The L Word

The second season of The L Word, which airs on Showtime, is now out on DVD. I absolutely love this show. I went through the second season's thirteen episodes in just a few days, just as quickly as I went through season one last year.

What is the L word? Lesbian, of course, but this is not just a story about lesbians. It's also about life in Los Angeles. It's about friends, who become lovers, who become friends again. It's very much about being a woman. Yes, there are hot, lesbian love scenes -- it gets pretty graphic -- and there is a fair amount of nudity. But that's not all there is, not by a long shot.

Watching The L Word is like entering a fascinating alternate reality. Suddenly, you're immersed in a completely different subculture. (Unless, of course, you're a gorgeous, young lesbian living in Los Angeles, in which case this is probably old hat to you.) The rules of life are different when all of your core relationships are female. All eight of the stars of this show are women; the male characters start to feel like aliens. I can't express how different it is and how much fun it can be unless you watch it for yourself.

The main characters are Bette (Jennifer Beals) and Tina (Laurel Hollomon), who have a seven-year relationship that is going through a rough patch, complicated by Bette's unfaithfulness and Tina's pregnancy. The emotionally disturbed and sexually confused Jenny (Mia Kirshner) is determined to become a professional writer. The witty, bisexual Alice (Leisha Hailey) is in love with her best friend, Dana (Erin Daniels), who is a professional tennis player and a media figure. Disc jockey Carmen (Sarah Shahi) is dating Jenny but is in love with the promiscuous Shane. Bette has a half-sister, Kit (Pam Grier), who is pretty much the token straight in the series, although even Kit is not always sure.

Shane (Katherine Moennig) is my favorite character. She is extremely attractive to other women and goes from bed to bed, avoiding commitment and never sleeping with the same woman twice. If that was all there was to Shane, she'd be a one-note character, but of course, it's not; Shane desperately needs love, but is compelled to push it away.

The L Word has attracted some impressive guest star power. Season two included guest stars Sandra Bernhardt, Kelly Lynch, Camryn Manheim, Charles S. Dutton, Gloria Steinem, and Tony Goldwyn. The late Ossie Davis gave his final performance in season two as Bette and Kit's terminally ill father.

There are a few special features on the second season DVD: a couple of commentaries, and some interview-like fun things, like the cast playing "Balderdash" with several very strange words starting with the letter L. But this is a DVD that you get for the episodes, not the features.
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Billie Doux loves good television, especially science fiction, and spends way too much time writing about it.

7 comments:

Shawn Lunn said...

I'm a gay male myself and I have to admit I almost prefer The L Word to Queer As Folk (Uk version was always better. Glad you like it so much.

Carmen (Sarah Shahi) was in Season 1 Alias as Will's assistant/crush Jenny.

As much as you love sci-fi/fantasy, would you ever be tempted to review the odd mainstream series?

Billie Doux said...

It depends on what we define as mainstream. I don't watch sitcoms, reality shows, or cop shows at all. I watch ER, but mostly because Dan watches it and it became a habit for me years ago.

I think Lost is as close as I'm ever going to get to mainstream. Alias and Nikita aren't sci-fi, but they're definitely cult-y.

shawn lunn said...

I think shows like The Sopranos or Six Feet Under, given that the have a cult (ish) feel to them (how many series actually characterise and flesh out funeral directors and gangsters) or even Deadwood.

I've recently seen Nikita and I definitely get the Alias comparisons to a tee.

Unhinged said...

I just recently found you (via a Blogger search for La Femme Nikita) and I have to say YOU GO, GIRL for noting the comparisons of LFN to ALIAS.

Especially for acknowledging that LFN is a stronger show. I'm not aware of anyone who has seen ALIAS before LFN who has come over to the dark side.

So many of us LFN fans were in an uproar after ALIAS aired because of the heavy LFN tones. I'm sure we were prejudiced (and bitter), but we saw Micheal in Jack, Birkoff in what's-his-face, Madeline in Sydney's mother, and plot ripoff after plot ripoff.

I was so hoping that ALIAS would hold the same fascination for me that LFN did--we all did because LFN had ended (for the second time because we demanded a Season 5 after Season 4 ended)--but the Syd and Michael relationship (why did they have to name him Michael?!) paled in comparison. I was so disappointed.

ALIAS was spot on in the sexual tension department when it came to Jack and ... Syd's mother's relationship. Some of the most die-hardest LFN fans were riveted by that relationship.

But it does my LFN-obsessed heart good to see what you've written about the show here and at other places. Anyone who fosters love/introduces new viewers to the show that came before ALIAS is worth being read. Thanks.

(Yeah, I'll tell people about you.)

Billie Doux said...

Thank you sooo much, Andrea.

I'm so in love with LFN. I'm reviewing away and I'm already up to "Cat and Mouse." I think I'm going to do an essay comparing "Alias" to LFN -- probably when "Alias" comes to an end this spring.

Unhinged said...

I'm so in love with LFN.

Right there with ya, sistah. I'm so jealous that you're getting to experience it for the first time!

I think I'm going to do an essay comparing "Alias" to LFN -- probably when "Alias" comes to an end this spring.

Now that would be great. I hope you do. You love both shows, you have great insight AND you can write well. Just think of all the uninitiated LFNers out there who may be down in the dumps at the end of ALIAS and looking for something similar to watch.

Meanwhile, I have a wonderful fan fiction story to recommend to you once you've seen Season Five and have finished your ep reviews. It's so good that it left me aching! And I know you're going to love it (because I've been reading your reviews). The story takes off following the end of Season Five and in my opinion, is the best and strongest LFN fic out there. I don't think I blinked at all while reading it.

Anonymous said...

Alo, Billie.
Have you finished mulling over if you'll gonna review The L Word?
I truly hope you will. The actors are very good and improves as the series goes on. Am just dissapointed that Erin Daniels has left the series in Season 2.
Thanks for your review of LFN.
Best of life,
Platinum Rosebud