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Wednesday 14 April 2010

Proclamations of the Red Queen

26th March 2010

Soaps and Sapphists: The Grimy Homophobic Truth…

Posted by: Craig Young

Why is it that the lesbian community isn’t lobbing collective labyrises at the grotesquely lesbophobic storylines about sapphic sudsters in that particular television genre? And our own Shortland Street is just as guilty.

In Attitude 189 (March 2010), the mag took a gendered eye at the lesbian and gay story arcs on five British soaps- the venerable Coronation Street, Eastenders, and Emmerdale, all of which screen in New Zealand, and Hollyoaks, which only screens on the pay for view UKTV. All of the characters have had gay and lesbian characters. To my knowledge, Brookside doesn’t. Now, in the case of Hollyoaks, one of the gay male characters, Father Keiron, came to a sticky end at the hands of the murderous half brother of one of the other gay male characters. Gay male characters tend to be young and cute and get involved with other young, male and cute characters, apart from a pair of boring ones on Brookside. Special mention must be made of Hayley Cropper on Coro- who isn’t 100% ’straight’ as she is a transwoman, albeit a nonglam one and married to boring Roy Cropper. And ahem, Rita Sullivan is not camp. She is a “glamour granny” and older diva, as is Audrey Roberts. Norris is. And boring. So was the late Blanche. Sigh. Sadly missed, that one.

Anyway, the gayboy soap characters (ie Todd Grimshaw, Coro) usually struggle with coming out, get kissed, devirginised and have to put up with angst from their exgirlfriends and parents, except if one has a nice mum like Eileen Grimshaw on Coro. Then they toddle off to university or a professional career elsewhere. Sean Tully is an exception, and he is a camp gayboy.

What about the lesbian soapsters? Don’t ask. I wish I could excuse the Shorters plotlines that involve the hapless Maia Jeffries as a provincial aberration, but no, in all honesty, I can’t. Consider that poor Maia has civilly united with Jay Copeland, then cheated on her and faced seperation, then was widowed due to the depradations of Joey Henderson, the Ferndale Strangler serial killer. As if that weren’t enough, she lost it completely and bumped off someone else herself, although there were extenuating circumstances. Just when we thought she’d found a girlfriend and moved on, the girlfriend flaked out on her. Gak. Stereotype city, anyone?!

What about the British soaps? Ah, well, two of the lesbian soapsters there have gone mad, one has blown up her family’s farm, while the other is a two-timing straight for play psychopath who conveniently bumps off tired characters past their use-by date, including her own girlfriend,  while another lesbian went to prison after bumping off her evil abusive dad.

Say what? Forty years after the hideous sixties period piece that was The Killing of Sister George, it seems some soap scriptwriters aren’t above ripping off the basic plotline and either removing lesbians through convenient falling pianos or having them develop hitherto unsuspected mental illnesses straight out of a bad Paul Cameron ‘research report’ and laying waste to the straight but narrow surroundings. Okay, so what’s to be done? If I were a lesbian media consumer, I’d load up on the Willow and Tara Buffy episodes, the Bad Girls Nikki/Helen story arc, Xena Warrior Princess DVDs and keep an eye out for Skins Seasons three and four, given that Naomi and Emily easily have the most wholesome relationship on the show (especially compared to anything involving Cook!) If I were an anglodyke, I’d troup right down to BBC, ITV and other production companies and loudly growl at them, with pickets. As for Shorters, I sadly must conclude much the same.


“Nine Ways of Being Gay in Soaps” Attitude 189 (March 2010): 62-63:

Tags: General

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