In the grand tradition of The Real World and The Real L Word, a new unscripted series about a group of lesbian friends is coming to the small screen. The same day Amazon founder Jeff Bezos launched himself toward the sun in a phallic spacecraft, Prime Video announced that the eight-episode docuseries Tampa Baes will drop this fall.
The streaming service briefly teased the series on social media, introducing its subjects as “the young lesbian ‘it-crowd’ navigating and celebrating life in Tampa Bay — Florida’s LGBTQ+ hub and the place to see and be seen.” The titular Tampa baes are friends, of course, but sometimes more than that, too. Movers and shakers, they’re “always ready for an adventure or a good party” but they reportedly have a serious side as well. The official description characterizes the cast as “ambitious and unapologetic while constantly battling stereotypes and labels.”
“Working on this show has been an incredible experience, and as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I’m thrilled this type of series can exist in the premium streaming space,” showrunner Melissa Bidwell said in a statement. “The cast is truly dynamic, refreshing and unlike any I’ve worked with — they certainly won’t disappoint!”
Even so, some Twitter users are already expressing disappointment based on a promotional image released this week, which notably does not include any dark-skinned women. Some have pointed out that the casting seems to have adhered to the paper bag test, a term used to describe colorist discrimination against people whose skin tone is darker than a brown paper bag.
Others also noted the apparent absence of butch or nonbinary lesbians who don’t present according to standards of femininity.
“This series is fun and celebratory,” said Vernon Sanders, co-head of television at Amazon Studios. “In a world where there’s a dearth of content centering dynamic lesbian women, Amazon Studios is excited to bring this vibrant look at these women’s lives and give the world a real entry point to undoubtedly know and love them.”
The cast of Tampa Beas includes Ali Myers, Nelly Ramirez, Shiva Pishdad, Jordan Whitley, Marissa Gialousis, Summer Mitchell, Cuppie Bragg, Brianna Murphy, Haley Grable, Melanie Posner, Olivia Mullins, and Mack McKenzie.
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