“The L Word” recap (1.1): “Pilot”



  • Excited: What we all are, about this show — c’mon, admit it!
  • Urge to Merge: You know, the U-Haul thing.
  • Motility: The word you never thought you’d hear in a show about words that start with L.
  • Bush Confidence: It’s not about George.
  • Symbiosis: A word that Laurel Holloman carries with her everywhere she goes.
  • Sexy: A word you haven’t heard until you’ve heard Marina say it.
  • Clichés: Forget the warnings for nudity and adult language and sexual situations: they should give us a big fat “Caution: Clichés Ahead!”
  • The First: What this show is. The first one of the series, the first “lesbian” show on TV (well, except for Laverne & Shirley), and the first time I feel completely represented and reflected by something on TV. Oh, except for that last thing. But guess what? I wasn’t looking for that. Because that’s never gonna happen. For any of us. Okay? Okay.

THIS WEEK’S GUEST-BIANS: Tammy Lynn Michaels, a.k.a. Mrs. Melissa Etheridge.

The Prelude — Hey, that’s L.A., and that’s the Hollywood sign! And there’s the title: “The L Word”! Okay, I’m kind of excited. Oh, and Marianne Faithfull is singing “The Pleasure Song,” and now I’m so much more excited.

So there’s a guy who’s moving a table and then there are women. Women in bed. Together. Yay! Yeah, I need to calm down.

Lest we get even more excited, the music stops and somebody talks about ovulation. Great, another gayby — haven’t we already been through this with Melanie and Lindsay on Queer as Folk? Oh, but that’s Laurel Holloman: she played Randy Dean on The Incredibly True Adventure of Two Girls in Love. Her name is Tina in this show, but she still looks like Randy, so maybe she should just be RandyTina.

RandyTina hollers to her girlfriend, Bette: “I’m ovulating.” Ah, such romantic words. Bette (Jennifer Beals in a tank top — yum) says “Let’s make a baby,” and plants a kiss on Tina that seems unsurpassably hot, until her hand sneaks down and… um, yeah. Did I say I was excited before? But Bette is cruel to both me and Tina and tells Tina to get dressed: “I’ll drop you off on my way to work.” Way to kill the mood, Bette!

The Marianne Faithfull song starts again and there’s that guy driving off — Tina and Bette tell him goodbye. His name is Tim. He’s their neighbor. Who cares?

The Planet (a restaurant/cafe/trendy hip place) — Okay, who is THAT? The one with the accent, behind the counter? Wait, where’d she go? Who are these other people? Focus, focus.

Shane, the one with the messy hair, doesn’t talk to anyone before she’s had her morning shot, and then she leaves. A gaggle of girls watch her go. Hmm, it looks like Shane is going to be the virtuous, repressed one.

Bette and Tina arrive. Everyone else rolls their eyes at Bette and Tina’s sickeningly sweet display of affection. Jennifer Beals looks great in her suit and has the attitude down: she can be sickeningly sweet with me anytime.

The others figure out that Bette and Tina are talking about the impending insemination, and then Tina says: “But first, Dan Foxworthy.” Dana whines that she doesn’t know what they’re talking about. Alice, who has already established herself as The One In The Know, explains that Dan Foxworthy is the hot shot “shrink to the stars.” So Bette and Tina are going to have a baby and be in couples therapy? Don’t bogart all the clichés, girls: leave some for the other characters.

The airport — That guy, Tim, picks up a woman. Not “picks up” in a Shane kind of way, but picks up with a car. You know. But they are kissing, so it’s not totally innocuous either.

The shrink’s office — Tina explains that Bette is often late, because she’s the director of the California Art Center. And that later they have to go get sperm. Power Suit Bette shows up, still talking on the phone, and slaps Tina affectionately on the knee. Well, sort of affectionately.

The shrink asks them what it’s like to be trying to have a baby, considering the fact that their sex life has been “shitty” for three years. Dude, duck! Bette’s gonna kick your ass! Oh, and add one more cliché to their list: Lesbian Bed Death. They defend themselves by saying that they’ve been together for seven years, and Bette points out that a straight male therapist couldn’t possibly understand. He explains, condescendingly, that “symbiosis” (the kind that kills the sex) is a standard thing in relationships and especially tricky between women. Hey, RandyTina: remember in The Incredibly True Adventure, when you didn’t know what “symbiotic” meant? My, how you’ve grown, and your vocabulary has too! Anyway, Tina supplies her own cliché to summarize the shrink’s rambling: “the lesbian urge-to-merge.” Whatever. Maybe this episode is supposed to be some sort of Lesbian 101 for people who don’t want more than the Cliff Notes.

Tina explains that the insemination is not up for discussion: she used to be a successful development exec and has quit her job to start a family. Oh, of course: that makes perfect sense. What is the shrink thinking — that it’s actually okay to change your mind about something? What an idiot! But Tina and Bette walk out of the shrink’s office, and I don’t think they’re ever going back.

Tim’s car — Jenny (the woman he picked up at the airport) seems to be impressed that the Pacific Ocean is nearby. Where did she think she was going — Los Angeles, Texas? They get to Tim’s house; he has converted his garage into a studio for Jenny. He seems nice.

A potential sperm donor’s house — Bette and Tina check out a guy’s paintings while he jacks off into a cup in the background. The whole thing reminds me of Lily Tomlin trying to explain the difference between Andy Warhol and Campbell’s — “This is art and this is soup.”

Bette’s car —Bette’s on the phone again and starts talking about the soup, um, I mean the sperm. The person on the phone must be asking for a description of the sperm. Bette examines the specimen and says, “God, it’s repugnant. I can’t believe I used to swallow that stuff.” Okay, maybe the soup analogy was more appropriate than I realized.

Tim and Jenny’s house  Jenny hears some voices from the backyard next door — Bette and Tina’s backyard. She sees some women get naked and then get into the pool: one of them is Shane the Virtuous. Soon they’re moaning and gasping. You know, that’s actually pretty realistic-looking. Usually when women have sex on film, it’s all kind of abstract and shadowy and you can’t figure out what’s going on and nobody really seems to be trying to touch anyone. If The L Worddoes nothing else for us, it will at least reveal to the world that sometimes, when they have sex, lesbians use their hands.

Jenny’s embarrassed, but she seemed to enjoy the show.

The doctor’s office — The doctor explains that insemination sometimes works better “if you’re aroused.” Bette makes a cute disbelieving face, but Tina thinks it would help, so Bette dives right in. But then Bette cracks up and babbles about how weird it all is. Tina just sort of nods in a way that says “Get down.” Ha ha! RandyTina is cute.

The doctor interrupts. Bette wipes her mouth and follows the doctor to a computer, which is displaying a disappointing picture of the artist’s soupy sperm. The doctor says, “That stuff wouldn’t get anyone pregnant.”

A grocery store — Jenny asks for an application; she wants to get a job as a cashier. She and Tim don’t seem to have much money, so how are they living next to Power Suit Bette and Ex Executive Tina? Yeah, I know, it’s cliché number 63: gay gentrification. Or maybe it’s just that the undesirable hetero element has moved in and is driving down property values.

The Planet — Tina explains to Alice and Dana that the artist’s sperm had “no motility.” Alice says “you’d never know it by the way the guy fucks.” Dana gets annoyed and asks Alice to choose, once and for all, between “dick and pussy.” Alice, of course, will not do so, and shouldn’t have to. But now we know that Bette used to swallow sperm and Alice still fucks guys — are all the straight male viewers comfortable now? Yeah? Good, let’s move on.

Marina (the one with the accent who was behind the counter at the beginning of the episode and made me lose my focus) sits down at the table and asks what’s wrong. The four of them hatch a plan to find a new donor while Tina’s egg is still implanted. Get it? Hatch?

Just as they’re discussing the ideal donor — strong, healthy, creative, handsome — Shane shows up. Dana says what we’re all thinking: “There’s always Shane.” But then she asks Shane why she has to dress “like that,” because everything about her “screams dyke.” Apparently Dana’s a tennis player and is scared of being outed. Good, I guess Bette and Tina did leave at least one cliché for the others. Anyway, Shane is nicer about it than she needs to be. Dana and Alice bicker a little, but then Jenny walks by and sort of looks in through the window. Dana says “hello” in a lecherous way; the others turn to look and then tell Dana she is “so gay.” She knows, she knows.

Tim and Jenny’s house — Jenny tells Tim all about the sexcapades in the pool, and it turns into a late-night Cinemax kind of thing.

The pool — Tim is a swim coach. His best swimmer, Trish, seems to have a crush on him. Is this supposed to be interesting?

The Planet — Dana asks the others what they think about butt waxing. Tina asks, “Who has hair on their butt?” Alice has an I-swallowed-the-canary look on her face and says, “At least I don’t anymore.” Just in time, the conversation switches to sperm donation, and I can’t believe I’m grateful for it. Apparently there’s going to be a big party, so Bette and Tina can find a better donor.

Now we go back to talking about hair: the topic is “bush confidence.” Trimming is essential. Hang on: let me go write that down.

The neighborhood — Tina is gardening and offers Jenny some rosemary. They talk about writing and babies. Jenny is initially confused about how Tina can have a baby if she and Bette are a couple, but then Jenny recovers. Hey, don’t let it bother you: I didn’t really expect the ovulation talk either, or at least I don’t know that I would have if I hadn’t been reading about this show for months before it started because I’m a dork.

The street — Pam Grier! She’s pulled over by a cop. That was the shortest scene in TV history.

The sperm donor party — Alice quips that for lesbians, friendship is another word for foreplay. Wouldn’t the world be a better place if that were true for everyone?

Bette mentions that every time Shane walks into a room, some girl leaves crying. Enter candidate #1: Tammy Lynne Michaels, wondering why Shane didn’t call her the other night. (Tammy, I loved you when you played Nicole on Popular, and I’m glad my gaydar was right about you. But you should date Alice instead.) She storms out, not quite crying, but definitely not happy with Shane.

Tim and Jenny arrive. Everyone’s very gracious. Tim recognizes Dana and gushes about what a great player she is; Dana grabs her “date” for the evening and introduces him. He’s even gayer than she is, and he hopes Tim is too.

Some of the party guests decide to check out everyone’s fingers: if your ring finger is longer than your index finger, that’s supposed to mean you’re a lesbian. I went around checking that at work one day, but I don’t think anyone was very impressed. I pass the test, though, which is such a relief: otherwise, how could I be sure?

The street — Kit (Pam Grier) talks her way out of getting arrested by promising the cop some Neville Brothers tickets. This scene is about a second longer than the last one she was in: come on, we need more Pam Grier!

The sperm donor party — Shane is making out with someone. Get used to this: I have a feeling it’s gonna happen a lot. Tim and Jenny and Dana and her gay boy date are in the kitchen making drinks. Dana’s very nervous about seeming too gay. After the awkward drink-making, she stomps over to Tina and Bette and asks why they had to invite “those geeky straight people.” Ha ha!

Bette and Tina are trying to talk a guy into being a donor, but he doesn’t want the kid to show up later asking him to be a dad. Bette and Tina seem sort of surprised. Why?

Alice is chatting up Jenny. She’s impressed that Jenny has won a fiction prize. Alice, I once won a trip to Iceland: c’mere and chat me up instead. Marina shows up and joins the conversation. Alice introduces her: “This is Marina. She owns The Planet.” Yes, I do believe she does!

Sparks fly between Jenny and Marina. They find out they both know who Nietzsche is (Alice doesn’t seem to) and they both love Anne Carson (go read the article on Slate.com — thanks for the alert, Jen!). Alice says they should take the Cosmo romantic compatibility quiz. Marina says she could reduce it to one question: “What is your most influential, important, life-altering book of all time?” Oooh, pick me, pick me! I would have to say Housewives at Play.

Jenny doesn’t want to answer the question; she asks it back to Marina. Marina says, “I asked you first.” What are they, five years old? Alice suggests that they each whisper their answer to her and she’ll tell them whether they’re compatible — and she mutters that she thinks she already knows. I guess I know too, because there are all those lingering gazes and slow sultry smiles and all of that, but the truth is I’m too busy staring at Marina to make much sense of anything else. Anyway, each whispers her answer to Alice, but Alice just leaves them “to get married,” so we don’t get to know what they said. No fair. I’m sure it was something sufficiently literary. Alice probably would have said More Housewives at Play.

Bette and Tina are out by the pool, getting rejected by another potential sperm donor. As Karen on Will & Grace would say, “It’s funny ’cause it’s sad.”

The cop has given Kit a ride to the party. She stumbles into the house and walks right out of the scene, because for some reason she’s not allowed to actually be on this show.

Jenny is in line for the “washroom,” as she puts it. What are the geographical boundaries of that term? I never know whether to say “washroom,” “bathroom,” or “restroom,” so I just say “loo.”

Whichever term you use, it’s not quite right for what happens: Jenny goes into the washroom, and after a split second, Marina follows her. She pushes Jenny against the wall and kisses her; Jenny resists at first, but not for long. This is some nice kissing, and Marina’s hands are all over Jenny, but something’s a little bit off. Maybe it’s supposed to be. Eventually Jenny tears herself away — how could she possibly?! — and leaves the washroom/bathroom/restroom. She finds Tim, who is in the middle of a conversation about his college swim team days, and asks him to take her home. Honey, you live right next door: can’t you find it yourself?

We see Kit from afar, playing DJ, for about 3 seconds. We find out she’s Bette’s sister and not entirely welcome.

Tim and Jenny’s house — Tim wants to talk to Jenny about the fact that she so rudely interrupted him, and about how weird she’s being in general (it’s just the Marina effect, Tim — we’ll all feel it sooner or later because Marina owns the planet). Jenny decides she’d rather give him a blow job than talk. Ick. I should have been keeping track, but I think that so far the hetero sex screen time outnumbers the lesbian sex screen time by a factor of 2.

The sperm donor party — Kit is in the kitchen getting a beer. Bette gives the beer a disapproving look. She and the beer and Kit start to snarl at each other, but a guy shows up to profess his love for Kit and to see if she can help with the soundtrack of a film he’s producing. Okay, so here’s what we know about Kit: she has a suspended driver’s license, she’s Bette’s sister, she likes beer, and she is a musician. Oh, and she’s played by the best actress on the show but can’t get more than 5 minutes with the damn camera.

Tim and Jenny’s house — More sex. It’s not even pretty sex: Tim looks like he’s fixing a lawnmower and Jenny looks like she’s wondering where she’s left her keys.

The sperm donor party — Bette and Tina wonder why the men keep turning them down. Tina asks whether there’s something wrong with their “pitch,” but because she has that California surfer girl accent, it sounds like she says “patch,” and for a minute I think that she’s been giving the potential donors a peep show. Shane explains what the real problem is:

Shane: “It has nothing to do with you guys. It’s the new male.”
Dana: “What? What do you know about men? I mean, you’ve never even been with a man.”
Shane: “Well, the new male is more spiritual than the old male. He sees his sperm as an extension of his inner being. Whereas the old male shot into any female without thinking about what would happen, the new male totally cares what becomes of his seed.”
Alice: “Oh my God, it’s Yoda.”
Dana: “Yeah, they teach that at hairdresser school, by the way.”
Bette: “Well, that’s just great. Why did they have to get all sensitive on us just when we needed them to keep on being the same old assholes?”

Shane leaves with her latest conquest. Dana’s gay boy date is drunk and starts to hug her and apologize, but she tells him the party’s over and he can go back to being gay. That party was starting to de-gay me a little too, so I’m relieved.

Jenny’s studio — Jenny couldn’t sleep in the postcoital bed, so she crashed on the couch in her studio. Tim comes in and starts pawing her, but she’s not interested. Tim, I’m just as confused as you are.

Spin class — Tina and Dana beweep their outcast states: Tina has a true love, but no sperm, and Dana has neither, and just wants a good look at the trainer’s “spectacular tits.”

Tina: “So go for it.”
Dana: “No. Besides, she’s straight.”
Tina: “How do you know?”
Dana: “Because I’m so attracted to her. Every time I’m attracted to somebody, she’s either unavailable or straight.”

That was probably supposed to sound like that tired phrase, “All the good ones are either taken or gay.” See, we’re all the same! Lesbians have exactly the same experiences as straight people: the sperm has low motility, the gorgeous people with accents own the planet, and the ones we want don’t want us. Why must we continue to let our differences divide us? They’re just minor, quibbly things: who cares about hate crimes and second-class citizenship when you’ve got the common ground of repugnant sperm and unrequited love?

The Planet — Jenny bumps into Tina, who invites Jenny to sit with her and the others. Alice looks kind of annoyed and Shane looks amused. Marina comes over; she and Jenny pretend they’re just friends. They talk about the cafe and about writing and reading groups, but they look like they’re talking about when, where, and how many times they’ll have sex.

Marina: “So, how do you like The Planet?”
Jenny: “It’s beautiful. It’s nice.”

Dana’s eyes roll, Alice’s eyes widen, and Shane’s jaw drops — and one by one, they make their excuses so that Jenny and Marina can be alone. Tina expresses a little bit of concern and wonders whether Jenny will be okay, but Marina dismisses her with a steely stare.

Marina: “You’re okay, right?”
Jenny: “No, I’m good. I’m good. I…”
Marina: “I hope I didn’t upset you the other night.”
Jenny: “No, you didn’t upset me. I just, um… I came here to say that I’m not… I’m not…”
Marina: “A big coffee drinker?”
Jenny: “I have to go. I have to go.”

After some more mumbling and awkwardness, Marina walks Jenny to her car. It’s Tim’s car — a “muscle car,” which Jenny says is embarrassing, but Marina says it’s sexy. She could say that linoleum is sexy and it would be true. She invites Jenny to “Radar,” which is a special night they do at The Planet on Tuesdays. Jenny says thank you, but no. Marina is gracious and still smiling and perfect.

Another potential sperm donor’s house — Bette and Tina seem to have found the perfect artistic donor with a bad French accent — who is that guy? He looks like a younger, grungier Christopher Plummer, sorta. Anyway, he thought there would be actual fucking involved, not just jerking off: “Hey, ze penis, ze pussy, ze baby.” Why are all of these artists such morons?

The Planet — Everyone’s laughing about the French guy’s description of reproduction — everyone, that is, except for Tina. She sort of picks a fight with Bette, and everyone feels uncomfortable. Well, maybe she’s pouting a little, but c’mon: it wasn’t even very funny!

Tim and Jenny’s house — Jenny’s “all dolled up”; apparently she’s changed her mind about going to Radar. Hmm, I didn’t see that coming at all. Tim and the other swim coach (whose name is Randy) are working on some stuff; they wish her a fun evening. After she leaves, Randy asks Tim how he can “let” her go to a party alone. Maybe Randy and the pseudo-French pseudo-artistic guy should get together and talk about the good old caveman days.

The Planet — Jenny didn’t realize Radar was going to be a women’s party. Duh, Jenny. Dana’s eyeing someone who looks familiar… you know that joke about how small the lesbian community is? Maybe it also extends to the community of Actors Who Appear In Lesbian Films.

Jenny finds the others. Tina says, “I didn’t know you were coming out tonight.” Ha ha. Marina explains that she thought Jenny would like Radar; nobody knows what to say to that. Marina also tells Jenny that Kit does a poetry night, and we get 2 more seconds of Pam Grier. Jenny asks where Bette is, and Alice and Tina simultaneously say (a) “They’re still fighting” and (b) “She’s still at work.” Tina makes a funny face at Alice.

The familiar-looking woman — the one Dana was eyeing earlier — stops by the table; Dana gets all flustered and says hello. The woman pretends to say hello back, but then leans down and kisses Shane.

Dana: “What does Shane have that I don’t have?”
Tina: “It has to do with her attitude.”
Dana: “I’ve got attitude.”
Marina: “It’s because she’s so withholding.”
Tina: “No, it’s because she’s so confident.”
Dana: “No, it’s because she’s so stupid, and stupid people are too dumb to be insecure.”   [Ha ha!]
Alice: “Dana, she’s your friend.”
Tina: “It’s confidence, okay? I’m telling you. And it’s because of her nipples.”
Dana: “What do you mean, it’s because of her nipples?”
Tina: “She has the best nipples in town, and she knows it.”
Alice: “Oh my God, you’re so right: she has nipple confidence.”

I guess that’s supposed to go with “bush confidence.” Whatever.

By now Jenny’s uncomfortable; she decides to just “wander around.” Yeah, that’s like just “wandering around” in a mine field. A mine field where all the mines are lesbians with the urge to merge. Somebody hits on Jenny right away, of course; she says “No, thank you,” and leaves. Not a bad move, Jenny: someone might have started discussing “armpit confidence” next, for all I know.

The grocery store — Jenny’s learning the ropes. The other cashier asks her whether she likes the neighborhood and whether it bothers her that there are lots of homos around. Right on cue, Marina shows up, with her hair kind of mussed in a very sexy way.

Marina: “C’mon, I wanna see you check me out.”
Jenny: “Okay. I’m… sorry… about last night. I should have… I shouldn’t have left like that. I feel really silly. I feel really, really silly, and I think I kind of freaked out. And not because it was a gay bar, okay? But because I had absolutely no idea what I was doing there, you know?”

Hey, what was in Marina’s shopping basket? That could have been very revealing, and we didn’t get to see any of it.

Marina: “Do you want to come to my reading group? It’s, uh, one week from Monday.”
Jenny: “I don’t know. I have to check with Tim. Um… Marina, is your reading group a gay group?”
Marina: “No, there are straight people. [She picks up the grocery bag and starts to leave.] You look cute with the little apron on.”

Hee. Turn around Marina — Jenny is checking you out as you go! I’m not. I’m still stuck on the fact that we didn’t get to see Marina’s groceries.

Tim and Jenny’s house — Jenny and Tim are having dinner with two other straight couples and talking about joining a poker game. Jenny says she can’t play poker because she has to go to the not-gay reading group. Tim is not happy, but because he’s nice and trusting, he lets it go. Oh, Tim.

Bette and Tina’s house — Bette is home when Tina didn’t expect her to be; she came home from work so they could spend some time together. But Tina is on her way to the gym. She gives Bette a half-hearted smooch on the cheek and leaves. Brrrr.

After the book group — Jenny had a great time; Marina did too, and says “A great mind is such a turn-on.” Marina, do you really have to make everything about sex? Oh, I guess you do: you’re that sexy. She suggests that Jenny read one of her stories next time. Jenny freaks at the idea, and Marina says, “You don’t have to do anything you don’t wanna do.” Mmm hmm.

The gym — Tina is naked in front of the mirror. The spinning instructor shows up and starts hitting on her. Dana was wrong — those are not “spectacular tits”; they are scary silicone nightmares. Tina runs off, wondering why she left Bette at home alone.

Tim and Jenny’s house — Marina has given Jenny a ride home; she tells her to have sweet dreams. Jenny gets out of the car. Why?

Bette and Tina’s house — Tina tucks Bette in (Bette has fallen asleep with her glasses on). Awww. I can’t help rooting for them.

The next morning, they talk about going back to see the shrink to the stars. Tina has already made an appointment, which sorta bugs Bette.

A restaurant frequented by straight people — The other couples tease Tim and Jenny about how cute they are. Oh, apparently the lesbians like this place too, because in walks the whole crowd. Tim sees Marina and points her out; Jenny looks like she’s just seen Elvis. Marina smiles and waves, ever gracious. Randy, the other swim coach, says “Man, that girl is so hot. She doesn’t really look like she’s gay.” Ugh. Randy’s wife says that if she were gay, she’d go for the one who “looks like a rock star,” and by that she means Shane, but I don’t really see the Joan Jett resemblance that everyone’s been commenting on. I mean, I get the Joan Jett thing — my knees literally went weak when I passed her on the street in NYC — but I’m not sure I get the Shane thing. Not yet, anyway.

Marina gets up to go to the loo. After about two seconds of staring, Jenny follows her. Oh, damn, I thought they were going to have more bathroom sex: instead, Jenny wants to know why Marina is there. To have dinner, maybe? Hmm. Then Jenny tells Marina she’d like to see her again, so Marina pulls Jenny toward her — but Jenny says she has to go. Sigh.

Tim and Jenny’s house — Jenny is writing. Tim decides to read over her shoulder. Not only does he read badly — making Jenny’s writing sound even more pretentious than it already is — but you do not, EVER, read over a writer’s shoulder! Never! I don’t care who you are!

Yeah, Jenny doesn’t like it either, and angles her laptop away from Tim. He has an offended look on his face. Go away, Tim.

He does go away, but Jenny finds him and apologizes. Tim wants to know what’s going on. Jenny makes some lame excuses about feeling overwhelmed and directionless and not knowing why she’s in L.A. Tim says he’s not the enemy. That’s not the problem, Tim: the thing is that you’re not Marina.

Speaking of Marina, the phone rings, and it’s her. What an amazing coincidence! She and Jenny arrange to have dinner. Yeah, dinner. Heh. Jenny makes lots of excuses and waffly comments, but Tim isn’t concerned. I guess he likes red flags.

The shrink’s office — Bette is late again. But she has a good excuse: she’s found the perfect donor. Tina’s never met him, so she doesn’t love the idea, but Bette is in full steamroller mode. The shrink just sits there and watches them like they’re penguins at the zoo.

Bette and Tina’s house — The potential donor, Marcus, shows up. He’s black. Tina freaks a little bit. Marcus says “Did Bette not tell you I was black?” Well, no. But I don’t think Tina should really be freaking, because (a) Bette is biracial, and (b) Wouldn’t they have discussed this issue before now?

The Planet, or somewhere similar — Bette shows up, looking for Tina, because Alice has told her something’s up.

Tina: “You put me in a fuckin’ awkward position. How could you not tell me that Marcus Allenwood is black?”
Bette: “God, I… I don’t know. I guess I should have. I just didn’t think it would be a problem for you to use a black donor.”
Tina: “I didn’t say I didn’t want a black donor. I just think we should have discussed it.”
Bette: “We absolutely discussed it, Tina. Right at the very beginning. We said that if you were going to be the birth mother, that we should consider finding an African-American donor. That way the child would be more like our child.”
Tina: “But I wasn’t prepared.”
Bette: “I don’t understand. Other than being committed to spending the rest of your life with me, what more do you need to do to prepare?”
Tina: “Look at me, Bette. I don’t feel qualified to be the mother of a child who’s half African-American. I don’t know what it means to be black.”
Bette: “I think I can make a contribution in that department.”
Tina: “And don’t you think, on top of everything else, to also have two moms, that is a lot of otherness to put on one child?”

That was pretty good. A fairly frank discussion, and Jennifer Beals’s face was heartbreaking. Nice job, the both of you!

The shrink’s office — Bette and Tina try to cope with that conversation. Bette thinks maybe it means they’re not ready to have children together. What was your first clue?

Tim and Jenny’s house — Tim is reading Jenny’s writing again — something about reviling your own craving. Whatever. Tim is apparently very impressed, and says he’s proud to have Jenny in his life. You might want to rethink that, Tim. You seem nice, and you might prefer a woman who’s not interested in being Marina’s puppy. (Good luck with that.)

Bette and Tina’s house — Bette finds a ovulation test stick in the trash. I guess it wasn’t good news. She walks out of the house like a zombie. Tina asks where she’s going; Bette says “I don’t know,” gets in the car, and drives away.

Kit’s house — Oh, Kit has a house! Bette is there seeking advice about the Marcus Allenwood fiasco, but Kit sort of hints that Bette has been “passing” all these years and hasn’t really been embracing her ancestry anyway. This upsets Bette, of course, so she tries to walk out, but Kit stops her.

Kit: “There’s only one thing that cuts across all our realities. It’s love. The bridge between all our differences. And you have so much love in your life. Why are you trying to tear down that bridge?”

Yeah, it sounds kind of schmaltzy, but it’s not. It’s nice. Bette starts sniffling and Kit holds her close. Awwww. Anyway, now we finally know what today’s “L” word is!

The CAC — Bette is talking about pornography and art. There is a penis on the wall, directly behind her head. Thanks. Tina is in the audience; the guy next to her tells her that Bette is awesome and that they’re a beautiful couple. Tina must feel so validated.

Milk (a bar) — Alice and Dana lament the shallowness of their dating pool.

A rooftop — Jenny and Marina look at the city lights, and at the sparks that are flying between them. They kiss… it’s rather electric, I must admit.

The CAC — That guy is still talking about what an amazing couple Bette and Tina are — he tells them they’re “fucking sexy.” While he goes off to get drinks, Bette gets an idea.

Bette: “I have a thought. It might be crazy.”
Tina: “What?”
Bette: “I know you’re ovulating. Do you think he’s attractive?”
Tina: “Is he a good artist?”
Bette: “Who cares?”
Tina: “What about Dan Foxworthy?”
Bette: “Oh, fuck Dan Foxworthy. It’s our life. We don’t need his permission to do what we think is right for us.”
Tina: “And you’re okay with…?”
Bette: “I wanna have a baby with you. And if we make it together, that’s enough for me to know that it’s our baby.”
Tina: “Okay.”
Bette: “Yeah?”
Tina: “Yeah. You sure?”
Bette: “Yeah.”

Milk – Dana decides someone’s not her type because she looks like she’s been around the block a few times. Shane wants to know what’s wrong with that. Alice sees someone she likes and hasn’t seen before, and wonders if that’s possible.

Shane: “Fresh meat.”
Alice: “New blood.”
Dana: “Crispy!”
Alice [to Dana, shaking her head]: “Uh-uh.”

Bette and Tina’s house — Oh god, they’ve brought the guy home and are going to have sex with him. Really? Must you?

Marina’s house — Jenny and Marina are having sex. Finally. They’ve got Kinnie Starr playing in the background. (Kinnie Starr! I loved her in Down And Out With the Dolls. I even sent her an e-mail to tell her how great she is, because I’m prone to stalker-ness.) Anyway, Marina’s… well, let’s just say that yeah, she owns the planet. Her hands are exactly where Jenny wants them to be, and then her mouth is too, and I’m glad I’m recording this.

Bette and Tina’s house — Bette and Tina kiss while the guy watches and starts to undress. Tina looks pretty uncertain. So do I. Bette looks kind of jealous when the guy kisses Tina. If that guy weren’t in the scene, I’d be riding the high that Marina and Jenny gave me, because Bette and Tina are good kissers. But then the guy says he wants Bette to make love to Tina while he makes love to Bette, and of course that’s not going to work. Bette tells him how it’s gonna be, and he’s willing to follow instructions. But then he gets out a condom, and of course they don’t want him to use that, because they’d rather get an STD as well as get pregnant. He figures out what’s going on, gets pissed off, and leaves. Whew. That was a close one!

Afterwards, Bette asks Tina whether she was turned on by the guy. No, says Tina, and by way of demonstration, explains what really turns her on.

After the bar — Alice and Dana agree that they will never sleep together. Never. Ever. Nevereverneverevernever.

Tim and Jenny’s house — Jenny arrives home, tiptoeing, and then cries. Well, it makes sense that she feels guilty, but hey! You just had sex with Marina — how can that not be a good thing? But she goes to bed with Tim, who says she smells different. She tells him it’s a new perfume; he says he liked the old one better. Ah, Tim. Poor guy.

Alice’s house — Alice and Dana are smoking pot and talking about the women they’ve slept with — which for Dana is only 2. Aww, that’s so cute! Alice draws a little map of all the connections and discovers it takes a mere four steps to link herself to Dana. This is like “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon,” except I guess it should be called “Six Degrees of Kyra Sedgwick.” They decide to play this game with other names; we find out that Alice once slept with Bette, and that a lot of people lead to Shane.

Bette and Tina’s house — Um. Did I mention that they’re great kissers? They’re pretty good at other things, too. They’re pretty damn good, actually. Ahem.

Tim and Jenny’s house — Jenny wakes up saying, “Oh my god, oh my god.” That happened to me once, but it was because I’d just had a dream in which I forgot to hide the body.

Bette and Tina’s house — Shane walks by on her way home. She can tell that Bette and Tina “just got laid,” and says that it gives her hope, because it’s nice to know that people who have been together for so long can still make each other so happy. Geez, why is that so hard to believe? Anyway, I guess Shane does have the rock star thing going on, in a heroin chic, lettuce-leaf-for-lunch sort of way. Meanwhile, Bette and Tina are awfully cute, sitting on their front step and grinning.

Tim and Jenny’s house — Tim serves Jenny breakfast. The first course is a ring. Jenny’s face says, “Oh, shit.”

The end of the beginning!

NEXT WEEK ON THE L WORD: Alice continues to work on the map of lesbo-land; Shane has a stalker; Dana catches someone’s eye; Alice’s ex wants her back; Bette and Tina are still on the baby track; Jenny is stuck between a rock and Marina’s place.

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