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|Index||111 reviews in total|
Network: Showtime; Genre: Drama; Content Rating: TV-MA (for nudity,
simulated sex, graphic sexual dialog and profanity); Available: DVD;
Classification: Modern Classic (star range: 1 - 5)
Seasons Reviewed: Complete Series (6 seasons)
Llene Chaiken's "The L Word" is an ensemble melodrama that plunges us into the world of a tight-nit group of lesbians including Bette (Jennifer Beals) and Tina (Laurel Holloman), a long-time couple trying to start a family, bi-sexual creator of "the chart" Alice (Leisha Hailey , inspired as the comic relief), grating, tortured newcomer Jenny (Mia Kirshner), sex-magnet and hair-stylist to the stars Shane (Katherine Moennig) and celebrity tennis player Dana Fairbanks (Erin Daniels). Once the show starts rolling, the characters sink their teeth into you and don't let go.
If HBO is the standard setter, Showtime has carved out a niche "answering" HBO. A niche series played so specifically to a sliver demographic it could only work on Showtime, "L" is a strong-fisted answer to "Sex and the City" - though different in every possible way. Stripping away the romanticized fairy tale of the relationship show, "Word" runs on pure, naked authenticity. While it lacks "Sex's" intellectual pontification, everything - everything - about "Word" feels real. A gay marriage coupled coupled with a gay divorce, the excitement of new love coupled with the misery of a cheating partner, and sex is sometimes a beautiful expression of companionship and sometimes a meaty, awkward, disgusting mess. "L" has a late night Showtime inclination to titillate, but often the sex scenes and plentiful gratuitous nudity are the dullest part. You don't need a man to ruin your life, these women make each other miserable all on their own. The dramatic outbursts are raw and, at their best, difficult to watch. The performances are precise and jump boldly and with full commitment through each flaming hoop and some sloppy writing.
In these PC times it is hard not to talk about a show like "L" without stepping into the middle of a political firestorm. In some ways the show brings this on, from a hyper-defensive title to some unnecessary posturing in its more manipulative story lines (a to-the-camera speech by Gloria Steinham is a low point). There is no mistaking that, "L" has an out-in-your-face feminist agenda to shake up and reshape the world's traditional norms with the questions posed by the simple existence of the characters. What defines a marriage? What defines sex? What is art? What defines a parent/grandparent? It is all fascinating stuff. A few years ago this all may have been mind-blowingly iconoclastic material, but now with homosexuality the new media sacred cow, "L" is given a free license to do whatever it wants.
The difference between this show and others is that it takes full advantage in exploring this fertile ground. It doesn't fall back on its identity, taking for granted an audience that is starved for intelligent entertainment, but explores and expands beyond the one-note characters of "Will & Grace" or simply identifiable caricatures of "Queer Eye". Instead it is a multi-layered tapestry playing like a little epic, spanning the lesbian experience. I won't say that "L" is going to "strike a civil rights blow" for "progressives", but I will say that its sliver demographic has never been so well spoken for and the show never stops going all out to entertain.
First and foremost a relationship series, "L"s characters open the door for some truly unique plot lines such as Alice's relationship with a lesbian identified man, Dana's fiancé planning the first gay celebrity wedding out from under her and, the big season 1 question, Jenny's moral crisis over cheating on her male fiancé, Tim (Eric Mabius, given dignity few shows would allow), with another women. The weak link in the chain is Pam Grier as Bette's heterosexual sister Kit. The show about grinds to a halt when she appears to sing or whine about her alcoholism.
The production is beautiful all around. With a little imagination the show-runners have broken the restraints of the genre, as with the surreal sequences that evolve around Jenny's pretentious novels. The musical choice is always spot-on. The show is bathed in an atmospheric soundtrack (many remixes of the show's fun and boisterously embarrassing season 2 theme) and, minus that, the ambient noise of passing cars and motorcycles on the LA streets. "L" washes the audience in atmosphere.
The first season climaxes in a knock-down brawl between Bette and Tina the likes of which I've never seen. In "Liberally" Bette's battle with a fanatical Christian group is brought to a stirring climax. "Lonliest Number" takes the show into more surreal territory. The show's best moments are when it lightens up and just lets the characters have fun together. In "Let's Do It" the gang set up a sting to see if Dana's crush is on their team. "Looking Back" finds them on a trip to the Dina Shore Invitational and recounting "coming out stories". At the end of the day the show is elevated on the backs of the cast, their chemistry, and the honest crafting of these characters.
"L Word" could have coasted by on a lesbian theme, but it doesn't settle for doing anything easy and becomes so much more. After the 3rd season the quality goes downhill, stories are recycled, ending in a scattershot final season and one of the most ridiculous, mis-calculated messes of a series finale I've ever witnessed. Still, I'm the exact opposite of the demographic this narrow-cast series is going for and I can't get enough. The mark left by a great series is one that creates a world that you would want to live in, and "L" puts you right in its universe. "The L Word" is a soulful, addictive thing of beauty - often surreal, at times maddening - and a remarkable pure character drama.
* * * * / 5
The L Word is one of the most original shows I've ever seen. It's the
only real lesbian show ever made. It's breaks down stereotypes, and
shows you that not all lesbians are butch. It deals with real issues
that lesbians have, but at the same time maintains its humor (some of
the one liners are hilarious). It's not trying to be perfect or overly
explicit (although the sex scenes are nowhere near self-conscious). The
women on the show are all gorgeous and very talented. The acting is the
most solid part of the show. Some of the characters show so much
emotion with so little dialogue (like my personal favorite, Marina,
played by Karina Lomabrd). The show has no limitations. Pretty much
every boundary was crossed by the end of the first episode, and that's
a good thing. This is by far my favorite show, and if you haven't seen
it you really should. Gay or straight, you'll love it.
My only complaint is that Karina isn't coming back for season 2. Hopefully she'll be back for future seasons.
I think that some people are so used to watching 1 or 2 dimensional
garbage they wouldn't know a really good show if it jumped up and
This show is EXCELLENT. Nuance, subtext, the characters (particularly Jenny - like her or not) are so real... they breathe! I've read a lot of comments in different forums about how these women don't look like "lesbians". I'm not sure what "lesbians" they've been looking at but the ones that I know look a lot like these women. Progressive, professional, feminine, sexy and proud of it. Keep up the good work Chaiken and crew!
I find it interesting that someone who only watched one episode could make such a broad statement of an entire season of episodes. I've watched the whole thing. It's more than worth watching a bunch of straight women (with the exclusion of, I believe, one or two of the actors) believably pull off a lesbian role. It's unabashedly a lesbian show. Written by, as I understand, mostly lesbian writers for a mostly lesbian audience. The lesbian community has been under represented for far too long. While there are some short comings in the script, the acting is hardly bad. In fact, it's the shows subtleties that give it the life it has. These are situations and representations of people who could exist in real life. As the show progresses, it is almost certain to be inclusive to most if not all lesbian life styles. Give it more than one episode, and try to watch it from beginning to end. As a 20 something lesbian myself, I find it a relief to have such an involved show with an excellent cast. You don't have to be a major name in acting to have talent worth watching!! On an end note, I wouldn't mind seeing the writers get into the possibility of an second generation homosexual character... just a thought.
...and by seeing it, I mean watching more than just one episode,
particularly a pilot which automatically alerts someone to the fact
that a show is just starting out and hey, give it some credit or a
chance before you blow it off.
that said, obviously I'm a huge fan of the show. While it does have a somewhat shaky start (and what doesn't?) the show really hits it's stride during the middle of the season as the characters and, I'm led to believe, actors really begin making and displaying the bonds they share.
While it may a lesbian show, an hour long, a drama, a comedy, a creative reflection of real life, it is ultimately a television show and I personally think it's brilliant for what it is. Some argue that the characters aren't believable, the plots too 'out there', the lesbian characters too beautiful or glamorous and I don't agree with any one of them for the simple reason that it's a TELEVISION SHOW, television itself being the epitome of glamour and idealization, and a damn good television show at that. Television is, as I said above, a creative reflection of real life, it's not meant to actually be real life.
Erin Daniels, in particular, is amazing as Dana Fairbanks. She has you laughing hysterically one minute and in sympathetic tears the next. Not to mention the rest of the cast, who neither under or over play their characters and sort of allow their characters to come through them instead of being forced. It's hard to explain, but there's something about the dynamic of this cast, of this show, that just draws you and doesn't let you go.
I recommend you give it a watch, and a chance and if at the end you still don't enjoy it than it's fair enough, at least you tried. However, I do believe the show is strong enough and that well put together that you can't help but like it, you can't help but care what becomes of these characters, and you can't help but want more.
on a side note, Lauren Lee Smith who plays a guest character called Lara is so adorable it's not even funny. As Leisha Hailey. And Jennifer Beals. (who are both mains)
(as you can see, the show also makes it hard to have and hold onto a favourite character, they're all appealing and all wonderful)
i checked out the show, to be honest, for the reason you might expect.
and for that purpose i was pretty disappointed. but i'm not entirely
crass and i continued watching. now i'm a cinephile who doesn't make a
lot of time for TV shows, but this was a truly terrific achievement.
this is a top shelf, highbrow, a-class, quality show for intelligent people almost exclusively. the characters are well-developed, and backed by nuanced performances. the dialogue rings true, never TV-like at all. and the story arcs are present without that pesky soap-opera feeling.
on top of that, the shot selection and cinematography are freewheeling and experimental(sometimes to a fault-as in the rotating camera in the Chinese restaurant-but no matter). the show is more than worth an hour out of my week.
that damn theme song however is the worst. so ham-handed and silly, ugh. it practically undoes all the subtlety of the show when it wails "this is the way that we live!!" not to mention that awful list of verbs in the middle. and such a long song too! that and the sometimes equally obtuse selection of music for the soundtrack is the worst bit.
I was excited to learn of the new Lesbian drama to come out last January as a new Showtime original series. Already being a big fan of QAF I was interested in seeing a show focused primarily on gay women instead of gay men. I believe Showtime made a good choice bringing "The L Word" to its viewers because it now balances out for both gay and lesbian individuals. Although I watched QAF I always felt I had not a lot to relate to. Mel and Lindsey are two great characters but the show does not focus a lot on them. "The L Word' fills that void. Each character brings new life to the show and the actresses and actors who play them are all very talented and intriguing. With each episode you find yourself more and more captivated and developed into the characters and their lives. It is sometimes frustrating having to wait a whole week just to find out what will happen next. This is without a doubt my Favorite show and I am so happy to finally have something to watch and be able to identify with to some degree. My life is really nothing like what is presented in the show, but it is fiction. It is not meant to be like real life. That would be too boring. The show touches base with many serious issues facing gays and lesbians today in our country and at the same time makes you laugh. These women are HOT and SEXY and Alice(Leisha Haley) brings just the right amount of humor to the show. All of the actresses bring such an energy across the screen. They work well together and you can tell they all have fun making each scene. This applies more to Leisha Haley, Kate Moening and Erin Daniels (Alice, Shane and Dana) Every scene which involves the three of them is sure to have you laughing. Bette and Tina (Jennifer Beals)(Laurel Hollowman)do a great job bring their characters to life and it is their characters, I feel, which make the show interesting. Through the season you see their relationship grow and change. Every week I had to watch and see what was going on with them. Jenny and Marina (Mia Kirshner)(Karina Lombard)display the thrill and and fear of two women coming together. I enjoyed watching these two because it reminded me of my own coming out story, watching Jenny go through all of the emotions. Through the first season you see Jenny grow and develop more than any other character. This is a great show and I believe many people can relate.
This emotionally daring show centers not only on gay issues but a bit
more to a relationship than sex
All the characters are complex but
The nudity is not exhibited in a gratuitous manner,
it is shown as part of the thoughts and feelings of the characters
The main characters are:
Bette and Tina, a life partners who have been together for seven years They have the best relationship of anybody gay or straight They are about to do an incredibly major thing
Into this mix comes Shane, a girl with short black hair who doesn't get involved with anybody; Alice, the bisexual writer who has one conviction that we're all connected through love, through loneliness, through one tiny, lamentable lapse in judgment; Dana who refuses to accept that whether you're gay, or you're straight, or you're bisexual, you just go with the flow; Jenny who has her world turned upside down when she met, at a party, the most stunning woman she had ever seen; Marina the owner of the little café who doesn't think she has done something wrong; and Kit, the lady with the flashing eyes, who has always wanted to have a place where musicians could come and jam and get much love...
As Bette, Jennifer Beals is a very well-rounded individual... She keeps replaying it over and over again in her head, just trying to figure out the exact moment when she could have stopped herself...
As Tina, Laurel Holloman gets the feeling from Bette that she's so proud to be with her, and she makes her feel really safe and loved
As Shane, Katherine Moennig is amazing She is an unattainable beauty who practices sex with no emotional entanglements...
As Alice, Leisha Hailey is constantly complaining about feeling sluggish She ends up with the most complicated interpretation of sexual identity she's ever encountered
Mia Kirshner gives the picture of togetherness and sanity to Jenny She's beautiful and that compensates for a multitude of sins While she is truly in love with Tim her increasing fascination with Marina permits her life to be wrecked with supposition
Karina Lombard is definitely beautiful, sophisticated and hot as Marina The really thing about her character is when she focuses on Jenny we truly feel that Jenny is the only human being that exists for her
Erin Daniels knows that she is gay but is indecisive to reveal it
Lolita Davidovitch is not exactly an innocent bystander She tries to make others jealous in order to find the others desirable
Rosanna Arquette never felt more alive than she has in the last 20 years of her life But would she leave her husband, her child, her houses, her trips to Paris, her black-tie galas to run to some rank little love nest with a nice assistant hairdresser who barely has her foot in the door?
Much could be said about every character Each actress takes on controversial subject while still injecting true different feelings
This artistically well-done Showtime-made TV series primarily focuses
on portrayal of lesbians in their 20s to 40s as urban professionals and
deals with their everyday issues; at the same time, thematic materials
such as working on relationships or struggling against temptations have
universal qualities so that any open-minded persons, regardless of
gender and sexual orientation, can associate with the happenings in the
show. Also, dramas without males' chauvinistic nature create a uniquely
comfortable mood, which even the straight audience may feel refreshing.
Gaining a wide range of supporters and fans beyond the lesbian
community must be a big factor of the show's success, which made it
possible for the series to continue to Season Two.
Speaking of the show's success, one cannot overlook its artistic merits, which are extraordinary as a TV show's. Many incidents are interwoven into one compelling story; a lovable ensemble cast that consists of a variety of personas engages in acting; and the director of photography Robert Aschmann takes full advantage of his skills and creativity in amazing long takes, aggressive crane shots, and illuminative lightings. There is inconsistency among episodes on writing, directing, and editing due to the fact that several different artists have worked on each episode; this drawback may be inevitable for a TV series. Among writers and directors, Rose Troche, the legendary director of Go Fish, writes believable dialogues and directs intimate scenes with crafts, while Lenka Svab stands out among editors, dazzling and mesmerizing the viewers with a deliberate disorientation. Some writers make homage to historic filmmakers such as Godard, Cassavetes, and Soderbergh by having the characters refer to them; this is a tiny detail but certainly amuses film fans.
I was in anticipation of this show, ever since I heard of it way back in 2002. Finally, it pops up on the dish and I wasn't disappointed. You've got to love the insight of what goes on with these women's lives. It's good to see Jennifer Beals and Pam Grier working again, and to discover some fresh new (to me) faces that'll no doubt be noticed. The show was neither pornographic nor too talky. If the worry that straight men will watch this for their own "pleasure", then the more viewers the better, I say: keeps the show on the air. All sorts of people should appreciate this show, but some won't dig this, as 'to each his/her own'. I hope to own this series on DVD in the near future, and I hope this get a world-wide release rather than restricted to Showtime (hint, hint).
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