6 TV Shows That Got Lesbian Sex Right

Lesbian sex. It’s a phrase so fraught with tawdry confusion that Google won’t even autocomplete it. (Instead, they’ll give you a choice between “lesbian seagull” and “lesbian senator.”) And corporate firewalls block websites that talk about it because they assume you’re trying to watch porn at work. It’s both bewildering and infuriating. We live in a culture so saturated with sex that the best way to sell a burrito is to simulate a hot chick giving it a blow job in an animated advertising GIF. But “lesbian sex” makes the internet go haywire.

And even though we’ve come a long way in terms of gay lady visibility on TV, lesbian sex also seems to bamboozle writers and directors. Most TV shows with lesbian characters subscribe to the idea that lesbians either get off by fully-clothed cuddling, or that whatever it is they do to get off is so brazen that middle America would burst into flames if they saw a hint of it on television.

Thankfully, there have been a handful of programs that have done lesbian sex right. Here are six of them.

Grey’s Anatomy

The Grey’s Anatomy formula of success is: Medical Terror + Sex + (Talking About Feelings x 100) = Millions of Viewers. Callie and Arizona are a shining example of that math. Take this season, for example. After surviving a plane crash, Arizona lost her leg. (Medical Terror) But that hasn’t stopped Callie from loving her and needing and wanting her. Wanting-wanting her. (Sex) But Arizona has struggled mightily to meet Callie’s needs and to reconnect with her wife sexually. And so they have processed the hell out of their feelings. (x 100) It’s actually been rather wonderful to see the show explore the very natural, very real sexual desires in a lesbian relationship, and the complications that arise from insecurity, resentment, depression, and occasional loss of limb. It’s also wildly rewarding to see them overcome those challenges together. It’s exactly how Grey’s would have treated Meredith and Derek if one of them had had to chop off the other’s arm.

Lost Girl

When the lead character of your sci-fi show is a bisexual succubus who feeds off of sexual energy, there are a gazillion ways you could take it to an exploitative place really quickly. One of the oldest queer TV tropes says: Bisexual women will do anything, because bisexual women will do anything. It’s demeaning also it’s inaccurate. But in three seasons, Bo Dennis hasn’t fallen into that tired cliche at all. Yes, she needs sex to survive, but to the show’s great credit, they have never once indicated that “real” sex is penis-vagina sex. (I’m scowling at you, Torchwood.) Instead, they’ve shown that Bo is able to be equally sexually satiated by any gender. And rather than pursuing a typical heterosexual love triangle, or giving Bo and male love interest with some female side-sex for ratings, Lost Girl has given Bo a dudely love interest and a lady love interest, and treated them both equally. Bo falls fully, deeply in love with Lauren. She tries very hard to commit herself to her girlfriend. And within that committed relationship, they have all kind of deliciously-lit sexual encounters. Sometimes athletic ones. Sometimes gentle ones. Sometimes run-of-the-mill ones. You know, like real lesbian life. Well, real lesbian life with a supernatural Fae war happening just outside the door.