Lost Girl: Interviewed

4 Jun

But not by me, unfortunately.

I just posted this over on my tumblr but I thought it was worth re-posting over here.

An interview with “Lost Girl” creator, Michelle Lovretta, hits on basically everything I talked about over here.

Here’s the part that I liked best (with a few choice bits highlighted by me):

4. Why did you decide to portray sex the way you do on the show?

Simply put?  Because it’s the way I personally see sex, so it’s the most natural and intuitive way for me to portray it.   As for the more complete answer, When Prodigy (our studio) asked me to create a show about some kind of bisexual superhero who uses sex as part of her arsenal, my first thought was “hell, yes!”  But after that initial excitement came trepidation – it is so, so incredibly easy with a template like that to create something mind-numbingly insulting, anti-female, and exploitative.  I wouldn’t want my name on that.  And, as someone who respects both the straight and queer communities, I was afraid of alienating either of them in the process… or, of just making neutered, boring TV by overthinking it and being too PC.  Gah!!  The challenge was to create a fun, sex-positive world that celebrates provocative cheesecake for everyone, without falling into base stereotypes or misogynistic (or misandristic) exploitation along the way.  I also really wanted to defend the bisexual community and counter some sad tropes out there (bisexuals are sluts, can’t commit, are just afraid to be gay, yadda yadda) while also valuing and representing female friendships that have nothing sexualized about them at all.

So, I came up with a few internal rules and I moved to Canada that first year to co-showrun the show (with the fab Mr. Peter Mohan) partly just to help institute them:

1. sexual orientation is not discussed, and never an issue;

2. no slut shaming – Bo is allowed to have sex outside of relationships

3. Bo’s male and female partners are equally viable;

4. Bo is capable of monogamy, when desired;

5. both genders are to be (adoringly!) objectified — equal opportunity eye candy FTW.

We haven’t always succeeded on all fronts, granted.  Mea culpa.  It’s hard to honor all those good intentions in the chaotic thick of production when manic rewrites and a million disparate studio/network notes need to be addressed.  But I can tell you we’ve always tried, and that I believe Prodigy intends to continue supporting those original mandates for the life of the show.

To be clear: I’m aware (and thrilled!) that boiled down to our essence we’re just a fun, charmingly-flawed, quip-happy little series about monsters and heartache, and I make absolutely no claims of Deep Meaning or Super Importance!  But, in a way, that in itself is its own little victory: we’re clearly at a point where a main character’s orientation not only doesn’t have to be swept under the rug, but also doesn’t have to be a big damn deal.  Bo has lots of sex, with men, women, humans, Fae, threesomes… and she’s still our hero, still a good person worthy (and capable) of love, and that’s a rare portrayal of female sexuality.  Also, a show built around a bisexual lead doesn’t have to BE about her bisexuality — orientation can just be an interesting element of a story, and not the story itself, and that’s the central spirit of our show.  I consider that “I’m here, I’m queer, and it’s no big deal” approach to a main character still fairly rare and wonderful, at least in North America.  It’s also rare to have a female lead who is so honestly sexual, without judgment.  I don’t profess to be striking any new ground, here — I’m just saying that this is ground I’m very happy and privileged to be building on. In short: however long Lost Girl lasts, and however popular it does or doesn’t become internationally, I think the single element I will remain proudest of is just that we’ve been able to create and put out into the world a sex positive universe where a person’s sexual orientation is unapologetically present and yet neither defines them as a character, nor the show as a whole.

8. Is there anything more you would like to add?

Most of these questions (and, therefore, my answers) have been canted towards sex, so I’d like to clarify that this show isn’t about sex for me: it’s about relationships, and one of the core relationships on Lost Girl is NOT sexual, by design.  On a show that deals with female sexuality, I felt it was crucial to also demonstrate that sex and romance aren’t the only ways that Bo measures a relationship’s worth, to give the show balance.   Fans may have noticed that Kenzi clarified her hetero orientation at the end of ep 101 — pretty much the only time someone has addressed their orientation directly on our show.  That line was necessary because in production I kept running into directors who wanted to sexualize the dynamic between Bo and Kenzi, to make the show “hotter”.  I was determined to protect their platonic-yet-epic BFF-ness, so I made sure it was written in as canon.   Partly, this was to debunk the gay-panic cliche that bisexual people sexualize everyone, and are incapable of platonic friendship.  But there was another, simpler and more personal reason:I think friendship is the fifth element.  Truly.  I think it’s that substantial and nourishing a thing, so friendship and loyalty are part of the bone structure of Lost Girl, always just under the skin.   So, hidden in amongst all the romance and cleavage and threesomes, the Lost Girl Bo and Kenzi relationship is my own little love poem to all the BFFs out there who do it right. I salute you.

It’s interesting to note that while acknowledging that this show is cheesy, quipy, and ultimately cheesecake; Lavretto understands it’s all the more important to deal with sexuality respectfully. Again, you can read the rest of the interview over here.


2 Responses to “Lost Girl: Interviewed”

  1. danieleharper June 4, 2012 at 2:21 pm #

    What I’ve seen of the show seems to be a fairly cheesy supernatural soap opera/action series with some interesting social, gender, and sexual dynamics. I don’t watch because I don’t really care about the former aspects, although I’m interested in the latter.

    The comments of the creator of the show are well-taken here, and I like that she defends some of the show simply by saying that she’s making a fun monster show that doesn’t take itself too seriously, but I do think that it’s “easy” to make your bisexual character a hot chick that kicks ass and has sex with other really attractive people. If that’s the way that gender issues can enter the mainstream, then I’m all for it, but I’d still like to see more gender-othered persons on TV and in movies that don’t fill that role.

    David Fisher from Six Feet Under felt really subversive at the time just by being a gay character in a monogamous (mostly) relationship with another man a decade ago, and I’m a big fan of John Barrowman’s work as Jack Harkness, who gets to be not only bisexual but pretty much omni-sexual given his status as a liberated man of the 51st century. In the era of Girls Gone Wild it seems somehow less interesting to have a bisexual female character, mostly because of Male Gaze issues.

    Tangentially, that’s also my issue with Black Widow from the Avengers movie. It’s great that Scarlett Johansson gets to kick ass with the boys, but it’ll be even better when the female asskicker can be six foot four and weigh three hundred pounds and not show her tits.

    • redshana June 4, 2012 at 2:27 pm #

      I completely agree and I think that this has fueled my overall interest in though. It’s not ever going to be a true favorite of mine, even though I really appreciate what it’s doing because I do appreciate cheesy shows.

      And yes, I agree with your issues with Scarlett Johansson and I have them too but I still think that is another example where things are getting better even though they’re still not where I’d like them to be.

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