“Barely Famous” brings up Erin Foster’s lesbian “phase”

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This week on the Barely Famous finale on VH1, Erin Foster talks about her new boyfriend, Jensen:

“I was a lesbian for a minute, but now I’m all D. Not all D, just love his D.”

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Let’s back up a minute: In case you’re wondering “What is Barely Famous and who the hell is Erin Foster?” I’ll break it down for you. Erin and Sara Foster (who you might remember from her role as Amy in D.E.B.S.) are the daughters of well-known songwriter David Walter Foster . Sara is (obviously) an actress and Erin is an actress/writer who wrote on The New Normal. Around the same time she worked on that very gay show, she was dating Samantha Ronson, who must be getting really tired of the women she dates coming out after their break-ups and saying they’re back on “D” for good.

The Pressed Juicery Grand Opening

Barely Famous is a faux reality show based on the sister’s real lives. It’s scripted to be farcical and Sara’s personality is shown as a likable but narcissistic, and Erin is portrayed as the more down-to-earth one, looking for love and happiness in Hollywood. And on this week’s episode, she is blissful about her new boyfriend (see the above “D” comment) and her sexuality comes into play when her sister goes to meet with “lesbian director” Kay Cannon (Pitch Perfect, 30 Rock). Kay’s not gay IRL (she’s married to a dude and has kids) so that’s kind of weird. No other real lesbian directors were available?

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Anyway, before Sara’s lunch with Kay, Erin mentions she’s met her once before, and Sara decides to it to get in try and get a role in her new film by inviting Kay to a party where Erin will be at.

“Erin Foster is your sister? Smoking, blondie hot. Is she still….you know? Still dating ladies?” Kay asks. “I gotta tell you, it was a real hit to the lesbian community to lose Erin Foster.”

“She never left. She is still lesbian,” Sara lies. “She’s single. She’s looking and ready.”

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Meanwhile, Erin’s boyfriend doesn’t want to be called her boyfriend. He wants to keep things “chill.” “He’s holding out on me which obviously makes me want to fucking marry him,” Erin says.

Sara takes this as an opportunity to persuade her sister back into lesbianism. (Bisexuality doesn’t exist in Hollywood!) “Do you know when yow were the happiest? You were the happiest when you were a lesbian.”

“Really, because I feel like that was a really confusing time,” Erin said. “My lesbian phase was really short-lived. Sometimes you may go through a phase where you’re a little confused and you figure it out, and then you kind of go down that path.” She says she’s done dating women. She also wants to invite Jensen, her non-BF, to the impromptu lesbian party Sara is throwing.

There’s a lot of vests, pompadours and flannel being prepared for this event, but Erin doesn’t get it. “kd lang was my inspiration,” Sara says of her look, and she immediately pushes Erin and Kay together at the bar. She is a little pissed, though, that Erin would invite Ashley Benson to the party. She’s competition for this hot new role! (Her and Mandy Moore.) Erin promises to try harder to help entertain Kay, even though she still doesn’t know it’s a set-up. (“You’re the only one here she knows!” Sara says, and Erin is gullible enough to believe her.)

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When Erin sits with Kay (who brightens and says her night just got better), they start talking about how labels get confusing. Kay’s talking about being a lesbian and Erin is talking about Jensen.

“I’m not confused about my sexuality at all. I’m not gay, I mean I had a blip a couple of years ago,” Erin said. “Wait, why would you think I was a lesbian?”

Sara comes over and gets confronted.

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“I loved when you were a lesbian,” Ashley Benson says. “It was so much fun. We danced all the time. It was crazy!”

“But I’m not anymore” Erin explains. “It was a big mistake.”

“Oh, it was a mistake?” Kay asks, offended.

“No it was not a mistake, just for me, it wasn’t the right choice,” Erin offers.

“Oh so now it’s a choice!” Kay tries to storm out but Sara stops her, saying she can fix it. She grasps at Kay’s boob, then tries for two. Kay is not impressed and leaves.

bfVh1 captioned this on Tumblr as the “fake lesbian episode”

We’ve seen this kind of TV before, but the twist of it on Barely Famous was that Erin has actually dated women. Whether or not she identified as a lesbian when she was dating women is unknown, but typically, these kind of “I thought you were gay!” storylines are based on stereotypes and misunderstandings vs. true sexual identity. Maybe that’s why it’s even more disappointing to see that woman call it a phase and perpetuate myths of bisexuality and lesbianism. I wonder if they didn’t take the role of lesbian director to a real lesbian director because they worried they might offend with the role of “lesbian director who would give someone a role based on their sister’s willingness to make out with them.” (Although if it was a male director looking to date Erin, Sara would have probably done the same thing. Anything for a part!)

As not to fall victim to another stereotype about lesbians, I’m not without the ability to find humor in these kinds of situations. The show is well-written and the comedic timing is perfect; the Foster girls are likable, even in their most unlikable moments. It’s just that Erin never once refers to her time dating women as anything positive and attributes it to as a fluke; a flurry of confusion that has since rectified itself and now she’s back to being man-hungry like she seems to think she should be.

Bisexual isn’t brought up because Erin likely doesn’t see herself as bisexual, and why this matters a little more on a show like Barely Famous is because, despite being scripted, it’s based in reality. Erin is a real person who dated real women and those women are now being referred to as part of a phase. It’s an unfair part of being a queer woman who has romantic or sexual relationships with questioning women, for sure. No one wants to feel used or as part of some kind of experiment. And while I’d like to give Erin the benefit of the doubt that, in real life, she has more respect for her ex-girlfriends than that, the Erin Foster we see on national TV sure didn’t.

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You can watch the entire episode at Vh1.

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