Home' LOTL : June 2004 Contents Soap began as a format to sell products and ideology, most
importantly the unpaid labour of housewives as an
unquestioned role for women. But a shift began to occur in the
1980s with Hollywood style soaps like Dynasty, Dallas, and
later Melrose Place, showing career orientated independent
women as the ideal.
Originating in the domestic dramas of women's magazines
of the nineteenth century, soap operas evolved into radio shows
in the 1930s. These early radio soaps were generally owned and
produced by the sponsor and the story literally interrupted the
adverts. The advent of television in the 1960s saw soaps make
a successful transition to a visual format and until the recent
craze for reality television, soap was the cheapest and most
popular form of television drama.
Out of all television formats, soap is most dominated by
female producers and writers and its eternal complex story lines
have been described as feminine (in contrast to linear masculine
narratives). However, compared to appearances by gay men,
lesbian characters have been few and far between.
The L Word is the first lesbian centred soap, twenty years
after the appearance of daytime's first lesbian character
Dr. Lynn Carson (Donna Pescow) on All My Children. Days of
Our Lives almost got in first when in 1977 Sharon Duval
(Sally Stark) found married life unfulfilling and discovered she
was attracted to her bosom buddy Julie Williams. Pressure
from NBC executives forced head writer Pat Falken Smith to
abandon the story line. In general, soap serial dramas that are
cross-genre tend to feature more long r unning lesbian
characters, such as ER's Dr. Maggie Doyle, Dark Angel's
original Cindy, and Buffy's Willow, Tara and Kennedy. In fact,
Willow and Tara's two and a half seasons together give them
the record for the longest running overt lesbian relationship on
television (as opposed to Xena and Gabrielle's implied
relationship). Heartbeat presented the first lesbian couple in
1988 with Marilyn McGrath (Gail Strickland) and her lover
Patti (Gina Hecht). Meanwhile, LA Law gave us the first
primetime girl on girl kiss in 1991 when CJ Lamb (Amanda
Donohoe) locked lips with Abby Perkins (Michele Greene).
The Brits have been way ahead of the Americans with
lesbian characters throughout the 1980s and 90s in soaps such
as Brookside, EastEnders, Emmerdale Farm, Bad Girls and
Channel 4's original Queer as Folk. Australia has some catching
up to do but we at least had Water Rats' Sergeant Helen
Blakemore (Toni Scanlan) and Pacific Drive's Zoe Marshall
(Libby Tanner) and her many lovers.
That first daytime dyke Dr. Carson didn't stay long in Pine
Valley after coming out and All My Children viewers had to
wait 16 years for Bianca Montgomery (Eden Riegel) to come
out of the closet in 1999. It was worth the wait to witness the
first lesbian kiss on daytime television when Bianca snogged her
third girlfriend Lena (Olga Sosnovska) in 2002. Bianca was the
first established soap opera character to come out and remain
integral to multiple plotlines. She has proven wrong the
assumption that a gay character, due to their sexuality, will
always be isolated from the rest of the characters and unable to
be involved in the web of dramas unfolding.
Prior to Bianca, gay characters in soaps were usually male and
always vanished after their plotline (usually involving
homophobia where the gays are good and the bigots are bad)
was resolved. A lesbian kiss was often simply used to boost ratings
and was rarely the beginning of a committed relationship.
The L Word is indeed making history and lets hope it's just
a hint of more Sapphic soap to follow.
LATHER ME UP
THE L WORD IS THE FIRST LESBIAN CENTRED SOAP
WHEN ADVERTISERS REPORTEDLY PULLED
THEIR SPONSORSHIP OF THE L WORD,
VIEWERS WERE REMINDED THAT SOAPS
ARE HEAVILY LINKED TO WHAT WE BUY.
BY EVELYN HARTOGH.
Jo-Anne Baker B.A. M.A. C. Psych & Author
Sex and Relationship Counsellor
Specialising in orgasmic issues, relationship problems
P 02 9361 0433 • 0402 033 726
E email@example.com • www.pleasurespot.com.au
Vampirella is hungry but the only thing that will sate
her appetite is to make love -- and she must have a
young male virgin! Originally a radio play written by
celebrated British feminist Angela Carter, Vampirella is
now an exciting theatrical production at
The Darlinghurst Theatre, 19 Greenknowe Ave
Potts Point, from June 10. Bookings (02) 8356 9987.
We have a double pass to give away!
Call (02) 8347 1033 on June 7 at 11am.
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