Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Lesbian Storytime

So, over the last few weeks we’ve watched not one, but two high-profile new TV shows with queer female couples at their center. I’m talking about “Ratched” and “The Haunting of Bly Manor,” both on Netflix. Now, I can’t say either are necessarily great. I actually have pretty significant issues with both shows. But I am still glad I watched them both. The fact that we have two popular shows highlighting women in relationships with other women who aren’t just side characters but the main characters remains thrilling. Think back to the days when you waited for The Very Special Lesbian Episode to happen once every year or show, and you can’t help but appreciate the progress we’ve made.

Hands down the best thing about “Ratched” was getting to watch two out queer women play two queer women on screen. I can’t imagine what it must feel like, after a full career already, to be able to express one’s sexual orientation authentically on screen. Truly, it’s the strongest argument for watching “Ratched.” It’s other saving grave, amid the jumbled narrative and whiplash character development, is the candy apple beauty of the show’s costume and set design. Everything feels supersaturated and the colors pop off screen. And, of course, Sarah Paulson and Cynthia Nixon, as well as the rest of the cast, do their level best with the material they’ve been given. If only it lived up to their talent.

As for “The Haunting of Bly Manor,” hands down the best thing about the show is getting to finally add another adorable lesbian florist to our official canon. British actress Amelia Eve’s Jamie is like the melancholy yin to the upbeat yang of fellow British actress Lena Headey’s Luce. They make lovely green-thumbed lesbian bookends. But what I didn’t love about the series was [MAJOR SPOILERS FOR THE SHOW AHEAD. MAJOR.] how it romanticized the Dead Lesbian Trope to a ghostly degree. Yes, Jamie and Dani’s love story was beautiful and haunting. And if we were only in it for another pretty sad story that would be fine. But, alas, we are still not quite at the point where our representation is so prevalent that we have the luxury of complete choice. Instead, we keep seeing the same often damaging stories arise, time and time again. Sadness, while part of life, shouldn’t be our dominant narrative on screen. Also, while I am complaining, I wasn’t thrilled that the chief haunting and reason for the cursed home is a feud between two sisters, complete with jealousy and vengefulness. Otherwise, it was a fairly stylish if at times messy haunted house story, with lesbians at its very center. And I do take heart that every generation of queer women has its tragic romance that it must fall in love with. I appreciate that “The Haunting of Bly Manor” will be that story for a whole new generation.

1 comment:

Helena said...

"Green-thumbed lesbian bookends" - just love this sentence. Have a good and safe day Dorothy , and belated happy wedding anniversary to you both.