Remember the good old days of after-school specials, when the teenage gay boys were the moody loners and the teenage lesbian girls were…hey, where were they?
Times have changed, and television has the young lesbians to prove it. Shows like The O.C., Degrassi, and South of Nowhere not only depict lesbian and bisexual teenagers, but they depict them as the edgy, cool, and even—gasp–popular.
This trend extends to programs that feature the occasional guest lesbian, as in last night's episode (“Versatile Toppings”) of Veronica Mars–the UPN series now in its second season that is part teen drama, part murder mystery, and part rumination on race, class, and the screwed-up lifestyles of the rich and famous.
While investigating a string of pizza delivery guy muggings, teen sleuth Veronica Mars (Kristen Bell) discovers that the gay students at Neptune High are being blackmailed. The problem becomes obvious on what appears to be Gay Bash Day at Neptune High School, as Veronica witnesses several students getting harassed for being gay.
Particularly nasty is one girl’s gleeful recitation of a love poem allegedly written about her by a fellow member of the Pep Squad named Marlena (Miriam Korn), who is now derisively referred to as “Pep Squad Lez”. Marlena dodges the taunts and Indigo Girls jokes, and weakly protests to her pep squad teammate, “I didn’t write that!” while Veronica looks on in indignant liberal horror.
Before she can step in, classmate Ryan pulls Veronica aside and explains that Marlena has been outed because she wouldn’t pay the $5,000 demanded by a mystery blackmailer.
Ryan tells Veronica that he created a secret website, The Pirate Ship (resist urge to make bad gay joke), for the gay students at their school. Ryan lost the list containing their names and passwords and now the person who found it is cashing in on their closets. Veronica promises that she will discreetly track down the blackmailer, and Ryan tells her that one of the students being blackmailed may come to her with more details.
Soon enough, the closeted student does indeed find Veronica, in the girls bathroom, and she turns out to be a Gwen Stefani look-alike cheerleader named Kylie (played by Laguna Beach starlet Kristin Cavallari).
When Kylie tells Veronica that she’s being blackmailed, the normally astute Ms. Mars responds with silence and a “does not compute” face. Kylie says (with a hair flip), “Sorry to blow your mind, Veronica, but I’m a lesbian.” When Veronica recovers from her shock and comments "that's cool", Kylie retorts, "In college maybe–not in high school!"
The show’s producers cue up some soft core porn music (no, I’m not kidding) and Veronica tells Kylie to stall the blackmailer while she investigates.
But before Veronica can nab the suspect, Kylie uses her job as a reporter on the Neptune High TV news broadcast to out herself—and Marlena—to the entire school, by confidently signing off her newscast with, “Oh yeah, I’m gay, and Marlena is my girlfriend”, as the students watching the broadcast all gasp.
Take that, blackmailer!