"In TV you’re making wallpaper for people’s lives, so
you may as well make it as diverse as possible," said
filmmaker and television producer Michaline Babich in a recent interview with
AfterEllen.com, adding that she includes underrepresented communities in all of
Babich is the executive producer and director of the new
reality series Gimme Sugar,
currently airing on Logo, AfterEllen.com’s parent company. The show follows a
group of friends in their early 20s as they navigate the lesbian club scene in Los Angeles. Of the five
women featured, three are Asian Americans, and at least one identifies as
"If I have the opportunity to expand people’s
awareness, then to not do so would be a waste," Babich said.
Babich has won awards for her documentary and narrative
short films, including The Last Days of
Jonathan Perlo (a 2005 official Sundance selection) and Solace (which won the 2008 Members
Choice Award for PlanetOut and Gay.com). Solace
is currently airing on Logo’s The
Click List: The Best in Short Film. In May, Babich was named by Power Up as
one of 2008’s 10 Amazing Gay Women in Showbiz, and she will be honored at their
annual gala this fall.
Despite all the hype, Babich is very unassuming regarding
her own work. Referring to Gimme Sugar,
she said: "It’s not groundbreaking in any way, but just an entertaining
show about lesbians. Straight audiences and gay boys love the show, and I love
that it’s crossing over. People are watching it for pure entertainment, and
that opens people’s eyes."
The cast of Gimme Sugar
Babich grew up in a small town outside of Pittsburgh, where "being gay seemed
crazy to some people." So she’s happy that the show makes no issue of
queer identities: "The fact that these girls are lesbians is not even
dealt with on the show, but sort of moved past, so I’m proud of that."
While no one on the show takes issue with the young women
being lesbians, bisexuality is another matter altogether. Self-identified
bisexual cast member Alex is frequently teased about her orientation by the
other four women, some of whom go as far as expressing disgust.
But is it friendly ridicule or out-and-out biphobia?
Alex from Gimme Sugar
"Girls give each other a hard time if they smoke or
wear the wrong lipstick. At end of day, it has more to do with being 20 and
drunk," Babich’s friend and fellow filmmaker Roberta Munroe (Dani & Alice) said of the apparently biphobic behavior.
"I never felt that they were really nasty about
Alex," Babich noted. "They tease Alex and think she’d be happier if
she were with a girl, but they’re just giving her s— and Alex is OK with
it." Babich added that Alex agreed to participate on the show because she
knows bisexuals are discriminated against and she wanted to represent them
well. And in order to make Alex’s orientation clear and to depict her friends’
attitudes about it, Babich said the producers decided to include a lot of
anti-bi comments from the rest of the group on the show.