Dear Hollywood: I’m going to make you an offer you can’t refuse. Here’s the pitch: you can drastically increase viewership by adding a well-written and well-acted lesbian couple to your show. This is because well-publicized, popular lesbian couples have the ability to mobilize domestic audiences while simultaneously drawing in viewers globally in a way that heterosexual couples—except in rare circumstances—cannot.
This isn’t an opinion, it’s cold, hard numbers. How viewers consume content is changing, and social media is gaining increasing importance as a gauge for the popularity of a show in a way that transcends the traditional polling/Nielsen method. The below four case studies—chosen specifically to reflect diversity across genre and network—should be sufficient to demonstrate the profitability of bringing in and retaining lesbian characters.
Pristina, 2016-current (“General Hospital,” daytime soap opera on broadcast network ABC)
“General Hospital” has a regrettably ambivalent relationship with the pairing of Kristina (Lexi Ainsworth) and Parker (Ashley Jones), leading fans to complain, with well-reasoned evidence, that GH never adequately valued “Pristina.” To support their point, they note that neither Ainsworth nor Jones are on contract, the actual number of minutes that Kristina and Parker have been on screen together may be cumulatively fewer than 45 minutes despite their storyline spanning two years, and the show never gave Pristina more than a single episode of happiness before the couple would be sidelined for months at a time. This begs the question: is there a tangible, metrics-based reason these two minor characters should be given more screen time? Objectively, yes, and here’s why:
“Well, now that we’ve had our one date and already said, ‘I love you,’ we’re just going to move in together off screen because that way no one gets to see us and it totally reinforces the lesbian U-Haul stereotype.”
Parker is bringing sexy back. Sexy glasses. How YOU doin’?
Conclusion: Pristina fans are a vocal subcommunity in GH’s fanbase whose investment in the Kristina-Parker same-sex pairing significantly punches above its weight compared to the show’s primary, heterosexual couples. The Pristina storyline has brought in not only viewers who ordinarily wouldn’t watch soap operas, but also international viewers. GH’s uneven, vacillating approach to the couple, however, (guess they’re now going to lesbian off screen in Oregon, ugh) has turned off other potential viewers, who have selected instead to follow couples with more screen time, such as the budding romance of “Teriah” (Tessa and Mariah) on “The Young and the Restless.” The fact that there’s a large market for lesbian storylines on soap operas despite the belief that soap opera audiences are too socially conservative to accept them is also supported by the enormous popularity of Olivia and Natalia, “Otalia,” on “Guiding Light.”
“Want to come back to my place for ‘coffee’? To be clear, I just mean sex. There is no coffee.”
PAGE 2 – When Clexa won the internet