Culture / Entertainment

Watching for the Wrong Reasons: A Lesbian’s Memoir of Television

Cagney & Lacey

PHOTO CREDIT: EVERETT COLLECTION

My passion for women in television can be traced to 1983 when Cagney and Lacey was cancelled. I was 15-years-old, and Cagney and Lacey was my favorite television show. Looking back, I’m fairly certain I was not drawn to the storylines but to Christine Cagney’s sassy attitude and blazers. When the show was cancelled, I was devastated–so devastated that I wrote a letter to the network and to People Magazine in outrage. The show was saved and my letter to People was actually published in the magazine. Thankfully, I didn’t keep a copy.

As I’ve gotten older, I have realized that I sometimes watch television shows for the wrong reasons or keep watching for the wrong reasons.

Here is s sampling of shows I’ve watched and some of those beautiful reasons:

Grey’s Anatomy

I caught an episode of Grey’s Anatomy while I was visiting my mother and bored out of my mind. Meredith Grey, the person for whom the show was named, did nothing to counteract my boredom. She was whiny and pursed her lips in a weird way and I knew I wouldn’t keep watching the show after leaving my mother’s basement. But, after returning home, I’d see an episode here and there and then, one day, I saw Dr. Callie Torres dancing in her underwear.

That was enough. More than enough. I watched long enough to see the sexy Dr. Torres eventually comes out as bisexual which I never would have predicted. But, even Dr. Torres wasn’t enough to keep me hooked forever. After she and her girlfriend broke up, I stopped watching.

Glee

Glee wasn’t always terrible. I feel compelled to say that before I mention anything related to the show. It was quirky and the dialogue was smart and I am a sucker for a musical. Of all the characters, I loved the bitchy cheerleaders the most so I was thrilled when Santana says, “Sex isn’t dating.” To which Brittany replied, “Yeah, if it was, Santana and I would be dating.” Of course, after Season 1, the show began it’s steady decline but I must confess that I still watch Santana and Brittany’s scenes on tumblr. What can I say? I’m a sucker for queer cheerleaders living happily ever after.

Brittany and Santana

PHOTO CREDIT: FOX TELEVISION

 The Good Wife

The Good Wife started the same year as Glee and I watched for one reason and one reason only: Julianna Margulies. It was a compelling story of a woman who goes back to practicing law after leaving her politician husband after he’s involved in a sex scandal.

Julianna Margulies

PHOTO CREDIT: FANPOP

I loved watching her come into her power in the law firm but eventually, Archie Panjabi as Kalinda Sharma captured my attention. She was beautiful and dangerous and a completely feminine badass. I fell in love.

As time went on, Kalinda played a smaller role and I lost interest in yet another show. I’ve since read that there may have been behind the scenes trouble between Julianna and Archie. I totally blame Julianna. Yes, I watch shows for the wrong reasons and I take sides in behind the scenes squabbles.

House of Cards

Last year, a friend suggested that I watch House of Cards and gave me the basic premise of the show. I said, “Oh, I’m not really into political intrigue.” She shook her head and said, “You have to watch it for Robin Wright.” I resisted for a long time. I am better than that, right? No, of course I’m not.

Robin Wright

PHOTO CREDIT: NETFLIX

Robin Wright plays Claire Underwood who is one of the coldest women on television. She is ruthless and behaves in ways that shock me and yet her hair and oxford shirts make me root for her always. I will admit that I quit watching midway through season 2 because something was off with Claire’s hair. Maybe she got a new stylist or the stress of her duplicitous life was taking a toll–I don’t know. I plan to go back. We’re on a break.

The Fall

The Fall stars Gillian Anderson as Stella Gibson, a hardcore investigator leading an inquiry into serial killings in Belfast. I am one of the rare lesbians of a certain age who has never had a thing for Gillian Anderson. But a friend recommended it to me and I thought about giving it a try but then I thought, “Gillian Anderson? Meh.”

And then, I saw this on tumblr:

That is Gillian Anderson as Stella Gibson kissing my old friend, Archie Panjabi as Reed Smith. The way Stella dismisses the guy hitting on her friend–brilliant.

I started watching the show for all the wrong reasons but ended up loving Gillian Anderson’s character and the story enough to keep watching and Stella has got to be one of the best female characters out there right now. Smart and fearless is irresistible. I highly recommend it for the right reasons–a feminist protagonist and a fascinating plot. And while I am watching for the right reasons, I’ll also appreciate the wrong ones.

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10 Comments

  1. How could there possible be any wrong reasons to watch television? These seem like all the right ones to me. Except I would add SVU, of course.

  2. Stella Gibson is my spirit animal

  3. Suzy Soro (@HotComesToDie) says:

    After Torres broke up with one girlfriend, she then got a hotter one, the daughter of Kate Capshaw, Jessica. I still think the L Word was the hottest.

    • Vikki Reich says:

      I know Arizona Robbins. I quit when they broke up. The L Word definitely had plenty of hotness. Few rock a power suit like Jennifer Beals as Bette Porter.

  4. Living vicariously thro Girlfriends Guide to Divorce, every episode has me saying … omgawsh, I said, I have written that … and my 17 yr old saying – write a book already!

  5. I think I might have to watch The Fall.

  6. “I will admit that I quit watching midway through season 2 because something was off with Claire’s hair.”

    HA.
    (and I took a break from HOC at the same time, although not quite that reason.)

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