Norma Lear, Sisters
Norma Lear (Nora Dunn)
Drama series Sisters centered around the four Reed sisters and their lives. Norma Lear (a clear reference to real-life TV producer and political activist Norman Lear) was introduced in season 4 as the TV producer of oldest sister Alex’s new show. She and Alex did not get along initially, but once they cleared the air and began to open up with each other Norma revealed she divorced her husband because she was a lesbian. (4×07 “Something in Common”).
Alex initially reacted in a negative and homophobic manner, getting uncomfortable getting undressed in front of her and assuming Norma had romantic feelings for her. After Alex’s mother revealed that the family’s oldest friend, Alex’s “aunts” were lesbians and not just “two old spinsters who happened to live together for 35 years”, Alex realized her mistake, apologized to Norma, and the two became very close friends. In episode 20 Norma was forced to come out to her parents after Alex invited them to come see her receive an award. At first Norma tried to pretend that she was dating Alex’s brother in law Mitch, but soon came to the conclusion that she had to tell her parents. He fathers said he was proud of her while her mother reacted in a more negative way.
Norma had a girlfriend called Chris but she was never shown on-screen. Not even in the fifth season when the two decided to have a baby together and Norma was artificially inseminated with Alex’s husband Big Al as the donor. When Norma gave birth to her daughter in 6×06 “Deceit”, her mother returned to fight her for custody of the baby. Season 6 was the series last and after Norma wins the custody battle it is assumed she lived happily with her new family, although her partner was still noticeably absent from the show.
Actress Nora Dunn talked about her character and Norma’s sexuality in an interview with The Advocate (issue 698/699: January 23 1996): “It’s funny when people ask if I’m a lesbian. I play a real estate agent in Father of the Bride part II, but no one has asked me if I sell real estate”, she continued “You can’t play a lesbian. You have to play who the character is. Norma is better described as a woman who wears Anne Klein than a lesbian”.
Both Dunn and executive producer Daniel Lipman felt that Norma’s low sexual profile made the role easier for audience and network executives to swallow. Lipman stated that any sexual encounter between Norma and her partner would “probably” elicit a negative response “I just don’t know how it would go down” he stated.
- 24 episodes.
Female love interests:
- Chris (off-screen, lesbian)
Relationship story arc with a woman: No
Male love interests:
- Ex-husband (off-screen)
Relationship story arc with a man: No
Male love interest after being identified as a lesbian? No
Filter Relationship Arc:
Storyline during sweeps? No
 A relationship story arc is defined as explicit, developed on screen, and lasting more than 3 episodes. It is listed as questionable or subtext if romance is only implied, mentioned instead of shown on screen, part of a dream sequence, or otherwise not explicit for the viewer.
 Sweeps episodes air in February, May, July and November, the periods when advertising rates are set. A character is marked as "sweeps" when there is a very limited number of episodes that address their sexuality, all air during sweeps period, and the storyline is otherwise ignore/dropped.