Date of Award


Degree Name



College of Liberal Arts

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

Dr. Margaret Sullivan, Committee Chairperson

Second Advisor

Dr. Walter Squire

Third Advisor

Dr. Kristen Lillvis


The purpose of this thesis is to explore lesbian television narratives that shape popular discourse. My goal is to find and expose the implications of monolithic expressions of queerness through both queer and heteronormative presenting television narratives. This exploration of the queer narrative voice addresses three distinct movements of cultural production: the proclaimed self-represented queer television narrative, the connotatively queer heterocentric television narrative, and the queer narrative produced in fan-based literature. For concision, I focus on the popular television dramas The L Word and Rizzoli & Isles, as well as the fan works produced for the latter. Through the lens of these narratives, I explore the policing of lesbian cultural expression through narrative voice and the cultural implications of overarchingly monolithic narratives.

Using a combination of queer, feminist, and glitch theories I discuss the multi-faceted systems of oppression that dictate queer narratives in mass media. Acknowledging Michel Foucault’s concept of heterotopia, the following analysis establishes narrative space as a constantly contested landscape, socially constructed by the privileged producer. With the digital humanities concept of cultural glitch, I explore the solicitous Hollywood tactic of queerbaiting television narratives and the benefits of self-representation through fan production. Such exploration of the policed narrative leads to my analysis of the social implication of distorting representations of queer life and actionable resolutions for the queer consumer.


Homosexuality on television.

Lesbianism on television.

Gay and lesbian studies.