In our annual Visibility Awards, we formally recognize the people who have positively or negatively impacted lesbian and bi visibility in American entertainment during the year. (See previous years here: 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004).
In previous years, the winners have been editorially chosen by the AfterEllen.com staff (note: winners do not necessarily represent any individual staff member’s preference). This year, we opened up some of the categories for nominations, posted the finalists, and thousands of you voted. We’ve designated those categories with this symbol:
We’ve also included more international people, shows and movies this year, a reflection of the increasing awareness of lesbian and bisexual visibility around the world made possible by the internet.
Now on to the best and worst of 2008!
BEST SCRIPTED TV SERIES ON BROADCAST TV WITH LESBIAN/BI CHARACTERS (AMERICAN)
All My Children (ABC)
When Bianca (Eden Riegel) returned to Pine Valley a few months ago after a long absence, she brought with her a girlfriend-turned-fiancee (played by Tamara Braun), a newborn baby, and one of the few happy lesbian storylines on broadcast TV. This time around, the AMC writers even allowed the lesbian couple to kiss, they had a sex scene, and so far, neither of them has been killed. It truly is a Christmas miracle!
WORST SCRIPTED TV SERIES ON BROADCAST TV WITH LESBIAN/BI CHARACTERS (AMERICAN)
Grey’s Anatomy (ABC)
Like last year’s "winner" in this "worst" category (Degrassi: The Next Generation), the lesbian storyline on one of America’s most-watched shows started off promisingly, with the development of a lesbian relationship between two of the main characters, Dr. Callie Torres (Sara Ramirez) and Dr. Erica Hahn (Brooke Smith). But it took a long walk off a short lesbian pier when ABC execs unexpectedly fired Smith with a lame explanation that even the mainstream media didn’t buy, and then proceeded to effectively de-gay Melissa George’s bisexual character.
Dr. Torres remains bisexual, and supposedly has a female love interest in January, but given that the storyline the show’s creator, Shonda Rhimes, is most excited about involves one of the doctor’s ongoing affair with a dead guy, we’re not holding our breath.
Cashmere Mafia (ABC)
When this ABC mid-season drama about four high-powered New York businesswomen friends launched in January, we had high hopes for the show because one of the show’s prominent storylines involved Caitlin (Bonnie Sommerville) falling for another woman, ad exec Alicia (Lourdes Benedicto). And while the initial set-up of the storyline was promising, we quickly became disappointed as Alicia revealed she was pregnant (from artificial insemination), Caitlin slept with a guy, and the two broke up when Alicia decided to return to her ex.
The series was cancelled after only seven episodes due to low ratings, but by then, we’d already tuned out.
BEST SCRIPTED TV SERIES ON CABLE TV WITH LESBIAN/BI CHARACTERS (AMERICAN)
The L Word (Showtime)
The fifth season of The L Word was one of the best we’ve seen in years, with more development of Alice and Tasha’s relationship, some resolution to the Bette-Tina-Jodi triangle, and the welcome addition of Adele, Dawn Denbo and her lover Cindi. Sure, there were still problems (not enough Helena, and still too much Max) but overall, this season made The L Word fun again.
It also managed to make Jenny likeable. That alone makes this season worthy of praise.