New NBC Show Pushes Buttons by Putting "Lesbo" in the Title

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It's been a long time since I've been called a "lesbo." Perhaps the last time heard it, it was from my 7th-grade friend Andrew when I admired his Farrah Fawcett locker poster a little too hard? It's certainly not a contemporary word, and it's usually not a compliment -- though it's hard to take seriously as a pejorative.

So not being used to hearing "lesbo" in day-to-day discourse, I raised my eyebrows and made a characteristically queer smirk at this week's news that NBC is developing a sitcom pilot called My Best Friend is a Lesbo.

NBCCourtesy of Danielle Scott

According to After Ellen:

You have to give NBC some credit -- they are really trying to make a lesbian character happen. After I Hate That I Love You failed to get picked up, the network is developing a new show called My Best Friend is a Lesbo. (I wish I were kidding about the name.) Out writer Randi Barnes and BFF Sascha Rothchild are behind the series, along with Gossip Girl/The O.C. exec producers Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage.

It's a fine concept. Lesbians make fantastic friends, of course!  We also make great television, and not just on The L Word. And the concept of "lesbian best friend roommate" has been well-tested on daytime television. Millions of viewers pretend that Ellen is their BLF (Best Lesbo Friend) every day. Straight women appreciate her as a temporary daily roommate, perhaps because she gets them dancing, brings the fun, has outstanding taste in jackets and never, ever forgets to walk the dog. NBC's groundbreaking Will & Grace showed that juxtaposing the lifestyles of the straight and bent, Venn Diagram-style, works fabulously. And way too many shows in TV Landia have used this concept while not giving the characters the lesbian credit they deserved. (See Laverne & Shirley, Cagney & Lacey, Kate & AllieRizzoli & Isles...basically any show with an ampersand, I guess. And, of course, The Golden Girls.)

But "lesbo?"

Granted, NBC will most likely change the name before the show is out of development and is released to the masses, so why the "lesbo" placeholder now? Are they trying to bring "lesbo" back? (Please say it isn't so.) Did "lezzie" not test as well for publicity purposes? Is "dyke" too rough? "L Word," of course, has been taken. Does "My Best Friend Has a Lady Friend and Sensible Shoes Wink-Wink" not sound freakish enough?

Let's hope the show is more Will & Grace than framing the lesbian community as a subculture to be examined, mined for humor, and appropriated at will.

After all, as Shakespeare once wrote: A lesbo by any other name is still an excellent roommate/shortstop. And even Friends needed a name change from the original working title of Insomnia Cafe. My Best Friend Is a Lesbo will probably be called Ann & Anna or something similarly devoid of lady-friendness. In fact, it is very possible that the lesbian subtext was removed from the names of other popular television shows before they found their way to our screens at home. For all we know, these were the original names of other popular television shows.

  • I Love Lezzy -- and its catchphrase "Lesbo, I'm Home!"
  • Charlie's Lesbos
  • Everybody Loves Lesbos!
  • Les-bonanza
  • Who Wants to be a Lesbianaire?!
  • Name that Lesbo
  • St. Elsequeer
  • Mary Tyler Lesbo
  • Provincetown Street Blues
  • One Lesbo at a Time
  • Desperate Houses With Two Moms
  • New Adventures of Old Lezzies
  • The Lesbionic Woman
  • Lesbos & Order
  • The X-bians
  • Buffy, Baby Dyke Vampire Slayer

Oh, NBC. I wish you could have had a chat with your employees Seth and Amy before announcing the new show's title. I'm sure they would have said "Really? REALLY?? "Lesbo?" Your best friend is a lesbian? And you actually call her a "lesbo?" And you think she's STILL your friend?? REALLY?"

What do you think? Is the use of the word "lesbo" a worrisome sign? Or is it just a dumb name announced to rack up publicity for a potentially good show featuring a cool lesbian character. Is Ellen your BFF? Would you ever call her a lesbo?

Contributing Editor Deb Rox blogs like a gay butterfly and stings like a queer Tweet. Since you are BFFs with her now, feel free to say "My Best Friend Reminds Me of Gertrude Stein and Wears an Awful Lot of Plaid, You Know What I Mean?"


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