Its no secret that we form our ideas about the way the world is 'supposed' to work in part by watching and parodying the attitudes and actions of those around us - especially when we're young. For just one little example (and I promise I'll get to the lesbian kiss soon), a recent report on NPR explained that many teens see smoking as relaxing and refreshing because they are "...primed to see smoking as a sort of relief... That's the image television — one of the strongest influences in their lives — portrays." Teens who watch shows like Sex in the City learn to expect a sense of relief when smoking a cigarette because that is what so many of the characters express when they light up. This 'priming' of young people's expectations also influences ideas about gender roles, body satisfaction, and heteronormativity as well.
Where was I? Oh, TV lesbians. TV's ability to prime our expectations about relationships and sexuality is one of the reasons I was so tickled to see this scene from ABC Family's Lincoln Heights. The story line is one that you've probably seen on made-for-teen and family shows before. As StuntDouble of After Ellen explains, the plot of this episode revolves around "...the old "I have this friend" trick. It works so well, until you actually do have this friend who needs you to intervene on her behalf... Cassie and her gay BFF, Stacy, have heard word that Kelly is a lesbian. Cassie thinks Stacy should just ask Kelly to prom, but Stacy doesn't even know if Kelly is actually gay! What to do? Send in your wingwoman, of course."
Oh no! We've got a Cyrano de Bergerac dilemma! For a good guess at what happens next, I'm sure we could refer to at least three Saved By the Bell plot lines. Yet, the predictability of the drama is part of what makes this scene so promising as a social message - it isn't that they're lesbians that complicates the plot, but the mix-up about who's doing the wooing. That its a same-sex love triangle, come on, that's no big deal. And that's a good thing.