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Friday, February 23, 2007

Indie-Off Course: "The L Word" Brings Sexy Back!

Dear: L Word
I gotta admit, you had me a little worried there for a moment.
You had such an amazing start, back in the first season when you introduced us to your world of stylish Sleek successful lesbians and their Love and lust lives in L.A.
the cast was amazing, the brilliant Jennifer Beals as type A, Bette Porter, androgynous Katherine Moening as Shane the resident heart breaker, the always adorable Leisha Hailey as Alice the quirky bisexual writer, the piercing Mia Kirshner as the intensely self serving aspiring writer Jenny Schecter
and Foxxy Brown herself Pam Grier as Kit the Straight reformed alcholic sister of Beals character
superb casting, gorgeous Locals, stylish clothes and plenty of T&A made this series an aesthetic Dessert for the eyes.
But it was the three dimensional characters, intelligent and witty writing and continuing sexually and socially relevant story lines that kept me coming back for more.
I hate to use the term ground breaking because I find it to be an oft over-used bordering on meaningless term, but with the L word Ground Breaking is a term that definitely fits.

It's not ground breaking for being the first show to portray almost exclusively gay lead characters, Queer As Folk conquered that territory first in 2000,

but it is ground breaking for portraying Gays in an intelligent well thought out and complex manner unlike Queer As Folk, A series that dropped the ball it was given with its sex crazed, empty and white washed depiction of gay America.

Queer As Folk would never have been able to handle the topics that The L Word has tackled. so effortlessly.
Racial and sexual identity, Gender identification, Art Vs religious Fundamentalism, and transgendered politics have all been handled skillfully and genuinely all the while remaining entertaining and undeniably captivating. Its an undertaking that "Queer" with its brain dead shirtless Himbo adventures, could only dream of being able to handle with such panache.

still delivering the sudsy, Soapy good times with secret pregnancies, torrid affairs, and emotional blackmail The L word was that series that delivered all the tantalizing goods in one addictive package.

Unfortunately something happened to you guys mid second season,
you were off to a good start with the addition of the painfully cool DJ, Carmen Morales (Sarah Shahi), and the pairing of best friends turned lovers Alice and Dana.
But by mid second season, that soul, that smartly crafted essence began to dwindle.
you got that new horrendous Betty theme song with its grating and repetitive hook and elementary Lyrics
"this is the way, is the way that we live.....and looooveee" Ugh
introduced a girls gone wild inspired peeping tom story line, that you never satisfactorily resolved and turned formerly ,bad ass mess, Kit into a whipped little play thing for Charles S Duttons dull motivational speaker character.
but you were still one of the best things on television, so we stayed tuned in hoping that somehow someway things would get better, that things would return you to the glorious heights that initially got us so devoted to you the 1st season.

Our hope didn't last for too long, as the Overly Soapy over the top story lines continued for the third season.
Drastic personality changes (Alice is an insane stalker, Shane tamed, Bette becomes a wimp?), weird unexplained character development (Alice and Helena are BFF, Tina's sudden bisexuality) and that annoying Manny romance for Kit, threatened too Kill the series where it stood.

It stopped being appointment television, and a sense of indifference and uninterest began to penetrate my feeling for the characters.
If the writers didn't care enough to stay true to these characters and who they were than how could they expect us as viewers to care about what happens to them?

in fact Shane's engagement to Carmen was the last straw for me, though some fans may claim that the loss of Dana's character as a result of breast cancer was the clincher for them, I disagree i found that story line to be one of the few that was satisfactorily handled that season, both heartbreaking and sudden as a death due to illness tends to be.
No, it was the monogamizing of Shane, one of my favorite characters and the L words resident Player.
Gone was that Mick Jagger swagger and detached stance on romantic entanglements and in its place was a Shane unhinged a Shane whose claws had been seemingly clipped.
though by the end of season 3 Shane did reemerge in her true form, when she left Carmen at the alter and ran off to parts unknown, but by that time the damage had been done

So I didn't particularly have high hopes for this new 4th season which premiered on January 6th. However those expectations were shattered with back to back solid if not spectacular episodes.
I don't wanna spoil anything by revealing too much regarding the developments of the season so far but trust me it gets goooood

Alice is her lovably awkward self again, Shane's got her hands full with a story line that spins her whole life for a loop, Bette is the tough as nails stoic academic again in a job she's passionate about and jenny? well jenny is Jenny times crazy.
I think the writers finally realized that the Lifetime movie of the week scenarios weren't as compelling as they initially thought, the humor is back with a vengeance and I have to admit that those large group scenes where all the characters interact with each other just warms my cockles (be sure to look out for a particularly funny basket ball game around the 4th episode.)

The ensemble has also expanded they've decided to introduce a new player among the midst, the bold Latina playgirl Papi who acts as Shane's rival, a radical deaf artist (played by Marlee Matlin) , and my personal favorite an actual butch lesbian character as a lead! the strong and silent Tasha, A former national guard servicer who becomes a complementary love interest for Leisha Hailey's giddy Alice.

The romance has been rekindled , I finally get that satisfied feeling again at the end of each episode instead of the feeling that i had waisted 45 minutes of my life, I Love these characters again, i feel like I know them again, like an old friend who returns home after a long trip, My girls are back!

At this writing I was on episode 6 of the 12 episode season, here is hoping that L word series creator Ilene Chaikin and the rest of the crew stay on course because if they continue to deliver the intelligent thought provoking and enticing program that they have presented to us lately , they are definitely on their way to reclaiming there spot on the pedestal of greatness.
like a phoenix rising from the ashes the L word has managed to emerge from two lackluster seasons to reclaim it's former glory and become the best show currently on television.

Sure like anything else the show has its flaws even still, but when it all adds up its still far better than anything else out there.
so thank you L word, for being as dynamic and fearless as you are.
You truly make Sunday nights one "L" of a night to look forward too (I hate myself for that one )
catch up on your L word

season 1
season 2
season 3

now available on DVD.

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