[Image manipulation by BEE]
So while I was on vacation an interview I did with the very lovely Sasha Alexander published over at AfterEllen. If you haven’t given it a look-see, I suggest you do. She was affable and engaged and gracious. She also talked about boob grabs and wet dream sequences and being a lesbians at heart. So, you know, there’s that. As the season 3 premiere of “Rizzoli & Isles” approaches, some have used it as an opportunity to restarted the whole “Subtext Sucks” argument. Which is a perfectly valid way to feel. You don’t have to see, enjoy or appreciate subtext. Not in the least. But to say other people shouldn’t either, well, that’s entirely another thing.
Because the primary argument against anyone being allowed to like subtext is essentially a straw man. It says liking subtext will prevent real LGBT stories from being told. It says we’re settling. It says we’re part of the problem. To which I say phooey. This would require the only two possibilities in the world for us gay viewers: Either 1) We demand more gay characters, or, 2) We like subtext. But, you see, it’s quite possible and simple to do both. And I do both, adamantly. Being gay or a minority or any other “other” than your standard issue white heterosexual dude or dudette in U.S. entertainment means seeing yourself at a dramatically reduced rate – if at all. All too often it means being the best friend or the crazy coworker or the second cousin twice removed. And it means constantly having to fight to have our stories told. So to see ourselves we’ve turned to both telling our own stories and creating our own alternate realities out of other people’s stories.
The idea that liking subtext makes TV producers pander to us for ratings is also a bit of a laugher. I mean, do you really think TV writers are sitting around asking each other how they can cast two strong female leads with inescapable chemistry to interact with each other in a way that drives lesbians crazy? No, they’re not. They’re thinking how can we get this dumb product placement for Doritos into next week’s episode so they’ll pay them millions of dollars. And also, did craft service run out of the red Gummy bears today. And, sure, if a show realizes its characters appeal to a certain fanbase, they might play with that dynamic. (Seriously, Quinn, stop making out with Berry.) But would that prevent them from writing another gay character? I don’t see why. If anything, it would show them how vocal and hungry and enthusiastic the gay audience can be when given something to cheer about.
If I read subtext between two strong female characters, it’s because I want them to be like me. It’s because it’s fun/sexy/exciting to think they might be like me. And because, as we all are painfully aware, most women aren’t like you and me. We’re never going to be the majority of TV characters – ever. Should we continue to petition for more and better representation? Good God, yes. Always demand more. But to fill the void that will always be there, if I want to think Alex Cabot and Olivia Benson like to play good cop/bad ADA in their spare time, who does it hurt? That’s not settling, that’s embracing. To see the world through rainbow-colored glasses just makes the world more colorful. It doesn’t mean that we still can’t change it.