I am convinced that somewhere there is a guidebook for screenwriters that has a one-page chapter called “Girls Kissing” that reads like this:
You want to add a lesbian to your movie or television show, right? Wrong! What you want is a bisexual, so you can use her as an exit-strategy. While there are a couple of good reasons to add lesbians to your stories (i.e. sweeps, stunts, etc.), you must think of it like going to war: You need clear goal (ratings), an easy target (straight men 18-34) and an exit strategy (bisexuals who only date men, psychosis, pregnancy, death). When interest wanes — and oh, it will — shut it down. Breaking up lesbian relationships is easy, because who in the world is tracking that? (No one.)
It is rare for a lesbian or bisexual character to get a storyline she deserves, and even rarer for her to get a decent breakup.
Here are nine of the dumbest fictional lesbian relationship breakups.
9) The O.C.: The sociopath on the Marissa/Alex ship turns out not to be a Cooper.
The problem with The O.C.‘s lesbian storyline isn’t that Marissa (Mischa Barton) and Alex (Olivia Wilde) broke up; they were always going to break up. The problem with The O.C.‘s lesbian storyline is that placed against any other person on the planet, in every possible scenario you can construct, Marissa Cooper is the one who would have a psychotic break from reality.
Alex was a strong, independent, empathetic bisexual who never mocked the kids of Orange County for ordering Yoo-Hoo at her bar; nor did she punch Seth Cohen in the mouth for acting like Seth Cohen. Marissa and Alex’s story was so faithful to the teenage experience of dating another girl — until sweeps were over. Immediately, Alex turned into a girlfriend-stalking, beer can-throwing, fit-pitching, verbally abusive lunatic. Basic O.C. rule of thumb: when Julie Cooper’s intuition about you is correct, the writers are lying.
8) Kissing Jessica Stein: Helen ends up with a Jewish Sandra Dee who ends up with a boy.
It would be easy to write off Kissing Jessica Stein as just another movie where girl-meets-girl and then passes the time with her until she meets a handsome boy — but this movie is so much more than that. It’s an organic look at the fluidity of sexuality and the easily-blurred lines between friendship and sustainable sexual attraction.
Thing is: I just don’t buy Jessica (Jennifer Westfeldt) and Helen’s (Heather Juergensen) breakup.
The story says Jessica loves Helen, but isn’t in love with Helen — but I saw the way Jessica strutted down the hall when she was falling for Helen, and I saw the way she bolted from her chair when Helen seduced her in the restaurant.
I’ve got a lot of friends, and none of them make me feel like that.
7) Bad Girls: Helen breaks up with Nikki and is the only one who doesn’t feel sad about it.
Nikki (Mandana Jones) and Helen (Simone Lahbib) break up at least three times before the first time they get together — when Helen’s eyelids get heavy and her voice goes soft and she gives Nikki the single fantasy they have in common: “I’m not your jailer anymore.”
Even the full-text of Nikki’s murder confession and her reckless jail break don’t cause Helen to call it off. So it was silly and heart-wrenching when somewhere in the middle of series three, Nikki did what she had always done (make noise about injustice) and Helen responded the way she always responded (by fixing it) only to have Helen show up at Nikki’s cell door and say, “You betrayed me tonight. I don’t want anything more to do with you. And do you know something? I don’t even feel sad about it.”
By the end of the series, they were together in the daylight, but you can’t get some words back.
Their breakup was superfluous and rather than adding to the suspense of Nikki’s appeal, it just made me nauseous for five straight episodes.