Jasmine began exhibiting all the signs of a young teen struggling to come to terms with her sexuality, and several weeks ago she acknowledged her crush on Debbie. Their best friend relationship began developing into one of love and affection, and at the end of April, Debbie kissed Jasmine and the couple exchanged "I love you's".
Now that they've kissed, everyone has their theories about what will become of their relationship, though most fans believe that Debbie is up to her old Dingle ways.
Her mother Charity once had a fling with resident Emmerdale lesbian Zoe (then promptly married Zoe's brother Chris), leading some fans to believe that she is in a "lesbian phase" just like her mother. Also, because of Debbie's strained relationship with her biological father, other fans believe that "turning gay" would also be a classic way for Debbie to get back at him.
Either way, Debbie's history of being a self-centered brat is marring the impact of what could potentially be a positive portrayal of teen sexuality.
Because of her circumstances, perhaps viewers should forgive Debbie for being the conniving, attention-seeking 16 year-old that she is. But as far as lesbian representation goes, she is not our best archetype.
Even if her intentions are as sincere as Jasmine's, Debbie's fame precedes her. Though many lesbian viewers are heralding their relationship as positive and inspiring, outside of the comfort of GLBT forums, many fans think it is a joke.
Of course, the genre of the show must also be considered. Zoe Tate was arguably Britain's best lesbian character, and she was an arsonist and a murderer, not to mention a victim of torture and kidnapping (with a dramatized case of schizophrenia to boot). In soap operas, no one is immune to being sleazy or abused, and this is what fans thrive on. So in perspective, Debbie and Jasmine's relationship is off to a positive, even banal, start.
Unfortunately, their relationship will take a bad turn this week. On Friday's show (May 12), Debbie will accidentally out them in the town cafe, and a distraught Jasmine will confide in Debbie's father Cain, who tells her that she can't know she's a lesbian until she's slept with a man like him.
The Daily Star's Soaper Star reports that though Jasmine may initially rebuke his advances, she will have a change of heart in the future. This opens the door for one of the most tired heterocentric cliches around–lesbians just need a man.
And although lesbian fans so far are calling Debbie and Jasmine one of the better lesbian couples on British TV, no doubt their thoughts will change if it is revealed that Debbie really is manipulating Jasmine to anger her father, or if Cain really can "cure" Jasmine's lesbian ways.
In a way, typical soap opera behaviours like murder can be dismissed as fantastical, but a character that reinforces lesbian stereotypes cannot because they represent true beliefs held by many viewers.
Mainstream shows have only recently begun to deal with teen sexuality, but they have done so with positive results thus far. Over the past year, shows like South of Nowhere and DeGrassi: The Next Generation have dealt with issues related to lesbian and bisexual teens, a formula that has received a lot of positive attention from both gay and straight viewers. Addressing teen sexuality in entertainment is also increasingly relevant from a cultural perspective, as studies show that more and more people are coming out at a younger age.
With Emmerdale's long history of developing positive lesbian characters, there is still hope for Debbie and Jasmine (either separately or together). So far their young relationship is a good one, but only time will tell if their love is true and lasting, or if it will phase out into the Land of Cliches like so many other promising lesbian TV couples.