Queering (Canada, 2018 -)
Queering is a very nice Canadian TV-mini web series of a young lesbian, Harper (Sophia Graso) and her mother, Val (Susan Gallagher) who comes out as bisexual at the age of 60. Harper also has a best friend and roommate Devon (Diana Oh). Series was created and directed by Leticia De Bortoli.
At first we get to know Harper's love story in a lesbian bar where she talks to her date about her former relationship with her ex-girlfriend McKenzie. McKenzie left Harper for her new girlfriend Katrina (nickname George) which Harper understood as boy George and thought she was left for a men. This was the first instance we learn about Harper's attitude towards bisexuality (she is devastated not only by the fact she was left but that she spent nine years of her life with a woman who was actually a bisexual – she never thought she would be dumped and replaced by man). While talking her date about her experience woman says that her story reminds her of a story she watched on Internet (youtube video) – a story of 60 years old woman who came out as bisexual and was married to a man most of her adult life.
We move on the next scene when Harper meets her mother, Val tells her she separated from her father, Frank and won't host Christmas this year. A woman from bar comes to visit Harper when she sees Val and recognizes her from her coming out video as bisexual and she just poops in the flat to make Selfie of her and Val. And then Val tells to Harper that she is bisexual. Harper is at first shocked and in denial: she reasons she is probably just bored and searching for a new excitement in her life after she retired. However, Val insists that she is a bisexual. And how she knows that? Val tells Harper and Delvin about experience with Julliet, her lesbian pilate's instructor whom she was constantly looking at and felt obvious attraction for her.
Harper is still in denial and while Harper and Val have a conversation about bisexuality on the bench in the park a bisexual jogger, Brit (Ana Stan) comes along and when recognizes Val from the video she compliments her for courage to come out as bisexual and invites them to the LB-party. In the meantime we hear a lot about usual stuff regarding bisexuality, such as that lesbians and LGBTIQ-community in general don't accept bisexuals because they swing for both teams, that they are unreliable and just looking to use LGBT-people for fun and excitement. Meanwhile. Harper's friend Devlin is very supportive of Val's recently discovered attraction towards women and they go shopping for Val's new outfit and even make her a Tinder dating profile.
Then Harper, Val and Devlin go to the underground LB-party where women DJ'ing and read their poetry. Harper is again confronted with her prejudices regarding bisexuality: when meeting Brit they talk about it but then they make out. However, when Harper meets her ex-girlfriend McKenzie and her new girlfriend Katrina at party she finally finds out that she mistook Katarina for George and she is just devastated again realizing that McKenzie didn't love her any more, yet she still loves her.
At the same time Val is confronted as being an attractive woman and when she was about to have a kiss with another woman she freakes out and lies that her husband waits her. She then doubts herself if she is indeed a bisexual or she made up a fantasy about her being bisexual. Harper finally accepts her mother's bisexuality is real and encourages her to allow herself a new experience. After talking to Harper, Val gathers courage and have her first kiss with another woman.
There should be more such light 'hearted' web series and humorous too. Just because it’s filled with heart doesn’t mean it’s lacking humour. Devon is a standout when it comes to this, with a refreshing wit and ready talk about anything. There’s a conversation between Devon and Val about sex that’s as hilarious as it is wonderful.
I also like portrayal of a mother-daughter relaxed, understanding and supportive relationship, especially as daughter is lesbian. And even if at first Harper can not quite cope with mother's newly discovered bisexuality she accepts it. Prejudices and stereotypes regarding bisexuality are accurately presented but only to be dismissed.
And what makes Val such an important character is the fact she’s an older woman in her sixties, now coming out. As it may sound odd but it does happen in life that more elder women freely express their sexual orientation now. It also comes as revelation that it has been Val's a long standing wish, an attraction she felt even at college, it just didn't occur to her what it was about. Val's bisexuality is a facet to the queer community that is rarely represented in media, if at all.
Stella Blómkvist (ICE – 2018-)
Icelandic crime noir TV-series is a unique in the spectrum of Scandinavian-crime-noir drama (such as Trapped, Wallander, The Bridge …) because it is much more fast-pace and action based and its main character is bold, beautiful, smart and sexy. Stella Blómkvist (Heida Reed) is also the only openly bisexual main character of this sort of genre (for instance, Saga, the main character in The Bridge is overly heterosexual and in European version of the Bridge,The Tunnel, Elise, the main character falls in love with woman she investigates, however her love for another woman is presented as something she is caught by surprise, as something not considered or known to her before). But Stella Blómkvist is presented as bisexual from the start.
At the beginning we follow the story of the murder of Halla's Einarsdottir (Kristín Lea Sigríðardóttir), PM's assistant, Sverrir Kristjansdottir (Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson). The accused of her murder is a small drug dealer Saemi. Stella Blómkvist is called in as his lawyer but she is soon replaced by president's sister Edda Kristjansdottir (Steinunn Ólína Þorsteinsdóttir) who is also an attorney. Rumor goes the accused is only a cover up for the real killer who must be someone important. Namely, Halla was fixing private parties for the PM, Sverrir and she also filmed some of the parties therefore it was known to some she could blackmail quite a number of important people in PM's cabinet and also many of his influental friends. It was also known she kept the videos in a blue bag.
Blómkvist was for this reason taken off the case but she starts her own investigation regarding Halla's death when she gets an anonymous phone call by a female and meets with a man who gives her a letter what she needs to find (letter mentioned blue bag with usb). Blómkvist soon finds out who her informant and new client is, Dagbjört Konradsdottir (Sara Dögg Ásgeirsdóttir), a minister of internal affairs. Dagbjört tells Stella to find a blue bag with video files (photo/video evidence of the sex parties with hookers, drugs and alcohol). Stella also learns that earlier the night Halla was murdered she was with PM and his cabinet at dinner with high Chinese officials to negotiate 150 mil. deal between Iceland and China. As a success of the deal with Chinese Halla organized a sex party for Chinese and some of the cabinet members at the Ministry.
Meanwhile, a drug dealer Saemi confessed to a murder of Halla's Einarsdottir and Blómkvist started looking for blue bag with help of her friend, Gunna (Kristín Þóra Haraldsdóttir), an IT expert and code cracker. Blómkvist went with Gunna to Halla's mother Lena and she found the little blue bag on the shelve among Halla's Barbie collection. In the blue bag was an usb with videos but they were all password protected. Stella informs Dagbjört that she has the blue bag but all video files are password protected. During Stella and Dagbjört meetings we soon sense that they are mutually attracted to each other and for Dagbjört Stella's quick-witted, successful and bold navigation between danger and resourcefulness are especially turn on which leads her having sex with Stella.
The information that blue bag was found soon spread, also to the Chinese cultural attache Guo Dai (David Yu) who came to Blómkvist's house, pressing her to give him the usb. Blómkvist told Dai that all files on the usb are password protected and that her friend Gunna needs more time to crack it. How serious Dai is in getting that usb he demonstrates by cutting Gunna's finger off and getting her unconscious.
Stella informs Dagbjört that Dai got an information about the blue bag and pressured her to give him the blue bag for a large sum of money and that he also suspected someone from the embassy was a spy for the Icelandic government (Icelandic Negotiation Committee). Indeed, there was a spy at the Chinese embassy and who happened to be Dagbjört's childhood friend, Sara. However, Dagbjört withholds the information of the spy and tells Stella she could protect her from Dai if she gives her the usb.
In the meantime an audience founds out that Halla was not killed by Saemi or by PM who was her lover but by one of PM's employees, Haukur Karlsson (Hannes Óli Ágústsson) who shared some negotiation information with the Chinese official at the sex party. Halla saw that and blackmailed Haukur to resign from his job which Haukur didn't want to. Instead, he asked Halla to delete the file but she didn't wish to and that is why he killed her and tried to cover his murder by accusing PM killed her while being under the drug's influence. And not only that, someone also murdered Dai and Stella was seen to be the last person in contact with him for which reason she was the prime suspect of his death. Stella goes into hiding and Gunna finally succeeds in obtaining the password from Halla's work computer and opens the video files of Sverrir's sex orgies. Stella goes to Dagbjört's house happily sharing video files with Dagbjört and has also sex with her. There Stella discovers that spy was actually Dagbjört's friend, Sara. Stella rushes to Sara's house to confront her. Sara reveals that Dai found out she was the spy and blackmailed her and her family. When she saw Stella going with Dai to the toilet at the party of Chinese and Icelandic government she seized the opportunity and killed him with the peanut butter, knowing his allergy to peanut. As soon as Sara shares the information she is Dai's killer Chinese officials come and seize Sara and her family.
After Dagbjört got hold of the video files Sverrir Kristjandottir resigned and Dagbjört Konradsdottir became a closeted bisexual as a new Primer Minister of Iceland. It is interesting to note that in reality Iceland was the only country in the world that had an openly lesbian Prime Minister, Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir who led Icelandic government from 2009 until her retirement from politics in 2012.
There is no doubt of a mutual attraction between Stella and Dagbjört which serie portrays in a very believable way plus the main character is played by Heida Reed, more known for her role of Elizabeth Chynoweth in BBC drama Poldark (2015-2018). Uniqueness of Stella Blómkvist series is presented also in occasional neon style lighting, electro-lounge music, Stella's drinking and smoking, something that is rather the opposite of the Scandinavian noir crime fiction where characters are highly rational, composed and rarely seen in any kind of sexual activities.
One of my already mentioned favorite sc-fi series Humans (Chanell 4, AMC, 2015-) continues to pleasantly surprise and continue its lesbian storyline between a conscious synth Niska (Emily Berrington) and her German girlfriend Astrid (Bella Dayne).
Humans is an English remake of a brilliant sc-fi Swedish series Äkta människor (Real Humans, SWE, 2012-). However, thrid season of Humans departs from Swedish original since Äkta människor had only two seasons. Series is portraying artificial intelligence called synth with consciousness - conscience and emotions. It takes place in the future where people buy synths to help humans with everyday occupations. Most of the synths are 'plain' robots, however there is a group of synth who 'woke up' through computer code by their programming 'creator', David Elster (Stephen Boxer) called as father. By spreading the 'consciousness' code to the other synths millions of synths woke up as conscious beings and started connecting and gathering together.
One of the most interesting and intriguing conscious synths is Niska. Not only she tried to proved that she is conscious being with emotions, feeling, thoughts and conscience she also felt in love with a female when she was addressed as a (sexually) attractive woman to another woman, Astrid. When Astrid learned that Niska is synth she nonetheless said she 'appears' as human to her as any other person and that her feelings, attraction and emotions are as real as for anyone else. On the other hand, Niska had 'revelation' on her own, when she declared and realized Astrid as meaning of her life and something that has a value for her. She realized that after learning that her computer father wasn't fair to her: he knew how strong and intelligent she was, nonetheless she was used by him for his pleasure and let her be used by other men as mean for their perverse pleasures.
In the third season we continue following love story between Astrid and Niska. In the first episode we see Niska visiting Astrid working in the only pub where synth and humans could get together and mingle freely. However, there was bomb planted and exploded in the pub and Astrid got hurt. The attack was done by rebellious group of synths but as a retaliation we see humans going wildly after synths and trying to eradicating them.
Niska also continues to be the one who actively searches for and goes after revenge and justice when she feels that injustice was done either to her or those she loves them. We also learn that Astrid told her not to seek revenge and/or justice for her because she is aware that would cause a greater uproar and division between humans and synth. We also learn that when Niska was with Astrid she wanted to be only with her and none else.Niska 'displys' all the features of true love between human beings, exclusivity, monogamy, actively searching for well-being of the loved person, being protective of the loved person and actively searching justice for the loved person if someone tried to do her harm.
The main message of the series is: if there were robots with computer programmed consciousness what that would do to human relations? As the author, Lars Lundstrom of Swedish version said „he thought about the ideas behind Real Humans for years. He imagined a drama series about robot servants that you could also have sex with. “I was fascinated by what would that do to human relations,” he said. “Would it mess them up or help them?” If the first two seasons explored the individual stories between human beings and synths the third season takes story on a new level, on relation between human beings as a species while synths pose a threat to their survival. The point is to make us aware how human beings treat those who are considered 'different' and how human beings tackle diversity. In this case it is even more obvious and interesting since synths are man-made and made according to human 'image', 'projections' and 'desires'.
And not only Humans but the best science fiction series, such as also The Westworld and The Crossing offer the same plot: both deal with enhanced humans and computer algorithm programmed like conscious robots - all these science fiction series show that human beings can't acknowledge diversity and improvements and go against them as something that pose threat to the human species despite they created them for their own pleasure and tools to help them. Let us elaborate that a bit more, there is a conflict between organic humans versus synths in Humans, The Crossing portrays organic humans versus genetically modified and enhanced humans beings, called Apex (btw, series presents also a lesbian married couple, Diana and Grace), The Westworld portrays robots versus organic humans who built them only as for their entertainment but robots suddenly break free and upgrade themselves to be even better then organic humans. All three TV-shows show organic humans have difficulty looking at themselves and realize what kind of species human beings they really are, brutal, aggressive, domineering, exploitative, manipulative and exclusive.
And if human beings define and make robots and computers in form of mathematical and logical algorithms then it must be the way human beings (at least to some degree) understand their own make up or how they were made through millions and billions of years of star formation and biological evolution. Therefore it is a bit incomprehensible why human beings make AI in the first place to be intimidated by it later – it does not make sense.
But to me and according to our current AI programme it seems logical, as I wrote elsewhere that in 120 years time we can expect 4-types of humans: plain organic, 100% biological humans, enhanced humans (with bionic and nano implants and/or being genetically engineered), hubots/synths with their consciousness upload in the virtual clouds and plain mechanic robots. What are the differences among them? Plain organic humans are what we have known as humans for thousands of years, enhanced humans with nano and bionic implants will be improved humans with man-made technology, robots are mechanical devices to serve organic humans to help them with different tasks (in household, at work, difficult and dangerous tasks, sex robots etc.) and hubots/synths are going to be partially humans and partially robots, they are going to have human consciousness as stored in computers and e-clouds but their 'physical make up' would be a fruit of an engeneric ingenuity of human beings.
Some would find my ideas perhaps as a science fiction but let us present some evidences for suggested (more then believing in some aliens) we can present scientific evidences for asserted. There have been search for nano-plants and bionic implants for the past decades (there were also TV-series called Bionic Woman, 1976-1978 and remake 2007). Desire for enhanced humans as genetically modified/engineered humans have been on rise since the 40's of the previous century with WWII searching for the perfect soldier. Or regarding hybrids and uploading human consciousness on to the computer or e-cloud. There was very interesting episode 'San Junipero' (2016) of Black Mirror series presenting story of uploading consciousness into an e-cloud. 'Sun Junipero' tells of a lesbian romance between Yorkie, a shy woman in her early twenties, and Kelly, an outgoing socialite. At first, we watch only two women’s relationship with technology notably absent. After Yorkie and Kelly sleep together, we see them every week in a new era, snaking through the crowd to the sounds of the 80s, then the 90s, and finally the 2000s. At some point it is revealed to us that San Junipero is a computer simulation where elderly consciousnesses can exist and enjoy time as they once were uploaded in the e-cloud. Yorkie and Kelly are on trial versions and limited to five hours in San Junipero a week, but those that “cross-over,” i.e. die, are able to spend eternity in San Junipero. San Junipero" imagines a world where people can upload their brains into computers. Old people can live out fantasies in the virtual reality city of San Junipero. Dying people can be "uploaded to the cloud" and live there forever.
About San Junipero (2016) professor Robert Hanson, an associate professor of economics at George Mason University who has a background in physics and computer science, who wrote extensively about uploaded brains in "Age of Ems," said that he watched the episode and he agreed with some points and disagreed with another. Hanson predicts that we'll be able to upload brains within 100 years and that we'll have extensive virtual reality, so he thinks the show is believable there. "The unrealism is in assuming the rest of the world stays the same, only effect is a new form of retirement," Hanson writes. The rest of the world doesn't seem to have changed much in 'San Junipero' — at least the parts that we see. Hanson's prediction, by contrast, sees whole brain emulations (aka ems) radically and rapidly changing human society. Once brains can be uploaded to computers, he argues, we'll make countless copies of the most effective brains, running them at a thousand times human speed: soon ems will take over almost every job on the planet, while also building their own super-dense cities and evolving their own strange civilization. He predicts they will quickly put every human out of work and create a radical new civilization, living by the billions or trillions in a few mega cities. While 'San Junipero' doesn't reveal much about the broader world, there's not much evidence of radical social change. “. (http://www.businessinsider.com/is-san-junipero-realistic-2016-11)
One of my favorite sc-fi series for the last 3 years The Expanse (SYFY, 2015-) (besides The Westworld, 100 and Humans) is getting better and better and the third season even offers a lesbian married character. The Expanse is brilliant for its portrayal of politics in 23rd century, only now politics and different societal organizations take place in the solar system mapped on to the different planets: Mars is a military organized society, the Outer Planets Alliance (OPA) called Belters are mix of anarchists and all sorts of radicals and Earth defined by the UN government.
The plot of the series is very simple and very human, a very old one, it is about power and power achieved through war and old desire by creating a superior military power through creating a super soldier although this time super soldier is made with the alien protomolecule.
In the third season we still spend a lot of time with one of the main characters, James Holden (Steven Strait) and his band of misfits on the Rocinante and keep an eye on the political (and not-so-political) maneuverings of Chrisjen Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo), while the conflicts between Earth and Mars escalate into war. It’s a brutal place, the 23rd century, whether you live on the overpopulated, resource-strapped planet Earth, a rickety space station out in the Belt or a highly disciplined, technologically advanced and military organized Mars. In Season 2, for example, the addition of Martian marine Bobbie Draper (Frankie Adams) to Avasarala’s entourage was a delight given the extreme contrast in their characters, and that dynamic continues into Season 3.
But in season 3 we are also introduced to a new character, Anna Volovodov (Elizabeth Mitchell). We first see Anna attempting to enter the United Nations on Earth while going past a mob of anti-war protesters. When a young man collapses through the barricade and breaks his wrist in front of her, she calmly directs a nearby guard to help the guy, not taking no for an answer. So it’s not that much of a surprise when we find out that she’s not just a nice lady: she’s a Reverend Doctor who leads a small Methodist congregation. Anna is despite her faith married to a woman and the two have a daughter together. Anna so happens to be also a longtime friend of United Nations Secretary-General Esteban Sorrento-Gillis (Jonathan Whittaker). She was asked by Sorrento-Gillis to help him writing a speech to unite Earth behind the war that’s now erupting between the planets; she’s reluctant to do so, feeling that she has changed (Anna’s commitment to her faith is a relatively new thing), that said, she does seem earnest about it.
But at the UN conference she learns that the undersecretary of the U.N. Sadavir Errinwright (Shawn Doyle) manages to persuade secretary general into rewriting the important portions of the speech. The speech undermines everything Anna attempted to accomplish and it causes an argument with the secretary general, Errinwright and Anna. After that Anna has an emotional conversation with her wife Nono (Raven Dauda), complaining that she doesn't know what to do but it seems her skills and wisdom are useless at the UN. She also feels betrayed by Sorrento-Gilles and decided her work is finished at the U.N. since the rewritten speech is everything against she stands and believes in: instead of promoting peace and as little casualties as possible it promotes war and aggression. Errinwright is speaking through Sorrento-Gilles and now he has a war he wanted it from the beginning.
However, Avasarala has an evidence against Errinwright and his long-standing attempt to promote war and conflict with Mars by knowing about the protomolecule and Mars building a super soldier by using it which she sends to Anna hoping she could reveal Errinwright true motives and stoped the already started war. Avasarala trusts Volovodov as the only source she could send the message since she is not directly connected to Errinwright and she hopes to act on her peaceful intents. In this sense, a lesbian character is finally a happily married with family and has an important, positive role to play as a mediator of peace on the Earth and among the planets and their nations.
But what the series besides its political contents promote is also the concept of protomolecule. The protomolecule, also known as the Phoebe bug, is an infectious agent of extra-terrestrial origin first discovered on Phoebe by the Martian Congressional. It has the ability to radically alter infected life forms and utilize their biomass in various ways. Not a life-form in itself, the protomolecule is described as a set of free-floating instructions designed to adapt to and guide other replicating systems.
For us it is not interesting so much in the sense of using it on human subjects despite being children as the test subjects for building a superhuman solider (which of course is illegal and violating basic human and children's rights) but the concept of the 'alien' protomolecul as the building ingredient of life.
Indeed, scientists (biologists, chemists, astrophysicists) search and argue for a protocell from which originated all life on the Earth. Namely, every living thing on Earth is made of cells. The first protocells must have contained RNA nucleotides. What's more, this RNA must have been able to replicate inside the protocell. In just over a decade of research, from 2000 to 2010, some scientists have accomplished something remarkable: they have built protocells that hold onto their genes while taking in useful molecules from outside. The protocells can grow and divide, and even compete with each other. RNA can replicate inside them. By any measure, they are startlingly life-like. They are also resilient. The protocells could survive being heated to 100C, a temperature that would obliterate most modern cells. This boosted the case that the protocells were similar to the first life, which must have endured scalding heat from constant meteor impacts.
And where these first protocells were to be found? Chemical makeup of cells regardless of what organism they belong to, contain a lot of phosphate, potassium and other metal. The chemistry scientists have uncovered is mostly dependent on ultraviolet light. The only source of ultraviolet radiation is the Sun, so chemical reactions can only take place in sunny places. Maybe life began on land, in a volcanic ponds in a geothermally-active area with hydrothermal vents where they could be relatively cool most of the time, which is good for RNA copying and other kinds of simple metabolism. But every now and then they would get heated up briefly, and that helps the strands of RNA come apart ready for the next round of replication. There would also be currents, driven by the streams of hot water, which could help the protocells divide. This means that, for the first time in history, we have the beginnings of a comprehensive explanation for how life began. And some of the people alive today will become the first in history who can honestly say they know where they came from. They will know what their ultimate ancestor was like and where it lived. This knowledge will change us. On a purely scientific level, it will tell us about how likely life is to form in the Universe, and where to look for it. And it will tell us something about life's essential nature.
And this is what also makes interesting watching The Expanse: their engagement with the alien protomolecule and trying to understand its function(s) through human test subjects is an echo of real scientific endeavors of understanding the protocell and understanding the origin of life
There is another TV-series to talk about. The Girlfriend Experience. Second season of The Girlfriend Experience (Starz, USA, 2016-) by Kerrigan and Seimetz in which I am going to emphasize only on the story of Erica Myles (Anna Friel) and Anna Garner (Louisa Krause) with occasional remarks about Darya Esford (Narges Rashidi) is one of the rare TV-shows with great portrayal of lesbian sexuality and emotional attachments and affection steaming from admiration and fascination of someone due to her status, power, wealth on one hand and disdain and aversion when admiration and fascination run out and the person once in charged now begs for her subject's time, affection and proximity on the other.
It is one of the rare TV-shows portraying the power dynamics of dominance and subordination in a lesbian relationship (Anna subordinate, Erica dominant) and works only as both parties agree to play their roles but the catch with such dom-sub roles is that eventually roles always change because the dominant person can't permanently hold her position of dominance, admiration and fascination. Such position would mean we have had to deal with the person without flaws and weaknesses (and in the sense with the perfect person) but we deal with two human persons and humanity is always imperfect striving towards perfection. And when dominant person which demands blind obedience and following makes mistakes those make her ideal persona crash. At that point the roles reverse and suddenly the dominant person begs for time, attention and affection but is almost always denied (first because the dominant person hurt her by using her solely for her own pleasure and interests without taking into consideration of her feelings, emotions, wishes and desires and second because the initial game is finished, roles do not work any more). Even more, when that happen the submissive person suddenly feel disgust, disdain and repulsion towards once admired person, like being waken up in the middle of the nightmare. And that is exactly what happen between Erica and Anna.
Besides that the series shows excellent portrayal of lesbian sexuality. After all, one of the protagonist, Anna Garner is a call girl for wealthy prominent clients, whereas Erica Myles is a finance director of the republic party (Republican Super Pac), managing multimillion deals and donations and one of the leading financial strategist of the republican party. It is interesting that in the first two episodes we hear that it is about the Republican Party which stands for conservative values and politics but it is obvious that right wing politicians do not have anything against if the chief of finance and their best strategist is a lesbian as long as she brings them a lot of money and not to mention all those conservative politicians and their conservative donors (CEO's) that hire call girls while treat them with utter disrespect and misogyny.
It is also interesting that series shows that highly successful and ambitious women display the same personal features as their successful ambitious male counterparts - women like Erica Myles and her ex-girlfriend Darya Esford are women that desire power, wealth and influence while at the same time lack emotional attachment, closeness, affection, empathy, compassion and solidarity – they love power, control, money, pride, fame, material goods, beauty and they see others as means to achieve their goals and when they got it they simply get rid of the others as useless and even nuances. Even more, if people who they use get attached to them and come too close to them or simply put, they do not play their role professional to the end they despise them, brutally humiliate them, can become even violent towards them and above all call them clingy and that is exactly what we see from the relationship between Erica and Darya and later Erica and Anna.
And besides the aforementioned features they also love and have secrets (big ambitions bigger secrets because ambitions need to be hidden from the others in order to guarantee their successful achievement). For the most part their meeting points and agreements take place on hidden places with people of no names; far away from witnesses, phones, computers, microphones and listening devices that would give away the nature of their businesses and agreements. However, what they expect whey they are caught violating rules, regulations and laws: that people who were violated (were robbed and cheated) would expect understanding, empathy and compassion towards them? That would not be only naive but also stupid because in their worldview and equations they don't value and cherish values, such as truth, goodness, fairness and emotions, such as compassion, empathy, love, solidarity, affinity, humility, freedom, kindness why would expect such values and emotions from the others? And that is exactly what Anna tells Erica when she is caught cheating the system and stealing money, that she drove herself into that situation and now she needs to drive herself out of it instead of giving in by starting drinking herself to the unconsciousness.
Even more, when they express or expect emotions of compassion and solidarity from the others (partner, lover, client, colleague) they react with resistance, disdain and disgust. And that is why Anna does not wish to help Erica by saying I thought you were stronger and capable; doesn't she understand life is a game, game of cunning, deception and lies, game of Potemkin villages where you are more capable only if you are not caught while cheating but since none is perfect you once win and once lose and when you lose you must not
give up but continue playing, creating even more believable Potemkin villages, after all that is Erica's game, right? Game where only winners are worshiped and bestowed with different precious metals, put on the thrones and surrounded by the huge public crowds (and which is also only a game) and after all, that is the reason of their power, influence, wealth and fame but at the same time this world is also a fake, an illusion, devoid of any true contents (values, thoughts, emotions) which is portrayed by big, empty spaces because everything that doesn't serve their interests, goals and purposes is rubbish: why bestowed ourselves with emotions of love, friendship, honesty, truth, joy, compassion, goodness and why having art, culture, science, philosophy, education when there is only thing that matters in this world since time memorials and that is power (and influence, fame and wealth connected to that).
And in this sense, it is interesting use of scenography of spaces with long (underground) corridor and scenes of big, empty spaces, s in which there are only funcionally most needed things. Spaces emptied of subjectivity, closeness and emotions are reflection of the worldview of their characters which cherish only interests, serviceability and functions. The only time we feel emotions of belonging, love, closeness and warmth when Erica and Anna have sex and Anna says she wants to have Erica's child and they would be a family and asks Erica if she wishes to have a child. Erica answers 'yes'. Anna has sex with the client in order to get pregnant when she delivers the happy news to Erica she coldly replies if she is normal to get herself pregnant. Anna says she wished they could be a family. That is the only time we see and feel Anna's love but at the same time we realize Erica doesn't feel the same and she only uses Anna to pass her time until she gets a call from her ex-girlfriend Darya but whose only pleasure in meeting with Erica is humiliating her. We learn that Darya used to admire Erica at the beginning for her power, influence and wealth but when she learned how emotionally clingy she was she couldn't stand her anymore. She saw Erica solely as someone to be used for advancement of her career.
It is obvious that creators of the series were interested only in two human interactions called interests and passions. And now we embark on second mentioned, passions. Series is excellent in portraying a lesbian sex - which is shown without Victorian puritanism and bashfulness – and as it is: naked, lustful and sybaritic. Body involved into sexual activity produces pleasure and that is the main purpose of human sexuality. Sexuality shown in The Girlfriend experience is much better, sexier and authentic then in the movie Blue is the warmest colour. I think the actresses were brave and most of all without prejudices and relaxed while filming the sexual scenes. Those scenes could serve for ensuing directors and actresses in future lesbian films.
Without doubt The girlfriend experience shows a very good study of the power and status which makes it all more interesting since it is about women. It reminds us a bit of movie Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant but this series represents its contemporary and better version because the roles of the main are not so strictly divided and polarized but their power is at the end equally distributed. The series is also interesting because when try to apply theories of master and servant by Hegel or Sade's and Sacher-Masoch's theories of dominance and submission it doesn't fully apply either of the mentioned because it is not about the pleasure derived from so called perversions (by making the other suffer and enjoying in it or by enjoying in suffering); it is also not about the strict division of the roles. It is simply about a long-standing cultural and societal notions of the power, wealth, influence and money and what it usually come with it.
A while ago I saw TV-series The City and The City (UK, BBC, 2018) directed by Tom Shankland and based on the same name novel by China Miéville (2009). I liked it a lot for number reasons and could find some parallels with the TV-series Counterpart (Starz, USA, 2018-) by Justin Parks.
Both TV series shows two parallel societies living in different historical times but most obvious difference can be seen expressed by the GDP of their societies: one advanced and one a bit behind regarding technological progress and quality of life in general. In a way it represents Brudel's notion of the world living simultaneously in three different times and what he called the developed countries, developing countries and undeveloped countries. And his notion later in Europe produced thesis about Europe of two different pace, referring to the old and new European member states dividing Western European countries and former Eastern bloc countries referring to their GDP.
But the difference is not only regarding the state wealth but also regarding the 'ideological or philosophical' structure of their society: both advanced societies in The City and The City and The Counterpart don't have (or allow) religions and in The City and The City there are also no different parties, such as socialist, fascist, unification's parties. They overcomed those divisions and we could say the citizens of their cities are members of the citizens of the world according to the stoic notion that people are not to be divided by their gender, origin, wealth, intelligence but that all people are endowed with 'divine pneuma' regardless of who and where we are, thus we are all members/citizens of the world.
But most importantly why I love both series is for representation of their lesbian characters. In both series there are lesbians and lesbian couples and they are represented like a total normal people and lovable and loving couples. I especially love how The City and The City represents Senior Detective Dhatt (played by Maria Schrader) and her girlfriend as the most loving and joyful couple on the show. We can remember Maria Schrader by a beautiful but very tragic lesbian love story Aimée & Jaguar (GER, 1999). There she starred in as a Jewish woman working under an assumed name as a journalist at a Nazi newspaper, who has a wartime love affair with the (gentile) wife of a philandering Nazi officer. Contrary to Schrader's tragic role in Aimee & Jaguar role she plays a good cop in the City and the City Schrader with younger female partner in a happy lesbian couple.
But if we have a happy lesbian couple in The City and the City in the Counterpart we get to know also a lesbian Nadia Fierro aka Baldwin (Sara Serraiocco) whose one part of the doubles, its doppelganger also lived in a happy lesbian relationship being a virtuoso violinist Nadia but the other is now a villain, Baldwin - a revengeful killer from the Prime World who crossed into the Alpha world and who also killed its Alpha double called Alpha Nadia. Namely, prime world faced half a billion loss of its population by the flu pandemic that was brought to their side from the Alpha world in the early 1990's and now the sleeper agents raised by the Prime world crossed in to the Alpha world as a revenge, trying to kill as many people in the Alpha world as they can.
According to psychoanalysis and Freud's thesis regarding doppelganger (based on work by Otto Rank) – doppelganger represents invisible psychological side of our physical representation and Freud thought that doppelganger was formed in order to establish a psychological (immortal) 'mirror' for our fleeting physical existence. Even more, at one point the doppelganger (tries to) embarks on its own existence and sees the original, physical persona that was its predecessor as a threat to him/herself and tries to make it cease to exist. And that is exactly what we see in The Counterpart: Baldwin from the Prime world killed its doppelganger Nadia and we even see Baldwin watches her own funeral and her girlfriend talking about their relationship.
Counterpart is especially interesting for its representation of the doppelganger. It is also interesting that there are only slight difference in character developments in the both worlds (Prime and Alpha). And how these worlds came to exist? We were told that during the final years of the Cold War, the East Germans accidentally created a portal to a divergent parallel universe in the basement and in 1987 East German scientists successfully divided Earth into two. The original world is called 'Prime World' and the parallel world 'Alpha World'.
But what is refreshing is to see that nowadays none questions lesbian relationship or try to present them as something 'problematic' although as we see in The Counterpart that prime persona killed its doppelganger and which caused her relationship with Greta (Liv Lisa Fries) to break up. Nonetheless, both mentioned TV-series present refreshing portrayal of lesbian relationships.