There was a moment during the series finale of The L Word, uncleverly titled “Last Word,” when I realized what the episode should have been like. It hit me like the business end of the show’s version of foreshadowing: THE RAILING! IT HASN’T BEEN INSTALLED YET! THE BALCONY IS DANGEROUS! SOMEONE COULD FALL! INTO THE POOL! AND DIE! THE RAILING! THERAILINGTHERAILINGTHERAILINGTHERAILING!
Excuse me. Clearly, I still need to shake off the episode.
When Bette told Tina she wanted to get married in New York, I understood that the logical conclusion to the show was a Bette and Tina wedding. Since satisfyingly story-driven series finales are so hard to come by, a simple, cheesy ending would have been fine. Everyone (in person this time) gathers for the wedding, there is some last minute drama and cold feet, and then everyone lives happily ever after.
As we all know, no one lived happily ever after. Some people didn’t even live. An open-ended conclusion would have been OK with me. I didn’t need total and complete closure. I just wanted something to happen.
When I first heard that Jenny would die at the end of The L Word, I was disappointed. The up side of knowing how the series will end at the beginning of the last season instead of at the end is that I had seven episodes to make my peace with it. I didn’t want Jenny to die, but I got over it.
By the time I watched “Last Word,” it was nearly 2am on what was technically Monday morning, and I had read a lot of discontented reactions to the episode. I expected a terrible conclusion to a show I had grown to love and loathe, usually at the same time, but I do not smoke enough crack to come up with the shit that Ilene Chaiken wrapped up and called a series finale. My expectations were low, but they still proceeded from a place of things making sense. I envisioned a long dramatic sequence of Jenny being discovered floating face-down in the pool, Gatsby-style. (We all know how Chaiken likes to steal from the movies.) Because Shane and Bette were both soaking wet in the flashforward, I figured they were the ones to drag Jenny from the pool. I imagined desperate attempts at CPR and a slow but eventual surrender to the overwhelming evidence that Jenny was dead.
Instead, we were treated to a sequence of scenes so disjointed that if we hadn’t seen the first two minutes of the first episode of this season, we wouldn’t even understand that Jenny was dead. I have pondered this notion for a week now. Pretend that you used to watch The L Word but stopped after a few seasons, maybe after season 3, though I can’t imagine why. When you heard that the show was ending, you decided to tune in, just to see how the ladies were doing and to give them a proper send off since they used to mean something to you. Plus, a friend of yours was having a party and free drinks are free drinks, you know? However, you soon discovered that all the free drinks in the world aren’t worth wading through the hot mess (a term that could have been invented especially for this instance since the women of The L Word managed to remain as gorgeous as ever as the show fell apart around them) masquerading as the only lesbian drama on TV.
Last night, around 9pm, I had a moment of weakness. I wanted to watch The L Word. It was time, after all. I waited until last Wednesday night to watch the goodbye that Showtime aired before the final episode. First I was annoyed and then I just didn’t want to let go. I am not good at the letting go. I finally watched the goodbye and it was pretty good. There were things that went unmentioned, but distilling a show that meant as much as The L Word to an hour of nostalgia and regret is an impossible task. The retrospective reminded me of the buzz surrounding The L Word. Even if people didn’t watch it, they knew about it, knew that something was happening on Showtime, and probably wondered what it was like. The L Word started conversations. It certainly got me talking about lesbians more than I ever had before.
It seems appropriate to end this post with a quote from an Indigo Girls song because the Indigo Girls have done and continue to do what The L Word never could; they associate things like talent, integrity, and longevity with being gay. I got a lot from The L Word but it was a static relationship. And it is time to move on. So I dedicate this song to The L Word:
“I got all this in between/ Something I could not foresee/ And all the deals I made don’t matter/ If I can’t just let you be/ Gone again..”