Is Lesbian TV Going Downhill?

Originally written for Lesbilicious Magazine

Picture the scene: you’re on your sofa watching the end credits of Candy Bar Girls on Channel 5.

Suddenly it hits you: you’ve just spent the last hour of your life watching Shabby from Big Brother wandering around Soho trying on hats, burbling on about her ‘media career’ and eating sushi. ‘Where did it go so wrong?’ you sob, while downing your Pinot Grigio in an attempt to erase the memory of Alex the Australian barmaid’s drunken, naked photoshoot in episode two.

Of course, it’s not all bad. Historical dramas like Tipping the VelvetFingersmith and the The Secret Diaries of Miss Ann Lister have boomed in recent years; all of them bankrolled by the BBC and almost all originally written by Sarah Waters, darling of the lesbian literary scene.

However, there’s something rather safe about these corseted visits to the ghosts of lesbians past: the historical setting adds a layer of abstraction to the events on screen, moving them out of the realm of everyday experience. They’re arty, some might even say educational: the chair/dildo scene in Tipping the Velvet certainly taught a generation of young ladies a thing or two.

But where are the quilted, luxurious, ‘Velvet’ quality programmes set in the present? What do we have that reflects the real experiences of lesbians living in today’s era of iPads, women’s lib and Fudge Bed Head extra strength mullet-gel?

Well, there’s Lip Service of course: the self-nominated ‘British L Word’. But you don’t even need to look past the opening sequence to realise that it’s a paint-by-numbers, cliché filled waste of airtime. We see two women holding hands, several shots of tattoos, a woman in a tank top playing pool and (in case potential viewers still hadn’t figured out the subject matter) a close up shot of a rather aggressive looking girl on girl kiss. Tattooed, pool playing ladykissers: that’s all we are…

Read the rest of the article here: (Warning- contains mild insults about professional Artful Dodger lookalike Shabby)


About Hilary Wardle
Hilary is a freelance journalist and copywriter who writes for a wide range of websites, magazines and newspapers, including Buzzfeed, MSN, The Poke, Chortle, the Guardian and the Independent. She specialises in arts and entertainment, comedy, video games and viral content. Contact her at

One Response to Is Lesbian TV Going Downhill?

  1. I think that gay tv shows are still new enough that they rely on stereotypes

    it’s like how black tv shows were in the 1970’s in American

    it takes a while until gay characters are normalized normal

    of course, when American tv did Queer as Folk, they really numbed and dumbed it down.

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