Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Elisabeth Moss in iconic lesbian role

One of the great pleasures of the new millennium has been watching Elisabeth Moss play the role of Peggy Olson on Mad Men. Now we learn she will play the iconic lesbian role of Martha Dobie in Lillian Hellman's groundbreaking 1934 play, The Children's Hour, to be staged in London. Moss's co-star—and forbidden love interest—will be the toothsome and toothy Keira Knightley, playing the universally adored straight girl, Karen Wright. I would love to see what Elisabeth Moss does with the role of Martha. And I enjoy imagining the chemistry between Moss and Knightley, who play headmistresses at a girls boarding school. One of the girls accuses the pair of having a lesbian relationship. Naturally, much revulsion ensues, gossip spreads, scandal erupts, and devastation results. Even though the play is more than 75 years old, the demise of Martha Dobie is timely in today's climate of anti-gay bullying. When the play was first produced in the 1930s, the lesbian content—such as it is—was so controversial that the play was initially banned in Boston and London. The film, too, which was made in 1961, was controversial. Shirley MacLaine, who played Martha opposite Audrey Hepburn, said scenes were cut that explored Martha's true feelings for Karen.

The news of Elisabeth Moss in The Children's Hour presents many lesbian connections that we could record on The Chart, if Alice Pieszecki were available. Aside from the lesbian theme of the play, we have the following:

- Lillian Hellman, who herself was reputedly bisexual,
- Keira Knightley, who played the tomboy and similarly suspect friend in Bend It Like Beckham, to say nothing of her butch Domino role,
- Fred Armisen, Moss's ex-husband, who is currently in the comedy duo Thunderant with Carrie Brownstein, who we know from iconic queer grrrl punk band Sleater Kinney. By the way, Fred and Carrie's video The Perfect Song really makes me laugh,
- Peggy Olson is friends on Mad Men with the one lesbian character, Joyce Ramsay, and Peggy is so queer friendly that she even lets Joyce lick her face.


Anonymous said...

Don't forget this lesbian connection: Allison Janney, Moss's co-star on the West Wing, was famously told by a casting agent that due to her height she could only play lesbians and aliens.

Sapphist Gazetteer said...

Oh, that's rich. Did not know that!