Have soapbox, will travel

Please indulge me, friends. Can we have a brief word about Bette Porter?

In a season where Ilene Chaiken seems determined to test not just the limits of our patience but of our eyes, I could not be more enamored with Bette Porter. First, there was the episode with all the laughing. It was as if Jennifer Beals just gave up (or gave in) and laughed because the whole thing—the crazy trip that has been The L Word—is almost over and it just keeps getting more ridiculous. Jennifer Beals has a terrific, genuine laugh, and it was on full display in the third episode of this season. She just giggled, chuckled, and gaffawed through practically the entire episode, and it was awesome.

Then, this week, when that ignoramus asked Bette if she is married, she went on and on about federally-recognized rights until Tina had to interrupt and point out that the dude was asking if she is married to a man. Um, no, buddy, not even a little bit. That scene was so unequivocally Bette that for a moment I forgave Chaiken all her sins—but just for a moment, because although it was Chaiken who brought Bette to my life, it is Jennifer Beals who succeeds line after line, scene after scene, episode after episode, season after season, in making Bette who she is.

Of course, when this is all over, I’ll miss Bette most of all. She has been my 21st century Julia Sugarbaker. I love how much space Beals as Bette takes up, how she owns whatever room she is in. That initial shot of her in the pilot, walking into the therapist’s office, will be what I remember about watching The L Word. In the case of Bette Porter, the writing hasn’t always honored the character, but the acting has never faltered. I am constantly in awe of how controlled and yet raw Jennifer Beals can be. Regardless of the mess that I know is yet to come, I hope the rest of the season continues to bring me this kind of Bette.