The bar is so low when it comes to lesbian representation in the media that most of us will ignore the fact that a TV show or movie is absolute trash and watch it anyway because lesbian(s)! Sometimes we’ll even watch shows that star two straight female characters who “could totally be lesbians” because of all the subtext… the prolonged glances, the lover’s quarrels, the fact that they look so good together, and so on. But at the end of the day, they’ll only ever have male love interests, and if you’re still hoping for a different outcome four seasons into the show, then maybe it’s time to move on.
I’ve come up with a test to help lesbians raise our standards when it comes to the media that we consume. The “Is It Worth Watching?” Test helps us determine whether or not any given TV show or movie is worth watching by asking the following questions:
- Are they actually lesbians or do you just wish they were?
- Do the lesbians sleep with men after they’ve come out as lesbians?
- Are the lesbian characters portrayed in a negative light? i.e are they portrayed as predatory, obsessive, or stalkerish?
- Is the plot actually any good?
To further examine this, I will provide some examples of movies and TV shows that fail at least one point of the test.
1. Are they actually lesbians?
Once Upon a Time and Rizzoli and Isles are the biggest offenders in this category. Both shows have or used to have huge lesbian fan bases who the writers constantly baited with homoerotic subtext. Through it all, they never actually delivered anything that would acknowledge the women’s feelings for each other in a concrete way. All the women involved were canonically heterosexual, but this didn’t stop some of us from believing that Jane Rizzoli and Maura Isles a.k.a “Rizzles”, and Emma and Regina a.k.a “Swanqueen” were meant to be. Countless works of fan-fiction and cheesy video edits have been made in their honor.
2. Do the lesbians sleep with men after they’ve come out as lesbians?
I will NEVER forgive the producers of Skins US for what they did to one of my favorite shows. The original version of Skins (UK) followed the lives of a group of teenagers in Bristol as they experimented with drugs, sex, and relationships. In the first generation of the show, there was a gay male character named Maxxie. Once, on a school field trip, Tony (the popular, otherwise-heterosexual lead of the show) gave Maxxie a blowjob (badly). In the US version of the show, the gay male character was replaced with a lesbian. At the time, I didn’t know why they had made that choice, but I was elated. Tea was as out and proud as anyone could possibly be… that is until she had sex with and subsequently fell in love with Tony, and then it hit me. Maxxie had been replaced with a woman in the U.S version so that the show wouldn’t be too gay. Skins US got cancelled after one season of sub par ratings. Serves them right if you ask me.
3. Are the lesbians portrayed in a negative light?
If you’ve never seen the movie Cracks (Directed by Jordan Scott), then do yourself a favor and avoid it at all costs. A diving instructor at an elite boarding school becomes obsessed with one of her new students. She molests her. Later, the girl is bullied, and she dies of an asthma attack. Like I said, avoid at all costs!
4. Is the plot actually any good?
Jenny’s Wedding managed to pass the first three parts of the test, but that movie was boring as hell. Whoever wrote it had good intentions, but I literally couldn’t make it through the first 15 minutes.
How do some of the other lesbian movies and TV shows that you’ve seen live up to the “Is It Worth Watching” Test? Let us know in the comments below.