Review | ‘Tampa Baes’ bad lesbian TV is still lesbian TV

Tampa Baes

Tampa Baes follows a group of twenty something scene queens, residing in Tampa Bay Florida. The cast is vast, featuring twelve lesbian identifying characters. They drink, they fight, they flirt. They drink some more.

The show is heavy on the alcohol and even heavier on the drama. Like episode four, when tensions explode following accusations of infidelity, ‘She invited me to CrossFit to fuck!’ Comic gold.

For a reality tv show, Tampa Baes feels more interesting than its hetero counterparts. Cast members share a commonality beyond their looks and aspirations. As queer women, they exist on the periphery of a heteronormative world. There are moments of warmth, like when Shiva’s Iranian-born mother discusses loving her daughter, or when Nelly’s father proclaims that he doesn’t care what the extended family thinks of her sexuality.

Therein lies the show’s strength, setting it apart from the usual vacuous reality TV. However, it’s a shame that the show is so focussed on the friends’ feuding. The fighting is tedious and unconvincing, overshadowing the compelling glimpses of backstory.

Tampa Baes

The cast embody the usual white heteropatriarchal standards of beauty prevalent in reality TV. Everyone is skinny, plastic, cis and femme/stem. There is an apparent lack of butch and trans representation.

The show has also received backlash for colourism. These criticisms are completely valid, as the cast is on the lighter skinned side of the spectrum. However, the show does include some more representative portrayals of queer existence, deviating from the usual WASP-y narrative that saturates mainstream entertainment. Maybe one day we’ll get a reality show with fat, black butches, but this isn’t it.

Tampa Baes

If it sounds like I didn’t enjoy myself, then I must add a disclaimer. Whilst Tampa Baes is by no means representative or inclusive, it has its appeal. Bad lesbian TV is still lesbian TV. Yes I only liked it because its gay. But it’s time for garbage lesbian TV to exist alongside the throngs of hetero trash. So sit back and settle in for eight sweet hours of idleness. If you’re after something queer and vapid; this one’s for you.

Take a look at the trailer. 

Tampa Baes is available exclusively on Amazon Prime. 

Ismene Panaretos 


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