|the l word: "pilot"
1.01 / Original air date 18 January, 2004
Written by: Ilene Chaiken
|Directed by: Rose Troche
Is The L Word the answer to all our entertainment
prayers? Well yes, and no. At least, it isn't for everyone. It
isn't even for all lesbians.
When will people learn that no single program is going to satisfy
all the wants, needs and desires of all lesbian women? What were
people expecting, the lesbian messiah? We should be proud of the
fact that as a community we are a diverse, intelligent and demanding
audience. Why should we expect one show to please us all? We should demand many different shows that combined might please us all!
I picked up a lesbian magazine that predicted doom
and gloom for the show, citing the fact that "no one they
knew liked the show". That's funny, because all the lesbians I know are pretty much addicted to it, even as something they love to hate. Within days of the broadcast of the pilot I went on the Internet and found at
least ten websites, five message boards and three mailing lists,
all a testimony to the dedicated fans of this show, after ONE
episode! On download sites episodes of The L Word
are sometimes three or four times more popular than the current
week's episode of CSI.
Lesbians, and I presume
other audiences, are flocking to the show in ways the Nielsen
ratings don't have a hope of measuring. But you know, if you don't
like it, that's OK too.
The L Word is Showtime's drama about the life
and loves of a group of lesbians living in LA. The shows deals
with everything from coming out to the trials of long-term love
and impending motherhood. There's Bette and Tina, the "couple"
who are trying to get pregnant while staving off the effects of
lesbian bed death. There's Alice, the quirky journalist who is
bisexual and proud of it. There's Shane, the local lesbian lothario
(just rolls off the tongue, don't it?) who decries relationships
and who provokes Bette to comment "Does anyone else notice
that every time Shane walks in the room someone leaves crying?"
Dana, the pro tennis player who has coming-out and self esteem
issues, is in love with the very cute sous-chef at her country
club. But is the object of her afffection even gay? There's also
sexy Marina the café owner who is trying to tempt
newcomer Jenny away from her sweet-as-apple-pie boyfriend Tim,
with various degrees of success. It's a strong cast delivering
reasonably strong performances and a premise with loads of potential.
Lets talk negatives though, or shall we say, areas of possible improvement? Phrases like "bush confidence" and "nipple
confidence" drop regularly from their lips. I mean, who says
stuff like that? In true soap opera style all the women are successful,
gorgeous, literate, feminine, sex-obsessed and self-centred. That
doesn't describe me, or any person I know. No one is ALL those
things. There is character variation of a kind, but we're not
exactly seeing the full spectrum of the lesbian rainbow here.
(But hey, in their defence, if there was ever a group of lesbians
like this they would probably live in LA.) There are no butch
tomboys here, and no plus-sized women
to be seen.
OK, so all that is true. When Rose Troché and Guin Turner released
Go Fish more than 10
years ago there was an outcry. Lesbians everywhere complained
about there being no femininity in sight, that the film was cast
with a bunch of ugly, butch or butch-wannabe feminists with an
agenda to flog and no relation to what lesbians were like in real
life. Well, what I say now is, neither the lipstick lesbians of The
L Word nor the ghetto dykes of Go
Fish look anything particularly like me and my group
of friends, but they do have one thing in common with me: they're
women who sleep with women. So I'll give any representation of
women loving women a chance, because I'm proud of the diversity
of our community. Let's judge the material on merit, not on make-up.
already mentioned the "bush confidence" clanger. On
top of that, in what was otherwise a really promising premiere,
the pilot contained at least one scene that made me want to leave
the room in disgust. Bette andTina's "threesome" adventure,
while admittedly sexy in some ways, was one of the most idiotic, irresponsible
and thoroughly badly written scenes I've ever seen. Did I mention
before that these women are all intelligent? Let me rephrase.
Mostly intelligent, except when in this day and age they
take a complete stranger home for unprotected sex to make a BABY! In one scene
they almost unravelled the good work of the entire show.
So, what we have is a mostly good pilot, with mostly great ideas,
mostly good (and non-selfconscious!) performances, but with a few
lessons to learn about social responsibility. Hey, it's only the
pilot, it can only get better from here. Like it or hate it, no
one can deny that the mere existence of this show is an incredible
milestone in television history.
Season 1 overview
Season 2 overview
Season 3 overview
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