Two lesbian focused online dramas show LBT women of color and Mid-America
Lesbians who watch mainstream television and films are savvy when it comes to LBT women characters—we don’t get too attached. We are waiting for the moment when those characters get screwed (and not in a good way), like when Tara was killed on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and The L Word’s final season.
But LBT women of color and LBT women in Middle America barely even exist in mainstream television and films.
The Lovers and Friends Show and Girl/ Girl Scene are two lesbian web series that are no longer waiting for the mainstream to value these stories.
Earlier this January, The Lovers and Friends Show (LNF) premiered its fifth and final season. Set in South Florida with a multicultural cast, LNF presents LBT characters of color that are complex and diverse.
In an April 2010 interview with AfterEllen, producer/director/writer Charmain Johnson shared how her visit to Atlanta Black Pride 2007 motivated the production of LNF: “That made me feel like ‘Ok, there’s a market and there’s support in the lesbian community. There’s an audience…waiting to be entertained.’ ”
The issues on LNF’s final season reach out to even first-time viewers: butch/femme representation, being transgendered, coming out to parents. There’s also humor, particularly with a flashback to the college years of two lesbian characters—Deidra (Zaire), a “Save the Owls” activist vs. Valentino (Katrice Flores), a self-involved college athlete.
Nicole Pina plays Tori, and is “a bit sad” about ending the show, but “[believes] it is best to go out on top.” She added that “[LNF]… succeed[ed] independently with little… monetary backing. I believe it is a platform for many others to come.” Kissa Jo, who plays Sasha, agrees:
“The show’s lasting impact will be more entertainment for us by us. Barriers have been knocked down and it's now evident there is a market for this.” Zaire is Deidra on LNF, and hopes the show’s influence continues to “be one of truth love and light…[L]esbian women of color… have REAL lives and REAL drama but can prevail over it all.”
LNF’s final seasoncan be viewed at TheLoversnFriendsShow.com, where previous seasons can also be purchased on DVD.
Although Girl/Girl Scene (GGS) premiered in summer 2010, the web series only recently completed its first season in December 2011. Similar to The Lovers and Friends Show, GGS has limited funding, which explains the time lapse between episodes. Yet, the Kentucky Foundation for Women has provided some support for the series, which is filmed in Lexington, Kentucky.
Created by actress/ writer Tucky Williams, GGS focuses on the lives of LBT women in Middle America. “…[G]ay people in TV shows… [are] either living in a big city…trying to overcome their gayness like…an obstacle, or they're in some small town being shunned,” said Ms. Williams. “In Lexington you can be perfectly happy just being what you are.”
The women of GGS are mostly in their twenties and on the bar scene, so illicit behavior abounds—drug use, binge drinking, sex with minors, barroom brawls, all the seven sins.
At the center of this debauchery is Evan (played by Ms. Williams), who could be a blond version of The L Word’s Shane—yet more self-aware. In an early episode, Evan suffers the loss of a friendship and connects it to her mother’s abandonment of her as a child. The awareness doesn’t change her behavior—but it does imbue her actions with a foreboding significance.
However, compared to a television show, a web series audience may have more of a say in what happens to characters. Ms. Williams “…gauge[s] how the show is doing by the response on Facebook and Tumblr… [and] talk[s] to [fans] online almost every night.”
Similar to The Lovers and Friends Show, GGS also explores the lives of transgender characters. Elliot is a seventeen-year-old transgender male, played by Jackson E. Cofer, who is also a transgender male. Mainstream TV would probably present several “special episodes” to educate the audience on the transgender experience. On GGS, there is a different kind of education. Elliot is completely integrated into the storylines—we don’t need explanations. We know he is transgender, but we also just know him as Elliot.
Clearly, the format of a web series provides creative freedom. “There are no network executives telling us what we can and can’t do,” stated Ms. Williams.
But how would she respond if her series were picked up by a television network? “I would love the opportunity… If we can promote the idea of what being a lesbian is really like, maybe someone else will be inspired to do the same and I won’t always have to be the one to write the kind of shows that I want to see.”
The Lovers and Friends Show
Episode 14 airs February 12, 2012
View the Final Season (free episodes for a limited time) and purchase DVDs at theloversnfriendsshow.com
Season Two is in production
Season One available for free at girlgirlscene.com