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Hot Fall TV Trend: Interracial Lesbian Relationships

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Several top television shows returning this fall feature interracial lesbian relationships between major characters, in what’s shaping up to be the new trend of the fall TV season.

Arguably network television’s two biggest hits, Fox’s Empire and ABC’s How to Get Away with Murder, both featured lesbian storylines in their season premiers, reports the Wrap.

In the second-season premiere of How to Get Away with Murder, Viola Davis’ character Annalise Keating is revealed to have been involved in a romantic relationship with law school classmate Eve (Famke Janssen).

In Empire‘s Season 2 premiere, Maria Tomei joins the cast as lesbian venture capitalist Mimi Whiteman, who Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) attempts to seduce by dangling another woman in front of her. And then there’s pop star Lady Gaga, who’s reportedly set to play a bisexual “Countess” on this year’s iteration of American Horror Story: Hotel.

Of course, lesbian characters and storylines in network, cable, and streaming television series are nothing new; several highly critically-acclaimed shows from the past several years have featured them prominently, including Netflix’s Orange is the New Black and Sense8, Amazon’s Transparent, ABC Family’s The Fosters, and Fox’s Glee.

But each of those series draw small viewer totals compared to Fox’s Empire, which broke a more-than 20-year-old ratings record earlier this year when it increased its audience week-over-week during its entire first-season run. The second season premiere averaged 16.2 million viewers.

Bradley Bredeweg, executive producer of The Fosters (which won the Youth Programming award at this year’s TCA Awards), told the Wrap that the inclusion of more gay and lesbian storylines means “we’re finally able to look at the real world and tell real stories.”

“We’re at a very lucky time where this is the reality, and I think the networks and the studios are finally open to that,” Bredeweg said.

As for which show ushered in the inclusion of lesbian storylines in mainstream television, Bredeweg puts it down to a person: Ellen DeGeneres.

“Once all of that backlash sort of went away, and she built this sort of monster hit of a career, I think she became a big, huge monumental piece of that,” he told the outlet. “I do tip my hat to her. I think she’s been at the forefront of a lot of this.”

Empire airs Wednesday nights at 9/8c on Fox. How to Get Away with Murder airs Thursday at 10/9c on ABC.

 


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