Sometimes described as "Sex and the City meets Queer as Folk," the weekly, 60-minute Showtime comedy drama series The L Word teased its viewers as to what the "L" stood for in its opening credits sequence, in which a long list of "possibles" rolled past the screen: Laughter, Lattes, Luxurious, Lullaby, Libido, etc. Of course, the letter stood for "Lesbian" -- in this case, a tight-knit group of very attractive lesbians, all living and working in Los Angeles. The episodes focused on the relationships between the principal characters, their family members (some accepting their sexual preferences, others looking askance), their friends, and their "outside" lovers. Jennifer Beals topped the cast as Bette Porter, an art museum director and unabashed control freak, who in the first season lived with her longtime partner Tina Kennard (Laurel Holloman), who chose to stay at home and assume the "housewife" role -- and, after being artificially inseminated, was both wife and mother in the relationship. (Ultimately, Bette and Tina broke up over Bette's infidelity.) The series' "audience-identification" character was Jenny Schecter, a talented writer who had moved next door to Bette and Tina to live with her fiancé, and later husband, Tim Haspel (Eric Mabius). Inexorably drawn into her neighbors' circle of lesbian friends, Jenny gradually came out of the closet herself, having a torrid affair with sexy coffee shop owner Marina Ferrer (Karina Lombard), breaking up with Tim, and entering into a series of not-altogether-satisfying affairs -- all the while trying to emerge from the shadow of a spectacularly miserable childhood. The "comedian" of the bunch was Alice Pieszecki (Leisha Hailey), a glib-tongued bisexual journalist who had a habit of speaking first and thinking second. Also in the cast were Katherine Moening as Shane McCutcheon, a troubled promiscuous hairdresser; Erin Daniels as Dana Fairbanks, a professional tennis player who struggled with whether to stay in the closet professionally and whose insecurities made it hard for her to find a girlfriend; and Pam Grier as the only certified "straight" member of the group, Bette's older half sister and formerly successful singer, Kit Porter. Later editions to the cast in season two included sexy deejay Carmen de la Pica Morales (Sarah Shahi), who at one point carried on simultaneous affairs with Jenny and Shane; wealthy Helena Peabody (Rachel Shelley), daughter of an influential female art collector; and documentary and adult filmmaker Mark Wayland (Eric Lively), who became Shane and Jenny's housemate. Amidst a veritable blizzard of media hype, The L Word made its Showtime premiere on January 28, 2004.
lesbianism, friendship, women