13 Lesbian TV and Movie Tropes We're Completely Tired of Seeing
We're so tired of these clichés
If you’ve ever wondered why all your favorite lesbian characters suddenly die, or why you can’t seem to find any butch women on TV, the simple answer is a lack of creativity. We’d love to see some new stories in media instead of these completely over used television and movie tropes about lesbians.
1. All lesbians want kids
There's nothing wrong with wanting a family, but it does come across that most, if not all, lesbian women want kids. The trope started to gain some traction with Melanie and Lindsay on Queer as Folk, then Bette and Tina on The L Word, then Stef and Lena on The Fosters, and of course Callie and Arizona on Grey's Anatomy. Maybe sometimes lesbian women want to enjoy being in a couple on their own without growing the family.
2. Girl-on-girl action that's for the male audience
So, yes, the kiss between Sarah Michelle Gellar and Selma Blair in Cruel Intentions is one of the most iconic kisses in film, but girl-on-girl action too often has an edge toward the male viewers. This trope was a huge staple of the '90s with other films like Wild Things and TV shows like Friends, but thankfully, it seems lesbian relationships are being taken more seriously these days.
3. All lesbians are sporty
And vice versa, it's just as bad when they make straight women out to be lesbians just for being sporty, as well. Even though movies (and now a TV show) like A League of Their Own are fair in their depictions, other movies like Kiss Mee and Maggie and Annie explore the trope in a little more depth.
4. Dead lesbian syndrome
Sure, sometimes characters should die. But when it seems like every lesbian on TV or in movies is dead by the end of the film or the third season, it feels a little personal. So why did Dead Lesbian Syndrome start? It could’ve been to evade U.S. censorship laws. Through the early and mid twentieth century, censorship laws made getting distribution for a film with any LGBT characters that lived happily ever after nearly impossible. But those days are over, and lesbian characters are still dying all over the place. Fortunately, there are some movies that subvert this trope.
5. Sweeps week lesbians
When sweeps week rolls around and ratings are down, what could be better than some lesbian kisses? Of course, they’re not actual lesbians. Men are great, and that’s who these characters end up with. (If viewers are lucky, maybe they’ll even call themselves bisexual for a few episodes.) But, gosh, women just smell so good and have such soft lips. If a couple of straight male characters want to watch, what’s the issue with that?
6. Lesbians don't have sex
Didn’t you know that lesbian sex is just longing glances, soft kisses, and maybe a back massage if things get really wild? What are you doing, real life lesbians? Clearly you need some pointers from TV and movies.
7. Schoolgirl lesbians
More representation of out girls in high school? Right on. Oh, wait. Their entire storyline seems to be about prancing around in uniforms for the male characters and kissing in front of boys. What’s that all about? Or hey, maybe they’re at an all girls' school. You know, where girls try out a little lesbian stuff until they meet boys.
8. Lesbians who never say they're lesbians
Oh, you know, they’re just gal pals. Just doing gal pal things. Like staring deeply into each other’s eyes, or holding hands, or kissing sometimes. Things that everyone does with their girl friends. Not girlfriends. Girl friends. Because they’re definitely not lesbians.
9. Lesbians who decide they're actually into men
So, she tried the whole lesbian thing. Sometimes for a few episodes. Sometimes for almost an entire film. Sometimes for a decade or two. But, hey, it didn’t work out. The allure of men is just so powerful. Bonus points if she refuses to call herself bisexual. Extra bonus points if she continues to identify as a lesbian for “political reasons” (looking at you Tina of The L Word).
10. Lesbianism drives one mad
If there’s a lesbian character that decides she’s not into men, she might just go completely mad out of nowhere. No history of mental illness? No problem. Sometimes that dark and twisted forbidden lesbian love is enough to do the trick. Maybe she can even kidnap the straight woman she’s into, stalk her a little, or kill her boyfriend. Because, you know, that’s totally what lesbians do when they have an unrequited crush. Bonus if she eventually ends up institutionalized, or commits suicide (making the character two tropes in one).
11. It doesn't count as lesbian if she's an alien
Their alien understanding of gender is different from human gender, so it totally doesn’t count as gay. Also, maybe she used some alien mind control to steal some lesbian kisses for some nefarious alien purpose, that way the human woman can go back to human men in the next episode.
12. All lesbians are lipstick lesbians
A lot of lesbians do like traditionally “feminine” dress and activities. But definitely not all of them. It’s hard to find a butch lesbian on TV. It’s even hard to find a lesbian on TV who doesn’t wear pumps and a full face. Bonus points if she reveals that she’s a lesbian and a straight male character makes a confused face, or asks, “Really? You?”
13. Butch lesbians are sexual predators
On the rare occasion that butch lesbians do appear on screen, they’re often portrayed as sexually predatory, aggressive, or violent. Also, they’re always mechanics or truck drivers, and they only date high femmes. It’s almost like straight men who write or direct media about butch lesbians don’t really understand that there are many ways to express masculinity.