Politics Queer TV


The year 2018 can be best described by the opening voiceover to Mad Max: Fury Road: “As the world fell, each of us in our own way was broken. It was hard to know who was more crazy: me, or everyone else.”

The panic of 2017 has given way to a far more insidious exhaustion, as our brains are death-marched through a never-ending news cycle that (it bears mentioning and re-mentioning) asks human beings to absorb an amount of information unprecedented in the history of our species. In times like this, we must grasp at every thread that tethers us to sanity, and for me, those things are: my dog, my girlfriend, trees, and Rachel Maddow.

I’ve never been much of a cable news watcher; I prefer to mainline my information via the written word, but I make an exception for The Rachel Maddow Show, which I have taken to watching religiously each morning. Rachel (I’m going to be calling her “Rachel”) owes her special status, in part, to the fact that I don’t really go to her for news, but for a sense of calm and control which I absorb directly from her blazers (of which, I believe, there are five).

Rachel conveys delight in the news, which makes it feel less terrifying. Following her down the meandering trails of her monologues lets one feel, at least for a moment, that one is a hunter of the day’s events, rather than their helpless prey. Even if this world comes to an abrupt and fiery end, I believe I could turn on Rachel Maddow while the bombs whistled down around me, and listen to her explain how this relates to something that happened during the first Bush Administration, and be soothed.

As a gay woman, it’s also oddly reassuring to know that the rest of America has made TRMS America’s most-watched cable news show. If this country can sit down to let a dorky lesbian explain things for an hour at a time, maybe there is some hope.

This week has been a particularly rewarding time for Maddow watching, because it has seen her both at her most wonkish and her most charmingly baffled, often within the course of a single segment. Take, for example, the case of Karen McDougal, the former Playboy bunny who alleges that she went through the typical Trump affair life cycle of uninspired intercourse followed by a botched nondisclosure agreement. Previously, I had only ever thought of Karen McDougal as “not Stormy Daniels,” but Rachel explained that McDougal’s case was actually a great deal more legally substantive and potentially damning for the president, teasing apart layers of nuance barely touched upon in other reporting. This thorough and elucidating explanation was then followed by an interview with Karen McDougal’s lawyer, who settled her case out of court under circumstances that are either deeply suspicious or staggeringly incompetent. After interviewing him, Rachel and I are both leaning towards the latter, especially one he mentioned, apropos of nothing at all, that he majored in music.

The guy was–and you will never convince me otherwise–the same man who represented Liz Lemon in season four of 30 Rock.

It was very disappointing and made me long for Stormy Daniels’ lawyer, who seems like the actor who plays a lawyer in a porno, which I don’t even mean as a slight: he is very strong and forceful.

The actual point here is this: do you see how easily we have grown accustomed to comparing the lawyers representing the two women currently suing the president? It scarcely feels strange any more. At some point during the voyage of this administration, the stars turned upside down and the compasses stopped working, save one: Rachel Maddow’s incredulous face.

And yes, I know that Rachel Maddow is a cleverly packaged product as much as anything else, like a granola bar you tell yourself you’re eating for the protein even though it’s definitely for the chocolate. I know her politics are much farther toward the center than mine. I also know that her program is guilty of ignoring stories that don’t fit with their narrative in favor of telling me what I want to hear. But given that the rest of the world seems to be single-mindedly dedicating itself to telling me what I don’t want to hear, I will accept this small mercy with gratitude.

Because we’re beyond the Thunderdome here, people. Our brains have wandered through the desert for as long as can be borne, and now it’s time to raise up the mighty from among us and construct new religions out of whatever meager solace they can provide. Anyone choosing to stay informed about the world in 2018 can only choose from various forms of madness, and since that’s the choice: make mine Maddow.

Please join us for future installments of Maddow Watch, in which we’ll ask important questions, such as:

-How many blazers does Rachel Maddow own? (It does not seem like a lot.)

-What does the ring on Rachel Maddow’s hand signify?

-What is the appropriate level of gratitude for Rachel Maddow’s guests to evince at the opportunity to appear on her show? (A GREAT DEAL MORE THAN SOME OF THEM ARE EVINCING.)

-What happened to the glasses? (I miss the glasses.)


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