“The L Word” recap (1.3): “Longing”

THIS WEEK’S L WORD VOCABULARY:

  • Opening title sequence: What the show doesn’t have, and why the hell doesn’t it? That lame electronic-y spatter of L words does not count.
  • MOCA and LACMA: Soon to be at a Starbucks near you. Or the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, which are apparently competitors of the CAC, the (fictional) California Art Center, where Bette works.
  • Sous chef: The one who wants Dana to kiss it and make it better.
  • Step off, bitch: Yeah, you heard me.
  • Has-bian: An erstwhile lesbian who hasn’t been in a while.
  • Dismantle: What Marina does. To everyone.
  • Homage: Is that the right word for two possible references to two lesbian films? Or is that better called reaching, on the recapper’s part?

The Prelude — We start with some gorgeous sensual shots that remind me of the fence scene in Gia, and we immediately realize that this week’s director is not Rose Troche. No time to celebrate, though — who is that naked woman? She doesn’t look like anyone on the show, unless of course one of them looked like that in 1986, which was the date on the screen at the beginning of this montage. But no, none of the show’s regulars looked like that in 1986: they probably weren’t much more than a gangly 13 then. Well, except for Kit, but I will never call her a “regular” anything. That was a compliment.

The Lame Attempt At Opening Titles — See above.

Gabby’s bed — Alice — make that adorable, sleepy Alice — offers to make Gabby coffee because they’ve slept too long. Gabby is not nice, but Alice is sleepy and postcoital, so of course she does not notice. Wake up, Alice: that’s a predator in your bed, and not even an interesting one.

The counterpoint — Jenny is less than thrilled to be waking up with Tim’s arm flopped across her. I am less than thrilled by her pajama bottoms.

The Planet — Marina’s speaking Italian. Is she speaking it well? Who cares — she could be rambling about the Super Bowl and it would still sound great. Damn it: just when it’s getting good, Jenny shows up.

The CAC — Bette is presenting some slides of “Provocation,” an art show she’s trying to bring to the CAC. Is this suddenly Queer As Folk? No? Then what’s with all the penises and bondage? Oh, that’s right: we have to make sure nobody thinks that lesbians hate men. Fine, but can we hate that painting?

Speaking of Queer As Folk, Bette is kinda like a cross between Melanie and Brian. And right now she’s getting screwed like one of Brian’s conquests: her boss has already arranged for a different exhibit, lamely titled “Impressions in Winter,” and expects her to smile and nod and do the obvious like a good little girl — one who does not hate men. Fine, but can she hate being dissed?

Bette talks about where the “Provocation” exhibit is headed, and mentions the Walker. Hey, that’s where I live! Sure, it’s been -25 here, but at least we have provocative, penis-friendly art.

The Planet — Jenny is mean to Marina’s friends, but Marina escorts her to her office anyway. Alice says “whatever.” Bwah!

Jenny mumbles about how important Tim is to her, and Marina looks at her like she’s stupid — which of course she is, because LOOK at Marina’s face! And um, the rest of her! Ok, Jenny, you don’t know what you want: we get that, and so does Marina, so why don’t you? Instead you stare while Marina is gracious and wishes you well. Like Alice said — “whatever.”

Alice tells Shane about Gabby (by dorkily singing “Hey Gabby” to the tune of “Hey Mickey”). Shane is concerned, and I agree with her, but isn’t it kind of weird for the neighborhood ho to warn someone about an unfaithful girlfriend?

The Tennis Club — Dana goes to the kitchen to find the “soup” chef who kissed her in the locker room last week. The chef (hmm, what’s her name?) gets a little hyper and cuts her finger. A cute and poignant exchange follows, in which the chef talks about the hazards of her job and Dana feels nervous about being seen as a lesbian. Not too nervous, though — she asks the sous chef out, and gets all flustered, and so do I because they’re too damn cute! I want the whole show to be about them.

The Planet — Marina and Tim play pool. Tim says, “I’m obviously no match for you.” Ooooh, subtle.

Some other bar — Gabby treats Alice like dirt, just like Shane said she would. Oh, so Shane is the moral center of the show?

The Planet — Jenny calls Tim’s cell and Marina answers. Jenny freaks out. I never watch football, but I bet the Super Bowl was lots less predictable than this.

Kit is drinking. Uh-oh. Look at Pam Grier: she’s a better actor than everyone else on this show, by a factor of about 10.

Jenny shows up at The Planet and faints. Well, if you’d eat now and then, maybe you’d stop falling over every time there’s a breeze!

Bette arrives; Tina tells her that Kit’s been drinking. This, apparently, will be developed later, like next week, or maybe next season, because none of the writers have figured out what to do with Pam Grier.

Tim and Jenny’s — Jenny decides to accuse Tim of flirting with Marina, because that way she doesn’t have to explain that she didn’t faint: she swooned, because Marina is all that.

The Planet — Shane is wearing shades and a hooded sweatshirt. Bette calls her the Unabomber. Bwah!

Dana tells everyone she’s got a date. They proceed to critique her proposed evening wear. The attention shifts to Alice, who still doesn’t get that she should dump Gabby and date me instead.

They have a little group bonding scene, where the quips fly fast and furious and everyone agrees. Bette and Tina seem to be the ringleaders of this sort of thing — they, after all, know how to be in a relationship. Shane (and I) just sit and smirk.

Bette’s still trying to get “Provocations” going. Only Peggy Peabody the billionairess — oh, look, more P words! — can help. Alice tells Bette that Peggy Peabody is in Santa Barbara. Do I detect a caper? Alice then proceeds to contemplate the 45-minute orgasm, noting that the entire notion is ridiculous because her own orgasms are “short and intense.” Maybe Sting is staying with Peggy Peabody, and can help clarify.

The street — Tammy Lynne Michaels, playing Shane’s stalker Lacey, is distributing flyers to warn everyone about Shane. The stalkee shows up and they have a big talk about their “misunderstanding.” They both liked fucking each other, so doesn’t that mean something? Shane says it doesn’t, and I am inclined to agree with her, but I kind of want Lacey to get her heart un-broken. Lacey mentions that she tried to hang an anti-Shane banner at Girl Bar, but they wouldn’t let her. Girl Bar: that’s the one featured in Bar Girls. Lacey proceeds to do a sort of imitation of the “who else left me?” mirror scene in Bar Girls, but it’s funny instead of pathetic. Whew.

Shane and Lacey make out on the sidewalk, in front of a grocery store. Fruit, anyone?

Another street — Dana walks toward her date’s door. She’s on the phone with Alice and assures her that she’s wearing pants — “unpatterned” ones, even! But her date is wearing a dress, so some awkwardness and much cuteness ensues. If the sous chef keeps making a habit of kissing Dana to stop her rambling, it’s gonna be a good season. But why don’t we get to see the whole date? Wah!

At Peggy Peabody’s — I won’t try to describe these scenes, except to say that they’re great and even kind of moving, and they make me hold out great hopes for this show. I suppose some people might see them as pretentious — there’s a lot of talk about art, and Bette is moved to tears by the photo that was unfolding in the opening montage — but I’ve experienced the Stendhal syndrome too, so I get it and I like it. And Jennifer Beals does an ok job.

Plus this is the scene that features the word “has-bian.” Hee!

At Alice’s — Gabby tries to explain her bad behavior. Alice rambles around for a while but eventually arrives at “step off, bitch.” Yeah!

Gabby says some mean stuff in reply, so Alice heads over to her computer and draws a line on the “six degrees of lesbians” map, from Gabby to … ? Tune in next week!

At Tim and Jenny’s — Jenny is wearing some frightening owlish glasses, circa 1983. Tina shows up and tries to be her friend, but Jenny is too stupid to realize that’s what she’s doing. Tina says some pretty wise things — oh, so Tina’s the moral center of the show?

Jenny decides Marina told someone about them, and gets all indignant, but it’s really just a good reason to go see Marina. I wish I had one.

At Shane’s Stalker’s — Shane, you’d better take Jenny to an all-you-can-eat buffet, every day for a week, until you can both manage to keep clothes on your bodies. Maybe the malnutrition explains the foolishness, in each case….

The Planet — Apparently we’re meant to think that the Stendhal syndrome — “that supreme degree of sensibility where the divine intimations of art merge with the impassioned sensuality of emotion” — is how Jenny feels about Marina. Geez, the Provocations penis-and-bondage painting was better than this.

Jenny tells Marina that “whenever [she] looks at [her], she feels so completely dismantled.” That’s nice, but she spoils it by taking off her shirt and showing us how deathly thin she is. Marina, Marina….. wow. Lucinda Williams starts singing about hunger; let’s all focus on Marina’s version of that word and ignore Jenny, shall we?

I realize this is pretty much the only sex scene in the episode, and it’s brief, so I guess they’re not always going to go the prurient route. Bummer.

NEXT WEEK ON THE L WORD: More Marina/Jenny sex; Tina takes a pregnancy test; Alice meets a cute guy; something goes wrong on Dana’s date.

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