I am kissing my first girlfriend on a couch in Eastern Washington. The Netflix is new to me, so is the chill. The two shows we’re watching were both filmed in Vancouver, in 2004. Both Battlestar Galactica and The L Word were ancient history, I was late to everything. She leans against me, and I’m nervous but I’m here for it, very, and over and over main actors from BSG show up as extras on The L Word. We gasp. Colonel Tigh, of the eyepatch!, plays tennis pro Dana’s dad. Doc Cottle sits at Tasha’s military tribunal, newbie fighter pilot Kat kisses Shane goodbye one morning. Cally drives Jenny Schechter away from the motel where she lost Tim. And look, more: Helo is a desk cop, D’Anna investigates the season six murder, Chief Tyrol protests Bette Porter’s art gallery, Leoben sets up his wife to blackmail Helena. Minor characters, background actors even, in lesbian Los Angeles are major players on the battleship. Whole plots are built around these L Word extras on their home show, at their day jobs. They matter. Some are Cylons, and some we know are Cylons early on. The final five of them figure out who they are, inside, when the music in their heads draws them into a room together and they stand in a circle, recognizing each other and themselves, still too far apart to even hold hands. My first girlfriend has watched both of these shows before—she’s seen how they end, though she doesn’t know when I ask her if the actors all got beers in downtown Vancouver together after the day’s shooting wrapped—and she is patient, her soft sweet mouth on my shoulder while I make a list of every actor who appears in both worlds, each one looking out of place playing a nobody on Earth, maybe only getting breakfast or coffee at The Planet in the background, just because I knew them first as somebody I couldn’t stop looking at in space.
Jennifer A. Howard teaches and edits Passages North in Michigan's snowy Upper Peninsula. Her collection of flash sci-fi, You on Mars, was published by The Cupboard Pamphlet.
Image: UntitledKatherine MinottStirring, vol. 16 (11), 2014