I WATCHED BROTHERS & SISTERS AND ALL I GOT WAS THIS LOUSY BANDANNA
This week’s episode of ABC’s Brothers & Sisters included a minor lesbian character — and by "minor," I mean if you ducked into the kitchen to grab a soda, you probably missed her. The woman in question was Donna (Kim Murphy Zandell), the daughter of a neighboring family with whom the Walkers have a longstanding board game rivalry, and a friend of Kevin’s from high school.
Upon meeting again, Donna immediately chastised Kevin, saying, "I haven’t seen you at any of the HRC meetings lately. Or the gay task force meetings, or the GLSEN fundraiser last month, or the GLAAD meeting …" To which he replies, annoyed, "You know what Donna, that’s because I’m not as gay as you." Then he stormed off, and we didn’t really see her again.
Ah yes, the life of a lesbian — it’s all about protesting the oppressive, patriarchal, heteronormative society and raining on everyone’s parade. If only we could get a collective life!
And did you notice Donna’s wearing a bandanna? Yes, a bandanna! What is this, 1973?
I’m a fan of this show in general, and I watch it every week, but by the time the first season’s over, the show will have featured four prominent, well-developed and multidimensional gay male characters — in addition to its regular gay character, Kevin (Matthew Rhys), the show has featured three gay men in prominent supporting roles (as Kevin’s boyfriends), and the writers are about to reveal that one of the other male family members is gay (don’t click if you don’t want to know!) — and a 30-second appearance by a militant lesbian with no sense of humor and bad fashion sense.
I don’t mind that the show doesn’t have a lesbian character — what it’s doing for gay male visibility on TV is important and long overdue — but throwing in a stereotypical lesbian just for cheap laughs is not cool. The fact that the showrunner, Greg Berlanti, is an openly gay man proves once again that gay men in Hollywood are just as likely as straight men to throw lesbians under the bus on-screen — when they include lesbians at all. There are more openly gay men writing for, creating, and running network TV shows (Brothers and Sisters, Desperate Housewives, Ugly Betty, etc.) than ever before, but the number of lesbian characters on network TV has dwindled to none, while the number of gay male characters has increased in number and complexity.
And people wonder why lesbians and gay men can’t all just get along. If it weren’t for gay men like Bryan Fuller (Wonderfalls) and my wonderfully lesbian-supportive AfterElton.com editor Michael Jensen, I’d be tempted to write them off altogether.
Lesbian screenwriters and filmmakers do sometimes put stereotypical gay male characters in their films and shows, but not nearly as often. But that’s probably because we’re too busy attending HRC meetings, glaring at people who are having fun, and wondering which bandanna goes with this outfit.
GABRIELLE A GO-GO
Malinda did a short interview with Xena‘s Renee O’Connor at the AfterEllen.com Dinah party a few weeks ago, and we’ve finally got it ready for you to see. We added subtitles so you won’t miss the movies Renee has in the pipeline, or the sad lack of marriage proposals she received at Dinah:
var ext_width = "422";
var ext_height = "364";
var ext_autoplay = "false";
var ext_channelname = "AfterEllen";
var ext_adDomain = "afterl.mtvi";
var ext_bcpid = "271543505";
var ext_playername = "brightcove_466";
var ext_iframename = "iframe_466";
var ext_flashobjname = "flashObj_466";
var ext_refid = null;
var ext_lineupid = null;
var ext_bctid = "769654247";