With less than a month to go before the third-season premiere of Netflix's hot-and-heavy prison drama Orange Is the New Black, we thought we'd stoke excitement by recalling other shows that proudly featured glorious same-sex kissing, as OITNB is prone to do. In the beginning, it wasn't just a ploy for ratings or titillation, it was a rebellious and dangerous act.
History was made in 1991 when L.A. Law actors Amanda Donohoe and Michele Greene locked lips in network television’s first lesbian kiss. It was not uncommon for the Emmy-winning drama to push boundaries of traditional television, but this was really a daring move. (skip to 26:40)
ABC's Roseanne embraced controversy, including numerous gay-inclusive moments. In a 1994 episode, Roseanne shared a kiss with Mariel Hemingway, who played a lesbian stripper at a local gay bar. In a sign of the times, ABC prefaced the show with a parental guidance disclaimer.
In 2000, Dawson's Creek became the first network television show to air a passionate male-male kiss when actors Kerr Smith and Adam Kaufman wrestled tongues. "The truth is TV is a business of ratings," the episode's director, James Whitmore, said of the kiss. "If you've got something exciting that's going to happen on TV, everybody tunes in and watches it."
On a 1999 episode of dramedy Ally McBeal, actresses Calista Flockhart and Lucy Liu shared a romantic moment after their dinner together. Although this was not the first lesbian kiss on the show, it was the first not done to thwart creepy men hitting on Ally.
Xena: Warrior Princess
During the 1990s and 2000s, viewers excitedly watched actresses Lucy Lawless (Xena) and Renee O’Connor (Gabrielle) lock lips on several occasions, all while wondering if these two were gay or not. In an interview, Lucy Lawless stated Xena was “definitely gay.”
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
This satirical show was one of the first mainstream programs to portray an ongoing lesbian relationship. Although the pairing between Willow and Tara was no secret, the first kiss between the couple was not aired until the fifth season due to restrictions from the WB network.
Same-sex kissing on The Fosters is not out of the ordinary, considering the show is about a lesbian couple and their teenage foster kids. However, a recent episode made headlines for featuring TV's youngest gay kiss in history: It occurred between teenage characters Jude and Connor.
Will & Grace
Classic comedy Will & Grace had audiences cheering during a 2000 episode when Will and Jack locked lips. In the episode, Jack tunes in excitedly to see two male characters from his favorite show kiss and make history. When the camera pulls away from the couple and you don’t see the kiss, Jack and Will head to the network to protest and smooch each other.
In 1997, short-lived ABC drama Relativity sparked controversy when it aired a kiss between female character Rhonda (Lisa Edelstein) and another woman. While the kiss represents only a small part of the story, the writer of the episode, Jan Oxenberg, who is a lesbian, said watching the kiss evoked tears.