2009 Year in Review: Television


“Responsible” and “sensitive” are two words we rarely use to describe the way lesbian and bisexual characters are written. So it is surprising that the other cable show to feature leading lesbians — Skins on BBC America — also handled its queer characters with grace in 2009.

BBC America did a great service to the LGBT community when it decided to air the third season of the award-winning drama Skins.

The story is set in Bristol, South West England, where Naomi and Emily (played by Lily Loveless and Kathryn Prescott) are trying to navigate their way their way through all of the drama that comes with being teenagers, including their unexpected budding lesbian romance.

Early in the season it became apparent that Emily was smitten with Naomi. Rumors were already circulating that Naomi was a lesbian, and the ironic source of the rumors was Emily. Because of that, Naomi was not interested in palling around with her.

After a while, the two made up at a friend’s birthday party — and then proceeded to get trolleyed and makeout.

Afterward, Emily did not disguise her feelings, but Naomi was not receptive. As they grew closer, Emily continued to pursue a romantic relationship, even though Naomi refused to admit that anything other than friendship was going on between them. Finally, after much flirting and questions about what lesbians actually do in bed, Emily and Naomi slept together.

Even after that, Naomi was reluctant to admit that she was falling for another girl.

Emily, on the other hand, was keen to come out. When she told her friend Thomas she was gay, he simply said, “That’s fine. Shall we get a taxi? I don’t think the bus is going to come anytime soon.”

Emily’s parents (and twin sister, Katie) were less receptive to her coming out. (Of course, it lacked the tact most books suggest you use when telling your parents that you’re gay, but it is still rather impressive.)

“I’ve been making love to a girl … Her name’s Naomi, she’s rather beautiful, so I was nailing her.”

Despite the fact that they were still “holding hands through a cat flap,” Emily begged Naomi to be brave and fight for her. In the finale, Naomi did just that. She attended the school’s ball, took Naomi by the hand, and told her she loved her.

Cable TV’s other queer teen, Isabelle Hodes (played by Allie Grant), continued to hold her own with her formidable mother, Celia (played by Elizabeth Perkins), in the fifth season of Weeds.

As a recurring character, Isabelle was only in about half of the Weeds episodes in 2009, but every appearance was a treat as she refused to back down about being a lesbian, despite Celia’s constant criticism.

On an episode of the Weeds web series Good Morning Agrestic, the morning show host introduced a segment called “Too Young To Be Gay?” in which Isabelle appeared with her mom (her dad is the show’s co-host) to defend her sexuality.

“Isabelle Hodes, come on out!” the host cried.

“I already did, Pam.” Isabelle replied.

Pam wondered if 13 is too young to know that you’re gay. She blamed the “gay-friendly programming” which “makes it harder and harder for young people to resist this temptation.”

Celia could not have agreed more. “Just because gay is the new black doesn’t mean it’s your color, sweetheart,” she told Isabelle.

“Well ‘bitch’ isn’t a color either,” Isabelle replied. Then she launched into the first-ever Weeds PSA: “Do you know that 40% of the kids in America are gay, and 25% get kicked out when they reveal their sexual orientation to their parents.”

Isabelle even had a momentary love interest in 2009. Danielle (played by Erin Sanders) had been a fan of Isabelle from her days as a Huskaroo clothing model. She even knew the Huskaroo theme song.

Isabelle’s potential romance was overshadowed by Celia, who was so bored and locked into You’re Pretty cosmetics that she almost had a lesbian affair with the company’s owner. In one scene, she told Isabelle that she was “off to swap [some] cheddar for some heady nuggets” and then “perhaps eat a salad” and get her “Sapphic freak on.”

She did not. And neither did Isabelle.

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