If we think about the lesbian films we’ve seen, we might realise that the focus of them is usually forbidden love, internal struggle or coming out. Moreover, it’s not rare that they end tragically - and if not, still we don’t normally get happy ending. Now I’m drawing your attention to two stories that, for one it is not at all important that the two protagonists are lesbians, and for two - without spoiling anything - they have a positive ending.
I suppose most of us went through the above mentioned stages: each person has their own internal and external coming out processes, we remember our own forbidden/secret love(s), so we can relate to these basic stories wrapped in different paper. Because of the dominance of these basic topics most of the lesbian film characters cannot dig deeper than having their sexual orientation and their attitude towards it as their main trait (i.e. the brave, out character and the struggling other who tries to suppress her desires because of external or internal unacceptance: Lost and Delirious, Loving Annabelle, Kyss Mig, etc).
Luckily because of the progressive changes in LGBTQ rights and the fact that people are getting more and more open and accepting, these women can get more complex narratives. The stories I’m writing about rise for example the following simple questions: to what extent are we inclined to concentrate rather on impressing the other in a new relationship than sticking to our own personality? Is there a place for a new love after many decades of happy marriage? How many people miss the one because they’re texting?
Both Vegan Cinderella from Easy and San Junipero from Black Mirror are stand-alone episodes within anthology series of Netflix, and function as their own self-contained worlds.
Easy - Vegan Cinderella (Season 1, Episode 2)
Easy tells us eight very loosely connected half an hour-episodes about the complexity and everyday tensions of love, sex and relationships. For instance can we expect the same passion between husband and wife after 20 years of marriage, two children and the switching of the conventional male-female roles? Or how do a young couple with a child choose who to invite to their bedroom to spice up their sex life? The title of the series is Easy for a reason: the people shown are able to discuss their conflicts and get to a consensus - it is really refreshing to watch.
The second episode of the series (Vegan Cinderella) is devoted to a relationship between Chase and Jo, who meet each other’s gaze at a concert before going home together. We see the dawn of their relationship: how far does Chase go to show a picture about herself she thinks fits into Jo’s life? Does she have to convert to veganism and switch to cycling in wintertime to supposedly please her partner? Is this not really honest picture of Chase that Jo wants to see? Now look at a short video summary (just turn off the sound as it doesn't click at all):
Black Mirror - San Junipero (Season 3, Episode 4)
Black Mirror is a sci-fi television anthology series centred around dark and satirical themes that examine modern society, particularly with regard to the unanticipated consequences of new technologies.
The 4th episode of the 3rd season (San Junipero) is a unique example in Black Mirror of an optimistic(ish) future. The two protagonists are Kelly, the bright, extroverted young woman, who is unabashedly open about her bisexuality and only wants to have fun and casual sex, and Yorkie, the shy and serious lesbian who grew up in a homophobic environment and fears to open up. At the beginning we have no idea where this goes, and I don’t want to spoil it for you. Let it be enough that San Junipero, set in the ‘80s has both serious and casual vibes, and is able to get beyond these stereotypical character representations.
If you haven’t seen it, watch only the first half of this video:
The strength of the two episodes is that both of them went beyond tossing in queer storylines in a half-hearted attempt at inclusion. They are more than that and also, it is refreshing to watch more than one kind (lipstick femme) of lesbian style onscreen.
We are looking forward to more and more good examples of this deeper and more genuine character representaion onscreen. Hopefully they will last beyond one 27-minute or hourlong stretch.