WGA Strike’s Impact on Lesbian Visibility on TV Is Minimal


Much of the news coverage of the current Writers Guild of America strike has focused on how television viewers will be affected by the strike, with most reports pointing out that late-night comedy shows such as The Daily Show will go dark first, followed by scripted programs as they run out of completed episodes.

But although ABC has confirmed to AfterEllen.com that Cashmere Mafia has been pulled from the fall schedule (it was originally set to premiere Nov. 27), that decision does not significantly affect the representation of lesbians and bisexual women on television.

At this time, there are zero lesbian/bi characters on prime-time network television; Cashmere Mafia will add two, Bonnie Somerville’s Caitlin Dowd and Caitlin’s love interest, Alicia (Lourdes Benedicto). However, ABC’s decision to postpone the premiere of Cashmere Mafia does not mean they have decided to cancel the show, only to delay its debut, and the network has continued to move forward with plans to publicize the show.

Bonnie Somerville (far left) in Cashmere Mafia

As Variety reported, “the show will now remain on the bench and serve as a utility player in case ABC needs more scripted originals later in the season.”

It is likely that the seven episodes of Cashmere Mafia that have been completed will be saved for early 2008, when other ABC prime-time shows such as Desperate Housewives, Grey’s Anatomy and Brothers & Sisters will have run out of fresh episodes if the strike has continued.

Bonnie Somerville and Lourdes Benedicto in Cashmere Mafia

The Ellen DeGeneres Show aired previously taped episodes on Monday and Tuesday this week, and it did not tape a new episode on Monday in honor of the striking writers, even though not all of the writers on DeGeneres’ talk show staff are WGA members.

Although Wednesday’s episode with guest Jake Gyllenhaal is a rerun, a Nov. 6 press release indicates that Thursday and Friday’s episodes will be new, suggesting that DeGeneres has decided to continue taping new episodes during the strike.

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