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5 Shows like Lip Service: Exes & Other Confusions

Roxanne_Sancto_itcher_contributorWe often want to believe that we are over past relationships; but just because we want it to be true, doesn’t mean it’s always true. Cat (Laura Fraser) comes to realize this when her ex Frankie (Ruta Gedmintas) suddenly returns to town; she finds herself torn between her ex and the new life she’s built for herself. Shows like ‘Lip Service’ focus on the gritty aspects of (past) relationships. If you prefer realism over Hollywood romances, try ‘Exes & Ohs’ and ‘Tipping the Velvet’. ~ Roxanne Sancto

Just the usual girl-wants-girl, can’t-have-girl bollocks…

Frankie is a tough cookie and not always the easiest to be friends with – let alone be in a relationship with! Her ex-girlfriend Cat can tell you all about it. Frankie just isn’t very good at the “special friend” thing. Having grown up in a dysfunctional family setting in which she never truly felt wanted, Frankie’s got enough commitment/abandonment issues to base a psychological study on.

Prior to the beginning of the series, Frankie ditched Cat in the worst way imaginable. And yet, she still can’t shake her feelings for her and returns to town in the hope of rekindling her relationship with Cat. Although Cat is already in a happy, committed relationship with Sam (Heather Peace), she can’t help but feel drawn to Frankie, starting a toxic cycle afresh…

Shows like ‘Lip Service’ will make you feel better about your emotional turmoil. If you’re looking for more realistic, same-gender relationships to learn from, check out more series like ‘Lip Service’ below!


Shows Similar to ‘Lip Service’…

‘Exes & Ohs’ (Logo, 2007)

Jennifer (Michelle Paradise) is a hopeless romantic of sorts, who was deeply committed to her relationship with Sam (Marnie Alton) – until Sam decided to play doctor with their mutual therapist. One year on, Sam’s married and Jennifer is still not over her. To make matters worse, they’re still really good friends. Talk about complicated!

Luckily, Jennifer has her awesome friends, Crutch (Heather Matarazzo), Kris (Angela Featherstone) and Chris (Megan Cavanagh), who are always there to lend a friendly ear, give her pep-talks and push her back into the game!

And although Jennifer is all for moving on, it’s easier said than done. She’s not a one-night-stand, friends-with-benefits kind of gal and she’s not exactly smooth either… more of a rambling mess of quirkiness, if anything!

‘Exes & Ohs’ has a real indie feel with a down-to-earth cast, which is a refreshing approach to the sitcom format in which most characters are overly polished and beautiful – i.e. make you feel like crap while you dig into another helping of chips.

Similarity Match: 80%
‘Lip Service’ and ‘Exes &Ohs’ differ widely in style, format and genre, but the protagonists in both shows are trying to come to terms with their feelings for ex-partners and/or the idea of moving on.

‘Tipping the Velvet’ (BBC, 2002)

Based on the novel by Sarah Waters, ‘Tipping the Velvet’ follows the lives of Nan (Rachael Sterling), an eighteen-year-old girl from Whitstable, and Kitty (Keeley Hawes), a male impersonator in Victorian England.

Nan has never known much excitement in her life, other than the hustle and bustle of her father’s oyster restaurant. So when she visits the local theatre one night, she finds herself besotted with the “masher”, Kitty Buttler.

The two strike up a supposed friendship, but become increasingly aware of their romantic feelings for one another. When Kitty asks Nan to join her on a tour in London, she accepts without hesitation. At first, Nan is employed as Kitty’s dresser, but when Kitty’s manager, Walter (John Bowe) insists on Nan joining the show, the pair become immensely popular.

But unfortunately, on a private level, their relationship is not all that rosy: Kitty insists on keeping their relationship secret whereas Nan wants to share her love for Kitty with the whole world. 

Series similar to ‘Lip Service’ and ‘Tipping the Velvet’ are often considered controversial. Some of the sex scenes in ‘Tipping the Velvet’ are rather explicit – a massive dildo comes to mind – and some BBC viewers did get their panties in a twist over it all. 

Similarity Match: 75%
Though ‘Lip Service’ and ‘Tipping the Velvet’ are set in two completely different time periods, the protagonists share complicated emotions and relationship expectations in common.

‘Sugar Rush’ (Channel 4, 2005)

Kim (Olivia Hallinan) is a fifteen-year-old lesbian. She’s struck up a friendship with the outgoing, sassy and absolutely beautiful Sugar (Lenora Crichlow) and soon finds herself completely obsessed with her. But Sugar seems to just string her along…

Things don’t end all too well for Sugar, but her absence finally gives Kim the space to move on. When she meets Saint (Sarah-Jane Potts), Kim finally finds herself in an actual relationship in which her love is reciprocated. Things are going really well for her but when Sugar comes back into the picture, things quickly get messy.

TV series like ‘Lip Service’ focus the storylines on the intimate relationship between the protagonists, without forgetting to incorporate some outside drama in the form of friends and family. In the case of ‘Sugar Rush’, Kim’s dysfunctional family plays an important role.

Similarity Match: 50%
Although ‘Sugar Rush’ incorporates some tough realities, it’s a lot more innocent than ‘Lip Service’, and less explicit in terms of sex. But both shows explore unreciprocated love and/or conflicting expectations within a relationship.


If You Like ‘Lip Service’, You Will Like…

‘The L Word’ (Showtime, 2004)

If you’re looking for a TV show like ‘Lip Service’ that focuses on an entire community of lesbians instead of just a few couples, you’re going to love ‘The L Word’.

‘The L Word’ deals with various ex-obsessions and unresolved issues, but no one is quite as crazy and hung up on her ex as Alice (Leisha Hailey)… her break-up with the love of her life, Dana (Erin Daniels), throws her for a complete – comical – loop.

‘The L Word’ follows a whole community of lesbians whereas ‘Lip Service’, concentrates on the main protagonists only. Both shows delve deeper into the complicated feelings we often tend to harbour for ex partners.

‘South of Nowhere’ (The N, 2008)

Spencer (Gabrielle Christian) grew up in the quiet suburbs of Ohio, so when her family decides to move to Los Angeles, her world is turned upside down. But as if a move and attending a new school wasn’t challenging enough, her budding friendship with Ashley (Mandy Musgrave), has Spencer questioning her own sexuality.

People have praised this show for realistically portraying what it means to come out as a teenager – the doubts, the fears and anxiety, as well as the reactions from the outside world.  ‘South of Nowhere’ dares to go where few other shows go.

Most same-sex relationships in TV series are focused on an older generation, which is why ‘South of Nowhere’ appealed to a younger demographic who found a lot of honesty in the depiction of the on-screen relationships.

‘Lip Service’ targets a twenty-something audience, whereas ‘South of Nowhere’ was made for a younger demographic. Both shows highlight the insecurities that may get in the way of a healthy relationship.


Girl Power

If TV shows like ‘Lip Service’ and any of the others listed above taught us anything, it’s that girls really do have the power to overcome anything. Yes, discovering your own sexuality can be very scary and yes, being confronted with an ex and having to figure out your feelings for her can be extremely confusing. But as the characters of the series above show: you can figure it all out with a little patience, good friends and a supportive family.

Do you relate to the struggles of some of the characters mentioned above?

My name is Roxanne Sancto and I’ll be writing all things music, book and movie related for itcher mag. I also write for New Heroes & Pioneers’ upcoming Festival and Culture magazines, to be launched in the spring of 2014. I am the co-author of The Pink Boots and am currently working on two new novels. I love music, literature, cinema, crafting, yoga and animals.
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