In 2011, Queer Girl Television Was Almost Awesome

[Disclaimer: I don't discuss Kalinda from The Good Wife in this piece because I've just started watching it on DVD and haven't gotten to any of the queer parts yet.]

Following lesbian characters on television can be super-depressing. This hesitant, cynical and often self-destructive hobby requires one to constantly prepare for the worst, and by “the worst” we mean “sweeps week bisexuals” and “lesbians dying in a fire.” This year, however, things got just a little bit brighter… and then, mere moments from getting exactly what we wanted, these storylines hurled us mercilessly back to third base to pick dandelions, write fan-fiction and create an epilepsy-inducing number of animated gifs. This is where I wish there was a better word than “blue balls” for “blue balls” so I could use it right now.

We shared some special moments this year though, that’s for sure. My socks were shocked right off my tender soft feet when the now “label-free” Tara opened True Blood‘s Fourth Season in bed with another lady. We cried during Pretty Little Liars when Paige came out to Emily and Emily’s Mom grew to love and accept her daughter. On Glee, Santana‘s sudden self-realization mirrored mine almost exactly (only ten years younger than I was) and touched me in a way I thought Glee never could. Callie and Arizona finally tied the knot on Grey’s Anatomy and both wore dresses which sufficiently showcased their significant racks.

For the first 40 minutes or so of Tea‘s storyline on Skins US, she actually seemed real and fleshed-out, like the kids in the original Skins. The Fifth Season of Skins introduced us to pansexual genderqueer Franky, the most innovative queer female character I’ve ever written about, who explains to inquiring friends that she just “likes people.” On Coronation Street, Sophie & Sian kicked off the new year by having sex for the first time, and it was sweet and new and unafraid. Degrassi managed to do a trans story AND a lesbian story right in the very same season, a feat never before accomplished (sorry Ilene, yours sucked).

In March, I noted that “this season we were permitted to dream” and that “this season we felt slightly less like Lesbo Bevis & Butthead or desperate superfans because the little things we picked up on — Mini’s attraction to Franky, Santana and Brittany’s chemistry — actually got fleshed out, even just a little.”

So is it the nature of television and storytelling itself, or of queer women on television specifically, that our dreams were always slightly dashed? That every single one of these storylines found a way to fuck or ignore us in the end? Or are we really just expecting too much to happen too soon? What’s the difference between a cliffhanger and a disappointment? Let’s discuss.

Pretty Little LiarsEmily Fields rocked our expectations from the get-go, bucking tradition by maintaining the gay rather than discarding it, despite the opposite occurring in the books on which the series was based. Double bonus: Pretty Little Liars is a good fucking show.

Now — we’re not out-of-touch with our controversial nature, nobody’s expecting a graphic lip-lock, passionate sex or partial nudity from a lesbian couple. Clearly Emily and Maya prefer rocking back and forth and hugging in a fire-hazardous den of candles to clam-diving, as is so often the wont of lesbians in prime-time.

But when we returned to Rosewood after Season One hiatus, Paige and her Tender Coming Out Story had VANISHED into the ether. A. psychotically fucked Emily’s “relationship” with Samara before we had a chance to notice that Samara had the personality of a paper bag. Then Maya returned… just to be friends! The series’ last several episodes were killer, as far as teevee episodes go, but Emily’s burning loins were sadly sidelined. Meanwhile, Aria/Ezra, Toby/Spencer and Hannah/Caleb practically got their own romance novels.

A similar fate befell Santana and Brittany on Glee and Tara on True BloodAs True Blood’s awesome season wound down, and by “wound down” I mean “exploded with witchcraft, bloodlust and fairie dust,” Tara’s lezzie lovefest receded into the nether-reaches of story-ville while gay couple Lafayette and Jesus took center stage.  The show is undeniably queer and we all have crushes on Pam, and sometimes Lesbian Sex Queen Evan Rachel Wood Bisexuals face the True Death for reasons unrelated to their sexuality. Luckily I don’t watch True Blood for the lesbian action, I watch it ’cause it’s awesome. Oh right, also, Tara might be dead!

Glees Santana Lopez finished Season Two with a fingerbang (not literally, obvs). Her biting sass flourished within her newfound sexuality. She bashed cliche in the face and returned full-fledged lez for Season Three, wherein despite FINALLY hooking up with Brittany S.Pierce and becoming girlfriends, the writers slaughtered her and all of us into angry vadge-radge bits of former human flesh with the abysmal I Kissed a Girl episode. Let’s not even get into Brit-Brit, who’s looked constipated rather than in love for the last several episodes and apparently is adapting notelessly to her new queer identity. The ratio of Brittana Moments to Klaine Moments rests at about 0 : 1567. Straight couples are lip-locking like it’s going out of style, Blaine & Kurt got a “first time sex” episode, and although Santana and Brittany have been sleeping together since Season One, we’ve yet to see them kiss!

Skins US began with an apparently catastrophic disappointment named Tea on a show blasphemously named Skins as it vaguely resembled, insofar as a Beatles Tribute Band resembles The Beatles, the British original. Teahyped as a fantastic raygun of Lesbian Character, was indeed a cool chick with cute outfits/hair/voice. She was confident and often immature, but rarely naive. But then she had sex with a boy, thus igniting the kindling of lesbo-vadge-angry-rage boiling in the vagina of every lesbian on the internet. The show itself was so abysmally unwatchable, however, that it was difficult to know where exactly to start when registering complaints about its varied failures.

tony eyes tea with deep burning loin lust on Skins

Then how about those lesbian weddings, eh? This year Arizona and Callie on Grey’s Anatomy finally tied the knot after many episodes of teeny-tiny snatches of screentime! But Grey’s tasteless decision to intercut the Calizona wedding with the Meredith/McDreamybits “let’s adopt a baby and get married today instead of going to our friends’ gay wedding!” ridiculousness was insulting and lame.

Overseas, our queers fared much better, and although the calamitous wedding between Sophie Webster and Sian Powers was devastating, that devastation wasn’t a result of homo-reluctance. 19-year-old actress Sascha Parkinson, who plays Sian, declined to renew her 2012 contract with Coronation Street, and this is how they god rid of her.

I won’t spoil it for you if you’ve yet to catch up, but honestly I wish Sian had just died in a fire, because what happened instead broke my heart into a million little pieces. Sophie & Sian’s story has been, in my opinion, the most tender, realistic, complicated portrayal of a teenage lesbian relationship on television. AND NOW IT’S OVER.

The fifth season of UK Skins ended in a trippy sex-fantasy field-romp wherein we confirmed that Mini has a big fat lesbian crush on Franky. At some point in this colorful season finale, I believe Mini tried to kill Matty but unfortunately for me and my automatic dislike of brooding-emo-boy-characters who can be as dickish as they want because they have so many FEELINGS, she fails. Minky ‘shippers expecting the finale to thrust Franky into Mini’s arms were disappointed, as the season ended with a cliffhanger in Matty’s favor. When the series returns on January 23rd, it’ll stay that way — apparently no Mini/Franky action is in store, and worse, Franky might be losing her genderqueer style. They’ll also be adding a gay male to the cast.

On Degrassi, Fiona‘s coming out was handled with typical Degrassi Finesse, and her friends’ reaction to the news set a good example for high schoolers everywhere. But her relationship with her first potential love interest, Charlie, ends fairly quickly when Fiona decides she’s just not ready for a relationship because of issues relating to still dealing with her alcoholism. A few episodes later, Charlie has a new girlfriend and Fiona is shipping off for rehab.

So yeah, last season gave us hope, and I think we’ll keep on hoping, and I think things are getting better. But ultimately, one can’t help but wonder if the perpetual lack of lesbian follow-through — all the cheap endings and the sidelined relationships — reflects, at this point, any kind of prejudice so much as it reflects the utter lack of women, let alone queer women, in the writer’s room and on production teams. (This is true for many minorities, of course — as the wise Gabby Rivera once tweeted, “why do the writers at #Glee have to write the most ridiculous storylines for mercedes? have they never met any black girls before? #totsmyass.”Only 15% of the writers of broadcast network television are women and only about ten percent of working television writers are of color. 

Before I go on, I’ll add that I think any good writer, regardless of gender/race/sexual orientation, can write awesome characters of any gender/race/sexual orientation. But when you can’t draw from your own personal experiences, then you’ve gotta either draw from the personal experiences of your friends/peers/family/colleagues or do some research/fieldwork/due-diligence. Unfortunately many TV writers seem to take the lazy way out, which is to base the character on Stereotypes and Tropes.

[Sidenote: Glee did hire a lesbian writer this year, but she seems as woefully misinformed about Brittana's lip-locking past as her male counterparts, so, you know, maybe it's HOPELESS.]

What’s interesting is that there’s a relative abundance of gay men working in Hollywood, which might be why we’ve seen so many fleshed-out gay male characters over the years despite the fact that socially, gay men are no more accepted by the mainstream than gay women are. This year, only 33% of LGBT characters on television are women. Last year it was 30%. Where did all these gay characters come from, I wonder…

Let’s dig a little deeper, shall we?

I think my favorite Gays are David Fisher and Keith from Six Feet Under, created by Alan Ball, a gay man. Alan Ball is also responsible for Lafayette, Jesus and a host of gay and bisexual male vampires on True Blood.

The up-and-coming Kurt Hummel and Blaine Anderson were created by Ryan Murphy, a gay man.

Max Mutchnican, a gay man, co-created and produced the perpetual Emmy Winner Will & Grace, the first sitcom to actually be about a gay man. The Will & Grace production and editing team also included Abraham Higginbotham, a gay man.

Screenwriter Greg Berlanti, a gay man, wrote for Dawson’s Creek, home of gay character Jack McPhee, and was the showrunner for Brothers & Sisters, home of gay character Kevin Walker and his boyfriend Scotty. Brothers & Sisters was created by Jon Robin Baitz, a gay man. Aforementioned Greg Berlanti also wrote Everwood, honored by AfterElton for gay male character Kyle’s excellent coming out scene.

Ugly Betty‘s executive producer/co-showrunner Marco Penette, a gay man, was commended by AfterElton.com in 2007 for the show’s positive portrayal of LGBT issues and its gay male character Marc St. James. In fact, the Colombian telenovela Yo Soy Betty la Fea was adapted into the ABC series Ugly Betty by Silvio Horta, a gay man, who went on to be the head writer and executive producer of Ugly Betty.

Abraham Higginbotham, a gay man, and Oliver Goldstick, a gay man, were also part of Ugly Betty‘s production/writing team. Higginbotham has also worked on Modern Family, a sitcom featuring a gay male couple; and Oliver Goldstick also worked on aforementioned Everwood.

Tony Holland, a gay man, is best known for his work as writer and co-producer of British Soap EastEnders, hailed for its groundbreaking gay male character, gay Syed Masood. Darren Starr, a gay man and a producer/director/writer, created Melrose Place and Sex & The City. Melrose Place, which aired from 1992-1999, broke serious ground with its gay character Matt Fielding. Sex & the City had two major gay male characters. Also involved in Sex & The City was gay writer Michael Patrick King. Michael Patrick King also wrote for Will & Grace.

I could go on, but I won’t, because you’re probably bored. It’s worth pointing out, however, that that’s just what I came up with by checking out the men on Wikipedia’s list of LGBT screenwriters, a list which likely represents about ten percent of what’s actually out there.

It seems like the shows with the most lesbian follow-through tend to be, well, lesbian shows. Ellen Morgan was played by a lesbian actress, Will Truman was played by a straight man. And although Ilene Chaiken is a terrible storyteller in general, her representation of and dedication to so many dynamic lesbian characters on The L Word was (and remains) unprecedented. Finally, we were the majority of a writing/production team, and many fantastic lesbian writers penned L Word episodes, like Cherin Dabis and Angela Robinson.

Regardless, I’m choosing optimism this season. We made a shit-ton of progress last year — the fact that I have so many lesbian characters to write about in the first place is pretty wild to begin with. And hopefully our one million lesbo vadge-angry-rage voices will do something to compensate for any voice we’re lacking inside the writer’s room.

Pretty Little Liars - January 2nd – ABC Family
Glee - January 17th – Fox
Skins – January 23rd – e4

Avatar of Riese

Riese is the 32-year-old CEO, CFO and Editor-in-Chief of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York City, and now lives in The Bay Area. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are!

Riese has written 1734 articles for us.

66 Comments

  1. Thumb up 0

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    Thank you Riese for providing the research and thoughtful analysis I feel I always miss in other places. You always provide me with reasons for the vague, undefined feelings of disgust I get when I watch television.
    I love seeing positive gay male characters on television, but it always feels like their stories are presented as somehow inherently more important than the stories of gay women.
    It makes me want to scream. And I’m glad I am not alone in feeling this way.

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    Brillant article! as always.
    Re: Kalinda in The Good Wife. Don’t hold your breath. Her actions indicate bisexual w/ ulterior motives. I love the character, but not because she makes the most noble decisions about who to be intimate with .

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      Bisexual with ulterior motives is a sexuality now?

      Something about your comment is making me sadface, probably because I think she’s a flawless character. She is both bisexual AND has ulterior motives, because her character isn’t defined by “bisexual” but is, you know … an actual characterisation. I feel like that’s a good thing, not a bad thing. (The bad thing is the bit where I just really want Kalinda/Alicia to happen and it never, ever, ever will, BUT STILL.)

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        I continue to ship Kalinda with Alicia, mainly because I think that Kalinda kinda fell for her a bit, and is rethinking using sex as a tool for gaining information after their falling out. I doubt it will ever actually happen between the two of them, but I like “badass and pining” as a trope, myself. I like it when Kalinda come to Alicia’s rescue. Not that Alicia can’t rescue herself; but I do like a girl in shining armor.

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          I like the way the show leaves it ambiguous as to whether Kalinda is in love with Alicia or just really likes her as a friend – I think Kalinda herself isn’t supposed to be able to understand that and I really love the way they portray that because it’s such a familiar, comprehensible emotion to me, that uncertainty. I love their relationship because even completely platonic it clearly means/meant so much to them in a way that was pretty unusual for Kalinda – I loved that scene last season where Kalinda gives Alicia a change of address card and Alicia’s like, “Um, I didn’t have your old address,” and Kalinda looks almost *shocked*, like she’s just realising how much their relationship has changed and grown and oh my god, shut up, self, but I JUST LOVE THEM SO MUCH OK. FEELINGS.

          Speaking of girls in shining armour, how about that scene last episode where Alicia busts Kalinda out of jail? FEELINGS.

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    I wish there were more adult lesbians on TV. Teens are great, coming out stories are important but Callie, Arizona, Isabel, Cristina and Kalinda are not enough.
    Oh, and when/if Logo decides to renew Exes & Ohs you can add those ladies to the list too.

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    Thank you for summarizing so succinctly why I am frequently disgusted/disappointed with the depiction of queer ladies on TV. I guess since Ilene Chaiken couldn’t write a decent male character, let alone a gay male character, I shouldn’t expect the gay male show runners of some of the shows I watch (Glee, and I believe Skins) to do the lesbians any favors. The lesbians need to stop writing fan fiction and start creating their own scripts. We need more creative lesbians all up in Hollywood’s business.

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    No mention of Lost Girl which makes me a little sad but I figure most American’s haven’t heard of this little queer Canadian show yet. I think Syfy is going to start airing it in the States starting this month. I’d love to hear what the ladies on this site think about Bo/Lauren once they’ve had the chance to see it.

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      Monday January 16th at 10PM Eastern time (9PM for those of us in the far more civilized and proper Central time zone).

      Heard some good things about it, but haven’t watched any myself, yet. I’ll give it a try in a few weeks.

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      I really like the series overall, especially the focus on kickass women and female sexuality. I particularly love Bo and Kenzi’s friendship and am constantly amazed by how Kenzi is genuinely funny rather than being an annoying sidekick.

      But (and I may be the only lesbian to have uttered this on the internet) I think Lauren is a real damp squib of a character. I don’t know whether it’s the writing or the actress, but there’s something about her that fails to compel me to root for her.

      I know this will make me sound like the most demanding person in the world, but I need something more from a TV lesbian than being able to stand there looking good in a leather jacket. Also, why does she never tie her hair back when she’s doing all these intricate doctory procedures? Surely even the fae must have some hygiene and safety standards.

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        I’m really hoping they get their shit together when the show returns from hiatus. The whole Nadia thing coming in between Bo and Lauren is not making me happy(amongst other things) and I feel like they are writing Lauren as uncaring of Bo’s feelings in order to justify eventually putting Bo back together with Dyson. Bo/Lauren sex scenes are pretty much the best thing on tv right now so they need to hurry up and find a way to put Nadia back in a coma again.

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          I don’t even mind Nadia per se – it’s just Lauren acting like a total douchebag to Bo in relation to Nadia. That makes approximately zero sense.

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      OMG YES Lost Girl! I am so unsatisfied with the current state of play between Bo and Lauren but I am being optimistic that when she comes back (after all she has rededicated her life to the asche) without Nadia they can sort this shit out (including the inconsistency that has been Lauren this season)!

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    WOOT WOOT! Calzona’s wedding was awesome! The drama behind it! Especially with Callie’s mom! Bailey really made a huge difference! Anyone who wants to watch here’s a link for Part 1 “http://youtu.be/Dv9IMuB0WU8″ and for Part 2 “http://youtu.be/kiIFEDBbnQ8″ Thanks for making this review!

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    Really great article. I’m questioning the suckage of Grey’s though… I mean, yes, they literally spliced Callie and Arizona’s wedding with shots of Meredith and Derek’s thing-they-did, but it didn’t strike me as wrong or offensive. It could be because I’ve been with the show since the beginning, but I’ve never felt the indignant rage towards Grey’s that I experience weekly with Glee. I love Callie and Arizona as much as I love the other characters, which is why I love the show. The lesbians relations always felt genuine, well-adjusted, and treated with the same respect as the straight ones. I feel like more shows could learn from Grey’s in that respect.
    But then again, it could just be another primetime soap opera.

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      Well,Grey’s treats the gay characters with a lot of respect and the wedding was beautiful, but what kinda really sucked was Meredith and Derek not attending it! I personally despise these two and their shitty relationship (especially in comparison to what Callie and Arizona have) and then they go off and marry on the exact same day The Gays have their big fancy illegal wedding?

      That in itself was kind of disrespectful. You just don’t do it. Not to gay friends, not to straight friends. Especially when you can get legally married and your friend can’t. Way to rub it in their faces…

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        I totally get where you’re all coming from but the two weddings were actually intentionally juxtaposed to make a statement about marriage equality.
        It was so easy for Derek and Meredith to go do their “heterosexual shit RIGHT NOW” (lol) and they didn’t even want to get married, they just had to for the adoption process with Zola, while Callie and Arizona truly had this magical, fairytale wedding and love story, yet that love and commitment is not legally recognized.

        So while I’m a greedy Calzona fan and wanted a complete set of vows and a multi-second wedding kiss that didn’t involve lips hidden by hair and veils.. the C/A wedding was still beautiful and I appreciate that Grey’s is on our side and was aiming to make people think.

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          Agreed. I think that Grey’s was trying to show how truly ridiculous it was that Callie and Arizona couldn’t get married legally despite planning their wedding for so long while Derrick and Meredith could just decide, ‘hey, let’s go get hitched so we can adopt this kid!’ and have it be totally legal. Especially since Meredith and Derrick never even cared about being married in the eyes of the law and Callie and Arizona wanted it so badly. It was jarring but I think that’s how Grey’s does pretty much everything and it wasn’t meant to be insulting.

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      For me it was not so much the fact that they decided to split the scenes together, but rather the fact that Meredith and Derek thought is was a totally ok thing to skip Callie and Arizona’s wedding because they had heterosexual shit to do. And they had to do it RIGHT NOW during their friends’ wedding. wtf.

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        Alright, I feel you on that point. I don’t remember feeling like, Hey, wtf guys? You’re missing the wedding. Was there an explanation? I gotta brush up on my Grey’s facts.
        Also, fear not – there’s a good chance Patrick Dempsey won’t come back for another full season. My 16 year-old self is a bit disappointed, but Derek’s been kinda lame as of late. I never got the MerDer relationship

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          The explanation? They suddenly decided to sign a marriage certificate. That couldn’t wait til morning, apparently. Or even til after the ceremony.

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          I just read a recap, it said they were going to adopt Zola, but couldn’t if they weren’t married, so they rushed it. Why it had to be during Callie’s wedding? It doesn’t say, but I feel like it had to do with the timing of shipping those kids back to Africa.

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    I really loved the way that Callie/Arizona’s wedding was played off of Mer/Der’s. It showed how the homos wedding was full of love and magic while the straight wedding was only a formality that neither of them even really wanted, but only Mer/Der’s was legal. I guess i just assumed it was done that way to make a point? maybe i just saw that because of my magic homo eyes?

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    I’ve always wanted to know what extended lesbian story lines do for the ratings of TV shows. Do lesbian characters with extended story lines (like a Santana or, Naomi and Emily in Skins) draw viewers? Create show loyalty? Or do shows see viewers tuning out when lesbians become a big part of the show or a major plot? Is there any way to even tell? If there was some conclusive evidence that well-developed lesbian story lines drew bigger ratings, maybe that would get Hollywood to get its head out of its misogynistic ass? I don’t know how these things work.

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      This is essentially my job. Well… not specifically extended lesbian storylines, but we analyze what people say on social media regarding what they’re watching on TV. I can confirm that twitter breaks every week when Glee is on, and that there are a million-and-one ways to refer to Brittana in Twitter-speak. More specifically than that, in the episode where Finn outed her, “Santana” was one of the most commonly used words, followed closely by “Poor Santana.”

      I think the powers that be need to listen more closely to their fans, because from what I’ve been reading, people care quite a bit about these ladies. (I also started watching Glee more closely when Santana and Brittany started reliving my last 2 years of high school, minus the cheerleading.) I’m predicting social media will make it easier to get accurate feedback on specific storylines. Not to sound like a technology nerd.

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        Interesting! I’ve always wondered if/how TV shows or networks followed fan feedback on social networks and forums. I know folks like Tina Fey have admitted to reading reviews of her episodes on TWoP, but I’ve always wondered if bigwigs track what people say about their shows on smaller websites with niche audiences, like, say, Autostraddle? Do the powers that be care about the Autostraddles or Pajibas of the world, or is it all Twitter and FB, all the time?

        I don’t necessarily want TV shows to completely cater to fans. When I’ve seen that done, it usually doesn’t end up feeling organic to the stories the producers have originally set out to tell. However, I think that it would behoove show runners to at least gauge how a particular story line is/might be going over by looking at fan reactions to other, similar story lines. Because, for example, it seems like the folks at Glee could learned a thing or two about straight-washing lesbian story lines from US Skins, but that doesn’t seem to have happened.

        I don’t know if other TV show producers are smart enough to do that, but it would certainly probably make TV more interesting if they did.

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      Exes and Ohs (although the L word gets more brownie points because even though it was set in Los Angeles and had none of the Latin@ characters played by Latin@s, it still had a helluva lot more diversity) is also a good show.
      Also, “Lovers and Friends” is a webseries that’s out and “Girl Seeks Girl” in Spain.
      But you know, Logo isn’t exactly mainstream. When people who aren’t actively seeking out queer media can get exposed to the types of positive portrayals that we all look for, then we’re doing something! Hence the ALMOST in the almost awesome, hahaha!

      :D

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    oh god reading this reminds me of how much I despise “glee.” i wish it never existed. i wish that it would just go away and die and never return. i wish that tweens and middle-aged housewives didn’t think it was a legit good show. i wish the writers weren’t such smug assholes. homosexuality was so much better before glee had to come in and ruin everything. i wish that i didn’t care and that i didn’t just compile this glee wish list.

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    I kinda wonder whether the decision to dump Minky in the Skins UK was in reaction to the online outrage over Tea in Skins US. Like were they punishing us for having a reaction to it. They certainly knew about the reaction because they commented about it in pretty scathing terms.

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    I’m so disappointed about Minky. Hell, I’m disappointed Mini won’t be a lesbian. series 5, the novel, they all have clear signs of her being gay and now in series 6 it seems she’ll be with guys, no mention of previous story or her crush on franky apparently.

    and dakota blue richards who plays franky said she’s filmed like 5 sex scenes? which I find very confusing given her reaction in the finale.
    I don’t know, I’m kinda torn when it comes to skins. like I’m preparing myself for heartbreak.

    and why can’t spencer be gay in pretty little liars? she’s my favourite

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    Wow, not even a mention of Tierra de Lobos? Probably one of the most groundbreaking portrayals of a lesbian in recent memory. No subtext, no waiting three seasons for something to happen, no best friends falling for each other, no chaste kisses and then pregnancy. A sexual awakening and coming of age for a lesbian who was allowed to have a sex drive and didn’t just wanna talk about her feelings all the time. I think Isabel on Tierra de Lobos is not only the best queer storyline of 2011, probably one of the best ones I’ve ever seen. It’s important to watch Isabel’s story and not just start when she meets Cristina. It’s on YouTube but I think it may have been pulled down for copyright. Some fans are translating the entire show, so stay tuned.

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    Excellent article, Riese! I feel very optimistic about 2012. As someone who has worked and hopes to work more with many of the people in this article, both as an actress, and as a producer, I can say I for one have a very specific vision and intent to bring more honest, entertaining, funny and generally kick ass content to you all! Let’s DO THIS!

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    I generally don’t like TV, but do like UK Skins. That s**t photo of Franky made me sad…why are they suddenly hitting the breaks on the characterizations of her & Mini? Franky should not change, at very least.

    As for US Skins, I lasted 3 internet episodes and turned it off. But I wasn’t as angry about Tea as everybody else – I think that was the one story they actually tried to explain. Her grandma had been scared into the closet and it looked like (at least as I remember) she wasn’t out to her parents, esp. to her dad who she was really close to and whom she didn’t want to “dissapoint,” so she started seeing Tony & mesmerized herself into thinking she preferred him. At any rate, I wasn’t looking for a poster child lesbian in a 15/16 year old kid.

    Either that or it was the Audrey Hepburn poster thing, so I gave her a pass.

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    This is such a fantastic article. There has been so many good things about queer girl TV this year, but in the end everything gets fucking sidelined.

    It’s also worth mentioning that even though I adore Lost Girl’s portrayal of Bo and her bisexuality (the main character of a show being a sex-positive queer woman? gasp!), her potential relationship with Lauren has gotten totally screwed over by Lauren’s comatose ex and the writers’ preference for Bo/Dyson.

    I’m most disappointed by Skins. Mini and Franky are some of the most complex and well-done queer characters I’ve ever seen (not to mention the fact that genderqueer characters are basically never on TV), but apparently they aren’t getting together, spoilers and trailers only show them with guys, and Franky’s in bikinis and dresses this season. AND Franky’s having four sex scenes in one episode, because apparently she isn’t triggered by that anymore.

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