“The L Word” recap (1.6): “Losing It”

THIS WEEK’S L WORD VOCABULARY:

  • Slurpee: Just the thing for late-night cravings.
  • Sensitivity: Something Alice manages to find where everyone else just sees bullshit.
  • Thwarted: Dana and Lara, in so many ways.
  • Diathesis: The putrefaction of Jenny’s eviscerated literary talent.
  • Mind and body intelligence: What you shouldn’t take to a slumber party.
  • Beast: (adj.) Cool, excellent, awesome, Shane-like.
  • Processing: You knew it would show up eventually.

THIS WEEK’S GUEST-BIANS: Devon Gummersall is back as Lisa the Lesbian-Identified Man; Lisa Gay Hamilton takes pride in Bette’s achievements. That’s two, two gay Lisas in one show!

The Film School Project, a.k.a. The Prelude —We’re in a sub shop or diner: the menu is advertising “Sierra Smoked Turkey with rasberry [sic] chipolte [sic] sauce.” Even if I weren’t a vegetarian, and even if they hadn’t misspelled both “raspberry” and “chipotle,” I’d be disgusted, because that sandwich looks about as repugnant as the stuff Bette used to swallow.

Apparently the sub shop/diner is in Detroit — what? Am I to believe there are gay people in the Midwest? What’s happening to this country? The next thing you know, people in Minnesota will be sending bouquets to all of those people waiting in line to get married in San Francisco.

Anyway, a couple of diner employees, both teenaged girls, are not even trying to look busy. Soon the one named Roxanne is being scolded by the manager: “If you’ve got time to lean, you’ve got time to clean.” Fine, dude, so do you: start with your crappy attitude. The sweaty-looking manager guy leaves; Roxanne calls him a “tool.” Then she gives the other employee a smile and they start gettin’ busy. The manager guy starts to come back from the back, but stops just in front of the swinging door. He watches the Midwestern lesbian teenagers make out, and starts whacking off.

Again, is my TV on the wrong channel? Why must I be confronted with penis-ness every time I watch this show? Which “L Word” would this be: lewd? loser? lecherous? lucky I’m still watching? Also, why does the background music sound like something you’d hear at a roller skating rink in 1976?

A gay bar — Shane’s the only girl in town. You know, even surrounded by all of these cool-looking twinks, some of whom are prettier than she is, Shane does not look anything like a guy. But her friend from last week — Clive — introduces her to the wannabe sugar daddies who see her as exactly that, and who are shocked to learn she’s “a girl, a female.” Harry (one of the sugar daddies) expresses his disappointment: “Androgyny confounds, doesn’t it?” Sometimes, maybe, but what’s most confounding about Shane is the fact that so many women throw themselves at her. Well, that and her hair.

Tim’s house — We go from shirtless guys shaking martinis at the gay bar to shirtless Tim shaking his head and sighing. The clock says 2:59. He puts on his sparring gloves and marches forth with a determined look on his face. Poor Tim. What are you gonna do: go after Marina? Or just start putting all of Jenny’s stuff out on the front lawn? ‘Cause that would be funnier. But then we wouldn’t get to see Marina, so hey, onward into the fray!

Bette and Tina’s house — Apparently Tina can’t sleep either, so she’s reading What to Expect When You’re Expecting. Bette comes around the corner, looking for her and looking gorgeous. She gives Tina a foot massage and asks if there’s anything she can do for her, and whether she’s feeling sick. She tells Tina she can “sleep on the whole plane ride” and that they’ll also have some time at the hotel before the opening. Ooh, more high art high jinks! Bette asks Tina what she’d like if she could have anything right now. Tina misses the cue to say “you,” and instead says she’d like something cold and sweet. Bette misses the opportunity to find some creative uses for ice cream; instead, she offers to get Tina a Slurpee. She says “Slurpee” twice, and it starts to sound tasty to me too.

The gay bar — Clive brags that he and Shane used to turn tricks in Santa Monica. But Shane “only gave hand jobs,” no matter how much money they offered her. Harry expresses interest in that idea, but Clive explains that Shane is a hairdresser now, or maybe just an aspiring shampoo girl. Harry asks Shane if she’s “good at it,” and I flash back to the icky manager of the opening sequence. But Harry’s asking about the hairdressing, not the hand jobs. He’s going to send Shane a client: his business partner’s wife. So, Harry is trying to break up his business partner’s marriage?

Clive hands Shane something to snort. After she does so without asking any questions at all — because of course that’s the cool, stupid thing to do — she’s surprised to realize it isn’t blow. It turns out it’s oxy: uh-oh, Shane. Let’s not turn into Ted on QAF, okay? I know I called you “a mess” last week, but I was kidding.

Tim’s house — Tim is taking furious swings at his punching bag. His alignment is way off, so Bette shows up to give him some pointers and talk about Laila Ali. No, actually, she’s there with Tina’s Slurpee and some sympathy for Tim. After all, as the Queen of Monogamy, she must offer her expertise in such matters. So she sits there and sips Tina’s Slurpee — no, that’s not a double entendre, and why the hell didn’t she give Tina the Slurpee before settling in to play psychiatrist to lovelorn straight men? — and explains that Jenny is a writer and thus “craves experience.” Oh, whatever, Bette. If Tina were a writer and cheated on you, you’d never accept that as an excuse. You’d tell her she was a whining hack who can’t see past her own nose and needs to bulk up a little — oops, sorry, I was back to Jenny. Anyway, in defending dykedom in general, Bette accidentally lets slip that Marina and Jenny got together quite a while ago. Tim gets pissed off and goes inside. Okay, can we please give Tina her damn Slurpee already?

The middle of nowhere — Jenny has apparently been craving the experience of sitting in a bunch of weeds off a two-lane highway, and thus is indulging her whim and doing exactly that, because she’s a writer and that’s what writers do. It all makes perfect sense now. Except the letter she’s writing to Tim is pretentious and stupid: “Tim, for you, my heart, ripped from my chest. Eviscerated, I am.” Jenny, for you, my dinner, retched from my stomach. Bored, I am. Also, Shane is the Yoda on this show, not you. And if you’re going to wander around in the wild in order to get the experience you crave, could you hunt down some talent while you’re out there?

Tim’s house — The phone rings. Tim answers it and says he doesn’t want to “fucking switch long distance companies.” Apparently he doesn’t want to fucking act either, because that delivery was crappy. I think Tim thinks of himself as a sort of Nate Fisher. But there are some problems with that: Nate is more interesting, Peter Krause is a better actor, and on Six Feet Under the opening sequences are the projects of the people who actually paid attention in film school.

Bette and Tina’s house — Bette is packing (well, packing a suitcase; I can’t say for sure whether she’s packing in the other sense too) and looking hot; Tina is mumbling and feeling not so hot. Bette tries to be all reassuring, but Tina seems barely able to stand up.

Bette: “You know what? Your health is by far the most important thing in our lives right now. And if you need to stay home, I will be okay.”
Tina: “Are you sure? I mean, this is so important to you. I really want to be there.”
Bette: “I would rather you came. But you know what? I want you to do what your body is telling you to do.”

Don’t tell her that! That’s exactly the thing that gets everyone into trouble on this show!

Bette says she doesn’t want to leave, but she does. Tina looks relieved. You know what, Bette? When people say “you know what” as many times as you did in that scene, it’s usually a sign of rationalizing or insincerity or something else that does not befit the Queen of Monogamy. Tsk, tsk.

The Planet — Some women are trying to decide whether they need “go-go dancers, hot sexy girly girls, or super-butch girls who don’t take their clothes off.” One of each, maybe? Alice is half-listening and rolling her eyes — just like me! We’re so meant for each other. The women wonder what to call the event they’re planning: “fuckwad,” “labia,” or “twat.” They decide they love “twat.” They wonder whether people will be offended, but then say that’s just too bad, because “it’s not like we don’t have penises in our face every day of the week.” Yeah, exactly: so why all the penises on this show?? More twat, please!

Alice calls Shane to tell her that her roommates (the event planners) are “over here saying ‘twat’ like they have Tourette’s syndrome.” Bwah! We also learn that Dana and Lara were at The Planet earlier, giving Alice the “we fucked all night and no one else in the world matters” vibe. Aw! On the other hand, no, that’s not cute: why wasn’t any of that — the fucking or the vibe or whatever else — on my TV? All of the Dana/Lara stuff is happening offstage while wankers get their moments in the opening sequences.

Lisa the Lesbian-Identified Man shows up to rescue Alice from her boredom. But Alice, you were just wishing that Shane were there to be “surly and cynical” with you, and instead you’ll take over-enunciating, asks-about-your-mother, I’m-so-sensitive-I-may-cry guy? Maybe androgyny confounds, but this is ridiculous.

Lisa the Guy does give a fairly decent speech about the fact that Alice’s siblings seem to assume that she is always available to help out with family issues, because she isn’t doing the married-with-children thing and thus has no real life of her own. Yep, we’ve all seen that happen. That’s still no reason to go running off with a lesbian-identified man. But Alice seems impressed, and says he’s reading her mind. Maybe he’s just reading the stuff you’ve written for your magazine, and is quoting it back to you.

Lather — Shane’s boss is telling her she’s a skanky mess. It looks like she’s slept in her car. What happened to leaving the street life behind, twinky skanky Shane?

The Planet — Tina arrives. She talks about how sick she’s been feeling, and her plans to see a Chinese herbalist. Lisa the Super Sensitive offers to get Tina some tea and something “bland to nibble on.” Oh, like you, you mean? He says he’s jealous that his body will never get to experience the “crazy time” that Tina’s body is experiencing. Tina gives Alice a look that says, Who the hell is this fuckwad/twat/whatever? Alice, unfortunately, still looks a little impressed.

Tim’s house — Tim calls the hotel in Tahoe and finds out that Jenny has already checked out. Um, why wouldn’t you have done that a long time ago, if you really were looking for her? Oh, that’s right: you were too busy slurping on your sorrow with Bette.

Nowhere — Jenny is trying to thumb a ride. She continues to ramble on about the organs she wants to give Tim (now that she’s so eviscerated, of course). Jenny, go right ahead and get into that random SUV that has stopped for you: I’m hoping for a re-creation of Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The original, not the remake.

The police station — Tim is trying to report his missing wife, but the police officer tells him he’ll have to wait 48 hours. A couple of very obviously gay men are in line behind him; they start to titter when Tim tells the cop his woeful tale of the wife who cheated on him with a woman. Sad as the story may be, and weird as it is that Tim’s so quick to tell it to complete strangers, the cop still can’t help. Tim suddenly decides that he’s just been made a victim of heterophobia, and that if he were reporting a missing boyfriend rather than a missing wife, the cop would be willing to help him out. Tim, shut up. I’m done feeling sorry for you.

Lather — Shane’s new client is there, awaiting the special treatment. Shane’s still coming down — or up, I guess — from the oxy. Her boss tells her to pull herself together. The new client, Ellie Zimmer, finds out which one is Shane and looks inordinately pleased. Yeah, you should see her when she’s awake and freshly showered! Actually, I wouldn’t know: have we ever seen her like that?

The serial killer SUV — Jenny has been picked up by two “disaffected teenagers” — that’s what the Sho.com site calls them. One of them offers Jenny some shrooms; she chomps down a handful. Did you know that one of the definitions of “mushroom” is “beaver”? Meaning the color — that brownish color that’s typical of mushrooms and beavers. It’s true: check the dictionary. I’m sure Jenny has one handy, because she’s a writer who craves words the way she craves experience. Oh, no, that would be mangles, not craves.

Anyway, I guess this is the altered state of mind episode: Shane has her oxy, Tina has the Chinese herbalist, Jenny has her shrooms, Bette’s in the Big Apple, and Alice is high on a guy. I would add Dana and Lara to this list, but I can’t because they haven’t been on the fucking screen yet.

One of the disaffected teenagers asks Jenny why she was hitchhiking. She starts muttering about how much she loves Tim, and how she “fell” — maybe a breeze knocked her down again — and met a woman named Marina. The disaffected teenager who’s driving asks her if she’s a lesbian. Jenny giggles and covers her mouth like a foolish little girl and says she doesn’t know. The disaffected driver tells a story about her two friends — Roxanne and Katie, harking back to the sub shop/diner — who got caught going down on each other on the job and were sent to boarding school, where one of them killed herself. But the other disaffected teenager says that they weren’t really the driver’s friends; it was an Afterschool Special. I used to love those! But they were never as soft-porny as that opening sequence in the diner.

The Chinese herbalist’s — A talkative woman is asking the other patients in the waiting room why they’re there; Tina explains she’s been struggling with morning sickness. Marcus the Sperm Donor comes out of the herbalist’s office. Tina is thrilled to see him and shares her good news with him. It turns out the talkative woman is Marcus’s girlfriend and none too happy about the sperm donation. She wants to know what will happen when she and Marcus have kids of their own: will they all have to get together with Bette and Tina’s kid on holidays?

Marcus: Lei Leng, you’re way ahead of yourself.
Lei Leng: Way ahead of myself? You are planting your seed all over creation and I’m ahead of myself? You’re an asshole. And that means you’re behind yourself. [Ha ha!]

The herbalist’s receptionist, if there is such a thing, kicks everybody out, including Tina. Tina freaks out and calls Bette. When I saw this in last week’s promo, I thought Tina was talking about something going wrong with the baby — that’s how traumatized she seems. Bette doesn’t answer the phone, so Tina leaves a message. Tina seems awfully passive-aggressive in this episode. Maybe that’s a natural response when you’re a subject of the Queen of Monogamy.

The serial killer SUV — Oh god, Jenny’s talking about her writing again, or actually, sort of whispering and simpering about it. She uses the phrase “morbid diathesis” and we are meant to think she’s deep. One of the disaffected teens thinks it means Jenny’s heart is “a pile of sick meat.” Pass the shrooms. (I paused the tape at the exact wrong spot during this scene: Jenny was looking at the camera with a crazed expression, and I almost screamed at her frozen scary face.)

Also, Jenny, change your clothes: I’m sure they’ve gone way beyond Marina-infused and right into funky.

Lather — Shane’s new client is impressed with her new haircut and says “no one else is going to touch me.” Subtle. She invites Shane to a screening; Shane says it “sounds kind of beast,” but no. So the new client leaves her phone number with Shane instead and tells her to call. C’mon, Shane never calls — if you want sensitivity, look up Lisa the Guy.

Bette and Tina’s — Tina comes home to find a gift basket on the front step. It’s from Bette: the card says “For my Baby and our Baby.” Awwww! That’s so sappy. I’m not at all moved.

Tina checks her messages; there’s one from Dana saying that she and Lara will be there soon. Yay! Finally!! There are also several messages from Marcus’s crazed girlfriend. Tina calls Bette and leaves another frantic message. You know what, Tina? Communication works wonders for a relationship: instead of just saying, “Something horrible has happened,” maybe you should be a little more specific so that Bette doesn’t have to rely on her psychic powers. No wonder she has such a superhero complex.

Dana and Lara arrive. Dana! Lara! You’re still on this show? Tina’s still freaking out, so Dana and Lara try to help. They end up helping themselves to each other:

Dana: “Okay, okay, let’s go around the house and make sure all the doors and windows are locked.”
Lara: “That’s a good idea. You’re so smart.”
Dana: “No, you’re the smart one.”
Lara: “No, only in cooking.”
Dana: “No, and photography.”
Lara: “But you have mind and body intelligence.”
Dana: “No, you do.”
Lara: “No, you do!”
Dana: “Shut up, I said it first.”
Lara: “I said it second.”

They’re giggling and touching and being silly, and I can’t believe how happy it makes me. But then they notice that Tina’s giving them a grow up sort of look, so we all try to collect ourselves.

Tim’s house — Tim calls Jenny’s mom — another thing that should have occurred to him earlier. It turns out Jenny has already checked in with her mom. Tim tries to act like it’s all fine; he tells Jenny’s mom that Jenny is not insane. Are you sure? You should see how she looks when you pause the tape. Tim’s so-called friends hint that maybe Jenny is at Marina’s.

Bette and Tina’s house — Even though Bette’s away, she’s told the gang to go ahead and have their poker night. Shane is there; she greets Alice and Lisa, who have just arrived. Shane says, “Liquor in the front, poker in the back.” That’s not funny! Okay, it kind of is.

Lisa antes up and then puts another dollar on the table: “One for the lady.” Alice looks like she thinks it’s charming. Dana, who is cuddled up against Lara, bugs out her eyes in disbelief. Shane, tell your liquor/poker joke again to distract me.

NYC — Bette is dazzled by the bright lights and the Provocations exhibit. Please, no more penises — can we find another way to be provocative? Ah, there we go: Lisa Gay Hamilton shows up to tell Bette how amazing she is and that it’s an honor to meet her: “The sister that snatched the show from under MOCA’s nose.” This show has perverted me, because now when someone says “nose” and “snatch” in the same sentence, I notice.

Bette and Tina’s — Kit! Yay, now the party can start. Shane tells her stupid liquor/poker joke. Kit says, “Neither, thanks.” Ha ha! She also has this great line: “What is wrong with my baby sister to go off and leave her pregnant wife all alone for some crazy-ass bitch to go off on? Bring her on. I wish she would bring her face up in here. That would be the last time. Look at all these women — and dude — we. will. kick. ass.” Yeah! Once again, Pam Grier for President!

The Planet — Tim is looking for Jenny, but finds only Marina, who tells him to calm down. Tim calls her a vulture. Marina is all cool and hot and says that we’re all responsible for our own actions. Right on. Tim, still smarting from that traumatic incident of heterophobia at the police station, decides to get all bigoted and condescending on Marina’s ass:

Tim: “What is it you do, you girls? Should I even care? Huh? Does it even count?”
Marina: “Well, you were there. You saw how much it counts.”

Wooooo! That rocked. Tim doesn’t think so, of course, and pushes her around a little bit. Marina pushes right back. Face it, Tim: you’ll never be that strong in that many ways, no matter how many punching bags you buy. He leaves; Marina sort of smirks and grumbles and continues on her unflappable way.

Bette and Tina’s — Lisa the Guy is in the bathroom, or somewhere. In his absence, Dana decides to get the scoop.

Dana: “Is the lesbo man dating the fake bisexual?” 
Alice: “I am a bisexual.”
Lara: “Okay, I’m confused.” 
Dana: “Well, Lisa over here is a lesbian-identified man.”
Lara: “So what is that, like a transsexual?” 
Alice: “No.”
Dana: “I wonder how he pees — sitting down? I dunno — ya think, Shane?”
Shane: “Well, I never peed with him. I don’t know.”
Tina: “I just wanna know: are you into him as a lesbian, or a man?”
Dana: “Maybe you should call yourself a trisexual.”
Kit: “Damn, what is it with you people and your need to take apart everything and process each little detail? If the dude wanna give up his white-man rights to be a second-class citizen, then hey, welcome to our world.”

By this time Lisa has returned. Dana concedes that Kit has a point and welcomes Lisa to the “fold”; Shane welcomes him to “the heavenly gates.” Twat!

NYC — Bette gets Tina’s frantic messages and tries to call home. Tina, of course, has unplugged the phone. So Bette promptly packs up and heads back to L.A.

Bette and Tina’s house — Apparently everyone’s in the habit of crashing in the living room on poker night. Dana and Lara can’t sleep. Lara notes that everyone else is asleep, and proceeds to unbutton Dana’s pants. Dana sort of tries to resist, but not really; things get hotter and heavier and — miracle of miracles — the camera does not cut away, except to show that Alice and Shane and Kit are watching and grinning. Eventually Lara starts moaning kind of loudly; Kit clears her throat, unwilling to let the floor show continue. Dammit, Kit! Dana and Lara collapse in a fit of giggles and embarrassment. Dana covers her face with her hands and says, “God, it’s not funny!” Actually, it’s hilarious, Dana, and you and Lara are exceptionally steamy together. Finally, we got to see a bit more of you. But it’s still not enough!

The serial killer SUV — I don’t know. Everyone’s stoned and weird.

NYC — Bette calls Peggy Peabody to explain why she has to leave town. Then she tries to call home again, but of course Tina’s still not answering and the mailbox is full. Watch out: the Queen is returning to the hive.

Bette and Tina’s — It’s morning. There’s a knock at the door: it’s Marcus. He apologizes and tells Tina that he’s doing his best to get everything under control. He also tells her that her voice mailbox is full. Tina plugs in the phone and is sad that there’s no message from Bette. C’mon, Tina, think back a few seconds to what Marcus told you — the mailbox was full. She tries Bette’s cell, then the hotel in NYC. She gets suspicious when she finds out Bette has checked out. The foreshadowing on this show: blink and you’ll miss it. But then everybody will spell it out for you verbally, so I guess I should say, “blink and cover your ears and go to a different room and you’ll miss it.”

Right on cue, Bette gets home. She’s not thrilled that there’s no emergency. Tina’s sort of sorry for alarming her, but not sorry enough — Bette has every reason to be annoyed. Actually, she might be more than annoyed, but there are lots of people in the living room, so the Queen of Monogamy must remember her duties: she says, “I’m just relieved that everything’s okay. That’s all that really matters.” Yeah, keep telling yourself that. Everyone else looks doubtful too — even Dana and Lara, who are still cuddling and cute. Tina excuses herself by blaming the hormones.

A diner — The disaffected teenagers drop Jenny off — they’ve finally had enough of her pretentious metaphors. Or maybe she eviscerated all over the back seat and they’re sorry they gave her those shrooms. Anyway, she mails the letter to Tim. Via voiceover, she says that “whatever happens, it will be on me, on my heart.” What? You’re going to take responsibility now?

NEXT WEEK ON THE L WORD: Shane throws a party, at which Dana gets hammered; Tim throws Jenny out; Dana tells Lara to stop touching her.

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