Homecoming Season 2: Janelle Monáe Stars in Lesbian Thriller

Homecoming’s second season is even better than the first. In fact, Homecoming season 2 might just be one of 2020’s television highlights. There’s espionage, a whole lot of drama, a razor-sharp soundtrack, and even a lesbian romance at the heart of it all.

In season one the Geist Emergent Group ran a covert drug trial on soldiers newly returned from war. It was called the Homecoming Project. Veterans were medicated without their knowledge, fed drugs designed to remove traumatic memories. Homecoming claimed the purpose of this treatment was to help soldiers with PTSD adjust to civilian life. In reality, it was to make these men fit for redeployment as quickly as possible – which made Homecoming of great interest to the Pentagon. But the drugs don’t just take the traumatic memories. They steal memories of friendships, jokes, and joyful times too.

When season two opens with a woman (Janelle Monáe) waking up alone on a boat – with no memory of who she is or how she got there – it’s clear that Geist’s drugs are involved. But this is the only certainty.

From the cast of season one, we learned that Homecoming experimented mainly on Black and poor soldiers. They deliberately chose test subjects who would be seen as expendable – people without families to ask questions, or families without the means to take on a corporation. In season two we see what an effective tactic this is.

Almost as soon as she reaches dry land, Monáe’s character is stopped by a police officer. Disoriented and afraid, she’s exactly the person who should be read as vulnerable. Except, of course, Monáe is a Black woman. And brutality is a standard police response to Blackness. Even though Officer Donna decides to help our mystery woman after finding a veteran’s ID in her pocket, that other possibility was painfully present. This isn’t the only threat. When the doctor sees her, a dishevelled Black woman, his first assumption is that she’s on drugs.

Our mystery woman has no choice to flee the hospital before the police come back, in a race against the clock. As she searches for the truth, Janelle Monáe takes us on a journey with more twists and turns, more highs and lows, than any rollercoaster. In typical Homecoming fashion, all is not as it first appears.

This time round, Homecoming tells the story of a lesbian couple. Not just any lesbian couple, but an interracial lesbian power couple! The focus is split between Audrey Temple (Hong Chau), a Geist assistant turned executive, and her partner Alex Eastern, a corporate ‘fixer’ (think of Scandal’s Olivia Pope, but make it gay).

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Watching Temple and Eastman conspire to take down Colin Belfast – a boorish suit and tie of a man who was the main antagonist in season one – is so deeply satisfying that it borders on erotic pleasure. Season two’s power struggles answer many of the questions last year’s finale left us with. And this season has the added bonus of amazing lesbian representation.

Intrigue aside, Audrey and Alex are facing the same struggles as countless other lesbian couples. They’re trying to support one another professionally, thinking about what their future together might look like. As a fixer, Alex is ruthless. But in this relationship, as she listens to and supports Audrey, we see her softer side. It’s never more evident than when Alex talks about the idea of them starting a family together. Her dream of carrying their hypothetical daughter, of using a Vietnamese donor “so she looks just like us,” will be moving for many lesbian viewers.

There’s no denying that Audrey and Alex do terrible things – for themselves, for the companies whose interests they represent, and for each other. But it’s impossible not to root for them. They’re ride or die. Each woman is written with a depth and moral complexity that is still rare in terms of how lesbians of color are shown by the mainstream media. Audrey and Alex are nuanced, highly watchable characters.

What’s more, this is one of those rare occasions when a lesbian character is actually played by an actress who dates women in real life. Monáe – who identifies as pansexual – has previously been linked with Tessa Thompson and Lupita Nyong’o.

Homecoming season 2 is incredible television. It’s well worth watching for the story alone. And lesbian representation is a wonderful bonus. Janelle Monáe is captivating from start to finish.

Homecoming seasons 1 & 2 are now streaming on Amazon Prime.