on August 16, 2004
Museum director Bette Porter (Jennifer Beals) and executive Tina Kennard (Laurel Holloman), a committed couple for 7 years, are planning to start a family.
Their next-door neighbor is swimming coach Tim (Eric Mabius), who is preparing for his girlfriend, Jenny ( Mia Kirshner),a talented young writer, to move in. Soon after mixing with Bette and Tina's circle of lesbian friends, Jenny learns that her Midwest background may not have prepared her for what she will soon learn about life, lust and love in Los Angeles.
Bette's sister, Kit (Pam Grier) is battling with her alcoholism and trying to keep her music career going. Dana (Erin Daniels) struggles with her identity as a closeted lesbian while advancing in the world of professional tennis.
Shane (Kate Moennig), an assistant hair stylist by day and resident player by night, always keeps the women satisfied. Writing for a local magazine, Alice (Leisha Hailey) makes sure she's in the know about everyone and everything. Their lives and loves are discussed and played out at the local coffee shop/club, The Planet, run by Marina (Karina Lombard).
The L word is most definitely one of my favorite shows. I can't wait to own it on DVD. The story is well written, the characters engaging. This first season also has excellent guest stars including Ossie Davis, Holland Taylor, Lolita Davidovich, Rosanna Arquette and many more. This series gets my highest recommendation.
As for the DVD itself:
The episode list:
1.2 Let's do it
1.4 Lies, lies, lies
1.6 Losing it
1.8 Listen up
1.9 Luck, next time
1.11 Looking back
1.12 Locked up
1.13 Limb from limb
Extra DVD features include:
- An Original Puppet Show Performed by the Cast
- Photo Gallery
- Audio commentary by Ilene Chaiken and Jennifer Beals on the pilot episode
At long last, the entire first season of the L word is out on DVD! And while fans of the show are undoubtedly thrilled, as a DVD buff, I was less than thrilled with the lack of extras on the set. Any fan of Star Trek or Xena knows box sets covering those TV classics are chock full of extras such as bloopers, deleted scenes, behind-the-scenes interviews with the stars, commentaries, and more. Early reports said this box set would have some such content, but it evidently didn't make it into this season's offering.
While the box set does have an extra disc dedicated to special features, most of these features have either been seen on Showtime or available in print-form on the Web. For example, "the L Word Defined" is a special that Showtime aired several months ago while promoting TLW, and while it's always nice to watch reruns, once is normally enough. There are some behind-the-scenes featurettes about the fashion designers, and we get to see a little bit of what goes into dressing the character of Dana Fairbanks (Erin Daniels), and the process dressing each of the characters. We get cast bios, some selected fan mail, and a Season 2 preview (which is also currently running on Showtime).
The most original, and probably the funniest, piece on the set is a puppet show created by the cast. A spoof based on Marina and Jenny's first meeting, it will crack you up laughing. Evidently, these ladies have entirely too much time on their hands or have a damn good time hanging out together. Either way, it's pretty darn funny. Kudos to the creators!
Even though it's not as packed full of goodies as we'd like, it's still nice to have all the episodes of the L word on DVD without worrying about someone erasing the TIVO! Enjoy!
Perhaps the L Word originally intended to cast a net to catch a small niche audience; women wanting to see their lives represented on television. The end result of the L Word, however, casts a large net by telling compelling, interesting stories of compelling, interesting women.
Set in in the great sin city, Los Angeles, the L Word tells the story of several women who are friends. Bette and Tina, the show's "power couple", start the series trying to concieve a child and suffer the problems of finding an adequate sperm donor. Tennis player Dana is just starting to come to terms with her orientation and the demands of a burgeoning successful career. Writer Alice, the group's bisexual, plays sweet while dealing with a kooky mother and a male "self-professed lesbian". Shane, who starts out as the show's loose cannon, grows into her character as the episodes progress to a complex woman actually dealing with strong feelings. And then there's Tim and Jenny, who test the bounds of their relationship when Jenny starts an affair with coffee shop owner, sultry Marina. Each of these women are self-realized and very real.
Kudos goes to the women who play these characters honestly, and realistically. You can see each of them grow into their performances as they get comfortable in their characters skins, especially with Jennifer Beals portrayal of Type-A Bette. Also, kudos to Mia Kirshner, who gives Jenny's struggle through the first season real heart and intrigue. She is everyone who has ever struggled with their sexual identity, and Mia nails the struggle on the head.
However, it's one Pam Grier, who plays Bette's straight sister Kit, who will run away with your heart as she wrestles with the demons of her alcoholic past. Pam is absolutely luminous in her role; somehow managing to play each scene with dignity and sorrow. If one should be turned off by the content of the show, one should watch it if only for Grier's beautiful performance.
And the content of the show is definitely not for everyone. Easily offensive to those people who prefer one closed-minded version of the world, the L Word may not be for them. However, for the rest of us who love a good story, and who love to see strong women characters dealiing with life's issues, the L Word should be on our must-see list.
on November 12, 2004
If you're considering this boxed set, then likely you've already seen the show. There's a lot written about the plot, characters and cast, so I thought I'd take some time to review the Bonus Disk in this set.
Disk 5 - in the same case as Disk 4 - contains Bonus Features. All of which are explained below :
Fashion Extras - This is a behind the scenes feature with the fashion consultants for the show. It shows them shopping for each characters wardrobe and includes a fitting session with Erin Daniels (Dana).
Puppet Movie - This is actually worth the price of the set. It's a terrifically funny "mouth puppet" presentation by some of the cast. It includes a recap of several scenes and show an appreciation of a cast that does not take itself too seriously. My particular favorite part is towards the end, where we see their trailers. I laughed out loud. This is a keeper.
The L Word Defined - Basically the extended promo that appeared on Showtime. There's a lot here about how the L Word is NOT the Lesbian Queer As Folk. To quote Guin Turner, the L Word has "a lot less drugs and a lot less dancing". You have to love her for that. We'll excuse the fact that QAF does feature two pretty fabulous lesbians.
Wardrobe Closet - This is just a still photo gallery with information on each character that also directs you to a website for more information. Do we need more information on their clothes? Um, anyone? Painfully, there is no background soundtrack on this feature.
Season 2 Sneak Peak - Just that, a montage of snippets from upcoming Season 2 episodes. Lots of teasers and glimpses of guest stars.
Power-Up Panel - This is a moderator lead panel discussion featuring some of the cast, producers and Showtime execs talking about the show. Power-Up is a professional organization for lesbians and women in the Entertainment, Arts and Media fields. You can check out their website. This is an interesting feature, though the camera work is shakey.
Fan Mail - Well, its basically... fan mail. Yes, you read that right, this is still pictures of women who wrote in praising the show, and typed out versions of their letters. Again, painfully, there is no background sound track. I guess it's cool for the women featured, but otherwise, I was sort of bored.
Biographies - Again with the still picture (would putting in clips have been so difficult) and a type written bio on each featured actress/actor. Again no background music or soundtrack. You can get this information anywhere, and incase you didn't know... Jennifer Beals was in a quiet little film called "Flashdance" before starring in The L Word.
Photo Gallery - Finally, some music! This is stills from the show, cast and crew, edited to music. Some you've probably seen already, from the Showtime website.
Previews - No, not of the L-Word but of other Showtime programs: "Fat Actress" and "Queer As Folk" (dvds).
Promotions - Well, at least they tell you what you're getting. Basically, commercials.
Though I've read several descriptions indicating a gag/blooper reel. I was not able to find out. It's possible that it's hidden, read "as an Easter Egg", but I haven't been able to locate it yet.
Hope this was helpful. Enjoy your set.
on April 3, 2005
When I first heard the premise for The L Word, I was pretty skeptical. A show centering around a group of lesbians seemed very gimmicky. Still, I decided to take a chance on it and give it a try because it seemed like something different from what is usually offered on television.
It's a good thing I did. The L Word is probably the smartest, most thought-provoking, sexiest, and, most importantly, incredibly entertaining show to premiere on TV in years. By the end of the first episode, I was already caught up in the lives of these great characters. What struck me most was that I found myself forgetting these were lesbians. I came to think of them simply as people trying to live their lives the best way they could, which is what the writers were trying to go for.
The acting is just terrific. Jennifer Beals is so good, she makes you forget she is the girl from Flashdance very quickly. Her best scene is when she is facing off against Faye Buckley on a TV show and is hit with an incredibly hateful critique. In my opinion, Mia Kirshner had the trickiest part as Jenny, the wide-eyed straight girl who almost instantly begins a same sex relationship with the very beautiful Marina. Many times I was rolling my eyes at what this girl was doing because she just seemed so aggravating, but she always seemed like a regular person caught up in an emotional whirlwind, which is a testament to Kirshner's skills. Really, though, the entire cast is great. By the end of the season, I couldn't find a weak link at all. Everyone cared about their character and it shows on screen.
The writers also need to be commended. There were plenty of times when I didn't know why a character was doing what they did, but a few episodes later their reasoning would subtly be revealed, making it seem reasonable. Every character went through an emotional turning point by the end of the season, giving us an entire cast of well-developed characters, another rarity in television.
I highly recommend this show. It is incredible and when the sad final scene is finished on the season finale, you will be left wanting more. Pick this up and find out for yourself what you've been missing.
on September 11, 2006
So how does one write a show about lesbian's in a city as tough as LA? While I've never been there, it seems as though the writers of this show haven't either--nor have they ever met a lesbian--or completed an undergrad course in creative writing. The constant comparisons to S&TC are valid in that this show attempts to link these characters and their lives with the same humorous and sentimental string we saw work so well for our favorite NY daters. The problem? The L Word proves painfully disjointed and overwhelmed with its own attempts at supporting such a large cast--so much so it often slips into terrible cliché patterns that almost destroy the enjoyable aspects of the show. One cannot help but cringe at the site of Tina's pout and whine combo, Bette's (and Shane's, and Dana's) out-of-no-where obsessive love attractions or Jenny's completely bizarre breakdowns over the most insignificant events (and the poems--eek!). Relationships come and go with almost no explanation either way--plot and character development is cast aside and you often find yourself groaning at the screen, "Why?!!" or "not another breakdown, please." If this show were about portraying women with coping mechanisms of a five year old, then I could understand--Girl Interrupted was an interesting film I guess. But I thought I was renting something smart, challenging and explorative. I thought "The L" was about strong women, their relationships, their lives, their missteps--but it ends up a kind of schizophrenic jumble of grossly sentimentalized floss-thin plots, faucet-like love affairs and embarrassingly bad dialogue.
Okay, so that said (I know, how can I redeem myself from here?) there are good parts of the show. The soundtrack is fantastic, the women themselves are great to look at, and when the writers let go of their pretense and let the "camp" out, it's funny, mildly witty and somewhat engaging. The premise has potential and the casting phenomenal--but there is just too much happening, too many divergent themes and stories and too little development to make it really POP the way Sex and the City did. I feel bad for the cast because their talent is really lost in the convolution. I hope that some of the mistakes of the first season are mended as the series goes on and the writing tightens up a bit. Will I watch? Yes--my crush on the cast makes me retain hope that Showtime will recognize the flaws and fix them. We'll see when I rent season two. And while I know the writing will never be on par with HBO, I'll keep holding out that the script will grow up, Jenny will stop being so scary and Shane and Alice will spend a little more time on screen.
on March 26, 2006
I liked the L-word so much, that I told my friends down in AZ. They hadn't seen it, but heard about it so I purchased the first season for them. Finally a story that depicts the lives of real lesbians. I could relate to Dana being in the closet and worrying about how the parents would accept her. All the different types of lesbians were depicted, from the partners, to the one night stands, to actually working and blending into the work force. Great Series- and like real life, there isn't a happily ever after. Jennifer Beals is so hot, my friends are so glad straight women are not afraid to protray gays, and they do it so well. Many great dreams after watching and rewatching the L-word. 1st season. Now looking forward to the next.
I often find myself bucking the tide, and here I go again. I avoided The L Word for a long time because I feared it would be unrealistic in its depiction of lesbians. Although I know there are lesbians in the real world who look totally straight, are extremely feminine, have tons of money and very mainstream values, I'd have to say that yes, my fears were realized. I've been out for 35 years and I know zero lesbians who match the profile of any of the women on this show. So then I had to decide if I could simply sit back and enjoy the show for what it is: cheesy entertainment. First I had to overcome my almost immediate hatred for the leading couple on the show, Bette and Tina, who spend the pilot episode trying to locate the appropriate sperm to make a baby via artifical insemination. Have these highbrow, professional ladies never heard of the sperm bank? Rather than doing it the scientific way, carefully choosing an anonymous donor from a reputable sperm bank, they interview their male friends and acquaintances, none of whom is just right. And then at the last minute, these two very choosy lesbians decide to have unprotected sex with a strange guy they pick up at a lecture! The stupidity and cluelessness of these two characters made my jaw drop. And over time, my interest in this couple never grew. Tina is vapid, dull and depressed; Bette is more dynamic, but humorless and dry. These women never seem to be having a good time! Making them the central characters is a serious weakness of this series.
Other reviewers have mentioned the problems with the character of Jenny, so I won't bore the reader with repetitious criticisms, except to say that anytime Jenny is on the screen is a good time to take a bathroom break or get a beer from the fridge.
But after watching the entire first season, I figured out what the strong suit of The L Word is: satire. When it's funny, it's really funny. Viewed as a satiric take on our up-to-the-moment political and cultural trends and fads, The L Word really shines. From Alice's "male lesbian" boy/girlfriend, Lisa, to the group therapy sessions for expectant parents, to Rosanna Arquette's kinky sexual predator, to Snoop Dogg's sleaze-ball hiphop impresario -- well, let's just say that I laughed out loud more than I expected to, and those moments were a real pleasure.
In addition, the casting of Helen Shaver in the role of Bette's right-wing Christian fanatic nemesis was a stroke of genius. Shaver is loved by millions of middle-aged lesbians for her ultra-romantic turn as an uptight English professor brought to her lesbian senses in "Desert Hearts," and here she is cast as an activist, homophobic bigot with considerable skeletons in her own closet. Brilliant!
Bottom line, The L Word turns out to be fairly entertaining if you don't look too deep or expect too much realism from these plastic, shiny, sleazy and flaky players.
Oh, and one last thing - there seems to be more hot and loving sex depicted between heterosexuals than between the lesbians. What gives?
What a series! What a show!
The L Word is a treat
I started watching Season One
And was glued to my seat
Hot new $ex in hot new city
With girls so hot they sizzle
They even got Snoop Doggy Dogg
Fo' shizzling his nizzle
It's Jenny trying something new
With Tim way out the loop
And when she's caught Marina-ing
She lands deep in the soup
Bette and Tina want a child
Shane likes breaking hearts
Dana's racquet's closeted
While Alice plays both parts
Foxy Brown is back in town
As Bette's straighter sister
Bette's art show is so hot
it almost starts to blister
Girls in prison - quite a scene
There's cheatin' going on
Someone takes Shane's hardened heart
And it gets trampled on
With all the girls so very close
It should be tense, but dammit!
Every day, like Central Perk
The Earthlings hit The Planet
The acting's great, the stories real
So when you need a break
Plop right down and play this one
It'll keep you wide awake
Amanda Richards, November 21, 2005
on December 22, 2004
My god ... where can I start? OK ,from the beginning. I am a 21 year old heterosexual female from England and I have no idea how I got into The L Word.
I brought the box set from Amazon.com (obviously). When it arrived I sat down and in one night I watched 6 episodes ... yes 6 episodes. I couldn't stop. Never have I been so captivated by each episode since being introduced to the world of ALIAS.
The L Word centres around Bette and Tina a Lesbian couple living in LA. After 7 years together they believe they are ready to start a family. Bette is the career minded (stressed) one and Tina recently quit her job as an Executive to have their baby. They have a relationship in which all their friends envy.
Shane is the heartbreaker of the group, sleeps with all the girls then leaves them. She does have a good heart, but is longing for the togetherness that Bette and Tina have.
Alice is the funky blonde writer for LA Magazine. She created "the chart" in which Shane is the hub (think of it as Shane is the centre of the universe). She can link any person (including herself) back to Shane within 6 moves (sometimes less!)
Dana is the closeted pro-tennis player. Very smart, witty and very sexy but has no gay-dar. She develops a crush on Lara (an assistant chef at her Country Club) but will not act on her feelings. When she does she pushes Lara away. In my opinion, "Showtime" needs to use Dana more - give her something to get her teeth into like ... Alice!. Use her, she's a really talented actress.
Tim and Jenny live next door to Bette and Tina. Jenny just moved to LA to be with Tim. She saw Shane and "her latest conquest" in Bette and Tina's pool and was intrigued. She later encounters Marina.
Marina owns "The Planet" a hip, up and coming gay bar in Santa Monica - where everybody hangs out. She later starts a little somethin' somethin' with Jenny ... the seemingly straight Jenny.
Believe me - it's compulsive viewing for anyone - gay, straight, bi or whatever ... its good.
"Get out ... and stay out"