Article by Pam Cole
FEB. 21, 2005
That was the sound heard in living rooms and bedrooms and bars all across America
last Sunday as the long-awaited, painfully-anticipated, second season of The
L Word premiered. Hopefully, this episode was just an anomaly spawned by panicky
writers and producers still in the blush of first-season success, and not the
legitimate beginning of the sophomore slump. Maybe I was just spoiled by the
truly Emmy-level acting, writing, and production of season one, or maybe it
was the exquisite high-drama hook of the season one finale that raised my bar,
but I really was expecting more from last night's episode.
Was this the product of bad editing or bad writing? (Or too much network intervention?)
It's hard to tell without seeing the script or the raw footage. Where was the
snappy cynical dialog so deftly delivered by Alice and received by Dana, the
best female "straight" man since Gracie Allen? Where was the quick
cutting edits and hand-held camera action that brought such zing to first season
scenes? And where, for god's sake, was the sex--those steamy, broiling, never-before-seen-on-television,
lesbian sex scenes?
I was confused from the very beginning, when Tina tried to explain her advanced
pregnancy to both a clearly startled gynecologist, and an unsuspecting audience.
(While Laurel Holloman must be admired for displaying her real life blooming
belly for the camera, I have to admit that it killed any future images I might
have had of her as a sexual object. There'll be no ultra-hot makeup sex between
she and Bette to rival the breakup scene that ended season one-I'll bet. [NOTE:
Boy, was I wrong on that one!]) That's one "L" of a letdown to start
season two, in my opinion.
The writing was disjointed and downright confusing at times. In season one,
what drew me so strongly into the show was the way the story resonated with
me. Over and over I found myself thinking, "I've said that before"
done that before"
."I've felt that before." But last night
was different. I was continuously puzzled by both the words and actions of the
characters. The script just wasn't as "true" as it often was in season
one. For example, Tina says she "wants this baby more than ever,"
but would someone please explain to my, why? Tina never does. She has no job,
no home, no partner, and still, she wants a baby? Must be some deep-seated need
we've not been privy to. And why were we deliberately mislead about the demise
of Marina? I know it must be awkward for writers to dispose of a leading (and
popular) character, but did she: a) slit her wrists; b) crash her car into a
parking garage; c) overdose on some kind of pills; d) jump off the hotel balcony,
or; e) all of the above. I'm with Kit; I didn't know she was in that much pain.
I guess all this guesswork was supposed to be funny, but somehow it falls short
and ends up just being annoying. Marina never seemed like the suicidal, mentally
unstable type. Couldn't she have just died in an untimely car accident or a
private plane crash? Is this some sick way to leave the door open for her return?
Then, there was Arianna Huffington. "She's 50!" railed both Alice
and Dana. What's wrong with 50, I ask? My lover is 50 and she's still damn hot.
Were the writers intentionally trying to alienate us nearing 50 and over lesbians?
Hmmm. But anyway, there was Arianna Huffington who, God love her (and I do,
too), is no actor. Out of the blue, after just meeting Shane, Arianna asks,
"What about you? What do you want Shane?" This question has no relevance
to their previous brief introductory conversation, but bears an eerie resemblance
to the come-on question that Shane poised to Sherrie Jaffe as Ms. Jaffee sat
perched in Shane's salon chair about to be coifed. ("What do you want?"
asked Shane with definite sexual undertones as she stared Sherrie dead in the
eye. The question launched their entire affair.) Now, Shane was the brunt of
this oddly placed query from Ms. Huffington, apparently just so the writers
could lead into Arrington's next puzzling probe: "What about love?"
Huh? Now, where'd that come from? Talk about writing on the nose.
Carmen, Carmen, let me count the ways. Is every beautiful woman in LA really
a lesbian, or at least fair game? I wasn't too confused by Carmen, that is,
until Shane unbuttoned Carmen's pants and revealed her elaborate tattoo. Carmen
explained, "I got it from my father, some sort of Mayan medicine man."
wait a minute. How did she get this intricate geometric imprint
across her hips and butt from her Mayan medicine man father, whom she never
met because he died in a motorcycle accident before she was born? Was it genetically
inherited? Is it really a birthmark that he also had? Did he visit her in a
spirit dream and hand her a tracing of the pattern? I'm so confused. And is
the middle of Shane's big seduction really the best place to have this expository
conversation?? I was happy to see this scene, though. Shane was at her sexual
best, and these girls had real chemistry. Finally, I thought, some lesbian sex.
But I nearly had a fit when the camera panned away behind some panel, hiding
all the action. No tits, no ass. (Does everyone have a nudity clause this year?
Or is the network shutting down the sex scenes?)
Which brings up another point: Dana and Alice in the Planet bathroom, finally
talking about "the kiss." They got so hot just remembering it, that
they got into it all over again and continued with the hot kissing. But wait!
The scene cuts and we don't know how far they go. All these months I've been
waiting for Alice and Dana to get it on and the editor cuts the scene short!
Come on! Show us some action!
Was I the only one who wanted to see Bette really give Candace the boot? God,
I wanted to see Candace squirm. I wanted to see her get royally dumped, and
Bette, in a flash, suddenly return to her senses. What a great scene that would
have been! Instead, I got to hear Bette briefly describe the dumping to a distraught
(and pregnant) Tina sitting in the Planet surrounded by her posse (though I
did love it when Tina upturned the table and dumped coffee in Tanya's white
The show wasn't all bad. In fact, there were more good scenes than bad ones
(Gene dumping Jenny in the beginning, Tina and Bette together at the house,
Alice confronting Bette at the Planet.) But there were too many useless scenes
(Alice in a knitting class talking to a woman who had NO response to Alice's
demonstration of a knitted dildo harness-they must see that kind of stuff all
the time in LA), too many confusing scenes (why did Tim "rape" Jenny
before disappearing forever, and why didn't we get to see her faint in the restaurant?)
and generally, too little resolution for the now legion fans who have waited
with gnashed teeth for months to find out what happened to our heroes.
That's the sound I heard last night as I watched The L Word with my lover of
seven years, a much-looked-forward to 10 o'clock, Sunday night date. We had
marked it on the calendar months ago, changed travel plans, and set up the VCR,
all to ensure we didn't miss one second of the show.
But with all that said, you know what? I can't wait for next week's episode.
(It's your fault, Ilene Chaiken. You spoiled me rotten with great programming
last season.) I'll be watching. Maybe the next episode will be a real ringer,
instead of a thud.
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