Yesterday on We Love Soaps, I lamented the firing of Brett Claywell and Scott Evans from ONE LIFE TO LIVE, and pondered if gays and lesbians are better or worse with extraneous and disposable representation on daytime television. Today I am celebrating the integral and fundamental portrayals of gays and lesbians on several of the wonderful indie soaps now available. If you are one of the viewers that are disappointed by the disappearances of "Kish," "Otalia," "Nuke," or simply enjoy seeing same sex couples do more than touch one another's chins, then you definitely will want to check out the positive and sexy images on the shows below. [To watch the show, simply press on the title].
ANACOSTIA: If DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES took place in an upper-middle class African-American suburb, and given realistic and emotionally gripping stories, then you would have the compelling indie soap ANACOSTIA. The ensemble cast has magic chemistry together, and was deservedly given the Indie Soap Award for Best Ensemble. However, unlike the ABC show, the gay couple in this neighborhood is not peripheral and used for comic relief, they are an integral and essential part of the fabric of the show from Episode One onward. The love scene between these two men makes "Kish's" sex look like something done by Disney. Hey, wait a minute...just check out ANACOSTIA now!
ANYONE BUT ME: 16-year-old Vivian's life is turned upside down when her single father must move from New York City to the suburbs, due to his declining health after being a first-response firefighter called to the Twin Towers on 9/11. Suddenly this out lesbian and her girlfriend must adjust to loss, separation, confusion, and culture shock. Rachael Hip-Flores as Vivian welcomes us into this heart wrenching predicament, and introduces us to a diverse ensemble of supporting characters who are struggling with their own conflicts. Never before have I seen the heartbreaks and struggles of 21st century gay teens so brilliantly and sensitively portrayed.
BUPPIES: What starts off as a celebration amongst an affluent African-American community in Hollywood turns into a day of conflict, confessions, and confusion amongst friends. Tatyana Ali, formerly of THE FRESH PRINCE OF BEL-AIR and YOUNG & THE RESTLESS, spearheads this superb and beautiful cast of characters, who each bring a new and different element into the mix. Each individual is struggling with conflicting values within himself or herself, and one character's struggle with coming out is an essential part of the story. You won't want to miss this fascinating cast including Indie Soap Award winner Preston Davis.
EMPIRE: Season One of this innovative series invites you to learn why the Haven family puts the "fun" in "dysfunction." In the wake of their parents' disappearances, the three Haven brothers must come together to figure out how to continue successfully running the family publishing business. Along the way they encounter secrets, betrayals, deceptions, and twists that would make even the Quartermaine's heads spin. Essential to the story is the how youngest brother Cane [Ryan Clardy] had been ousted from the family after coming out as gay, and how his role in the family is factored in the midst of such turbulence. Season Two (starting in April) promises to delve deeper into Cane's relationship with his alcohol-loving partner Alex.
HIGH RISE: This soapy delight, set inside the architecturally stunning interior of the Terminus Buildings in Atlanta, tells the ongoing story of a group of friends trying to find their way. Not since DALLAS have I seen a show so smoothly integrate friendship, greed, backstabbing business deals, and deceit. Integral to the fabric of this ensemble is the nosy and sassy gay concierge Colin, who is the eyes, ears, and mouth of the entire operation. Through Colin's perspective we are able to feel his annoyances, personal struggles, and lusty longings.
VENICE: Trying to tell Crystal Chappell's captivating story without lesbians would be like trying to watch Avatar without the color blue. Same-sex relationships are the foundation of this visually stunning drama, and Chappell, along with writer Kim Turrisi, excel at portraying many of the realistic and complicated dynamics involved when two people try to connect (or at times disconnect). It is a perfect example of how lesbian and gay stories can be told in a way that is respectful, organic, and vital.
This list is by no means intended to be comprehensive. To find other show that feature gays and lesbians in essential and meaningful roles, I would suggest checking out SEEKING SIMONE, THEN WE GOT HELP!, and checking out the Indie Soap Beat features here at We Love Soaps. Suffice to say, the indie soaps are picking up where television has dropped the ball, offering fascinating, relevant, and meaningful stories about gay and lesbian struggles. You'll also notice a world of difference in the overall diversity of these shows with writers and producers who aren't given a shot on television able to portray their stories and voices on the web. If you are upset about "Kish," then I invite you to check out one of the above shows and experience the fascinating and satisfying new world of story telling.
Damon L. Jacobs is a Marriage Family Therapist practicing in New York City, and the author of "Absolutely Should-less: The Secret to Living the Stress-Free Life You Deserve". He is re-imagining a world without "shoulds" at www.shouldless.com.