The International Faves
#1. Maria and Daniela – Ingobernable (Netflix, Mexico)
Daniela approaches Maria to tell her not to come a party she’s throwing because she doesn’t know how to act, in public, when Maria’s around. Maria calls her out on her equivocating: Daniela doesn’t want her to come because she doesn’t want to introduce her wife to her mistress and instead of texting her, Daniela delivers the message in person because she wants to see her. Daniela tries to resist but once Maria straddles her leg, clad in only a short terrycloth robe, she’s powerless. She gives into temptation and they kiss and, ultimately, have sex in the middle of the lockerroom.
What’s remarkable about this kiss and what follows, isn’t just that it happens, but that it happens in the first episode…and that it’s how we first meet Maria and Daniela. Before we learn that Maria is the 21 year old daughter of the Mexican First Couple, we know that she’s queer and having an affair with a married woman.
#16. Nasreen and Lila – Ackley Bridge (Channel 4, UK)
When Nasreen and Lila run into each other on a downtown sidewalk, they pretend they’re someone else: Nasreen is “Serena,” an Olympic gold medalist in the javelin, and Lila is “Sonali,” an astronaut who pens novels about cats in her spare time. They laugh about it and chemistry abounds. You wish they could stay like this…that they were really these two disparate souls who shared this amazing chemistry and found each other…because you could cheer for that.
But instead, they turn back into their regular selves and you’re forced to remember that Lila is Nasreen’s teacher and their relationship is all shades of wrong. You’re relieved when Lila resists the urge to kiss her flirtatious pupil but then she turns back and is drawn to Nas like a moth to a flame. If I were able to separate the kiss from the participants, it’d be a noteworthy and deserving of a much higher ranking, but I can’t.
#2. Macarena and Rizos – Vis a vis (Antenna 3/Fox Spain, Spain/UK)
It’s hard not to think about Vis a Vis without comparing it to Wentworth or Orange is the New Black but something feels different about Macarena and Estefania “Rizos” Kabila and you know it from the first moment they kiss.
It starts out innocently enough, Rizos offering Maca use of her phone in exchange for a kiss. Maca refuses — she’ll only kiss someone if she wants to, not because she’s forced — and eventually, Rizos relents. To thank her, Maca does kiss her, cupping Rizos’ face in her hands and dropping a quick peck on her lips. It’s just enough to unlock the passion between them and they just keep kissing until Maca walks away stunned. And, as Rizos is left to contemplate what just happened, she smiles and literally jumps with excitement…and it brings such light to the moment that you almost forget that they’re in prison and this is likely to end badly.
#15. Kate and Rana – Coronation Street (ITV, UK)
“The coast is clear now. You can help yourself,” Imogen told Rana just after her break-up with Kate. Imogen gave voice to all the thoughts Rana had been trying to hide from for weeks: she fancied Kate and she’d been jealous of Imogen for taking the space next to Kate that she wanted so desperately to occupy. It takes a night out with Sophie and Rosie and copious amount of alcohol for Rana to show up at Kate’s doorstep to seize the day. She’s straight and married but none of that matters as Rana pulls Kate into a kiss. It lasts only seconds — not nearly enough time for Rana to savor it — when Kate pushes her away.
#3. Susana and Cátia – Jogo Duplo (TVI, Portugal)
The night they meet in a dance club, neither Susana, a mobster, nor Cátia, the detective, knows what the other does. Susana’s sitting at the bar, impeccablyl styled, sipping a drink and glamorously smoking a cigarette when Cátia approaches. She’s wearing a brown leather jacket because, apparently, no matter what country you’re in, the uniform for lady detectives is the same.
She asks Susana if her drink is too strong and Susana responds back that she likes strong and tough things. Cátia retorts that she’s often been criticized for being strong and tough…it’s cheesy dialogue that shouldn’t work at all on a woman like Susana, but it does, and she steps down from her stool and kisses Cátia for the first time. The kiss escalates and takes them back to Susana’s hotel room where they have sex with Demi Lovato’s “Sorry Not Sorry” playing in the background (it works way better than you think it would).
#14. Farrah and Kim – Hollyoaks (Channel 4/E4, UK)
One of my least favorite TV tropes involves psychologists/psychiatrists getting involved with patients. Even if they’re former patients, there’s something bothersome about the fact that the bond that’s been created was forged in this crucible — where you have to allow yourself to be your most honest and vulnerable — that’s wholly different from the crucible in which we forge actual relationships. It creates an imbalance that seems impossible to reconcile and, yet, TV shows persist in trying to make those relationships happen.
Such is the case with Farrah, the psychologist, who drops Kim from her patient list after both acknowledge that they’ve developed feelings for each other. To quell the disbelief that appears on Kim’s face, Farrah pulls her into a kiss to assure her that the romantic feelings are mutual.
#4. Florencia (“Flor”) and Jazmin – Las Estrellas (El Trece, Argentina)
The first time Florencia and Jazmin kiss, it’s by accident. They’re at a club and Flor goes to kiss Jazmin’s cheek and their lips meet unintentionally when Jazmin turns her face at that moment. But the second time, their lips meet because Flor can’t stop herself. Jazmin’s trying to ease her into the moment, taking great care to ensure that Flor, who’s never been with a woman before, is comfortable, but Flor’s impatient and closes the distance between them with a kiss. Flor’s impatience leads to a deeper kiss, one befitting the romantic dance that Flor and Jazmin have been doing since they met.
#13. Laura and Sash – Fair City (RTÉ One, Ireland)
It seems like the whole of Carrigstown has been waiting for Laura and Sash to get together, in that way that straight people do…as if two lesbians in the same space must be drawn to each other…and, for a while, Sash does all she can to resist the pairing. But a potent mix of alcohol and pain killers from a recent injury forces Sash to drop her defenses and admit that she fancies Laura. The next day, Sash wants to forget all about what happened, but Laura doesn’t. They cross paths again in the lockerroom and, finally, Sash finds the confidence to kiss the girl she likes.
#5. Edie and Amanda – Sisters (Network Ten, Australia)
Before Edie and Amanda kiss for the first time, the colleagues are running a square off: Edie proposes a legal course of action, Amanda pokes holes in her argument and Edie has to regroup and think of an alternate path. As foreplay goes, it’s a bit weird, but it kinda works for me. Exhausted by Amanda’s skepticism, Edie pushes her to acknowledge that her case — a wrongful insemination suit, I suppose you could call it — is on the right side of the ethics, if not the law.
Amanda finally agrees, but adds, “I think anger is exhilirating, hate is exciting, but they aren’t the only options.” As she finishes that last bit, Amanda’s hand slides over Edie’s…over Edie’s left hand, with her wedding ring, given to her by her husband, who’s a partner at the same law firm where both women work. This is not going to end well.
But for the moment, that small show of comfort ignites the passion between the two lawyers and, soon enough, they’re kissing and having sex in one of the firm’s storage rooms.
#12. Charity and Vanessa – Emmerdale (ITV, UK)
One of my favorite TV tropes is watching two people who were once enemies work their way towards romance…and Charity and Vanessa start their journey after spending the night locked together in a bar cellar. Vanessa spends most of the evening trying to figure out what makes Charity Dingle tick…what causes her interject herself in other people’s lives. Vanessa’s so mad at Charity and so drunk, that the words come out harsher than she intended, and she barely notices when Charity’s attitude towards her starts to soften.
Finally, Charity concedes that she enjoys toying with people, even people she likes, and Vanessa likens her to “the little boy who pulled the little girl’s pigtail, wanting her to notice him.” Charity slides in next to Vanessa and responds, “if I want someone to notice me, they notice me.” Then she leans in, lifting Vanessa’s mouth closer to hers, and they kiss.
#6. Andréa and Colette – Dix Pour Cent/Call My Agent! (France 2/Netflix, France)
When Colette arrives at the talent agency where Andréa works, Andrea is immediately smitten. She tries to get Colette’s attention but is rejected each time; Colette refuses to be another one of Andréa’s one night stands. It’s not until Andréa comes clean about the shady dealing at her agency that Colette starts to believe Andréa might be sincere about wanting something more.
“I don’t know how to behave around you,” Andréa admits, completely undone by this person who challenges her to be better. She darts forward and kisses Colette before she has a chance to say no. While it catches Colette by surprise, she gives in easily, returning the kiss and threading her hands into Andréa’s hair. Eventually, though, she remembers who she is and who Andréa is and scurries away.
#11. Amelia and Violet – Harlots (Hulu/ITV Encore, UK)
The connection between Amelia and Violet is wholly unexpected — afterall, the former is a harlot and the latter is the daughter of a religious zealot who spends her days tormenting the brothel owners with her proselytizing. But when Amelia sees Violet stealing from a stranger, she doesn’t report the theft and the two forge a connection.
In a secluded space during one of the brothel’s masquerade parties, Amelia shares the parable of the long spoons, “There’s a story about a feast in hell, where the forks are so long that people can’t reach their mouths, so all the diners starve to death. They don’t figure out that they can feed each other.” It’s a story that the religious tell to remind us of our interconnectedness, to remind us that we need each other.
It’s fitting then, that at that moment, Violet leans in and kisses Amelia. The sheltered girl responds, cupping Violet’s face and pulling her deeper into the kiss, before she realizes what she’s done and runs away.
#7. Mercedes/Mechita and Barbara – Perdona Nuestros Pecados (Mega, Chile)
Upset over an argument with her husband, Barbara finds herself on Mercedes’ doorstep on Christmas Eve. She listens intently as Barbara recounts her husband’s flippant disregard for the work that she and Mercedes do every day. Barbara admits that she and her husband are growing apart and wonders if the sadness that pervades their marriage will just be her lot in life. Mercedes assures her that it’s not, stroking her cheek with her left hand, and admits that she thinks Barbara is beautiful. They’re drawn slowly to each other’s lips like magnets and their kiss, though short, is full of promise.
#10. Franky and Bridget – Wentworth (SoHo/Showcase, Australia)
In one of her early sessions with Bridget Westfall, the new psychiatrist at Wentworth, Franky is asked to imagine herself leaving the prison. She imagines walking through the gates and leaving Wentworth and everyone in it, a smoking pile of ashes. But while life in prison has corsened Franky in many ways, there’s still a bit of hope inside her. She adds, “I want to be picked up by a hot girl in a hot car and driven off into the sunset.”
And, though the road to getting to parole is long and windy, that hope is realized, when she walks outside the prison gates to find Bridget, clad in a leather jacket, waiting in a hot car to drive her off into the sunset. It’s a taste of freedom, both literally and figuratively, when they kiss for the first time.
#8. Sara and Carlota – Cable Girls/Las Chicas Del Cable (Netflix, Spain)
Before they kiss for the first time, Sara saves Carlota’s job and finds her a place to live, away from her demanding father. Why would Sara do this for her, Carlota wonders. Later, they spend time with Carlota’s boyfriend, Miguel, and when Carlota’s notices the chemistry between Sara and Miguel, she encourages her to go for it. Sara leads her into a quiet hall, away from public view, and admits that she likes Miguel.
“Miguel’s a mand with an open mind, which is a rare thing, and I like him,” Sara concedes. She puts her drink down and gently pushes Carlota against the wall, adding, “but I’m more interested in you.”
She cups Carlotta face between her delicate hands and kisses her softly, with Lili Blessing’s “Awake” crooning in the background, leaving no doubt about with whom Sara truly has chemistry.
#9. Astrid and Niska – Humans (Channel 4/AMC, UK)
Sometimes, there’s this incredible realization that comes with your first kiss with a woman: this is who I’m meant to be. A simple kiss can sometimes give you the confirmation that days, weeks and months of processing cannot. Niska is on a search to find out who she is as a conscious Synth and, in a lot of ways, she finds her answers in Astrid. Niska’s had so many people take from her — the scientist who created her, her brother who left her to fend for herself in brothels, and the men who frequented those brothels — that she’s taken aback when Astrid asks her for her consent.
“Are you sure you want this?” Astrid asks, after she gently kisses a stock-still Niska on the lips for the first time.
“You’ll know when I don’t,” Niska answers, before the kissing resumes. Astrid threads her hands in Niska’s hair, while Niska’s hand slide around Astrid’s body, pulling them closer together and deepening their kiss.