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| AN OPEN LETTER TO ILENE CHAIKEN
Written by acrowder
Although I have been a fan of The L Word since the show began, I’ve refrained from sharing my opinions online. As a straight woman, I assumed the show’s major fan base wouldn’t really care what I thought. Season 3, however, has been such a disappointment that I can’t help but speak out. I first started watching the show out of curiosity but was quickly hooked by the interesting characters and talented actors. Season 1 was fresh and innovative, Season 2 was tolerable but at least it ended with hope, Season 3 demonstrates all too clearly that the show has lost its way.
I sympathize with Ilene Chaiken’s position: to pander to viewers’ wishes for certain story lines could be seen as compromising her artistic integrity. On the other hand, to alienate viewers to the degree that she has this season is a risky business proposition. Ratings don’t appear to have suffered yet, and the show has been renewed for Season 4; both are good things, but it’s not as if the lesbian community has many alternative shows to change the TV channel for. Why take this one good thing that means so much to so many people and trash it?
One truly groundbreaking phenomenon that the show has brought about is the opportunity for lesbians worldwide to become part of a global cyber village. With all the message boards, chat rooms, writing contests, fan fiction site --and now commercial products sold online such as books, perfume, and jewelry—the show has spawned a whole host of promotional spin offs. Since I have several lesbian friends, I was happy to see the cultural sea change that this show caused—lesbians, it seemed, were finally getting their moment in the Hollywood sun and elsewhere.
And then came Season 3: it would seem that Chaiken and her erstwhile writers had nothing but contempt for the viewers this season. Characterization was absurdly inconsistent, with Tina being the most obvious example; plotlines had inexplicable gaps, which the writers apparently couldn’t be bothered to fill in; some stories seemed contrived for little more than shock value; continuity errors abounded; and highly dramatic moments, such as Bette’s agonized phone call from her silent retreat, were subsequently ignored. And then there was the incredible decision to kill off Dana, arguably the show’s most realistic character. I realize that at its heart, The L Word is a soap opera, but it could be so much more. If Season 4 can salvage anything from the wreck of Season 3, then the first step might be to hire a group of professional writers, rather than let a different producer write each episode. Finally, the writers (whoever they are) need to start treating the viewers like the wise and intelligent people they actually are. I’ll tune in for episode 1 next year, but may not be back for more.
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2006-04-04, 11:28:30 AM
Comments: You nailed it. The good, the bad, and the ugly. Thank you.
2006-04-04, 14:16:45 PM
Comments: That´s it! Thank you girl! you said it all!
2006-04-04, 16:11:14 PM
Comments: You said it all there. The show needs to go back to how it started. We need a show like this but we don't want to see lesbians going straight come on lets be selfish here.
2006-04-04, 16:32:57 PM
Comments: I could not have said it any better. I too plan on giving it one more try, and Season 1, I would never have thought this could be happening.
2006-04-04, 16:37:05 PM
Comments: With all due respect to Ilene and her team, I am in total agreement. Who are these women and where are the women we came to know and love? All the lesbians cheat, and decide at a moments notice to trash their life, with new baby in tow, to be with a man. (I realize it happens, at times, but c'mon) Before you throw in new plot lines or things to teach us or show us, consider the character/personalities of those you are having it affect, so it makes sense. Moira is changing her sex, and ok, that's fine..but where in the heck is any character development with her? There is none. And killing off Dana..don't get me started..it was totally unnecessary. There are many ways to educate us about breast cancer and early detection...without having to kill her off..and where the hell were her friends..let's see..one having sex, one sitting at a bus stop searching for herself, one cheating with a man while her lover searched for herself and while her baby slept, one sitting outside talking to Dana's wacko ex-girlfriend and God knows what crazy thing Jenny and Moira/Max were doing..I forgot..because I don't care. All this, while one of their best friends lays in bed dying...hmmmm...something does not compute..nor does this...not one lesbian on this show has a cat (very strange) and none of them seem to have any male friends. Again, does not compute. I realize that this is not a documentary..more a soap opera for lesbians, but you could try and be a bit more representative. I continue to watch, because it is the only lesbian show out there, but it certainly doesn't represent us well..at least not this season. The writers took a vacation this season...
2006-04-04, 16:56:16 PM
Comments: I just printed out your comments to give to a friend of mine. We were talking about the show today and we said many of the things you covered in your piece. The only encouraging thing about this is that it's nice to see that a straight girl gets it. What was offensive in season three was offensive to EVERYBODY. Thanks acrowder for taking the time to express your views.
2006-04-04, 16:57:21 PM
Comments: In total agreement here!!! The biggest mistake this show has made was to kill off Dana- the most realistic, honest, enjoyable, thought-provoking character on the show. The thing that kept me watching was the chemistry between 'Dana' and 'Alice'. What brilliant actors!! Such a joy to watch these two and now we will never see their interaction again! I won't go into other bad story lines and lack of character devlopment as many other people have covered that. I just have one more point to make. The theme song has got TO GO! What was wrong with the opening in the first season- short and to the point. It didn't take away from the show. Why with all the lesbian talent out there do we have to tolerate a horribly written theme with lyrics that give nothing of substance! I mute it everytime it comes on. Please, if anyone out there cares, change the theme!!!!
2006-04-04, 17:27:39 PM
Comments: i am also right behind you... and i am also a str8 woman who loves this show... i was hooked from ep. 1... and when the show ended last week i was glad... i can't watch any more... i can't watch all of this heartache... to many missing peices... they leave ua hanging... and then never pick up the pieces... like you season 2 was ... well it was... but i only watched each ep. 1 time when it aired... had no desire to re watch it... until ep. 9.. when you gave us hope... you brought back the love... and we were happy when it ended... we talked about season 3 all summer... we looked forward to Jan. but hen the spoilers hit... and they were 90% true... and here we sit again... you took the love and stepped on it... you made others hate laurell... and Tina... Laurell is doing her job and what a job she did... so i can't or won't fault her... but please Irene... you have the power to fix this... and we all hope you do... the ball in back in your court... we will still watch... at least the first ep.... i can't say what will happen after that... please bring back the love...
2006-04-04, 18:39:45 PM
Comments: Excellent editorial!!!!Thank you, acrowder!!!!!
2006-04-04, 18:58:56 PM
Comments: Do you realize we should write our own show? Do you realize how we all agree about how misrepresented we are? So agree that these women have become completely unrecognizable, let alone inhuman. And yes, where are all the gay make friends! That flashback with Dana's "beard" was the cutest damn thing. Do these writers not realize how amazing it would be to have gay men on that show? What is with these bizarre humorless straight men? And yes - where are the pets? And ... where are the vegetarians? The yogis (not Bette making fun of them? The socially conscious? AND that was so true about no follow-throughs with anything. Show is simply embarrassing. We need straight people to write for us! I think I would have more hope somehow - at this point!
2006-04-04, 21:05:01 PM
Comments: You go grlfriend, straight or not, you said it all. I would love to find out what IC's address is, email or US, so that I could tell her how she didn't even just MISS the boat this season, she didn't even get into her car to try to make it to the dock on time!!!
2006-04-05, 00:55:16 AM
From: arkansas jo
Comments: right on --here we are trying to get the leaders of this country to lets us have same sex marriage and in many places coming to a vote hasn't help to change straight peoples opinions towards gays it's really hurt the group and i've read that bush wants to stop gays from getting sperm too and couples from adopting--NOT RIGHT
2006-04-05, 02:27:28 AM
Comments: i totally agree with you all, it has been a very disappointing 3rd season. i was wondering about the authenticity of the rumour of Carmen not returning for the next season. is that true? im sure alot of us want her on the show. Shane and carmen were the only proper couple left on the show. as tina went straight and alice/lara lost dana we dont have much to enjoy on this show. all we get is betrayal, anger.. drama drama drama.. i hope carmen stays!!! *fingers crossed* we really need the show imporved!!
2006-04-05, 07:32:10 AM
Comments: Ok, all of you is probably not going to like what i have to say or be angry with me but i have to say it. I know what all you write and comment is true and i agree on most of it. BUT... take for example some 'straight' shows like the oc, smallville, lost, er, etc etc etc. They do not represent every straigt person. They do not have extremly ugly, fat, invalid, etc etc people in their shows. Nobody would watch them if the were all fat and ugly (excuse my harsh languange), if they were all lovey dovey all the time, if every relationship was perfect, if there was no drama, if there was no cheating etc etc etc. Thats just the way it is, viewers love the drama, the suspension, the tension. It has been prooved so many other times in the past that when a couple gets together or something like that and they take the tension away that they loose viewers and viewers is what they need to keep the show going. The same goes for The L-Word, they need the well dresses-pretty people, cheating horndogs :-), deaths (how much it also pains me to say goodbye to 'dana'), the DRAMA. Don't get me wring im a lesbian, i am in a longterm relationship and would also like to see that refelected on a tv show, but if im really honest i have to aks myself how many episodes would i be interested in watching a happy couple do everyday things happily, whisteling like there is no care in the world?!? It would be nice to have a lovey dovey happy couple in the L Word on the background, but all the characters we have become to love are key/main characters and take up a big part of the show, so the show can't really afford to get viewers grow tired of their main characters. And lets face it in every day life, life is not always and every day perfect without problems with your family, friends, work, partners. These things happen in real life, it just looks a bit unbelievable and ridiculous that it 'all' happen to this particular group of friends, but thats because it is TV and that is what the main of the viewers want. It may look like it is not what you want but it normally is. I can only speak for myself, so just an example: i was so exicited after season 1 and rooting for bette to get back with Tina. I was so sad when they didnt at the beginning of season 2 and again so happy when they actually did and were going to raise the baby together, but at the end of season 2 i was less exicited about the new season then the year before, when things were unclear, uncertain. You wanted so much more after season 1 you were aching to get to season 2 and not just because it was all new but because of the suspension. After season 2 i was excited but not as much as before. I havent yet seen all of the episodes of season 3 we are here a bit behind but i have read the episodes and know the finale. And i know that i am going to be so exicited again to see what is going to happen in season 4 and am going to hope that Tina, Shane and the rest of them will get their sense back. And that is my whole point im trying to raise here, the only reason they are throwing us all this drama is to keep us interested. I actually think it was a brave thing to do for IC to put her neck and career on the line to start with the L Word. HOWEVER, what i completly agree with is the male friends. Season 1 had tim, season 2 had uhhh whats his face, season 3 had manny and the guy planet manager, but they weren't really included that much in the friendships. Now i wonder if that is a bad thing? Do we really want a bunch of straight guys running around on our lesbian show ;-) Also i agree with you lot about DANA, Why she had to die, TINA, why she had to 'go' straight, has she lost her mind. I understand why they wrote it like that tho because it brings out emotions in the viewers i know it did to me and that is what me and so many others keep watching. It makes you feel, wether those feelings are sadness, happiness, anger ro anything else, that is what the writers are after. Im sorry you guys that i am rambling on and on, but i for one want to thank IC for the show. But then i don't agree, because i want happiness for my characters as we want for ourselves, but hapiness for all my favouraite characters also means the end of the show. So in a way i have to agree with my self to disagree.... lolHope not to get jumped by everybody bout my lil comment. Come to think of it, a bunch of women jumping me isn't such a bad idea ;-)
2006-04-05, 11:49:07 AM
Comments: I think you speak for a lot of the fans and have really summed it up nicely, well said!!!!!!
2006-04-05, 20:40:26 PM
Comments: I have to agree with acrowdwer. I started watching the L Word in hopes that it would show the realism that happens in the gay community. With all that is going on politically, the show has only proven what most people think of the gay / lesbian community is true. Society has already gotten the idea that we can't have lasting relationships, and that we jump into bed with whomever, Do we really need a show that only promotes non-lasting relationships? As the seasons have reigned on they have contined to lose my interest. I only hope that somehow season 4 can turn around for the better.
2006-04-07, 13:16:01 PM
Comments: You are so right on the mark. The show needs to go back and get in touch with the lesbian population. Thanks
2006-04-08, 04:44:07 AM
Comments: Well said. Way to go baby.
2006-04-10, 13:25:53 PM
Comments: I agree with acrowder AND Angel on this one. I really dont dislike the show at all. I feel that without all the drama, it would be boring. There are alot of extremes, like Tinas crap. But dont tell me no one has been in a relationship where your other half "decides to be straight". And as for Dana dying. It was very real, and I dont agree with the viewers for signing petitions and not watching the show anymore, i feel it's immature. Life isn't fair, people die. I was devistated beyond belief when Dana died. I was so thrown off, and i wasn't expecting it. I have never in my life cried, seriously sniffling, bauling type cried over a movie or TV show. My eyes water and stuff...but when they showed Dana turning blue, i totally had a out of body expirience, like i was there, and it was a close friend of mine. It was so real and so traumatic. But im not upset at IC for doing it. A part of me is, every once in a while i think to myself "i miss Dana", and wonder what the show will be like without her. Maybe it wasn't the best move for The L Word crew, maybe they could have waited more seasons to do something so catastrophic, but i feel that it's life, and life isn't always how you want it to be. But, i do wish Dana was still here. I didn't realize until the end how much Dana meant to me. But her Charater was one of the most realistic as a person you would come across in real life. I do agree that alot of other dramatic moments were ignored, like Bettes phone call from the silent retreat, and the whole thing about Tina getting a job at the studio just seemed to be a way to show us she was interested in men again. What happened to her job? She's always running around with her "Family" now. As for the male friends..my biggest question is. What the hell happened to Mark? I didn't really care for him, but it seemed that her grew a brain towards the end of S2, and could have been a good straight male friend to have around. At least throw in a "Marina's suicide attempt" story for him, so we know he didn't just dissapear. The last we heard, Jenny dared him to stick around and deal with what he did. Ummmm, so like...what happened?But after all the bad things, the drama, the sadness, the happiness. I just have one thing to say. It's only a TV show. We get so invested in it because it's our only show. Our hearts and minds go into it and we get so attatched, because we relate to the characters. But, it is just a TV show, and for people to insult and critiscize (sp?) IC and the writters, i think it's immature. acrowder was very mature in her comments and i wish more people were like that. You can complain about the show, you can point out things you dont like, but it's just really getting to me when people get so nasty and write hate mail and things to IC and basically boycott the show because something isn't fair. The show evokes emotion. It's a drama series, deal with it. Some things may be extreme, but it keeps people watching. It's just human psychology. Why does traffic get backed up when the accident is totally out of the way? Because humans are intrigued by drama, they want to see what happend, so they slow down to look. So i give The L Word crew thumbs up for keeping us intrigued. Nothing is perfect, but with all the gripes and plot holes and mixed feelings, i'll just say. I love The L Word. I have from the very first episode, and will continue to watch to see what happends. Yay for Lara still being around, she's so fine, and if Sarah Shahi leaves the show, i will cry. ha ha. But thanks for the show Ilene Chaiken. No matter what people say, they love it.
2006-04-10, 18:07:05 PM
Comments: Angel, I agree with you. L-word is a television drama and doesn't represent everyone's life. I also would agreed with others that some of the storylines are bad, such as Season 2 - Crazy Jenny, Mark, Season 3 - transgender Max and killing off Dana. I would like to see a true Butch character that does not want to be a man. Maybe they'll have Max changes her mind and be happy being a Butch woman. Anyway, on the whole, it's a show and viewers like to see drama. If every couples are happy lovey dovey, it would be boring after awhile. There is nothing like the tension of meeting and courting a new love or breaking up. This is television.
2006-04-12, 03:46:19 AM
Comments: Thank you for writing everything I have been thinking. The show lost me this season. Ending it with only the "straight" relationships Kit/Angus and Tina/her man in tact. Is this the L word or the S word? Lesbians should be insulted by this. It paints us as incapable of a stong stable committed relationship....and ending up committed in a psych unit.
2006-04-17, 18:20:10 PM
Comments: I'm a straight woman too, and I loved this show. But now in season 3, I agree that Ilene messed up a bit.Representation is important in TV and I don't think she's getting it right. Not one couple has lasted, which is beyond ridiculous. There could be at least one couple who manages to stay together. Perhaps a storyline for that couple could be raising a child and everything that entails, to bring attention to that.I just don't think that the show is very good anymore.Why should people have to put up with this show just because it's the only lesbian show on TV? Doesn't everyone deserve better?
2006-04-22, 06:31:26 AM
Comments: In a world where we are fighting an uphill battle for gay adoption rights as well as gay marriages. I would like to personally thank the writers of this season for protraying us as though we deserve neither. Last season painted us as though even in places we can get married, we can't make it to the alter and will leave the girl jilted there... We apparently can't stay together long enough to raise a child together and one just may go off the deep end and run away with the child. Whoever is writing this is really validating all those who oppose gay marriage and adoption and making us look like we cannot form stable enough relationships deserving of either. I watched the Glaad awards and was really happy to see the show got best drama...however, I hope the writers really listened to the little speech given by the president of Glaad. He said something to the effect that it does not make one little bit of difference how we are portrayed to the public .....It makes ALL the difference.
2006-04-24, 23:30:41 PM
Comments: While art--as conceived by an artist-- can exist for its own sake without a social or political agenda, the viewer, meanwhile, is free to attribute whatever meaning he or she wants to a work. When speaking of The L Word, I'm obviously using the word "art" in a very broad sense, but as a TV art form the show does have a content and viewers do attribute meaning to it. For this reason I especially agree with skywriter's recent comments (and similar sentiments expressed by several other writers who have commented on my editorial.) Season 3 of The L Word has presented the lesbian community in a particularly unflattering light, all for the sake of DRAMA no doubt. In a perfect world this wouldn't matter, but since this world of ours is anything but perfect, our favorite little drama does have consequences, and it does shape public opinion. In the state of Virginia, for instance, there will be a referendum on the ballot in November to amend the state's constitution. The amendment calls not only for banning gay marriages but goes one step further and bans all unions between same sex couples that are intended to approximate marriage (goodbye civil unions!) In the state where Thomas Jefferson and James Madison wrote the two most important political documents that this country is founded on, the current citizens may very well enshrine discrimination into the constitution come November. What a tragic irony! Unfortunately Season 3 of The L Word portrayed lesbians as just the sort of people that many Virginians will likely want to stop from marrying or adopting children or sharing child custody arrangements, etc. While the show may be good entertainment, it comes at a social cost. Skywriter said it well: "...how we are portrayed to the public...makes ALL the difference."
2006-04-26, 22:18:07 PM
Comments: You are absolutely right ! If we could only get IC and her team to read these comments, then maybe season 4 would have a chance.