FROM FOUR CHANNELS TO FOUR OUT ACTRESSES: NETWORK TV, HOW YOU’VE GROWN
I used to expect a lot from network television. I had to: I grew up in the middle of nowhere with four channels and one cranky dad who had to keep climbing up on the roof to adjust the aerial antenna. But then I grew up, moved on, got cable and discovered that TV could be both abundant and adventurous. So now I expect a lot less from the networks — which only means I’m pleasantly surprised sometimes. Like when two out actresses land prominent roles on prime-time series.
First, as we reported earlier this week, Cherry Jones has joined the cast of 24, Fox’s Emmy-winning drama. She’ll play President Allison Taylor. That’s right: The show that brought us Mia Kirshner as an assassin (arguably, The L Word has done the same thing) now brings us Cherry Jones as the leader of the free world.
At this point, we don’t know much about President Taylor, but I for one don’t need much: Jones is a phenomenal talent and deserves big fame. Plus, maybe she’ll be able to get her girlfriend Sarah Paulson a better gig than Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip — together they could develop Studio 24, combining sketch comedy with political intrigue and ushering in a new era of drug-free, round-the-clock disco. (Arguably, The L Word has done the same thing.)
It’s a short trip from the White House to Beantown, where we find a second out actress on network TV. A few weeks ago, Malinda reported that Saffron Burrows would guest star in several episodes of Boston Legal — but just three weeks into the filming of the fourth season, Burrows has been made a permanent member of the cast.
We could have told you she’d impress you, ABC: You think Fiona Shaw dates just anyone? Hey, let me apply the get-your-girlfriend-a-job idea here and suggest that Burrows try to get Shaw a part on Boston Legal as Denny Crane’s nemesis. It’s an Aunt Petunia–Captain Kirk smackdown! My money’s on Harry Potter’s pinched but tenacious guardian.
Burrows won’t be playing gay (apparently her character once seduced James Spader’s), and it doesn’t sound like Jones will either. We still have to turn to cable for some things, like Portia de Rossi playing a lesbian on Nip/Tuck and Glenn Close teasing lesbians on Damages.