‘Lip Service’ Recap Episode 101: Lesbian TV Show is Pretty Good, Sexy, Comes with a New Shane

BBC3’s new lesbian drama Lip Service began its scandalous run on the BBC3 with nearly 600,000 viewers on Tuesday, Oct. 12, and then it got like 10 million complaint letters ’cause two chicks have sex around dead people. Idk, it happens. We’ll get there.

Fans of The L Word (the good seasons, anyway) will be happy to know two things about Lip Service (aka The L Word If Everyone Talked Like Helena Peabody), BBC3’s new drama about the lives of three lesbian/bisexual women in Glasgow:

1. The theme song doesn’t have lyrics. And it certainly doesn’t suffer from gerund overdose. It does, however, have harmonicas.

2. As Riese previously stated: attention Autostraddlers, we have a Scottish Shane.

Meet Ruta Gedmintas, a.k.a. broody Bisexual Gal With A Camera™ protagonist Frankie, who will now proceed to lead a whole new generation of straight British girls to further ponder their sexuality.

Completing the entourage are:

+Frankie’s ex-girlfriend Cat (Laura Fraser), a meticulous, control-freak architect with a Selma-Blair-circa-Legally-Blonde vibe and just the cutest accent ever.

+Tess (Fiona Button), a struggling actress also getting over a nasty breakup.

+ Ed (James Antony Pearson), Cat’s brother and Tess’ constant companion who totally has an unrequited crush on her and it’s kind of cute but also sad.

+ Jay (Emun Elliot), Cat’s coworker and Frankie’s close friend who serves as the glue that holds the group together and is probably the most sex-obsessed of the group (his new girlfriend, Becky, makes an appearance).

Now, let’s get into it.

We open in New York where Shane/Frankie’s working her camera magic on a sultry (supposedly straight AND ENGAGED, LOL) American model with all the charisma of an actress. That being said she brings a whole new meaning to “the camera loves you.”

Within two minutes they start having sex and instantly this show becomes totally amazing.

Frankie interrupts the makeout for an apparently INSANELY URGENT phone call. Her aunt, who raised her after her parents died, has now died. She returns to the makeout.

Let’s refresh — THIS IS THE OPENING SCENE. There is no ovulation here, or if there is we don’t have to hear about it.

Holy Lezbeth Salandar, Batman.

I think what we’re supposed to take away from this is that Frankie uses sex as an anesthetic for her emotional pain and insecurities. You know, like Shane. Everyone got that? Good. We liked it the first time (Brian Kinney) and the second time (Shane), so I suspect we’ll like it the third time (Frankie).

Cut to an apartment which a photographer in New York could never afford, seemingly inhabited and rented by a photographer in New York named Frankie. She’s creeping her exes on Facebook (important lesbian/human cultural reference #1), but the best part is her status, which reads something along the lines of “Frankie thinks Bella should have ditched Edward and…” Team Bella knows no borders, friends.

Stalkage is interrupted by a voicemail from, you guessed it, her now deceased aunt, telling “Francesca” that she has something she wants to tell her, but all we heard was, “Jenny. This is Marina. I can’t stop thinking about you.” JK that would be gross. But also, like, really.

In Glasgow, Frankie’s getting checked out by passing business-y looking Scottish women the second she steps off the plane, and has a look on her face that says, “I still got it. I’m Shane, motherfuckers.”

Frankie gets shuttled away from the airport by Jay, her straight dude friend, and then we meet Frankie’s ex Cat, who, in the midst of Important Architectural Work, receives a message from someone named Sam on GaydarGirls, asking her out for drinks. Just as we think we’re going to get more details, roommate Tess barges in with — what else, y’all? — SERIOUS EX DRAMZ.

Tess: This is Chloe’s Facebook picture, and this is a picture I took of her at your birthday party. One and the same!

Cat: Tess, I just need to…

Tess: She dumps me, and then the bitch has the audacity to use a sexy photo I took of her as her Facebook picture! I mean, is it just me, or is that criminal?

Tess convinces Cat to go on a date with the Gaydar Girl because it’s been two years since her breakup with Frankie which means it’s ‘moving on’ time. But now Tess needs a dress for her date that she left at Chloe’s when they de-U-Hauled.

Unsurprisingly, Ed and Tess end up hiding underneath the bed when Chloe returns home with her new lover, dashing in for a little afternoon delight. Obviously Tess goes on to blow her audition for face cream.


Meanwhile, on the other side of the Sea of Terrible Ex-Girlfriend Demons We Haven’t Had Time to Develop ‘Cause It’s the First Episode, Frankie is wandering around the alley outside like the Diet Coke guy/Melissa Etheridge, and Cat eventually comes down from her window to be steely in the face of Frankie’s Aura.

It’s tense in that way that you know it’ll get a little tenser later.

At The Planet/Rubies, we see the entourage in action doing the things that entourages do: talking about trampling all over ex-girlfriends, talking about relationships past (Frankie persuaded Cat to leave her girlfriend and then shit got real). There’s a boy there and he has a girlfriend, we don’t care, and later he has a heart-to-heart with Frankie in front of everybody about taming his man-beast, which Frankie clearly has an interest in as well. Shots for everyone!

Cat’s Cop Date is that difficult to read type who always seems like they’re totally judging you and it makes you nervous and ramble and eventually, um, you know, talking about your ex-girlfriend a lot.

It’s still remarkably confusing how Cat and Frankie were ever together, which might be one of the show’s most interesting aspects so far.

The next day, Ed and Tess are just hangin’ out, dressed like kiwi soda cans, because they’re unemployed and broke and will do just about anything for cash. Aren’t we all.

Then they start talking about Ed’s grandparents’ sex life and eventually Tess has another moment where she could be Alice talking about her post-Gabby Devoux life, or she could be a new character altogether. Hard to tell.

The conversation switches to “über-babe” TV anchor Lou Foster, a very “straight-looking” brunette with strong Jenny Schecter-potential. Right down to that bow.

Tess walks in on Lou Foster crying in the bathroom, who has just been dumped by her (MARRIED!) boyfriend. Tess consoles her and we imagine will bring her over to the gay side soon enough.

At the funeral home we get more insight into Frankie’s damaged soul as she softly caresses the CORPSE of her dead aunt, where she is interrupted by her family, who hates her probs for being a homogay. Eventually there’s a heated argument, Frankie wants to know what her aunt wanted to tell her (re: voicemail), and Frankie ends up crying in a bathroom stall. It’s really sad because it’s always sadder when Shane cries.

It’s Cat to the rescue, and the first real attempt at reconciliation leads to another important lesbian cultural reference: the use of weed-related nostalgia (specifically, the first time they got stoned together and ate all of Frankie’s uncle’s posh biscuits, because sometimes, you do that).

Frankie turns the attempt at reconciliation into a makeout attempt (classic mistake). Cat freaks out. End poignant moment, leaving Frankie looking adorably confused/pained.

In another happier place, Tess and Lou are experiencing the burning fire of straight girl conversion at a bar and then take that lust to Lou’s super-swanky apartment over glasses of wine. Lou has these um, robots, and Tess really likes them, because she is the most adorable geek ever.

Lou has always wanted to kiss a woman, and now it’s starting time for that which is neat, but not as neat as what happens next when Cat goes to visit Frankie at the funeral parlor and heads down to the morgue where Frankie is fucking a random girl with a force and velocity that suggests fisting, a Papi’s Circles-Esque technique, and/or extreme dexterity despite the presence of a zip-fly and underpants and all that other shit. Or just an oddly choreographed sex scene.

Also, are they having sex or is Frankie trying to saw her leg off?

Cat stands there in horror and disbelief and runs out, the corpse doesn’t notice because the corpse is dead, and the funeral home receptionist doesn’t notice because Frankie’s hand is probably in her ovaries.

Upon finishing, Frankie gets this weird “what have I done”/”I must be seriously fucked up”/”I wish I was dead” look on her face and throws on her jacket.

Panting receptionist lady asks for Frankie’s number, like, “But, I mean, you’re the kind of girl who hooks up with strangers in mortuaries. How do I contact you?” but Frankie says that the girl doesn’t want it. Okay, neat. But Frankie’s gone, and on her way out she doesn’t see Cat, who is standing on the side of the street, bawling her pretty eyes out.


And, before signing off, here’s the episode by the numbers:

+ Number of times someone cries in a bathroom: 2
+ Number of times Frankie has sex with someone up against a wall: 2
+ Number of times the term “Lezurrection” is used: 1
+ Number of shots taken during the obligatory bar scene: Don’t know, but I want some.

SO WHAT DO YOU THINK OF LIP SERVICE? Is it the new L Word, is it too much like The L Word, is it worse/better than you expected, do you care about these people, do you care about anything, just talk to me now.

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

Join AF+!


has written 3 articles for us.


  1. i think that it was ok, it did not surpass nor fail to reach my average expectations. i was mostly glad that the dialogue was not awkward and stilted, so i can continue watching. i also think that cat’s look is very severe and that frankie is like shane crossed with keira knightley.

  2. Oh my god I was like “omg is that that lady from Nina’s Heavenly Delights?” and then the internet was all like “hell yes it is!”
    Laura Fraser is sooooo gorgeous! That accent! *swoon*

  3. Mad props for “Are they having sex or is Frankie trying to saw her leg off.” That’s right up there with the person who tweeted “Frankie fu*** like she’s clearing a blocked drain.”

    The mercifully brief oral sex between Chloe and Shona was about as hot as a gynecological exam. Yuck.

    Re Cat, something needs to be done about her makeup, stat. I realize the weather in Glasgow can be grim, but Cat looks like she’s never seen the sun, ever. Hey, make-up people! Stop making Cat look like Marcel Marceau!

    Don’t get me wrong — this show does have potential, but I guess I’m not sold yet. It probably didn’t help that the first episode aired less than an hour after a UK cable channel had shown an episode of Bad Girls, Series One. With Helen and Nikki, the chemistry was so palpable, so immediately, that it was impossible to avoid being drawn into the story. For me, nothing in Lip Service is having that effect so far, but I’m reserving judgment until I’ve seen a few more episodes.

  4. Kudos also make Spooks, just like that show this is daft,
    predictable but extremely entertaining. It’s a shame they didn’t do a few more drafts of the script, paper over the clichés. The L word was better.

  5. i was all ready to lust after newshane but then those sex scenes happened and her weirdo speedy hands distracted me.

  6. Liked the episode, loved the recap. Cat/Laura Fraser is absolutely ADORABLE.

    Is it me or does Shane/Frankie (Shankie?) sound kinda like Lena Heady? (looks a bit like her too.) Also, Cop Lady looks a wee bit like Erin Daniels at certain angles. Just me? Okay.

  7. I got really excited when I heard someone say the word dieseldyke.
    Also future British dieseldykes, please do not take Frankie as an example. And I don’t mean the being an emotional wreck part of her, you can do that, it’s hot – I mean the “wrecking” of ..parts.

  8. It’s pretty cool alright, I think they’ve all done a savage job, the women are hot, but not so hot that they seem like fake airbrushed ladies like in the L word, the dialogue is good, and they even make Glasgow look a bit glam….all in all im happy out about it! The steady supply of women for Frankie to have sex with is convienient, ill bet there’ll be loads more and all. Watching it makes me want to move to the UK even more and be amongst the British accented gay ladies! :-D

  9. Excellent recap. — but all we heard was, “Jenny. This is Marina. I can’t stop thinking about you.” JK that would be gross. But also, like, really. — I’m still laughing at this.

    I like geeky, oblivious girls so Tess is pretty adorable. Though, my something tells me the guy is going to get the girl. I have hope for Cat and Sam. So far they’re the only two that I’ve seen with a blip of real chemistry and I saw that in the preview for episode two.

    Neither better nor worse than TLW thus far. Hopefully, we still have another five seasons to find out.

  10. I don’t know, I kind of like it. Mostly because I’ve missed having something like TLW to bitch about, something with a public awareness attached to it (600.000 watched the show on average in the UK). I also like that it rains all the time.

  11. And I know it’s full of stereotypes, but they are OUR stereotypes! Plus they are kind of positive compared to dying lesbians and / or lesbians who get in trouble because of coming out and other horrors.

    • Truth. I think it’s nice that our tiny culture has these pervasive characters that aren’t quite anywhere else. Shane/Frankie, ftw.

  12. Um, how/where/when can I watch this? Because Frankie has the sexy kind of haircut that made me cut off all my hair in high school because I thought I wanted to be like girls that looked like that…until college when I realized that I really just wanted to sleep with girls that looked like that, but for now I’ll happily settle for watching other girls sleep with girls that look like that on TV. OKTHANKSBYE!

    • This comment has been edited because it contained illegal links.

      Frankie might be sexually awkward / not nearly as attractive as Shane, but she is more beautiful than Shane IMHO

      • ah plz do this for every episode or tell me which website actually hosts it. why can’t i watch iplayer in america? cruel bbc, just cruel.

        also i really liked it. tortured hott characters are something that i’ll never get over.

        • Well I didn’t personally “do it”; the link was given to me by someone else. But you can be sure that as long as I have links for the other episodes I will share them.

  13. I think it’s pretty good, though since I just moved away from Glasgow I found some shots making me homesick.

    I don’t get the thing with British accents being sexy, but then I have a sort of mangled half-English-half-Kiwi accent myself, and am surrounded by British-accented people all the time, so I guess they’re not as exotic.

  14. I thought it was alright. I’ll keep watching it. Frankie’s such a Shane clone it’s ridiculous. I suppose Tess (Right? The blonde?) is the “Alice”. Cat just looks…old, sorry.
    I was hoping for more fun banter a la L Word, as I’m a huge fan of the dry humour of British TV. Hopefully that’s something that’ll come in time. The dress burglary scene wasn’t nearly as great as the soup chef stakeout.
    I do like the inclusion of guy friends, though! I wasn’t into the single, token douche guy per season in TLW.

  15. For me, this is my L Word. I didn’t realise I was gay until this year, well after the L word finished. Also, I’m English and that was American and I don’t think it was shown over here.

    I liked it myself. It wasn’t ‘groundbreaking'(Frankie is so like Shane it’s ridiculous)but that doesn’t matter because it’s good enough. Cat is cute, I like Scottish accents and there’s ladysex in it. What more can I ask for?

    Also, even if it was rubbish, I’d still watch it because it has lesbians in it and I’m desperate to see *any* lesbians quite frankly.

  16. I really liked it. But I guess watching The L Word from the start to it’s awful ending, I have an attachment to this sort of show. My partner and I rejoiced that the titles had no lyrics, but then so did the first series of The L Word.

    Frankie is such a rip off of Shane and I don’t believe, having been to Glasgow, that every girl is jumping each other. Also – Frankie’s sexing didn’t seem right if no one’s getting their pants off. How you going to get any…leverage?

    I like Tess, just cos she has short legs like me. England can do this thing with their shows where not everyone is over 6 foot and a knockout.

    I have high hopes. But again, the same can be said about The L Word and we all know what happened there. Cat’s crying at the end…awwh.

    (Cop reminds me of Dana too btw).

  17. I really liked it. I think it has great potential too and I can’t wait to see how it all pans out. I know it’s gonna get compared to the LWord left, right and centre, but I reckon that just ruins your viewing pleasure of it.

    I’m just going to enjoy Frankie as Frankie, aka hot girl with attitude with a slice of unresolved issues on the underside.

  18. I loved it. I just watched it after getting drunk with my straight boy cousin at a lesbian bar. And I’m studying to be an architect, and I wanna fuck Frankie, but not near dead peeps please!
    ps. excuse the drunken randomness. :)

    • I feel this way too. Fortunately I live in Scotland. The only good life decision I’ve made this year?

      • Living in scotland is the best!

        I live in Glasgow and had no idea this was filmed here otherwise I might have watched it. I wouldn’t be able to concentrate on the show though because of the novelty of a drama being filmed on my doorstep. Whenever this happens I’m constantly going “LOOK! That’s just round the corner from Sainsbury’s” or “HEY! That’s the crazy guy who stands outside the bank on St. Enoch square and threw a fish supper at my uncle once!” Infact I’m going to go and watch it and see if i can spot myself in the background.

        not really.

        …well maybe.

  19. In the obligatory bar scene, I thought they were drinking Dos Equis. False alarm. Just some other green bottle with a similar label, drunk by a sexy brooding lesbian character with family issues. WE’RE GOOD.

  20. Uhh, really? Another broody Shane-type character? C’mon! The whole sex = weapon of self-destruction motif is really starting to nauseate me. Gosh. C’mon tv land, give me a main character who sleeps around a lot but is totally positive about it! Oh wait, that was Brian Kinney. Ok, well, give me a FEMALE character who sleeps around a lot, but is totally positive about it! Oh, looks like my only choice is to go to the Nature channel and catch that special on Bonobos because as far as I know, it is not yet “believable” for women to have multiple sex partners and be well adjusted.

    [If you sensed slight undertones of sex-positivism, feminism, and ecology in this post, I love you.]

  21. right channel, wrong show…frankies speedy hands would succeed in the greatest british bake off, not in girls panties. the funeral parlor scene was disgusting and unnecessary. i need a leather jacket.

  22. what was the camera the photographer was using in the first few seconds? it’s a twin lens thing but I can’t recognize the make and model.

  23. I enjoyed this recap more than the episode itself, I think. I have no tolerance for Frankie in any way (unfortunate, she being The Main One). I hope Tess and Lou (aka Christine Bleakley? Right accent, anyway) can have a cute storyline.

    Also (having never had any lesbosexy encounters myself) I’m glad you clarified that Frankie’s gettn’ frisky parts were a bit ridic/misleading, I was getting seriously scared.

  24. Love but then weird or not I’ve never actually seen the L Word, I didn’t find out about it for a long time and I think it was always on a Sky channel like Living or something and we’ve only had Sky for a few years.

  25. Wait wait…Where the heck did Frankie’s camera go in that first scene when she was holding it but then was fucking? Did she just stick it up that chick’s cha-cha??

  26. Hey LipService retweeted this recap post!! So you see, Lip Service is far more superior than Lword and IFC, as they appreciate and acknowledge quality websites/coverage of their show!! Woot!!

  27. Loved this.

    I really enjoyed the first episode. I think I can relate to this show and its characters far more easily than I could to the ones in the L Word. It’s probably because the show’s made in the UK, the people & culture are more familiar / make more sense to me.

  28. ok so its basically the l word but british, but do i even care? no. i hearted the show/the awesome recap. =D

    It felt like the alternative/better direction to that really dark “plot line” that ruined dancing sunflowers, winter-themed weddings, and eventually anyone one who had that tinge of cray-cray that used to draw me in like a shiney object.

    IFC is so gonna try to top this in a few years… or bottom it, depending on how you look at things.

  29. i’ve got cheap ass basic cable channels and a crappy computer with a shiite connection, how can i watch?

    also, this made me realize how much i miss the l word recaps once provided by Riese.

  30. Hmm, wasn’t too impressed by Lip Service.

    I found it to be less like L Word, and rather more like Queer as Folk (the UK version), specifically that much of the show only works if you buy into the central conceit that the main character is sex incarnate.

    For several reasons, Frankie failed to set my vagina a-flutter. She has the looks, I also believed her concealed angst in returning to Glasgow. But her delivery was terrible. I think she summed it up when she was schooling Tess in the art of lesbian pick-up: act aloof. The character, indeed the whole ethos behind the character, seems far too studied. In trying to heighten her cool she sounds bored and wooden (or cringingly smug when delivering those pick-up lines). I think she’d be far more effective if she didn’t say anything at all.

    I’m a beast of simple pleasures and could prob have forgiven all of this for some decent sex scenes, but sadly we were given an array of decidedly unsexy fingerbangs and porn-pastiche oral.

    There were some glimmers of hope for what’s to come – I liked the banter between friends, really nothing epitomises British culture as much as sitting at the pub taking the piss out of each other. Even that is compromised though, because of the whole Frankie/Cat awkwardness.

    I’m just disgruntled because if this were a programme about straight people, I wouldn’t watch the next episode.

  31. Pingback: THE MOST CAKE » Blog Archive » The Week in Gay: more anti-gay violence in NY, DADT ruled unconstitutional in California, and wear purple today!

  32. It definitely is NOT better than the L word. The L word really provided more diversity that was reflective of the gay community. I do love the Lip Service. But, sadly it shows quite a bit of similar overtones. It is a great show, but NOT better!

  33. I thought it was good. I’m sure it would be hard to create anything lesbian-themed these days without it seeming like The L Word. Did The L Word totally ruin everything for the future? Is it like your best kiss? Is it “the show upon which all other shows will be compared?” Probs.

    Also, is Frankie supposed to be Scottish?! I’m not buying it… her accent sounds English to me…

  34. I will one day marry Roxane McKee a.k.a uberhot Lou. It is settled and will indeed happen as soon as I meet her and make her love me. Kbye

  35. I love how with this show you can compare it to programmes such as the L word and really notice the cultural differences between America and Britain. Like the fact they go to the pub instead of a cafe.
    You are bound to see similarities between characters as you will always find stereotypes on any ‘scene’. They’ve always been there but maybe not noticed so much until put in some form of public format for everyone to see. TV gives us the chance to see things from an outsiders view point which then makes it easier to notice those same things going on around us. ‘Shane’s’ have always been around, long before the L word was ever created, only difference now is that we have someone to compare the ‘Shane’s’ with.
    I quite like this show, the fact its only being shown on bbc3 suprises me. Sugar Rush was at-least shown on channel 4 (If you havent seen it check it out – awesome series).

  36. If your in UK its on BBC3 and you can recap episodes on BBC i player, but if you cant get on to that try stagevu. Both of the episodes so far are on there, not watched them though so don’t know how good the quality is or if they work. :)

  37. Ok – Frankie = Not as hot as shane, tedious story line.
    Kat = annoying, then likable, then annoying again
    Tess = Less funny alice, but still ok…
    SAM = HOT
    and Sadie = HOT

    makes up for it, and the male characters are gd, somthing missed from TLW

  38. A touch dull, no? It was a bunch of sad then happy then crying then sorry then unsorry then crying scenes, glued with manic-punch-sex and real ‘tude from the blonde-Shane…. will I still watch? most probably…

  39. A bit late to the party…. But I have to say, I LOVE Frankie. Sure, she’s got some things in common with Shane- the brooding, the sex-as-destruction. But she’s got enough differences that I love her character. I love that we see a softer side, partially her having a bit of a higher pitched voice- she comes off as having more of a vulnerable side. Shane just can’t commit, Frankie has some serious unresolved issues. Shane feels very natural, Frankie appears to be intentionally putting on her aloof sex-machine act, and I love that we have a character ‘putting on a face’. Plus, I love that she keeps such a private life- we see characters leaning on their friends all the time, and it’s great, but as one of those people who is’nt good at confiding in others, I kind of love seeing a character I can relate to. And I like that she’s more realistic. I adored Shane, but she wasn’t very realistic. At all. So she’s a mess, she sometimes goes on drug / sex binges, etc… But she’s the perfect friend? Idealistic, but unlikely. Frankie, on the other hand, tries hard, and sometimes she’s a good friend…. But sometimes her issues get in the way and she does things that aren’t so great. We see her take the fall for Cat at work in a later ep, but we also see her do plenty of not-so-great stuff to/with her friends. And the more honest approach. Plus? I have a feeling we’ll see more character development. After 6 seasons Shane never developed behind the original shtick. I’m eager to see the ways Frankie’s character will, hopefully, evolve.

  40. Pingback: Autostraddle Needs Help | Loki Renard

Comments are closed.