Relationship blunders, random sexual hook-ups, life transitions and the often-relentless search for Ms Right are themes both intricately and blatantly woven into the second season of Exes and Ohs, the newest lesbian television show to hit the market.
But if viewers are looking for similarities to the lesbian chic show The L-Word, they should look further, says Exes and Ohs’ openly lesbian writer and star, Michelle Paradise.
“We’re more of a comedy-drama and they’re [The L-Word] more of a drama. It’s different kinds of stories,” says Paradise. “The similarity is that they’re about lesbian characters —life and love and heartbreak and falling in love and getting dumped and getting married.”
“If The L-Word is Dynasty, then this is Friends to lesbians,” agrees Exes and Ohs producer Gigi Boyd.
Filmed in Vancouver this fall and set in Seattle, Exes and Ohs aims to portray lesbian life through the eyes and hearts of authentic women with real issues.
Paradise plays Jenn, a filmmaker searching for “the one” after a break up. Jenn’s circle of friends includes Sam (Marnie Alton), who is always looking for the next hook-up (and has a thing for realtors), and Chris (Megan Cavanagh) and Kris (Angela Featherstone), the stable lesbian couple with issues of their own.
“My goal has always been that these are the kinds of characters that are grounded and real. They could be your best friend, they could be the girl at the coffee shop, or the person you hang out with, or your ex-girlfriend. [They are] very real and rounded and grounded and not the glitzy, glamour LA thing,” says Paradise.
“I want these gals to be the kind of gals you know or meet. We don’t want to feel like they’ve just stepped off a runway.”
Non-glitzy they may indeed be, but absent is the blatantly butch character in the show.
Paradise disputes the absence of butch representation and says the character of Chris comes closest to filling those shoes for her. “No show will ever be able to hit every part of the spectrum and there will always be parts of the community that feel like they should be more represented,” she admits. “It’s my job and our job to bring as much diversity as we can into it within the world of the characters, but with only six or eight episodes there’s only so much that we can bring in before we start to lose focus on the stories.”
Megan Cavanagh, another openly lesbian actor who is probably best known for her role in the 1999 movie A League Of Their Own with Tom Hanks and Madonna, agrees that her character Chris is the only butch character on the show and says she would like to see more representation in the series.
“I really love butch women, that’s who I’m attracted to,” she reveals.
But Cavanagh also points out that in LA (where the show was conceived and piloted) the femme is predominant.
There are very few real butch representations on television today, Cavanagh says, and the ones that are butch are often transitioning. “Most women I know aren’t transitioning and they fucking don’t want to transition,” she argues. “They love being butch!”
Butch demographics aside, Cavanagh hopes viewers gain an understanding that everyone has interesting scenarios that continuously play out in various stages of life —and that television’s depiction of lesbians today has come a long way.
“Historically, lesbian films were always sort of soft porn. It really moves away from that in this show. [Exes and Ohs] is not about that at all,” claims Cavanagh.
“What I would like lesbians to see is other lesbians living happily in average everyday lives. I think it’s really important that we show positive images of lesbians on television,” she adds.
“My primary goal is to treat these characters honestly —to give these characters rich and complicated lives,” says Paradise. “If the audience can laugh and cry or laugh and feel or care all in one episode, then I feel like I’ve done my job.”
Logo and Super Channels will begin airing the second season of Exes and Ohs this March. Showcase will air it next year.