(Guest post by Payal Dhar)
Yes, we’re really going there. This is not about Serena Campbell, not about Berena. This is just about Leah. And it is important because Holby have a crappy track record of representing women. Leah was brought in as nothing else but eye candy for Serena; she was objectified and used; then she was summarily dismissed without so much as a reason.
Everything that Holby City know about gay/lesbian and bisexual/pansexual people can be summed up in one word: promiscuous. We’ve seen how every single storyline of a queer character has involved a cheating reference, from Bernie to Lofty. What was particularly demeaning about Leah was that she was brought in to demean a representation that had been so carefully, so lovingly crafted and nurtured by the writers, producers and actors alike, over the course of two-plus years.
From the point she arrived, Leah was portrayed as someone cunning, manipulative and over-familiar. There were a few moments (like when she was locked in the lift with Lofty and Meena; when she was nervous under Serena’s supervision while draining an abscess) when you saw her as what might have been a far better choice of representation—an F2 with a debilitating crush on her unobtainable and much older superior. We’ve all been there, right? Would that not have been an endearing story, perhaps one that a vast majority of Berena fans might have got behind? Of course, it is a testimony to Holby’s lack of ability to maintain continuity in most storylines that they ended up switching between Predatory Leah and Star-Struck Leah, and in doing so created a horrifying mish-mash of a character, destroying not only Berena, but also the individual characters of Serena and Leah herself.
I was among the minority who were disappointed but not overly put off by the cheating story—a part of me might have even enjoyed it in a perverse way if it had been told differently. Infidelity can be immensely complicated in real life, but this story brought it down to idiotic drivel. What I took exception to were the following:
- the depiction of Leah as predatory, which, by the way, is another les/bi stereotype;
- the murder of Serena’s character;
- the absence of any narrative reason for either Leah or the cheating story to exist; and
- that tawdry lingerie scene that deserves a study of its own (though I feel disgusted just writing about it).
Taking Leah Faulkner out of the plot would have made no difference to what went down in November and December. In fact, we might even have been hurting less. Anyway, eventually Berena didn’t even break up because of the infidelity. So what was Leah doing in Holby City Hospital apart from gaining carnal knowledge of Serena Campbell?
I never imagined the day would come when I’d be angry for Leah. But here we are. Congratulations, Holby, you’ve done the impossible.