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Beyond 'Orange Is The New Black': The Summer of the Lesbian Web Series

By Aymar Jean Christian | Indiewire September 19, 2013 at 12:39PM

This summer I was on my way to see a friend’s band when Regina Spektor’s voice pierced my ears. It was coming from a ground-floor flat: “Yooouu’ve got tiiiiiiiiiime!” "Orange Is New Black," via title credits, leapt from my laptop to my city street. I’ve never heard a web series broadcast so publicly. Netflix’s drama has touched a nerve, no doubt. It’s sparked some discussion about women in prison, and the racist injustices, if not the operations, of the prison industrial complex. But more than anything else its popularity demonstrates widespread desire for television dramas about people other than white, straight men (they’re not all "Breaking Bad").
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The Buddies

It’s hard to write a good “coming out” narrative. It’s not a cinematic process. Squaresville, as always, keeps it simple.

Esther (Kylie Sparks) confessed she was questioning her sexuality last season, but she kept it from Zelda (Mary Kate Wiles). Esther and Zelda are Ghostworld and Romi and Michelle-inspired geek girls who need each other to grow and survive in the suburbs. They fought at the end of the first season, but repaired their bond in the second. Esther stayed mum for the rest of the season. She dreamed, watched her friend Percy (Austin Rogers) go through coming-of-age romance and tried on a new identity.

Last week’s season finale – preceded by another great episode, “Hearts and Farts” – broke Esther’s silence and gave Squaresville’s straight fans a nice script on how to take news of your friend’s sexuality.

“Hearts and Farts”: 

Finale: 

A comedy network for women on YouTube, Comediva, has premiered a few web series, and LESBROS, is among their better offerings. Channeling Jake and Amir, LESBROS depicts a tight-knit lesbian-straight guy friendship. The two are more compatible than odd couple, but it works in short bursts.

"Lesbros," "Threesome": 

Finally, East WillyB wrapped its expanded first season, which mostly focused on Willy and his struggle to fight gentrification and win back his ex. His bartender at buddy, Ceci (Julia Grob) revealed her lesbian identity this season and spent most of it looking for her birth father. Willy was so focused on his own problems he most neglected Ceci, putting the friendship on the rocks and leaving the audience cliffhanging: can these buds repair their relationship or will Willy’s desire to realize the American dream pull them apart?

"EWB," Episode 5:

The Partners

Keeping it light are a few partner comedies in the great American sitcom tradition. Like Jane Espenson’s "Husbands," now on CW’s new web network, these shows succeed on comic chemistry of the stars. It helps them save cash on locations: they can lock two actors in a room while also poking fun at the “homebody” stereotype.

In tello’s "Roomies and Neighbors," buddies Sam and Alex (Brandy Howard) are buddies pretend to be partners to live in super-special lesbian-only apartment complex in Chicago. They may be friends but they bicker like Lucy and Desi. Julie Goldman takes the spotlight as Sam, the sarcastic, gay half of the couple. She has fun and hams it up, which is all you need in a web series, sometimes.

"The Neighbors": 

"The Better Half" features the ordinary adventures of a couple who’ve been together awhile and are trying to spice it up. By the third episode the couple has committed to some new experiences. The show is crisp and light, nicely shot.

"The Better Half," Episode 3: 

This article is related to: Television, TV Features, web series, Queer Cinema, Women's issues







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