“Private Practice” brings lesbian issues close to home

Grey’s Anatomy has been getting a lot of attention from us lately for its portrayal of a healthy lesbian relationship between Callie and Arizona.

But we would be remiss not to acknowledge Grey’s spin-off Private Practice — and not just because it features one of our favorite icons, Kate Walsh, as Dr. Addison Montgomery.

Although PP doesn’t have a featured bisexual or lesbian character (that we know of), earlier this year the show featured a long-term female couple, one of whom had a stroke that, during the course of the episode, forced her to come out to her son.

The storyline was handled sensitively and reflected the experiences of many older lesbians who hid their sexual orientations while they raised a family.

Last week, a similar storyline hit a little closer to home for the good Dr. Montgomery. After years of believing that her father The Captain (Stephen Collins) was cheating on her mother Bizzy (JoBeth Williams, who looks fabulous), Addison comes to suspect that he is having an affair with Susan (Ann Cusack), who handles the family’s business, um, affairs. But Addison is not quite prepared to witness the actual cheating.



Addison knew that “everywhere Bizzy goes, Susan goes, too.” She just didn’t know how far that was.

The revelation did not go over too well, to say the least. (Although grungy Kate sure is cute.)

And honestly, my initial reaction was that Addison, who is far from naïve, surely would have suspected something during the 20 years that Susan worked for the family.

Then I remembered when I found out that my own mother been married before my dad. I had no clue — and it was a lot more than 20 years. The truth is that a lot of times we just see what we expect, even if it isn’t logical.

In the case of the Montgomerys, The Captain was fully aware of his wife’s relationship and chose to stay with her. She was the love of his life — and his best friend.

The end of the episode didn’t bring full resolution, but Addison and Bizzy made peace in their own way. I hope we’ll see more of the story as time goes on. Regardless, this is another case in which Shonda Rhimes and her writers got it right. The situation was not pleasant, but was indeed a realistic picture of how many LGBT people lived when they wanted to raise families. And unfortunately, many still do.

Did you see last week’s Private Practice? What do you think of the show’s portrayal of lesbian relationships?