“Wonderfalls” Lesbian Republican and Her Bisexual Girlfriend

 
 

Katie Finneran is SharonThe issue of Sharon’s sexuality is referenced in little ways throughout the episodes, and
Sharon’s closeted status is a constant source of humor for the series.
Whether it’s snarky comments from Jaye (to their mother: "I think
Sharon is a closet environmentalist"), their mother’s constant attempts
to find Sharon a boyfriend (on meeting Beth: "that Beth seems like a
sweet girl, I bet she
has a boyfriend"), or Beth’s weariness with Sharon’s herculean efforts
to hide their relationship, the show clearly illustrates how much work is involved in being closeted.

"My
family assumes I have no life so everything gets dumped on me," Sharon
complains to Beth, but Beth won’t indulge her self-pity, countering,
"Well, your family doesn’t really know anything about your life, so you
can’t really blame them."

Beth’s obvious comfort with her own
sexuality — even if it’s less easily defined than Sharon’s — provides a
refreshing contrast to Sharon’s unease with being open about her’s.

Although
the series does not show the women actually kissing (due to
restrictions imposed by the network, as co-creator Bryan Fuller
explained in this interview), by dealing with subjects like bisexuality and lesbian Republicans, Wonderfalls is actually fairly progressive.

The
repeated discussion around Beth’s sexuality, and the writers’ refusal
to either demonize Beth or easily categorize her sexuality, is heady
stuff for television, since TV writers almost never touch the subject
of bisexuality unless it’s a joke about how much it turns straight men
on.

And except for Mary McCormack‘s character on the short-lived series K Street,
TV lesbians are almost always portrayed as, or assumed to be, liberals.
While there is hardly a huge, underrepresented population of Republican
lesbians in America, they certainly do exist and it’s helpful to have a
series that represents and explores the diversity that exists within
the lesbian community — and makes us laugh at the same time.

Finneran and Matchett
have good chemistry, and are perfectly cast in their roles. Beth’s more
laid-back, easy-going personality is a nice complement to Sharon’s
tense, Type-A personality, and Sharon’s relationship with Beth enables
us to see the softer side of Sharon, who can come across as brittle and
overbearing at times when interacting with her family.

Although it is Jaye’s relationships and personal life that is the focus
of the show, Sharon is nonetheless one of the primary members of the
cast and appears in almost every episode. And while she clearly has
flaws, Sharon is a realistic, well-rounded, and sympathetic
character — no minor accomplishment considering the only other lesbian
characters on primetime network TV this season have storylines that are
either boringly and insultingly stereotypical (ER) or non-existent (Two and a Half Men).

It helps that Wonderfalls
is also very funny, with at least a few brilliant one-liners in every
episode (and often more). Although in early episodes the series’
quirkiness can occasionally veer into cheesiness, it gets better and
better as the series progresses, eventually — as we see in this week’s
episode — offering some of the funniest moments on television.

Unfortunately, Wonderfalls
has garnered low ratings so far, and this Thursday’s episode may be its
last chance to prove to Fox that it can find an audience.

While
it may be tempting for lesbian viewers to overlook this show and its
lesbian relationship while The L Word is still on, if we don’t help keep Wonderfalls on the air, all we’ll have left when The L Word ends in a few weeks are storylines about baby-swapping, pregnancy, and custody battles.

So watch Wonderfalls
this Thursday at 9pm on Fox and save one of the few interesting lesbian
storylines on primetime TV — or you just might get your own visit from
the talking chicken.

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