But first, some more facts. AfterEllen has only two full-time salaries staff employed by Logo. There is also an assistant editor and the rest of us writers are all freelance. All of my writing for AE since I started in 2007 is freelance, done in my free time for a small commission. I also work a full-time, 40-plus hour a week job that allows me to keep the lights on and pay my cable bill. I write about pop culture and the lesbian community because I love to do it and because it alternately thrills and enrages me when the two intersect. I hope and fight every day for a world where it is more of the former and less of the later.
I have been intensely interested in all things “Lost Girl” and Doccubus since early 2011, when I finally succumb to the smoking snippets I kept seeing on YouTube and marathoned everything I could find. I was left feeling giddy and energized and turned on. Because, this show is hot – an unavoidable repeating theme when your hero is a supernaturally powerful bisexual succubus who must feed off the sexual energy of others to survive. My love for the show, its characters and actresses should be unmistakable to anyone who has been following along these past two years when I’ve practically accosted people on the street and yelled, “Are you watching Lost Girl? Well you should be!” into their faces.
Which leads us to last week, where this happened. 1) I wrote a recap on Tuesday of the episode that contained the line “Look, I’m steadfastly, unwaveringly Team Doccubus. But, dammit, if Copubus isn’t all kinds of hot.” Because I thought it was hot. And I called it hot. And then 2) On Tuesday morning after seeing the intense flurry of more than 60 comments at that point (yes, I counted) on the recap, most of which were talking about Doccubus v. Coppubus and one of which even specifically discussing the shipping war that had erupted in the thread complete with corroborating animated gifs, I posted this tweet:
If you think that’s somehow throwing Doccubus under the bus and abandoning my favorite current ship on television, I am sorry. I see it as having fun with a show that has almost too many hot characters than it knows what to do with. I did not create Copubus out of clay and present it to the world as a shining statue to shipperdom. I just noticed it existed. And I joke because I’m entirely and unquestionably secure in by belief that Doccubus can handle and best any competition, real or imagined.
We can argue until the cows come home and those cows have babies and then those baby cows come home and they have their own baby cows and so on and so moo about which ships are our favorite and which deserve more coverage and which are getting shortchanged. But in the end hopefully you can see that my ultimate goal is always for there to be more and better LGBT stories for us to enjoy. I am inclined, despite my misanthropic nature, to still believe the best in people until presented with the opposite reality. I would hope you afford me that same courtesy instead of attributing nefarious motivations to things which you do not fully understand yet.
Because here is what I believe about these stories that flicker across that glass box in our living rooms. We, the viewers, are entitled to the best stories possible. We are entitled to authentic characters and real portrayals. We are not, however, entitled to our favorite pairing living happily ever after. We simply are not, as much as we want it. We can hope for it and advocate for it and fight with our last breath for it. But writers do not have to give it to us, they only have to give us the most honest story they can.
And there is a real nuance to this point, and the nuance is everything. I get mad and will always be mad at Ilene Chaiken because her stories were not authentic. She gave us wonderful characters and amazing relationships, but then she jerked them around like a mad puppeteer and we all saw the strings and wished so much we could cut them. I am thankful to her for creating the show, but I wish she had let it live free of her personal agenda.
Same goes for Ryan Murphy and “Glee.” The show can, when it’s truly on, give us stunning moments of universal empathy where something which the wider world did not understand before becomes crystalline before all of our eyes. Kurt receiving the unconditional love of his father. Santana cracking open the hard shell she protected her soft heart with. These moments moved us. But then characters flitted and floated and look, something shiny. And he insisted we should be happy we got Brittana in the first place. But, at least for me, it wasn’t just about giving them a happily ever after. It was giving them a real reason for not riding off into the sunset together. I am thankful to him for creating the show, but I wish he had let it live free of his personal agenda.
I am not, however, mad at say a Joss Whedon or a Shonda Rhimes because as crazypants and tragic and disappointing as some of their plot twists may be, they do it in pursuit of their stories, not just their own desire to bend the world to their megalomania. But now I’ve veered into a philosophical discussion of my television-based worldview. Which, you know, embarrassing.
If you think my or AE’s coverage of “Lost Girl” is lacking, tell us where we can improve. But also be realistic. “Lost Girl” gets recaps, actress interviews, news updates, viewing guides and general commentary about it on the regular. The site has done interviews with the stars of the show every year the show has been on the air. Not too many series with major LGBT characters have afforded us the same courtesy and access. This is no small feat for a non-mainstream media site to accomplish. Almost every single post about the show gets promoted into the marquee on the AE homepage. The only reason I do not include a Twitter roundup of “Lost Girl” fans comments like with some other shows is because this show airs in two different countries on two different days. And it would become too cumbersome and time consuming for me to track, review and catalogue hundred of tweets over a two-day period. I am but one girl with a computer, and sometimes even I need to sleep.
You want a wide-reaching article about “Lost Girl”’s impact on popular culture? Sure, one might be due. But also realize AE is a commercial news and entertainment site and as such it goes where the audience is. “Glee” gets more coverage because “Glee” has a larger audience. That’s just another fact. Last season it averaged around 7 million viewers per episode where “Lost Girl” hovered right around 1 million. And “Pretty Little Liars” averages around 2.5 to 3 million viewers a week its last season. And if you think all of the coverage of “Glee” of late has been positive, you just weren’t paying attention.
As for AE coverage in general? Well, as I mentioned, I’m not the one steering that ship. But I will say the site over the years has evolved and while it is not perfect, because nothing is, it strives to give full and far-reaching coverage of what has become a very diverse universe of lesbian media. No site can be all things to all people. And, yes, it devotes some coverage to subtext because, again, there’s an audience there who asks for it. If you do not enjoy the subtext coverage, I politely ask you simply do not read it. Because there is plenty of coverage of maintext you can read instead. This season alone the site has recapped “Lost Girl,” “Pretty Little Liars,” “Glee,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Bomb Girls,” “The Good Wife,” “Degrassi,” “Chicago Fire,” “True Blood,” “Last Tango in Halifax,” “White Collar,” “American Horror Story: Asylum,” “Emily Owens MD,” “The Challenge: Battle of the Seasons,” “Project Runway” and “R&B Divas” – all shows with a major lesbian and/or bisexual character and/or contestant. The only shows it currently recaps with subtext? “Rizzoli & Isles” and “Once Upon a Time.”
(Please note and respect that I am emphatically not here to debate the merits of subtext. That is another post for another day.)
Bashing the people in your community who chose to write about and champion our representation, out of nothing more than love for the medium and a desire to see our lives reflected back honestly to us, doesn’t solve the problem. It doesn’t make TV writers write more LGBT characters. And it doesn’t create a utopian universe of LGBT visibility. All it does is make the people who do the writing weary. That’s not a threat, that’s just a fact.
p.s. You pick a fight with Heather Hogan, you pick a fight with me. She has done more to promote visibility, service fandom and make the world less lonely for people like us on the outside looking in than anyone I know. That’s my homegirl. And you can’t talk shit about my homegirl in my house.