2009 Year in Review: Television


The only other leading lesbian character on primetime network TV this year was a surprise addition by ABC’s freshman science-fiction drama, FlashForward. In the fifth episode, “Gimme Some Truth”, FBI agent Janis Hawk (played by Christine Woods) revealed that she is a closeted lesbian in her career because she works “for the federal government, and they’re not too big on trusting gays with guns.”

During her flashforward (the inexplicable glimpse into the future seen by every character in the pilot) Janis saw herself pregnant and wearing a wedding ring, which confused her since she had no plans to get pregnant and wasn’t in a relationship.

She did, however, have a promising date with a chef named Maya (played by Navi Rawat) in the fifth episode. The two flirted openly over dinner, exchanging bogus flashforward stories, and ended up going home together. The next morning they made breakfast and plans for another date, but their fledgling relationship came to a jarring halt when Maya found out that Janis’ real flashforward included a wedding and a baby.

ABC has shelved FlashForward until March 2010, and while that doesn’t sound promising in terms of a second season, there are still 12 episodes left for us to discover why the only other lesbian on primetime TV is married and knocked up in the future.

Actually, on second thought, maybe we don’t want to know.

While there were only two lesbians on primetime network TV this year, there were a half dozen bisexual characters.

We have noted in the past that writers often label their female characters “bisexual” so they can play up the girl-on-girl scenes during Sweeps, and then have their characters fall back into relationships with men when the ratings stunts are over.

For example, both Angela Montenegro (played by Michaela Conlin) on Bones and Thirteen Hadley (played by Olivia Wilde) on House had relationships with women during 2008 Sweeps, but the only mention of their Sapphic dalliances this year occurred when Thirteen was trying to cheer up her boyfriend.

This year, Heroes and Melrose Place filled in for Bones and House.

On Heroes, Hayden Panettiere‘s Claire Bennet (of “save the cheerleader, save the world” fame) found herself the recipient of some “edgy” affection from her first college roommate, Gretchen Berg (played by Madeline Zima). At first it appeared that Gretchen was trying to murder Claire, but by the fourth episode of their story arc, “Hysterical Blindness,” Gretchen confessed that her internet stalking and general obsession with Claire wasn’t sinister; it was Sapphic.

“I have a crush. I’m crushing on you,” Gretchen told Claire before pulling her a clumsy Sweeps-y kiss.

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