having evil intentions towards man. Sirens are also half-bird, and I recently read Emily Wilson’s translation of The Odyssey, who has an awesome take on them. Which is neither here nor there, but just a little background for you.

The point here is that a mermaid’s a fish person and a siren is a bird person. And in Siren, we have a combination of the two mythos. This isn’t a bad thing, and it does establish the world and it’s rules pretty quickly. But if you’re a Greek myth nerd like me, yes, you will have a bit of teeth gnashing.

Siren is right on that edge of this new idea Freeform has about being Netflix Jr. It’s not terrifying or jump out at you shock-horror. It’s not psychological horror. But it’s certainly dark. It also suffers from the same problems as Cloak & Dagger, and that it’s remarkably uneven. It’s trying to be a teen show and a dark scary one, and it makes it feel a little off.

But! The actor playing the siren/mermaid is actually really good. The whole wide-eyed look is perfect. And this marks two Freeform shows I’ve seen where men trying to assault women have ended up dead. In really horrible ways. I’m okay with that. Siren was not what I thought it would be based on those trailers, again in a good way. It was interesting enough that I gave it a second look and watched the next two episode screeners to be sure about my thoughts.

While there is a little queerbaiting (the girl/girl kiss you may have seen in the trailer makes a little more contextual sense after the first episode), it looks like a decent, kinda creepy, not for kids show.

Screener Review on Siren

Less schlocky than Sharknado, this is very much more sirens than mermaids.

Other Shows

There were a lot of other shows and panels that I made sure to check out and report back on, including ones we know have queer rep.

Black Lightning

We saw tonight’s episode on Sunday. Right around the half-way mark I said “Oh no, X is the bad guy!” under my breath. The woman beside me eyed me and then, when the reveal was made at the end, she asked how I knew. First I watch a lot of TV. But second, it just all clicked. This episode is funny and balanced. And after the episode, we had a moment with the writing staff. Folks, I’m not messing around when I saw this is the most realistic superhero show on TV today, possibly ever. It writes people as people, it addresses problems we face today, and it doesn’t have monster of the week in the right way.

The 100

The preview and q&a started nearly 20 minutes late, and Eliza was sick and unable to come, so I skipped out on this early to go to Gaaays in Spaaace. Which was the right call I think. Anyway. The preview was the first fifteen minutes, and what I can tell you without spoiling is that it is 100% Clarke. And damn if Eliza isn’t a good actress.

The downside is that I really am still so pissed at the show for everything they did, that I won’t watch this. It’s just not entertaining to me. The room was filled with a lot of queer fans, including someone dressed up in a giant chicken costume, dressed as Lexa, called … wait for it … Cluxa. So per usual, the best thing about The 100 are its fans.

Into the Badlands

We saw the trailer about an hour before you did. The majority of the time was a Q&A with some of the stars, including new ones for the upcoming season. One thing they all touched on was the fact that the show walked the walk with diversity. They made a show that was matriarchal and non white because, “The future isn’t going to be white male.” They did this because they wanted to see it, and instead of that being a line, they damn well did it. This show remains forward and feminist.

Timeless

This is not a new show, but it is a saved show. We saw the first episode of the new season, and it brings up some new questions and problems. While that definitely counts as a sneak peek, since it’s not a premiere, the most I can tell you is Heddy Lamar makes the episode worthwhile. The meta jokes and in references to the future continue. Oh, and there’s a whole thing… I can’t tell you. But you either watched it Sunday or you’ll watch it soon. Just remember, their lesbian momma bear lives.

About Mika A. Epstein

Mika has been deep in fandom since she could say 'Trekkie.' With decades experience in running fansites, developing software, and organizing communities, she's taken on the challenge of delving into the recesses of television for queers long forgotten. Making this site with Tracy is nothing short of serendipity. Mika lives with her wife and their cats in Southern California. Of course she has a hybrid, but she'd rather ride her bicycle.
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