Fighting with the Sky

On Being a Lesbian in Network TV Show – The Case of Heroes

Posted on: July 8, 2009

I heard of this via Womanist Musings.

I have been watching Heroes since it started. The first season was great and ever since then I have been hoping that it will some how get back up to those standards. So far, no luck. Their recent plot twists have left me disappointed. But don’t worry, they have more plot twists in store for the upcoming season. One of which is creating a lesbian love interest for Claire, the teenager who has healing powers.

TV shows have done this before. One prominent example is Buffy the Vampire Slayer, where Willow developed a lesbian love interest after breaking up with her long time boyfriend. But can Heroes handle this as well as Buffy? I highly doubt it. The writing on Buffy was top notch (but I’m kind of partial to Joss Whedon), whereas Heroes has been kind of lacking as of late.

Using a lesbian relationship solely to increase ratings is just further objectifying and exploiting lesbians and the relationships they have. I feel as if this development in the Heroes script is simply serving as a way to attract male viewers who have lesbian fantasies as opposed to bringing awareness to the issues, struggles, and life experiences facing lesbians today.

Renee at Womanist Musings has this to say

It seems evident that the producers are going for the titillation factor, considering that this is an attempt to raise ratings. Heaven forbid a lesbian relationship exist on television because women actually engage in sexual relationships for pleasure and not to be a visual fluffer for some guy who wants to get off.

Even if they somehow manage to normalize this relationship, the impetus for its creation will always render it a form of exploitation. The idea that GLBT relationships can be affirmed when it suits the needs of heterosexuals only maintains the power imbalance. Heterosexuals should not be able to decide when expression of lesbian love is appropriate, when little to no such disciplining occurs between men and women.

Using lesbian relationships to serve heterosexuals is just another way to placing lesbians in a subordinate position.

On this note, is it any coincidence that the character entering into a lesbian relationship is Claire, the hot teenage cheerleader, instead of someone like Angela Petrelli? This is just another example of exploiting female sexuality for the purposes of heterosexual men.

I’m going to be interested to see how this story line plays out. Like I said, I’m not really holding out a lot of hope that the writers are going to handle this story line effectively or in a respectful manner. But, you never know.

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