2009 Year in Review: Television

 
 

SCRIPTED TELEVISION: CABLE

2009 also saw the end of another lesbian soap opera; after six seasons of entertaining and infuriating us, The L Word ended its run on Showtime.

Queer women have always had a complicated relationship with The L Word, and if anything, it grew even more intense during the show’s final year. The eight-episode season opened with the death Jenny Schecter (played by Mia Kirshner) and then flashed back to the previous season’s finale, giving the final episodes the framework of an absurd murder-mystery.

Various characters threatened to kill Jenny over the course of the season: Tina (played by Laurel Holloman) because she assumed Jenny stole the Lez Girls film negative; Nikki (played by Kate French) because Jenny toyed with her affections; Alice (played by Leisha Hailey) because Jenny plagiarized her film treatment; Max (played by Daniela Sea) because Jenny insisted on calling him “her”; Helena (played by Rachel Shelley) because Jenny sabotaged her rekindled relationship with Dylan; and Bette (played by Jennifer Beals) because — well Bette never actually threatened to kill Jenny. She just stood ominously in front of her on a broken balcony and promised to do anything to protect her family.

In the end, the mystery was not resolved, indicating to fans that the storyline was nothing more than a setup for the proposed prison spin-off, The Farm. (It would have starred Leisha Hailey, but Showtime passed on it.)

One of the more controversial and frustrating storylines of The L Word‘s sixth season was the accidental (and medically-inexplicable) pregnancy of the transgender character, Max.

Max was the only FTM character on TV in 2009, and his pregnancy storyline only served to alienate him from the core cast of L Word characters. He was depicted as freakishly hormonal and unstable. He punched his boyfriend in the mouth and spent much of his time in his potting shed, playing violent video games. He could not reconcile his masculine identity with the feminine changes he was going through due to pregnancy. (His friends’ ignorance and unwillingness to embrace him didn’t help). At one point, Bette even compared him to a used car when he offered to let her and Tina adopt his child.

In the finale, Max was shown shaving off his beard, a symbolic scene in which he was forced to embrace his “femininity.”

While the other L Word characters didn’t face an ending as bleak as Max’s, there wasn’t much happiness to spare in West Hollywood in 2009.

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