Off the Map creator Jenna Bans is taking a page out of mentor Shonda Rhimes’ playbook and will feature a lesbian couple on an upcoming episode of the rookie drama about a group of young doctors — Wonderfalls favorite Caroline Dhavernas, Mamie Gummer (The Good Wife) and Zach Gilford (Friday Night Lights) — who enlist for work at a medical clinic in the tropics.
Bans told AfterEllen.com exclusively that the ABC series, which premieres Wednesday, will feature a lesbian couple who are patients being treated at the clinic in episode 12.
“They have a great perspective on marriage and we delve into what they’re going through as a couple,” Bans said Monday at ABC’s Television Critics Association mixer. “The back story of the couple is that they’ve been together for 20 years — they made it official in Massachusetts 10 years ago and they’re really at a crisis point in their marriage.”
“[The lesbian couple’s story is] basically a second honeymoon: They’re on vacation to try to save their marriage and to inject a little more life into it because they feel like it’s gotten stale,” Bans noted. “One of the women is clinging to the marriage more than the other one is. It’s a really nice metaphor for the medical story we’re telling with them and it ends up really affecting Ben (the head doctor at the clinic played by Martin Henderson) in his personal relationship on-screen with Ryan (Twilight’s Rachelle Lefevre). We’re really excited about it; it’s still in the genesis process.”
Shonda Rhimes and Jenna Bans
While the roles are still being written and casting will get under way in the next couple weeks, Bans noted that she’s “absolutely” open to casting out actresses for the parts.
“We haven’t really thought about [specific names], but I feel like it’s the same sort of color blind casting that we do in Shonda Rhimes’ camp: It’s the best actor for the part and that’s what’s important in the end. Anything else is totally irrelevant.”
The lesbian couple is currently set to appear in one episode, but Bans noted that there’s always the “chance that a patient comes back around” and that should the series be renewed for a second season, she’d love to regularly feature a gay character on the show.
“We don’t have any plans with the series regulars as they stand now [for gay characters] but it’s definitely something we keep in mind to give a lot of different types of people voices on the show,” Bans said. “It’s something we’re always conscious of. We’re always looking at the show and making sure tons of different people are represented.”
“Off the Map” premieres Wednesday at 10 p.m. on ABC. Will you watch?