Why We Needed Annalise and Eve to Kiss

By Dr. Lexx Brown-James

The premier of T.G.I.T. did not disappoint with Shonda Rhimes capturing us yet again with the romance, drama, and suspense built into ShondaLand. Shonda knows how to deliver and we were not disappointed.

*SPOILER ALERT* In the premier episode of How to Get Away with Murder (HTGAWM) we find Annalise still trying to save Nate and her hail mary (which may not actually be a hail mary as we know Annalise is always 50-11 steps ahead of everyone) is Eve, a Harvard law confident and friend that she has wronged in some way. We don’t find out how until the very last few moments of the show when we find out Annalise left Eve for her then therapist (now dead husband) Sam. If that wasn’t the gasp heard around ShondaLand, then the next moment certainly was: Annalise and Eve kiss.

This isn’t a you’re my best friend kiss; this is a kiss that says I love you and I missed you. This was a welcome home kiss with both hands grasping the face. This kiss was exactly when Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and some of our minds blew up. Although we have seen the siren Annalise be sexual before, this is a progressive step (we hope) for ShondaLand and it’s audience. And yet as I scrolled down what I thought was a pretty comprehensive list of queer, lesbian, gay, and ally folk, I found some homophobia slipping out in posts.

Annalise and Eve’s kiss confirms the existence of some sort of romantic and sexual relationship which has led the audience to the question: is Annalise bisexual? We have seen her in multiple sexual relationships with men and with this first kiss, it is evident there was some sort of intimate relationship between Eve and Annalise. Now, ShondaLand watchers are inquiring: WHAT IS ANNALISE’s orientation?!?! Before we get there, I just want to take a moment to acknowledge the importance of this kiss coming from this woman at this time in television before everyone attempts to pigeonhole Annalise into some identity to which she may not ascribe too.

Having a Black leading lady, who is powerful, smart, and bold, be able to kiss a woman she cares about on a nationally syndicated show may seem minimal to some, but I assure you it’s not.

Shonda’s presentation of Black women’s sexuality has been stereotypical thus far. Having Annalise kiss and have romantic feelings for another woman starts to venture into spaces the prime time television has yet to visit: the Black, female, queer, powerful, leading lady. Annalise engaging in same-sex behaviors (because that’s all it was here, which does not an orientation make) starts to help audiences explore what being sexually fluid can look like. Sexual fluidity means that a person has an attraction that changes and could change over time to various genders. Ascribing the potentiality of fluidity to a Black woman’s sexuality breaks the confining stereotypical mold typically represented by the Black female characters of ShondaLand.

Annalise is the stereotypical archetype of the Sapphire. She is intellectually attitudinal, controlling and demands sex when and how she wants it. With Sam, Nate, even Wes at times, we see her sexuality come into play because she wants sexual gratification or to manipulate her sexual counterpart. Admittedly, I wonder if Eve is just another pawn being used by Annalise in a sexual and intimate way. I hope the relationship between Eve and Annalise along with this kiss is not dismissed as just some way – as Cookie Lyons would put it ‘“dykinright” – to get what she wants. Whatever the end game, this kiss broadens the scope of the Sapphire identity and Black female sexuality; however, to expect a complete change in Annalise’s manipulative behavior overnight would make me a poor clinician. So, I cannot believe in her inability to change overnight and still do my job well.

With a move like Annalise and Eve’s kiss, Shonda has set the stage for a new representation of Black female sexuality. It’s a fresh take on the idea of a Black woman being sexually fluid. She has given us quintessential life that varies from the heteronormative perspective and just in time. The wins of Black women at the Emmy’s including the awards for Bessie tell us that we’re ready to see the layers of Black female sexuality beyond heternormativity. The audience that loves HTGAWM, T.G.I.T and Annalise is now confronted with the idea that Annalise has more layers to her sexuality than meets our voyeuristic eyes. I am here to tell you it’s okay to stay in love with Annalise and I guess that’s the point of it all, for now.

It’s OKAY to love Annalise (and to love her more!) even though you do not know her orientation (and we don’t know until she or Shonda tells us – never assume). Whatever Annalise may be and whatever her sexual behaviors are, she is still our Annalise and I know I will continue to watch with eyes glued for the next turn of events. Thank you Shonda for yet again setting up a new platform for Black women to be seen. We need the diversity in your characters to reflect ourselves.

Photo: abc.go.com

Dr. Lexx is an LMFT and sexologist with her own practice in St. Louis, Mo., who seeks to help people create safe spaces in their relationships.

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