A steamy lesbian love scene on ‘The Good Wife’? Add to the list of girl-on-girl prime-time TV action

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There was a hot lesbian sex scene on Tuesday night’s season finale of “The Good Wife,” and yet all that the fans and critics seem to want to talk about in its aftermath is canoodling -- between an entirely different, straight couple!

Sure, it’s been two seasons in the making that Julianna Margulies’ Alicia would hop in bed with Josh Charles’ Will. But didn’t anybody catch the girl-on-girl action? The potentially precedent-setting female love scene -- set in bed --between Archie Panjabi’s Kalinda and Kelli Giddish’s Sophia? On CBS prime time?

Susan Toepfer from the Wall Street Journal’s Speakeasy blog did, calling the roll in the hay “possibly a network prime-time first, not that I keep track of such things...” But rather than make a big deal out of a lesbian romp in bed, most reviewers mentioned it in passing. Fans, via message boards and blog comments, spent the vast majority of their energy ignoring the Kalinda/Sophia hook-up and instead endlessly debating whether Alicia will ruin her life by sleeping with her colleague.

That’s because, while there may not be an exact forerunner for “The Good Wife” scene, there has been girl-on-girl activity on network TV for years, reaching as far back as “L.A. Law” in the early ‘90s. In fact, it’s much more common than gay male coupling. (Could we surmise that traditionally male network honchos are more comfortable with that scenario?)


As recently as this season’s “Modern Family,” there have still been dust-ups over gay men touching and/or kissing each other. (No such issue seems to have come up on another ABC show, “Brothers & Sisters,” but don’t count on consistency in this matter.)

For your edification/cocktail conversation, here are a few highlights from TV’s Sapphic past:

  • • Amanda Donohoe and Michelle Green kissed on “L.A. Law” in 1991 and nobody threw the book at them for being bi-curious. (Nobody on the show, that is. Family values groups were up in arms).
  • • “Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s” best pal Willow (played by “How I Met Your Mother” star Alyson Hanigan) was a pioneer on this front: She had an intimate relationship with her girlfriend on the show, but it took almost a whole season for them to be allowed to kiss. Back in 2000, show creator Joss Whedon admitted on NPR, “The network obviously has issues. They don’t want any kissing -- that’s one thing that they’ve stipulated -- and they’re a little nervous about it.”
  • • Fox has been a bit of a ground-breaker on this front, with lesbian dating and kisses going back as far as “Party of Five,” and “Ally McBeal” in the ‘90s. But before that, the network took so much heat for its planned “Melrose Place” buss between two men that it cut away without actually showing any contact. More recently, “Glee” has put characters Britney and Santana in various intimate positions, and Kurt and Blaine have kissed.
  • • Jennifer Aniston and Winona Ryder lip-locked in a 2001 episode of “Friends,” dubbed “The One with Rachel’s Big Kiss.” When critics look back on this episode, they often lump it in with other prime-time shows that seemingly used gay liaisons for the sake of ratings.
  • • Roseanne and Mariel Hemingway “kissed” in an episode of “Roseanne,” called “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” from ’94, and, protesters tried to get the episode yanked. Ratings were massive (30 million viewers), even though viewers couldn’t really see the much-ballyhooed kiss.

A number of teen-targeted series have delved into this area -- “Gossip Girl,” “90210" and “Greek” -- as have adult-skewing melodramas -- “Grey’s Anatomy,” “House” and “Desperate Housewives.”

What groundbreaking scenes are we missing, Show Trackers?


Gay and lesbian characters are popping up on shows for young people

Full Show Tracker coverage of “The Good Wife”

-- T.L. Stanley