As your resident Australian girl-on-girl, I feel it’s my obligation to update you on the most important thing to ever happen in the history of Lesbians in Australia (since the birth of Portia De Rossi): the torrid affair between Charlie and Joey, or “CharJo” as we call them ’round here.
Home & Away‘s lesbian storyline has been quite the controversy. Conservative groups claimed it was going to brainwash our young, impressionable teenagers. But as Defamer Australia points out, what’s the worst thing that could happen? Besides, the show’s actors & producers have spoken out; they think Australia is more than ready for a lesbian relationship on the teevee. I agree.
So, they were prepared to ‘go there’… but would the story be realistic? Tasteful? Considered? Most importantly, would it be another blink-and-you’ll-miss-it ratings trick?
The story’s been running for about five weeks so I’ve got a lot of content to cover today. But this recap is mostly pictures of hot girls and therefore totally worth your time. Also, by writing this I have justified my sudden all-consuming interest in this show.
There once was a trawler named Joe,
Who was a young, closeted mo,
She fell for a copper,
And then tried to top her,
And then she got kicked off the show.
You want more though now, right? Right. Before we get going on this journey, let me just say that I desperately wanted to pass down a verdict myself. Amazing … or Terrible? Great Success … or Epic Fail? But I wasn’t able to. While there were story arcs that made me cringe, sigh and curse the writers, I believe that H&A brought us a step forward in regard to the representation of same-sex relationships on Australian TV shows. Said representation was far, far from perfect – but in the end, I’m still glad it happened. Kate Bell and Esther Anderson did a cracking job, and H&A demonstrated that ladies can love ladies on Australian prime time television without sacrificing ratings – which is important. However this won’t prevent me from recapping the storyline with my tongue in my cheek.
If you’ve been keeping up with the show, what did you think? I want to know. I have a lot of feelings, let’s process. But first, the recap!
Charlie (Esther Anderson) is a 26-year old, straighty-one-eighty police officer, aka Senior Constable Buckton. She’s a regular cast member, and she looks hot in uniform.
Joey (Kate Bell) is a 20-year old lesbian who just arrived in Summer Bay, fresh off the trawler. That’s not a joke, she honest-to-god works on a prawn trawler. It’s good to see that Home & Away is scoring key stereotypes straight off the bat.
Drama. Drama. Drama.
Charlie and Joey are brought together by romance & passion tragedy. In their first substantial scene together, Charlie’s interviewing Joey because she’s been raped by a douchebag named “Robbo,” which is coincidentally also my hamster’s name and my prawn trawler’s nickname.
Charlie is aware that Joey is a lesbian. It’s a small town, you know, people talk. Charlie wants Joey to admit it, but they’ve only just met and Joey isn’t gonna break down the closet doors without some assurance of safety.
Things are intense, so Charlie decides to take the interview somewhere romantic “less formal” — the creek, where they’ll continue to professionally discuss the case. Rather than skinny-dipping and talking about unicorns, which is what I was expecting/hoping.
Charlie drops a series of subtlety bombs trying to get Joey to fess up about being a carpetmuncher. Thankfully Joey comes clean before Charlie resorts to, “I say UH HUH you say …”
Charlie: “Joey, there’s no shame in being gay.”
Joey: “I guess it’s easy to not have any hang-ups. You’re a beautiful, straight girl. You have no idea what it’s like to be me.”
Joey admitting her homosexuality is a big relief for Charlie. Her hand was just hovering over the “sexual orientation” box on the police statement all this time.
After all, coming out can be the right move when there’s a bigger picture to consider, such as prosecuting a rapist. For example; I only came out to my brother because if you looked at the bigger picture, you would see that I was expecting a booty call. Light at the end of the coming out tunnel.
Charlie and Joey break the homosexual news to Joey’s brother, who says Joey can’t come home unless she “stops talking like a psycho.” Charlie feels bad for ruining Joey’s life, so Charlie eases her guilt by taking Joey home …
Charlie and Joey have only known each other for approximately one hot minute, so props to H&A for delivering what is probably the speediest U-Haul in the history of lesbian TV. Eat that, IFC.
Race You To The Showers!
A few episodes later, Joey and Charlie have become good friends. I don’t think we actually saw this unfold onscreen, but we’re clued in by this “semi-flirtacious frolicking on the beach” scene.
Back At “The Ranch”…
Ruby, Charlie’s little sister, hears that Charlie is planning to take Joey for a picnic lunch at “the lighthouse.” From what I can tell, the ‘lighthouse’ is actually a lighthouse, and not a gay bar in the red light district as I’d hoped/assumed. Regardless, Ruby thinks Charlie’s being naive.
Ruby: “Have you noticed the effect your attention is having on Joey? I think she’s starting to like you.”
Charlie: “We are just mates. It’s no different to you hanging out with Annie. It’s exactly the same thing.”
Ruby: “Yeah, except that Annie isn’t into girls, and Joey is.”
Ruby makes an impression, because Charlie freaks out and cancels the picnic.
In their next scene together, Charlie pulls rank when she catches her friend Hugo hitting on Joey. Charlie tells Hugo he needs to get lost. Fearing the incredible power of the Cop Carrying a Gun + Smokin’ Hot Girl Crush, Hugo promptly gets lost. If this was prison, Charlie’d have a lot of bitches.
Joey: “You are a really good bodyguard. And I think it’s really sweet how much you care about me.”
Joey pats Charlie on the thigh as she speaks. Charlie freaks out and runs for the door. She “gets lost,” so to speak. So now Joey has no one to hang out with, nice one Charlie.
What Happens At Sea…
Joey surprises Charlie with a picnic on a boat (probs she’s still hungry from the aforementioned canceled picnic). Charlie’s still freaked out, and so she puts a time limit on their date by saying she has plans later that afternoon. Joey is only 20, which may explain why she isn’t recognising the oldest trick in the book. Joey is growing on me, and so I wish there was an explanation for why she’s dressed in lime green. There’s not, there’s no Leprechaun Week or K-Mart tie-in.
Joey gets handsy again, but this time Charlie doesn’t react. That’s right — after the first sign of something real, Charlie cancels her pretend plans, thereby freeing herself up for a long trip on board Joey’s big gay love boat.
Joey: “You have been amazing to me, and I still don’t understand why. But I’m so grateful.”
Charlie: “You don’t have to say that.”
Joey:“It’s true. After what happened with Robbo, I never thought I’d feel normal again.”
By ‘normal’, she obvs means ‘gay.’ Funny you mention being gay, because Charlie is starting to seem a little gay too …
Don’t get excited. I did, and then nothing happened. What happens is Charlie freaks out and runs away. That’s the “Away” part of Home & Away. Later, they’ll go “Home” and “disrobe.”
Or … not.
I’m trying to not be so quick to mock. We’ve all been there, right? We’ve probably all been a Charlie or a Joey, or love/d someone who is/was.
Defo Stays At Sea.
Joey wants to talk to Charlie about what happened, but Charlie’s holed up in bed with a ‘migraine’. Probs a result of all her Gay Panic. Seriously, Charlie needs to update her tricks. Joey redeems herself by seeing through this one —
Joey: “Are you hiding because of what happened?”
Charlie: “Nothing happened. I’m sorry if I lead you on in any way, but I care about you as a friend and that’s all.”
Joey: “I don’t want you to think I planned for this, that I took you on the boat so that I could come onto you.”
The Silverchair poster hanging on the wall is the most interesting thing about this scene. I think I had that exact same one hanging on my wall in high school.
Heterosexuality Check, Aisle Four.
Joey is cooking dinner to thank her housemates for letting her freeload. Charlie can’t attend the big meal because she’s in denial and consequently going on date with Hugo. Hugo apparently is happy to date either lady. He must have a thing for women who like to go down on other women.
Joey plays it cool, but her eyes don’t lie. Charlie’s way casual, so either she’s oblivious or she’s a bitch. I don’t know. Charlie doesn’t do anything disappointing during her date with Hugo but it doesn’t matter because because when Joey is alone at “Home,” she packs her bags and goes “Away.” Get it?
The Push That Comes To Shove.
The next morning, Charlie hears that Robbo the Rapist has been stalking Joey. Charlie runs home to protect her, and discovers too late that she has moved out.
Ruby: “Why would Joey leave without saying anything?”
YEAH CHARLIE, WHY?
Anyhoo … elsewhere in Summer Bay, Joey is pretty tied up. She’s about to get killed by Robbo, which unfortunately is an all-too-common fate for short-lived lesbian television characters.
But thankfully, Charlie packs heat as well as she packs picnics.
We can only wonder what else she might be good at packing.
With Robbo safely behind bars, Charlie starts caring about Joey again. She rocks up to Joey’s hotel to see if she’s okay, but Joey is still a little bitter about that whole “date-with-Hugo” thing. Charlie wants to know why Joey moved out –
Joey: “I couldn’t be around you anymore. It’s too hard, Charlie. It’s too confusing.”
Charlie: “I’m sorry if I gave you false signals.”
Joey: “You gave me signals Charlie. There was nothing false about them.”
Charlie: “Joey, I have always liked men and I’ve never felt this way before.”
Joey: “Felt like what before?”
LIKE THIS!!!!!! —
Mi Casa Es Su Casa. Just Don’t Talk To Me.
Charlie and Joey are clearly soulmates, ’cause their passion is far too intense to possibly learn from their mistakes. Charlie asks Joey to move in with her and Ruby again, and you can cut the tension with a knife. Joey tries to make sense of everything –
Joey: “You haven’t said a word since we left the hotel.”
Charlie: “Maybe it’s because I don’t know what to say… I just need time to process everything.”
Joey keeps trying to talk to Charlie, and keeps getting denied …
Charlie is busy. What’s she doing, you ask?
Such a gay! I bet Katy Perry didn’t need this much time to think about her feelings.
Sugar, Spell It Out.
The writers say enough is enough, it’s time for ‘The Talk’.
Joey: “I’m in love with you. And I think you love me too.”
Charlie: “I’m confused. I’m questioning everything I thought I knew about myself. When you’re not around, I can tell myself I’m this straight girl who did this crazy thing just for a second. When I’m with you, there’s this attraction – but maybe I’m just responding to your feelings for me. It’s nice to be loved.”
Charlie tells Joey that she is leaving town for a while, to do some more processing. This scene is ripping my fingernails out, one by one. And they were already pretty short so.
I’m Not Avoiding You. I Just Had To Leave Town For A Long Time.
Charlie, home from a week’s vacay at “the farm” (uh huh … we know what that means) apologises to Joey for the disappearing act. She’s finally ready to talk –
Charlie: “I thought that if I went away for a few days then my attraction to you might fade away. But I couldn’t stop thinking about you long enough for that to happen.”
Joey: “So I was right? You love me too?”
Charlie: “My feelings for you are strong. But Joey, I’ve decided I’m not going to act on them. I know you must think I’m gutless, but I don’t want to go there. I can’t.”
I can’t even talk about this scene, not really. Everything I want to say is right there on little Joey’s face.
Joey says she’ll move out [again], but Charlie wants her to stay. She is really gonna run out of friends to help her move at this rate. Joey would prefer to move back in with her homophobic brother.
Charlie: “You can’t go back there. You can’t pretend to be someone that you’re not.”
Joey: “Why not? You can.”
So What, I Lied. I Lied To Me Too.
A few days later, some drama goes down at Joey’s trawler and so Senior Constable Charlie Buckton arrives at to the scene. This is a one-cop town, obvs. Charlie tries to talk to Joey, but Joey blows her off –
Charlie: “Joey, I thought we parted as friends.”
Joey: “I just don’t think you understand just how much you broke my heart.”
Awwwwww! And … cut.
That night, Joey visits Charlie and asks her if she wants to finish the conversation they were having at the wharf. Possibly they could finish this conversation naked. See, Joey has a new job and is leaving town tomorrow, so Charlie needs to get on it —
This is a definite turning point in their relationship, so they do what all Australian lesbians do: drive to a secluded beach and talk about their feelings.
Charlie is ready to accept that she has real feelings for Joey. They talk a lot about how it’s a big and life-changing deal, but transcribing it will kill me, so here’s the most important part –
Joey: “I’m in love with you.”
Charlie: “I think I’m in love with you too.”
Joey: “So what are we going to do about it?”
The Morning After…
The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and … Charlie and Joey are still talking about their feelings. They’re dressed in the same clothes, which means they’ve spent the whole night either fucking or processing. My money is on the latter. Charlie, remarkably, has not run away. However, she does suggest they run away together. Joey reminds her that they live in the real world and need to face it, and it impresses me that this is coming from the 20 year old. I’m 25 and I still have no idea what people mean when they say that. I mean, if “running away” isn’t the “real world,” then what is.
The thing about making out outside of school hours is that it’s possible (albeit, not likely) that your little sister will walk past and catch you with your tongue down the throat of a lesbian.
“I May Be Gay, but at least I’m not wearing pigtails.”
Ruby: “You are not gay, Charlie. Don’t even think about going there.”
Charlie: “I don’t know what I am, but I do know that I’m in love with Joey.”
Ruby: “You did NOT just say that.”
Charlie: “You’ve never had a problem with people being gay –
Ruby: “No, I don’t have a problem with people being gay. I have a problem with my straight sister being gay.”
Charlie: “Do you think I just woke up this morning thinking, ‘I’ll just give it a whirl?”
In case this got lost in translation, to give something a ‘whirl’ means to give something a try. This storyline only gets about five minutes of screen time in every episode, so it sorta feels like that that’s exactly what’s happened. Ruby agrees with me.
Family Meeting. All Welcome.
Ruby catches Joey and Charlie macking on the couch, and so they sit her down to discuss what happens when a woman loves a woman. I feel like it’s something Charlie and Ruby should discuss between themselves, alone … but if we’ve learned anything at any time from watching this show, it’s that there are no boundaries at the Buckton house.
Ruby: “I came to tell you that I love you and I support you. But that doesn’t mean I’m not totally freaking out, and shoving it in my face is not helping.”
Charlie: “How was I meant to know you were going to come home?”
Ruby: “I only LIVE HERE, Charlie.”
Queer? That’s it? Queer can mean a lot of things. Can I get a “dyke” up in here?
Charlie wakes up to discover her wheels have been vandalised. It’s probably the Conservative groups who opposed this storyline and the writers just decided to run with it. Graffiti seems to be a serious problem for newly minted homosexuals on television.
To add to her stellar day, Joey’s brother files a complaint about Charlie, accusing her of using her position of authority to intimidate Joey into being gay with her. He’s a total douchebag, but it’s sort of about time someone addressed the conflict of interest, right? The Mod Squad stand around trying to get the story straight. So to speak. Har.
The Verdict: Charlie crossed the line by shacking up with Joey, and should have removed herself from the case. So now she can’t see or speak to Joey again until the matter has been resolved. Charlie’s pissed that Greer and Cochrane don’t give her a free pass, but let’s face it, she should have known better.
Charlie’s just been outed to her colleagues and her panelbeater, so she has a lot to process. Hugo crashes the pity party-
Nobody Likes Me, Maybe If I Cry
Hugo: “You could have told me that you kept knocking me back because you were gay.”
Charlie: “I’m not gay!”
This would be a good moment for “YOU’RE JUST GROSS!” but instead she decides to PROVE IT!
This scene was ripped straight out of Ilene Chaiken’s Guide To Alienating Your Audience. [Editor’s Note, also The O.C., South of Nowhere, etc.] Strike one, Home & Away. Strike one.
You know, I’ve decided this silly twist would have happened even if this storyline was about straight people. Home & Away don’t discriminate when it comes to things that don’t make sense … but, well, I think I’m doing my best to be fair and give them the benefit of the doubt and maybe I shouldn’t. When a woman betrays a man by being with another man, that’s a story about one thing: betrayal. But when a woman betrays a woman by being with a man, that’s a much more complicated story about sexuality, betrayal and the personal being political … and probs one that the girl-on-girl community is really sick of hearing.
I’m Not Unfaithful, But I’ll Stray.
The morning after, Charlie tells Hugo that it was a huge mistake. Ironically, said mistake makes her realise just how much she loves Joey. Hugo is totally cool with it, he’s got his own shit going on. I don’t know what that shit is because I haven’t watched any of his scenes.
But you know who isn’t totally cool about it?
Charlie: “I was messed up. I was confused. I’d had too much to drink and it shouldn’t have happened.”
Ruby: “One minute you’re announcing you’re gay and you’re in love with Joey. If you love her so much, how can you cheat on her?”
Charlie: “I didn’t cheat on her.”
Ruby: “You slept with someone else and that’s cheating, even in pretend lesbianland or wherever it is that you’re living.”
While Ruby hasn’t exactly had a positive attitude, I sort of think she is the only person on this show who makes any sense. AND SHE’S IN HIGH SCHOOL.
It had something to do with an earring.
Joey finds out about Charlie and Hugo’s one night stand. The ‘how’ is such a bullshit cliche that I refuse to acknowledge it. Let’s skip straight to the fight –
Joey: “You slept with Hugo.”
Joey: “Do you love him?”
Charlie: “No, I don’t. I love you.”
So Charlie’s game is up, and Joey’s not in a forgiving mood. She packs up her stuff and leaves. Again. Moving all the time is tiring, I don’t know how Joey keeps doing it.
At least the mistake in this scenario is Charlie’s fling with Hugo, and not her fling with Joey. That’s different.
Now That You’re Leaving I Love You Like Never Before.
Ruby finds Charlie processing at the wharf. Charlie’s getting all defeatist, talking about how Joey’s gone and she’s blown it.
Ruby: “So, you’re just going to give up?”
Charlie: “No. I’m just hoping that if I give her some space and time then she’ll miss me and come back.”
Charlie: “Well what else can I do?”
Home & Away Sends The Lesbian Star Away
Charlie goes to Joey’s house and is told that Joey sailed out of town on the first trawler. But! Her brother says she’ll be back ‘in a few months’. Charlie runs off towards the docks in search of Joey, allowing us one last glimmer of hope that she’ll catch her in time and they live happily ever after.
So will Joey sail back into Summer Bay in a few months? I hope so. Kate Bell and Esther Anderson did a fine job, and I’d like to see more. And if Joey does return, we can only hope that Charlie is still single and pining for Joey’s love. And if she doesn’t, we can at least hope that the Casting Director pairs Charlie up with someone who isn’t afraid of a little girl-on-girl lovin’. In fact, I have a suggestion —
UPDATE. As I was writing this recap, the latest/last CharJo scenes came in … and well. See for yourself:
UPDATE II: Joey will not be returning to the Bay.