Reality television shows are not usually where I would expect authentic lesbian representation. While Queer Eye For the Straight Guy and its revival certainly resulted in important visibility for gay men, it has been more difficult to find positive portrayals of queer women in the reality genre. But earlier this year, Netflix launched Marriage or Mortgage, which just about melted our hearts with its representation of queer ladies.
Marriage or Mortgage is reality television at its best, combining weddings, real estate, and classic competition. The premise is simple: in each episode, real estate agent Nichole Holmes and wedding planner Sarah Miller compete in a quest to convince an engaged couple to either purchase a home or get married, with Holmes showing off three homes and Mitchell sharing three wedding incentives or venues with each couple.
Two of the show’s ten episodes feature a lesbian couple. In “A Second Chance,” we meet Cynthia “Cindy” Andrews-Looper, 58, and Karla Hudgens, 53, whose origin story is anything but typical. Andrews- Looper, a pastor, officiated Hudgens’ first wedding in 2016, which unfortunately ended in divorce almost a year after the marriage.
In the aftermath, Andrews-Looper and Hudgens really connected, first as friends. At the time, Andrews-Looper was coming out of a bad relationship where she “lost everything,” and Hudgens took her in, unaware that this would end up laying the foundation for a relationship. “We were friends and roommates and were able to be there for each other through some very dark moments,” says Andrews-Looper. “And it was that friendship and the walking through the darkness together that allowed us to bond on a deeper level before there was any romantic inclination involved.”
“Nurses in Love,” the show’s other episode with queer women features Alexandra Morgan, 26, and Whitney Christian, 34, two nurses who met working in the emergency room in January 2018. Christian was Morgan’s preceptor at the time, where they became close friends.
“I was all business,” shares Christian. “I didn’t want to be her preceptor and her girlfriend so as soon as that was done, all bets were off.” The two became engaged in 2019, with both Morgan and Christian pulling off romantic outdoor proposals.
Coming onto the show, Morgan and Christian weren’t sure which option they would choose. The couple certainly had specific priorities for each option including a bathtub for their home and a wedding altar if they chose marriage. But overall, they were pretty open-minded and just wanted to “stay true to us and what we really wanted, whether that was a house or a wedding.”
Andrews-Looper and Hudgens, on the other hand, differed in what they were hoping to get out of the show. Since she had never been married, Andrews-Looper wanted a “big, fat, gay wedding,” whereas Hudgens shares: “I had had the wedding, so I wanted the house. I wanted more space and more room. We really were divided and didn’t know [what to choose] until the last minute.”
Both couples were extremely proud that they made the final cut, especially given their unique stories. Being on the show was “very significant,” says Andrews- Looper. “We felt so blessed…and felt like our story was worth sharing, the way we met and the fact that we are in our fifties.”
Morgan felt similarly grateful to “contribute to [queer] representation and visibility in mainstream media.” Christian, too, felt proud of how their relationship was portrayed. “It is us. It is one hundred percent purely Whitney and Alex as who we are,” says Christian.
To find out if these queer couples chose a wedding or a home, Marriage or Mortgage is now streaming on Netflix.