2009 Year in Review: Television

INTERNATIONAL TELEVISION

With lesbian and bisexual characters dwindling on Stateside TV, many Americans turned to overseas programming this year. Spain’s Hospital Central and Los Hombres de Paco were two of the most popular international shows with AfterEllen.com readers.

Sadly, Los Hombres de Paco took its cue from American writers with its 2009 lesbian storyline. The super popular lesbian couple Silvia and Pepa (played by Marián Aguilera and Laura Sanchez) were lucky enough to share the same amount of physical intimacy as heterosexual couples on the Spanish soap. They got engaged, and their wedding even went off without a hitch.

Until Silvia was gunned down in her wedding dress.

She died an agonizingly painful death in the arms of Pepa.

On Hospital Central, the famous lesbian couple Esther and Maca (played by Fátima Baeza and Patricia Vico) saw their share of ups and downs, but the couple (who had been estranged from one another) finally began the slow process of reuniting this season. They even decided to move back in with one another.

Unfortunately (always with the "unfortunately"), Beaza and Vico have decided to leave the show next season. Hopefully they will hold hands as they ride off into the sunset. It may seem cliche, but it’s not as played as a lesbian dying on her wedding day.

THE YEAR AHEAD

We confess that things look bleak for lesbian visibility in 2010.

In 2009, cable said goodbye to dozens of lesbian and bisexual characters with The L Word. Daytime lost all of its lesbian characters. And of the lesbian/bisexual women on network TV, the only show that will definitely be back in 2010 is Grey’s Anatomy.

But if 2009 taught us anything, it’s that authentic, endearing queer characters and couples can come from the most unlikely places. We were finished with Grey’s Anatomy when they fired Brooke Smith. And while we still miss her character, we are glad they’ve given us Calzona.

We’re looking across the pond for our most exciting prospects in the coming year.

BBC3 is producing Lip Service, Scotland’s answer to The L Word. Set in Glasgow and created by openly gay writer Harriet Braun, the show will air on BBC3 in the spring.

Said Braun:

I loved The L Word but it’s high time we saw some contemporary British lesbians, with all the bad weather, trips to the pub and repressed emotions that go with that. It will be as funny as it is pathos-filled, because in my experience that’s how life is.

BBC2 is working on The Secret Diaries Of Miss Anne Lister, a drama about Britain’s "first modern lesbian."

Anne Lister produced a four million word diary that has only recently been fully decoded. In it she writes about her life as a gay woman in the 1800s. She spares no details about the romances she engaged in and the lovers she took. She even eventually married a wealthy heiress.

And then there is The Real L Word.

The producers are apparently looking for real women who fit the profiles of the characters on the show. Will it be organic? Will it be authentic? Will it be realistic? We don’t know. But we know it will be dramatic — and hopefully not in that Ikki Twins way.

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