Foreign Affairs: Brazil’s “Babilônia” features an older lesbian couple


Brazil’s new telenovela Babilônia premiered a little over two weeks ago and is already generating a lot of talk. The show follows the unraveling friendship of once besties Betriz and Ines, whom jealousy tore apart. There’s murder and cheating, and a whole lot of that soapy mess that we can’t do without. But what we really can’t do without is the lesbians. 

On the very first episode, Teresa and Estela share a kiss. (Which you can watch here.) The two are portrayed by Fernanda Montenegro (the only Brazilian to ever be nominated for an academy award for her work in Central Station) and Nathália Timberg (one of Brazil’s most acclaimed actresses), respectively. Both actresses are in their 80s and, when the kiss aired (on primetime TV, mind you), all hell broke loose. That means that on the one hand one could witness Twitter outbursts and general over joy, but on the other, the whole thing was quite the controversy in Brazil. Many people spoke against the show and its disrespect for family values. Many said the exact opposite, praising the show for daring to finally start a conversation.

biebEstela and Teresa, going strong

Even though same-sex marriage was legalized in Brazil back in 2013, there is yet a ways to go when it comes to daily life equality. The LGBTQ community is still a victim of many hate crimes and a lot of discrimination. In that sort of reality it is no wonder the kiss (not to mention talk of marriage) sparked a debate, and it seems that the fact that this portrayal is done by two of Brazil’s most acclaimed actresses deepens all the feelings around the issue. On the show’s part, the moment is a statement of sorts (especially since the idea of an actual kiss came from Montenegro. Both actresses are highly supportive.), a very good statement indeed. And the best part? Teresa and Estela are just two people, doing their thing, being their true selves. Two people that audiences waited a long time to see on their TV screens, and the fact that a scene like this still causes a controversy nowadays, shows just how much Brazilians were waiting for those this couple.

babvia Globo

Granted, this is not the first same-sex on screen kiss in Brazil. The first one, which was between two men, happened only a year ago. It’s still somewhat of an uncharted territory in Brazil. The kiss might not be the first of its kind, but the age of the characters speaks to more than one generation, expanding the conversation. Just think how many of you who are publicly out, yet never told your grandparents about your sexual orientation. Two older women kissing on our TV screens is a rare occurrence in general, but in Brazil in particular. We can’t wait to see where this story takes us.

Babilônia airs Mondays to Saturdays on Globo. Thanks to all of you who sent in a tip about the show.

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