Girl/Girl World TV Report No.3

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Girl/Girl World TV Report No.3

As I am sure many of you know, the Showtime network has officially announced that The L Word spin-off, tentatively called The Farm, will be set in a women's prison and will contain "a few lesbian characters." First, you should know that I have a love/hate relationship with this long and illustrious film and television genre featuring the stories of incarcerated women and their jailers. I love the excitement and suspense created by depicting girl-on-girl romance in such a forbidden atmosphere.

I also think it has given writers and producers wonderful license to explore aggressive female desire with abandon — all those nubile ladies are locked up together without their husbands and boyfriends... and they have needs! On the other hand, the big, scary, masculine women that often embody the most transgressive versions of this sexuality (and the women who dare to like them) have often been the least sympathetic, most pathological characters. Today I can appreciate these stereotypes for their camp value (as was hysterically exploited in The L Word storyline when Helena was sent to jail), but it is hard to forget how harmful these images have been in mainstream history.

The movie versions of this form have been around since at least the 1940s, but Australian television's long-running cult hit soap opera Prisoner: Cellblock H (1979-1986) is most responsible for bringing these fascinating women into our living rooms. The entire series is now available on DVD, but you can watch one of its more tender lesbian sequences (complete with requisite prison guard bull-dyke Miss Joan "the Freak" Ferguson) here thanks to my YT hero Xihymn:

Another prominent and far more sympathetic example is the popular German drama Hinter Gittern - Der Frauenknast (trans. Behind Bars - The Women's Prison) which ran for 16 seasons from 1997-2007. HG included a number of compelling lesbian subplots, but there are few, if any, English translations. You can get the idea, though, by watching some of the YT video compilations made by my heroes Olessa , Anniko6 and Pratchett, among others. Turkish television produced a series based on HG called Parmakliklar Ardinda in 2007, but I haven't been able to find any lesbian content around this show yet. My favorite of these women in prison stories, so far, is definitely the unconventional relationship between warden Helen Stewart and inmate Nikki Wade from the first three seasons of the U.K.'s very popular primetime drama Bad Girls (1999-2006). I stumbled upon this program on Netflix, of all places, but fed my addiction through YouTube and Joost. For those of you who haven't experienced the chemistry of this unlikely pair played by Simone Lahbib and Mandana Jones, I envy you. Bad Girls is available on DVD (only the first season is in U.S. format), Logo has been airing the series and there are probably hundreds of YT videos devoted to the show. Actual episodes are often uploaded in 10-minute increments, but they are usually quickly removed for copyright infringement, so if you find one, watch it soon. Here is one video that I really love that won't spoil the show for you featuring the Scottish actress Simone Lahbib.

Can someone please explain to me what it is about this woman's accent that makes me want to go out and commit a crime? Enjoy these and stay out of trouble!



Comments [45]

xihymn's picture

There's not nearly enough

There's not nearly enough reference to Prisoner Cell Block H in this discussion.

TheInsomniac's picture

Here's the link for a YT

Here's the link for a YT playlist of Die Leibwaechterin (also starring Ulrike Folkerts) thanks to BetweenThaLines:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4w3GAy9-tMw
Yes, A-KK is very compelling--who could resist her?!!

Ich wuensche Ihnen einen shoenen Abend, Annemarlen!

Insomniac

TheInsomniac's picture

Yes! A-KK, very

Yes! A-KK, very compelling!!
Here's the link for Die Leibwachterin. You can watch the whole movie as a playlist thanks to BetweenThaLines:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4w3GAy9-tMw

I'm sure I've done that Sie + forename thing many a time!!

Insomniac

annemarlen's picture

Same mind here, expect that I

Same mind here, expect that I haven't seen Die Leibwächterin (with Barbara Rudnik?).

I thought Ann-Kathrin Kramer in Die Konkurrentin was very sympathico (and hot at the same moment.)

I love this "Sie" adress too, we can say "Sie" sometimes in such a friendly but sexy way, thats very special for our culture, i think so.

But the best were those Americans speaking German and saying "Sie" but my forename. :?

love is a pebble laughing in the sun

TheInsomniac's picture

Hallo Annemarlen!! Thanks for

Hallo Annemarlen!!
Thanks for that link -- I've seen the 1931 version of MU but not that one!! GZSZ was Franzi and Paula and then just Paula and now she appears to be leaving the show for "Canada." I agree the F/P stuff was painful to watch. I think I only stuck with it to practice my German. HG: at first I thought "Walter" character was a negative stereotype but when I really paid attention I saw she was very sympathetic. And yeah,that actress is totally cool!
I've been getting the YouTube clips of Carla/Stella almost everyday from YT uploaders Mittag and Bienchen1981. The subscription feature makes it really easy. I must say I am LOVING it!!! There's something so sexy to me about how they are using the "Sie" address! (Something we don't really have in the States.)

There are also two movies I really enjoyed on YT: Die Leibwachterin and Die Konkurrentin. I thought the acting in these was fantastic (and Barbara Rudnik was SO hot.)

Vielen dank fur deine anmerkungen!

Insomniac

annemarlen's picture

Hi insomniac, how are you

Hi insomniac, how are you with our german tv-series? I'm sorry for not having answered your last question, but I'm so not a fan of GZSZ. With those new girls coming in, was it first Paula and than Franzi or.. I stopped to watch any epsode. Guess my teen time really is over. ;D

But Hinter Gittern - Der Frauenknast (trans. Behind Bars - The Women’s Prison) in my mind is simply odd stuff. If i want see girls in uniform, I think i watch once more this ol same named movie with Lilli Palmer and Romy Schneider.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FxfqMaM5fDc

But I still saw some HG eps, since Katy Karrenbauer is a very cool and fascinating person, it's worthy to watch all stuff with her.

Btw, have you seen the new episodes with Carla and Stella, I'm really curious, how this will unfold the next months.

love is a pebble laughing in the sun

Lezbeth's picture

Yeparoo.

Yeparoo.

LongBeachDogLover's picture

X.......... 1 in gay

X..........

1 in gay years........ actually, that's very sweet. Wink

LBDL
xxoo

Not2Taem's picture

1-the oral fixation stage. ;)

1-the oral fixation stage. Wink

Not2Taem's picture

Damn, that was her! LOL

Damn, that was her! LOL

TheInsomniac's picture

Lezbeth! I think I was just

Lezbeth!
I think I was just compelled by H's Scottish accent at first and then what started happening to her really pulled me in. I agree with you on the humor potential for Alice. Re: your comment below about Peggy Peabody/family style -- was she the margarine lady?
Thanks for your comment!

Insomniac

TheInsomniac's picture

see above

see above

Insomniac

Lezbeth's picture

I tried to watch Bad Girls

I tried to watch Bad Girls several times, but it never caught my interest. For me, it had no compelling qualities about it, nothing that made me want to keep watching.

I don't have a problem with the name of the spin-off (although it is pretty weird). I'm just looking forward to "Alice" going through the throes of incarceration reality. That lends itself to some pretty funny material.

Lezbeth's picture

I missed the reference, but I

I missed the reference, but I loved the scene where Peggy Peabody proposed a booty check, then "serving it up family style." Could "family style" have been a reference to "it's not nice to fool mother nature?"

peacekitty's picture

Yep, "corny, horny scene"

Yep, "corny, horny scene" describes it well. It was really stupid, but (and I can't believe I'm saying this) JB does orgasm well on tv. lol

Gawd we really do need another lesbian show to talk about.

"Fight Prime Time. Read a Book"

peacekitty's picture

Oh I thought that was so

Oh I thought that was so campy and fun..that was the only prison scene in the L-word that I liked.

"Fight Prime Time. Read a Book"

TheInsomniac's picture

I meant ...series of

I meant ...series of women-in-prison movies... sorry didn't mean to confuse her with Tex's admirers. };)

Insomniac

Not2Taem's picture

She was in a series of women!

She was in a series of women! Shock

LOL

TheInsomniac's picture

The other one I liked was

The other one I liked was when Kit (ie. Pam Grier, ie. Foxy Brown, etc.) strutted down the hall between the cells to visit Helena. She was in a series of women in prison exploitation movies in the early 70's for those young'ns/for'ners who missed that reference.

Insomniac

Steph H's picture

And that maks me very happy!!

And that maks me very happy!! Smile

Not2Taem's picture

Adding it to my thesaurus! :D

Adding it to my thesaurus! Laughing out loud

Xanadu's picture

Stupid, dumb, cliche'd, corny

Stupid, dumb, cliche'd, corny = naff

Not2Taem's picture

Nice 1! :D

Nice 1! Laughing out loud

Not2Taem's picture

Fastgurrrly, Try juxtaposing

Fastgurrrly,

Try juxtaposing the image next to some of the scenes from the Ug, Ug, her video....

Still surprised?

Evil

Not2Taem's picture

I thought the LW bit with

I thought the LW bit with Bette and Candace in the little local jail was PFF. I could just see Bette taking herself so seriously in that circumstance and really believing in the corny horny scene.

Laughing out loud

Not2Taem's picture

naff? Please translate for

naff? Please translate for the insulated egocentric american.

TheInsomniac's picture

Hey Erin! Stranger Inside

Hey Erin!
Stranger Inside (2001) Yeah, that was a good one.
BTW, Opie did the still photography for that movie.

Insomniac

Erin Blackwell's picture

Prisoner: Cellblock H hot

Prisoner: Cellblock H hot stuff
bulldyke, bulldyke, rah rah rah
didn't cheryl dunye do a prison thing for hbo? showtime? but maybe that was GRITTY
great genre

TheInsomniac's picture

Blimey, did you say blimey...

Blimey, did you say blimey... LOVE that!!!

Insomniac

Steph H's picture

Howdy! Blimey, that's a

Howdy!
Blimey, that's a question. A few here and there early on but I always found it very cliched and naff. Like I said, perhaps to close to the bone on some levels...
Steph

TheInsomniac's picture

Happy birthday! :)

Happy birthday! Smile

Insomniac

Xanadu's picture

Greetings! I believe the

Greetings!

I believe the fire was in the Series 4 final.

Funny, I don't actually remember any Lesbian relationships / action in Bad Girls!??! ... But that was before I was OUT - so maybe I watched it with my house-mates and squirmed along with them (in a form of denial)!

I'm only 1 (in gay years)!

TheInsomniac's picture

Good evening X! I don't

Good evening X!
I don't remember that happening in the first three seasons.(Believe it or not, I don't actually have a television so I've only seen what's been available on line or on DVD.) I know there were other girl/girl relationships after Helen/Nikki -- were any of them worth watching? I also admit to fast-forwarding through many of the other characters' scenes... The amount of shit Mr. Fenner got caught doing and still kept his job was hard to believe. I thought the sharked jumped over his character by the second season. I was always surprised by how the H/N story unfolded though.
Well, like Steph H. said above, maybe I bought their story because I am unfamiliar with the British prison system. The show made it seem much more civil than ours in the States.

The I

I

Insomniac

Xanadu's picture

Bad Girls lost me when there

Bad Girls lost me when there was a fire and then the series returned like nothing had happened (missing some characters, if I remember correctly?) ... that was weird.

TheInsomniac's picture

As a punishment for a thought

As a punishment for a thought crime?!!

Insomniac

minniesota's picture

Oh, yes, I remember Prisoner:

Oh, yes, I remember Prisoner: Cellblock H. May I be locked up with Helena?

Still searching for the right brainy quote.

TheInsomniac's picture

I'm hoping for a little more

I'm hoping for a little more humor myself!

I

Insomniac

TheInsomniac's picture

Hey Steph! Just curious...

Hey Steph!
Just curious... How many episodes did you watch?
Thanks,
The I

Insomniac

TheInsomniac's picture

Desire for a paycheck? Out

Desire for a paycheck?
Out lesbian looking for acting work... :0

Insomniac

TheInsomniac's picture

Hey AngieInChi! I must admit

Hey AngieInChi!
I must admit I'm looking forward to Jenny's off-ing too.
Does that make me a bad person?
About the smothered thing--the film genre has almost without exception been exploitive and aimed at a straight male audience who fantasizes about what it would be like to have so much:
a) access to a disempowered group of women who are presumed to be liars (so no one would believe them)
c) moral "permission" to mistreat these women because they are bad (therefore deserving of harm)
b) physical control over their bodies/movements/social contact
d) feelings of their own "desirability" because they imagine that they would be among the few men around so women would be interested in them (het. presumption of course.)
e) confirmation that butch women are worse than they are.

-- "Smothered" does seem like the right word.

-- Yet, while Hinter Gittern and Bad Girls certainly contain their share of examples of this mistreatment, both are also resounding indictments of the prison system (especially with regard to women.) I was shocked by how much feminist social commentary there was in Bad Girls. I also only watched the first three seasons so I can't really say what happened to it after that. I'll be watching "The Farm" with a suspicious eye but I'm really glad I've found Carla, Maca, Pepa, etc. on European television so I have an alternative.
Sure wish we did in the U.S.
Thanks for your comment!
The Insomniac

Insomniac

AngieInChi's picture

OMG "The Farm"? Seriously?

OMG "The Farm"? Seriously? Couldn't IC have come up with a better name to call the show? I'm kinda not looking forward to that spinoff. Something about prison films and shows make me feel so smothered. I have to admit, I'm excited about seeing Jenny die on TLW, though.

Maybe that's why I'm afraid of prison shows. Its the killer instinct in me. Hmmm ...

peacekitty's picture

Oh I do too. I watched about

Oh I do too. I watched about a half of an episode, grew bored and a little disgusted and never watched again.

I do hope Chaiken's The Farm (if it gets picked up) isn't quite like that. Stare

"Fight Prime Time. Read a Book"

Steph H's picture

I wholeheartedly agree. Pass

I wholeheartedly agree. Pass the naff bucket....

Fastgurrrl's picture

Tentatively named THE fucking

Tentatively named THE fucking FARM?!

What's up with you, Leisha?

Steph H's picture

Perhaps we are more criticial

Perhaps we are more criticial of our own, but I find Bad Girls beyond cringey....