SNL misses the cool-lesbian mark.
This past weekend Saturday Night Live became marginally relevant for the first time since Andy Samberg rapped about The Chronicles of Narnia and Natalie Portman rhymed about killing dogs for fun. This time, though, instead of a hip-hop parody going viral, it's a pleasantly sweet skit about a "straight" chick going to some mythically lezzed-out Melissa Etheridge concert and loving every minute of the Sapphic experience, from the Suze Orman booth for gay mortgages to the athletic ladies in tank tops, from the Indigo Girls performance of "Closer to Fine" to Ellen DeGeneres chatting about being closeted as a youngster.
"I feel so free," the chick cries as she pulls a Tom Cruise sofa leap, her boyfriend in a state of gentle bemusement.
"You are, like, a primo lesbian now," he accuses in the least accusatory tone possible.
At first the chick denies: "Why does everything have to have a friggin' label? Why can't I just hug a woman with my legs in friendship?" But when the boyfriend suggests it might just be a phase, the girl's all like, "A permanent phase!" and looks pleadingly into his eyes for approval.
And instead of pulling a jerk move and having the chick make out with another chick or something equally salacious for the prurient eyes of the boyfriend and viewers, SNL upped my opinion of it by about a million. The couple exchanges "you're the best" vows and hugs. Then, cut to a close up of Ellen Page in a butched-out leather jacket staring down the camera and the audience.
The fact that Juno homeskillet Ellen Page plays the concertgoer in question has everything to do with why this sketch has gotten so much attention. There's speculation, after all, that Page might be gay, and this might've been her coming out. Why the rumors? Because Page went to the Oscars sans date, because she's scheduled to play a lesbian in an upcoming movie, because she wears Chuck Taylors and Avril ties, and because only a lesbian could convincingly feign attraction opposite pansyass Michael Cera, I guess.
Whether Page is gay doesn't actually matter. What matters more is how SNL repped same-sex attraction. There are just a handful of LGBT characters on network TV (most on ABC, which isn't afraid of camp), so any portrayal seems more significant than it probably is.
And despite the sketch's admirable message of acceptance, something about it seems dated, uninformed and, dare I say it, lame. Melissa Etheridge, the Indigo Girls, Suze Orman and Ellen DeGeneres? Is this what it is to be a young, hip lesbian?
It's like the SNL writers had the dialogue stashed since 1998, or wrote it about a 45-year-old in North Dakota. For an actress as cool as Page, you would've thought her hypothetical coming out could've incorporated a Tegan and Sara concert with harmonies by the Coco Rosie sisters, with JD from Le Tigre pawning that Lesbian Utopia calendar and Leisha Haley from The L Word gabbing about how Yoplait yogurt is so good it tastes like chocolate-covered shoe-shopping and/or sex with Dana.
Instead the SNL writers played on tired, second-rate stereotypes, as if NBC viewers couldn't handle what it's really like to be a young, hip (albeit very white) lesbian in 2008. Positive representation is always a plus. But next time they should let some of Diablo Cody's uber-with-it-ness rub off on the writers' wit. Just a little bit.