Chaiken clearly sees Jenny as one of the show's leading characters, a kind
of narcissism since Jenny is the reflection of a young Chaiken. While Jenny's
story has been bizarre and overly dramatic, not enough credit can be given to
Mia Kirshner for her interpretation of this confused and confusing character.
Difficult, demanding, unclear, and unceasing in intensity, Kirshner rules this
role; she makes us hate Jenny, tire of her struggle, question her sanity, and
yet always we believe that Kirshner is Jenny, whoever this twisted character
may be. In my opinion, the high point of the season finale was the scene sequence
where Jenny self-destructs into a cutter. On the bus and in the bathroom, and
then with Shane discovering Jenny bleeding and nude this is the caliber
of craft we have greedily come to expect from Chaiken and her crew. Mia Kirshner
is just brilliant in this complicated role, accolades I don't often offer.
Many season two highlights revolved around Kirshner's performance as Jenny,
though we often turned away in sheer frustration at not understanding her story.
But there were sparkling performances: Jenny befriending Bette at the reopening
of The Planet; inviting Shane to cut her hair; that first utterly unassuming
strip tease. Kirshner is one of the show's stars, and yet we have dismissed
her because we simply can't relate to, or empathize with, her tortured journey.
I call this a writing problem, a disservice to this talented actress who gives
a thousand percent, trying to breathe believability into the scenes she is handed.
Bette & Tina
The season finale for Bette and Tina was so unsatisfying, despite that rosy
circle surrounding Angelica at the end. Recap: Tina wants to come home. Hooray!
But wait, Bette doesn't look happy about this her face goes from shock
to disbelief to uncertainty, then back to disbelief as only Beals can do. There
is no celebratory hug, no kiss, no resolution at all as the scene abruptly ends.
Whoops, did someone lose a tape? Or is this an intentional hint to lead us into
another season of separation in season 3.
Then Tina, with baby due any moment, attends a rock concert where, of course,
she goes into labor. Okay, this is good drama, this has potential. But the script
goes into hysterical overdrive as Tina loses it, first in the ambulance, and
then in the operating room. (Not since that absurd outburst with Helena after
Tina and Bette made love has our subtle Holloman been allowed such an outbreak
of acting.) Perfectly understandable in these circumstances, I suppose, but
Bette's reaction is shall we say awkward? The thing with the umbilical
cord, with our Bette whining, "I wanna cut the cord," was pathetic.
The cruelest ending of all was to leave Tina on the operating room table in
our final look at her in season 2. I wasn't really sure that she was alive until
I read the spoilers for season 3. All the drama in that operating room would
certainly lead us to believe that she would die there. If not, then why all
the high drama? Even when Bette told everyone in the final scene that Tina "was
fine," I didn't buy it. Horrible, to not show them sharing this happiness
together, after all the season of waiting! I'm guessing this was a case of bad
timing on the part of the real birth of Laurel Holloman's baby (unless it's
another hint at things to come in season 3 Bette and Tina still separated),
but I'm thinking this would have been a shot worth waiting for the money
shot, as they say.
Which brings up the other Bette & Tina money shot that was totally missing
earlier in season 2. When Bette learns that Tina is pregnant in episode 5, and
the scene ends with her saying "What condition is that?" I couldn't
believe it! How could they not give us her reaction? Did she just walk out of
the room? Did she lose her cool and blow up? What did she do when either Tina
or Helena (we don't even know who spilled the beans) said that Tina was pregnant?
And how did they say it?
"Tina's going to have a baby."
"She's with child, you idiot!"
Or did they say nothing and just leave poor Bette to figure it out on her own,
while Tina rubbed her belly suggestively. This omission, to me, is one of the
great missteps in television history. I had been highly anticipating this confrontation
and it never occurred. Days later, Bette goes to Tina's apartment to ask the
most basic question: how did this happen?
Suspension of Disbelief
The willing suspension of disbelief can be predicated on many things, but utter
nonsense isn't one of them. For instance, what nine months pregnant woman would
go to a crowded rock concert? (And wearing ugg boots, for god's sake! Was this
another attempt by the L Word fashion police to create a trend from absurdity?
Remember those outfits that Jenny somehow afforded when she couldn't pay the
And why, oh why, is Helena so enthralled with pregnant women? The character
of Helena is a whole problem in itself. I have never, for a moment, bought into
Rachel Shelley as a lesbian. She should take lessons from Sara Shahi and Jennifer
Beals, who are both straight women acting the hell out of lesbian roles. The
fact that Shelley was given this part, and then brought back for season three,
really boggles my mind. While Shelley was stellar in Lagaan, she is a
heterosexual actor with no experience (real or imagined) to inform her performance
as a lesbian. Bad casting. Still, I have my doubts that this character could
have become believable even with great acting. Helena has so little genuine
emotion as Helena that it's hard to tell if Shelley is acting badly, or if Helena
is acting badly in her own superficial play.
Shall we even mention Mark? Regrettably, we must, given that so much of season
2 was handed to him. Were writers pressured to include a straight man in the
story somehow? Mark is one part of the script I truly cannot analyze because
it just makes no sense. Even if they were trying to give him an arc to become
a better man, it seems they left it unfinished. What could Mark and Shane possibly
have had in common to form the friendship we were meant to believe they had?
Perhaps if Mark had remained an antagonist, the self-absorbed slime ball he
came in as, it would have made a better story. This is one problem we won't
have to deal with in season 3. Mark has been eliminated, and I don't even care
why or how.
Are we really supposed to believe that Melvin, that arrogant, homophobic, closed-minded
man who throughout most of the season had no redeemable traits, was ever interested
in civil or women's rights? What a shameless twist to write Gloria Steinem into
the story. The character of Melvin made such valuable contributions to the season,
that I feel this distortion in the end was demeaning. The scenes from Melvin's
deathbed were magical (and deservedly Emmy-nominated): the connection
between he and Kit and Bette was completed with the sweet singing of that childhood
memory; when he gave his blessing to Bette and Tina in his delirium, my greatest
hope for their reconciliation appeared and then dissolved as they realized he
was remembering another time.
Ossie Davis' death was just another in the bizarre life-imitates-art aspect
of The L Word: Tina wants to get pregnant Holloman gets
pregnant; Melvin returns to the show to die Davis dies shortly afterward;
Bette ends the season holding her new baby Beals announces she is pregnant.
None of this coincidence could have been scripted by writers who stumbled over
the blurred lines between truth and fiction. The stories in The L Word
get so off track at times that we lose interest, unable to follow the path left
by mis-edited scenes and disingenuous dialog. It is truly odd how reality has
visited this show anyway, leaving behind two births and one death in the same
At the end of season 2, writers strangely glossed over Bette's reaction to
Melvin's death, or is Bette again muzzling her emotions in support of Tina,
exactly as she did when Tina miscarried their first child? Bette's father, the
man this daddy's girl adored most of all, dies in her home and under her care.
Bette's love for Melvin rivaled her commitment to Tina, as we saw time and again.
Then, for her devotion to her father in his time of need, she is suddenly fired
from her job, a job that defined her and also rivaled her commitment to Tina.
(Our ambitious Bette was personified by her position as the ultra-chic and powerful
protector of the arts the director of the California Arts Center.)
So here is Bette, with two of her most important underpinnings in life snatched
away, and the third, her relationship with Tina, still on shaky ground. Her
world has been rocked in a big way. If it was me, I would be in a state
of morbid depression for months grieving, angry, unable to function.
And yet, we see Bette going to rock concerts, cheerfully assembling birthing
pools, and happily holding a new baby just days after her father's death and
the loss of her job. Isn't Bette repeating the behavior that lead to her affair
with Candace, by keeping her emotions locked down because Tina needs her to
be strong? In real life, this would lead to another episode of acting out, another
ultimate deconstruction since Bette has not learned her lesson. But will writers
ignore (or forget) these details in season 3, since the story must again be
skewed around an untimely pregnancy?
Go Back to Fan Editorials Archive Pages
Leave Comment (pop up window)
2006-01-03, 09:07:47 AM
Comments: enjoyed this article a lot! thanks pam :)
2006-01-03, 18:33:42 PM
Comments: I suggest you take a look at the open letter from RS fans it's actually a comment on your piece Ms. Cole, I think you might find it very interesting and useful...
2006-01-05, 03:22:39 AM
Comments: Very good article, Pam! Thank you. :)That's exactly how I felt while watching season 2 :( Very unfair to Bette and Tina. With all do respect to Mia Kirshner's acting talents, Jenny cannot be a leading character.
2006-01-05, 18:31:21 PM
Comments: - "Kirshner is one of the show's stars, and yet we have dismissed her because we simply can't relate to, or empathize with, her tortured journey." Assuming you mean a dismission of Jenny, and not Kirshner, who is this "we"? Plenty of the audience haven't dismissed the character at all.- "I have never, for a moment, bought into Rachel Shelley as a lesbian." You weren't supposed to, as Ms. Shelley isn't a lesbian.- "...no experience (real or imagined)to inform her performance as a lesbian."And this would be known how? A ludicrous claim that doesn't even make sense.I do agree that the S2 finale wasn't very good, but not just because of how Bette and Tina's story played out. After all, The L Word is an ensemble show.
2006-01-07, 10:40:52 AM
Comments: good points in the article, the S2 started ok but it got confused and boring after a while, the last episode was very dissapointing. How youīve mentioned, importants points were left out during season2. It was cool and "light" to see Alice & Dana together. At the end of S1, was looking forward for S2, do not have the same feeling about S3. Hope will get it back.Thank you for Jeniffer Beals who has showed her great talent on S2.
2006-01-24, 21:27:25 PM
Comments: While I found the article insightful in some respects, but to be honest I found the article over critical. I think Betís lack of emotions gives her character tremendous depth with the way it is delicately balanced with her soulful passion for art. Bet is very internal and her expression is found in the art she surrounds herself in. Not everyone is dramatic when dealing with the trials of life. Betís power is quiet but bold. In contrast, Jenny is dramatic and daring, her painful expressions are easier to see and feel. In Bet, you must look beyond the surface to see the things that touch her. Additionally, I would like to add that Jennyís character is the one it is easiest for me to relate to. I feel her creative writing opens the gateway for magic and mystery in the show. I consider her one of the main characters, and rightly so. All women are different and no two lesbians are the same. So many women struggle with coming to terms with sexuality and in many cases hurt themselves, and even the people close to them, in sorting out their sexual preferences. Jenny showed us that itís not always easy to break into lesbian culture, especially when being a lesbian is still something youíre coming to terms with.
2006-02-08, 20:40:57 PM
Comments: IN THIS LAST EPISODE OF L WORD I WAS VERY ALARMED AT THE USE OF DILDOS FOR SEX . I HAVE BE GAY ALL MY LIFE AND I KNOW WHAT IT FEELS TO BE A WOMAN SEEING WOMEN FROM A MAN POINT OF VIEW BUT I WAS BORN WITH THIS BODY AND ALL I HAVE EVER DATED WAS STRAIGHT WOMEN AND I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN TOLD THAT IF THEY WANTED A MANS PENIS THEY WOULD GET A MAN. BEING GAY IS NOT ABOUT BEING A MAN OR A MAN BEING A WOMAN IT IS ABOUT USING WHAT GOD GAVE YOU. AND IF YOU HAVE TO USE A PENIS TO BE GOOD A MAKING LOVE THEN YOU NEED TO GO FIND OUT WHAT IS TO LOVE A WOMAN WHEN YOU ARE ONE. IT IS NOT ABOUT BEING A MAN IS ABOUT BEING ABLE TO LOVE SOMEONE WITH YOUR HEART AND SOUL AND YOUR HANDS AND WHAT EVER BODY PARTS YOU CAN LEARN TO USE TO PLEASE A WOMAN. I LOVE THIS SHOW BUT I COULD WRITE A BETTER SCRIPT BECAUSE IT IS GIVING US TRUE LESBIANS A BAD NAME. IT MAKES US LOOK LIKE WE ARE PENIS ENVY AND TRUST ME I AM NOT NOR EVER HAVE BEEN. AN IF YOU NEED ME TO SEND YOU A SCRIPT ON HOW TO MAKE LOVE TO A WOMAN I WILL BE GLAD TO. I WOULD LIKE TO SEE THE REAL LIFE OF A GAY WOMAN WHO TRULY KNOWS WHAT IS TO BE DIFFERENT IN A HOMAFOBIC WORLD. BUT BE WHO THEY ARE AND NOT WHAT STRAIGHT PEOPLE THINK WE DO. YOU TELLING THEM THAT WHAT THEY HAVE THOUGHT WE DID REALLY IS TRUE. EVIDENTLY YOU HAVE NOT HAD A REAL WOMAN (BUTCH) MAKE LOVE TO YOU.
2006-02-09, 17:15:36 PM
Comments: Tina actually didn't tell Bette that she was pregnant.. Alice did.
2006-04-04, 08:29:38 AM
Comments: GREAT ARTICAL!!!! thanks :)