In a current storyline on the German soap opera “Gute Zeiten, schlechte Zeiten”, lesbian Anni has fallen in love with her straight roommate Jasmin. Will there be a happy ending?
As a fan of “women love women” storylines on international TV shows, you might sometimes wonder if there are any other German shows with lesbian characters and storylines besides Verbotene Liebe, especially after the cancellation of shows like Hand aufs Herz or Marienhof. In fact, even though there are some supporting characters on various shows who are lesbian or bisexual or have fallen for another woman at least once, when it comes to featuring a prominent, full-fledged lesbian love story, German TV unfortunately doesn’t have much to offer . Last spring, things looked up for a while when a female cop fell for a female emergency doctor on the pre-prime-time serial Notruf Hafenkante. But the story arc was ended after only a few episodes and never even mentioned again.
But now, there is a new storyline that has been gaining momentum for the last few months and is gradually building a fandom. Last summer, the character Andrea “Anni” Brehme was added to the long-running soap opera Gute Zeiten, schlechte Zeiten. It was made clear from the very beginning that Anni is a lesbian. For example, in an online article about the new character, Anni was described as “lesbian, tough, tattooed” – a description that made me worry that Anni wouldn’t be much more than a walking cliché.
Luckily, Anni’s character turned out to be more complex than the headline of that article let one assume. Yes, she has a lot of tattoos, and yes, she has a tough demeanor that is annoying at times and has – unfortunately – led some viewers to see their prejudices confirmed that dykes, in general, are aggressive and unlikeable. But Anni also has a softer side, and that side especially appears when it comes to her roommate Jasmin.
In classic soap opera style, Anni and Jasmin didn’t start out as friends, on the contrary. While Anni got along with her other roommate, Pia, very well – so much so that they even had a one-night stand – Anni was annoyed by Jasmin in the beginning, and vice versa. At the time, Jasmin was married to Kurt, a rock star, and trying to build a career in showbiz herself. In short: She did a lot to get media attention, which Anni disapproved of and made her think that Jasmin was superficial. Jasmin, on the other hand, got jealous of Anni when Anni and Kurt bonded over their common interest in music, even though Jasmin knew all along that Anni is a lesbian. Nevertheless, Anni supported Jasmin when she went through a tough time after her mother had a stroke and she was hassled by the press, and they became friends.
Unfortunately, as they started to get along better, Anni also started to fall in love with Jasmin. She tried to fight her feelings and denied them when Jasmin started to suspect that something was going on. But even though Anni’s feelings for Jasmin were put to a test more than once, especially by Jasmin’s stupid and desperate attempts to get media attention, Anni still couldn’t get her out of her head. When another one of Jasmin’s plans backfired and Kurt left her, Anni again was there for Jasmin. After Pia’s wedding, they were in such a playful mood that Anni couldn’t hold herself back anymore and kissed Jasmin. She also eventually confessed that she was in love with her.
Although Jasmin told Anni that she wasn’t a lesbian and that she therefore didn’t return Anni’s feelings, the kiss still left a lasting impression on her and she grew more and more curious of what it would be like to be with another woman. She kept teasing Anni and flirting with her, even kissed her again, while still emphasizing that she wasn’t really into women, until Anni turned the tables and challenged Jasmin that she would eventually get Jasmin to sleep with her. Jasmin, who was sure that she would never be tempted to sleep with Anni, accepted the bet. Even though her new roommate Nele, who knew about Anni’s feelings, warned her that she would end up with a broken heart, Anni was certain that Jasmin would eventually give in, especially when she learned that Jasmin had had an erotic dream about her. Anni even tried to make Jasmin jealous by flirting and making out with another woman at Nele’s birthday party. Although Anni eventually conceded that she lost the bet, it worked: The morning after the party, Jasmin told Anni that she wanted to be with her and they made love.
Anni was ecstatic and on cloud nine, but was quickly brought back down to earth when Jasmin got cold feet and told her that it was a one-time thing because she just wasn’t a lesbian. Anni pretended that she wasn’t interested in a relationship anyway, when she was in fact deeply hurt and disappointed. They tried to go back to just being friends again, but Jasmin soon realized that there was more to her feelings for Anni. She eventually confessed to Anni that she couldn’t stop thinking about her, and they made love again. But afterwards, Jasmin asked Anni to keep what happened between them a secret…
And that’s the current status of the storyline: A lesbian on fire and a (supposedly) straight woman who doesn’t know what she wants. Sound familiar? Probably because this is how most lesbian storylines on soap operas work, and I have to admit that I’m growing tired of it. Also, when it comes to clichés, the “sex bet” storyline was rather unfortunate as it played a lot into the “lesbians just want to seduce straight women and make them gay” cliché.
So why do I keep watching? Because when they’re not fighting or hurting each other, Anni and Jasmin are simply cute. The actresses manage to get across a playfulness that is fun to watch. Also, there are subtle looks and gestures that say so much more about how those characters feel for each other than words. For example, even though Jasmin cannot face her feelings for Anni yet, to the viewers, it is obvious that she isn’t just bi-curious anymore, but that she, too, has fallen for Anni.
As for Anni, it’s nice to see a gay character that is out and proud from the beginning, which is rare in soap operas. Usually, a gay or lesbian love story revolves around one or two regular characters that used to be straight until they fall in love, which – unfortunately – always leaves room for one or both of them to go back and be straight again. With Anni, however, it has been pointed out more than once throughout the storyline that she has always been a lesbian and never wanted to be with men, even though her homosexuality caused trouble with her parents, an aspect that was even specifically addressed when Anni’s mother came for a visit. The background story about Anni’s strained relationship with her parents was not only helpful to make the character more complex, as it at least partly explains why Anni is sometimes acting so tough, but the show’s writers also got the message across that being gay isn’t a choice. Besides, Jasmin taking Anni’s side and giving Anni’s mother a lecture on homosexuality was certainly an important moment for the relationship.
So are Anni & Jasmin here to stay? Who knows. At the moment, they’re not even really a couple, but it looks like it’s going to be just an affair for a while. Also, actress Linda Marlen Runge, who, aside from playing Anni on TV, is also a musician, just took a break from filming the show to tour with her band, which means that the storyline will probably also pause for a while in the upcoming weeks. But according to Linda, she is not gone for good, so there’s hope that this might actually become a long-term storyline.
If you would like to know more about the storyline, the characters or Gute Zeiten, schlechte Zeiten in general, check out the official website. Unfortunately, the episodes are not available online for free, and RTL, the channel the show is on, is very strict when it comes to uploading videos to YouTube or other websites. Nevertheless, the couple already has an international following, and you might be interested in checking out the discussion on a well-known lesbian chat forum. And as always, please feel free to share your thoughts about the storyline in the comments.
[Sept. 16, 2014] Edited to add: For updates on the storyline, make sure to check the comments!