4. Winona Ryder on Friends (NBC)
Episode 7.20 “The One with Rachel’s Big Kiss” (2001)
Friends touched on lesbian and bisexual themes frequently during its
ten seasons on the air, but this was one of its more inspired efforts.
Determined to prove to Phoebe
(Lisa Kudrow) that she did something wild once, Rachel tries repeatedly to get
her old college friend Melissa (Ryder) to admit that they
kissed in college when they were drunk at a Hawaiian-themed party.
Melissa denies it, then finally confesses to remembering it well — and
to still carrying a torch for Rachel. Mistakenly thinking that Rachel has
feelings for her, too, she
unexpectedly kisses Rachel, then backtracks when she realizes she misunderstood. “I’m
not in love with you,” Melissa declares, “I don’t hear coconuts banging
together, I don’t picture your face when I make love to my boyfriend.”
Then she jumps in a cab and speeds off.
episode finished with Phoebe unexpectedly kissing Rachel, too, because “I wanted to
see what all the fuss was about,” then renders the verdict, “I’ve had better.” Classic.
3. Mia Kirshner on 24 (Fox)
Several episodes beginning in 2001
Before playing the overly emotive Jenny on The L Word, Mia Kirshner played the decidedly un-emotive bisexual assassin Mandy on 24.
Since she appeared in several episodes in the first season, then
briefly in seasons two and four, that would technically make her a
recurring character, but her role was small enough —
and awesome enough — that I’m including
it here anyway.
notable for being one of 24′s few long-time antagonists to remain alive — they even put her character in the 24 video game.
A ruthless killer, the only visible emotion Mandy shows during her
entire run on the series is when her accomplice/girlfriend is killed in
the first season after unwisely extorting the wrong person. Mandy does reinforce the bisexual/killer stereotype, but this was in 2001, before that had become quite such a TV cliché.
This is the series that first made me realize what a good actress
Kirshner is — she communicates more on this show in
minutes with just her eyes and her body language than she does
in an entire episode full of dialogue on The L Word.
2. Stephanie March on 30 Rock (NBC)
Episode 1.3. “Blind Date” (2006)
Known for her much more
serious role on Law & Order: SVU, Stephanie March delivered
a hilariously low-key performance on 30 Rock as Liz Lemon’s (Tina Fey) lesbian blind date Gretchen Thomas, who works in plastics (so, she has a background in comedy).
in the episode was top-notch, from jokes about bi-curious shoes to
Oprah and Gayle. That and Fey and March’s easy camaraderie definitely left
us wanting more, but Thomas hasn’t been back since. Our loss — and Lemon’s.
1. Emma Thompson on Ellen (ABC)
Episode 5.8 “Emma” (1997)
Laura Dern received a lot of attention for her role in the coming-out
episode of Ellen DeGeneres‘s sitcom in 1997, and deservedly so. But the best guestbian on
Ellen by far was Emma Thompson, playing herself as a closeted lesbian whom Ellen spies kissing another woman at a party.
Ellen becomes Emma Thompson’s
personal assistant, and tries to convince her to come out
publicly, until she learns the real truth about Emma — that she’s actually a lesbian from Ohio, not England. “I knew
the only way I was going to get any classy roles was to pretend to be
British,” she tells Ellen, because Hollywood might be OK with lesbians, but “there is no Dayton chic!”
Entertaining and educational — now that’s a great guestbian!
Discuss your favorite guestbians in the comments.