L Word: The Complete Series Pack
In 2004 entertainment was changing drastically. In films, a level of violence previously unimaginable bold movies such as ‘Saw’, ‘the Punisher’ and ‘the Passion of Christ’ were dominating the box office. Meanwhile, the premium channels of cable, formally dedicated to movies, have cemented their place as the most popular series forced the nation. That year reimagined science fiction ‘Battle Star Galactica’, the western ‘Deadwood’ and the relationship drama with ‘The L Word’. The series would last respectable six years and during that time not only help change attitudes of acceptable content on television but it would help spark social revelation that have a considerable impact on legislation that would be debated already up to the United States Supreme Court. The alteration in perspective that this series helped initiate was to take the television standard, dramas centered on the amorphous cloud of human relationships, and tested through the vantage point of the LGBT community, specifically lesbians. Until that point every relationship depicted on a major television series was heterosexual in nature. The traditional structure of marriage was staunchly upheld and followed the format set in the 50s conception of the nuclear family. Meeting between unmarried people still restricted to boyfriend/girlfriend although sexual relationships more frequently and explicitly portrayed. What ‘The L Word’, endeavored to do was to demonstrate that people attracted to their own gender would manifest the same tropes and archetypes at the straight community. Following a trend that has been resurfacing lately, Showtime has released 25 disc set encompassing all six seasons. Besides the extras found in the individual season sets new material has been added including a cast reunion.
Set in the West Hollywood section of California, the show did follow the basic format that has been in use for decades. Starting with a core set of characters sufficient diversity was used to bring in a myriad of situations and populate them with people that a new demographic could relate to. The stable monogamous couple was found in Bette Porter (Jennifer Beals) and Tina Kennard (Laurel Holloman), together seven years to come to the point in the relationship they’ve decided to have a child. For the foundation for this story arc ultimately anchor the rest of the series. Bette is biracial and has achieved an Ivy League education. In contrast Tina as a background somewhat cloaked in mystery and works were charitable foundation. Having a monogamous couple deal with the discrepancies in education and earning potential is a proven rate to maintain a constant potential for drama and conflict.
A new neighbor of Bette and Tina, Jenny Schecter (Mia Kirshner), moves in next door with her boyfriend, Tim Haspel (Eric Mabius). Jenny is an aspiring author in search of something that will spark an idea for first novel. Overall character all throughout the entire series is by far one of that is constantly in a state of flux. The robust change inherent in Jenny’s life manages to encompass our entire cadre of friends managing to affect most of them in one manner or another. She represents the fluidity of sexual identity starting out a straight, moving to bi-curious and eventually predominately a lesbian. She also has several rags to riches career paths going from struggling writer already up to the diva film director. The central character is Dana Fairbanks (Erin Daniels), a rather reserved tennis player who is afraid to come out of the closet feel that it would damage her career. Then there is a pair of characters is eccentric and a constant source of novel and somewhat unexpected plot twists; journalist turned blogger, Alice Pieszecki (Leisha Hailey) and hairstylist, Shane McCutcheon (Katherine Moennig). Alice is the one that comes up with the concept of a variation of six degrees of separation referred to as ‘The Chart’. It is basically a social connection analytical tool that demonstrates how interconnected their community is by tracking the sexual partners of the person listed on it. Shane is a waif of a young woman who projects an androgynous appearance but is sexually hyperactive. A spot on the chart the nexus for more encounters than any other. One openly straight character is Kit (Pam Grier), Bette’s half-sister who singing career is being ruined by her alcoholism.
Suffice it to say portrayed in this drama is put through the mill; was to encounter every imaginable stressor a modern person can be exposed to. When that changes jobs and ones up as a Dean of arts for major university, the time involved pulls away from home far too often distancing her from Tina. The result is predictable; an affair. This creates a rift between them that will ebb and flow during the rest of the series. Although predictability is commonly considered an indication of unimaginative writing but, in this instance, some familiarity as part of the grand the plan used within the very fabric of the show. The main threats that carried throughout the entire six seasons are that emotions are universal human beings, regardless of sexual orientation. Undoubtedly there are many from all social reasons all opposed to anything other than the traditional definitions of relationships and marriage. It seems that one of the main objectives the show run his head for the series was to demonstrate that entertainment can be well-crafted regardless of the sexuality of the characters. Jealousy, greed, infidelity are all emotions that are common to the human experience. Many of the fundamental themes utilized here could very easily be migrated to other groups. For example, the struggle for social and legal equality has been fortified people of various races and ethnic origins.
Then there are those themes and story arcs that are inherently specific to the LGBT community. One of the major storylines was a young woman transitioning into a male. The process is demonstrated as being complicated but only on the social level but also medically and psychologically. Regardless of how you consider the series thematically, it must be admitted that the writing is incredibly tight, reflecting a deep understanding of what is being explored the characters. Much of the crew including writers and directors were women with a significant portion of them gay. This was purposely done in order to maintain the show’s integrity to the people they are depicting on-screen. Early on in the series one very controversial issue was covered; outing. Whether done by the person herself over more aggressive members of the community situation such as this was used in order to demonstrate the difficulty inherently found being open about your sexual identity. In the shows typical fashion the repercussions were shown to be not only personal on a psychological and emotional level but also financial and legal. Something that is simple to so many people, medical insurance, become more difficult when a family unit is not consistent with the traditional definitions.
There is no doubt that the series purposely includes many social and legal matters as plot devices. The main part of the series was to educate the public to one of the main things the people of this community was understood; they are people with the same emotions, problems and ambitions as anyone else. They’re also not afraid to show the downside of life as filtered through the eyes of their characters. The story arc of one character, Jenny, takes her from a meek young woman from the Midwest trying to become an author. As success is achieved in her financial status is elevated almost of her friends, Jenny becomes extremely self-centered with an attitude of entitlement that alienates most everyone around her. That is of course except for the people who want to ride her coattails to their own slice of fame and success. One of the popular feminist observations which frequently applied the storyline; when a man reacts in this fashion he is considered self-driven and independent but for woman fall more pejorative terms are applied.
This series was a launching ground for many of the actresses in it. This appears to be something in common with most successful hit series on networks such as HBO and Showtime; they are career makers. The reason for this is simple, the most talented actors and actresses are hardy for these parts and they are given the enviable advantage of working with some of the most imaginative and artistic directors and writers possible. Apart from any aspects of this series that people might consider controversial in your strip it down to bare essentials there was a series of significant artistic merit and did reflect a turning point in our society.