The SyFy Channel generally isn’t the first place one would go to see two gorgeous women kissing (unless you’re watching Lost Girl) but that’s what you’ll see on tonight’s episode of Alphas. On the series, currently in its second season on SyFy, a group of people with superhuman abilities work together to take on bad guys as well as learn to live as normal a life as they can despite being anything but normal.
One of the regular characters, Rachel Pirzad (played by Azita Ghanizada), has super senses, in that her five senses are heightened. And as one sense intensifies, sometimes alarmingly and uncontrollably, the other four diminish. While that may sound fun to a degree, tonight’s episode finds Rachel’s sense of touch being taken advantage of by an Alpha-gone-bad, Nina (Laura Mennell), whose power is to “push” – or mentally persuade people to do whatever she wants.
While most girl-kissing on television might fall into the realm of romanticism or pure lust, Ghanizada told AfterEllen that in the case of tonight’s episode, “When Push Comes To Shove,” there’s much more to it and pleasure isn’t necessarily at its root.
AfterEllen.com: Tell me about what we see in this episode of Alphas with this kissing scene. It sounds like it’s not necessarily romantic in how it plays out.
Azita Ghanizada: It’s really dark, to be honest with you, and I think it’s going to upset a lot of people. The thing with Rachel, in general, her sexuality and the way that she deals with her "super senses" is very, very personal. Imagine being a little kid and kissing [someone] for the first time and being overwhelmed and having an orgasm. She can’t control it and she’s mortified. It’s a thing that she’s never really been able to understand so to come upon a situation where somebody takes advantage of her in that element and especially with someone she’s extremely devoted to — it’s really quite horrifying to her as a character.
I think what happens a lot of the time is that shows wants to do these fun girl-on-girl kiss scenes and it can be gratuitous but I think the idea has been bouncing around for a long time and the [Alphas] writers thought it would be fun. But ultimately when they wanted to do it they wanted to make it a painful situation and I think it’s impactful in the way that it’s played out as far as character arcs and what happens between these two women and how it affects their relationship and determining whether it’s something that will help them get closer or if it will push them apart?
AE: The way you’re talking about it seems like Rachel is really being violated with this kiss.
AG: Yeah, she’s just finally learning how to be sensitive and she’s just finally learning how to use her own voice, like the stuff with her parents, and one of the things this season is she’s learning how to become a woman and so to be at this inception of that journey and have one of your closest people betray you and violate you in a way that is really hurtful is quite surprising to her as a character. It’s an interesting thing. When you see the scene, it’s really intense because when Rachel kisses somebody, she kisses them with everything she has. She can’t control with how overwhelmed she feels. It’s very intimate for her.
AE: How was shooting the scene? I’m guessing it’s not a normal day at work to make out with one of your female co-stars!
AG: No! The funny thing is that Laura and I are like sisters so it’s very odd and I was just very nervous, more so than Laura. In general, love scenes and sex scenes and all that stuff, you don’t want to spend a lot of time on it because it makes everybody a little bit uncomfortable on set. Everyone’s on their best behavior but it’s uncomfortable.
We couldn’t do a closed set for this because we did it in a nightclub set. There were 200 extras all around us while this is happening. That was a real serious thing for me as an actress to do and also, without being too descriptive or vulgar, I have to show Rachel super sense the touch and then she goes into this fit. It’s almost like having a full-blown orgasm in front of 150 background players. You definitely have to go for it when you’re there filming it and you have to do it multiple times so it’s an interesting thing. I’ve never kissed a woman on television before!
AE: Science fiction generally seems to veer away from sexuality. Why is that?
AG: We’ve definitely had more romance this year [on Alphas] and more sexual situations but I think, basically, even though we’re rated TV-M, a lot of the science fiction and comic book audience are going to be under 25 so I think there’s an element of responsibility maybe to keep it more about the drama. There’s a lot of sex in The Walking Dead We’ve found a way this season [and] this episode puts Rachel in her first romantic relationship and she realizes she has to let go of her fears as far as being romantic and being touched and touching people.
AE: Have you played a gay character before?
AG: I played a dominatrix on Castle and always worked from the assumption that a dominatrix dominates whomever comes into her realm. It doesn’t matter if you’re a man or woman, it’s all psychological in the dominatrix world. It’s not sexual. Then I played a stripper on Ghost Whisperer and I imagined she liked to have fun with whomever. Then, on Entourage, I played a girl who was a bit open-minded sexually and very curious so it’s always been funny to play these kind of sexually dominating, curious people and then to go play somebody for the last 24 episodes who is completely terrified.
AE: We saw each other at Comic Con but I’m curious how that experience is for you? Can you enjoy it or is it overwhelming?
AG: To be honest with you, it’s very overwhelming to come from set in another country to Comic Con! It took me about 12 hours to get there because of rain delays and rerouting so by the time I got in, I’d been awake for 24-hours and then I had a full day of press the next day — and to see a little kid dressed up as Spiderman or Wonder Woman made me just melt and just seeing that just motivates me and makes me feel very lucky to be a featured guest on a panel. It was unbelievable so no matter how tired you are or how overwhelming it is you really just have to kick it into gear and be present and have fun with the fans.
AE: Do you ever wish you were wearing some kind of sexy superhero outfit as Rachel?
AG: No. I think that when it’s time for me to play a superhero I will wear that costume with so much pride but the fun thing about being Rachel and being a part of Alphas is that we’re grounded in reality…to be honest, Rachel is the most opposite thing to me than you could ever imagine. She’s awkward, she’s shy, she’s timid, she’s kind of becoming more of a woman but I’m none of these things. I walk into a room banging pots and pans and head held high. I put on Rachel’s clothes and she wears these really weird clothes so it’s kind of like I’m already in a costume.
AE: I got a Twitter question from a fan who asked if you were going to belly dance on Alphas. Do you belly dance?
AG: I do belly dance, actually! I have the belts, I take class from time to time but just culturally the dance has always been — I’ve done it since I was a little kid and you just learn how to use your body and I think genetically dancing it is in my blood. The Alphas writers didn’t know that but I’m sure now that they do, I’m sure I’ll belly dance at some point. They steal from your real life.
AE: Rachel goes undercover as a belly dancer!
AG: I’ve asked to go undercover like Jennifer Garner [on Alias]. If we get to go back for Season 3 there’s so much room to make Rachel so powerful and we could use all these experiences that she’s had. I would Alias the crap out of Rachel. I’d love it! Wear all those costumes and torture people. That’s what me, Azita, the actress, is really good at!
Alphas airs Mondays at 10/9c on SyFy.