WBiThe Next Queer Network For Change?
By Ruth Sadelle Alderson
On a recent, Wednesday, I was in
volved in not one, but two discussions
of queer cultural representations. The
first was in one of my classes, the second
at a QNC meeting. In light of the discus
sions, and in preparation for the newly
resurrected Lambda, I started to make a
list of queer characters I had seen on tele
vision in the last season.
I first thQught of Will and Jack from
"Will & Grace." They're the most visible
queer characters on television, but far
from being the only representations we
have. Willow and Tara on Buffy the
Vampire Slayer" are involved in a les
bian relationship. Jack from Dawson s
Creek" is gay. Drew's brother Steve on
"The Drew Carey Show" is a transves
tite. Then there are the queer identities
represented on "Popular": Lily is ques
tioning her sexuality, Harrison's mother
is a lesbian. One episode centered on a
shop teacher who wanted to go from
being Mr^ Don to being Ms. Debbie.
"Will & Grace" is part of NBC's all-
important "Must See TV" lineup. "The
Drew Carey Show" is on ABC. The other
three shows are on the WB, an impor
The WB is not a high quality network;
my theory is that they want to be a low
budget network but have too much
The. network's advantage, however,
is that it targets teenagers. This makes
the effect of its shows far different from
anything NBC or ABC can air.
The WB's audience includes people
who are like Jack and Lily, teenagers who
begin to question and talk about their
sexual orientation in high school. It also
includes people who, like Willow, fall
in love with someone of the same sex
after having an opposite-sex relationship
for many years. It even includes people
who, like Harrison, have queer parents.
Even more important, the WB's audience
includes people who, like Dawson, Pacey
and Joey; Brooke and Sam; Buffy and
Xander, have friends who are going
through those experiences.
In taking on queer identities, the WB
has created teenage characters who rec
ognize and choose to fight the oppres
sion of and discrimination against mem
bers of the queer community. My hope
is that this trend in the development of
characters and storylines is one that will
continue and carry over, not just into
other shows and other networks, but also
into the daily lives of the audiences.
The WB isn't a perfectly diverse
world —most of its characters are still
middle class and white—but it is pro
viding teenagers, and the rest of us, with
queer identities we may be able to re
late to on television. There is such diver
sity in the queer community, as in any
community, that no one image can ever
represent all of us, but with an ever-ex
panding number of representations, we
can all find something we recognize.
Rnth can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender
and Allied students, faculty and staff
will probably read this
issue of Lambda .
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