Home & Away Takes A Turn For The Sapphic
I’m going to be honest with you. I don’t watch Home & Away very much. I’ve been a Neighbours gal from the second I hopped off the plane from Jakarta and saw a tomboyish Kylie Minogue trying to break into Madge Ramsay’s house, and even though I have no idea what’s going on in Erinsborough these days other than the fact Tottie Goldsmith is now some kind of a sex symbol and Harold Bishop has “left the building”, I still can’t bring myself to watch Home & Away regularly.
This situation may change now that Home & Away sound as though they’re going to do a tasteful job of representing ladies who prefer the company of ladies on their program.
Home and Away is set to divide audiences when it introduces a lesbian romance this month. The Channel 7 soapie has tough policewoman Charlie Buckton falling in love with Joey Collins, played by Kate Bell, who works on a trawler.
Wait, the designated divers are called Charlie and Joey? One is a policewoman and the other works on a trawler? Let me guess, did they meet while playing for the Summer Bay Women’s Soccer team?
There will be intimate kissing and dance scenes over the following five weeks as their relationship blossoms into love.
Hang on, that sounds happy and joyous! Surely most lesbian romances on Australian soaps end in tears, regret, longing, and pain? You know, one lass is keen, the other has a boyfriend although she’s willing to have a brief smooch just to see what it’s like… There’s some pining, an awkward chat, maybe some ostracising after locals cotton on to the rainbow flag waving that has been occurring on their turf, before everyone learns an important lesson about how lesbians are okay as long as they don’t become full time cast members, the girl lover departs the show, and then a teenage character gets pregnant to her boyfriend the way god intended and everything is okay again.
In 2004, Channel 10 soapie Neighbours was attacked by talkback callers and conservative groups when it featured a lesbian kiss between schoolgirls Lana Crawford (Bridget Neval) and Sky Mangel (Stephanie McIntosh).
Of course, “pro-family” (pro-straight family, more like it) groups are unhappy.
Conservative family groups have reacted angrily to the plot in the PG-rated show, which boasts a large child and teen fan base. “They (Home and Away) continue to market to kids and they continue to develop quite sexualised plot lines,” Pro-Family Perspectives director Angela Conway said.
“The plot lines that young kids and teenagers should be presented with should be about really authentic relationships that are not just sexualised.”
Sounds to me like a slow burning (and five weeks in soap time is slow burning) plot line about two women who unexpectedly develop feelings for each other and try to make it work in this crazy world appears to resemble an authentic relationship as far as I’m concerned, and it doesn’t sound like they’re frantically fingerbanging on the deck of the fishing trawler after too many shandies left them confused about their sexuality, so where’s the problem?
God, remember when Rebekah Elmaloglou (Sophie) was letting Les Hill (Blake) get all up in dem guts on school excursions? Far more disturbing, if my teenage memory is anything to go by.
Actor Esther Anderson, who plays Charlie Buckton, talked to gay friends in the lead-up to filming. Anderson said kissing another girl “wasn’t that big a deal”, and young viewers would accept the scenes.
“You learn pretty much everything at school,” she said. “I don’t think it’s like I’m lifting the lid on something they don’t already know about. To me there’s no difference – love’s love. The fact that your partner’s the same sex is no different. You just want to be loved.
Right on, Esther!
Home & Away, you may have won me over.