Why We Need More Sapphic Relationships on Genre Shows

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Those of us who watch genre shows understand the importance of needing an escape when real life gets too crazy.

We live for those few hours a week where we can just sit back, relax, and let the stress from our lives melt away with a new adventure. 

Genre shows have always provided that outlet for anyone who needs to get away.

Canon & Non-Canon Sapphic Relationships

But lately, it hasn't been enough. There seems to be something missing. Genre shows have great characters and intriguing plots, but their dynamics haven't been up to par.

It's not specifically the dynamics themselves, but rather, their lack of representation.

We just can't help but notice there are plenty of romances between those of the opposite sex, and even several between two men.

But there are very few for sapphic women. We don't even get confirmation that some of these women might be bisexual. They're just presumed to be straight.

Female Characters People Headcanon as LGBTQ+

And yet, headcanons thrive on many female characters being LGBTQ+ or relationships between women to be romantic.

There's a reason why there are so many fanon sapphic relationships – TV viewers want to see them played out in front of their eyes.

They want to watch women make the transition from friends, enemies, co-workers, whatever they may be, into romantic partners -- all while on a swashbuckling adventure.

Sapphic relationships have broken more ground in contemporary real-world shows, but it isn't the same.

Genre TV is the most promising for interesting storylines and complex dynamics. It gives promising sapphic relationships their best chance for quality development. 

Swan Queen

Genre shows these days usually have a perfect sapphic pairing to make canon, and yet, they never take the leap. 

Take Once Upon a Time, for example. Emma Swan and Regina Mills were one of fanon's biggest couples, and for good reason. They had amazing potential for one of the most classic tropes – enemies to friends to lovers. 

Regina vs. Emma

And let's face it, we all know that if either Emma or Regina were a man, they would have been canon. I mean, come on, they even share a son and built a solid relationship between them and with their son, Henry.

In the end, Once Upon a Time was just one of those shows that presented the best dynamics between women, but fell short of giving them (and their viewers) LGBTQ+ happy endings (it was only in the last season where they had a prominent canon relationship between two women).

We can't forget one of the most popular fanon femslash ships – Kara Danvers and Lena Luthor from Supergirl, dubbed by fans as SuperCorp.

Lena and Kara - Supergirl Season 5 Episode 13

From Lena's first appearance, sparks flew between the two women.

It isn't even only from the audience's imagination; there's plenty of subtext between the two characters. But clearly, the writers of Supergirl only have plans to bait SuperCorp fans.

But there's still Alex Danvers - who's currently dating Kelly Olsen. 

Kelly and Alex - Supergirl Season 5 Episode 14

So why is SuperCorp important, especially since Alex and Kelly also have the benefit of racial representation in addition to sapphic representation?

Because neither Alex nor Kelly are the show's leads. Viewers want to see Kara killing it as a badass feminist superhero, and then have her come home to a girlfriend.

Or at least have it canon that she's interested in women.

Supergirl planted the seed for Kara and Lena. They watered it very little and gave it minimal sunlight, but they were never truly given a chance to grow.


Then there's Legacies. At least the show has canon LGBTQ+ characters.

Recently, they revealed that Hope Mikaelson had a crush on Josie Saltzman, making the lead of the show a canon bisexual.

And Josie Saltzman has been openly bisexual since the very beginning of the show.

She even had a tumultuous relationship with Penelope Park during Legacies Season 1.


But Legacies hasn't connected the dots between Hope and Josie.

At one point, they each had a crush on the other, but they were only ever friends. They even both liked Landon in the first half of Legacies Season 2 before he ultimately chose Josie.

Imagine how powerful this relationship could be. All this wasted potential on an overplayed love triangle trope -- two friends fighting for the same boy. Boring.

But two best friends realizing they have feelings for each other? Now we're talking!

Getting Pulled Back - Legacies

Of course, we shouldn't take sapphic representation for granted. There are a few genre TV shows that do have the representation -- but it's often at a price.

Take Thundergrace for example -- the relationship between Anissa Pierce and Grace Choi on the CW's Black Lightning. 

They're the representation we wanted, but just like with Alex and Kelly, neither Anissa nor Grace are the show's leads.

Furthermore, they cannot be considered the show's main couple, especially when so many of their relationship milestones are left out. 

Engaged - Black Lightning Season 3 Episode 16

There's Nico Minoru and Karolina Dean from Marvel's Runaways. Both of them were leads, and together, known as Deanoru, they made up the main romance.

But the show was cut short. After only three seasons, consisting of 33 episodes in total, Marvel's Runaways ended.


One show that comes to mind where a sapphic relationship is not only the main couple but also, one of the characters plays the lead, is in the CW's Batwoman. 

But yet again, this show falls short. While the representation is, for the most part, positive, it's like the casting director of the show just chose Hollywood's token lesbian to play Kate Kane/Batwoman, wanting to appeal to straight viewers rather than LGBTQ+ viewers.

And then there's the fact that Kate Kane is supposed to be Jewish, which Ruby Rose, isn't.

Sapphic representation cannot truly be good if the character and/or relationship falls short in ethnic or racial representation. 

Secret No More - Batwoman Season 1 Episode 2

In short, it's not enough. We may seem picky in what we look for -- but LGBTQ+ viewers just want wholesome representation when it comes to sapphic relationships on genre television.

We want to watch Emma Swan fight villains, and then come home to Regina Mills, the ultimate example of villain-turned-hero.

We want to see Kara Danvers and Lena Luthor fall in love without being baited into watching. We want more screentime for Alex Danvers and Kelly Olsen.

We want Anissa Pierce and Grace Choi to have a spin-off show, focused on them. We want Marvel's Runaways to have at least three more seasons.

And of course, we want casting directors to make wise casting choices, and follow a character's ethnic origins.

First Appearance of Batwoman Season 1 Episode 1

We shouldn't take the LGBTQ+ representation on television these days for granted, but we can also do better. Especially when it comes to genre television.

We still crave for the 'L' and/or 'B' part of the acronym on our screens.

So what do you think, TV Fanatics?

Do you think genre TV shows could use more sapphic relationships? Or do you think other television shows need the representation more? 

Leave us your thoughts in the comments below!

Sarah Novack is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

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