My sister is a fan of romantic comedies. They make up her entire DVD collection and she often watches them as a way to relax. I must confess when I watch those same movies I see something completely different on the screen. That’s because I am too busy imagining the leading men in them as women.
Don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of straight couples I enjoy watching, but they’re usually part of movies in other genres— like action or sci-fi—where their romance is born from other circumstances. The “boy-meets-girl, girl-falls-for-boy” storyline of mainstream romantic comedies doesn’t apply to my life. So when they’re on while I’m at home trying to relax, I have to take matters into my own mind.
Like the other night, when I had the house to myself and it was just the TV and me. “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” was the first thing that popped up. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a movie about teenage best friends who are separated for the first time one summer. We follow the haphazard first romances of these young women, but of course none of them falls for a girl. Except when I watch it. Except when I watch it, my brain says they’re all gay and eager to share their misadventures with each other upon being reunited.
Another offering was “The Proposal.” Sandra Bullock plays a Canadian editor-in-chief of an American publishing company who forces her assistant Ryan Reynolds to marry her so she won’t be deported. I just imagine she’s heading home with Scarlett Johansson to meet her family before the wedding.
“This Means War” was also on while clicking through the remote. Here we have a couple of CIA operatives played by Tom Hardy and Chris Pine fighting each other violently once they realize they are both dating Reese Witherspoon. Replace the guys with Michelle Rodriguez and Rosario Dawson and you’ve got a movie.
But it’s not the lack of a lesbian storyline that can be frustrating. I would argue for the altering of “American Pie,” which I also flipped through. In that movie four straight teenage boys enter a pact to lose their virginity by prom night. Why couldn’t this group of guys be gay, trying to do the same thing? “One time at band camp” would have a whole new meaning. So would the reason behind Jason Biggs’ love of pies.
I also saw the aforementioned Ms. Witherspoon on another channel in “Legally Blonde.” IMDB describes the movie like this: “When a blonde sorority queen is dumped by her boyfriend, she decides to follow him to law school to get him back, and once there learns she has more legal savvy than she ever imagined.” Keep all the same cast, but make Elle transgender. That raises the bar considerably.
TV shows like “The L Word,” “Orange Is the New Black” and “The Fosters” are such a sight for these sore lesbian eyes, for giving me mainstream leading couples I don’t have to alter in my mind. And there are a growing number of other shows whose supporting cast is part of the LGBT community.
But we still have a long way to go. It’s a shame that on any given night the some 900 channels on my TV offer very little in the form of lesbian romance, to say nothing of depicting them with an A-List cast of characters.
Maybe someday while I’m at my sister’s the DVDs to choose from will be more diverse. She could stand anxiously in the doorway asking which one I’d rather see: the one with the incredible chemistry between Meg Ryan and Kevin Kline, or that tearjerker with Jennifer Lawrence and Dakota Fanning.
Melissa Carter is one of the Morning Show hosts on B98.5. In addition, she is a writer for the Huffington Post. She is recognized as one of the first out radio personalities in Atlanta and one of the few in the country. Follow her on Twitter @MelissaCarter