Queer Representation in the Mainstream Media

Posted by at 11:29AM

A few weeks ago, a friend and I hosted a program at the Women’s Center about queer representation in the mainstream media, and specifically how queer women are depicted on the Showtime hit drama, The L Word . It’s hard to watch this show and not have an opinion, and apparently lots of people do. Ultimately, the shows’ aim is entertainment, and while we are not expecting confrontational questions of paradigm challenging proportions, is it that unreasonable to ask for a little diversity? All of the characters fit the classic mold of a Hollywood drama, white, tall, thin, beautiful, rich, trendy, and in this case, gay. While their are characters of color that intermittently make appearances on the show, and socioeconomic diversity is hinted at times, the show glosses over all of the nuance, and fails to address the hard-hitting questions that are asked about female homosexuality. I guess you just can’t expect that much from Hollywood.
On the other hand, an informal survey conducted at our event indicates that queer women at Stanford, though they acknowledge the shows’ limitations, feel that some representation is better than no representation. The show is the first and only of it’s kind on air today, but its merits are dubious at best.
What do you guys think?

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4 Responses to “Queer Representation in the Mainstream Media”

  1. S says:

    I think any show where LGBT individuals are viewed as people and not as “Oh, that’s the gay character” is a great step in the right direction. We’re not at the point that a gay woman on a “mainstream” show wouldn’t be stereotyped, so in the context that we’re currently in, I’m all for The L Word.

  2. gail dwyer says:

    As for there not being enough diversity on The L Word, Jennifer Beals, some might say the main character, is biracial, and has been on the show since Day 1. Also the actor who plays her half- sister, Pam Grier, has been on the show since Day 1. Not all of the characters on this show portray rich, thin and gay. I question just how familiar you are with this program. Some of us have never missed an episode. While not touching on every hard-hitting issue affecting gay women this show has touched on many of our issues. Perhaps you might rent the dvd’s beginning with Season 1 and refresh your memory. Unfortunately the final episode for this season is next Sunday night. They will be back for a Season 6 which will be abbreviated to 8 episodes.

  3. K says:

    gail, i agree.
    first, as a side note: wouldn’t you rather have a show that presents queer women in such a way that breaks the stereotype of what lesbians “look like”? to quote Tina, who this season was discussing casting an actress for Lez Girls – they have to make them “fuckable.” That’s just what viewers want.
    lack of diversity? have we forgotten about tasha and kit? they are HUGE characters. and Bette’s biracial! I thought it was pretty awesome of the show to address this issue – so often people on TV are presented as “the black character” or “the asian character.” i think it’s good that they mixed it up.
    And you can’t deny Latina representation. Papi? Carmen?
    what about Max as a transgender person? what about Jodi as a deaf person?
    jenny and Alice’s bisexuality in the beginning of the series?
    NONE of these characters (except, i guess, for Papi) have “intermittently made appearances on the show.” they are the main characters.
    how can you say this show is not diverse? i guess if i had to choose one, my main problem with the show would be that they are all, for the most part, well-off and beautiful (for the record, they are not all thin). But, even still… look at Grey’s Anatomy. The O.C. Sex and The City. I mean, come on… that’s just TV.

  4. K says:

    gail, i agree.
    first, as a side note: wouldn’t you rather have a show that presents queer women in such a way that breaks the stereotype of what lesbians “look like”? to quote Tina, who this season was discussing casting an actress for Lez Girls – they have to make them “fuckable.” That’s just what viewers want.
    lack of diversity? have we forgotten about tasha and kit? they are HUGE characters. and Bette’s biracial! I thought it was pretty awesome of the show to address this issue – so often people on TV are presented as “the black character” or “the asian character.” i think it’s good that they mixed it up.
    And you can’t deny Latina representation. Papi? Carmen?
    what about Max as a transgender person? what about Jodi as a deaf person?
    jenny and Alice’s bisexuality in the beginning of the series?
    NONE of these characters (except, i guess, for Papi) have “intermittently made appearances on the show.” they are the main characters.
    how can you say this show is not diverse? i guess if i had to choose one, my main problem with the show would be that they are all, for the most part, well-off and beautiful (for the record, they are not all thin). But, even still… look at Grey’s Anatomy. The O.C. Sex and The City. I mean, come on… that’s just TV.

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