Julia, episode 5, “Crepes Suzette”

Sarah Lancashire in Julia

Julia, episode 5, “Crepes Suzette” happened to be released during the same week as the finale of Killing Eve. Instead of recapping or reviewing the episode, I’m going to look at some parallels between the two TV shows and their respective casts.

Julia is in San Francisco for an interview on television and a book signing. She runs into her friend James Beard (Christian Clemenson). After the day’s events are over James Beard takes Julia Child to a gay bar where drag queens perform.

We saw Julia get a little uncomfortable in episode 4, when she learned of her influence on a lesbian. She’s not comfortable in this bar, either. There are men on the dance floor kissing and drag queens singing on a stage. She chastises James for bringing her to a place like this.

But James has a surprise. He introduces Julia to Coco Van (Sam Brackley), who is in drag AS JULIA.

Zack Ignoffo and Sarah Lancashire in Julia

Julia is quite amazed by this bit of adoration from a drag queen. She loosens up enough to go on stage and sing “It Had to be You” with Coco Van. She is rewarded with a standing ovation. Later she tells Paul (David Hyde Pierce) that she’s starting to quite like the attention she’s getting.

Like Bette Midler or Barbra Streisand or Dolly Parton, Julia has just run up against the impact that a gay following can have on a career. When the gay team loves you, they are loyal forever.

Sarah Lancashire knows this very well. She played a lesbian in Last Tango in Halifax and now has a loyal and enthusiastic fan base of lesbians who will follow her anywhere.

Treat them right and they are yours forever. Treat them badly and all hell breaks loose.

Let’s talk about the loyalty of the lesbian fan base and the overwhelming importance they attach to the characters and actors who represent them. Treat them right and they are yours forever. Drag queens saw the value in Julia Child immediately. Will she value them in return?

Treat them badly and all hell breaks loose. LGBTQ+ Americans demand respect and equal treatment.

Which brings us to Killing Eve

Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer in Killing Eve

By coincidence, the finale of Killing Eve was released in the same week that episode 5 of Julia was.

In that series, the lesbian character Villanelle (Jodie Comer) was killed minutes after finally connecting with Eve (Sandra Oh), who had been the object of her desire for 4 years.

The uproar over killing Villanelle has been deafening. The fan base still loves Villanelle, but they will never forgive the season 4 showrunner Laura Neal for killing her. Outrage, anger, hurt, and pain spills all over social media.

Which is similar to what happened in Last Tango in Halifax when they killed off Kate (Nina Sosanya). The outrage was real. It was directed at the writer then, just as now.

You’d think in the years since LTIH resorted to #BuryYouGays, writers would have learned something. Some did. But not everyone.

Back to Julia

Sarah Lancashire in Julia

According to the show’s podcast, Julia Child became more liberal about homosexuality and even became an AIDS activist. Good for her. It’s the right thing to do. And, bonus, if you treat your LGBTQ+ fanbase right, they will love you forever.

Julia Child is only beginning to see what it means to her to be loved by an underrepresented and mostly mistreated segment of the population. Sarah Lancashire and Jodie Comer both understand what it means. It will be interesting to see what future episodes of Julia Child’s story make of this affection and love from an enthusiastic fan base. It wasn’t just straight housewives watching “The French Chef.”

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