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by Sarah Ferro
July 10, 2008
Remember when C.J. Lamb seduced Abbey Perkins on L.A. Law? Or the first time Ross introduced his Friends to ex-wife Carol and her partner Susan? What about that steamy kiss Marissa and Alex shared on The OC? This fall tv season features more than 15 new lesbian characters, more than ever on prime-time. The regulars are all back (Logo, The L Word, Dante's Cove, In the Life) but a few Sapphic surprises are in store from those typically drab non-cable channels. In the wake of GLAAD's new queer-inclusion rating system, which deemed all the networks lacking our love, the usual suspects, ABC, NBC and FOX, have packed their fall lineups with Jil Sander-suit-wearing lovable lesbos. From fashion and femmes to beleaguered boardroom babes and preteen dyke angst, we're definitely setting our TiVos.

ABC
Working 9 to 5 suddenly seems a lot less bleak as ABC introduces audiences to the power lesbian in their new show, Cashmere Mafia. From the boardroom to the bedroom, Caitlin (Bonnie Somerville) is a top cosmetics marketing executive who falls hard for Alicia (Lourdes Benedicto) “in an old-fashioned, romantic comedy way,” says creator Kevin Wade, who produced and wrote Mafia, his first venture for the small screen. “She meets a woman who knocks her socks off.” The show also stars Lucy Liu and Frances O’Connor as a group of college friends now juggling careers and burgeoning families. Of his Sapphic character choice, Wade says, “I was willing to explore anything that illuminates the character and adds something fresh we haven’t seen before.”

You can still expect more tricks than treats from the ladies on Desperate Housewives. Soon, they get a run for their money when they meet their new neighbors—the male desperate housewives. Still no word on casting (ABC confirms it will not be David Beckham and Robbie Williams), the arrival just may force the characters to find their inner fag hag.

In one of network TV's most talked about, most daring storylines ever, dancer/actress Candis Cayne plays a trans woman in a relationship with a married senator (Billy Baldwin) on Dirty Sexy Money, beginning September 26th. Baldwin's a wealthy Manhattanite torn between his campaign, his money-lusting family and his heart. It's the first time a trans woman has been cast to play a trans woman in a recurring role, and Cayne's fans are likely to shoot the ratings through the roof.

Logo
Thought you knew everything about lesbian drama? Exes and Ohs is a playful new comedy based on the short film The Ten Rules: A Lesbian Survival Guide (Michelle Paradise). It follows the adventures of Jennifer (Paradise), a Seattle gal on her search for Ms. Right. Jennifer’s tight-knit group of friends, each with a distinctly strong personality, is always there to offer her advice, no matter what crazy dyke drama arises. So, grab your best friend’s ex, who’s dating your ex, and the rest of your friends, and tune in!

Also bowing on Logo is the cartoon comedy Rick and Steve: The Happiest Gay Couple in All the World. With a fagulously appointed apartment in bougie West Lahunga Beach, Rick and Steve have got the world at their delicately manicured fingertips. All is well in their rainbow 'hood until Rick's lifelong friend Kirsten shakes things up by asking him to father her baby. It would seem these best buds could work it out, but there's drama between Rick's husband Steve and Kirsten's wife Dana. Insults fly, nothing goes unspoken and the ugly,
bitter truth about domestic bliss never looked as cute as in this South Park meets Queer as Folk animated series.

Showtime
Love, longing and lust lead The L Word into its fifth season. Cybil Shepherd reprises her role as University prof. Phyllis Kroll, who’s absolutely relishing her newly discovered sexuality, while angst-ridden sculptor Jodi (Oscar-winner Marlee Matlin) returns to steam up the screen with Bette (Jennifer Beals). Newcomer Rose Rollins is back as Iraq War vet Tasha, whose service-themed storyline last season earned the series a Service Members Legal Defense Network (SLDN) Award. Sundays at 10 starting January 2008.

Playing 420-friendly single mom Nancy Botwin, Golden Globe winner Mary-Louise Parker welcomes audiences back sunny Agrestic, California in Season 3 of Weeds. Lesbian subplots loom since 13-year-old Isabel (Allie Grant) came out last season.

FX
Out actress Portia de Rossi brings her fierce, blonde femininity to this season of Nip/Tuck. This go-round, Julia (Joely Richardson) returns to Miami with her children and an announcement—she’s in a new relationship with Olivia (de Rossi). “It’s about love and the fluidity of sexuality, not labels,” says the show’s rep, Scott Seomin. "The character that Portia plays is very, very confident, always gets her way and has an answer for everything. This is a really big role. It’s juicy.” Julia may, however, have some competition- lesbian anesthesiologist Liz (Roma Mafia) is also falling hard for Olivia. Will Julia’s love go unrequited? Will there be a love triangle or even—gasp—a threesome? This is the show that brought you Rosie O'Donnell naked on a bear-skinned rug—with a man. There are obviously no limits to where they’ll go.

The N
For Generation MySpace, The N’s family drama South of Nowhere delivers more underage lesbians and their disapproving moms. In Season 3, Ashley and Spencer’s relationship is in jeopardy as an ex and a new girl in town throw them for a loop. On the other side of the tracks, the new girl in question, Carmen uses her street smarts and charm to help Spencer’s family accept their daughter as a gay woman. Think it’s time these folks called PFLAG?

here!
Jenny Shimizu can now add Dante’s Cove to her list of accomplishments (Angelina Jolie, hello!?). Bringing lesbian chic to the lover’s cove of magic and mayhem, Shimizu, along with Michelle Wolff and Jill Bennett, make up the trio of real-life lesbians playing lesbians on the spooky series.

There’s no crisis too great for Linda (Jamie Luner), especially when you’re playing a lesbian in a hazmat suit, with a hot cop on your arm. Romance boils while a tropical storm brews at a nuclear power plant, and Linda (Luner) struggles to save the island from a tragedy in Meltdown, a here! original movie, premiering September 7th.

Public Television
The gay and lesbian newsmagazine In the Life completes its 15th season with this month’s “Looking Back, Moving Forward,” and, in October, starts fresh with a new host, new episodes, and a new look to its Web site. The season finale profiles the makers of lesbian classic Desert Hearts, while the upcoming season will include episodes exploring the lives of low-income trans women, a profile of Top Chef’s Josie Smith-Malave and a deep look at sexuality and faith

FOX
Undecided about having a woman in the White House? Cherry Jones will show us how it's done beginning this January when "Day 7" of 24 begins. The out Tony Award-winner will play President Allison Taylor on the hit series.

IFC
The Minor Accomplishments of Jackie Woodman started the season with Jackie (Laura Kightlinger) and Tara (Nicholle Tom) using their mistaken lesbianism to their advantage, but the smart-ass feminists will wrap up their biting wit on September 22nd.

Bravo

Project Runway bows its fourth season later this fall, with supermodel Heidi Klum once again at the helm. The new crew of designer hopefuls will contend with designer Michael Kors, Elle magazine Fashion Director (and new mom) Nina Garcia and enviable mother of three Klum picking the contestants, and their designs, apart. Style Guru and mentor Tim Gunn guides the lot toward what works, and away from what doesn’t, before leading the chosen ones to their final face-off in front of a Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week audience of haute couture movers and shakers.

Tim Gunn fans will swoon for the style guru’s own show premiering September 6th. Tim Gunn's Guide to Style will borrow tips from Gunn’s tome, A Guide to Quality, Taste and Style, and the fashion miracle worker will deliver his tough love tactics and gift for teaching to women who will make themselves over.

Where fashion ills plague the world, you can bet a queer guy will find the cure. Queer Eye’s Fab 5 pop up for one last season helping beleaguered style victims find relief in the queer way (as if there were any other way! Ha!) The hugely popular, inspirational show featured a makeover of a trans man last season, and will continue to bring heartfelt stories to their final installment.

Lifetime
If you just can’t cope with the end of Queer Eye, take comfort in knowing that Carson Kressley will be lending his queer eye to television for women, hosting the new series How to Look Good Naked. In just five days, Kressley guides women through a variety of tasks (dressing appropriately for their body type, choosing the correct undergarments, understanding the right way to style their hair and apply make-up) ultimately helping them realize their beauty, both inside and out. Premieres in January 2008.

TBS
She brought dance to daytime, now Ellen DeGeneres is bringing music, comedy and a whole lot more to prime time in Ellen’s Really Big Show, a two-hour special, airing November 18th, aiming to be the mother of all variety shows. DeGeneres incorporates top talents in the worlds of music and comedy—a format rarely seen on television today. And, if anyone is up to that challenge, it’s the blue-eyed comedian.
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