A few weeks ago in an Ask AfterEllen.com column, I answered a reader’s question about whether there was any possibility of a romance between Mariska Hargitay‘s character Olivia Benson and Stephanie March‘s character ADA Alexandra Cabot on Law & Order: SVU, now that March is reprising her role for six episodes on the hit NBC crime drama beginning March 10.
My answer at the time? No. (OK, I suppose nothing can ever be completely ruled out, but in my Professional Lesbian opinion, that has about as much chance of happening as Max getting a decent storyline on The L Word.)
Now Stephanie March is trying to make me look bad.
In a press call today attended by one of our freelance reporters, Jim Halterman (who relayed the info to me), Stephanie answered similar questions — and was much more encouraging about the possibility of an Alex/Olivia relationship than I was.
First, when asked whether Alex Cabot is returning in a relationship or not, she said, "She’s on the prowl. She’s not tied to too many people."
On whether she’s going to be prowling strictly for men, March replied, "I think we haven’t determined all of it yet. I think some of it’s still a mystery."
Finally, when Melissa Lee of ILoveTelevision.com asked whether Alex and Olivia are in love and just not realizing it yet, March answered, "I’m not saying we’re not…I’m not saying we’re not in love."
What’s that noise, you ask? It’s the sound of a million Alex/Olivia shippers having a heart attack at the same time.
Executive Producer Neal Baer acknowledged on the call that he and the writers are very aware of the lesbian following for March and Hargitay, and March added that the Alex/Olivia shipping doesn’t bother her in the least. “I would make the vote on Prop 8 that would make your readers happy,” she said.
Mariska Hargitay and Stephanie March at a fundraiser in May 2008
To be clear, I still don’t think there’s any real chance the writers are going to develop a romantic relationship between Olivia and Alex.
But even a few years ago, questions about a romantic development between two ostensibly straight characters on a popular mainstream TV show wouldn’t have even been asked in a mainstream press conference, let alone answered in a way that seeks to encourage viewers to read between the lines.
So it feels like a little bit of progress off-screen, if not on-screen.
But just to be safe, Max better not suddenly get a good storyline in the last two episodes of The L Word, or I might have to eat my tall, Willy Wonka hat.