This is the Friday 12 at 12! The Outmost’s Leanne Harte lists 12 reasons why we fell in love with ‘The L Word’, which aired for the first time ten years ago tomorrow.
Ilene Chaiken’s groundbreaking series ran from 2004 to 2009, centering on the lives of a group of lesbians, bisexual, transgender and straight people and their friends, family and lovers in West Hollywood. Love it or loathe it (and there are certainly plenty of reasons to loathe it), it can’t be denied that the show was incredibly important for the representation of the lesbian community. The L Word was the first TV show to give a reasonably realistic portrayal of lesbian life, certainly when it came to lesbian sex and relationships. To celebrate its tenth anniversary, here’s my list of twelve things we love about The L Word and its characters.
1. THE CHART
Featured in the pilot episode, at the very beginning of the series, The Chart shone a light on the pretty incestuous world of the lesbian. Invented by the lovely Alice (Leisha Hailey), The Chart connected all of the lesbians she knew together based on who had slept with whom. Hilarious, a bit creepy, but actually completely true-to-life, The Chart brought us all together, whether we liked it or not.
2. WHEN THE GANG GETS TOGETHER
My own personal favourite moments throughout the six seasons of the show were any of the times the entire group of friends were together. Unfortunately, this didn’t happen nearly enough, but when it did it was truly wonderful. This is probably down to the fact that many of the actresses were close in real life, and I think this came through on screen. Some examples of these moments include the very first scene of the group together in The Planet, the campfire scene in Season Five, when the gang went away to Dinah Shore in Season One, and one of my all time favourite scenes, the basketball match in Season Four. And of course, their delightful discussion about different words for the vagina. Who knew there were that many?!
3. THE COMING OUT STORIES
One of my favourite things about being gay is when I meet another gay person and we discuss our coming out stories. So, I totally loved learning about how my favourite characters came out, which happened early on in Season One. Alice falling in love with the sexy bassist from her college band; the fact that Shane was, unsurprisingly, always gay and always aware of it; Dana falling in love with her tennis instructor, who she couldn’t name because she was famous – it was completely perfect!
4. LEZ GIRLS
The whole Lez Girls storyline was completely ridiculous but utterly hilarious. Imagine if one of your Jenny-like friends decided to write a book on your group of lesbian friends in Dublin, changing your names only slightly, and turning the whole thing into a Hollywood movie. Okay, slightly far fetched, but it led the way for some of the funniest L Word scenes. My favourite of all being Bette’s response to reading the book for the first time.
5. THE SOUNDTRACK
It’s true the show definitely wasn’t consistent in terms of good writing, but something that was always consistent was the fantastic soundtrack throughout. Aside from the bizarre ghost sounds of the BETTY theme tune in Season Two during any of the sex scenes, every episode contained perfectly placed and really brilliant tracks, showcasing both new and old acts. From The Organ performing live during one of Carmen and Shane’s early and super hot scenes, to the group attending a Heart concert at the end of Season Two. Leonard Cohen, Goldfrapp, Tegan & Sara, Sleater Kinney, Metric and so much more appeared on the soundtrack. I also particularly enjoyed seeing Tasha sporting an Uh Huh Her t-shirt later on in the series, a nice homage to Leisha Hailey’s real life band.
6. THE SEX
One thing The L Word definitely got right were the sex scenes, all throughout the series. Up until this point in TV land, we had to make do with a lot of subtle subtext when it came to lesbian sex, such as Willow and Tara ‘doing spells’ in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, rather than actually having actual sex. It was so unbelievably important that The L Word came along and showed the world that lesbians really do have sex. Incredibly hot and amazing sex, often. The clip below is definitely NSFW.
7. BETTE PORTER’S FOUL MOUTH
We at The Outmost do not condone bad language. Unless of course, you’re Bette Porter, and you make it look this good. (Obviously this clip is NSFW, unless you have earphones on, but you need to see it because it is one of the greatest YouTube clips of all time, in my humble opinion).
8. ALICE AND DANA
A case could probably be made for most of the main characters to have their own place on this list, but the two characters who brought the most fun to the show were definitely this pair. Ilene Chaiken will forever be in my bad books for killing Dana off so early on in the series, or at all really, but at least we had her awkward, geeky, and wonderful presence for three seasons. Alice and Dana’s friendship, relationship, and then friendship again was really refreshing and lovely, and they both lit up the screen. They were definitely a welcome break from the boring arc of Bette and Tina in Season Two, which took up way too much airtime.
9. THE EXTENDED L WORD FAMILY
For better or worse, the insights into the main character’s families were always interesting. The omnipresent and wonderful Kit, who was a supportive friend of the gays all the way through, and showed how important it is to have this support from straight family members in the gay community, to Dana and Carmen’s less supportive families who struggled with their coming out. All of these representations were really important, because the lesbian community could finally identify properly with characters and their experiences on a TV show.
10. THE BAD DATES
We’ve all had bad dates at one point or another, and the ladies of The L Word were no different. Be it Dana and Jenny’s hilarious and most awkward attempt at sex of all time in Season One; Tina’s car crash of a date in Season Five where she spends the whole time talking about her ex Bette and then is interrupted by Bette, Alice and the vampire; or Jenny’s complete breakdown during sex with Gene in the aquarium in Season One. Along with all of the good sides to lesbian dating and relationships, The L Word never shied away from showing the bad sides, and this made it all the more real.
11. THE CAMEOS
All the way through the six seasons of The L Word we were treated to some of the greatest guest appearances. From famous real-life lesbians such as Jane Lynch, Sandra Bernhard, Alexandra Hedison, Kelly McGillis, Tammy Lynn Michaels, and Guinevere Turner, to actresses with cult lesbian statuses, like Lucy Lawless and Melanie Lynskey. Cybill Shepherd starred as Phyllis in the later seasons of the show, and was absolutely hilarious in the part. And the wonderful Alan Cumming starred as Billy Blaikie, the drug addicted manager of The Planet. And don’t forget the brief appearance of Showgirl Elizabeth Berkley (aka Jessie Spano) in Season Six. We loved all of them!
12. IT’S ALL NOW AVAILABLE ON NETFLIX
We definitely love the fact that the entire series of The L Word is now available to stream on Netflix here in Ireland, so you can now watch it all over again for the five millionth time. Enjoy!
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