No More L Word

December 5

Well, Leslie, I tried. I really did. I watched an entire season of The L Word, plus an episode of season 2 and I just can’t force myself to watch more. I know many folks fan hard over the show and I’m glad the show was made because some lesbian and trans representation is better than no representation, but I just can’t watch. The drama is too much. Why so much infidelity? Why aren’t folks kinder to each other? Is it necessary to tell so many lies and manipulate others? Again, why so much cheating?

It’s not even worth it to keep watching to see more of Shane, Ivan, or the rumored Max, who I wouldn’t even know about had I not read Raye’s post. I just googled Max a minute ago, swooned over Daniela Sea’s character, and nearly felt like changing my mind about my No More The L Word declaration until I read he dated Jenny. I can’t stand Jenny. I rarely dislike anyone even if I disagree with them or find their mannerisms irksome, but alas, I resent Jenny for her faux-innocence, no conscience cheating, childish way of speaking to avoid honest conversations, and strange eye contact which I would compare to an animal’s but I don’t dislike any animal enough to compare it to Jenny. I feel guilty and soul-less writing this (where’s my patience and compassion?), but on a gut level I hate Jenny. When my buddy told me they were murdered in the last episode, I had to bite my tongue from replying, “Good.” I don’t want to ever feel that way about anyone (except maaaybe Donald Trump who unfortunately isn’t fictitious*) so I obviously shouldn’t watch a show that brings out the worst in me.

There are definitely great things about the The L Word, but I look forward to a day where there are more positive representations of lesbian and queer folks in television and cinema. I’m tired of watching shows and movies where one of the protagonists finds love (but first lust) by cheating on her boyfriend, husband, girlfriend, or wife. It will also be wonderful to watch shows featuring greater diversity in terms of race, religion, nationality, body types, class, and ability. And gender identities, of course. The options are few.

 

*To be clear, I’m anti-killing anyone!  I simply wish an out-of-touch, racist, xenophobic, sexist bigot like Trump wasn’t faring so well in the presidential election. His popularity is troubling.

Late to The L Word, Curious about Lisa

December 2

Dear Leslie,

I’ve gotta be one of the last lesbian-ish people to start watching the The L Word, despite having known about the show for years. I previously let the show lie in the ether because I wasn’t interested in unnecessary drama, especially infidelity. Why do most lesbian shows and films feature infidelity? Anyway, my concerns with The L Word were well-founded because by the second episode a main character named Jenny had already ensnared herself in a messy affair with another woman—Marina.  Overall, however, I’ve appreciated the show for what it is, an often humorous look at fictitious wealthier, predominantly white lesbians and bisexual women in southern California. Predictably, I’m attracted to Shane, but I have been curious about Lisa, the lesbian-identified man Alice dates in season one, and troubled by Alice and the other characters’ reactions to Lisa’s identities.

Here are some questions I have:

Does Lisa identify herself as a woman or man? What are her/his pronouns? (S)he identifies as a lesbian, but does she also identify as a man, or is that an identity everyone else places on her?

Is Lisa trans?

Are Alice and the other characters transphobic towards Lisa? Regardless of the answer to this, is their treatment of Lisa’s identities problematic?

Consider Episode 7 of Season 1 in which Alice and Lisa have sex during a party on Harry’s boat. Lisa wants to use a strap-on, but Alice impatiently laughs at that and comments something along the lines, “You have the real thing. I want you to use it.” Lisa does not want to make love that way, but Alice still reaches for Lisa’s penis, coercing her into sexual intercourse without the strap-on. Afterwards, Lisa is upset and clearly feels Alice did not honor Lisa’s identities and preferences.

If Lisa identifies as a man rather than a woman, I don’t know what to make of her lesbian identity. Like Alicia, Bette, Tina, Dana, and the others, I’m stumped. But as gender and sexuality are infinitely complex with countless identities and experiences of different identities, shouldn’t Lisa’s preferences be honored?

It would be easy to laugh at a man calling himself a lesbian, but perhaps Lisa’s character on The L Word compels more critical thinking about gender, sexuality, and the ways in which we treat each other, regardless of whether we or our lovers identify with the genders we were assigned at birth.