This week’s happy ending pairing comes from Germany, from a show called “Hand aufs Herz” (“Hand on Heart”), which aired during the 2010-2011 TV season. Let’s be clear up front: “Jemma,” the portmanteau for Emma Müller (Kasia Borek) and Jenny Hartmann (Lucy Scherer), is one of the most charming teenage lesbian couples ever to grace the small screen. Endstop.
They’re adorable fluffballs of cuteness who just get cuter as the show progresses, even during heavy or dark storylines. But even more importantly, Jemma is what lesbian TV couples could be if shows gave them the same amount of screen time and allowed them the same amount PDAs as straight couples. Emma and Jenny are main characters who contribute to the storylines of others, undergo multiple storylines of their own, get tons of attention, and who kiss so many times it would be pointless to count (unlike other shows, where the number of kisses during the entirety of the lesbian storyline can be counted on one hand).
Because Jemma are in so many episodes (around 150), “Hand aufs Herz” shows many relationship events that few other lesbian TV pairs have ever been given. In fact, Jemma even has some elements that may be singularly unique in the history of lesbian TV; most notably, a conversation between two teenage lesbians about waiting to have sex until both are ready, and the pressure felt at wanting the first time to be perfect, something that is boringly common for straight teenage couples on TV but wholly absent for lesbian couples. In a landscape of almost exclusively femme lesbian TV characters, Jemma is also the pairing of a (very) soft butch with a high femme.
They’re SO. FLUFFY.
The best way to describe “Hand aufs Herz” is to suppose that one day, somewhere in Germany, an executive producer was like, “Okay guys, we’re going to do ‘Glee’…in GERMAN. And also, it’s going to be a soap opera and have strong anti-establishment themes, because we’re European. And also, our students aren’t going to look like high schoolers at all. Go!” So alright, the concept and execution for the overall show are a bit unusual (serious question: do schools in German really have beach volleyball teams or is that meant to be a joke?), but Jemma is worth sitting through the twenty renditions of Destiny Child’s “Survivor.”
When we first meet her, Emma is an adorkable ball of anxiety and self-doubt who somehow has not yet figured out how gay she is despite evidently living in Melissa Etheridge’s closet. Jenny, on the other hand, is the drop dead gorgeous popular girl who used to be a child singing sensation in Asia but has now been unceremoniously dumped in relative backwater Cologne. Jenny starts off an arrogant, unlikable villain, actively doing whatever she can to undermine Emma out of what seems like a malignant and insatiable vindictiveness.
From the outset, there’s not an inkling that the two will one day become the lesbian fairy godmothers to a straight guy trying to get a date, or that Jenny will one day conduct the Pizza Dance of Rejection Sadness over Emma. Instead, the two fight worse than cats and dogs, so when they get together, it’s rainbows and unicorns and truckloads of kittens. Just kidding. First there’s more soap opera drama but then there are unicorns. And then more drama. You know what? There’s just a lot of drama. Because soap operas are gonna soap.
Emma: Hello, I am a heterosexual.
Jenny: Yeah, sure, okay Ellen Page DeGeneres.
Jenny spends most of the show with a bullet as an earring, FYI.
Your face when you realize you’ve watched all the Jemma and there’s no more.
Overall grade: A. The Jemma storyline has so much everything: screentime, kisses, loving looks, longing looks, etc. It also has something else that historically has been so rare for lesbian TV couples: long periods of happiness as a couple. Jemma had a massive international fan base (Jemmanation), and Borek and Scherer were very appreciative of their fans around the world, which is like icing on the cake for a fandom. For more about Jemma, read Heather Hogan’s fantastic recaps here.