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smart, sassy, intelligent female drama
The L Word
Member Name: cerys82
The L Word
Date: 10/10/09, updated on 10/10/09 (48 review reads)
Advantages: well made, clever, fabulously acted
Disadvantages: it's finished!
"The L Word" ran for 6 series between 2004 and 2009. It is currently shown on the Living TV channels but box sets of each series are available. A spin-off show featured in a women's prison was piloted but never picked up.
The show followed a group of women who live in the West Hollywood (or WeHo) part of Los Angeles, who are predominantly lesbians. Throughout the series', viewers would follow their love lives, family dramas and career paths.
Bette and Tina are probably the dominant characters at the beginning; Bette, an art academic is the matriarch of the group. Tina is her long term partner, an aspiring film executive. The two of them have been together for a long time but fundamental differences in their life experiences and personalities threaten to tear them apart, yet ultimately keep drawing them back together.
Shane is probably one of the most fascinating characters - androgynous and promiscuous and a complete heartbreaker, finding it impossible to stay faithful to the stream of women that fall in love with her despite getting involved in a number of relationships.
Then there is Alice, an aspiring media star whose sharp wit and strong opinions often belie her sensitivities. Dana is a professional tennis player who is still largely "in the closet" and largely unlucky romantically. The only straight character in the principal cast is Kit, Bette's sister who has endless troubles with men but finds her life turning around when she purchases the gang's chief restaurant hangout - "The Planet."
The lives of the group are turned upside down with the arrival of Jenny, an intense, troubled, complex and mysterious woman who moves in next door to Bette and Tina with her boyfriend but soon works her way into the group in more ways than one.
This really is a fabulous series that I feel has not really got the attention it deserved in the UK. I may be wrong but I cannot recall any of the terrestrial channels showing this. It was produced by Showtime, a paid subscription channel which has been somewhat overshadowed by the recent successes of HBO but has a number of highly acclaimed, edgy drama series under its belt regardless - Dexter, Californication, Weeds and The Tudors. "The L Word" is daring, smart, not afraid to tackle difficult issues and ultimately really well put together.
It is very well scripted, giving its characters and plotlines room to breathe, thereby making them more convincing. It is obvious that a lot of thought has gone into how the stories and the character arcs have been constructed. There are some nice imaginative touches that are really well executed such as fantasy sequences and flashbacks to the characters earlier lives. This is really not as gimmicky as it sounds, and at times has added a bit of much needed humour and levity to the programme.
The characters are really well considered, constructed, acted and developed. They are well rounded as each one has their obvious flaws as well as their redeeming features, yet still remain intriguing. This is ultimately an entirely female programme so it is really nice to see characters that are not reduced to caricatures. Also, perhaps more so than in many other programmes that I have watched, it is utterly convincing that such disparate personalities would be really good friends. Needless to say, the performances are universally great and there is really chemistry between the actors. There have been numerous well-known actors featured in the show over the years - Alan Cummings and Cybill Shepherd to name a few, but these have been well developed and not mere ploys to get higher ratings.
There are a lot of sex scenes in this show, probably more than I have seen in any other show, at least one an episode. There is also a lot of explicit discussion. However, many of them are integral to the plot and sensuous rather than gratuitous, comical or purely for shock value *coughs* Sex and The City*coughs*.
It is beautifully shot and the chosen locations are great, but this is partly because the characters are largely extremely well-off, with amazing properties.
It does, however, have some leanings towards pretension. Given that a number of the characters are heavily involved in the arts, artistic notions are often brought into the plotlines and rammed down your throat which can be a bit clunky and grating at times.
However, this is a show that faces sexuality and gender issues head on more than any other show than I can remember seeing in a long time and handles them in an intelligent, sensitive but upfront way. That in itself is something to be commended. Yes it looks expensive and glossy , but underneath is real substance and depth.
Summary: highly recommended