YouTube Web Series Focuses on Lesbian Character

Real lesbians are not as visible in mainstream pop culture.  That’s why there’s the current WIGS web series Kendrawith Sarah Jones (Alcatraz, Vegas).

WIGS is a YouTube channel initiated in May 2012 by filmmakers Jon Avnet (Fried Green Tomatoes, Black Swan) and Rodrigo Garcia (Albert Nobbs, In Treatment) “to produce premium, female-centric drama with well-known actors and actresses,” stated current COO Jake Avnet.  Jennifer Beals and Julia Stiles are some of the actors featured in other WIGS series.

At the creative helm of Kendra is Jon Avnet.  Nurse Kendra Adams presents as a femme butch, a young white woman with short blond hair, a military veteran with a strong shoulder stance, and a matter-of-fact tone.  When we first see her, she is working in a hospital, wearing her nurse’s scrubs, talking on her cell phone in a dimly lit room, making a dialysis appointment for someone not related to her, but who she calls her grandfather.  As the person on the other line puts up bureaucratic resistance, Kendra refuses to yield:  “I am calm.  You should see when I’m not.”

As she ends her call, a picture appears on her phone — a younger Kendra and an African-American woman, both in army combat uniform.  A doctor, who is also a veteran (as are many characters on the show), glances at the photo and asks where they served, whether the other woman came back.  Iraq, and she did not, answers Kendra.  This is one level of the truth.

Kendra attends to the “twilight room” of a hospital.  After minor surgical procedures, patients wake up here under the influence of Versed, an anesthetic that obliterates any inner censor as well as memory.

A doctor queries his male patient (played by Harry Potter’sJason Isaacs) after surgery:  “You want anything?”

“Blowjob?” he responds.

Yet throughout the eight episodes of the series, Kendra explores how twilight room revelations do not necessarily form a complete truth, how the truth outside of that room can be questioned.

Kendra’s interactions with women help build a connection to her emotional truth.  She develops a bond with Macy (Kate Beahan), a patient’s wife unsettled by her husband’s disclosures under Versed.  Kendra also forms a new friendship with Leslie (Sydney Tamiia Poitier), an anesthesiologist, fellow veteran, and based on her flirtations with Kendra, possible love interest.

At home, Kendra shares an apartment with her grandfather as well as two gay men who are in a relationship and have also served in the military.  Bill Brochtrup (NYPD Blue) portrays one of these men, Arnold, and “admire[s] Arnold’s fearlessness… he’s a war vet who is openly gay, has a steady, loving relationship with another vet who happens to be African-American and in a wheelchair… And he protects the people he loves.”  He also noted the “breakthrough” of having “a lead [character] who’s a lesbian, who’s a veteran.”

Although Kendra is compelling, the fragmented narrative loses some viewers, and the ominous background music is more distracting than affecting.

Furthermore, it is clear that Kendra is attracted to women, but she never directly says that she is a lesbian.  She has had at least one past relationship with a man, so she could be bisexual.  However, she may not be certain of her sexuality or want to be defined.  That would reflect the show’s theme of how truth is elusive.

What is even more interesting is how Kendra interacts with different parts of her world, often simultaneously — straight and queer, military and civilian.  In this way, the web series creates an authentic depiction of the LGBT experience.

Where & when to view Kendra:

Kendra episodes premiere on Mondays and Fridays on YouTube and at the WIGS website  Previous episodes 1-4 can also be viewed.

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