So it does seem like we’ve experienced a jump in the number of non-straight women on TV, with the above being just the canon relationships in English-speaking series starting this year (which is why no Rookie Blue, Skins, Lost Girl, Grey’s Anatomy, True Blood, The Bridge, Pretty Little Liars, and so on). And it’s great. It’s absolutely fantastic to see representation on so many shows, especially after years of analyzing every interaction between any two women for potential subtext. We are watching, we do notice them. Under the Dome's couple is the only thing keeping me watching (while Junior tries his hardest to get me to stop). These aren't throwaway relationships or caricatures. Some are integral to their shows, others are side plots treated as heterosexual relationships would be.
But we can expect better. We feel like we’re seeing a bonanza because we’ve become accustomed to much less. It’s not greedy to want more, not when so many characters are still killed off, when there are shows and people that consider them inappropriate. And in terms of representation, there are still an overwhelming number of white and cis women and those who would identify only as lesbian, erasing bisexuals altogether.
I include Sophia and Crystal from Orange is the New Black with a caveat: Crystal is probably not gay. Her circumstances are special but she seems to stay with Sophia because of their family and while she was making an effort to accept Sophia, I don’t wish to label her as something she wouldn’t consider herself. Sophia herself does definitely seem to be queer. She is the only trans* person on this list and her relationship with Crystal is also the only one where neither woman is white. There are some well-known queer WoC on TV, Callie Torres, Santana Lopez, Emily Fields, and Kalinda Sharma, but that doesn’t change the fact that in this recent sampling of 20 women, 15 are white. There is literally an alien (a whiter than white alien) but no desis, Latinas, or indigenous women.
As one of two women’s prison series, OitNB has jumped onto the scene with its many women, queer characters, and WoC, for which it deserves praise, but even with eight women being in or wanting to be in relationships with women, six of them are white, and the other two are Black, one of them a person called “Crazy Eyes”. There is also a conspicuous lack of the word “bisexual”, kind of an odd choice considering its central character. The refusal to label or decide that something is exactly anything is one thing, but for a group already so invisible in media, the lack is a mystery. Dates has an inter-racial relationship (read: a white woman and a WoC) but also exhibits biphobia. One woman gets angry that the other has had relationships with men and then the latter admits she’s been desperately closeted, because a conservative Asian family forcing away the gay makes more sense than bisexuality.
It’s not that every show needs to go through a checklist of representation and The Fosters gets many points from me for handling what it has so well. And it’s not like we want to find things to criticize and be upset about but it’s our lives here. Just as I’m happy to see more queer ladies, I want to see more kinds of queer ladies, maybe even some like me. Media has the opportunity to hurt and help us and I’m really looking forward to seeing even more awesomeness.