the l word (season one)

2004

Created by: Ilene Chaiken

After what can only be considered a shaky start, The L Word has gone on to fascinate, infuriate, repulse and attract audiences all over the world. It is the mark of a successful show though that like it or loathe it, the show has people talking. Showtime have already guaranteed our favourite TV lesbians at least another season on the air.

The core cast of The L Word is what makes the show work. These actresses have such amazing chemistry with each other that it's easy sometimes to overlook problems with writing and directing. After watching all thirteen episodes though I thought it was time to look at the top ten ups and downs of season one.

1. The Jenny/Tim/Marina storyline
This storyline had a lot of good, and an equal amount of bad. Jenny and Marina together = HOT, no denying it. There was too much screen time devoted to Jenny and her weird writing. One can't help wondering if they shouldn't have taken the Henry Fool approach whereby we just accept the artist is a genius without ever hearing word of what he's written. The more I heard of Jenny's writing the more I wanted to flip through an old copy of Jackie Collins's "Hollywood Wives" for its literary merit.

Tim became rapidly superfluous after he literally walked in on the Marina/Jenny affair. Some interesting progress was made with Marina's character after Francesca was introduced and Marina was revealed as a kept woman, both emotionally and financially. Once Gene and Jenny started conversing with Beluga whales it went rapidly downhill. I wouldn't mind seeing more of Robin though, the only woman capable of thwarting Marina's designs on Jenny. By the finale though I ended up wanting to fast forward whenever Jenny came on screen.

2. Alice, Dana and Shane - The L Word's three stooges
Every scene involving these three characters was a masterpiece. They played off each other exceptionally well as the comic relief that helped balance a lot of the emotional trauma of the Bette and Tina storyline. Highlights included: Dana And Alice tag-teaming Dana's blind date, Dana learning the meaning of "queef" from Shane and every time someone consulted Alice's chart.

3. Dana, Lara, Conrad and Subaru
The Lara/Danarelationship was adorable on so many levels. Guest star Lauren Lee Smith rose above her Mutant X background and together she and Erin Daniels sizzled on-screen. it wasn't the most physical coupling on the show, but it was definitely the cutest and the one that most people could relate to. Dana's coming out process and scenes with her agent Conrad were less satisfying, though the storyline about staying in the closet for the sake of corporate sponsorship rang pretty true. Good on Subaru for reaffirming their support of gays and lesbians by lending their name as Dana's sponsor in the show.

4. Alice and Lisa the lesbian identified man
What the fuck? Lisa was a low point of the season but I must admit this storyline definitely opened the door for The L Word to explore all kinds of different sexualities. Lisa caused some friction between Dana and Alice before Alice finally realised even she needs her guys and girls at least in separate bodies.

5. Bette and Tina, the Provocations exhibit, the baby and the other woman
In a sense The L Word belongs to Jennifer Beals. She is the big name, she's the star, she gets more screen time than anyone else and personally I don't mind! Bette and Tina were the monogamous couple, the ones we all wanted to make it work. Tina improved once she miscarried and stopped being a doormat, as harsh as that sounds. The art exhibit got kind of old after a while but provided many of the most dramatic moments of the series, including the TV debate which just showed off Jenniferr Beals' acting range superbly. Lastly, love her or hate her, Candace brought two very important things to the show; passion and racial diversity.

6. Shane, Cheri and Shane's mysterious past
The lothario falls from her high heights and becomes the lovesick stalker. Lots of people loved this storyline because it showed Shane first as the immune-to-love sex goddess she is and then gradually reveals her learning how to feel. Personally I never bought Rosanna Arquette as a woman worth flipping over, but she and Kate Moennig certainly shared (and created!) some heat. throughout the season we got titillating snippets of Shane's past as a prostitute in Santa Monica which just makes me more and more curious as to how she became friends with all these other women in the first place. She's the odd woman out in the ensemble, but so, so sexy.

7. Kit, Bette, their father and her son
Sounds like a bad Greenaway film. Pam Grier seemed completely wasted in the first half of the season, like the writers didn't have a clue what to do with her. As Kit and Bette's relationship grew stronger Grier scored more screen time and the entire subplot about their family issues unfolded. In the end Kit's story turned out to be one of the most appealing and interesting of the season, especially towards the end as she toyed with the idea of getting together with Ivan the drag king.

8. Guestbians
If there's one thing the producers of The L Word need to be congratulated for it's their guest star casting. In what could have been a bland exercise in stunt casting they managed to get it spot on 90 % of the time, in only one case going for a recognised lesbian actress.

Lauren Lee Smith as Lara and Lolita Davidovich as Francesca both had a huge impact and top my list of guest stars I'd like to see as recurring characters in season two. Kelly Lynch as Ivan was just inspired casting. Rosanna Arquette is equal parts sexy and aloof as Cheri. I confess I don't understand the casting of Snoop Dogg, nor the point of the character he played. Guin Turner was a fan favourite and spot on as Gabby, the bitch who broke Alice's heart. I especially loved the kiss between her and Leisha Hailey. Way to show all those straight girls how it's done! It almost melted my TV.

Other honourable mentions: Anne Ramsay as Robin, Anne Archer as Lenore and Ion Overman as Candace. All perfect.

9. Where have all the non-white people gone?
OK, personally I think too much has been made of this but many fans believe that The L Word could have been more embracing of racial diversity in the series. Between Bette, Kit, Marina, Candace and Yolanda I was pretty satisfied with their efforts but it's possible Ilene Chaiken will listen to the criticisms and introduce more characters of colour next season.

10. Dana, Tonya, Alice and Mr Piddles
Is Alice just jealous or is she serious about Dana? Did that kisser she laid on her friend mean anything? I guess we'll find out. The kiss was hot though. In the meantime we need justice for Mr Piddles' murder - if Tonya is run over by a Bakery truck in a freak accident I won't complain, though I hope Dana gets the ring and her self-respect back first. Introducing such an irritating character so late in the season really cramped the Dana character, which was a shame considering the progress she was making.

RIP, Mr Piddles.

Conclusion?
I'm addicted. I know a lot of other people are too. It's not Sex and the City and it certainly isn't Melrose Place in Doc Martens. It isn't even like Queer as Folk. The L Word has achieved many important breakthroughs in its first season but the most important achievement has to be that the show has found its own feet and its own unique voice. It isn't perfect and it isn't for everyone, but what TV show ever is?

My favourite main character from seaosn one? I can't go past the gorgeous yet goofy Dana Fairbanks. A little humour and a lot of geekiness goes a long way.

Go to SEASON TWO

The L Word Online

Got a comment? Write to me at nancyamazon@gmail.com

 

 

Last updated: 1 October 2005