Shonda Rhimes, creator of Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice and the hit show Scandal, is known for creating diverse characters and storylines. Last year, she received two GLAAD Media awards for her contributions to LGBT visibility. And yet, although I absolutely love Scandal and the fact that the cast of characters includes a powerful gay man named Cyrus Beene (played brilliantly by Jeff Perry), I can’t help but wish there were more gay and bisexual women on the show. I don’t believe that every show must include a lady-loving lady, especially if the storylines don’t authentically call for it. However, I have come up with a few ideas that could easily add some sapphic interest to the already addictive series:
Lesbian or Transgender Clients
So far we’ve seen Olivia Pope work with a closeted gay war hero wrongfully charged with his fake girlfriend’s murder and a seemingly celibate politician whose lack of a visible love life stirs up gay rumors, hurting his campaign for governor. But by my count, no lesbians or bisexual women have reached out to Pope and Associates for help. I’m thankful that we haven’t seen the I-need-to-hide-my-lesbian tryst-with-my-college-roommate-before-it-hurts-my-career trope, but I am sure Shonda and her talented writing team can think of many other scandals queer women can find themselves a part of that don’t include the mere fact that they are gay or have had a same-sex relationship.
Here’s an idea: The son of a celebrity same-sex couple is kidnapped and the famous mothers turn to Olivia and her team to handle the ransom discreetly. No? OK. What if a lesbian athlete is accused of doping? No? I’ve got tons of ideas. We could be here all day.
A bisexual lawyer joins Pope and Associates
Olivia Pope has a solid team that includes tech/surveillance/ clean up specialist Huck, Huck’s protégé (aka Baby Huck), Quinn; investigator Abby and lawyer, Harrison. There is certainly room for another lawyer in the firm, especially since lawyer Stephen didn’t return for Season 2. Though most bisexual characters on television fall into the same two traps a) promiscuous/unfaithful b) crazy, I have faith that the talented writers in Shondaland can create a complex, well-drawn character that just happens to be attracted to and date both men and women, without reducing her to a stereotype.
Queering Olivia Pope
I usually try to stay away from the BUG (Bisexual Until Graduation) and LUG (Lesbian Until Graduation) trope, but I have to admit that it is in those formative college-age years that most of us queer ladies come out of the closet and come into our own. Why can’t this also be true for the fearless leader of Washington D.C.’s most successful crisis management firms?
Here’s the story: A young Olivia Pope, then a George Washington University undergrad, falls hard for her fellow political science major and sophomore year roommate. They have an all-consuming passionate affair that lasts for two years until her lover (who is a year older) is faced with the reality of graduation. Olivia is heartbroken when her lover decides to end their relationship and move to the west coast to go to Stanford Law. Fifteen years later, Olivia’s former flame comes back to town because she needs Olivia’s help. Sparks ignite once again, and finally President Fitzgerald Grant has some real competition when it comes to winning Olivia’s heart.
I’m already a huge fan of Scandal, but adding any of these three elements to the show would make it even more appealing. What are some of your favorite shows that you wished represented our community a little better?