Down Under: A history of lesbian/bi visibility in Australia


3. Progressive Soap Operas and Daytime Television

Daytime television and soap operas are a traditionally conservative genre. The most famous Australian examples — Neighbours and Home and Away — have in themselves produced over the years enough, erm, interesting portrayals of same-sex female attraction that they warrant a whole other article (oh, I’m writing it, don’t worry), but Australia’s other soaps have had a surprising number of tales of lesbian love worth mentioning too.  

Pacific Drive (1996-1997) which was a sort of Aussie Melrose Place, starred an out lesbian character Zoe Marshall, played by Libby Tanner (who later also shared a same-sex kiss on the drama series All Saints) along with a string of her female lovers. Daytime television’s Breakers (1998-1999) also rates a mention for its portrayal of the relationship (containing a higher lesbian-processing to actual relationship ratio than I’ve seen on any other show, in the history of the world, ever), between characters Lucy and Kelly.

Later came Out of the Blue (2008), a soap frequently described as being “kind of like Neighbours, but for grown-ups,” and featured a ridiculously adorable relationship (and a wedding) between the rather beautiful characters Peta (Daisy Betts) and Poppy (Katherine Hicks).

4. Portrayal of Sexual Fluidity

Australian TV has also provided various story lines that show an understanding that human sexuality is not always black and white and neatly catalogued. Melbourne based drama The Secret Life of Us (2001–2005) is a good example, screening a fairly non-judgemental, non-exploitative attraction and kiss between straight character Alex (Claudia Karvan) and her queer manager Pandora (Susie Porter) in its first season.

In 2003, the show also produced a rather lovely tale of the relationship that developed between previously straight girl Miranda (Abi Tucker) and lesbian character Chloe (Nina Liu). You know, I’m pretty sure it’s storylines like these that keep’s “I’m in love with a straight girl! Do I have a chance?” forums alive. That aside, the relationship played out with very little angst or fuss or major redefinitions of identity and you can read more about it here.

Not so great was All Saints‘ (1998-2009) clumsy treatment of the character Dr. Charlotte Beaumont (Tammy MacIntosh). The doctor was a woman whose lesbian sexuality — though proudly proclaimed at first — was portrayed entirely via a one-night-only alcohol fuelled hook-up with a straight nurse (Libby Tanner’s Bron) and a short-lived relationship with another woman — most of which seemed to play off-screen — and then, oops, a fling with a man which left her pregnant. Which — surprise! — meant no more lesbian action for you, Charlotte. Still to this day I can’t decide if this storyline makes me want to scream or yawn. Maybe both. Scrawn!

I’m sorry, All Saints, writers, but you saw those tank tops right?

Pages: 1 2 3 4

Tags: , , , , , ,