This is an article I posted a couple weeks back, but I wanted to expend on it. I also want to stretch my article writing legs a bit. Let me know what you think, please. I will have another article along this same vein posted soon as well.
Read, enjoy, comment
There is no denying the increasing presence of LGBT characters in television. According to GLAAD’s Where We Are on TV Report: 2012-2013 Season, in the past five years the presence of lesbian characters on network television shows has more than doubled. The report also states that the “2012-2013 television schedule found that 4.4% of series regulars will be lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender character” on the five broadcast networks: ABC, CBS, The CW, Fox, and NBC. “This is up from 2.9% in 2011…”[i] While this progress is certainly something to be praised, the community may not be looking at these depictions with a critical enough eye. Often when being marginalized it’s easy to be so mollified by representation that it’s easy to overlook misrepresentation. Exercising both patience and optimism, I recently completed season one of ABC’s adaptation of Mistresses. I am so annoyed to have witnessed what I knew would happen all along. Let me explain. Having watched the 2008 UK version of this show, it was clear the adaptation changed many of the plot points, so I figured it was worth a gander. In the US version the “playa” of the group is Josslyn Carver. She’s the sexy, man-eater that doesn’t need a relationship to be happy. Just like with Jessica in the UK version, Josslyn jumps from man to man, priding herself on not needing attachments. Those characteristics are what endear me to both Josslyn and Jessica. In the adaptation, very much like the original, Josslyn meets her match and considers changing her philandering ways for what? A woman! I enjoy both these story lines, despite their differences. What I take issue with is Josslyn cheating on what comes to be her girlfriend with her male boss. That is not how the story ended in the UK version. Creative license aside, here is my issue: We have not had enough LGBT content featured on network television (or cable for that matter) for lesbians to be cheating with men or vice versa. Call me overcritical, but LGBT characters and relationships are relatively new to network television, it’s too soon to muddy these fresh waters. Not only would I like to bask in the glow of this brave new entertainment landscape, but it also seems passive aggressively homophobic. Playing devils advocate to my own severely biased perspective, the question has to be asked: So would it have been better if Josslyn cheated with a woman? The answer to that is both yes and no. While I don’t condone cheating of any type, as a dyed in the wool, lifelong lesbian, I think its worse when a homosexual cheats with a member of the opposite sex. There is absolutely no logical reasoning to be offered, it’s just how I feel. I’ve gotten into this debate on several occasions with both my straight and gay friends, and I usually get mixed reactions, with people either agreeing wholeheartedly or adamantly disagreeing. This isn’t the first time I’ve felt such frustration. Let’s not forget the Tina debacle on The L Word. However, I think when viewing LGBT content it’s important to remember where it’s coming from and who it’s intended for. I know these shows are simply trying to both offer a real perspective on the situation as well as entertain, but in the end it’s a matter of intended audience. I’m not one hundred percent sure if Mistresses was intended for me. Only time and season two will tell. Entertainment aside, after much introspection and dialogue, I’m left with the same question: Is it worse when a homosexual cheats on their partner with a member of the opposite sex? I suppose that’s for the individual to decide.
[i] Kane, M., Gouttebroze, M., Townsend, M., & Carter, R. (2012-2013). Where We Are on TV Report: 2012 – 2013 Season. GLAAD, (3). http://www.glaad.org/publications/whereweareontv12.