The 2008 Visibility Awards


Los Hombres de Paco (Paco’s Men) (Spain)

This prime time Spanish soap opera/crime drama beat out several other good entries in this category because of how well the lesbian/bi characters are integrated into the overall story.

Police officer Pepa (Laura Sanchez) was cast out of the family several years ago for kissing her then-sister-in-law, forensics-expert Silvia (Marian Aguilera), but returned eight years later. The two women have since fallen in love and are now in a relationship that has become mostly accepted by their family and friends. Throw in plenty of family issues, kidnapping, and a cliff-hanger ending to the season (the show picks up again in January), and you have all the makings of an addictive melodrama.

Runner-up: Mistresses (UK)


Erica’s “I see leaves” speech on Grey’s Anatomy 10/30/08 (ABC)

The morning after sleeping with Callie (Sara Ramirez) in the sixth episode of the medical drama’s eight season ("Life During Wartime"), Dr. Hahn (Brooke Smith) had a revelation, and shared it with Callie through tears of joy:

When I was a kid, I would get these headaches. And I went to the doctor and they said that I needed glasses. I didn’t understand that, "It didn’t make sense to me because I could see fine. And then, I get the glasses and I put them on. And I’m in the car on the way home, and suddenly, I yell. Because the big green blobs that I’ve been staring at my whole life? They weren’t big green blobs – they were leaves… on trees. I could see the leaves. And I didn’t even know that I was missing the leaves. I didn’t even know leaves existed. And then… leaves! [pause] You are glasses. [happily] I am so gay. I am so, so, so gay. I am extremely gay!

Immediately after this moving, well-acted and well-written speech, Callie slept with a man, and Erica was fired. But it was a beautiful speech!


The edited lesbian sex scene on House M.D. 10/21/08 (Fox)

In the week prior to the airing of the episode "Lucky Thirteen" in November, Fox let viewers watch "the first two minutes of the show" on its official House M.D. website — a clip which showed the series’s bisexual doctor Thirteen (Olivia Wilde) in a sex scene with another woman (the first time Thirteen had ever had a romantic encounter with a woman on the show). The Fox marketing department also sent a shorter version of this same clip around to various entertainment outlets online in advance, hoping we would use it to promote the episode — and we did (along with a lot of mainstream entertainment sites), because it was a rare example of a realistic and well-written/acted lesbian sex scene on a broadcast TV show. And because, let’s face it, Olivia Wilde is hot.

Record numbers of viewers — gay and straight — tuned in to watch the episode when it finally aired on Fox, only to discover that most of the sex scene had been cut out of the actual episode (and some affiliates refused to air the episode at all). What Fox billed on their website as "the first two minutes of the show" wasn’t actually the first two minutes of the show, and legions of queer women were left disappointed (it didn’t help that Thirteen’s sexual trysts with women were portrayed as part of a larger pattern of irresponsibility tied to her terminal illness, but that’s a separate and more complicated issue).

Although plenty of lesbian/bi storylines coincidentally popped up during November sweeps, Fox took the classic Sweeps lesbian-bait tactic to a new low with outright deception. From a network that’s made an art out of exploiting lesbianism for ratings, that’s no small feat!


Lincoln Heights "Prom Night" 11/11/08 (ABC Family)

In the third-season finale of the ABC Family teen drama, openly gay minister’s daughter Stacy (Sharon Pierre-Louis) attends the prom with a boy, but finally gets up the nerve to ask the girl she likes to dance, she says yes, and their storyline ends happily. This storyline included one of the few black lesbian couples on TV in the last few years, teen or adult, and was refreshingly free of coming-out angst — all the drama was of the "does she like me or not" variety that all teens go through.

Runner-up: ER "The High Holiday" (12/11/08), Law & Order: SVU "Lunacy" (10/21/08)

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