2007 Year in Review: Television

Curl Girls

Logo’s six-part reality series about a group of surfer girls in Southern California, Curl Girls, did not exactly follow Work Out‘s example. Although it marks another step forward in representation of LGBT people by being the first reality series to focus entirely on lesbians and bisexual women, that distinction alone did not make for groundbreaking or even interesting television.

Unfortunately, the women involved lacked chemistry with each other — a flaw that made the drama that did arise more annoying than entertaining. In addition, one of the characters, Jessica, did lesbians no favors by making biphobic statements about Gingi Medina, who identified as bi. Other than those unfortunate scenes, however, Curl Girls‘ main fault was simply the fact that it was boring. Given the fact that it was a show about cute lesbians in bikinis, that might even be something to be proud of.

A Shot at Love With Tila Tequila

In October 2007, MTV debuted the first bisexual dating show, A Shot at Love With Tila Tequila. Starring MySpace queen Tila Nguyen, aka Tila Tequila, as the bisexual bachelorette, A Shot at Love began as exploitative and stereotypical, but developed over the entire season into something more than the trashy dating show it seemed to be.

The show did not have an auspicious beginning, as it launched with Tila misleading the contestants about her sexual orientation, allowing the men to believe she was straight and the women to believe she was a lesbian. Most of the lesbians reacted in horror at being misled — one even walked off the show — while some declared that they hated men.

The first few episodes, therefore, were chock full of stereotypes. Tila was the lying bisexual who hid her sexuality and then sprang it on her potential lovers in a bait-and-switch scenario. In addition, she declared that the show was going to help her choose whether she liked women or men more — something that should be entirely irrelevant to bisexuals, but is a common stereotype.

The lesbians involved in the show fared no better, falling quickly and even eagerly into the man-hating dyke trap. The silver lining, if there was one, was the fact that the straight men themselves were even more boorish and obnoxious than the drunk, man-hating lesbians on the show.

However, as the series continued, those stereotypes actually began to fall by the wayside. Tila realized that finding true love for her had nothing to do with gender, but was about the connection she had with someone. And slowly but surely, the most obnoxious lesbians and straight men were eliminated — after they had served up their trashy entertainment quota.

Most significantly, Tila found herself attracted to a woman she would previously have never considered: Dani Campbell, a self-described “futch” rather than a “lipstick lesbian.” Their developing relationship was the show’s most endearing to watch, due largely to Dani herself, who was as sincere, self-effacing and honest as possible on a reality dating show. Tila has also revealed herself to be a fun-loving though raunchy party girl with a clear yearning to be part of a family who accepts her.

Tila’s choice, in the season finale, of Bobby rather than Dani will likely be seen by many lesbians (as well as fans of Dani) as a “typical” bisexual choice, particularly because she declared somewhat gleefully that in the end, she chose “a man.” However, if one takes Tila at her word, then her choice of Bobby is not a choice of a man over a woman; it merely represents who she came to like more. Bisexuals, after all, are interested in both men and women.

Those who dismissed A Shot at Love as nothing more than trashy TV have not looked beyond the surface of the show. Tila, a Vietnamese-American woman who built an entire career for herself based on popularity and sex appeal, may not be an appropriate role model for young girls, but nor is she the devil in disguise.

The problem is that Tila is hampered by the baggage that comes with reality dating shows: the trash talk, catfighting, excessive drinking and ridiculously dramatic breakup scenes distract from the positive progress that Tila made over the course of the 10-week series in understanding herself and bisexuality. Hopefully not everyone missed it.