Monday, July 12, 2010

'Faintly lesbian undertones'


It's summer, and so I'm keeping things light. It doesn't mean my heart is not aching over the environmental disaster (still!!!) occurring in the Gulf of Mexico. It does not mean I'm not following the new ruling on gay marriage. But this site is intended to be a respite, a back rub, a high five of lesbian culture.

Given that, let's talk about the new TV show Rizzoli & Isles!

To be clear, the three women we are discussing today are not lesbians. (In fact, one of them—Angie Harmon—is a Sarah Palin-loving, married-to-a-football-player Republican from Texas.) Nonetheless, there is an undeniable buzz in the lesbian community over this new detective procedural airing tonight at 10 on TNT, and so let's discuss.

Predictably, the gals at AfterEllen are breathless over the reappearance of Angie Harmon because she is a stone cold fox. But it's more than that. I also notice one of the preview ads shows Harmon in bed with co-star Sasha Alexander. Even The Washington Post has cited the "the faintly lesbian undertones that the show keeps trying to establish." I think lesbian undertones are a recent predictor of TV success, e.g.: The Good Wife, Damages, Battlestar Gallactica, etc. Just look at the sexual tension between Patty Hewes and Ellen Parsons and Starbuck and Roslin. Must have been love.

Our third woman is the writer. Yes, let's celebrate the writer. Her name is Tess Gerritsen. I'm unfamiliar with Gerritsen's work, but she's a bestselling author of crime genre books, including the Rizzoli & Isles series. She's 57, a Stanford grad, has a medical degree (slacker), and lives in Maine with her husband. She's the daughter of Chinese immigrants, and she told The Boston Globe that as a child she watched horror movies with her mother, who viewed them to learn English. She also said, "I'm inspired by real life. I'm an avid reader of the National Enquirer. I'm always inspired by things that make you reel back in shock." As you might have gathered, the Sapphist Gazetteer also finds inspiration in the National Enquirer.

But back to the lesbian undertones. Sasha Alexander's Maura Isles is a medical examiner who wears heels and lipstick. She has a dark past and a brilliant mind. She's also been described as Spock-like or as resembling a Cylon. (Number 8 was my personal favorite.) Angie Harmon—she of husky voice—plays Jane Rizzoli, who is described by the LA Times as wearing a ponytail and sensible shoes. We know what that means. Another reviewer describes her as "a tomboy in pantsuits who can’t figure out men or lipstick and can’t much be bothered." That same reviewer said the primary tension of the show is "the mystery of this crypto drag-king-meets-shopaholic friendship." Ah, yes, the classic love story of the femme and the drag king.

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