Predictable moral outcry notwithstanding, last week’s lesbian TV milestone -“ the first same-sex kiss on Neighbours -“ passed by without too much drama. For some of us it sparked a return to Ramsey St after a very long absence. As surprising as the sensitive way the writers tackled complex coming-out issues was the absolute crapness of the set. Is there really a hairdresser called A Good Hair Day? And whatever happened to the Christian coffee shop The Holy Roll?
Bridget Neval plays Lana Crawford, a baby dyke with a few issues. Like, she’s a lesbian in Erinsborough, a suburb that must figure quite low on the census same-sex couple stats. Crawford, a new girl in a new school, cracked on to a character called Sky Mangel who, if I’m not mistaken, is probably related to Joe and Mrs Mangel, who I think were still neighbours last time I watched.
Anyway, Lana and Sky’s kiss came at the end of some mucking around and was -“ as teenaged gay kisses with school friends generally are -“ regrettable. But the follow-on effect of Lana coming out to sympathetic cousin (who is strangely dating Toadfish) and the cousin reacting in a really nice way was good to see. It was also good to see Sky’s reaction: More let’s talk about it than get away from me, you lezzo freak.
It seems as though Neighbours actually wants Lana to be a sympathetic gay character, which must drive the nutters at the Christian lobby groups mad. But according to those responsible, it’s just another storyline.
On an official Neighbours website (at perfectblend.net) scriptwriter Helen MacWhirter and producer Luke Devenish have posted a conversation about Lana and why she’s on the show. MacWhirter says a previous teacher/student relationship was much more shocking than anything they’ve got in store for Lana.
Lana’s story is multi-faceted, she wrote. On one level it’s about a young girl coming to terms with her sexuality, which on its own might have been a bit boring and gratuitous, but it also brought into play other story strands which added depth and dimension.
Far from being sensationalist, I thought the story line as a whole sent some very positive and responsible messages, the kind that most parents would want to pass on to their kids.