Monday, September 7, 2009

A Pebble In My Shoe

Have you ever put on a pair of shoes and gone off for a walk only to discover, a few steps into your walk, that there's something inside the shoe that's irritating the hell out of you? Of course you have - everyone has experienced this at one time or another. What drives me nuts about this is, most times I'll find a reasonable place to stop, lean, and take off my shoe, give it a good shake, put the shoe back on, and proceed with my walk - only to find, three or four steps later, that whatever was irritating me before is still there. I almost always end up having to find a place where I can actually sit down, pull my shoe off, and stick my hand inside to feel around for the elusive irritant. When I find it, it's usually something tiny. A tiny pebble, not much bigger than a grain of rice. Amazing that something that small could cause so much discomfort.

I feel this way about Otalia. As sweet as the idea is of the two characters coming together, at last, and building a life together, something is just so irritating. And it's not just the lack of on-screen intimacy (something which bugs me, and which is stupid, but which I pretty much figured, months ago, we would never see.) It's more than that, and I think I've finally put a finger on it. 

Anyone who reads this blog is fully aware of the how I feel about Natalia's return to Springfield, and how weak the explanation of her absence has been. On Friday, we witnessed Olivia making the decision to attend Natalia's sonogram, and take her rightful place beside the woman she loves as they embark on the adventure of building a somewhat unconventional family. The head butt-instead-of a kiss bugged me, but I'm used to that - we're all used to it, by now - so what was it that diminished the potential sweetness of that scene and irritated me the way a tiny pebble would irritate my foot and ruin a nice walk down 5th Avenue on Saturday afternoon? It's Natalia. She's that little pebble in my shoe, and here's why.

When Natalia and Frank have their little heart-to-heart about having this baby, and why Natalia wants Olivia in the baby's life, she doesn't talk about the fact that she's in love with Olivia, or that Olivia is the only person she can conceive of raising this baby with. She talks about how she wants the baby to be surrounded by as much family as possible. That's a lovely sentiment. It's also the exact same sentiment that one could use for wanting Harley or Daisy to have a role in the baby's life. It speaks nothing of the nature of Natalia's love for Olivia, or of what we know is true: Natalia wants to raise her baby in a two-parent household, but she doesn't want to marry Frank to do this. Because she isn't in love with Frank. She's in love with Olivia. The very fact that the writers have had Natalia gloss over the nature of her feelings for Olivia is a watering down of the relationship we know they both hope to share. I mean, they've had the sex talk, with Natalia being the one to say that she definitely wanted and expected to have sex with Olivia. Now? Now what we're hearing is the Reader's Digest condensed version of It Takes A Village to Raise A Child: Olivia should be with Natalia because this baby needs all the people around to nurture it as possible. That's awfully sweet, but it's not terribly hot, or sexy. And, in fact, on the basis of what Natalia says to Frank about why she wants Olivia to be part of the baby's life, it's totally within the realm of possibility that what she's talking about is what Olivia described months ago: two best friends who love each other more than anything else in the world. And, um, isn't this what we've already seen in how they've unofficially been co-parenting Emma for a year or so? 

Sure, a baby needs love and nurturing and a sense of security. All good things. But I highly doubt any of us has tuned in to this particular story line for the past year to hear about wholesome child-rearing. If I'm mistaken, I'm sure I'll hear from people. Because what I think we've all tuned in for is the portrayal of a lesbian relationship, and all the talk of babies needing family pretty much erases the lesbian out of the relationship, and places the emphasis squarely on parenthood. I don't want to hear about how Natalia wants her baby to be surrounded by good people. I want to hear about how Natalia wants to share the experience of having a baby with the woman she is in love with, the woman she wants to grow old with, the woman she wants to have sex with. These are two very different propositions. The former is a Goddamned pebble in my shoe that feels like a boulder. The latter would be a partial satisfaction of all we were promised. 


MJinTenn said...

ISTFA, Snapper.

A loving and healthy lesbian relationship is a far cry from any scenario in The Children's Hour, but so is co-parenting a child conceived in a pity fuck. So, why couldn't we get the former instead of the latter? I'm as mystified as I usually am.

Anonymous said...

What GL gives with one hand they take away with another. I had the same thought when I heard the line the writers gave to Natalia. Buzz and Marina are family. Olivia is her girlfriend/wife. The writing is so schizophrenic. In earlier scenes the type of relationship Nat and Olivia desire has been made clear in words. Nat said to Doris that Olivia was the love of her life. An important statement, considering that Natalia's first scene on the show consisted of her proclaiming Gus to be the love of her life. She clearly stated to Liv she does not want to be casual friends, she is in love with her. Frank has repeatedly stated that he understands that Nat is in love with Olivia and wants to raise the baby with her (presumably b/c she loves her). Olivia says she loves Nat more than she has ever loved anyone else. Then Nat says about wanting Olivia around as family. Is the audience supposed to interpret it as a response to Blake's earlier suggestion to not include Olivia in everything. Nat seemed to blow Blake's suggestion off but maybe this was supposed to be her response. Is she trying to appease or convince Frank? Did the writers put in this line to appease the queasy homophobes? I'm confused.

Snapper said...

Anonymous - I didn't in any way interpret Blake's comments to mean that Olivia shouldn't be included. Watch the scene, again: she never suggested Olivia not be included. What she was addressing was how involved Frank *should/would* be, and I actually agree with her 100%. I know there are a lot of people who think Frank should not have any involvement, at all, but I think that's an incredibly nasty and heterophobic. Yes, heterophobic. Like him or not, Frank is the father of that baby. He's not a dead beat, never has been. Few of us would suggest to a straight woman who has a child with perfectly decent and responsible man that getting a new man in her life means disconnecting her child from his/her biological dad. Hate Frank all you like (I don't), it doesn't change the fact that he's the biological father of this child and a responsible person who wouldn't turn his back on his own family. He wouldn't, and he shouldn't be asked to. more than my nephew's dad should have disappeared just because my sister remarried.

If we want same-sex relationships to become a normal part of the American television scene, viewers will have to face the fact that gay couples have to deal with a lot of the same shit straight couples do - it's a part of life. If you have pity sex with someone and end up having a baby nine months later? There's an excellent chance you will be connected, on some level, to Mr. Pity Sex for the rest of your life, because you have a child together. Even if you're a dyke.

ocean1blue said...

Ironically, the person Natalia made her love very clear to was Rafe. When he said the baby was a sign from God and now she could marry Frank, Nat actually raised her voice and said, "No I can't. I'm in love with Olivia." And she told Doris, "She is the love of my life." She just hasn't said it to Olivia! It is frustrating that the love story has been backburnered by the whole idiotic, lame, pregnancy, runaway story arc, but I think the writers just dug themselves into a big hole of stupid that they can't get out of. I am pinning all my hopes on the future and the next 2 weeks. If ever we needed a Hail Mary pass; this is it.

Rikita said...

I've fanwanked that Nat was trying to keep things smooth with Frank by saying what she said. She was still hoping for Olivia to be more than a friend but wanted to keep Frank on board with all of the people she loves having some sort of a role. I think Frank knew the real deal as soon as he disappeared from view when Otalia spotted each other.

I hate most of how this has all played out including wasting 3 precious weeks on the repetitive wooing and waiting declarations, but it was time to move it along already. The women together working out the where and how of their togetherness needs to happen now. I'm pretty sure there is still a lot coming up that will be unsatisfying. I'm just gonna take off my shoes and stop walking until the last episode has aired. It's the safest way to get through it.

Anonymous said...

At some point [hard to say when b/c of the delays b/w planning, writing, shooting, screening, airing of episodes, as well as the timing of the cancellation etc] some a-hole in charge woke up to the fact that Otalia was THE sexiest hottest couple GL has seen in a long time [shayna a close 2nd], and arguably one of the sexiest on all current running soaps, and this all before they ever really got soap-intimate [as intimate as any soap now allows]. And for whatever reason they just could not stand that.

Fans were happy and excited to have a same sex story line on GL. But fans became OBSESSED and THRILLED with that story b/c of the dynamic b/w these two women - the sizzling sensuality that projected right through the screen whenever they were on. That just freaked someone out. And you know, I kind of understand that. Lesbian love can be extremely intense and sizzling, and that threatens some people.

No matter how this story was pitched or presented or green-lighted at the start [label-less love?], the way it played out was that CC and JL [bless their heterosexual hearts] and their characters Olivia and Natalia just ignite the screen with unstoppable chemistry, and the only thing that would make sense as the story progressed was for them to eventually have a passionate encounter. It could have been very tasteful, it could have been romaticised [you know, candles and vasaline on the lense] - but it HAD to happen - it was like a boulder rolling downhill, gaining momentum as it went. [For long time fans, it was in some ways like the Phillip/Olivia chemistry - inevitable and explosive].

So who ever was freaked out by that decided that HAD to stop, be derailed, desexualized, changed. Not sure exactly why - there are many forms of homophobia - could be personal bigotry, paranoid fear of losing ratings, pressure from advertizers - who knows - at this point who cares - but it is quite clear that the story changed, the writing changed, the plot changed,all to that disruptive end - and we end up with this weak lame finish - weak and lame in terms of the love, the romance, the relationship b/w the WOMEN - which is the central element of any family is it not? The only thing that keeps it alive at all is that same Otalia chemistry, which is so strong it still survives even in this weak and muted forehead bumping form - remarkable in and of itself.

Its great GL has these women end up raising a family together - sure - but all of the weird, stilted, pebble-in-the-shoe, annoying crap we have seen for weeks now stems from that decision to cut out the very heart of the story [pun intended] - the incandescent love and desire that was Otalia. RIP.