SoN, the best show on television

South of Nowhere, I am obsessed with you. Basically, this is the first television show to have gay teens as the main characters, and I’m not talking about Marissa’s foray into lesbianism on The O.C. or the many other gay subplots, but as the main romantic relationship on which the show revolves around.

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When I finally got Meghan to watch an episode, she said that she never imagined seeing lesbians that look like them on television. I was like, “Yeah! It’s amazing that teens have awesome queer role models that aren’t all depressed and suicidal.” Then she said, “No. I mean they way they actually look.” She was talking about the new lesbian aesthetic. You know what I mean: Lesbians are HOT. A five years ago, lesbians weren’t really on TV at all unless they were a background character, and even then they were definitely not “normal”-looking. Now every show has a lesbian character and they are all hot, but not in the ways that actual lesbians think are hot, but stereotypical ways in which dudes would think are hot. Okay, I really want to write an essay on this, but I should really stick to SoN for now…

First, the good. The acting is actually pretty good. The show has explored race relations and racism, crazy homophobic parents, teen pregnancy, and the ever ubiquitous “love triangle”, or in some cases, the “love square”. I think what makes SoN unique is that because the show is centered around two queer ladies (awesome!), we don’t have to be hit over the head how hard it is to come out and all the other shit that is so cliché. Yes, homophobia and coming out is difficult and exciting and having a queer identity is important for Spencer, but it is not the only event happening in her life.

After the first episode, they still hadn’t explained how Clay, who is African American, was a part of the Carlin family, even though they all looked so corn-fed with their golden hair and blue eyes. Normally I think shows would try to clue viewers in right away to the reason, but they waited until it was essential for the plot. The Carlins insist they don’t see race, and that they just think of Clay as a part of the family (which is pretty damn problematic, as it erases his previous history and his current struggles). One of my favorite scenes is when Ashley tells the Carlins that the reason she likes them so much is that they are cool with different races, religions, and sexual orientations; In the next scene we see that mama Carlin is DEFINITELY not okay with Ashley being a heathen or a lesbian, so the statement about her being color-blind sorta takes on new meaning.

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Secondly, Spencer’s process of coming out is not easy, but she is not isolated. She discovers a community of other lesbians, which I think is pretty rad. She’s not a token queer, but has agency, seeks out a community beyond her dysfunctional friends, and fights for more than tolerance.

Now for the bad:

Ashley’s outfits. Sweet Jesus. I know its warm in LA, but does she really need to wear belly shirts every day? While watching it with friends, someone was like, “What’s she going to do if it ever gets cold?”, and low and behold, the next scene was a night beach scene, replete with a belly-hoodie.

Fake lesbian kisses/embraces. Ugh.

The death of someone important, who I will wait to discuss until you have all had a chance to watch it.

Really, South of Nowhere is the best kind of bad TV. I welcome a hearty discussion about the show once you’ve watched it. Or if you want someone to watch it with, call me…

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    • redtomatopie
    • November 25th, 2008

    That hot (as in straight hot, not gay hot) thing is really evident in the L word too. I don’t know if SoN does this but the ‘its a lesbian show but 75% of all sex scenes are going to be hetero’ formula is prevalent in a lot of queer shows too. Queer as Folk (both the American and the British) had a fair amount of queer sex, albeit primarily explicit gay male sex. Their lesbian characters looked more realistically ‘lesbian’ but the few lesbian sex scenes where ridiculous (purple vibrator, need I say more?). You could write a thesis about sexual representations of lesbians in the queer community vs the mainstream media. I’d read it but for now I’ll make a point of watching SoN…

    • candise
    • November 25th, 2008

    I’m not going to school for media studies, but I would love to write that paper…

    As for SoN, they do a pretty good job of handling the make-out scenes. It can seem overly cheesy at times (i.e., hand-holding = lesbian sex), but it progresses pretty well. Aiden gets a lot of action, but I don’t think his scenes are longer or necessarily given better representation than the ladies. I think the way SoN is centered around Ashley and Spencer really helps to set that standard…

    • Lisa
    • December 5th, 2008

    This show is great! i haven’t covered my mid-drift since I left Cait’s house last night, I don’t care how cold it is outside. Can’t wait to watch the rest!

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