I’ll admit that I probably root for NBC’s turnaround efforts to work in part because I want to reward a network that gave me the first two seasons of 30 Rock, Community, and Parks and Recreation, and has ordered a female-heavy rotation of new shows for the television season that kicks off later this month. But I think no matter the network, I’d be pretty excited to hear about the fact that someone is working on the unfortunately-titled My Best Friend is a Lesbo, a buddy comedy featuring two female roommates, one gay, one straight, who do things other than make out for men’s entertainment in bars or their own edification in private.
Lesbians are so few and far between on television. Probably the best thing Glee did last year, and I’ll defend this even over the Kurt storyline, was its portrayal of Brittany and Santana’s fraught relationship, which was tremendously honest about the pressure the characters put themselves under and specific in its tenderness. But other than that on shows currently airing, we’ve got Eleanor O’Hara on Nurse Jackie, a small-audience cabler, Diana Berrigan on White Collar and her girlfriend, and not very much else. I don’t begrudge gay men their media presence, in part because the sassy gay best friend has been a useful archetype for opening up American audiences to the idea of seeing, and even expecting, gay characters in their entertainment. But if we never push the door open further than the crack created by the thin edge of the wedge, we’re doing something wrong. We need parity between gay men and lesbians, we need more balanced depictions of gay men and women be it in the mix of professions or styles of presentation, and we need bisexual characters who aren’t jokes or treated as if they’re terminally confused.
And we also need for gay characters to be more than accessories to straight ones, to be seen from their own perspectives, to be at the center of their own stories. We don’t just need audiences to want to see gay characters; we need a world where straight audiences are comfortable seeing the world through a gay lens. If we’re going to fix that framing problem while experimenting with titles for this show that have no chance of making it on air, may I propose an alternative? How about My Best Friend Is a Breeder?