I have been watching Pretty Little Liars. It’s a guilty pleasure. It’s trite, cliché, teenage nonsense. Teenage girls do not dress like that, nor should they. Nor should they date their young teachers, or run around town trying to catch killers. However, the show is like crack. Once you sit down and get sucked into it, there’s NO turning back. However, after watching last night’s episode (spoiler alert for those of you who haven’t seen this addictive show) I had a realization. The show’s depiction of lesbian characters sort of disappoints me.
So, so far there have been four (at least that I can remember) lesbian characters on the show. There’s Emily, a lead, Maya, Paige, and some blonde girl from season one that I don’t remember much about. So far, they’ve killed off one, Maya. As of last night, they insinuated that another is a psycho killer or accomplice of a killer (Paige), because she would do anything to have Emily. Emily however, is a compassionate, artistic, classy individual. However, after coming out to her folks as gay and dealing with the fallout in school, as well as the murder of her girlfriend Maya, she is shown to be confused by her attraction to Maya’s male cousin Nate.
On one hand I understand this. Sexuality is fluid. Many women experience attraction to both sexes or simply fall for a person, not gender. I find this to be an acceptable angle from which to look at this situation. On the other hand I can’t help but ask, does the fact that she’s attracted to boys as well as girls make her character more acceptable in pop culture? An attractive, intelligent, classy young woman who is a lesbian has not been depicted yet in the show. These women exist and it upsets me that to make Emily’s character more appealing, and accessible to a male audience, they make her ‘fluid.’ So ultimately we have a dead lesbian, a psycho lesbian, and a young woman who seems to be a bit on the fence about where her attractions lay. So my question is where is the collected, classy, intelligent young woman who is, in fact, a lesbian as well? Isn’t it ok to be a confident woman who is attracted to other young woman? You know, one that isn’t psycho…or dead.
What sort of message is this sending to the shows targeted audience? What does this say about our society? Some interesting questions.