The existent of LGBT character in television and movies are not scarce, albeit stereotyped. While the gay men are often associated with effeminate, flamboyant behaviour, lesbian women are more often than not exist as a mere decoration for the straight men viewing pleasure. There are several series and films that seriously incorporated lesbian characters (including: Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Friends, etc) while others made lesbian theme into their plot as a phase for one of the characters (e.g: The OC, Sex and The City).
Unlike Queer as Folk being my first gay motion picture, The L Word was my second lesbian themed motion picture. The first one was BBC mini series Tipping The Velvet which was adapted from a novel by Sarah Waters. The victorian erotica of the mini series revolved around an adventurous yet lightly humorous journey of self discovery, sexuality and womanhood. Which i enjoyed so much, despite it’s sexual content. So after that and the awesome Queer as Folk, i anticipated Showtime to bring another LGBT themed series that would be just as stellar.
The world of The L Word is set in Hollywood where Jenny (Mia Kirshner) just moved in with her boyfriend. Her neighbor is a committed lesbian couple Tina Kenrad (Laurel Holloman) and Bette Porter (Jennifer Beals), who were trying to have a baby from an artificial insemination. Tina and Bette and their circle of friends hung out at a cafe called The Planet in the west Hollywood. We met the androgynous Shane McCutchcheon (Katherine Moennig), the heartbreaker and player of the group; the perky, bisexual journalist Alice Pieszecki (Leisha Hailey); closeted athelete Dana Fairbanks (Erin Daniels). Jenny found companionship and had a sexual revelation when she was attracted to the alluring Marina Ferrer (Karina Lombard). As the series evolve further we get to know a relatively more diversed cast that includes Moira/Max Sweeney a heterosexual MTF transgender (Danielle Sea).
Like the unapologetic explicitness of Queer as Folk that threw caution of censorship to the wind, The L Word also forgone symbolism to illustrate the mechanic of lesbian relationship and did it in a graphic visual imagery. Which made me wonder if there were significant straight male viewership when the show airs. The series several issues: self and sexual discovery, coming out, womanhood, peer pressure, love triangle, lesbian death bed, relationships and families, even going to the transgender territory. Although i remember in one of the earlier season Alice went out with a lesbian man, a guydyke if you will, a person born as a male yet identify with himself as a lesbian and attracted to lesbian/bi women and lesbian culture.
While the show received warm welcome from the lesbian community when the first season debuted, the excitement quickly went stale as it progress forward. The community deemed the show to fail in portraying the (lesbian) community, and opted to be seen as some kind of cliched straight heterosexuals guide to lesbian land (whichmade me think of this video). Since i am one of those, i dont think i can argue with that. The show was fun and i had memorable moments from the series, i like Moira/Max transgender story arc, Dana’s dealing with her coming out and response towards her sexuality, and even the memorable Alice’s Six Degrees of Separation theory. The tone of the series was slightly darker than Queer as Folk, maybe because of the emotional turmoil happening within and dramas that kept burdening it down, or maybe it was just a bad script. While i enjoy the first three seasons or so of the show, i steadily grew weary with the story progress, hoping for something to enlightened the series a little (I blame these drama to Jenny, her angst can be so overtaxing *eyeroll*).
So yes, The L Word was like Titanic that looked grand when it departed and tragically sink to the bottom of ocean floors as it progressed. The last season was so absurd and more erratic and inconsistent than the rest that i actually regret that i spent my time watching it. That being said, the earlier season still amused me. Even sans the beefcake and eyecandies, Moennig punk, serial heartbreaker, badassery did made me squee (a lot) when i watch the series.
(Unrelevant, but Katherine Moennig i think is hotter than her half cousin)
Following the success of The L Word, the show’s creator Ilene Chaiken created a reality television series following the lives of real life lesbians in LA and Brooklyn in a show called The Real L Word (very creative, i know!). The show is airing on Showtime network, and as of the day this post is written, there has been three season of The Real L Word so far.
The L Word
Number of seasons: 6
Number of episodes: 70
Original run: January 18, 2004 – March 8, 2009