In 2008, we saw the political landscape shift, but we also saw television have some of its best and worst representations of LGBT characters and storylines. From Rachel Maddow becoming the first out lesbian newscaster in U.S. history to the horrific storyline of Callie and Dr. Hahn on “Grey’s Anatomy” and everything in between, the LGBT community has had much to ‘ooo’ and ‘ahhh’ over in the past year.
Best TV shows for LGBT storylines
What does a show about vampires have to do with the queer community? A lot, actually, and no, were not talking about “Buffy” reruns, but the HBO drama hit, “True Blood.” Alan Ball, who created and produced the very queer friendly “Six Feet Under” adapted the novels from Charlaine Harris’s “Sookie Stackhouse” series to a widely popular and entertaining series all viewers, vampire lore enthusiasts and newbies can enjoy. Lafayette Reynolds, played by actor Nelsan Ellis, is a character who doesn’t completely come out of stereotypical roles for gay men, but his attitudes in the show are something we haven’t seen in a long time. He doesn’t take orders from anyone, and is self-assured in his masculinity and femininity. As a cook for a local restaurant and a prostitute, who supplies V (vampire blood as a drug), he is able to move in and around the town’s mover and shakers, holding nothing back, and providing humor along the way. It has easily become one of my favorite shows of the year and I am looking forward to seeing how the show progresses with queer characters and storylines.
All My Children
I never thought I would love a soap opera, my mom is usually the one who loves them, but “All My Children” has provided some of the happiest times for lesbians on television in, well, ever. Bianca, who shared the first lesbian kiss on soap television ever, has become one of the most important figures in queer television history. After a hiatus from the show, Bianca comes back with a new girlfriend and family to share to television audiences everywhere. Not only were we rewarded with a kiss, but a sex scene between the two as well. I will be happy to see where the show goes with her character and family, and if they can actually let a lesbian couple and their family be happy, for once.
I’m not going to lie, my favorite show in the world is the FOX hit, “Bones.” I follow all the old Buffy characters wherever they go (David Boreanez is now “Booth” on the show). But when my favorite previous couple, Angela and Hodgins broke up, I was a bit confused as to how both of their love lives would continue in the storylines. Hodgins, took out his anger by “hating everyone,” but Angela runs into her ex-girlfriend from college, Roxie, and is completely smitten by her. She’s not sure at first if Roxie is the killer in “The Skull in the Sculpture,” but after its revealed she isn’t, Angela falls quickly back into a relationship with Roxie. There are few appearances of them together, but the ones we get are worth remembering. Hodgins, who is wondering now if Angela is a lesbian, asks if it means something when Angela and Roxie share a bag together for a trip. He is reminded that it definitely does mean something. I hope the produces of the show do not use Roxie as bait in a killer-storyline, or let Angela become unsure of herself, because this is one of the cutest lesbian couples since Willow and Tara.
Honorable Mentions: The L Word, South of Nowhere (we are going to miss this show!), Torchwood, Ugly Betty, Dirty, Sexy, Money & Brothers and Sisters.
Worst TV shows for LGBT storylines
At the end of season four, Callie & Dr. Hahn shared a kiss that was not only promising and passionate, but lifted our hopes that we could see a true lesbian romance on one of the best shows on television. Midway towards the fifth season, we were sorely disappointed. At first, the show teased us. The two go between talking about their kiss to not talking about their kiss. And when they finally talk about it, they eventually have sex. Not before, Callie goes to Mark, with whom she occasionally sleeps, for advice on “pleasing women.” So when Callie and Dr. Hahn actually sleep together, Dr. Hahn cries, in a rare emotional moment from her, in a monologue explaining that she really is gay. This scares Callie, and so she ends up sleeping with Mark, twice, in the same day and tells Dr. Hahn about it. For a moment, we think they are actually going to be together. But their relationship and storyline on the show is suddenly ended, when Dr. Hahn tells Callie that she can’t kind of be a lesbian. Not only did that throw a stinger in Callie’s heart, but to every bisexual woman on the planet. I really hoped they wouldn’t kill the storyline like this, but they did.
A Shot of Love II with Tila Tequila
Where do I start with this one? The most irritating thing about this show was that when Tila “picked” a woman, the woman she picked left her standing, saying, she wasn’t sure if she wanted a woman or a man. Now, I’m not saying we all, regardless of sexual orientation, go through that, at some point in our lives, because we do, but it didn’t look pretty for LGBT characters in reality television. Even if, and its an obvious if, Tila and Kristy didn’t work out in the end, it would have been a chance, which we haven’t been able to see in reality television show dating. Besides the bad bad visibility it provides for bisexuals and lesbians, it just became dull and less exciting. We knew what was going to happen before it happened (except the “twist” at the end of second season), and I am glad its not coming back next year.
Other shows we could do without: Cashmere Mafia (it was canceled anyway) and House (Thirteen’s bisexuality is not portrayed well at all).
I hope that 2009 provides more examples like my “best of” list and shies away from the ones mentioned in my latter. Messages of support for the LGBT community were expressed by Keith Olbermann in an almost teary-eyed expression we haven’t seen from a newscaster in quite sometime, I wouldn’t be surprised if Olbermann does the same for us in 2009.