How to Binge-Watch Queer Storylines

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In 2013, “binge-watching” an entire TV series season or multiple seasons of a series exploded into mainstream practice (technically, binge-watching actually began in the 1980s, when TV stations started running marathon episodes of shows and Bond movies). Today, it’s an accepted and even encouraged cultural practice; a way to derive immediate emotional gratification from a show rather than experience the delayed gratification of waiting nine months for the full payoff. Arguments over whether binge-watching contributes to an ever shortening viewer attention span or merely caters to it gives viewers control, or correlates to depression aside, “binge-watching”—in a modified form—has been a component of the viewing habits of many women in the queer female community for much longer than just the last three years. 

Over the last approximately 15 years, fans have progressed from making music videos of favorite queer female couples using clips from the shows upon which they appeared to condense the entire show into just the queer female storylines, maintaining the integrity of the dialogue and the plot for viewers unfamiliar with the couple. We have now reached the point where for most queer pairings that have been on TV—particularly in the English, Spanish, and German-speaking world—at least one dedicated fan at some time spent untold hours cutting and editing footage of the couple, distilling the show into its purest queer essence (sadly, not all of these videos can still be found today because some shows have been aggressive about copyright infringement enforcement). 

GettyImages-540364708via Getty

Video streaming sites like Youtube, Dailymotion, and Vimeo are perfect vehicles for “binge-watching” these condensed storylines, which can last anywhere from a half hour for shows whose queer female couple lasted only a few episodes to multiple hours for soap operas that spanned a hundred or more episodes. This microcosmic binge-watching (for the former, or macro for the latter) is in most ways no different from binge-watching a glut of episodes of Orange is the New Black or Scandal. The following are some tips for maximizing your queer storyline binge-watching experience: 

Before investing your heart, make sure it’s not going to be broken…unless you don’t mind some dramatumblr_nwaitz48ni1rqmy9yo1_500

There are now dozens of lesbian pairings that can be found on video streaming sites, but given that statistically, only about 11% of all pairings have happy endings (grrrrr), most will leave you angry or heartbroken. This list has some of the major couples from live-action, English-language serialized TV, but consider also Julia and Mariana from Las Aparicio, Roisin and Cassie (Seasons 3-4) and Selena and Kris (Seasons 5-6) of Bad Girls, Jenny and Emma of Hand Aufs Herz, Carla and Stella of Verbotene Liebe, and Franky and Bridget from Wentworth. On the other hand, if you can stomach knowing that the couple you’re watching won’t get a happy ending, there are many other couples that were given fantastic storylines and were well-acted that are worth watching. 

Be prepared to invest a lot of time, just as you would for regular binge-watchingbinge-2

I just started watching “Juliana” of Las Aparicio. See you all in the spring. The same is true of Callie and Arizona of Grey’s Anatomy, Bo and Lauren of Lost Girl, and Pepa and Silvia from Los Hombres de Paco, to name a few. Couples that take longer to binge-watch can be more rewarding because viewers get to see a full spectrum of emotions and loving situations (not to mention more than a handful of kisses), but it can also eat your free time—although probably not as much as watching multiple full seasons of a television show would. Just as with regular binge-watching, if you’re going to commit to hours of watching the clips, make sure it’s not during finals or another time when you need your full attention.

Give foreign language binge-watching a chanceanigif_enhanced-30544-1410897170-1

Given how few queer female couples get happy endings, you have to spread your net widely to find them. Subtitling in English and Spanish is common, with the bonus that you simultaneously get to learn foreign phrases like “Ich liebe dich” (“I love you” in German) and “pelirroja” (Spanish for redhead, said with a sexy tongue roll). Even regional dialects in English (American, Aussie, Kiwi, Irish, Scottish, etc.) can liven up a couple. Love is love in any language, so be open to quickly reading the subtitles and then watching the actresses emote through body language.  

Binge-watch alonebinge-watching-gif

It makes sense to binge watch full episodes of shows like Orphan Black with a group of friends or with a significant other, but because these queer relationship clips focus around a single storyline (the relationship) with little outside character development—and because they’re generally watched on a small computer screen—they’re really best suited for individual viewing. Additionally, the enjoyment that we reap from watching the relationship is very personal—a significant other might not share our same sense of excitement and happiness about the couple and their storyline. Collectively, these storylines are like a box of chocolates: every one is unique and different, and you get to pick out the one you want and enjoy it all on your own any time you want.  

 

So grab your computer and get watching!  

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