More Like The…GAY Gatsby

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Two bros, sittin’ in a yellow car, five feet apart ’cause they’re not gay!

Pretty much every American high school graduate has read The Great Gatsby…or least seen the film adaptation starring Leo DiCaprio. It’s a really short novel, only nine chapters, and it’s one of my favorite books ever. Mainly because…it’s really gay.

Damn, Catie, at it again with the seeing gay subtext everywhere. How could a novel written in 1925 focusing on a heterosexual romance possibly be gay, you ask me as you roll your eyes in disdain. Well, my close-minded friend, as a queer writer who has aced nearly every English class she’s ever taken, let me educate you.

First of all, the author, F. Scott Fitzgerald, may or may not have been queer himself. His close writer friends were Gertrude Stein, a raging lesbian, and Ernest Hemingway, who several historians suggest might have been bisexual, and also F. Scott allegedly once showed his penis to him? Also his wife suspected they might be having an affair, but then again, she was mentally ill, so it might have just been paranoia.

I’m not claiming that any of this is solid proof that F. Scott was less than heterosexual, but he did have at least one queer friend, and queer people do tend to flock together. Plus F. Scott was notably prim in his appearance and femininely beautiful, and was admittedly the “woman” in his marriage to Zelda Fitzgerald–not that straight men can’t also dress impeccably and have soft features and be submissive to their female partners. But you know, if it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, and hangs out with other ducks…there’s a good chance it’s a duck.

Also, it’s worth mentioning that Truman Capote wanted to adapt the novel into a movie—in Capote’s version, the main character, Nick Carraway was supposed to be homosexual and Jordan Baker was a lesbian. For some reason, his screenplay was canned.

But now, onto the book itself. First of all, I propose that Nick Carraway, even though he did have a girlfriend briefly, is gay and infatuated with Gatsby. On the very second page of the book, Carraway describes Gatsby as gorgeous (although he’s actually applying that to his spirit rather than his actual physical appearance, but it still counts in my book). Then at the end of the second chapter of the book, a photographer named Mr. McKee invites a somewhat drunk Carraway out for lunch sometime and takes him back to his apartment to look at some photos he’d taken. And for some reason, it’s in McKee’s bedroom, while McKee is sitting in bed in his underwear.

“…I was standing beside his bed and he was sitting up between the sheets, clad in his underwear, with a great portfolio in his hands.”

I’m not saying they hooked up…but they hooked up.

When Carraway finally meets Gatsby face to face, Gatsby invites him out for a ride in his hydroplane. Jordan Baker then asks Carraway if he’s “having a gay time now”. That is actually the words she uses. And Nick replies, “Much better.” I know she means gay as in “fun”, but it’s still sniggle-worthy.

Then, when Carraway finally realizes that he’s actually talking to Gatsby, this is how he chooses to describe him:

“He smiled understandingly–much more than understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced–or seemed to face–the whole external world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor. It understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself, and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey.”

TL;DR, Gatsby’s smile makes Carraway feel like the only girl in the world.

After that, Carraway immediately starts grilling Jordan for details about Gatsby, like a twitterpated teenager trying to get the lowdown on their crush. It’s adorable.

When the party is winding down for the evening, Gatsby and Carraway say goodbye to each other like, six times. No, you hang up. No, you hang up! No, you! You!

In the following weeks, Gatsby takes Carraway out on dates outings and seems really eager for Carraway to like him. “Look here, old sport,” he asks him one day, “what’s your opinion of me, anyway?” Then he shows off his medals of honor he earned in the army. What sucks is that in truth, Gatsby is really trying to get in Carraway’s good graces because he’s trying to use him as an in with Daisy Buchanan, Carraway’s cousin and Gatsby’s old flame. But if you think about it, does Gatsby really need Carraway to win Daisy back? He’s already conspiring with Jordan, who is Daisy’s bestie. He doesn’t really need Carraway to have an excuse to see her again. I think he just really likes hanging out with Nick, to be totally honest.

Also, a funny thing happens later on: Gatsby invites Carraway out for lunch and Carraway meets Gatsby’s business associate, Meyer Wolfsheim. Gatsby leaves momentarily and Wolfsheim says to Carraway that when he first met Gatsby, he “said to [himself]: ‘There’s the kind of man you’d like to take home and introduce to your mother and your sister.'”

Are you trying to set them up together or something, Wolfie?

One day, while Nick is wandering around Gatsby’s mansion, he spots of a photo of a man who Gatsby says is Dan Cody, an older man who was once his “best friend”. Later on, it’s revealed that Dan Cody met Gatsby and was impressed by him, so he took him under his wing and brought along on a sailing expedition, grooming him in the ways of the upper class and buying him a fancy wardrobe. He even left Gatsby twenty five grand when he died (although Cody’s mistress ended up usurping it from him).

That’s right–Jay Gatsby had a sugar daddy.

Anyway, blah blah blah, stuff happens, kiss kiss, bang bang. Then comes the last time Carraway sees Gatsby alive. He’s reluctant to leave him alone because Gatsby’s heartbroken about Daisy, but he has to go to work. But before he leaves, Carraway calls to him, “They’re a rotten crowd–you’re worth the whole damn bunch put together.”

See, because that’s the thing about Carraway: he idealizes Gatsby in the same way that Gatsby idealizes Daisy. Gatsby disowned his parents because he was ashamed of them because they were poor, ran an illegal alcohol business, and tried to seduce a married woman–and he was willing to manipulate Nick to do it. But Carraway never cared about any of that. Until the very bitter end, Carraway still believed in Gatsby and adored him. And when Gatsby was killed, Nick was the only one who stayed with him. He tried to salvage Gatsby’s reputation because he knew that Gatsby was not a killer and that he never slept with Myrtle Wilson. He tried to arrange a funeral for him when no one else would. He was the only one who cared. “Me and Gatsby, against them all.

Oh God, now I’m sad again. ~TRL

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“Wynonna Earp” Is Everything “Once Upon A Time” Should Have Been

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**Spoilers ahoy.**

Our main character is a badass woman in a leather jacket, with past childhood trauma and a history of institutionalization. She is forced to travel to a small town that contains clues about her origins – apparently, one of her ancestors (or two) were legends. She teams up with a man in law enforcement. Her greatest wish is reconnect with her family. She’s the chosen one who has to save the tiny town she and her loved ones live in by fighting supernatural forces.

I used to love the TV show Once Upon A Time. Emma Swan was everything I wanted in a strong female character. But ever since…ohhhh, around season 3, the show’s been on a downhill tumble. It got so pathetic that I straight up quit watching after a while. There comes a time when you realize a show isn’t going through a bad spell–it’s just not good anymore.

Wynonna Earp, like OUAT, is about a woman who is the descendant of a famous hero. The show is based on the mythos of Wyatt Earp and the gunfight at the O.K. Corral. Wynonna is a complex anti-hero who teams up with her sister and other characters to protect her town and break her family’s curse. I’ve watched the first season and man, is it good. But I can’t ignore the more than passing similarities to the fairytale show I used to enjoy.

What Once Upon A Time Did Wrong

When OUAT began, it promised a show about strong women, family, and the power of true love. The main story was about Emma and her strained relationship with her son, her journey to believing in fairy tales–and herself, and Regina Mills’s attempt at redemption for the sake of her beloved son and her struggle with her dark side.

But all these fresh new ideas were shunted to focus on the toxic guyliner-wearing fuckhead Captain Hook, who from his first appearance made an impression as a disgusting slimeball who comes off as a bit rapey. And Emma gives up all her strength and agency when she bewilderingly falls in love with this festering pile of leather. Regina, Henry, Snow and Charming–they were all forgotten, painted into the background as a backdrop for the dais worshipping the all wonderful King Hook and his abusive relationship with Emma.

And this is to say nothing of how the show has completely exhausted its vault of ideas, despite having the entire Disney pantheon at its disposal, or that only one (1) of the main cast is a POC, and that the LGBT community only got one (1), rushed, undeveloped arc shoved into one (1) single episode.

TL;DR: Terrible character development, stale plot arc, practically no representation for anyone who isn’t white and straight.

What Wynonna Earp Did Right

Wynonna is a well developed character, clever, strong, and flawed. Her relationship to her sister outshines either of the relationships she has with her two love interests. The cast is significantly more racially diverse than that OUAT, and the lesbian relationship between Waverly and Nicole easily gets as much attention as Wynnona and Dolls or Wynonna and Doc.

(Doc Holliday being an immortal sassmouth is probably the coolest thing about this show, to be totally honest.)

Also, Doc and Dolls are both great guys, complex in their own right and vastly different from each other but still utterly lovable, and they both adore and respect Wynonna. And her character isn’t sacrificed for the sake of her relationship with either of them. A female character who isn’t defined by her relationships with men! So refreshing.

I have strong hopes for Wynonna Earp. I just hope I won’t be disappointed again. ~TRL

10/1/2017

Last weekend, I had this huge fight with my mother again. It was over the usual stuff: politics. She’s waaaaay more Conservative than I am, and no matter how much we try to avoid talking about that stuff, it always comes to verbal blows. Anyway, it’s never pleasant fighting with her, but we always manage to make nice. But last week…she said something that I haven’t been able to let just roll off my back.

She told me that she didn’t want to see me anymore.

If you’ve ever had a parent, or a child, tell you that they don’t want to see you again, you know how much that hurts. If you haven’t, well…it hurts a lot. Because friendships, romantic relationships, they come and go. But the bond between parent and child…that’s just something you can’t break that easily. It’s an indelible part of you. Your parent is supposed to be the one that always, always loves you, no matter what, and when they throw you away…the pain is indescribable.

I love my mom, even though I don’t always agree with her. And I would never say anything like that to her, no matter how angry I got with her.

I don’t think I’ve ever been hurt like this before. Not when my first dog died, not when my father died, not when my first love dumped me…nothing.

I know it seems like not that big a deal because people sometimes say things when they’re angry that they don’t mean, but it just hurt me so bad. And my mom’s always been my emotional support. But when I’m not even speaking to my emotional support…I just feel so alone.

Yeah, so I’m not speaking to my mother right now, really. She just stopped by to drop off some stuff and it was…harsh. I even had to miss my nephew’s fourth birthday party just to avoid her.

It just…it really hurts. And I wish I could just forget about it, but I don’t know if I can. ~TRL

A Really Great Show With A Really WEIRD Premise

Don’t worry, they’re the nice kind of Nazis!

Imagine you walk into a studio executive’s office today and said, “Hey. I’ve got a great idea for a television show. It’s a sitcom…set in a prisoner-of-war camp in Nazi Germany.” They’d probably tell you to get out of their office. Well, in 1965, you might have had a better chance of someone taking your pitch seriously.

Hogan’s Heroes ran on CBS from September of 1965 to March of 1971, for six seasons and 168 episodes. Let me put that into perspective: that’s more episodes than Game Of Thrones (67, currently), the original series of Star Trek (79), LOST (121), and the same amount of episodes as The Mary Tyler Moore Show. That’s a LOT of f**king episodes!

(Let me clarify something quickly: when soldiers are captured in war, sometimes instead of being killed, they’re put into these prisoner-of-war camps. It’s like jail. It’s not the same as a concentration camp or a death camp. Honestly, Hogan’s Heroes doesn’t even really have to do with the Holocaust. So it’s not making light of genocide or anything. Don’t get mad.)

What it does make light of, however, is the Nazis themselves. Pretty much every German soldier in the story suffers from such incapacitating stupidity that it makes you wonder how the Allies didn’t win the war a lot sooner.

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“Gentlemen, the war effort is depending on this group of lovable rag-tag idiots.”

The heroes of the story (ha ha), are five prisoners of war who are imprisoned at German POW camp Stalag 13. Their leader is American Colonel Robert Hogan, played by Bob Crane. Hogan is basically the love child of Captain Kirk and Tony Stark–he’s dashing, quippy, ingenious, sneaky, and quite the ladies’ man.

His cohorts are Sergeant Andrew Carter, Corporal Louis LeBeau, Corporal Peter Newkirk, and Sergeant James Kinchloe. Carter is the Chekov of the group (because he’s the baby). His character can basically be described as “dumb blonde explosives expert bordering on mad scientist”. (He’s a little too eager to blow stuff up, you know?) He’s also scary good at impersonating Hitler, so much so that it’s a running gag in the show, and he actually dresses up and poses as Hitler in an episode–and the Germans fall for it! They really believe he’s Hitler! I told you–the Nazis are f**king idiots in this show.

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What? You thought I was kidding?

Then, there’s LeBeau, who is the token French character: he wears a beret, he’s the group chef, he’s short, he’s scrappy, he’s a snob about food and wine and art, and he turns into Pepe le Pew when he’s around women. But, he’s adorable. Newkirk is English and is played by the immortal Richard Dawson, and he’s a magician, safecracker, and pickpocket. And finally, Kinchloe is the radio technician and expert in other communications and electronics. It’s understated in the show, but he’s also second-in-command, which is kind of a big deal, since this show is from the 1960s and Kinch is a black man. So, yay, racial progressiveness! (Seriously, between Kinch and Star Trek, the CBS is on fire in the ’60s with positive race representation.)

Okay, why is this show so damn funny? Well, the premise of the show is that despite the fact that they’re imprisoned, these five men are secretly running an Underground Railroad out of their camp to help other prisoners of war escape Germany, and just aid the war effort in general. And it’s right under the Nazis’ noses–they don’t suspect a thing.

I’m the biggest threat on this show. No, seriously. Me. The captain of The Love Boat.

The two main German characters in the show are the man who runs Stalag 13, Commandant Wilhelm Klink, and the ranking German staff officer, Sergeant Hans Schultz, and both are complete idiots. Colonel Klink is such an overconfident, neurotic loon that he proudly believes that no one has ever escaped from his camp. It’s part of why it’s so easy for Hogan and the boys to carry on their business. The Heroes have a series of intricate tunnels underneath the camp, where they have a ham radio station, a mint for printing up counterfeit German marks, a tailor shop where they make German uniforms and civvies to help the escapees disguised themselves…even a barbershop.

…like I said, it’s a really ridiculous show!

“Where the f**k are my pecan pinwheels?!”

Sergeant Schultz is a big coward. He more or less knows everything that’s going on, but he’s so afraid of being shipped off to the Russian front fighting lines, that he just turns a blind eye to everything Hogan and his team are doing. His catchphrase is, “I see/hear/know nothing, nothing!” So if you’ve ever heard anyone say that…that’s where it’s from.

I think the reason this show worked so well in the ’60s is because the war was long over, and even though its effect shook the lives of many individuals, it must have been a comfort to some to watch a show about five funny, inventive guys just taking the piss out of the Nazis. It may seem insensitive to make light of such a horrible event in history, but like M*A*S*H*, Hogan’s Heroes maybe gives WWII a more positive outlook. It’s by no means a deep show, but when I think of Hogan’s Heroes, I take away this message: even when you’re in an impossible situation, you’re not helpless. And people who hate are stupid, and inevitably, good will win out over evil. And when things look dark, you can still find things to laugh about, because laughter is our biggest weapon against despair. That’s what Hogan’s Heroes means to me.

So if you ever get the chance, go watch the show; it’s on some of those classic TV channels (TV Land, MeTV, etc.). The characters are endearing, the antics are hysterical–it’s worth the time, I promise. ~TRL

Kingsman: The Slash Service???

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If you’re like me, you’re getting pumped for the upcoming sequel to the incredible Kingsmen: The Secret Service. I will watch most anything if it has Colin Firth in it, but thanks to Kingsmen, I have added a new British hottie to my ever-growing list: Taron Egerton.

Like any fandom, the Kingsmen franchise has its community on Tumblr. When I dared to venture outside my cozy world of Star Trek, Supernatural, Hannibal, and Buffy The Vampire Slayer, all of which have big time OTPs for me (Kirk/Spock, Dean/Castiel, Hannibal/Will, and Buffy/Angel, respectively), I was surprised (although I probably shouldn’t have been) to find out that Kingsmen also had a dominant pairing.

I personally hadn’t found Kingsmen to be a pairing oriented movie. Yeah, there’s the last scene where Eggsy has anal sex with the princess, but that was pretty much the extent of any “romantic” content in the movie. There is a girl in the movie, a fellow trainee for the Kingsmen who befriends Eggsy, but there’s no hint of romance to their relationship.

But the main relationship of the movie is between Eggsy Unwin and his Kingsmen mentor, Harry Hart, aka Galahad. Eggsy, as a baby, lost his father early in the movie (his father was also training to be a Kingsman and was also being mentored by Harry, but he sacrificed himself by throwing himself on a live grenade to save his fellow agents), so when I watched the movie, I was under the impression that Harry was supposed be a surrogate paternal figure for Eggsy. But some people saw their relationship from another perspective.

Hartwin: the portmanteau name for the romantic or/and sexual relationship between Eggsy Unwin and Harry Hart

While I don’t ship Harry and Eggsy in the slash sense, I’m not against people supporting this pairing. It’s a little squick-ish for me, since I see this as an adopted father-son relationship, but there’s nothing abusive or unhealthy about it. Harry and Eggsy do genuinely love and care about each other. Some people who have an issue with age gaps in their pairings will probably not ship Hartwin (at the time of this publication, Colin Firth is 56 and Taron Egerton is 27 – that’s almost three decades between them, and I’m pretty sure Eggsy is actually 19 in the film). I say that pairings with wide age gaps always have other factors to be taken into consideration.

The phrase “age is but a number” should always come with a grain of salt. For example, an adult with a child or young adolescent is never okay. But notice above that I listed Buffy/Angel as one of my OTPs. This is a ship between a 16-18 year old high school girl and a 250 year old vampire – if this is ringing familiar of Twilight, well, I don’t blame you.

But there’s significant distinctions between Buffy Summers and Angel, and Bella Swan and Edward Cullen. First of all…Buffy and Angel aren’t complete idiots. Second of all, there’s no creepy, pathetic codependency between them. Buffy is strong with or without a boyfriend, and Angel doesn’t insist on keeping tabs on her 24/7 or try to control her life. And third, and most pertinent to this discussion, Buffy is a mature young woman who can handle an adult relationship. Bella is a frivolous airhead whom Edward constantly infantilizes.

So even though there’s a wide age gap between Harry and Eggsy, and I still stand by my opinion that it’s a pseudo father-son relationship, it’s still a relationship between two adults. Yes, Eggsy can act like a dumb kid sometimes, but underneath that rough, chav exterior, Eggsy shows intelligence and maturity. Harry facilitates him in achieving his destiny as a kickass secret agent. It’s not so much of a “coming of age” story. It’s more like a “you’re an adult, time to start acting like it” story.

Eggsy and Harry kind of remind me of Buffy and Giles. I always believed that Buffy never really needed a Watcher, but she did need Giles. Buffy’s dad didn’t die, but he was an absentee father, so Buffy needed a fill-in for that role in her life, and Giles was the person to do it. It’s the same way with Eggsy and Harry.

So Hartwin isn’t really my cup of tea. I only ship it in the friend or familial sense, but, I wouldn’t condemn anyone for shipping them romantically. With two such attractive men with great chemistry as Colin and Taron, it’s only natural that people might see potential there. I always say, as long as it’s not advocating abuse, incest, pedophilia, or total codependency, ship and let ship.

Kingsmen: The Golden Circle premieres in theaters in the U.S. on September 22, 2017! ~TRL

New Beginnings

Today was my first day at my new university…and man, was I trepidacious.

Uprooting yourself from what you’re acclimatized to is always a traumatic experience. I had to leave my school, my teachers, my apartment, and my friends all back in Waco. A new start. And this time, I didn’t really want one.

However…it hasn’t been the awful experience I was dreading.

My apartment is nice. Bigger bedroom, bigger closet, my own bathroom! Bliss, thy name is privacy. Also, no more crummy bitch monsters as roommates. The three girls I’m living with now are nice, considerate, and friendly. They actually invite me to do things with them! The other day we all went to a comedy show at our school together, and yesterday we went to one of those Paint-A-Plate places and got froyo afterward, then went for a late night swim. This is what the college experience is supposed to be, not hiding in your bedroom watching Netflix because your roommates hate you.

So, the first day. First of all, my new campus is sprawling compared to my old one. As I mapped out my schedule, I realized with some despondency that I had quite the daily trudge ahead of me.

My first class was Writing For Mass Media. I…don’t really have an impression of it yet. The teacher just introduced herself, told us which book to buy, that was pretty much it. I guess we’ll see.

After that, I had History of Costume, and on my way there I made two interesting discoveries: tomorrow night, there’s a “lavender mixer” for LGBT+ students. Shoot, you know I’m going to that! Where my people at? But what am I going to wear?

The other discovery was…Brian! An old friend of mine from high school. Brian was one of the few theatre kids who wasn’t a total asshat. (His name isn’t actually Brian, but I changed it to protect his identity.) Seeing Brian, to me, was a good omen that maybe, everything here would be okay.

When I signed up for History of Costume, I thought I was signing up for an easy A – boy, was I ever wrong. The teacher walked in and immediately referred to herself as Satan. Never a good sign. I also found out that I have to write a 10 page term paper on costumes from a historic movie. Oh well. I do like a challenge. And after writing a goddamn 26 page paper on trans bathroom rights issues for US Government this past spring, this is gonna be no sweat.

My last class today was Intro To Visual Arts (it’s just for a credit). This one was on the completely opposite corner of campus. I only had five minutes to get there. Needless to say, I was a little late. But the teacher is cool, and I explained my situation, and she said it was fine if I came in a few minutes after class started, that lots of students had that problem. God, college professors are such angels.

So the verdict for this day?…surprisingly okay. I’m definitely gonna have to get myself in shape for all this hiking I have to do (and maybe invest in a good pair of walking shoes), but overall, I had a pretty damn good first day.

They say girls go to college to get more knowledge. Well I’ve been in college long enough to know that the first day is always the easiest – it’s all uphill from here.

Oh well. At least my last class is next to a Taco Bell. Olé. ~TRL 🌮

Review: “Elena Undone”

I am a queer person, and I use the word queer as an umbrella term for for non-heterosexual/non-cisgender people. If you dislike the term "queer", you may not want to read this post.

Finding movies with LGBT+ characters is difficult. Finding movies that focus on LGBT+ people is even harder. Finding movies on LGBT+ people that isn't about AIDS or social condemnation or being rejected by family or any of the other depressing tropes that seem to come with queer narratives is damn near impossible. Most queer stories end unhappily, like Blue Is The Warmest Color, and most of the time in horrible tragedy, like Brokeback Mountain.

But as I was perusing the gay side of Netflix one day, I chanced upon a movie called Elena Undone, a lesbian romance between a pastor's wife and a free-spirited writer. It sounded like a cookie cutter lesbian romance (shy, innocent straight woman falls for mysterious, seductive lesbian and cheats on her neglectful husband with her), but I was bored, so I thought "what the hell" and hit play…and I was pleasantly surprised. Yes, as I predicted, it pretty much follows the standard formula for lesbian romance films, but I still enjoyed the movie. In this instance, the plot felt less like a tired old tread and more like a cozy blanket to wrap myself up in. Warm, soft, and familiar.

It's an indie film, and its format is unusual. Tyler, a mutual friend of Elena (the pastor's wife) and Peyton (the writer) narrates the film through his sparse cut scenes. Tyler is a "love guru" and believes in the idea of soulmates. Elena and Peyton's actual story is interwoven with clips from Tyler's informative video about finding one's soulmate, and therefore serves as a narrator of sorts for the evolving romance between the two women. It's an interesting idea, and works surprisingly well.

And then of course there's the electric chemistry between the two female leads. Both actresses exude affection, intimacy, and desire when they're onscreen together. Their making out/love-making scenes are luxurious and pulsing with heat. I haven't seen two lead characters with such a magnetic attraction since…well, since I watched the third season of Hannibal.

But the best part is, the women get a happy ending. They have their issues, as real people in real relationships do, but in the end, they find each other again and realize that they were meant to be together. It's a poignant yet simple ending.

The movie isn't perfect (the pastor character and the homophobic church member are a little flat), but it's a movie I'd gladly watch again. I'm a romantic at heart, and I've always loved the idea of soulmates, so I was glad to have found a real movie about two women were perfectly made for each other. If you can get past the dumb title, I recommend this film as an effective feel good story for when you're blue.

Oh, and for all you Supernatural fans out there, Peyton is played by Traci Dinwiddie, who was Pamela Barnes, the psychic who had her eyes burned out from trying to see Castiel. ~TRL