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January 30 2007

USA Today: Willow and Tara -TVs first lead lesbian couple. USA Today recognises Willow and Tara (see the chart on the left side) as being TVs probable first lead lesbian couple in this article about the effects of coming out on gay celebrities.

Y'know what bothers me? That there is even a need to write an article like this. Though Willow and Tara? Priceless!
What, they aren't counting Alice and Trixie on The Honeymooners? ;)

Seriously, you know what made Willow and Tara work as well as they did for me? I don't think Joss sat around with the ME crew and said, "Let's break down walls and have a lesbian couple." Instead, I think the relationship grew organically, and it was pursued because it worked best for the characters and for the show as a whole. That it was a lesbian relationship was almost beside the point. Maybe that's why so many other gay relationships on TV now seem forced and inelegant...because they're basically just stunts.
Ditto Shiai. One of the things that made the Willow & Tara relationship so great for me was that it never felt like a sweeps week rating stunt. Their first kiss in The Body is the perfect example: understated, organic, in character. That moment, in particular how unforced and non-gimmicky it felt, made me feel so proud of the show.
I thought Gabrielle and Xena were the first.
Well, Gabrielle and Xena always had male love interests, which Tara and Willow didn't when they were together. And they referred to themselves as gay/lesbian, and no one really used those words to describe the former pair.

I'm probably not making sense, am I?
I read a great article in a defunct paper called The Fag Rag about how it is possible to intrepret the characters on The Andy Griffin Show as gay. Except little Opie. Whew, that was close. Barney was a uniform queen, Howard Sprig was a proto John Waters, and so on. It was hi-larious.

Of course the name The Fag Rag is probably not cool anymore. But the paper did make money hand over fist. Literaly.
Hahaha, RazorBlade. Boom boom.

I always loved the moment where Willow said, 'It's complicated... because of Tara.' A statement that said so little, and yet so much at the same time.

Storyteller - GREAT point re. Xena and Gabrielle. When that show was airing, I was too young to really notice how overtly those two were in love. I mean, I got that they were gay icons but I thought that was more because they were butt-kicking girls on a very campy show. Emma Frost makes an accurate point that there were always blokes on the scene for X and G, but I have just rewatched a few old Xena episodes and well, the most appropriate quote to describe it is really 'I believe the subtext here is rapidly becoming, uh, text.'

That list also left off Jack from 'Dawson's Creek', whose onscreen romances were a big deal at the time.
Dana5410, I too think it's sad that such an article even needs to be written. I don't think sexuality should matter at all, but it's amazing how often it still does.

Karen The Red, I entirely agree about the kiss in The Body. That episode is truely amazing and probably saved my life (although that's a post for another day), but it wasn't until I watched it with the commentary that I even realised it was the first on-screen kiss between Willow and Tara. It was just absolutely what Tara would do in that moment to comfort Willow and absolutely what Willow would look for from Tara. Much kudos is clearly due to Joss for insiting on it's inclusion in the episode.
Xena and Gabrielle were not lovers in the first seasons of the show just really close friends. The subtext formed and grew with the show and by the last season it was clear and they didn't have any guys. Xena can be compared to Buffy as a woman fighting evil; to Willow as a lesbian; and to Angel as someone who looks for redemption for her past.
My problem with Xena was that its campiness ultimately defined its gayness as subtext, since camp is associated with particular forms of gay behavior. This ended up limiting any potential effect Xena could have had. Willow and Tara, on the other hand, were the best portrayal of a gay relation ever placed on TV, even with later developments in L Word and Queer Like Us- both of which are soap operas and therefore by definition not completely realistic. Before someone says, well, neither are two lesbian witches, keep mindful that metaphor is everything in Buffy ( or was, up to S6 and 7, anyway). I do not think we shall see their like again.
It's nice to see but it's wrong. Even Xena and Gabrielle were beaten by years earlier. On Northern Exposure in May 1992 there was an episode called "Cicely" about how the town got named. The entire episode is about a lesbian couple that moves out to Alaska for their freedom in early 1900. This episode won several awards if I remember correctly and it's a wonderful story that made me cry. Highly recommended.
It's dangerous to start really thinking about what it means that magic was a metaphor...crazy dangerous.
Buffy mixed up its metaphors all the time to serve different purposes, and I think that's something that's neat about it--even though it doesn't give complete consistency, the viewer isn't lulled into complacency and constantly has to read what the subtext is at any given time.

There's even the argument that Willow, Xander, Giles and other characters are metaphors for Buffy's psyche--spirit, heart, head. And Dawn as Buffy's light and Spike/Faith as her dark....

So yeah, magic stood for generic power and for a characters' psyches and for addiction (and not just in season six--check out "The Dark Age") and Willow and Tara's relationship. And vampires stood for generically going to work for Buffy and internal demons and teens in arrested development and sexual predators and bad boyfriends who won't call the morning after and serial killers (in prison in Spike's case). We imbue aspects of our everyday lives with more meaning than one, so I don't see a problem with Joss et al. doing the same.

Oh, yeah, and go Willow/Tara. Still one of my favourite relationships ever.
"There's even the argument that Willow, Xander, Giles and other characters are metaphors for Buffy's psyche--spirit, heart, head. And Dawn as Buffy's light and Spike/Faith as her dark...."

This reminds me of something I read in the Firefly Companion about the crew symbolizing the things that Mal had lost in the war. I had never really thought about that working for Buffy though. Makes sense.

[ edited by deepgirl187 on 2007-02-01 18:23 ]
Dana;good point about firsts and the needing of same.
Not TV so i cna't comment on what's on now but still,a s iw as discussign with someone on "another site" about some ideas I ahd and she said that it'll be along time before we see a gay couple on the big screen in a movie which isn't "about that."

I still think there's a Buffy-less parallel universe where back around the turn of the century there was a sitcom with Aly Amber Nicky and Emma playing suburban homeowning parent neighbors with the kinds of plots that go back to the Ike/JFK era of TV....

I always have a problem about Xena and Gabrielle. The subtext was so obvious that I always felt that thinking of them as lovers was an unimaginative approach.

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