Queer Review: CLAIREvoyant (Episodes 6 – 14)

When we last left CLAIREvoyant, Claire (Natasha Negovanlis) had just blown it big time with her dream girl Nico (Sabryn Rock), after accidentally ingesting some of Ruby’s (Annie Briggs) pot brownies. Telling someone their aunt is dead is not a good idea, at least not on a first date. Lets take a look to see what other shenanigans these two got themselves into.

Episode 6 – “The Nine of Swords”

Claire comes crawling back (literally) from her disastrous date with Nico, just in time for a warning video call from Madame Sonnom (Theresa Tova). Unfortunately both Claire and Ruby are too high to pay any attention. The next morning, Nico proves Claire’s psychic abilities are true once again, by telling her that her aunt had a stroke and died (RIP Nico’s aunt). We’re not sure that Ruby’s “Fuck yes!” response was heartfelt, but hey, when you’re right, you’re right! Bonus: If you’re needing a little Negovanlis opera singing in your life, this episode is just for you.

 

Episode 7 – “The Empress”

Ruby’s scheduling for the “Seeing Sisters” causes a wedge between Ruby and Claire. But not as big of one as Claire’s declaration that Ruby needs to grow up because she’s going to be a mother. What a way to find out you’re pregnant! This plot twist was absolutely not one we expected, but we loved it!

 

Episode 8 – “The Hermit”

This episode hurts if you’re shipping Ruby and Xavier (Jsin Sasha) as much as we are. But this is also one of the best episodes of CLAIREvoyant. After finding out Ruby’s knocked up, she breaks up with Xavier because she doesn’t want him to resent her for having an abortion. For a comedy web series, this dark twist is not something many were ready for, but we commend Briggs and Negovanlis for writing such an important topic into their show. Unexpected pregnancy and abortion is something that effects many young women and is often only condemned in mainstream media. To portray the reality of this type of situation in a small independent series like this is just the bold move more writers need to take.

Back at the cafe, Nico comes to see Claire (Hooray!) and gives her a second chance, in part to a Carrier Pidgeon sent to Nico by Ruby.

(Side note: Ruvier? Xaby?)

 

Episode 9 – “The Star”

If you’ve ever felt like you are a complete walking disaster, Claire’s pep talk in the mirror to herself while getting ready for her second date with Nico will make you feel a whole lot better. But before she can head out, Ruby comes home and the two roommates finally have a heart to heart. After Ruby tells Claire that she’s had an abortion, Claire does what any best friend would do: cancel the date and chill at home with your heartbroken buddy. Moments later, she’s sucked into the crystal ball she got for her birthday from her Bubbeh, where Madame Sonnom begs her to join her in her quest for riches. Thankfully, Claire manages to escape easily… this time.

 

Episode 10 – “The Ten of Cups”

Flash forward three weeks later and Xavier returns! Yay! Ruby hijacked Nico and plans a double dinner date for the four of them. But Ruby’s idea of shopping is dumpster diving and the 30 seconds of vomiting and diarrhea that follows is the best thing we’ve ever seen in any web series. Thank you all for being willing to shit your pants and barf your brains out on camera.

Oh and remember that pesky crystal ball? Well Claire got sucked back in, this time by Madame Sonnom herself.

 

Episode 11 – “The Magician”

Ruby, Xavier, and Nico wake up to find that Claire is gone and been magic-knapped. And as terrible as that sounds, it gives us a peek at Bubbeh, played by none other than Negovanlis! You’ll laugh and want a cheese pie.

 

Episode 12 – “The Queen of Swords”

Madame Sonnom is #sorrynotsorry for trapping Claire in her crystal ball. But under the guidance of Bubbeh, Claire challenges Madame Sonnom to a psychic mind battle (because, of course). Back in the real world, Claire’s friends are freaking out over the talking crystal ball and Nico thinks calling 911 will help.

 

Episode 13 – “The Chariot”

Hitting a crystal ball with a dildo is not the way to release your trapped best friend, Ruby. But please, keep trying, because it’s pretty damn funny.

The psychic mind battle begins and Bubbeh has to explain how to use the force to Claire. The balls of energy and beams of power that shoot out of Claire’s eyes is pretty cheesey but fantastic in the best ways. “I’m Claire Ganski and I’m here to kick your psychic butt!”

 

Episode 14 – “The Four of Wands”

Claire wins the psychic mind battle and escapes the crystal ball! Everyone rejoices and we finally get to see a kiss between Claire and Nico! And Xavier and Ruby are just as cute. Three weeks later, Ruby makes dinner (uh oh?) for the foursome and everything seems to be back to normal. Ruby decides to leave the “Seeing Sisters” but buys Claire a little gift to support her abilities and encourage her to keep using her psychic mind to do good. Unfortuantely, dinner was a disaster, again.

The episode ends with Claire’s commercial for her psychic channel and Madame Sonnom in prison.


Overall, CLAIREvoyant surpassed our expectations. The humor and honesty in this series brings an element of truth to a supernatural show, that sometimes gets lost in the world of fantasy. Though CLAIREvoyant was only 14 episodes, our crystal ball tells us that a future much longer is in store for this digital series, and we cannot wait to see what exciting things await Claire, Ruby, Nico and Xavier. The future is bright for Negovanlis and Briggs!

Q & A: “Swerve” Series Talks Mental Health & Season 3

For far too long, topics like queer sexuality and mental health have been stigmatized in mainstream media. Often when our community has seen characters who identify as LGBTQ+, that also happen to have a backstory involving mental illness, the plot involving this character quickly becomes problematic. If a queer character exists with a past history of mental health trouble, that becomes the underlying reason as to why they aren’t straight or cis. This line of thinking may be a simple plot to write for the uneducated, but it is also incredibly dangerous to the LGBTQ+ community. The reality is simple: Queer people exist. Mental health conditions effect people of all types. Some queer identifying people will have mental health trouble. Struggling with a mental illness does not cause a person to become gay, trans, asexual or any other queer identity.

To create a quality show about a queer character struggling with mental health while facing loss, learning to love, and discovering terrifying truths about people you think you know, is an astounding challenge; one that Jason Armstrong mastered with the creation of Swerve.

Starring Sharon Belle, Kat Inokai, Emily Alatalo, & Winny Clarke, Swerve tells the story of Elise (Belle), a young woman dealing with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), a mental health condition characterized by mood swings, instability in relationships and impulsivity. Elise’s mood swings and impulsive nature draws her to “swerve” in her path of life and change course at random.

 

“The Swerve: To deviate suddenly from the straight or direct course… That’s the story of my life.”

 

The first episode takes us on the journey with Elise, as she swerves, once again. She quits her job and takes a seat on a curb, only to be picked up by a kind stranger named Jen (Inokai). Together, they head up to a small cabin to escape their troubles but quickly find out they aren’t alone, when a woman named Stevie (Alatalo) borrows their cabin’s deck for sunbathing. The three women quickly bond, but the truth of why each have come to this small cabin will shatter the world that Elise has created. The twists and turns of Season 1 will make viewers laugh, cry, and fear what is to come next. And without giving away too much, Season 2 is just as good. We are introduced to new characters and old friends of Elise’s, including her former best friend Cassidy (Clarke). But what happens at the cabin doesn’t remain at the cabin, and Elise must now face her two worlds colliding.

Like so many fans of this show (or Swervers, as they call themselves) we cannot wait to see what Season 3 will bring.

Because May is Mental Health Awareness Month, we wanted to recognize Swerve for it’s incredible portrayal of a queer woman struggling with BPD. It’s real and raw approach to Elise’s struggle with mental illness is impactful for both the LGBTQ+ community as well as anyone living with mental health conditions. Sharon Belle’s performance as Elise is jaw-droppingly powerful and honestly relatable for anyone struggling with mental health.

We were lucky enough to chat with Jason Armstrong, the writer and director of Swerve, as well as actors Sharon Belle, Kat Inokai and Winny Clarke, to ask them a few questions about the show and the importance of mental health in their own lives.

**Warning**: This Q & A is NOT spoiler free. If you have not caught up on Seasons 1& 2, we highly recommend doing so before reading any further. Watch Below.

 

 



Queer Quality
: When we last left the Swerve crew, Elise and Cassidy were dealing with watching Stevie be murdered right in front of them. Elise locks herself in a room, naked, and ultimately ends up taking off without telling Cassidy, and now Paris (Connie Miu) who has shown up. What should we expect Elise to do next? Is she simply “swerving” again, as she’s said she’s drawn to this type of self destruction or is she a woman on a mission? (Maybe to seek revenge for Stevie’s murder).

Jason: Elise is in (nearly) uncharted waters at the close of Season 2. She has bigger intentions than just escape. The questions now become about her means, ability and resolution to follow through with her plans. I’m not going to spoil anything, but the road ahead for Elise is twisty and dangerous. Abandoning Paris, Cassidy and her other friends is just an unfortunate by-product of her quest for answers.


QQ
: While watching Season 2, we see Cassidy and Elise’s friendship rekindle almost immediately after they see each other again. We see Cassidy become very protective of Elise, almost in a jealous way. We know that part of the reason Elise took off in the first place was because of Cassidy’s rejection to Elise telling her she was in love with her, but now Cassidy fears losing her again. Is this a healthy friendship? Will we see more than a friendship arise between these two?

Jason: Cassidy’s feelings toward Elise are complex. Their history is a lot murkier than we’ve learned so far. The fallout of re-connecting and subsequently witnessing a murder together is going to force some old ghosts to start invading the present. Sometimes we trade uncomfortable silences for leaving difficult subjects un-touched. Elise’s teenage confession to Cassidy is far from the most complicated part of their past.


QQ
: Jen went up to the cabin in Season 1 to die. She knew she was sick and going to run out of medication, but she also hired the hit on her own life. Why then would she stop and pick up Elise? Why subject another person to that pain, especially one as sensitive as Elise? What does this say about Jen’s mental health?

Jason: I don’t want to take away anyone’s interpretation of Jen’s motives, but to me, picking up Elise was a final act of looking for meaning. Living in the moment certainly diminished her willingness to examine the consequences of her unexpected closeness with Elise. As with so much in life, many factors played into the chain of events. Elise sitting curbside, after vandalizing her place of employment, hoping for a ride is as much connected to how things went as Jen deciding to stop and see if she was ok. But Elise’s time with Jen is also key in her breaking some cycles and handling her present situation.

Kat: Jen was definitely in an interesting headspace, but I feel like dealing with a chronic illness with a terminal verdict needs to be compartmentalized when you look at her relationship with Elise. It sounds strange, but as someone with a rare autoimmune disease, I could really relate to this sort of duality. I do think that the decision to live out her final days connected Jen even more to her purpose to simply experience life and be the nurturing person she was. When she picked up Elise, I don’t think there was anything but love and concern there. Also, she is very open about her fertility struggles and her failed relationship right off the bat – if anything I felt that Jen and Elise’s maternal/ family vibe solidifies one of her last wishes coming true, with the added benefit of showing Elise unconditional love.


QQ
: Mental health is a huge part of Swerve and something many Swervers relate to. Elise’s personality disorder clearly controls her decisions and actions throughout season one and two. How will her mental health dictate what we see from her in Season 3?

Jason: Mental health dictates the way we all respond to whatever life throws at us. Elise has BPD. Elise is sensitive. Elise is very intelligent. She’s a complex mix of every experience she has had and often finds herself able to reflect on her challenges even as they persist. I firmly believe that variances in the way our brains work, once analyzed, can also be harnessed for greatness. In our family, we label them superpowers. How great are stories where one’s most significant weakness is also a source of untold strength? Season 3 is going to dive deep into examining that.

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Moderator Dana Piccoli (Top Left) reacting to Season 3 teaser trailer at ClexaCon 2018 with Swerve cast Sharon Belle (Top Right), Winny Clarke (bottom Left) & Producers Sheila Allen & Kisha Tapangan


QQ
: Sharon and Kat, what are the challenges you faced having to get into the headspace of Elise and Jen? Both are struggling with illnesses. What was the process like for you two diving into their dark minds? Did you have difficulties coming out of these characters after a day of shooting?

Sharon: Playing a character like Elise, I find I really have to take it one day, one scene and one step at a time. I have never been a method actor and I find staying in character for long periods of time doesn’t serve me or Elise. Like you said it can be a dark place in the mind of Elise so I’m usually jumping in and then out. I find that if I stay true to the text and truth of the scene and stay connected to my scene partner, it takes me everywhere I need to go. I do sometimes have a hard time jumping back out of character, but that’s nothing that a good cry and 15 minutes of alone time can’t fix.  

Kat: I am not going to lie, I went to some dark places while I tapped into Jen. But I also found a lot of beauty and joy – especially working with Sharon. I actually do have a rare autoimmune disease (MCTD) and although the prognosis is good, it has no cure and it definitely eats into the quality of my life. In a sense, playing Jen let me dip my toe into my own anxieties and fears, and work through them – working one scene at a time let me understand how to compartmentalize things more successfully. It ended up being a safe way for me to feel and process things I didn’t even know I had been feeling. But I was also so grateful to have Jason and Sharon right there with me. They really helped me come back to myself and the present moment. They are incredible.


QQ
: We loved episode 2.12’s therapy session, where it is asked “Did you love yourself today?” How do you love yourselves? What are some of the things each of you do to maintain good mental health? Any tips for bad days?

Sharon: How do I love myself? I spend 2 hours in bed when I wake up, I’ll eat ice cream for breakfast, I’ll eat breakfast for dinner, I go to the gym, I take bike rides in the sun, I try to live with no regrets and laugh as much as possible. The master formula, still working on some tweaks here and there. When I’m having a bad day I usually just cry, a lot, and frequently, and I tell myself that’s okay. Then I watch a sad movie and cry some more, then I eat ice cream and take a nap. After I’ve totally indulged myself I’ll push myself to do something outside and get some sun and fresh air. Feeling productive and useful helps my mental health so I’ll usually clean the house or run errands. Also lists, lists, lists.

Jason: I’m wired to need a lot of alone-time. That’s challenging in a big family (there are six of us). My family is very accommodating of that, but I will say that having people around you that love you unconditionally is one of the greatest strategies for keeping your mental health in check. My wife and I also take a day a week and go hiking and picking through flea markets and antiques malls. It’s very stimulating to see neat stuff from the past overhear snippets of conversation. It reminds me that the world is big and full of all kinds of people dealing with all kinds of things and that folks everywhere are daily overcoming tremendous odds for small, personal victories. That kind of encouragement is key to my own mental well-being. We’re not alone.

Kat: As a mom I still find it really hard to take time for myself so I’m actively working to fit my ‘I love myself’ rituals into everyday life- I take baths, read comics, watch movies, make podcasts no one will ever hear, write stories, try out strange recipes, bawl my eyes out… I ask myself ‘what do I need’ and I really try to listen without judgement. I also have a bit of a mental health first aid kit – most days I practice mindfulness and breathing exercises and they really help. Here’s a great way to stay mindful if you’re feeling overwhelmed: out loud, say 3 things that you see ( I see the door, I see the floor, I see the lamp); then say 3 things you hear (I hear my breathing, I hear the cars outside, I hear the fan); then say 3 things you physically feel (I feel my glasses on my nose, I feel my shirt on my back, I feel my toes in my shoes). Repeat this process 3 times. It’s a great way to come back to the present moment and ground yourself.

Winny: I love loving myself! I meditate every day for about half an hour. I have a gratitude journal, which is the best ten minutes of my life everyday! It gives me a great perspective. Even when I am in a state of depression, I can still find things to be grateful for, and that actually has taught me love myself more in my current state. My favourite tip on bad days is not trying to force productivity. We don’t have to be productive every second of every single day. If you are aware that you are going through a rough time, take a bath, take a nap, watch something you enjoy, cry, exercise, write. Whatever is therapeutic to you. Don’t feel bad for taking a break!


QQ
: Anything we can know or expect to see this upcoming season? Will we see anymore of Paris or Laird (Mark Nocent)? Will the ghosts of Stevie and Jen haunt Elise? Will Cassidy stand by Elise’s side after watching a murder in her backyard or will that be too much for her? Any new characters we should get excited for?

Jason: Most everyone is coming back, some in major ways. You can definitely expect to see Paris, Laird and Cassidy as well as some great new characters to fall in love with as more of Elise’s past is revealed.


QQ
: Fans are hoping for a little behind the scenes action this season! Any chance we can see some fun stuff like that before the season is released?

Jason: Absolutely. We’re hoping to have the time and resources to capture more BTS this season.


QQ
: Anything you want to say to the fans?

Sharon: Thank you, thank you, thank you. You all are honestly the most supportive and loving group of people and I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to meet most of you (CLEXACON<3) and to represent.

Kat: Thank you! I have been really blown away by how fans have related to the characters’ mental and emotional experiences, and how encouraging they have been. I guess I want to encourage them too – I hope everyone continues to relate, knows that they are not alone, and finds the strength to keep nurturing and loving themselves no matter what issues they are going through.

Winny: The fans have changed my life in such a massive way. Between meeting you at events or talking to you over social, I have become so empowered as a human moving through depression and anxiety. I just love you all so much. I am excited to grow with you!

Jason: Thanks so much for joining us on the journey that is Swerve. The show’s audience continues to grow and it’s so inspiring to see people connecting with these wonderful characters, brought to life by our incredibly talented cast and crew.

For anyone wanting some more back-story and a few answers to some of Season 2’s mysteries, check out our anthology series “Circa: 1981.” It includes several episodes featuring Elise’s mother Iris and Elise’s Grandfather, Irwin. It’s an excellent primer to Season 3 for viewers who enjoy the minute details of a story and its characters.

If you have not already seen the trailer for Season 3, make sure you check that out and follow along on Twitter for new details about when Swerve returns.

Nicole Pacent: How Bi-Erasure Leads to Mental Health Trouble for the Bisexual Community

It’s an alarming fact: Bisexual individuals have the worst mental health within the LGBTQ+ community. It has been reported that 40% of bisexual people have, at some point in their life, considered or attempted suicide. Furthermore, bisexual people tend to suffer from anxiety, depression and alcohol abuse at double the rate of non-bi identifying members within the queer community. If case studies have shown time and time again that bisexual members of the LGBTQ+ community are suffering from mental health issues at such high rates, what then seems to be the underlying cause?

We chatted with Nicole Pacent about her beliefs and personal experiences with mental health and being a bisexual woman. Pacent, best known for her role as Aster Gaston on the YouTube hit series Anyone But Me, is a mental health advocate who dedicates time volunteering at the Los Angeles LGBT Center and hosts a YouTube channel of her own, that emphasizes bisexuality and mental health topics.

Pacent argued that bi-erasure and biphobia, especially within the media, plays a huge role in the mental health epidemic within her community.

“If you feel erased, if there are no examples of what you are… if you look to the television and don’t see anyone like you, except maybe when they’re villianized, you immediately think “What’s wrong with me? Something is wrong with me. Obviously I’m wrong,” Pacent explained.

Though LGBTQ+ representation has been increasing within mainstream media, the number of bisexual characters in TV and film has continued to be one of the least represented.

“Growing up, we look to our parents, our grandparents for examples on how to lead lives, how to have relationships and families. And if you’re bisexual, you don’t see what that looks like. You start to wonder if you can ever have a family, or get married, or have a functioning relationship,” Pacent continued. The need for representation in the media for bisexual individuals is incredibly important for this very reason.

“…You immediately think “What’s wrong with me? Something is wrong with me. Obviously I’m wrong.”

Often times bisexual characters are introduced with a quick mention of their sexuality, only to be quickly placed in a hetero-normative relationship with another character. It is also not uncommon for the “bisexual” label to become lost in the dialogue of a character’s arc when they begin a relationship with another character of the same gender. There is an important difference between being bisexual and being homosexual, yet this is blurred too often in mainstream media. Pacent explained that the importance of asking questions to bisexual individuals like herself about what it is like to be able to love a man and to love a woman are important topics that need to be discussed, that will ultimately help prevent these blurred lines. However, she recognizes that to many, bisexuality tends to become synonymous with polyamory (non-monogamy).

“People in society tend to trick themselves into believing that once you’re married, you’ll never be attracted to another person and that being attracted to another person [that is not your spouse] is wrong,” said Pacent. “But I think that when you’re straight and you’re with someone of the opposite sex, or you’re gay and with someone of the same sex, you can, to some extent, feel like you’re providing [your partner] with what they need. You  think, ‘they’re only attracted to my gender, so I am providing them with what they need. Therefore, I’m enough.’ But bisexuality calls this idea of singular attraction starkly into question.” Pacent continued by explaining that how you choose to act on your attraction to other people is the difference between bisexuality and polyamory. Bisexual individuals are fully capable of having monogamous relationships, if they choose, just as any straight or gay person may also be polyamorous. A person’s sexuality is not the same as how they choose to have relationships.

This stigma of possible infidelity due to a person’s bisexual orientation can directly impact an individual’s mental health. Pacent acknowledged this in past relationships of her own. “It’s the fear of losing your partner. I cannot tell you how many times in relationships I’ve been terrified to even express how I feel, even to myself, so I just think ‘I’m not going to acknowledge this.’ And this causes huge problems. Then people aren’t honest with how they’re feeling and they get wildly depressed, which it leads to bad things.” Gleefully, Pacent explained that her current relationship is in no way like previous ones, which was in part why she chose to marry her husband. On her YouTube channel, Pacent addresses another bi-erasure issue that often gets brought up to bisexual women who marry men: marrying a man doesn’t mean she’s straight now. (Below).


So what does Nicole Pacent do to maintain her own mental health?

“When it comes to relationships, if I start to  get to that place of fear where I am worried that I may lose this person and I feel a wall going up… then I know that’s when I need to have a conversation about how I’m feeling, that I’m scared to have but it’s worth having.” Pacent also explains that therapy and community groups, likes the one she went to after the loss of her sister in 2015, are both incredibly good resources for those trying to work on their mental health. Working out is also a great stress relief for Pacent, so much so that Nicole was returning home from a hike before our interview.

“It’s also really important to know yourself. I’m an extrovert and if I spend too much time alone, I get inside my head. I like time to myself, but I know I need less of that than I do community,” she added.

The importance of LGBTQ+ representation in the media is an ever increasing discussion within the queer community. But for the bisexual community, specifically, the lack of representation is an immensely important change needed to help decrease the terrible mental health difficulties facing them.

Thankfully the queer community is starting to see a change. The bisexual representation increase in mainstream media in the last year, known as the “Bi-Boom,” is a positive sign of what is to come. Actress Stephanie Beatriz’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine character, Rosa Diaz, came out as queer this last season proudly and nonchalantly, proclaiming “I’m bisexual.” This simple phrase was widely celebrated by the bisexual community because of the impact of visibility so desperately needed. As LGBTQ+ representation continues to increase in television and film, it is important that the lesser represented identities, like bisexuality, continues to increase as well and not be forgotten. Hopefully then we will see the mental health of this community better for all within it.

Queer Review: CLAIREvoyant (Episodes 1-5)

In the late 1990’s through early 2000’s, TV psychics were all the rage. You couldn’t go a day without hearing a Miss Cleo’s commercial, with testimony from callers who had received a grand psychic reading from Miss Cleo, herself. Each commercial always ended the same: “Call me now for your free reading!” she’d tell viewers, as she sat in front of her Tarot deck.

Fast forward fifteen years and gaze into your computer screens, as the newest Shaftesbury production coming out of Toronto has been unveiled!

CLAIREvoyant is the brand new magical web series on YouTube’s KindaTV. Starring Natasha Negovanlis and Annie Briggs, CLAIREvoyant tells the story of Claire Ganski (Negovanlis) and Ruby Renaud (Briggs), two best friends in their mid-twenties who use the scheming power of the internet and the mystery of psychic fortune-telling to make some quick cash. But there’s a catch (because, isn’t there always?): Turns out Claire actually has psychic abilities, which she seems to have inherited from her Bubbeh (grandmother). While Ruby’s focus is bringing in some more moolah and testing Claire for her true clairvoyant potential, Claire has her eyes on the girl of her dreams, Nico (Sabryn Rock). The Lucy and Ethel dynamic between Briggs and Negovanlis’ characters is incredibly funny and a kismet match for the two.

Now it looks like the “Seeing Sisters” might have ruffled a few mystical feathers of another online psychic extraordinaire, Madam Sonnom (Theresa Tova), who had a falling out with Claire’s Bubbeh years ago. We are guessing that Madam Sonnom probably won’t be too thrilled with losing business to the Seeing Sisters, especially given Claire’s incredible ability to really see the future.

CLAIREvoyant is a hilarious comedy about two young women trying to get by in the world, with a New Age twist. Facing all the challenges that come in your twenties, Claire now has to deal with her supernatural abilities… which is so much harder than figuring out your love life, honestly.

Not only are Briggs and Negovanlis the stars of the new digital series, they co-created, co-wrote and co-produced it as well. Teaming up with Dillon Taylor and Smokebomb Entertainment (the masterminds behind Carmilla, another digital web series on KindaTV – turned feature film, starring Negovanlis and Briggs), CLAIREvoyant came to life. With help from fans, the CLAIREvoyant team launched an Indiegogo campaign in the summer of 2017, ultimately raising over $27k.

The first five episodes dropped today and we are here to summarize and review them! And we will be doing so every week episodes are dropped, as long as the Seeing Sisters don’t give us some ominous news. Needless to say, our reviews will not be spoiler free, so skedaddle if you don’t want the deets.


First of all, let’s start off by acknowledging the genius behind the episode title names! Each episode is named after a Tarot card. For those not in the know, Tarot is a card game used by mystics and other occult practices for divination purposes. So for a show about psychics, nothing is better suited!

 

Episode 1: The Tower

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Before entering inner space, we enter the cozy apartment of Ruby and Claire. As Claire’s 25th birthday approaches, she opens presents from her Bubbeh, a crystal ball, and from Ruby, a box with a book of poetry by “Claire Ricardo.” We quickly find out that Ruby blew all of the rent month ($4,562 to be exact) on boxes full of these books. But before Claire can lay into Ruby about how she can afford such a gift, Ruby distracts her with alcohol and plans to get her some much needed sexy time.

Waking up to a phone call on your birthday telling you that you’re going to get evicted if you don’t come up with several months of rent is everyone’s idea of a good time, am I right? Claire’s organized persona mashes with Ruby’s carefree attitude. And though at first glance one might think that these two women shouldn’t get along, it is very clear that Claire is the Yin to Ruby’s Yang. The episode ends with the best rendition of Happy Birthday I’ve ever heard (eat your heart out Marilyn!)

Episode 2: The Four of Cups

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Let the scheming begin! While Claire is slaving away as a barista to make a living like any responsible adult would, Ruby calls Claire with her ideas to make money fast; ranging from feet fondling to nude cleaning services (side note: is that a thing? That should not be a thing). Thankfully the awkward scheming comes to halt when Nico, Claire’s crush to end all crushes, comes strolling into her work. And we are shipping it already!!! NiClaire? We think yes! Note to Claire: “Get on me” is not a pick up line (though your awkwardness is quite adorable).

When Claire comes home, she finds Ruby mid-death warning via webcam to some random poor guy. Claire jumps in and seems to have her first prophecy moment, telling this man that him and his girlfriend Casey (oddly specific) will have a long and happy life together. The magical way we see Claire have her visions is incredible and fun, and a reminiscent nod for the That’s So Raven generation. In this episode we are also introduced to Xavier (Jsin Sasha), Ruby’s other half and resident artist.

The question everyone wants to know: What exactly was that gunk on Claire’s face the entire episode?

 

Episode 3: The High Priestess

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The worst name for a psychic: Poop Face. But that’s what Claire was dubbed, thanks to random webcam guy. Claire wants to prove to Ruby that psychic powers are nothing more than trickery, so she recommends calling the Internet famous psychic extraordinaire, Madam Sonnom. But when hearing Ruby call Claire by her last name (Ganski, the Macedonian root word for Gypsy… seers and psychics), Madam Sonnom mentions that she knew Claire’s Bubbeh and once worked with her but had a falling out (suspicious? We think so!).

Claire finally gives in to Ruby’s begging and the Seeing Sisters are born! Vicky (Ruby) and Vivian (Claire) are psychic sisters ready to help you explore your future! “Explore oneself, to believe oneself! Let us explore you!” How Negovanlis and Briggs ever managed to keep it together to film this segment is beyond us. I have never been so intrigued by a psychic’s commercial in my life! The Seeing Sisters are hilarious! And the costumes in this episode are amazing.

 

Episode 4: The Ace of Pentacles

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The Seeing Sisters are blowing up and the reviews are coming in! Everything that Vivian (Feldman? Well played, Natasha) says to her clients is coming true! Vicky, however, might want to stop telling people they’re going to meet an untimely death. Back in reality, Nico pays another visit to Claire at the café. If Claire’s awkward charm hadn’t already made you fall in love with this shy disaster of a human, her proclaiming to Nico that she is a “wiener enthusiast” but not in the straight way, cause she “likes vaginas” will definitely hook you. Love is in the air and we don’t need a crystal ball to see that! Claire’s not so sly approach to giving Nico her phone number is every baby queer person trying to ask their crush out and I think it is safe to say we’ve all had our fair share of squeals. Props to you, Claire!

Back at home, Ruby wants to continue the Seeing Sisters’ success while Claire would much rather prepare for her date. But it’s not long before Claire has yet another vision and congratulates Xavier on winning an art grant. This peaks Ruby’s suspicions that Claire is in fact a bonafide psychic and she proceeds to chase poor Claire around the house… trying to get her pee? Not really sure how there is a urine test for psychic abilities, but the chasing was definitely entertaining to watch. Until the power went out.

 

Episode 5: The Moon

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Putting on makeup by candlelight seems like a difficult task but Ruby nails Claire’s date look. Their discussion on sexy time and comparing their bits to inanimate objects is something we all do with our friends, right? Also, if Mary Floppins is not a name that goes down in history as “Best Nickname For A Vagina” ever, we will protest.

Before Claire heads out, she pops a brownie in her mouth just as the lights are finally turned back on. Unbeknownst to Claire, Ruby and Xavier had some special brownie treats prepared for their own jungle themed sexy time later in the evening (just… wow) and Claire just partook. Good girl Claire begins to freak out at the realization that she just ate a pot-laced brownie moments before heading out on her first date with Nico. Ruby manages to get her out the door, but not before we see the panic filled montage of Claire becoming high.

Once at the café, Claire is baked as a nervous Nico tries to hold a conversation. Things aren’t going completely terrible until Claire has another psychic vision and declares that Nico’s aunt is dead. DEAD. The deadest of the dead ladies. She’s just gone. Claire even goes so far as to sing about it! If this isn’t the worst first date ever, I’d love to know what could beat it.


So that’s it little Seers! The first five episodes of CLAIREvoyant are up and we couldn’t be loving it any more than we already do! Negovanlis and Briggs have an instant comedic masterpiece on their hands and we cannot wait for more!

More episodes will be posted next Wednesday, May 23rd, so keep your eyes peeled to KindaTV for those and make sure to stop on by to our social media for our review!

See you next week cosmonauts!


UPDATE: To read our Queer Review on Episodes 6 through 14, click here now!

#ReleaseTheKiss: Lez Hang Out Podcast Calls On Universal Pictures to Stop Queerbaiting Bechloe Fans

Last Monday, the ladies over at Lez Hang Out, released their sixth installment of their “Should’ve Been Gay” podcast segment, highlighting the subtexted lesbian relationship of Bechloe in the Pitch Perfect trilogy. Now, this lesbian podcast is leading the charge in calling on Universal Pictures to “#ReleaseTheKiss” in one final plea to make Bechloe a canon relationship and end queerbaiting the LGBTQ+ community for promotional purposes.

“Bechloe” refers to the non-canon queer relationship between two seemingly straight characters, Beca (portrayed by Anna Kendrick) and Chloe (portrayed by Brittany Snow). From the moment Chloe corners Beca in the shower to sing “Titanium” all soapy and naked in the first Pitch Perfect film, the Bechloe ship set sail. Fans have long been awaiting the day to see the two of them get together, as both romantic and sexual tension grew between the characters in the first two films of the series.

As Pitch Perfect 3 grew near, Bechloe fans found hope, when official social media accounts for both the movie and the Studio behind the film franchise, Universal Pictures (and it’s international branches), began to outwardly and purposely acknowledge this ship. They baited the queer community with gifs and clips with some serious gay feels and purposely asked “Will they or won’t they?”


“The Studio didn’t want to put it in the finished movie.”

 

Now when the third and final movie hit theaters in late December, the queer community was not surprised that the big Bechloe moment that they were subtly promised was nowhere to be seen. In fact, quite the opposite occurred. Chloe’s character finally got a love interest, in the form of a hetero-stereotypical, masculine military man.

 

(The gif on the left is the original posted to Pitch Perfect’s Snapchat. The gif on the right is a fan edit, reversing the original gif, but still displays Pitch Perfect’s Snapchat Sponsor Ad, which we thought was important to prove our point!)

What was surprising, however, is that in late November, Rebel Wilson told fans that a Bechloe kiss was in fact filmed on the last day of shooting Pitch Perfect 3. Wilson plays the character of Fat Amy in all three Pitch Perfect films.

“The Studio didn’t want to put it in the finished movie,” Wilson is heard saying in the video below. She goes on to say that she hopes the kiss scene ends up on the DVD (presumably in the Bonus Features).

So fans waited until the movie was finally released on DVD on March 20th, with one final shred of hope for Bechloe to become canon. But once again, the Studio crushed the queer community by not adding the now infamous kiss to the bonus content.

The timing of Lez Hang Out‘s release of this particular episode was perfect, seeing as the DVD was released less than a week prior. A special surprise awaited listeners when one of the “Barden Bella’s,” Shelley Regner who played Ashley throughout the Pitch Perfect trilogy, joined hosts Leigh Holmes Foster and Ellie Brigida to discuss why these films “Should’ve Been Gay.”

Regner confirmed once again, that a Bechloe kiss did in fact exist on film and that Rebel Wilson is a huge Bechloe fan. “It is very true. It is a real thing and we actually really wanted it to be in the movie!” Regner explained.

“We [the cast] were all anxiously waiting for the final scene, when everyone goes off to their prospective lovers. There was an outtake, and we were hoping it wouldn’t be an outtake… there were really fingers crossed,” Regner continued. When Regner and Lez Hang Out recorded this episode, the DVD of Pitch Perfect 3 had not yet been released, and she echoed Wilson’s hope that the Bechloe kiss would be added as bonus material.

“It’s pretty steamy, I’m not gonna lie,” Regner teased. She went on to explain to the ladies of Lez Hang Out that the kiss was filmed on the last day of shooting, as the majority of the cast had already wrapped filming. As they waited for Kendrick and Snow to finish up, the remaining cast received a simultaneous text message of a video of them filming the Bechloe kiss scene. The cast was shocked and excited, just as all fans would be.

Holmes Foster asked Regner about the backlash Pitch Perfect 3 received after not making the relationship between the characters a reality, despite all the teasing and alluding that was given to Bechloe becoming canon during the promoting of the film.

“They did use a lot of that material for the promotional, which would allude to you thinking that maybe this is the film where they kind of [go there],” Regner acknowledged. “So I totally understand a bit of the backlash, and the let down. That’s what the trailer and a teaser are for, to kind of show you what to expect.”

Regner goes on to joke that maybe the world just simply isn’t ready for Bechloe to be canon and to see it in mainstream media, but she does acknowledge that things are getting better. And it is true. We are seeing more and more queer relationships on TV and movies. But it’s not enough. GLAAD reports that in the current TV 2017-2018 season, only 6.5% of regular characters identify as LGBTQ, which is up from last year’s 4.8%, but this is still no where near accurately representing the queer population.

Unfortunately, queerbaiting is still very much a problem in the media and what Universal Pictures did while promoting Pitch Perfect 3 is a perfect example of this.

We asked the ladies behind the #ReleaseTheKiss campaign, if they believed it was Universal Pictures’ intent all along to queerbait the LGBTQ+ community, by using the Bechloe ship for campaign purposes without ever having any intent of giving fans what they wanted.

“It’s hard to say what their intent was because we weren’t there when they were making these decisions, but from the promotional materials it seemed like they were using Bechloe to get people to come see the movie and the message is clear from the actual film and bonus material that they didn’t want to ever fully go there. I do think there is unfortunately far more pressure on studios to be “inclusive” but not “too inclusive” and for them one lesbian character was enough to fill their diversity quota and three queer women were two too many,” Brigida said.

Holmes Foster continued, “As far as the marketing goes, I’d like to believe that a lot of studios and networks don’t really understand what queerbaiting is and how hurtful it is to communities.”

The “one lesbian character” referenced by Brigida is the character Cynthia Rose, played by Ester Dean. Cynthia Rose is an out lesbian, who borders on predatorial, further perpetuating the “Predatory Gay” stereotype (but that’s a story for another time). It should be noted, however, that a lesbian wedding is referenced for Cynthia Rose, but once again, Universal Pictures missed the opportunity to show positive queer representation on screen by cutting this scene from the script of the third film.

Now, Bechloe is certainly not the first non-canon queer ship in mainstream media that fans have latched onto, that studios have used to bait audiences. So why then is the #ReleaseTheKiss so important?

Holmes Foster explained, “I think that when studios mishandle events like this and are clearly still afraid to put content out there if it’s in any way queer, it really creates a narrative where that content is “shameful” or “inappropriate” in some way. Why hide it otherwise?”

Brigida agreed, adding “I remember feeling like being gay was something to hide because of the way that people in my community talked about people who everyone knew were gay. My aunt and her girlfriend were “roommates” or “gal pals.” I think it’s especially important for younger audiences to see that a lesbian kiss scene isn’t something to hide from your audience, but to embrace and share with an audience who so desperately want to see themselves represented.”

Queer Quality agrees with the Lez Hang Out ladies and fully support their #ReleaseTheKiss campaign, urging Universal Pictures to give the fans what they deserve and to stop queerbaiting the LGBTQ+ community.

You can join the #ReleaseTheKiss campaign in several ways.

First, click the link above to head to Lez Hang Out‘s Twitter page, where you can like and retweet the Bechloe image, using the hashtag “#ReleaseTheKiss.” The more people who do this, the more likely Universal Pictures will respond.

Secondly, if you want to rock some cool gear and help spread the message of this campaign, head over to Lez Hang Out‘s Merch Store where you can buy a “#ReleaseTheKiss” T-shirt, mug, stickers and so much more! 20% of all proceeds for these items will be donated to LGBT Fans Deserve Better, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving LGBT representation in media (much like Queer Quality).

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And lastly, tell your friends and family to do the same! It is so important to remember that you do not need to be queer to support queer representation.

Lez Hang Out and Queer Quality will both be heading to ClexaCon this week, where we will continue to discuss the importance of LGBTQ+ positive representation in the media.

It is a tiresome road that those who advocate for change must travel. What comes next for the queer community is dependent upon those who are willing to stand up to the people in power and demand safe and friendly representation. The “Bury Your Gays” trope and queerbaiting for an audience must end. #ReleaseTheKiss is a step in the right direction and we applaud and join the Lez Hang Out podcast in their efforts to bring quality queer representation to the forefront of mainstream media.

You can check out the Lez Hang Out podcast on iTunes and LezHangOutPod.com.

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