There's a new lesbian teen coming to TV, but this one is on a series aimed at slightly younger viewers than most TV programs.
The N, a nighttime cable network for teens that is a subsidiary of MTV Networks, has just picked up the series South of Nowhere, a half-hour drama created by Tom Lynch (The Secret World of Alex Mack) about three teens struggling to adjust after their parents move them from Ohio to L.A. The press release describes the siblings this way:
Spencer, a 16-year-old, athletic and attractive young girl who never felt like she fit in small town America. She is excited about her new life in Southern California, but begins to question everything–her friends, boundaries, school life–even her sexuality. Clay is the Carlins' adopted, African-American son. He is 17, smart, aware and trying to figure out how he fits into this new world. He is looking forward to connecting with his culture, but finds that being black in L.A. is a test he may not pass. Glen is a handsome 17-year-old who seemingly has the world in his pocket. The star basketball player hopes to keep up his "big man on campus" image and his popularity with the girls.
The role of Spencer will be played by Gabrielle Christian (American Gun), and Spencer's wild-child best friend and potential love interest, Ashley, will be played by Mandy Musgrave (Days of Our Lives).
What the press release doesn't mention is that the the series is being co-exec produced by Nancylee Myatt, who co-wrote and produced the campy lesbian comedy Wave Babes and created the pilot for the lesbian P.I. series Nikki and Nora in 2004 (which ultimately wasn't picked up by UPN). The pilot presentation of South of Nowhere was also directed by openly gay Rose Troche, who has directed Go Fish and several episodes of The L Word; Troche was also planning to direct the first two episodes of the series, but had to drop out due to conflicts with her L Word schedule.
South of Nowhere is the latest of a handful of original series to be developed by the network. A sort-of kinder, gentler MTV (it is, in fact, a programming arm of MTV Networks, and currently available in 43 million U.S. households via cable, digital cable and satellite television), the N features a mix of first-run series, like Miracles and Degrassi: Unscripted, and reruns of teen-oriented network TV shows, like My So-Called Life, Moesha, and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
Content targeted to "tween" and young teen viewers has become increasingly popular in the last few years, as shows like The Disney Channel's That's So Raven and the long-running Canadian import Degrassi: The Next Generation have developed a strong following with kids and parents, and consequently, advertisers.
While gay and lesbian themes have occasionally surfaced on these series (Degrassi in particular has a reputation for exploring edgier topics), South of Nowhere will be the first U.S. series aimed at a younger audience to revolve around a lesbian teen.
The series begins filming in July, with the first episode airing in November, 2005. We'll update you with more details as the premiere gets closer.
South of Nowhere airs on Fridays at 8:30pm on The Noggin.
Visit our South of Nowhere section for more information and episode recaps.