8. Jennifer Aniston on Dirt (FX)
Episode 1.13 “Ita Missa Est” (2007)
The hype leading up to the series finale of this behind-the-tabloids drama was ridiculous, with every real-life newspaper,
tabloid, and entertainment site touting the kiss between Jennifer Aniston and Courteney Cox in
the season finale. The kiss inevitably turned out
to be no big deal,
but Aniston was excellent as Lucy’s lesbian rival tabloid
editor and former occasional lover, Tina Herrod.
and immoral, Tina coolly mixed business with pleasure in
a way we usually only see male characters do on TV. As they
catch up over lunch, Tina shows Lucy pictures of her partner and
kids and admonishes her, “You have to trust somebody, sweetie, this is
no way to live” — all while she’s secretly working against her (and casually hitting on her).
itself was as sleazy as its subject matter —
and not very good — but Tina was refreshingly complex and appealing.
If only they had revolved the series around her character, instead of Cox’s, more people might have tuned in.
7. Jamie Pressly on Fastlane (Fox)
Episode 1.11 “Strap On” (2003)
Before she joined My Name is Earl, Jaime Pressly‘s Sara was seduced by Tiffani Thiessen‘s undercover cop Billie on the short-lived crime drama Fastlane.
Although Billie was initially only pretending to
fall for Sara to capture her and her partner-in-crime in
action, the women ended up developing geniune feelings for
Unfortunately, Sara was sent off to prison, and Fastlane was subsequently canceled. But it was fun while it lasted!
6. Dana Delany on The L Word (Showtime)
Episode 3.4 “Light My Fire” (2006)
There are enough good guestbians
on The L Word to fill up the entire list, but I chose Dana
Delany (Desperate Housewives, China Beach) because her character was one of the few on the
series who seemed like she could give Bette (Jennifer Beals) a serious run for her
Delany’s Senator Barbara Grisham tried
to seduce Bette after witnessing her impassioned argument to her Senate
committee against cutting funding for the arts.
The Senator invited Bette to a
cocktail party after the hearing adjourned, and later offered her a ride back to her apartment to see her art
When Bette asks her, “Do you always get people to do
want them to?” she might as well have been talking about herself. Barbara didn’t get Bette, in the
end (because Bette wouldn’t cheat on Tina again), but she
definitely my attention. Too bad they didn’t revolve the L Word spinoff around her — who wouldn’t watch Lesbians in the House (and Senate)?
5. Tessa Tompson on Cold Case (CBS)
Episode 2.22 “Best Friends” (2005)
Technically this one shouldn’t really qualify, since this was Tessa Thompson‘s first role (she went on to join the cast of Veronica Mars, and can currently be seen in Mississippi Damned), so she was hardly a high-profile actress then. But this is one of the best (and few)
positive portrayals of a lesbian (especially a butch lesbian) on an American procedural crime drama,
so I’m including it anyway.
In “Best Friends,” Thompson played
a butch lesbian named Billie in the 1930s whose untimely death becomes
the focus of an investigation years later. While another dead lesbian isn’t
thrilling, Billie’s sexuality was handled sensitively and her character
Det. Lily Rush (Kathryn Morris) discovered that Billie died when she and her girlfriend Rose (played by Samantha Streets) intentionally drive off a bridge to escape Rose’s brother (who was trying to kill Billie) and to be “together forever.” But Rose accidentally survived and spent the rest of her life feeling guilty, because “I betrayed my girl. I lived.”
When Rose, now a great-grandmother, wondered aloud if her feelings for Billie were
wrong, Lily told her, “No, not wrong. It was the wrong time.”