Lesbians are on TV, so who is watching?


90210, as I mentioned in a previous piece on gay men vs. gay women on TV, is an interesting case in point: When the character Adrianna (Jessica Lowndes) began a relationship with lesbian Gia (Rumer Willis), it was portrayed as a fling (despite being discussed by executive producer Rebecca Sinclair beforehand as anything but). Months prior to the new season premiere, the show created a buzz about one of three male stars coming out on the show, saying it was going to be a huge, organic storyline that is true to the real life gay experience.

It’s interesting that there are several more lesbian and bisexual female characters on shows, in addition to the obvious ones touted in the article (and other articles, including the hot button Newsweek piece that argued gay actors couldn’t play straight). So why are they consistently ignored? There isn’t any mention of Grey’s Anatomy, True Blood, Pretty Little Liars, Stargate Universe, HawthoRNe, The Good Wife, or FlashForward (which was cancelled, but so was Ugly Betty). If they were looking to prove the point that many gay-themed storylines are no longer about the coming out process only, several of these would have been perfect to mention or expand upon. Most of these shows are champions of their networks with huge ratings, so what gives?

Perhaps it’s the idea that the lesbian storylines are still "less offensive" to viewers, therefore making the gay male storylines harder for straight audiences to "tolerate." Or could it be that they are still seen as ratings stunts, while the development of gay male storylines are seen as progressive and radical? That would have been an interesting question for all of the men interviewed to answer — or, better yet, something lesbian actors, writers or media types could attest to. Lesbian creators and showrunners like Linda Wallem, Jill Soloway, Liz Brixius and Cynthia Mort would have been great assets to a story like this.

Linda Wallem and Liz Brixius

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