Jennifer Lopez is developing an hour-long drama for ABC Family about a lesbian couple. The couple, a cop and a private school teacher, is busy raising three kids when a “wayward teen” moves into their house. Lopez may appear as a guest star on the show but is not slated to be one of the leads.
Now, the words “Jennifer Lopez” and “lesbian” in the same sentence might conjure thoughts of the train wreck known as Gigli but I have reason to hope that this show will be good. It’s on ABC Family. While the network was once best known for The 700 Club and movies even Lifetime turned down, the network has changed a lot in recent years. I can’t imagine that Pat Robertson is thrilled to share a network with Pretty Little Liars but that’s his tough darts. PLL has done a great job dealing with Emily’s coming out, her plethora of romantic partners, and has excelled at entertaining while creeping us out each week. (And, to less fanfare, they’ve also given us a storyline about lesbian moms on The Secret Life of the American Teenager.) I am hopeful that the network has figured out how to incorporate layered, full, and rich depictions of lesbian characters into its lineup and that it will carry over into this new show.
Another reason for hope is that Peter Paige is one of the writer/creators of the show. Paige may be best known to you as adorably flaming, Southern sweetie, Emmett Honeycutt from Queer as Folk, but the out actor has also popped up in guest spots on shows such as Grey’s Anatomy, The Closer, and Bones. Having a gay man at the helm of a show is surely no guarantee that we’ll love everything about it (paging Ryan Murphy) but it does give me hope that there will be at least one person in the room who thinks about the societal impact this portrayal of lesbian parents might have.
I get excited about any show that brings more lesbians to television. Of course it’s not enough just to bring lesbians to the small screen. We need the portrayals to be rich, nuanced, and well done but sometimes we also just need numbers. Because the show is slated for ABC Family its audience will not be limited to only those people who subscribe to premium channels like HBO and Showtime. A show centered on lesbian parents may be the first introduction millions of people have to same-sex parents. It would be incredible if the show could demystify lesbian parents the same way that other shows, like Will & Grace, familiarized the country with gay people. It’s a lot to ask any show to live up to Will & Grace, but it doesn’t cost anything to hope that more lesbian visibility on television can help transform the real world.
ABC Family has fast-tracked the show, indicating that the network is serious about adding it to its lineup. There haven’t been any announcements of who might play either of the moms or the kids on the show, but I hope that Lopez uses her clout to give us a little diversity in the cast.
Will you be watching the show? Who would you like to see cast as the parents?