This week in prime-time television has been very queer, and that is awesome!!! Okay, yes, I identity as sexually fluid, so of course I have loved the increasing LGBTQ visibility we have seen in television.
Two things make this shift so huge: First, these are on prime-time television and major networks shows that everyone can get, not just Showtime or HBO; second, many of these characters and/or the people they are involved with are queer people of color!
The mega-popular show “Empire” premiered Wednesday. A fan favorite, Jamal, who is the singing son of Lucious and Cookie Lyon, has been an out gay man since season one. Also, one of Hakeem’s (the youngest rapper son’s) girlfriends from season one was bisexual. This week, however, we were also introduced to a new character who is seemingly going to have a huge impact on the show. In the premiere, we met lesbian billionaire Mimi, played by Oscar-winning actress Marisa Tomei. She wasn’t just identified as a lesbian, but the show featured a women-themed party, with girl-on-girl action, as well — minimal, but present. There was also a story-line involving Mimi hooking up with Lucious’ former partner Anika. This created queer visibility for women and ethnic women (Anika is a woman of color.)
Now we come to Shonda. That’s right, Shonda Rhimes. The hitmaker extraordinaire in television continued her reign Thursday with the premieres of “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Scandal,” and “How To Get Away With Murder.”
“Grey’s Anatomy” featured a lesbian couple who were hit by a train. The topic of conversion therapy came up, as one of the girls said that her parents were going to send her to a conversion camp. This was a big moment for such a popular and iconic show. Shonda didn’t just invoke a lesbian character, she incorporated real issues that many LGBTQ people face in their own lives.
But perhaps the biggest shocker of the entire premiere season came in the premiere of “How To Get Away With Murder.” With the record night at the Emmys for lead actress Viola Davis, there was extra excitement surrounding this season-opener, and Shonda delivered! At the beginning of the episode, we were introduced to another attorney, Eve, played by Famke Janssen (who is mostly famous for her role as Jean Grey in the “X-Men” series). It is revealed near the end of the episode that Eve and Annalise (Viola’s character) dated and she left Eve for (her now murdered husband) Sam. They talk about Annalise’ problems and life struggles, and then they seem to rekindle their romance. They hook up!!! This was the kiss heard around the world! I was on social media, live-tweeting when this happened and the tweets POURED IN!!! Most people were completely shocked, yet appeared to be ecstatic that Ms. Annalise was sexually fluid. And I was one of those people! This is historic. Make no mistake about it. Annalise is a black, middle-aged, successful woman, who has relationships with men and women — ON ABC!
Television is changing and I think it is for the better. These queer representations are forcing the mainstream to not just tolerate, but accept and actually enjoy seeing LGBTQ relationships and characters. We love these characters. We are intrigued by them, and their sexuality just adds to the amazing plots of these already awesome shows! So I applaud these writers and creators for not being afraid and pushing queer visibility. Bravo!
Watch the now-famous kiss between Eve and Annalise, here:
Featured image via YouTube screen capture