“Starlet” Contestants Survive Harrowing Lesbian Kiss

Depressed at the news

If you were flipping through the TV channels last night shortly after 9pm, you might have stumbled upon the incongruous sight of a group of beautiful, fashionably dressed young women sitting around a table looking thoroughly depressed.

A blond named Cecile audibly regrets that she has to do something she isn't proud of, because "My family is going to watch this," as the others nod and sigh. A dark-haired young woman named Lauren tells the camera earnestly that they are all being asked to "do something you don't want to do, [to] see if you can pull it off," and a young woman named Mercedes questions, with fear in her eyes, whether she can "rise to the occasion" to do what must be done.

No, it's not a reality show recreating a Russian gulag, chronicling a cancer support group, or investigating the secret world of underage prostitution. But anyone tuning in a little late to the second episode of the new WB reality show The Starlet last night might be forgiven for mistaking it for something more sinister than a reality show for young women who want to become the next big thing in Hollywood.

And the event these women are so visibly dreading? Kissing another woman for the camera.

The Starlet, which debuted on the WB last weekend, follows a group of young women as they compete in a series of screen tests designed to eliminate all but one aspiring actress, who will be designated the "Starlet" and given an acting contract and a small role on the WB's One Tree Hill. The performances are judged by actresses Vivica A. Fox and Faye Dunaway, and casting director Joseph Middleton.

In this episode's elimination round, the contestants were asked to pair up and perform the lesbian hot tub seduction scene originally performed by Tiffani-Amber Thiessen and Jaime Pressly in an episode of the short-lived 2002-2003 Fox series Fastlane. "Remember," host Katie Wagner admonished the shocked actresses after delivering the news, "Angelina Jolie, Hilary Swank and Charlize Theron have all played roles in which they've had to kiss other women. If they can do it, so can you."

But the holy trinity of Angelina, Hilary and Charlize was of little comfort to these young women in the face of such a profoundly disconcerting task. "Everyone's just really frustrated," Cecile said to the camera after hearing the news. "Why do we have to kiss a girl? Why the scene in the hot tub? Is this appropriate?" Donna, the group's sole black contestant, made it known repeatedly to all who would listen that she had "Never kissed a girl before, never wanted to kiss a girl before, very heterosexual, just not attracted to women at all."

Clearly, these are not the high school girls in Oklahoma who can't be trusted to go to the bathroom in pairs.

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