Queer girls today tweet and insta their favorite same-sex ships, often directly at the actresses who play the characters. In the ’90s, fan fiction was just getting off the ground and “shipping” wasn’t something we talked about. But that didn’t stop our baby lezzie hearts from daydreaming.
I know when I watched my favorite TV shows back in the day, I was always rooting for the two female leads to fall madly, passionately, deeply in love and—spoiler alert—was constantly disappointed when they didn’t. So, now that I’m an adult and can do whatever I want, I’ve compiled every ’90s queer chick’s wishlist of lesbian relationships from our favorite pop culture phenomena of the era.
Stephanie Tanner and Gia Mahan (Full House)
Full House was the epitome of cheesy ’90s family sitcoms. The show featured three clueless men attempting to raise three little girls in San Francisco. The show was so hetero that the girls start having boyfriends and fake weddings before they even hit puberty. Middle child Stephanie Tanner often lost out on attention and airtime, but actress Jodie Sweetin able to make the most of her storylines.
Do you remember Stephanie Tanner’s bestie Gia Mahan? Gia was the bad girl who helped middle child Stephanie find a storyline in the Tanner world. Gia liked smoking and parties and got Steph into a ton of trouble, like when she took her to a *gasp* MAKE OUT PARTY! Which was all solved by the end of the episode, of course. But wouldn’t it have been great if Gia and Steph had realized their friendship was…something MORE?! The show is being rebooted as Fuller House, so it’s not too late for this dream to come true! #GStep2016
Daria Morgendorffer and Jane Lane (Daria)
In the ’90s, Dara Morgendorffer was everyone’s favorite high school cynic. Daria and her bestie, Jane Lane, were glued together at the hip as they navigated Lawndale High. The two traded barbed witticisms that flew over the head of their fellow classmates and their chemistry and depth of caring for each other was palpable, which is pretty impressive for a cartoon.
I patiently waited for the episode where Dara and Jane would reach the conclusion that they were perfect for each other. It never came. In fact, the writers introduced a serious love interest, Tom Slone. Tom entered the show as a love interest for Jane, but eventually leaves her and starts a relationship with Daria. The show was canceled shortly thereafter.
I’m not saying it was Tom’s fault specifically, but when Daria and Jane’s relationship was broken, the show didn’t work anymore. It wasn’t fun to watch two women who had cared so much about each other fighting over a guy and without their witty commentary the antics of the other students of Lawndale High weren’t nearly as funny. The writers should have just taken a left turn and had the girls realize Tom was as boring as watching paint dry and that they were meant for each other.
Jesse Spano and Kelly Kapowski (Saved By the Bell)
Saved by the Bell was set in a high school and starred six attractive teens, who all dated each other both on and off screen. The show ended with Kelly and Zach getting married, even though they were still only 19 years old. It was insane times.
Jesse and Kelly would have made a much better couple than Zach and Kelly or Jesse and A.C. Slater. First of all, Jesse was a hardcore feminist and Slater is a self-described chauvinist pig. So that couple never made sense. Kelly and Zach were too similar to make a long-term relationship work. Zach and Kelly were the eye-candy (arguably) of the show. Neither one of them was much for academia. So…what did they do? What did they talk about? Not very much, like ever.
Kelly also came from a pretty hard home life, at least, by Saved by the Bell standards. Jesse was a strong, caring woman who could help Kelly work through her complicated home life. Kelly is a pretty and popular but beneath it all, she’s hurting. Jesse can also be a little uptight and Kelly is always there to make her laugh or remind her to take herself less seriously. They were seriously meant to be.
If Saved by the Bell is ever rebooted Fuller House style, I can only hope that we find Kelly and Jesse married with a house and two kids and three rescue dogs and a million cats.
Khadijah James and Maxine Felice Shaw (Living Single)
Queen Latifah was the star of Living Single, the ensemble sitcom that centered on the lives of four black women looking for professional success and relationships. Latifah played Khadijah, a successful magazine editor. The writers of Living Single really tried to make Khadijah’s relationships with men work. But they always felt forced. Khadijah’s sharp sense of humor was often lost on dudes who couldn’t keep up with her.
Khadijah’s best friend from college, Maxine, was the perfect foil. Maxine was a hot-tempered and passionate lawyer. Her heat perfectly melded with Khadijah’s cool. The show was at it’s best when Khadijah was calming down Maxine from flying off the handle. The two women were successful, emotional rocks for each other and had a blast together. They were basically already in a relationship minus the sex. Unfortch, at the end of the show’s run, both characters were given “happy endings” by being paired off with men they had little to no spark with.
Cher Horowitz and Dionne Davenport (Clueless)
I think I can act as the voice of my generation when I say that Clueless was the Mean Girls of the ’90s. Early into the movie, protagonist Cher Horowitz says, “searching for a boy in high school is as useless as searching for meaning in a Pauly Shore movie.” And she’s totally right! All the boys she encounters are much less mature and relationship oriented than Cher and her clique. So, Cher doesn’t like any high school boys.
Meanwhile, her BFF Dionne is has a volatile relationship with her boyfriend, Murray. Dionne and Murray are constantly breaking up and making up. The obvious solution would be for Dionne and Cher to just date each other. They both had impeccable style, loved shopping and makeovers and could have ruled the school as a high femme lesbian power couple. Amber would have died of jealousy. Instead, both girls settle for dudes who don’t appreciate their best qualities.
Buffy Summers and Faith Lehane (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
Okay, before everyone gets upset, I recognize that Willow and Tara are the best couple to ever couple. However, Willow and Tara weren’t a thing until 2000. In the ’90s, Willow had no idea her soul mate wasn’t a dude. What we did have in the late ’90s was Sarah Michelle Gellar and Eliza Dusku alternately fighting each other and working together to slay vampires, and it was the hottest thing ever.
Buffy and Faith were both sarcastic, funny and bore the burden of being a slayer. They totally understood each other, even when they were at each other’s throats, their longing glances at each other proved they were ready to throw down their weapons and have a make out sesh. And there’s no way you ever forgot about the time they danced together at The Bronze. Faith was also a lot more fun than mopey, brooding Angel. Who would choose Angel over Faith?! Sadly, the Buffyverse left this pairing unexplored.
Topanga and Angela (Boy Meets World)
Boy Meets World was mostly about a boy, Cory and his best friend, Shawn. Early on, the show introduced Topanga, a smart weirdo who was originally introduced to be a foil for Cory. Topanga was such a well rounded character that she became a cornerstone of the show and Cory’s love interest. It was kind of an awkward pairing because Topanga was so hot and Cory was so…Cory.
In the sixth season, the show gave Topanga a college roommate named Angela. Angela was smart and smooth and was “in love” with Shawn, but they were constantly breaking up because of his commitment issues. Topanga and Angela had way more in common with each other than they did with either of their boyfriends. They both excelled in college, which Cory and Shawn barely went to class, they were both sarcastic and funny and they both frequently shut down their men when they were being fools. It would have saved everyone on the show a lot of heartbreak if Angela and Topanga had realized that they were perfect for each other. They were both smart, successful, mature and already lived in the same room. They wouldn’t even have needed a U-haul!
Did I miss anything? What lesbian couples did you ‘ship back in the day?