So, for a while I have been wanting to write a post about how Canadian television is so much better than American television. A few weeks ago, I realized I had the perfect opportunity. One of my favorite episode of Showcase’s Lost Girl, a Canadian show about a bisexual succubus, was going to be airing for the first time in America on SyFy. I was fully prepared to write this post about how SyFy edited out all the lady-on-lady parts and how LGBT representation is far better in Canada. But, SyFy pleasantly surprised me. Sure, it moved the airing time from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. but it did not cut anything from the Canadian version of the episode. And, I applaud you for that SyFy. So, with that chance lost to me I decide I would compare Canada’s Lost Girl to one of America’s worst at handling LGBT characters shows: Once Upon A Time.
Let me start out this post with a simple comparison of how these two shows handle five of their femslash/slash ships:
Once Upon A Time: Swan Queen
Lost Girl: Doccubus
Once Upon A Time: Red Beauty
Lost Girl: Valkubus
Once Upon A Time: Sleeping Warrior
Lost Girl: Lauren and Crystal/Doctress/Hotpantsless
Once Upon A Time: Captain Charming/Hooking
Lost Girl: Levony
Once Upon A Time: Red Snow
Lost Girl: Bo and Kenzi
Sometimes I feel like if Once Upon A Time was open minded and handled on-screen chemistry between actors like Lost Girl does it would be America’s Lost Girl. On Lost Girl, if two characters have chemistry the show seems to say, ‘hey, we didn’t intend this but it is there so let’s go with it.’ Bo and Tamsin/Valkubus are the best example of Lost Girl following that principal. Sure, maybe the show always intended for it to be a thing. But, when Tamsin joins the show we are not supposed to like her and she hated Bo. Once Bo gets to know Tamsin, she realizes she isn’t evil. And once Tamsin gets to know Bo she realizes there is something about her she can’t get away from. Sound familiar:
Now maybe I am being stupid comparing a Canadian show that operates in a post-gay society and an American show that is made by Disney, which is all the straightness all the time. But, like any good show in the Internet age, Lost Girl is incredible aware of its fan base. Yes, I am sure there are many DyBo (Dyson and Bo) and Kale (Kenzi and Hale) shippers and Lost Girl sometimes gives those fans what they want. But, they also have Bo wash a car in a very revealing tank top, give roles to Canadian gay-for-pay actresses Mia Krishner and Ali Liebert and have queen of Canadian lesbian characters Dr. Lauren Lewis wear a corset and sing in fluent French.
So why isn’t Once Upon A Time as cool with its fans? The show runners have to be aware of how many gay people are watching. Jennifer Morrison and Lana Parrilla sure are, just scroll through their Twitter feeds sometime. Almost everyone involved in the show went into PR crisis mode when a minor actor insulted the Swan Queen fans. Also, the show has had the Merry Men and fairies living in Georgia O’Keefe paintings. Emma and Regina have been committed to saying ‘our son’ this season. Regina gave up everything so Henry and Emma could be happy and the main character rocks as many tank tops and leather jackets as Lauren Lewis does.
Does American just suck? Is that what I should be taking away from the difference between two of my favorite shows? Gay marriage was made legal everywhere in Canada in 1990. And I am hoping that it is placed on the ballot of my home state of Ohio this year, but I would still be happy with it being on in 2016.
Now, I don’t watch every Canadian television show so maybe there is a Canadian verison of Once Upon A Time, with thousands of frustrated fans, out there somewhere. But for the three Canadian shows I have watched with gay/bi characters — Lost Girl, Bomb Girls and Orphan Black — were so great because the gay/bi characters never had to declare their sexuality. They were just attracted to certain people and there we were.
Even through I love SyFy for keeping everything from the Zoie Palmer/Ali Liebert episode of Lost Girl, it can never be as great with how it handles sexuality on its original series Warehouse 13, which I sometimes feel like is a wanna-be Lost Girl. On that show, H.G., who is bi, and Steve, who is gay, both had to declare their sexuality and after they did it was hardly ever addressed again.
Maybe the sexuality declaration thing is just something Americans are too stuck on. Look at Mulan from Once Upon A Time for instance. She went back to Aurora and Phillip’s castle to confess her love. And even though she smiled when she saw Aurora and said she wanted to tell her something not Phillip, the fandom is still split on if she was confessing her love to Aurora or Phillip. Now, I think the people who think it was Phillip are idiots, but they still exist.
And in all honesty they and Once Upon A Time make me sad. While Lost Girl has lots of gay fans and lets Bo and Lauren be a thing, Bo and Tamsin be a thing, Lauren and Crystal be a thing, Lauren and Evony be a thing, Vex cross dressing be a thing, Once Upon A Time has one rather minor character sort of come out as bisexual. And Once Upon A Time gave her so little screen time, the actress took a role on another show.