Autostraddle March Madness — Best First Kiss: Round One (Baby Gays vs. International Faves)

NOTE: These couples are from currently airing or very recently cancelled shows! This is JUST FOR FUN, so be cool and have a good time!


The first weekend of March Madness has come and gone and, I have to be honest, my brackets took a shellacking. Who could’ve predicted the rise of the mid-majors in the women’s tournament? And the men’s tournament? The miracle take down of a #1 seed by a #16 seed, nearly 20 years to the day of the Harvard women’s basketball team having done the same? Three (3!) of my picks for the men’s Final Four, including my pick to win it all, have been sent packing already. And while the unpredictability of March Madness is part of the allure, getting so many picks wrong in such a short amount of time can do something to your ego. So, today, instead of investing energy in the fickleness of college basketball, I invite you all to invest in something that can truly unite us all: kissing girls.

Forget your ridiculous national championships, I’m on a search to crown the best first on-screen kiss.

With the help of my Autostraddle colleagues, I’ve compiled a list of 64 couples who have kissed on television (on currently airing or recently cancelled shows) and divided them into four regions: Baby Gay, Drama, International and Sci-Fi/Fantasy. Within those regions, the first on-screen kiss is ranked, 1-16, relative to the others in the field, and the match-ups are set. Couples advance through a simple vote by Autostraddle readers. It’s okay if you haven’t seen every show — I haven’t either to be honest — because it really is just about capturing this one moment in time.

Today, the voting commences for the Baby Gay and International Regions. Voting for every round will be open for two days only! Voting in this round will close on Sunday, March 25 at noon EST. The second part of round one — Drama vs. Sci-Fi Fantasy — will take place at that time.


The Baby Gays

#1. Camila and Jocelyn – East Los High (Hulu)

Minutes before Camila kisses Jocelyn for the first time, she starts to undress in front of her best friend. Jocelyn does that thing you do when you first realize your attraction to women…you force yourself not to look at the beautiful woman undressing in front of you, while also wanting nothing more than to be looking at the beautiful woman undressing in front of you…but she doesn’t hide her attraction well. When Camila kisses her, Jocelyn gives in for a moment before pulling back. She’s been resisting this for so long that she can’t just let herself have this. But then Camila reassures her with another kiss and the pair fall into bed.

VS.

#16. Courtney and Hannah – 13 Reasons Why (Netflix)

For the most part, I tried to keep my picks and their rankings focused exclusively on the first kiss — completely divorced from whatever else happens on the show — but for this particular show, that was impossible. Focusing on the moment where Hannah kisses Courtney obscures the broader, more noteworthy, issue. As Riese described when she reviewed the show last May, the show isn’t just harmful for its gratuitous violence and romanticization of suicide but for the way it treats Courtney lies as, somehow, worse than what the sociopathic men in that high school have done. It’s just awful.


#2. Elena and Syd – One Day at a Time (Netflix)

The 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary has full entries for 171,476 words that are currently in use and, yet, when you’re falling in love, none of those words feel sufficient…and that’s if you can manage to summon any of them at all. You’re either at a complete loss for words or the words at your disposal just don’t feel like enough. When it comes to Syd, words fail Elena. She can barely make conversation, much less explain these feelings she having so they read that as disinterest. Words fail Elena so she relies on action instead, pulling Syd close and pressing her lips to theirs.

VS.

#15. Lica and Samantha – Malhação (Globo)

Just before they kiss for the first time — well, technically, the second time, but the Brazillian network that’s home to the long running soap opted not to broadcast that kiss — Samantha and Lica are talking about a new dating app that matches would-be couples. Samantha doesn’t get it, why can’t people just go after what they want, but Lica’s more amendable…why not embrace something that gives people the courage to find the person they’re met to be with? When the girls try the app themselves, they match.

“I’m not even a little surprised,” Samantha admits and they lean for a quick peck. The kiss itself is short and disappointing but this storyline, which is one of the most popular ever featured on the Malhação, is not.


#3. Adena and Kat – The Bold Type (Freeform)

The bravest thing Kat Edison does the night she shows up on Adena El-Amin’s doorstep isn’t kissing her. It’s admitting, out loud, what she’s been feeling since the moment she first met Adena…that she really, really likes her. Kat’s clearly nervous as she makes the pronouncement — she rambles, she fidgets, she releases audible breaths to calm herself — but she does it: she lets go of every expectation she’s ever had of herself and lets herself fall for this woman. And so, when Adena pulls her into a kiss, Kat responds eagerly, because once you’ve acknowledged who you are and what you want, kissing is the easy part.

VS.

#14. Callie and Ximena – The Fosters (Freeform)

For weeks, Callie and Ximena have been working together to secure the renewal of Ximena’s DACA status…and, when their public campaign finally gains traction, with a story on the Huffington Post, Ximena turns an enthusiastic hug into a surprise first kiss. Callie’s clearly taken aback but is polite enough not to say anything. I half expect Ximena to apologize after she does it — I’m sorry, I just got caught up in the moment — but she doesn’t. If you’ve ever wondered what “sorry, not sorry” looks like on an actual person, watch Ximena walk away after she kisses Callie.

And while there’s a legitimate argument to be made that Callie’s straight and, even if The Fosters hadn’t run out of real estate, nothing would’ve come of her relationship with Ximena, I think there was enough reason to hope that Callie would be open to the possibility that the love she’d imagined for herself wasn’t the love she’d ultimately find…that is, after all, the story of this show. Alas…


#4. Kate and Emaline – Everything Sucks (Netflix)

Right before Kate and Emaline kiss for the first time, they slow dance to Duran Duran’s “Ordinary World” on the auditorium stage. As with much of the Everything Sucks soundtrack, it’s a perfect song for the moment. The song — written as a tribute to a childhood friend of the band’s lead vocalist that died — fits here because it’s about adjusting to this new ordinary. It’s about facing the world when forces outside your control have altered it…the innate force that draws Kate’s lips to Emaline’s, there’s no controlling that, though Kate’s tried…and finding a way to embrace the new ordinary.

VS.

#13. Molly and Luna – Burden of Truth (CBC, Canada)

It feels wrong that Molly and Luna’s kiss by the lockers is ranked so low on this list because, though the kiss is nothing spectacular, it also feels like the best kiss on this list and the one that teenage me would’ve loved to experience. It’s simple and effortless — a quick peck at Molly’s locker before class — and it’s enviable. There’s a lot in Molly’s life that needs figuring out, namely, who’s responsible for the pollution that is making her and her friends sick, but her sexuality and her relationship with Luna seem solid, and it’s refreshing to see that portrayed on television.


#5. Karolina and Nico – Marvel’s Runaways (Hulu)

“Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today,” Ben Franklin once said…which, I’m pretty sure is doubly true when you don’t actually know that there’s going to be a tomorrow. The world possibly ending gives Karolina the confidence she needs to do the thing she’s wanted to do for a very long time: kiss Nico. She pulls Nico closer, threads her hands in Nico’s hair and then pulls her in for a kiss. There’s a moment of surprise/hesitation on Nico’s part, but then she gives in, returning the kiss with equal fervor. The kiss itself is sweet and romantic — made even moreso by the use of Billie Eilish’s “Ocean Eyes” — but there’s something initimate about the way Karolina’s hands rest on Nico after it’s over…something that convinces you, that had they not been interrupted, it may have gone on for longer.

VS.

#12. Jess and Heather – Mary Kills People (Global/Lifetime)

Jess and Heather are a normal teenage romance…well, as normal as you can be, when your mom’s the female Dr. Kevorkian (unbeknownst to Jess, of course) or when your seemingly straight best friend, keeps interjecting herself into their relationship. In fact, when Jess and Heather kiss for the first time, it’s on the heels of an apology. Naomi kissed Jess (again) only this time Heather’s there to witness it. Both Noami and Jess apologize and Heather accepts, before leaning in for a kiss of her own. It’s sweet and romantic and, aside from the meddling friend, it’s everything you’d want it to be.


#6. Dakota and Alexis – Famous in Love (Freeform)

I suppose, having read about how Pretty Little Liars ended, I shouldn’t be surprised by how Alexis’ story on Famous in Love starts. How many harmful bisexual tropes can we squeeze into one hour of television? Apparently, the writers of Famous in Love are determined to find out. That said, the kiss between Dakota and Alexis works because of the thin, and sometimes indistinguishable, line that exists between love and hate. Passion diffuses across that line so easily…and going from publicly rejecting someone to being wrapped up in a kiss with them doesn’t seem that improbable.

VS.

#11. Ruby and Sapphire – Steven Universe (Cartoon Network)

I’ll leave description of Ruby and Sapphire’s first kiss in “Jail Break” to Mey Rude:

When Ruby and Sapphire are finally reunited, they run up to each other and embrace. As Ruby cries tears of joy, Sapphire asks “Did they hurt you?” and when Ruby says “Who cares?” she emphatically replies “I do!” Sapphire then kisses Ruby’s forehead and nose as the two embrace again, Ruby lifting and spinning Sapphire until they become one again. Garnet is then so overjoyed that she sings a song (she is voiced by the singer Estelle, after all) that celebrates their relationship and how they’re not single and how when they’re together they can do anything.


#7. Simone and Karen – Star (FOX)

People come in and out of our lives all the time and, on the way to becoming the person that we’re supposed to be, we’ll forget most of them…that’s just the way the world works. When Simone pulls Karen into a kiss, it’s not just a confirmation of her feelings, it’s an assurance that on the way to becoming the person that Simone’s supposed to be, she’ll never forget Karen. Simone pours her heart into that kiss but, given the way Karen strokes her chin before she leaves, it’s not clear that its done enough to make Karen believe.

VS.

#10. Laura and Aubrey – Casual (Hulu)

Before Aubrey kisses Laura for the first time, they steal a pair of bikes and race through town. Then, with the city lights shining brightly behind them, they fling the bikes off an embankment and into a ravine. The twisted spokes and broken handlebars are a sacrifice to Cupid, something to satisfy his thirst, so that relationships are free to thrive. Laura slips her hand into Aubrey’s and they stare at each other for a minute, before Laura flashes a half-smile. It’s enough to make Aubrey — who spends most of her time following Laura — brave enough to lead. She kisses Laura, softly, on the lips and when they separate, they smile at each other, their hands are still intertwined.


#8. Zoë and Rasha – Degrassi: Next Class (Netflix)

I’m not sure I can describe this kiss any better than Riese did in the recap of the most romantic TV moments of 2017, so I’ll just quote her:

Rasha kisses her. I didn’t want to be afraid anymore, she says, as melodic acoustic hipster music swelled and the light hits their faces just so. Young love, y’all. Sweet and against all odds and despite all closets and obstacles and fears, there we have it.

Ah, young love…it’s almost enough to make a cynic like me into a believer.

VS.

#9. Tilda and Odessa – Into the Badlands (AMC)

The most intimate thing about this scene between Tilda and Odessa isn’t the kiss…which is crazy because, as kisses go, this one is pretty good. Odessa leans in, drops a quick peck on Tilda’s lips and then, drops back, waiting for some acknowledgement that her affections were welcome. Odessa studies her face — watching as Tilda’s gaze flickers back and forth from Odessa’s eyes to her lips — and, getting the permission she sought, Odessa leans for another kiss. This time, though, Odessa returns it fervently.

But, really, the most intimate thing about this scene is the way Tilda lets herself be vulnerable with Odessa. She gifts Odessa her entire backstory in a way that I’m certain she never has with anyone else and in a way that truly reflects her affection for Odessa.

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A black biracial, bisexual girl raised in the South, working hard to restore North Carolina's good name. Lover of sports, politics, good TV and Sonia Sotomayor. Spends her Thursday nights trying to make #Shonday happen.

Natalie has written 79 articles for us.

35 Comments

  1. This is so great!! I just finished ‘Everything Sucks’ and I need some queer pop culture fun while I put my tender 90s-teen heart back together.

    More specific to this article, I love the kiss/ship descriptions and the fact that AS seems to be doing some more interactive content. I can’t wait to see where this all goes (and who everyone ships) – but I’ll keep my hopes up for Ruby & Sapphire in the meantime ? ❤️?

  2. Camila and Jocelyn – East Los High
    Elena and Syd – One Day at a Time
    Callie and Ximena – The Fosters
    Kate and Emaline – Everything Sucks
    Karolina and Nico – Marvel’s Runaways
    Ruby and Sapphire – Steven Universe
    Laura and Aubrey – Casual
    Tilda and Odessa – Into the Badlands
    (I feel that voting for the couples in the next several brackets is just upsetting the true fans, as I don’t really know who any of these are.)
    Astrid and Niska – Humans

  3. I don’t know who half of these couples are, and it makes me absolutely giddy!! I wish I could travel back in time to tell my 13-year-old self that someday there would be so many queer ladies on TV that I wouldn’t even have the time to keep up with all of their shows. It truly is a beautiful thing :,)

    • Right? It’s like when craft beer started taking off. At first, I could name every brewery – and every beer from each of those breweries – within a 100 mile radius. Now there’s so many it’s impossible to keep track.

      This tournament, it’s like arriving at craft beer level queer!

  4. WayHaught definitely deserves to win this. They’re not necessarily my favorite couple on the bracket (though I guess they’re not far off) but their first kiss was . . . dare I say . . . top shelf, man, top shelf.

  5. first, this is difficult to vote. second, I don’t understand why limantha is not on the international bracket. was Brazil annexed by the u.s. and nobody told me?
    third,dissapointing? in whose perspective? a romantic kiss between two girls, at 5pm on the biggest open channel in the country (one of the biggest in the world), that’s revolutionary, not dissapointing. that write up sounds bias and clearly from a gringa who doesn’t understand the full context of the couple.

    • @papapapa, I appreciate your comment, if only because it gives me the opportunity to respond to questions that I’m sure others are having, even if they’re not posting them here:

      I can’t tell anyone who to vote for. We knew pretty early on that March Madness would bring out a lot of competing fandoms and there was nothing much we could do about that. The one thing I had control over was picking the participants and ranking the kisses. I tried to say focused on just those first on-screen kisses, nothing else. I wasn’t swayed by what happened later in the show or how big the fandom is…I just focused on that single kiss.

      Malhação isn’t the only show in the Young Gays category that’s not US-based — Burden of Truth and Mary Kills People are both Canadian shows. Ultimately, though, it wasn’t a choice between Malhação going in the International region or the Baby Gay region…it was a choice between putting Samantha and Lica in the Baby Gay region or not putting them in the field at all. If you look at just that first kiss and compare it to Ackley Bridge, Hollyoaks or Coronation Street, it’s just not as good. Again, that’s not an indictment of the couple or what they mean in terms of visibility, it’s just an acknowledgement that their first kiss was more chaste than the others.

      Put yourself in my shoes, do you leave this great couple off the field entirely or put it in another region to, at the very least, give the couple a chance to compete and to raise the visibility for the show among readers who don’t know about it?

      That was my thought process and I hope it offers you some insight into why I made the choices I did. I fully understand that it won’t square with what you want as a fan of the couple, but I hope that you can see that I was trying to be as fair and unbiased as possible.

  6. I’m sad i just saw this now and couldn’t vote. Hope my favorite first kiss ever, Kat and Adena from The Bold Type, make it to the second round so I can vote for them. This is a great idea, I love it!

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