Top 10 Queer Female Television Characters of 2012

Well, 2012 was no 2011, but it was still a pretty good year to be queer on scripted television. Look at all the ladies!

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2012 saw the return of perpetual homosexy favorites such as Callie Torres & Arizona Robbins on Grey’s Anatomy, Emily Fields on Pretty Little Liars and Pam De Beaufort & Tara Thornton on True Blood.  Some of last year’s best queer characters, such as Franky Fitzgerald from Skinsgot de-queered this year, and others, like Frankie Alan from Lip Serviceran away to New York City. But while Pam was looking for Eric and Callie was apparently really busy off-screen, lots of other queer ladies took center stage in 2012: we saw lots of new faces or new prominence for old faces. So, without any further ado, our expert opinion on the Top Ten Queer Ladies of Television 2012.

 

Top Ten Best Fictional Lesbian, Bisexual and Otherwise-Inclined Television Characters of 2012

10. Anne Juergens (Molly Ringwald), Secret Life Of the American Teenager

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Because “coming out” isn’t just for young people, this year we saw a well-handled lesbian storyline in the most unlikely of places: ABC Family’s cloying moralistic prime-timesuck The Secret Life of the American Teenager. Bonus: professional player-of-lesbians Anne Ramsay, the mother of Anne’s daughter’s boyfriend, helps Molly Ringwald‘s character through her late-in-life revelation.

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9. Kalinda Sharma (Archie Panjabi), The Good Wife

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During season three, we saw a lot more of Kalinda kicking ass, taking names, and banging a chick or five in her spare time. I might not watch The Good Wife just to see her in action, but every scene she’s in is just a little sexier and smarter than the others. Season four brought the unfortunate return of her dreary husband, meaning we were subjected to a whole lot of violence and semi-consensual sex. The only good that ever came of that plot line was the ice cream scene. But it’s Christmas, you know, and I come bearing good tidings of great joy. Thanks to an all-around dislike for her husband, he’ll be gone ASAP, leaving Kalinda to do her thing the way she does it best – solo. (-by Laura)

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8. Lauren Lewis (Zoie Palmer), Lost Girl

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After discovering that Lauren Lewis, aka Dr Hot Pants, had a secret comatose girlfriend, Bo kicked off 2012 by dating someone who was not Lauren. It was not ideal, in fact it caused me to boycott the show for a while because I don’t support Bo and/or Lauren having intimiate relations with people who are not each other. Doccubus4lyfe, amirite. Their smokin’ hot tension picked right back up after Bo killed Lauren’s girlfriend, an event that probably would’ve been a deal-breaker for other fictional queers who are not so clearly meant to be together forever. If Bo and Lauren don’t become an official couple in 2013 then I might just die or at least go back to not watching this show for a while. (-by Crystal)

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7. Imogen Moreno, Degrassi: The Next Generation

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Tied with Sophia Swanson for the “Number One Critter” award, Imogen’s discovery of her feelings for another lady and subsequent “coming out” to friends and family were perhaps the biggest non-events in the history of the queer girl television. I’ve never really fallen for Fiona Coyne, Degrassi‘s resident lez and Imogen’s now-girlfriend, but Imogen — Imogen is awesome. Well, she’s awesome now. She was significantly less awesome prior to the queer storyline — all the shit she did in attempt to snag Eli ranged from sketchy to “totally fucked up.” But that seems to be in the past and here she is now with all her passionate feelings about theater set design and her total dorkiness and cute girlfriendness and difficult family situation handled with relative grace! Adorbs.

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6. Sam Murray (Heather Peace), Tess Roberts (Fiona Button) & Lexy Price (Anna Skellern), Lip Service

Within Lip Service‘s first three episodes, Frankie fled for New York City and Cat got hit by a car and died! Although I missed Frankie dearly because Hotness, the show sans Frankie/Cat was pretty damn good, owing mostly to the star turns by previously sidelined Tess and Sam and the new sexy Australian doctor, Lexy. Out lesbian actress and musician Heather Peace worked overtime this season as Sam was thrust into emotional turmoil over Cat’s death, our recapper fell head-over-heels for Tess and Lexy injected some sorely needed common sense and doctor-hotness into the high-drama of a social group rapidly fraying at the seams. Also: sex. We’re crossing our fingers for another season — ideally a little sooner than last time.

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5. Lana Winters (Sarah Paulson), American Horror Story

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American Horror Story, the weirdest creepiest most fucked-up show on television, thrust a lesbian into center stage for its second Asylum season — and cast a lesbian (Sarah Paulson) to play her and another lesbian (Clea Duvall) to play her partner, Wendy. Set in 1964, Lana Winters is an ambitious low-ranking journalist who visits the Asylum to write about the serial killer Bloodyface, but when she gets there realizes that the bigger story is the asylum’s appalling conditions and rampant abuse and corruption. But before she can make much headway on her story, she’s committed to the asylum herself to “cure” her homosexuality. Things get more f*cked up from that point forward.

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4. Sophia Swanson (Michelle Ang), Underemployed

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Unfortunately for the entire world, Sophia Swanson is a kickass character stuck on a lousy show with a bunch of self-interested assholes and it’ll probably get cancelled. But fortunately, Sophia Swanson is an unexpected ray of light on an otherwise-heteronormative world — and, at least for the first few episodes, she’s positioned as the story’s narrator. Plot devices bungled by other lesbian storylines were delightfully subverted in Underemployed and for the first few episodes, she’s been granted ample screen time to grapple with her newfound sexuality, coming out to her friends and parents, and dating a woman for the first time. As the season plows forward, however, Sophia’s romantic life seems to be taking a backseat. Still though: I want to eat her face.

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3. Paige McCullers (Lindsey Shaw), Pretty Little Liars

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Paige went away for a little while. And when Paige came back, Paige was mega-hot, seemingly relatively emotionally stable and self-aware, and dapper as fuck. We were lead to doubt her a few times this year, but she came out clean every time — and hats off to Lindsey Shaw for creating some genuine lesbian sexual tension with Emily Fields! We even got some Paige Backstory, which hopefully means she’s not gonna get killed in January.

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2. Betty McRae (Ali Liebert), Bomb Girls

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Bomb Girls, a Canadian television series that blasted into our lives with unexpected amazingness, tells the story of the women who built bombs for the allied forces in the 1940s. Betty is the toppy-sexy-uber-dyke-lezzer-lezoholic who never met a pantsuit she didn’t like. She’s tough and smart and overall seems like the kind of girl who could fix your cabinet or save you from a shark attack without flinching. Fellow factory worker Kate is also clearly a lesbian, but also clearly in deep denial about it, as the finale suggested. It’s rare that we ever see our history on stage like this — what it was like to be a gay woman back then — and therefore the whole situation is just all-around fantastic.

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1. Santana Lopez (Naya Rivera), Glee

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If what we’ve seen so far is any indication, Season Four will slowly sideline Santana Lopez into the recesses of our lesbian memories, so this might be our last chance to honor the one and only Santana Lopez, the best thing to ever happen to Glee, ever. Also: duh.


ETA: I don’t watch Grey’s Anatomy, so I asked my fellow team members if Calizona should be on the list and they told me that Grey’s sucks this year and the lesbians haven’t gotten enough screentime this season to warrant a spot. But y’all in the comments tell a very different story, like apparently, “Callie Torres had to make a life or death decision that involved the amputation of her wife’s leg! And Arizona, in turn, has had to re-learn life now as a disabled (differently abled) person. And after a long, dramatic, heart wrenching, and beautifully acted 1/2 season they are FINALLY finding their way back to each other.” That sounds pretty list-warranting to me! So, honorable mention:

Callie Torres (Sara Ramirez) & Arizona Robbins (Jessica Capshaw) – Grey’s Anatomy

SARA RAMIREZ, JESSICA CAPSHAW


 

As per ushe, if your favorite character isn’t included here and you’ve got feelings about it, we encourage you to comment in all-caps using as much punctuation and self-righteous indignation as possible!

 

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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!

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62 Comments

    • Thumb up 3

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      I agree were is Leslie Shay, I know chicago fire is a relatively new tv show and we’ve only seen 10 episodes but Shay has so far in my opinion been one of the best written lesbian characters in primetime tv.

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      I have to second this, mostly because up until yesterday I swore I’d stop watching shows just for cute lesbians and then somehow I watched all ten episodes in a day. And it wasn’t so bad? Like, I actually cared a tiny bit about all the straight dudes and their manpain? Shay’s not really anything we’ve never seen before, lesbian-on-tv-wise, but I do like how her sexuality isn’t a big deal (especially in that hyper-masculine environment), and she’s definitely very funny. And I also really like her whole face-related situation. So. There’s that.

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      Leslie Shay is one of my new favorites. I think she’s the only new lesbian on tv that didn’t get their show cancelled. I’m impressed with how the writers have handled the character so far and their is not even a hint of her having a sexual relationship with her male best friend unlike Grey’s Mark/Callie relationship that went to that well at least three times over the years resulting in Sofia.

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      i don’t watch grey’s, but i asked the team about it and they said they didn’t have enough screen time this season to warrant a mention on the list? so i didn’t put them on. idk.

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      I am pretty much obsessed with Betty right now. She is IMO the best written and performed lesbian character that’s been on tv in a long time and that’s coming from a massive fan of just about everyone else on this list including Santana. Bomb Girls and Lost Girl also makes it seem like the Canadians are doing queer characters better than Americans these days.

      Season 2 of Bomb Girls starts up on January 2 in Canada. Not sure when Americans will get it since Season 1 just ended in the States but y’all need to find any means yo can to watch this show because it is brilliant.

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      omfg no-one told me that this character was gay

      i was already freaking out because um she’s super attractive (and do you wanna date my avatar was how i realised i was a homo) but i wasn’t going to actually download/watch that episode because i don’t watch supernatural and goddammit i already have enough incredibly attractive straight girl obsessions

      but now you tell me that character was gay

      merry christmas to me is all i can really say

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      Dean: Do you any tattoos? Give him a little sneak peek there. All tattoos are sexy.
      Charlie: Mine is Princess Leia in a slave bikini straddling a 20-sided die… I was drunk, it was Comic-Con.

      That’s all I’ve got to say.

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        I remember that episode! Oh my god, do I remember it. I don’t want to think about the amount of times I’ve seen it. I’ve been having a bit of a nostalgia moment over the last few days, remembering just how much fangirling I did over Felicia Day. I WATCHED BRING IT ON 2. Like ten times. Like, more than I watched the original. How’s that for an embarrassing confession?

  1. Thumb up 7

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    Isn’t crazy that television has come so far that we have a TEN female queer characters on tv list. And that’s not even all of the queers on tv because their quite a few women who didn’t make this list, like all of these women’s girlfriends for one. Bo, Callie, Arizona, Emily, Brittany, Fiona, Kate, etc.

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    Callie Torres had to make a life or death decision that involved the amputation of her wife’s leg! And Arizona, in turn, has had to re-learn life now as a disabled (differently abled) person. And after a long, dramatic, heart wrenching, and beautifully acted 1/2 season they are FINALLY finding their way back to each other (anyone else excited about the grey’s return in January with the much anticipated Calzona reunited sex scene??).

    How does that not warrant them a spot on this list?

    Otherwise, I fully support this project. And I am especially in love with the top three (Paige McCullers FOREVER)

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    Love the Canadians that made the list. All awesomely written ladies. Even though it’s a kids show I love watching imogen and fiona on degrassi. Is it asking for too much to want a spin off of imogens adventures once they graduate?

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    this year saw Paige McCullers become one of the most realistic lesbian characters in tv so yay for the top 3 placement. But Lindsey’s awesome performance warrants a correct spelling of her name now, yea?

    and it sounds like it’s about time i tune into Chicago Fire

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      Do it!! Chicago Fire is fun. Also, just to go on about the Leslie Shay character a little bit more, she’s portrayed as being pretty promiscuous, but without all the condemnation that usually is associated with women sleeping around. Like she’s kind of a “stud” (for lack of a better term) like one of the guys would be and she’s not held up to some bullshit double standard because she’s a woman or a lesbian. And honestly? That’s all I ever want in a portrayal of female sexuality on tv. It can be weird and dysfunctional and everything, just as long as it’s not misogynistic.

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    I just miss Lip Service so much. :(

    Excellent list though over-all with a few quibbles. I’ve fallen so hard for Paige, Sam, Lexy and Tess and I echo everyone else’s excitement over series 2 of Bomb Girls. Callie and Arizona should have been here though, they’ve had an intense year. I agree with others that Leslie Shay is an awesome new character as well. Santana? Nah, not really. Past is past and she hasn’t had anything to do lately.

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    I feel like I should watch PPL just for Paige. Gonna consider it :P

    Anyways, can I just say Toby? I seem to have forgotten her last name, but Toby of Primeval: New World. A geeky bi girl who’s just awesome :D She’s the resident techie, and played by Crystal Lowe. (and I ship her like mad with Dylan, although I doubt it’ll ever happen. Still, a girl can dream ^^)

    Also, yesss to Lauren, and although not on the list, Bo <3

  7. Thumb up 0

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    Been meaning to watch Bomb Girls for ages but I missed every episode. After reading that, however, it has been promptly downloaded. Gotta love a bit of history, especially if it’s a little bit gay.

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    Oh, and Doctor Who is starting up again so I should mention that this season we get more of lesbian couple Madame Vastra and Jenny, who are going to be sort of unofficial companions. They’ve already released a few short prequel videos and these two are mad adorable together.

    Madame Vastra is played by Neve McIntosh who played another lesbian Lauren on Lip Service this year. Easy to forget since she wasn’t covered in all that green prosthetic makeup.

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    Well, your team members definitely lied to you. Not only do Callie and Arizona have the most multidimensional and fleshed out lesbian relationship on TV, they absolutely have had pretty much as much screen time as Derek and Meredith. Specially Arizona who’s learning how to deal with having a missing leg and Callie trying to figure out how to cater to Arizona even though she’s mad as hell and at times treats Callie badly (but obs she understands).

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    Really happy Callie/Arizona was added, because they broke my heart and then after torturous episode after torturous episode of them not speaking or worse, speaking, I cried so hard when they finally started mending their relationship oh my god. :)

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    I love that it seems we are making some progress with regard to gay/bi women on TV. I’m still upset that Cat was killed off. If there is a 3rd season, I hope that the characters don’t act like she never existed.

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    You must put Naomi(Lily Loveless) and Emily (Kathryn Prescott) (Naomily) up there from Skins UK 2nd generation. There story is soo beautiful and basically like any other lesbian based story line TV show.

  13. Pingback: Are female LGBT+ characters treated worse in media fiction than male LGBT+ characters? (Bibliography) | wcsfmedia1314

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