Hi! How is everyone? Battening down the hatches? Bracing yourselves for this bitch Irene? I know I am.
I thought in the face of a natural disaster it might be nice to engage in some classic escapism, so let’s talk television! And instead of complaining about the pitiful representation of LGBT women, (like I usually do), we’re going to think positive and talk about the best lesbian on teevee right now:
(Don’t worry if you haven’t seen the show. There are no prerequisites, you don’t even have to take notes! I’m going to explain why she’s perfect, and then maybe you will want to watch. I mean… look at her.)
Now, there are a host of pitfalls into which writers can and do stumble when creating a lesbian character, such as making her fall for a guy, having her make out for the pleasure of a male audience, making her a murderer, or having her killed, to name a few. But – so far, at least – Emily hasn’t been subject to any of those afflictions.
She’s had a coming out experience that was sensitively and realistically portrayed. Her mother freaked out, but her father took it pretty well, and all in all, Emily stood her ground and came out looking like a champ. Emily’s mother has since come around, providing an example for parents watching (this is abc family after all) that even if your initial reaction was “Oh my god, NO!” in time you can accept your child because you love her. (Incidentally, Emily’s coming out experience mirrors my own almost to a tee.)
Emily’s appearance has also not changed since she came out. No stereotypical baby-dyke attire, no rainbows, just Emily being Emily, except now she is gay. If we are talking about Emily the character as though she were a real person, I think that shows tremendous fortitude and acceptance of herself. It’s also providing a little visibility for us feminine lesbians. I appreciate that no one on the show has ever doubted Emily’s sexuality after she came out.
I can’t help but wonder, however, if Emily is being portrayed as a femme lesbian because that is more comfortable for mainstream viewers; (back to the case of femme being the “acceptable” lesbian). Though this is probably the case, kudos to abc family for showing some diversity of lesbian representation during a party in a recent episode:
Pretty Little Liars is getting something else right too. Often when characters come out on television, they are never given a love interest, so that even though the character has been declared gay, no one has to actually watch them be with someone of the same sex. (Because that’s gross.) It’s safer, and the networks probably get a few less calls from the Florida Family Association, but it isn’t realistic. It’s not fair either, especially when every other character has a vibrant love life except the gay one.
Emily, on the other hand, has had the most love interests of any of the other stars of the show, and they are all beautiful lesbians like herself:
Three love interests in a year of being out?? I wish I went to high school with Emily! Also, Pretty Little Liars hasn’t shied away from showing the girls kissing, which, for abc family, is downright fearless.
Of the four central characters, Emily has by far the most integrity of the group. She’s honest, kind, sweet, and a star athlete. She’s completely comfortable with her sexuality now; it’s become a non-issue, which is pretty impressive for a 17-year-old (straight or gay). I really appreciate the way Pretty Little Liars has provided a lesbian character who is flourishing and not floundering.
Now if “A” would just leave Emily alone, she could move on with her life, go to Smith College, and party at Dinah Shore. She’s a swimmer – c’mon, you know she’ll love the pool party.
All this is to say, well done abc family, Pretty Little Liars, and Shay Mitchell. Keep up the good work. We’re all rooting for you.
Are you watching Pretty Little Liars? Is Emily your favorite? Who do you think A is??
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