Surfing with the Curl Girls

Viv and Beth in Curl Girls

What ties this group of women together is their love for a particular sport, but, let's face it—they're lesbians and they're connected to each other in more ways than one. They're current flames and former lovers, longtime buddies and constant rivals. The only non-surfer in the bunch is Jess, who got married to Beth when the mayor of San Francisco was first handing out licenses to same-sex couples.

Although the central drama revolves around who will win the spot on Team Rocker, Jess and Beth's teetering relationship is the show's main source for Dyke Drama. They squabble and they make goo-goo eyes, they waffle and recommit. Who knows where they'll end up, and who really cares? Other running narratives include Michelle's desire to be more than friends with ex-girlfriend Erin, and Erin's attempts to woo a woman at work.

This may be fluffy fare, but these women do challenge stereotypes of surfers and of lesbians in ways that should reach a broader audience, so it's unfortunate that the show
is airing only in the gayborhood of cable TV. It's refreshing to see lesbian athletes in sports other than the usual suspects, especially a sport that is so underrepresented in film and TV.

Curl Girls also offers a rare chance to see women surfers who are more than just Gidgets adorning the beach.

It's not as if these women never come across as caricatures: When Christina tells Vanessa she hopes to see her at the beach over the next couple of weeks, the latter responds with a “fer sher, fer sher” that could out-Spicoli the icon himself. And during an evening hanging out and trading tales of their first lesbian encounters, more than a few of the women reveal a clueless streak when it comes to women who identify as bisexual. The surfer speak might be tongue-in-cheek, but the biphobia unfortunately isn't.

Perhaps the biggest drawback with Curl Girls is that it sets viewers up for some false expectations.

The opening scenes, for instance, suggest that the cameras will roam amongst the various players and explore how their lives intersect and diverge. In reality, the program focuses on just a handful of the women while giving very little screen time to other members of the group. Who knows the reasons behind the disparity, but the two women who are featured the least happen to both be Asian, and the group is mostly white.

Another perplexity: It seems as if the show was originally intended as a series and was only made into a “special” after the fact. Maybe we're just so used to seeing reality shows as series, but it doesn't help that the direction of the program sometimes seems aimless and the conclusion isn't especially satisfying.

But as long as you go into this expecting little more than some mindless entertainment for roughly an hour, it's unlikely that you'll be disappointed. You'll probably even have a good time.

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