Next week, the networks are expected to announce their fall lineups to advertisers at the annual upfronts, and leading up to the upfronts is the inevitable speculation about which pilots are going to make it into prime time. I have no idea which pilots will be picked up, but I can tell you this much: The outlook is poor for lesbians and bisexual women.
More on that later, but first, there are a number of pilots that look like they'll include quite interesting women as lead characters. Here are the ones that give me the most lesbianish vibe:
The Sarah Connor Chronicles (Fox) — Word is the Fox execs are very happy with this pilot that follows Sarah Connor and her son John from the Terminator movies as she fights to save the world from those evil machines. Even better? Sarah Connor is played by Lena Headey of Imagine Me & You, and Summer Glau (from Joss Whedon's Firefly) plays the role of Cameron, a fellow student at 15-year-old John's high school. The buzz says this is one pilot that will surely be picked up for a series. Here's Headey with Thomas Dekker, who plays John:
Babylon Fields (CBS) — Amber Tamblyn (didn't you love her in Joan of Arcadia?) stars in this comedic drama about a town where the dead are resurrected and resume their former lives. Yeah, sounds weird, but the pilot reportedly turned out well, and you know that supernatural comedic dramas have a much higher chance than any other genre of including queer women!
Them (Fox) — This sci-fi thriller from David Eick (Battlestar Galactica), about a sleeper cell from another world operating in Los Angeles, is generating lots of good buzz. But there's only one thing you need to know about this: Tricia Helfer is in it. Yeah, she plays a woman who is as "seductive as she is free-spirited, using her powerful sexuality to gather information on unsuspecting human males," but whatever. I think "free-spirited" is code for "sweeps-period lesbian threesome."
The Bionic Woman (NBC) — Another potential series from David Eick, this reimagining of the 1970s show about the bionic Jaime Sommers stars Michelle Ryan (EastEnders) as the title character. More importantly (for me, anyway), Katee Sackhoff (BSG's Starbuck) has been cast as Sarah, an evil bionic woman who becomes Sommers' nemesis. Count me in! Here's a cute photo of Helfer and Sackhoff together at this year's AFI Awards:
Football Wives (ABC) — This trashy, campy British dramedy is finally making its way over to American shores. There's no guarantee it'll get lesbian on us, but you can all take heart: Lucy Lawless plays the series' ruthless diva, Tanya Austin. Here's a pic of her from the set:
Swingtown (CBS) — This pilot sounds a bit adventurous for procedural-heavy CBS, as it centers on the effect the sexual revolution had on American households in the 1970s ("wife swapping" is often mentioned in press releases about this show). To me, this just sounds like an excuse to exploit sweeps lesbianism throughout the entire season, and I just hope that there's more to Swingtown than swinging.
Nurses (Fox) — This one-hour drama about nurses has one thing going for it (at least for lesbian and bi viewers): It stars Eliza Dushku, who played Faith on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the awesome butchy cheerleader in Bring it On.
There are also a few pilots with lesbian or bisexual women as recurring characters, but Sarah will update you about the status of those in her BLWE column on Friday. As you all may recall, now that Laura Innes has left ER, there are no (as in ZERO) lesbian recurring characters on prime time scripted network TV. There will likely be lesbians and bisexual women on reality TV as well as on cable, but we all know where the prestige and the press focuses: scripted prime-time network TV. Not having any lesbians or bisexual women as recurring characters is inexcusable. Shape up, networks!