52 Shows, 52 Weeks: #13 The L Word

It’s time to get past this hurdle.  I’ve written about The L Word here more than any other TV show, perhaps more than any other topic.  Is there still more to say about this show?  When I began this project, I doubted that I had more to add to the conversation about The L Word and I almost left it off my list.  However, if I’m going to write about 52 TV shows that I love, how can I leave out The Word and claim to have any kind of a meaningful list?

Instead of trying to rehash old thoughts with new words, I went through all of my posts related to The Word and pulled out some quotes that best distill my experience of the show down to its essence.

On June 20, 2006, I wrote this in my first blog post about The Word:

I have watched a total of 5 episodes and I am thinking of quitting my job so that I can stay home all day every day and watch The L Word.

Update: I wish I could claim that in the intervening five years since I wrote that sentence, I have come to a place in my life where I no longer mostly want to sit at home drinking whiskey and watching The L Word.

On Jan. 8, 2007, I wrote:

I simply love this show. I bought books and I read scholarly reviews so that I could pretend to be intellectual about it, but the truth is I somehow fell into stupid, blind, totally incapable of objectivity love with this show. There are things I don’t like, but I treat Max scenes as opportunities for me to prepare for my next encounter with the incomparable Jennifer Beals. I want this to be a show I can be proud to watch, like West Wing, but my main concern is that it stay on the air. If they take away The L Word after this season and Jennifer Beals disappears from my life, I may have to go buy Flashdance at Target for $5.50, and I don’t want to live in a world where I own Flashdance.

On June 19, 2007, I wrote:

I’m still in love with the idea of The L Word. I like that it exists outside heterosexuality, that this group of people is treated as the norm, and that Jennifer Beals is there. I’m sure that I connected to the show so easily because I am a soap fan at heart. Lately, whenever I’m trying to describe The L Word, I think of the exchange between Alice and Jenny in episode 406 when Jenny wants Alice come to The Planet for coffee and Alice says, “I can’t. There’s too much drama.” There is a lot of drama on The L Word. Sometimes, it’s good drama. Sometimes it’s too much drama. And sometimes it’s stupid drama (see season 3).

On Feb. 20, 2008, I wrote:

I’ll be the first to admit that the writing can be disappointing, the plots can be ridiculous, and the character arcs can be sloppy. Sometimes, though, I don’t even notice all those failings because I am too busy being overwhelmed by how exquisite and measured Jennifer Beals is, how Laurel Holloman’s face can express an entire scene, how Leisha Hailey just plain old rocks every second of every day, and how Rose Rollins feels like a gift straight from the Goddess of Amazing Acting and Fabulous Cheekbones. I honestly don’t understand why these women don’t have Emmys. I watch a lot of TV, and I don’t see better acting than what The L Word has going on. These women save this show over and over again. Usually, I’m all “it’s a team effort” and “let’s not forget the writers, the grips, the DPs, the caterers, etc.” But it’s the actors who put themselves out there week after week, who roll around for God knows how long all covered in oil.

On March 28, 2008, I wrote:

For whatever reason, I started referring to the show just as The Word this season. I think it gives it a decidedly religious feeling. It is on on Sundays, after all.

Then, on Feb. 25, 2010, I wrote what I consider to be my definitive post about The Word:

The truth is that The L Word ruined me for any other TV show. I know it doesn’t deserve that dramatic of an impact on my life, but the beauty of love is that it is mysterious. People get people they don’t deserve. Love doesn’t make sense. This feels like a place to tell a story about my uncle Jim, but I’ll try to stay on topic. Whenever I watch a TV show these days, I expect at least one gay character. If you’re watching TV these days, too, you know how often my expectations are met. Going from all lesbians to no lesbians has been hard for me. I know it will get easier, but the kind of relationship The L Word and I had doesn’t ever disappear. I’m not sorry I ever loved The L Word, and I won’t apologize for the scars because, damnit, I like lesbians. Regardless of all the shit The L Word put me through and all the ways I dishonored myself by being with it, it taught me a lesson that I will never, ever forget: There should be lesbians on TV.

And that’s that. Since The Word ended, there has been a void in the landscape of lesbian visibility.  It is regrettably still the only show of its kind.  For all of its faults and flaws, it tried. (That’s a theme among the shows I love, isn’t it?) That is all the L Word apologist rhetoric you’ll get from me today.

P.S. This is still one of my favorite scenes. When it was good, it was so good.

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