Love’s lesbian refrain of feeling: “Bette and Tina” and the subversion of heterosexual affect

Cefai, Sarah. 2015. Love’s lesbian refrain of feeling: “Bette and Tina” and the subversion of heterosexual affect. Rhizomes: Cultural Studies in Emerging Knowledge(28), [Article]

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Abstract or Description

The broadcasting of The L Word on Showtime from 2004 to 2009 coincided with the emergence of a new era of mediated sociality driven by social media. Launched in 2005, YouTube quickly became a repository for watching and re-watching The L Word, particularly through the offerings of 'fan vidders' (Jenkins 2006) whose editorial processes of 'redaction' (John Hartley cited in Burgess and Green 2009, 48) incorporated inflections of lived spectatorship into the viewing experience. Through a type of audio-visual pastiche, this YouTube genre (of The L Word 'mash-ups') modified the 'surfaces and intensities' (Grosz 1995, 179) of the show, reconstituting The L Word as a site of articulation. This essay claims that the incorporation of a cultural spectrum of reflexive spectatorship into the YouTube viewing experience modified the cadence of the story that The L Word tells and variously reoriented the show both around and away from the theme of lesbian subjectification. In particular, the change in cadence brought about by fans' YouTube viewing is interpreted here as a lesbian 'refrain of feeling' that subverts the heterosexual properties ascribed to the show by its normative media context.

Item Type:



The L Word, YouTube, mash-ups, lesbian subjectification

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies


1 July 2014Accepted

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

25 Jan 2019 14:21

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 17:06

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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