Santana Lopez, Glee
Santana Lopez (Naya Rivera)
“In the beginning, Santana and Brittany, Heather’s character, were just allowed quick pecks because the writers had to assure the network that they were just dipping their toes in the gay pool. But as their relationship progressed, hook-up scenes with Heather could also be pretty uncomfortable (though she never spit on me) when we were supposed to be in Love with a capital L, making out and then dropping jokes like ‘Oh ha-ha, isn’t scissoring just great?'” -Naya Rivera in her 2016 memoir Sorry Not Sorry.
On musical comedy-drama series Glee, the relationship between Brittany and Santana was originally introduced as a background joke in the first season, when Brittany – a promiscuous cheerleader at the time – implied that the two cheerleaders were sleeping together.
Season 3 – “I kissed a girl”
In the controversial Season 3 episode “I Kissed a Girl”, Santana had recently been publicly outed at the hands of Finn Hudson. Rather than focusing on how Santana dealt with the aftermath, the episode centered on Finn’s redemption and culminated in Santana thanking him for doing it, despite the fact that Finn had forced an unwilling and uncomfortable Santana to be the center of attention as members of the Glee club took turns serenading her with “lady” music. The episode featured offensive numbers such as “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” and “I Kissed a Girl”, performed by Santana and her female friends, as an overtly flirtatious rendition performed for the male Glee clubbers’ titillation. The show’s portrayal of Finn, the perpetrator, as the hero – rather than the villain – of Santana’s outing perpetuates a very damaging idea that by outing someone who is not ready to be out, you are doing them a favor. And despite the episode title, and Santana’s performance of the title song, Santana, in fact, still had not kissed a girl.
The double standards for this same-sex pairing on Glee were obvious to fans. While it took most of two seasons for Brittany and Santana to share on-screen intimacy, there was little to no delay in doing so when Brittany was paired with a male love interest. Brittany and Santana admitted they loved each other in the second season and officially started to date in the third, but they did not share their first on-screen kiss until the late Season 3 episode “Heart” (3×13), after 32 episodes and an active fan campaign in support of the couple. This was their first “official” kiss, though in an earlier episode it was implied they were making out in Brittany’s bed, and Santana kissed her neck.
In Season 3, when Brittany and Santana were both main cast characters and in a happy and stable relationship, they didn’t share a single private conversation. Their only private conversations in Season 4 served as their breakup and subsequent conversations as best friends after Brittany began dating Sam. In the Season 4 finale, Brittany broke up with Sam and left high school early for MIT, and was written off the show.
At the start of Season 5, Santana dated fellow lesbian Dani. She reiterated her love for Brittany but stated the relationship was over, and they shared a kiss and duet in their first episode, though after featuring heavily in their first episode together, they were limited to background interaction and did not share another storyline, presumably breaking up off-screen when Santana reunited with Brittany later in the season. Brittany returned mid-season 5 to declare her love and willingness to fight for Santana, inviting her on a one-way trip to Greece. Santana agreed, bought return tickets for a year in the future, then invited Brittany to live with her in New York when they returned from their travels.
In Season 6, returning as guest stars for a 4-episode arc, Santana asked Brittany to marry her and she agreed. The two planned their wedding as the central storyline in “What the World Needs Now” where Glee made a statement on marriage equality as Brittany and Santana stood up for their love against Santana’s homphobic grandmother. Their friends serenaded them to close the episode with a rendition of the title song in celebration and support of their upcoming wedding. They later got married on-screen in the episode “A Wedding,” though at the last minute they ended up having a joint ceremony with Blaine and Kurt. Santana and Brittany returned together briefly in the series finale for a last performance with the rest of the Glee Cast, set 5 years in the future.
After a major fandom uproar in Season 4 surrounding the unequal on-screen treatment of the same sex pairings of Brittany/Santana and Kurt/Blaine, the quality of their interactions improved significantly. There were no FFM love triangles once Brittany returned for Santana and in every subsequent episode they shared a storyline, kissed, exchanged “I love yous’, and had private conversations.
- 116 episodes. S1 recurring; S2-5 regular; S6 guest
Female love interests:
- Brittany Pierce (Heather Morris, bisexual, guest S5-6/recurring S1/regular S2-4, 98 episodes, wife)
- Dani (Demi Lovato, lesbian, guest, 4 episodes)
- Quinn Fabray (Dianna Agron, hetero, regular S1-3, guest S4-6)
Relationship story arc with a woman: Yes
Male love interests:
- Noah Puckerman (Mark Salling - main cast S1-3; guest S4-6)
- Finn Hudson (Cory Monteith - main cast S1-4)
- Sam Evans (Chord Overstreet - recurring S2-3; main cast S4-6)
Relationship story arc with a man: Yes
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.