In 2004, when this episode premiered, I wasn't thinking about babies or a family. I was thinking about heading off to college in New York City and the opportunity for self-discovery. I was excited about lesbians on TV!
Ten years later I was legally married, living in San Francisco and planning to start a family with my wife. Now I was the woman saying, "let's make a baby". Now it was real, not fiction on TV.
I was the woman ordering bulk packs of ovulation test strips online for my wife to use each month as we tracked her LH levels and BBT (basal body temperature). Looking back, I wish that The L Word had been able to include more of the intricacies of lesbian pregnancy and conception. It's so much more than sperm in a cup and jokes about turkey basters!
Now when I rewatch Bette & Tina's road to motherhood I think of new questions:
Did they have their donor tested and medically screened prior to his donation?
Do they have a fertility midwife?
What role will this man have in their life if they successfully conceive?
Before I know it, I'm lost in a spiral of questions about parentage, legal rights, home birth, and more. I can't help but wonder if the shows producers and directors considered including any part of this when they discussed it with their writers. Probably, but then they decided against making it too "crunchy" for the sake of ratings and time (I'm assuming).
Bette & Tina's story is definitely the abridged version of what really happens when two women decide to make a baby. Aside from Queer As Folk with their own lesbian characters Melanie & Lindsay (Michelle Clunie and Thea Gill), these two sets of women are the only ones currently representing lesbian conception in film and television. Other films do touch on lesbian mothers - like The Kids Are All Right with Julianne Moore and Annette Benning from 2010 and plenty of independent films popping up all over international screens for the past several years.
Looking forward to what may be an entirely new genre in television, our fearless, hilarious, and well styled leader, Ellen Degeneres has announced a new television show: One Big Happy. The show is slated to premiere on Tuesday, March 17th @ 9:30/8:30 CST on NBC. Ellen is the Executive Producer for One Big Happy. When asked about if she was writing a show specifically about lesbians she replied:
"It's not like I formed a production company and said, 'Bring me all your lesbian scripts.' I'm not just going to be a lesbian machine that just turns out stuff. They're just going to be people that you love and watch and don't think twice about any of it being weird. It's just friendship or family or whatever that is. I think friendship is obvious, but family is not so obvious. Family changes all the time." (People Magazine, January 2015).
We'll have to wait and see what One Big Happy brings to the table in order to compare it to what we've already witnessed from other fictional accounts of lesbian conception in film and television. We certainly hope for the best. :)
Thanks for reading & enjoy your weekend!
Founder & Photographer, The Pride & Joy Project
Authors Note: If anyone out there in the interwebs finds any articles or citations relating to the screenwriting behind The L Word I'd be interested to hear more about it. Feel free to share your insights & own thoughts in the comments below. :)