Best. Lesbian. Week. Ever. (July 25, 2008)

OK, folks: Are you ready for some news that will surely make your fangirl sensors go all a-tingle? Well, if you happen to be a fan of Joss Whedon and his contributions to the pop cultural landscape (and if you’re not, uh, why not?), have I got some fun news for you. When I talked with Joss at the TCA press tour last week, he told me that queer viewers can look forward to gay and lesbian characters and story lines in his upcoming series Dollhouse, starring Eliza Dushku.

In case you haven’t been following the deafening buzz surrounding the show, it’s about a group of people called “actives” — one of them is played by Dushku — whose personalities have been erased so that they can be imprinted with new personas to take on various “engagements,” ranging from the criminal to the comical.

Joss Whedon and Eliza Dushku on the set of Dollhouse Will there be any lesbian/bisexual story lines on Dollhouse coming up?
Joss Whedon:
Yeah, I think inevitably. You know, the premise of the show is these people are hired out for very specific engagements, and some of those engagements are to be the person in your life that you don’t get to have in your life. And I think … it’s inevitable that … some of those stories are gonna involve people exploring their sexuality in a way that they’re maybe not comfortable with in their daily life, or have to hide or don’t even know about. So yeah.

AE: So, Eliza will be playing gay?
At some point, and not just Eliza. Female and male members of the cast will have engagements where we explore that. Sexuality isn’t the only focus of the show, but it’s a part of it.

Joss said that we can expect these story lines within the first 13 episodes of the series, but they won’t be part of long-term relationships. “We don’t have long-term relationships set up because they [the “actives”] forget who they are at the end of every day, but same-sex encounters is part of the mythos,” he told “It comes with the territory.”

So, who else can’t wait till January 2009?

This fall will mark the 15th and final season for long-running medical drama ER. And given the list of actors who have come through the swinging doors of the fictional County General Hospital and gone on to continued success in Hollywood, you might be wondering just who will be coming back for a last hurrah. You can cross George Clooney off your list, but Noah Wylie will be back, and it’s quite likely that Laura Innes will be, too. Her character, Dr. Kerry Weaver, is still the longest-running recurring lesbian character on prime-time TV.

When I spoke with ER‘s executive producer, John Wells, on the set of ER earlier this week, he told me that he’s in touch with Laura “all the time” because she also directs episodes of the long-running series, “and I’m very hopeful she’ll come back this season. … I think it’ll probably happen.”

Dr. Weaver went through six seasons of ER before her sexual orientation even came up, but in Season 7, she fell for staff psychiatrist Kim Legaspi (Elizabeth Mitchell), and later came out. She had a relationship with firefighter Sandy Lopez (Lisa Vidal) in Seasons 8 and 9; had a child with Lopez in Season 10 followed by custody battle when Lopez died in the line of duty; and had a relationship with TV producer Courtney Brown (Michelle Hurd) in Season 13. In January 2007, Dr. Weaver moved to Florida, taking a job at a Miami TV station.

Though Wells made it sound like bringing Dr. Weaver back was almost a guarantee, he also said that the show’s writers have only just begun writing the story lines for the upcoming season, and they “don’t really want to do the … there’s a party that everybody comes back to” type of reunion show. “If we’re gonna get people to come back, we want them to have stories that are appropriate for their character and advance the character.”

Tune in this fall to see just what he means by “appropriate” and “advance.” Hopefully it has nothing to do with lesbian pregnancies or child custody battles (been there, done that).

— by Malinda Lo