Debuting in the fall of 2000 on Fox, the James Cameron-directed series Dark Angel is a sort-of Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets The Pretender in 2020 post-nuclear Seattle, following the story of a genetically-enhanced young woman named Max (played by Jessica Alba) who escaped years ago with several others from a secret military institution called Manticore.
Ten years later, Max now lives in Seattle, where she works as a bike messenger and hangs out with a handful of friends including her lesbian best friend Original Cindy (Valerie Rae Miller), and her love interest Logan Cale (Michael Weatherly), a wheelchair-bound vigilante crusading for world peace. When she’s not fighting/evading the evil folks from Manticore or pretending she’s not attracted to Logan, Max is generally chatting with her friends at work or at the local bar.
Dark Angel introduces Original Cindy’s sexuality early in the pilot episode with the following exchange between her and Max at work as they’re observing their friend Sketchy with his girlfriend:
Later in the same episode, when Sketchy asks Max’s help in preventing his girlfriend from finding out he’s cheating on her, Original Cindy’s sexuality is referenced again:
This sets the tone for the show’s treatment of Original Cindy’s sexuality throughout the series: matter-of-fact, unapologetic, and humorous. She is one of the few lesbian characters on television whom we never see in the tentative, confused-about-her-sexuality phase; both Original Cindy and her (heterosexual) friends exhibit a comfort and candidness about her “alternative” sexuality that is still rarely seen on television.
Conversations between Original Cindy and Max throughout the series make it clear that Max is comfortable with and accepting of Original Cindy’s sexuality, so much so that at the end of the first season, she invites Original Cindy to become her roommate. At one point, Max even she asks Logan “What is it with guys and lesbians anyway? I mean, what’s so damn fascinating about being unwanted by the opposite sex?” (Season 1, Episode 15).
Unlike most shows which go out of their way to make it clear that the lesbian character isn’t a stereotypical “man-hater,” it isn’t until Episode 15 of the first season that Dark Angel provides the obligatory reassurance that Original Cindy still likes men, even if she doesn’t like men: “Original Cindy’s aiight with the mens,” she tells Max, “just don’t ever ask her to go to bed with one.”
But Original Cindy doesn’t go overboard on the “I love men” statements, and actually criticizes men regularly, like in Episode 12 of Season Two when she dismisses a group of men trying to out-do each other at pool with the description “silly boys playing with their sticks and balls. I may vomit.”
This is unusual for lesbians on television, who are usually written in a way that avoids any negative expressions of men, for fear of playing into this stereotype and possibly offending heterosexual viewers.