Ray Donovan has a huge ensemble cast, so it’s become pretty rare that the out lesbian character Lena (Kate Moennig) gets much screen time, and when she does, it’s exclusive to revolving around Ray (Liev Schreiber), her boss.
In a recent episode (“Federal Boobie Instructor”) on the current season on Showtime (Season 4), Lena brings her “friend,” Jeannie, to see Abby, Ray’s wife who was recently diagnosed with DCIS (Ductal carcinoma in situ, an early form of breast cancer). Jeannie (played by Rya Kihlstedt) is both a breast cancer survivor and an oncologist.
Abby is beyond pissed that her husband told Lena about her diagnosis and she knows something is up between the two women knocking at her door. She lets them in but starts to grill them: “So what’s the deal with you two?”
“We’re not together,” Lena answers.
“That’s not what I asked.”
“We were,” Jeannie says, then adding, “Together.”
“Who broke up with who?” Abby asks.
Lena looks uncomfortable: “She did.”
Abby doesn’t care. “So this is your guilt trip huh?”
Lena and Jeannie take Abby to (where else?) a seedy strip club, because that’s what lesbians do. They proceed to get tipsy while Jeannie utilizes her Sapphic powers to convince Abby that she needs to face her situation instead of giving up. First, Jeannie tells Abby she became an oncologist after she lost her own breasts to cancer and tells Abby to touch her implants.
Abby is very impressed by how nice they feel, and Jeannie jokes, “You can stop touching ’em now, you fucking pervert.”
Then Jeannie tells Abby how blessed she feels to be “drunk as hell sitting with a sexy woman like you in a shitty bar like this.” And she leans in and kisses Abby, telling her to “Stay alive.”
It’s not long before we’re seeing Lena and Jeannie reconnect, either, during a musical montage.
At the end of the episode, Abby and Ray reconvene at home where Abby fills him in: “She kissed me on the mouth, and I felt her tits.” Ray has come home with that same story many times, so he’s non-plussed. He just wants his wife to stop drowning in her sorrows, and on the next episode, we see her visit Jeannie to get a second opinion. Unfortunately, Jeannie tells her she agrees with the other doc and she would recommend a double mastectomy.
It doesn’t look like Jeannie will return anytime in the near future, and Lena has also been absent from the following episodes, so their purpose has apparently been served.
On Ray Donovan, everyone’s lives are messy. There is no character without their own deep-seated issues and most of the time, these stories are all connected to how it affects Ray or the Donovan family. Lena isn’t given much to work with so I’m always glad to see her pop up (especially with another woman in tow), but would she really bring Abby and her ex to a strip club? And would Jeannie decide that kissing Abby be the way to convince her to stay alive for her children and her husband and herself? The whole scene just screamed, “Written by a man” and (surprise!) it was.
I feel you, Lena
I get it, Ray Donovan. You have a lot of things going on, and everyone on the show does things that most people wouldn’t do. But you could really be utilizing your lesbian character played by none other than SHANE to do something interesting once in a while. Something, perhaps, not straight out of a male fantasy.