What the L?

Commentary: Alphabet Soup

By Kristina Campbell
Published on April 22, 2004, 12:00am | Comments

I really didn't mean for it to happen, but it did. I got sucked in by The L Word.

I spent the season with growing anticipation for Sunday nights as I wondered how the ridiculous plotlines would unfold. At first I was totally unimpressed with Jennifer Beals, who plays Bette, but by the end of the season I was affectionately calling her Hotte.

I gradually got used to the weed-whacker hairstyles. I started admitting my predilection to people other than my therapist.

Toward the end, I even let TiVo catch The Sopranos so I could make it to my friend's house on time for the show to start, instead of arriving 10 minutes late, as I had in previous weeks.

I thought I'd be safe from the lure of The L Word because I don't have Showtime at home. After years of successfully avoiding Queer as Folk including an unimpressed stint with the first disc or two of season one on DVD I was not even for a moment tempted to subscribe to that channel for The L Word. After all, HBO gives me the lovin' I need, and does so in spades.

Maybe I was more bereft by the passing of Sex and the City than I'd admitted, but when my friend Jennifer (who signed up for Showtime just before The L Word debuted) announced in February that she was having a small gathering for the Valentine's Day marathon of the first four episodes, I was an easy sell. Sure, I told her, we'll be there.

We came. We saw. We criticized. We mocked, ruthlessly. We eye-rolled. We gagged. We scowled, we derided, we chided.

We came back the next night to see that week's new episode.

We started returning, getting hooked. Some of us (hi!) still mocked, while others seemed to be taking things more seriously. I would spend entire episodes wanting to throw things at the television, but I restrained myself. After all, it wasn't my television.

Between episode airings, we'd go our separate ways, the five of us who had been gathering each week. We were, ostensibly, going back to our regular lives and to our jobs, but each Sunday night we'd find out that we'd actually spent our days reading the L Word chat boards on sho.com and googling the various actors. Trivial nuggets would fly.

I found myself only minimally caught up in the lives of the show's stars and storylines, but was more interested in my self-imposed mission of planning out our Sunday evenings once the season ended. After I hatched the idea of movie nights featuring films starring (or directed by, etc.) the L Word crew, I started spending my free minutes on the Internet Movie Database (imdb.com), an invaluable tool for anyone who's more than a little interested in pop culture, or who likes to play Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.

My plan came to a screeching semi-halt when Sally, one of the enthusiasts in my group, said there was no way we were getting together to watch Flashdance. Did I mention my slowly evolving crush on Jennifer Beals? Luckily, we reached a compromise, because lesbians are adept at consensus: Flashdance can play in the background while we engage in a suitable board game.

There was further discussion about the timing of us watching my personal favorite of all the L Word cast's past projects, The Incredibly True Adventure of Two Girls in Love. Some thought it appropriate to lead off our L Word mourning weeks with a showing of that fine flick, but I noted that its DVD release is coming up on May 4, and wouldn't we rather wait until after we have it in digital format with the prospect of fun special features?

That movie, which stars Laurel Hollomon (who plays Hotte's lover Tina on The L Word), is a favorite of mine due to the deeply sentimental fact of it being the focus of my first one-on-one date with my partner, Kim. Despite Laurel Hollomon's shaky acting skills, we continue to hold a soft spot for Tina in our hearts.

Really, it's just an exercise in treading water, as we try really hard not to count the weeks between now and the next season. Why must the pay channels torment us so, with these tightly packed seasons and an eternity between new episodes? Why can't they air reruns and sporting events and presidential addresses like the networks do, to extend the glory a little? Do they really think we have lives in the off-season?

I've intentionally avoided spoilers in this column, except to tell you that if you start out rolling your eyes at Jennifer Beals, you will think she's hot by the end of the season. I do want to reassure my gay male and straight friends that although I have never lived in Los Angeles and don't know what strange lesbian world really exists in that nethersphere, almost nothing you see on the L Word is anything like any life I've ever experienced. OK, it's true that some of the themes are prevalent everywhere lesbian parenting, issues of fidelity, bi-curiosity, coming out, couples' counseling.

But I don't know any lesbian who would start a sexual encounter with a prospective new lover by grabbing her breast before they even kiss. (Was that a spoiler? Too bad.) And I don't know anyone who can actually make a living as a writer while producing prose as inane and exhausting to the gag reflex as the Jenny character.

In short, the show remains pretty stupid.

And I remain pretty hooked. How many weeks until the new season?

Kristina Campbell can be found huddled in front of a television on Sunday nights with her favorite viewing pals in Takoma Park, Md. Send your suggestions for L Word off-season filler material to kcampbell@metroweekly.com.


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