In The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, back in 2013, there was exactly one queer character. He was a side character with an offscreen love interest created solely so that people wouldn’t ship him with Lizzie at that pivotal point in the story.
2014 was when LIWs really took off, and it was also when there were the greatest differences in LGBTQ+ representation (though no one was very good at it yet). Series like Emma Approved and Green Gables Fables (we’re talking Season One here) had none. Other series, like From Mansfield With Love, made a side character who didn’t have a love interest be gay. So far, no one was really gender-bending or reimagining anything to make it gayer.
But Shakespeare is about the gayest off-copyright source material there is, so it was pretty much impossible to correctly adapt Shakespeare and make it end up totally straight.
From our 2017 standpoint, NMTD looks pretty heterosexual, but it was actually about as queer as any LIW can be without departing from the source material (though we’ll get to Twelfth Grade a little later on). Hero’s moms, though absent, are accepted by everyone, as is Balthazar, who is of course very gay despite never using that word in NMTD (The Candle Wasters really don’t like actually saying things, do they?). But it was Pedro’s coming out that really changed the tides. Goodbye queerbaiting, hello to the possibility of onscreen characters entering into non-heterosexual relationships.
2015 was a transition year in many ways. It was no longer acceptable to make an LIW without some form of queer representation, but the methods were all over the place. Some LIWs put a queer pairing center stage – Pedrazar being the prime example, however you feel about LLL – while most series started to create queer side pairings, either through gender-bending or through creating new arcs for the characters. A few examples of this from 2015 would be George Squared from Call Me Katie, Smarling from The New Adventures of Peter and Wendy, and Jamie and Isabella from Northbound. Of course, some LIWs still did LBD-style representation – The Misselthwaite Archives comes to mind – but it was now because the creators wanted queer representation and not because they wanted to avert certain het ships.
Then 2016 happened. We, the viewers, were no longer willing to tolerate entirely cishet shows. 2016 saw the rise of trans and genderqueer LIW characters at long last – Puck in Bright Summer Night and Serena in The Adventures of Serena Berg being the prime examples – as well as multiple characters on the ace spectrum. And with the rise of young, bisexual webseries creators, the number of bisexual characters skyrocketed.
So let’s talk about Twelfth Grade for a minute. I won’t lie and call this series the gayest thing I’ve ever seen, but it is probably the biest. All three of the leads are bisexual, and no one is straight. Literally no one. And no matter who you shipped, it was likely a possibility if not a reality. Again, this was made possible by the source material, which is just about the biest thing ever written, and by the new LIW atmosphere, which was demanding – and getting – the queer representation that just doesn’t exist anywhere else.
Gender-bending skyrocketed in 2016, both with side characters and with mains. And now, in 2017, cishet characters are starting to be the minority. The Emma Agenda and Middlemarch: The Series, my two favorite currently-airing LIWs, have both gender-bent logically and competently all over the place in order to keep canon mostly intact while also making it much, much more diverse. Very few current LIW ships are m/f, and of those, even fewer characters are completely heterosexual.
We’ve come a long way since the days of LBD. and we couldn’t have gotten here without a lot of hard work and thinking and the bravery to tell stories the way we wanted them told. I’m not saying heterosexuality should vanish from LIWs, but I think that the direction we’ve come in is the right one. When a series like NLTS or MMTS gives the same amount of drama to queer pairings as to straight ones, when characters like Roxanne Roberts or Bathsheba Everdeen struggle with their identities in relatable ways, it normalizes every part of the human experience and continues to make LIWs the most representative form of media I know.
While I know I skipped a lot of important moments and didn’t mention several very diverse series, I used examples that I hope most people will be familiar with and that won’t be too spoilery.
LIW creators: keep doing what you’re doing. It is noticed and appreciated. Thank you.
I’m posting this a second time because it’s just not showing up animated for me in my last post, and I suspect therefore that it isn’t animating for anyone else. I think file size might be the issue, so I’ve scrimped on visual quality on this version in the hopes that it will actually work.
Summary: In which a meal out with her best friends may lead to something a little more.
Dedicated too: Lana Del Rey, for bringing me inspiration when nobody else can xo
“Come on, we need to leave,” (Y/N) whines as she stands beside the front door, checking the time on her phone and sighing, tapping her foot against the floor impatiently. “Conor, hurry up!”
“Alright, keep your panties on.” He chuckles, shrugging on his bomber jacket and throwing one of his spares at her once he saw what she was wearing. “Put that on. You’ll freeze your ass off in that dress.” She rolls her eyes and folds her arms across her chest, raising her eyebrows and throwing him a pointed look. He coughs and glances down at his watch with an apologetic shrug. “Right, yeah. Sorry for taking so long.”
She laughs and shakes her head, opening the door after equipping the oversized jacket and motioning to it with her hand. “Fuck gender roles, gentlemen first.”
He playfully swoons, strutting out into the hall and glancing back at her over his shoulder dramatically, causing her to giggle as she walked out and locked up. He whistles lowly as his eyes trail down her body, the bomber jacket only coming a few inches down her thigh and the dress barely covering much more. “I see tonight is a leg night.”
“It could be worse.” She smirks, threading her arm through his as they walked through the hallway and toward the stairs that lead to the buildings main exit. He looks down in confusion, and so she elaborates. “I bought this new set of underwear yesterday, and honestly, I considered wearing them under that huge faux fur coat I have: like the women in the movies do.”
He throws his head back and laughs, the image of his bestfriend in nothing but an outrageously obnoxious fur coat in Central London on a Saturday night too amusing to not imagine. “You mean the women who want to seduce their men?” He asks, and she nods silently as they walk through the double doors and out into the dark street. “But in order to seduce your man, don’t you actually have to have- oh I don’t know, have a man, who’s yours?”
Groaning, she pushes him slightly but laughs at his comment nonetheless. He had a point, having a man to seduce in the first place would help her cause: but for now, her LBD and Conor’s bomber jacket seemed more appropriate than the fur coat and her underwear.
She pulls the jacket closer to her frame as they walked at least twenty yards before finding their Uber driver, who apologised continuously but explained how he’d gotten completely lost within the windy streets.
The warm interior of the car is greatly appreciated, especially when Conor pulled out his phone and began to make snapchat videos, tilting his phone toward her every now and then so that she could say her piece of simply make a funny face. By the time they reached the restaurant, she’d already counted out the cash and handed it to the polite driver with a smile.
She and Conor hang back for a while, making sure that they didn’t have any unanswered messages or emails that they needed to address before deciding that they were good to go. That was one out their routine procedures, after a messy night out had ended with two important business emails being ignored and nineteen calls from a very worried mother.
They walk into the restaurant with smiles imprinted not their faces, immediately laying eyes on their friends who all looked up from the menu’s one after the other. (Y/N) unhook: her arm from Conor’s and greets them all with a wide smile, overjoyed to be in the company of her best friends after a week of having to socialise with people whom she really had no interest in at all.
Eventually she sits down, with Jack on her left and Mikey on her right, both boys pointing out meals that they’d had before and recommended. The names were all foreign to her, and she scrunched up her nose and shook her head after each suggestion, instead deciding to stick with her tried and trusted chicken and avocado house salad.
She notices the camera in Joe’s hand the moment he lifts it up off of the table and points it toward her. He laughs and moves it between herself and Conor with a cheeky tut. “Look who decided to join us, late as always!”
She gasps and throws a crouton at him, looking over at Conor and narrowing her eyes at him. “Well, Mr Maynard, are you gonna tell them why we’re late or am I gonna have to do it for you?” When he rolls his eyes and looks away innocently, she laughs and turns back to face Joe with a wink. “Let’s just say, someone has to sing atleast five songs in the shower before even considering getting out.”
Jack snorts, causing (Y/N) to turn toward him and watch as he smirks and glances toward his older brother with his eyebrows raised. “I can’t believe you still have to do that.” He shakes his head and takes a sip of his beer. “Used to take us hours to get ready for school because that little shit would refuse to get out of the shower when mum told him too.”
“My older sister used to have to eat half of a bowl of one cereal, and then use a different bowl with another half a bowl of different cereal. My mum used to say she could only do things in halves.” (Y/N) vocalises, a slight smile on her face as she rests her elbows onto the table top and looks over at her bestfriend with a smug smile. “Con, you know you’re my ride or die, but your habits are fucking annoying.”
He lifts his hand to cover his heart in mock hurt, blowing her a sarcastic kiss before turning back to Josh and continuing to chat to him about god knows what.
She turns back to smile at Jack, but her expression falters when she sees small frown on his face. “What’s wrong?”
He blinks quickly and shakes his head. “Nothing- nothing. I guess I just understand why people ship you guys so much.”
If she hadn’t known him for so many years, she wouldn’t have caught the jealousy in his tone, but she had, and she did. She purses her lips to hide her smirk and leans in closely, resting her hand on his thigh and eying the rest of the table as she breathed against his neck. “You wanna know a secret?"He hums, resting his hand on her thigh just as she had his just seconds before. Breathing shallowly, she brushes the tip of her nose against his ear and smirks. "If I had to kiss a Maynard brother, I wouldn’t pick Conor.”
May 4,1929 was the day Audrey Hepburn was born. She would have been 85 years old. She was born in Brussels, lived in London before moving to Hollywood to become the iconic film star we know her to be. Initially a dancer then actress and lastly a humanitarian, her legacy lives on. Rarely has an actress continued to be so present day relevant as Audrey Hepburn is. Her onscreen style choices still dictate the fashion industry. Everything from lace eye coverings to hats, pearls and the LBD. And what is now the norm for actors to align with humanitarian efforts, it was Audrey Hepburn who was a pioneer for this movement.
On the eve of the annual Met Ball where actresses are paired with designers, it was Hubert de Givenchy that Audrey Hepburn developed a lifelong relationship with. Above is a sketch and the actual costume of one of his designs for her from Paris When It Sizzles. Of course we all know of the image from Breakfast At Tiffany’s. She didn’t flip flop when it came to style, instead opting to build and evolve with one designer. Near the end of her life when she was diagnosed with a rare form of stomach cancer and too weak to fly back to Switzerland, it was her friend Givenchy who arranged for a private jet via “Bunny"Mellon to take her back home to Geneva to be with her family, where she passed away on June 20, 1993 at home.
I recall where I was and what was happening in my life that day. It was a friend’s birthday and I was somehow tasked with arranging the large dinner party for family & friends at an Italian restaurant. It was the spirit of Audrey Hepburn that influenced my choice in his birthday gift. The thought "What Would Audrey Do?” (now a book!). I decided on a vintage pocket watch.
One question I am always asked is “whose your favourite celebrity?” I don’t have one. After years of working with celebrities I realised they are only such when it comes to other - the public or their fans in extreme settings. Otherwise they are … like the rest of us - human. But if I had to go for an extended lunch with a celebrity I admired on multiple levels, Audrey Hepburn would top that list. She seemed to be comfortable as a flawed human, sharing of herself with grace and seemingly negotiated the ups and downs of stardom with an elegance and humanity that is rare these days. Her beauty seemed to literally shine from the inside out of her face. She was also, like me, an introvert.
Beyond her mind blowing & awe inspiring style choices and quirky roles in Charade, Sabrina and My Fair Lady, it was her work as a global ambassador to UNICEF that had the most impact on me. Seeing photos of her with children and the way a woman with a traumatic childhood of her own could commit to helping young people in countries ravaged by famine and war is how I ultimately remember her, not standing in the window of Tiffany’s the morning after the night before. She was one of those rare stars that we got to see age, naturally & gracefully.
The Guardian wrote a wonderful article about her today and here is the link. I hope you enjoy! ~ Sima