Lesbian Couples of TV Past and Present – Why We Cherish Them
Although Lesbian representation still has a long, rough road to truly achieve equality on television, on-screen coupling inspiration has flourished tremendously over the last 21 years since Ellen came out in “The Puppy Episode”.
The depiction of a lesbian relationship on screen has evolved from quirky side characters who leave their husbands (think Friends) to brave teenagers who get fully fleshed character arcs (thanks Pretty Little Liars!). We don’t just want representation on television to be able to see two hot girls go at it, although that’s never a downside. Rather, we need to see characters and relationships that reflect our own successes and struggles, to empathize with our feelings and frustrations. Here are 10 TV lesbian couples that gave me all the feels over the years.
Shane and Carmen (The L Word)
I’ll admit that I didn’t watch The L Word in its entirety until about a year ago, but I quickly learned what the Shane obsession is all about. Shane is unequivocally comfortable with who she is and how she lives (at least on the exterior), until her world is shaken by Carmen. The sexy DJ sees through Shane’s cool, confident facade the moment they meet.
I choose to repress the memory of the wedding that never was, because I so badly wanted these two to have a happy ending, Shane, with all of her complications and existential struggles, was always at her best with Carmen, but sabotaging herself was what she was all about. In my alternate universe, the ‘who killed Jenny’ arc of season six is replaced with a storyline chronicling how Shane and Carmen find their way back to one another.
Nicole and Waverly (Wynonna Earp)
Wynonna Earp originates in a comic book series, because all of the best gay women characters come from comics. SyFy also consistently manages to provide LGBT representation, and this series features both a lesbian coupling and a seriously badass, strong, lead heroine. Fans were graciously treated to the moment they had all been waiting for late in season one when Wynonna’s sister Waverly and Officer Nicole Haught finally shared some serious smooches that gave us one of our favorite ever couples: Wayhaught.
The most meaningful, powerful part of the progression of this relationship for me is the emotional journey of Waverly, who is coming to terms as an adult that she might not be straight after all. As someone who can speak from personal experience, the process of realizing as an adult that you don’t fully know yourself as well as you thought you did is exciting and terrifying, and this show handles it gracefully.
Delphine and Cosima (Orphan Black)
Every fan or Orphan Black has his or her own favorite clone, and I’ve always been a champion of Cosima. She’s kind, smart, brave, and unknowingly sexy, and she’s often the glue that holds the entire team together. Cosima has been through a world of hurt, from losing her girlfriend to suffering from the illness that plagues members of Clone Club, and her surprise reunion with Delphine is one that deserves celebration.
I was admittedly furious with Orphan Black when the show appeared to have kill off Delphine. The balance of femininity, intelligence, and strength she possessed was a character combination I looked up to as a woman who so recently came out, and I was devastated at the idea that the show would be without her presence. Kudos to Orphan Black for bringing her back and creating and epic reunion for Cophine. Or Dephima. Take your pick.
Emily and Paige (Pretty Little Liars)
Although Emily and Maya were the original pairing that led to the beautifully written coming out story for Emily Fields, but the first love isn’t always the big love. Emily and Paige’s love story is a familiar one for those who have either faced or experienced animosity by someone not because they are homophobic, but because they struggle with their own sexuality.
Remember when Paige’s father accused Emily of getting preferential treatment because she’s a lesbian? Little did he know that his daughter was taking out her aggression on Emily because she was crushing on her. The two have had their ups and downs, and they certainly aren’t the perfect couple, but I loved watching them in every season.
Annalise and Eve (How to Get Away With Murder)
I remember the first moment Eve made an appearance during season two of How to Get Away with Murder. I looked over at my then girlfriend (now wife) and said “those two have a history and they’re going to hook up”. Annalise had given no indication up until this point that she was bisexual, by why wouldn’t she be? This woman is fluid when it comes to sex, and who wouldn’t be attracted to Famke Janssen?
Even and Annalise have a complicated, occasionally destructive relationship, but they’re impossible not to root for. Annalise is dark and damaged, but Even doesn’t see her that way. In fact, Eve sees someone she just wants to have a partnership and thinks they could both feel whole if they would decide to be together. Unfortunately, Eve returns to the show only to break it to Annalise that she’s found someone else, but anything could happen, right?