Part of the trouble is that our whole society is geared to be a performance for dudes — just take a quick peek at the advertising and magazine industry if you don’t believe that — and it’s hard to believe that a TV show is letting something authentic and organic develop between two women without any payoff for the patriarchy. Part of it is the stigma that comes from the word “subtext” because we throw it around all willy-nilly these days to the point where it’s been diluted to mean “two same-gendered characters who stand close and make eye-contact when they talk.” But most of it, I think, is that queer women have been so starved of television visibility for so long that we’re terrified of anything without labels.
If a TV character doesn’t make it onto GLAAD’s annual “Where We Are on TV” report, does it count as Visibility? If a TV character doesn’t say the word “gay” out loud, can she change society’s perceptions and misgivings about gay people? If two lady trees fall down on top of each other in the forest and no dude tree is around to get off on it, does it really make a sound?
A lot of people will say it’s 2013 and it’s a full-blown cop-out to have a relationship like HG and Myka’s on TV without a sexual payoff, without an on-screen confession that will allow us to bag them and tag them and call them our own. But, to me, HG and Myka’s story has been more engaging and real and raw than a dozen uninspired ones we can proudly hoist over our heads and wave like a rainbow flag.
House featured a bisexual Thirteen who made out with a woman one time for a nanosecond. 90210 gave Adrianna Tate-Duncan a three-episode lesbian arc that was as banal and lifeless. The rebooted Melrose Place did the same thing with Ella Simms. Bones did the same thing with Angela Montenegro. The O.C. flirted with the idea of Marissa and Alex, but it was pretty obvious that storyline was a last-ditch ratings ploy to keep the series afloat. Gay lady TV history is absolutely littered with stories like these.
Were they necessary to move the Visibility meter forward? Maybe. But they played out as pedestrian. I’ll take the delicious, convincing, heartrending, gut-checking glory of Bering and Wells over perfunctory storytelling any day.
Look, we need The Fosters. We need Grey’s Anatomy. We need Glee. We need Pretty Little Liars. We need firm labels and proud storytelling about lesbian and bisexual characters. If we lose those stories and those characters, we, as a community, lose our voices and our reflections. But we also need to step forward to a place where not everything has to be shaken down and parsed out and labeled and shelved. Any ol’ TV couple can have sex. But it’s the delirious foreplay that works like a magical artifact on our souls.
Jaime Murray will make an appearance in the final season of Warehouse 13 (which is good because leaving her trapped in hetero-suburbia would be worse than what Doctor Who did to Donna Noble!), but it’s not Kenny’s plan to end the show with HG and Myka walking off into the sunset.
“If the series were to go on,” Kenny told me, “we would have explored [HG and Myka's] relationship further, but given only six episodes to wrap up the series, there really isn’t the time for peripheral characters like HG or Jane Lattimer or Hugo or MacPherson, as much as I adore them all!” But he also told me: “I don’t think Myka would ever say never [to HG], and would concede that sometime down the road, who knows? Myka has learned that there are a lot of meanings to the term ‘Endless Wonder.’”