I've been neglecting my L Word updates for various reasons—none of them terribly interesting—but this article in this week's Observer really got on my tits and twisted (and not in a good way). Entitled "To L With It: How Showtime's Sultry Sapphic Saga Stopped Talking to Straight Women," the author starts off with a dubious premise and goes downhill from there. (Warning: All you L Word haters out there, you may as well step out for a smoke break, because this may be a long one.)
Reading it, I was reminded me of a somewhat retarded "I'm straight, but I love the L Word" feature Salon ran a while back. Turns out they're both written by the same woman—Hillary Frey! Only back then, she was ashamed of her viewing habit:
But I was too nervous to admit my excitement to anyone else, let alone watch it in company. I guess I was a little too curious, and slightly ashamed of how eager I -- a straight girl in New York -- was to drink in Jennifer Beals, Mia Kirshner and, my god, the outrageously sexy Katherine Moennig, make out (and do so very much more) with other women.
I guess she got over her embarrassment because this time 'round Frey's premise is that straight women (i.e., Hillary Frey) feel they've—we've—been abandoned by the show. Ahem.
Shall we begin? Hillary Frey's first point of wrongness:
Forget “lesbian”—more than anything, “L” stood for “lifestyle,” something that every woman has a stake in.
Actually, no. I'm pretty sure the "L" stands for "lesbian." Viewers of both genders were probably first intrigued because it was a show featuring lady-loving ladies. How often do you see that? I like Ellen and all, but she's fairly neutered on TV. It's not like she and Portia ever talk about getting it on—let alone treat us to visuals. Now here you have a show representing a huge segment of the population that usually gets shunted off as either a bad joke or a lame stereotype. That's what originally sucked people in. We stayed because it's a compelling soap opera with boobies.
Frey's second point of wrongness:
To the extent that The L Word provided voyeuristic pleasure for straight women (and make no mistake, it did), it was initially through Jenny: the straight turned curious, well-meaning if loopy new kid in town.
JENNY!?!?! Are you KIDDING!!!! I have wanted to hit Jenny Schecter across the face with a shovel since she first simpered onto the screen. Aaaargh! Curious? Well-meaning? Loopy? I'll stop right now as my hatred for The Jenster is well-documented and I'm starting to get a headache.
Frey's third point of wrongness:
Since [Jenny's boyfriend Tim] almost every man on the show has been an unrepentant dick.
Actually, no. Men have always been beside the point. They are non-entities as they should be. Men run the world and every other TV show on the planet (no pun intended!). Let the ladies have one hour a week.
The author also takes issue with the way straight people are often portrayed as jackasses and morons. So what? As a heterosexual woman, I can tell you with absolute certainty that straight people are quite often jackasses and morons. I have no problem with the show poking fun at that, especially given all the crap your average dyke has to put up with on a daily basis.
This really killed me:
And back to Henry: On last week’s episode, he was clipping his toenails in the living room. I have never seen a man do this in my life. It’s a cliché—shorthand to illustrate how rude, selfish and plain old gross straight men are.
Oh, yeah—I've never seen that either! Bwah ha ha!!!! Come on over to my house, sister—and after he's done clipping his nails, let my boy introduce you to the beauty that is the Dutch Oven!
Frey also has a problem with Shane!
Taking care of her brother dulled her character in the way the childless fear that raising kids will: Shane has turned sentimental. She's lost her edge.
Personality transplants are rampant on The L Word, but I actually think Shane's transformation was handled beautifully. Sure, the storyline was far-fetched, but I think Kate did a great job and now her character is one of the more multi-dimensional on the show. And this from the girl who normally feels the kid storyline is the kiss of death.
What I think the real problem is, is that the author—like a lot of straight girls—enjoys the feeling of naughtiness that perving on Shane provides them. Like maybe they're not just boring straight girls, but possibly "bi-curious" or some shit. Snort. I mean, really, how gay is it to think Shane is hot? She's more butch than half the purportedly straight boys on Bedford Avenue. But now that she's shown more of her nurturing femme side, that starts to freak the uptight breeder bitches out a little. Like maybe there's a little Phyllis lurking inside them. . . come out, come out, wherever you are. . .
This transcends wrongness and goes right over into crazytown:
The L Word has gotten one character right, the female-to-male transsexual Max.
Um, what?!? This is too stupid to go into. Let me just sum my thoughts on this statement up in one word: WRONG.
I have a lot of problems with The L Word: the aforementioned overnight personality transformations, the occasionally implausible storylines, and, of course, Jenny, Jenny—oh, and Jenny. But as far as feeling abandoned? Pfft. Dude, it's a TV show. Get over it. It wasn't yours to begin with.