THIS WEEK’S L WORD VOCABULARY:
THIS WEEK’S GUEST-BIANS: Snoop Dogg continues to represent, although I’m not sure whom, exactly; Rosanna Arquette is crazy in all the right ways; Helen Shaver … well, there are no words.
The Prelude — This show has already taught us a lot about the male gaze, what with the wanking manager dude at the diner, and Tim’s bare ass, and… well, too many things to mention. But this week the male-gazing camera is actually right there in front of us. Two girls in school uniforms are primping in front of a bathroom mirror; it looks rather suspicious, of course, and then we see they’re actually filming a porn flick. The director tells them when to look turned on, when to look shocked, hot, whatever: and of course a man (the principal) walks in on them, and he’s “got wood.” It’s hideous, but at least it’s honest.
Bette and Tina’s house — A whisk is moving slowly. Tina’s on the other end of it, but she just can’t care about whisking right now, and soon she’s slumped on the floor and crying again. Bette shows up just in time to help her to her feet. I’ve been thinking about Tina/Laurel Holloman quite a lot over the past week, and I hope she’ll get a chance to really feel her loss and show what a good actor she can be. But of course Bette is there to tell her they’ll get through it and they’ll move on — and yeah, it may be a bit too soon for that. This is going to be an interesting storyline if it’s done right: Bette is all about the strength and Tina is all about the emotion, and that’s why they may (I hope) end up closer and happier on the other side of all of this. Anyway.
Tim’s house — Jenny is skulking in her skanky way, listening to someone saying goodbye to Tim. Yes, it’s Trish, his star swimmer, and we all saw that coming a long time ago. Trish comes around the corner and catches Jenny skulking. Jenny goes right into full psycho mode — look at those hilarious creepy eyes! — and says she was just on her way to get bread. For toast. At first she was kind of icky-looking, but this spazzy “I wasn’t spying, not me” stuff is pretty funny. Comedic Jenny is much better than Bad Writer Jenny.
The Bordello of Evil, a.k.a. Marina and Francesca’s house — Francesca hangs up the phone, having just accepted a job on a film. She’s going to be Drew Barrymore’s personal dresser. Drew, please do a teeny tiny part on this show, okay? Since that won’t happen, let’s enjoy Marina’s pout: she wants to know why Francesca took the job without discussing it with her first. Well, maybe because you kissed Jenny last week without thinking twice about ol’ Franny? It turns out Marina was planning a romantic summer holiday in Hydra, but what really bothers her is that Francesca — who looks very vixenish in her lace-up black tank top and superior sneer — just doesn’t spend any time with her anymore. Fine, says Francesca, prowling on the bed: “Come and be with me now.” So Marina shuffles over and flops on the bed, still pouting.
During this pretty little speech, Francesca is fondling Marina and kissing her — not a bit bothered by Marina’s apparent lack of interest — and we begin to understand that Planet-owning Marina is sort of a kept woman. She needs Francesca’s money, and Francesca needs her… yeah.
It’s a nice touch: until Francesca showed up, Marina was the predator, the untouchable, the goddess. It seems Francesca taught her everything she knows — except Marina failed to properly exchange her heart for a block of ice. I’m still bothered by Marina’s “I’ve opened up your world” comment to Jenny, but I suppose Francesca would have said “I’ve opened up your world and now you’ll open up your veins for me.”
Lather — Shane is washing Dana’s hair while Alice talks about her new boyfriend, who’s rough and “fucks her.”
Ack! Where to start? The weenie? The mullet? Alice’s ridiculous and very wrong idea of lesbian sex? Don’t worry: we don’t have time to think about any of it, because Alice proceeds to reveal that she’s “late” and could be pregnant, and if she is, it’s Lisa’s. Great. That very concept is actually lamer than a mullet. But Dana’s response is hilarious: “Well, he’d be the first lesbo in history ever to pull that one off.”
The C.A.C. — Bette and her boss and their lawyer are watching a video, in which Fae Buckley has spliced and snipped everything until it says exactly what she wants it to say: she makes it look like Bette said the world is godless and referred to herself as a pervert. Ordinarily I think of myself as reasonably able to distinguish fiction from reality, but every time someone goes after Bette, I want to pull on my boxing gloves and flail around until everyone’s disappeared except me and Bette and a bottle of wine and two or three toys and… okay. Ahem. So of course Bette is angry about the whole thing, and the lawyer is not terribly sympathetic. Her boss says, “It’s an important exhibition and the museum stands behind it.” Wait, is this the same guy who tried to fire Bette? I don’t remember: obviously I don’t really see anyone else when she’s on the screen. The lawyer says the law is pretty much on the museum’s side but the political climate is not; yeah, what else is new? Bette does not want to “sit with our hands folded in our laps while they call us pornographers and pedophiles.” The lawyer says the alternative is to meet them head on: and Bette says she’s ready to challenge Fae to a debate. Yeah!
Lather — Alice wonders what she’ll do if she’s pregnant. Dana says what we’re all thinking: have an abortion. Shane suggests giving the kid to Bette and Tina, and she’s wearing her glasses, so it seems much more profound and, well, sexy. Alice says oh, it will be like “Heather has six mommies.” Hee. Shane says, “there’s no bigger karmic blessing than doing something entirely selfless for another person,” but that sounds more like Tina, because when have we seen Shane do something like that? Oh, but she’s the Yoda of the show, and she’s wearing her glasses, so it’s all good. Alice just wants some support for herself. Again: lame storyline. But Shane’s doing Dana’s hair throughout the whole thing, and that’s funny.
Bette and Tina’s house — Tina is packing up baby stuff. Kit tries to get her to focus on the rest of the world, but Tina can’t really see anything right now. Look at those furrowed eyebrows… Tina looks like she hasn’t slept in months.
Lather — Dana has new highlights. Yeah, her hair looks pretty good, I guess — but Dana could have a mullet and we’d still dig her dorky soup-chef-loving ways. Alice tells her she looks hot, but she needs to do something about her clothes, and Shane starts to care, but is interrupted by a phone call. Apparently Cherie needs her right away. The next thing we know, Shane is hopping into Cherie’s car and being whisked away — no connection to the whisk at the beginning of the show. Except, well, everything’s connected in lesbo land, right? Speaking of which, what the hell happened to Alice’s big chart? Did she give up because she didn’t want to put Lisa on it?
Cherie takes Shane to an empty building. She tells Shane that she’s convinced Steve (her husband) to invest in Shane so she can open her own shop, right there in that rickety rustic spot. Shane starts to dream and decides she’ll have a pool table in the corner — right on! They continue to tour the premises; then Cherie says “look at this,” and Shane comes around the corner to find Cherie ready and waiting.
Shane often has that big grin, but she genuinely seems happy: maybe she really digs Cherie. And hey, who wouldn’t? Except for the kind of whiny thing Cherie does sometimes, and of course the sense of entitlement, and too much money, and the beck and call thing, and… hmm. Meanwhile, we get a little glimpse of the violin tattoo on Shane’s lower back: very nice.
Group therapy — Tina is trying to cope. She still looks so shattered: nice job, Laurel. One of the other shrinkees says “you’ll try again,” and another guy wonders how Bette is feeling. Someone else (who are these people?) says Bette is steady and strong and letting Tina lean on her, but has it sunk in for her yet? And has she cried? Bette says yes, it’s sunk in, but of course she doesn’t answer the other question until the shrink to the stars pushes her, at which point she says, “I don’t need to cry.”
Well, maybe she doesn’t: maybe it’s not time yet. What’s so terrible about that? Yeah, yeah, she’s a little too strong sometimes. Anyway, after therapy, another guy tells Tina that she should volunteer at his something-or-other; Bette thinks this is a good idea and asks Tina whether she’ll be able to go to Kit’s show too, but Tina says she’s not up to it. Fine, but why the hell were you able to go to group therapy? Those people seem kind of toxic.
Kit’s show — Bette is making her way through the crowd. She bumps (literally) into Yolanda, the woman who was accusing her of “passing” as a white person a couple of episodes ago. Yolanda’s looking pretty good, but it’s nothing compared to Bette: she looks downright delicious. She and Yolanda exchange group-therapy-related pleasantries; Yolanda expresses surprise that Bette is a Kit Porter fan, and then looks impressed when Bette tells her exactly why. Then Yolanda introduces her ex, Candace, who catches Bette’s eye right away, and vice versa. At the risk of loving Bette too much, I have to say that I don’t think a fling would be a terrible idea for her: I think it might help her see herself differently for a while, and I think she’d go back to Tina and it would eventually be fine. Yeah, I’m an idiot.
Bette invites Yolanda and Candace (let’s call her Eye Candy, or, um, Eye Candace) to sit with her — Eye Candace follows like she doesn’t know what’s hit her — and then introduces them to Slim Daddy. Kit makes her entrance on stage and gives Bette her props, and mentions Slim too — he stands up and calls Kit a “real motherfuckin’ diva.” Yeah, we know. Then he starts to tell Bette that he respects that Eye Candace is “her woman.” Bette says no, she’s not: “You met my woman.” But Slim knows a good thing when he sees it and thinks there’s some chemistry there. Bette leans back and checks Eye Candace out while she’s not lookin’ — Jennifer Beals does this in a very cute and sexy way.
Kit sings, but she’s lip synching, and it doesn’t really do Pam Grier justice. Meanwhile, Slim’s checking out Bette and Eye Candace, and Bette is still checking out Eye Candace from behind, and I’m still drooling over Bette’s arms. And look at that smile: it changes her face entirely, and the camera is framing Bette and Candace in a way that makes you think yeah, Slim knows what he’s talking about. And yes, I’m still an idiot.
After the song, Eye Candace tells Bette that she goes by the C.A.C. every morning: she’s a carpenter and is doing a job near there. Bette seems charmed by the carpenter thing. Candace also said “my partner and I” in reference to the carpentry biz, and see? This is even better — they can have a fling knowing full well they’ve each got someone at home. Go ahead, throw tomatoes, but make sure you do so in an artistic way, okay?
Slim and Kit stop by to see if Bette wants to hang out with them, because they’ve got “everything for everybody who needs anything.” Bette says thanks, but she’s got to get home. Slim says he’ll just dream about the “two of you” and points to Bette and Eye Candace. Kit’s eyes widen; she says “Don’t you get my sistah into any trouble.” Candace doesn’t seem to hate the idea. And that’s why I’m an idiot: because the sledgehammer foreshadowing on this show is going to screw me.
Bette says her goodbyes, first to Yolanda and then to Eye Candace; she tells the latter to stop by the museum some time on her lunch break. Is this a lunch break like Shane generally has, I wonder? Candace watches Bette go.
The Planet — Francesca is not happy with the service. She wants the people who serve her coffee to lick her boots, or something, too. Just when we need rescuing, Dana walks in with her new hair. Alice says, “If I didn’t know it was you, I woulda thought someone hot just walked in.” Duh, Alice. Shane and Dana tell Alice not to drink coffee because Bette and Tina would kill her; then they have to explain the whole Alice-might-be-pregnant thing to Francesca, who proceeds to wax rhapsodic about the ideal family, which would reflect “the way we love and make relationships.” Marina sits down in time to say “I’d like to see that reflected somewhere.” Uh-oh. Francesca gives new meaning to the phrase “if looks could kill.”
Shane makes her excuses — she has to go check out her new salon space with Steve Jaffe. Dana says, “You gonna call it ‘Shane,’ Shane? ” Hee. Alice and Dana soon follow so that Marina and Francesca can be left alone to fight. The worse thing about it all is that Francesca refers to Shane, Dana, and Alice as “these people.” Ugh. She also tells Marina that there’s no point in waiting for someone to rescue her, because Francesca’s already done that. Nice.
Steve Jaffe’s car — Cherie’s husband wants Shane to spend some time with his daughter. First of all, that is so incestuous. Second, um, dude, is your daughter female? Because, well, women seem to get kind of out of control around Shane. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Headquarters for Social Justice — What? There are headquarters? Who knew? But I swear that’s what it says on the door. Tina is here to volunteer; this is the place run by the guy from group therapy. Okay, apparently they’re working to secure benefits for garment-industry workers, but usually they deal with “human-scale” stuff instead. Huh? Yeah, labor issues have nothing to do with humans. Anyway, they do queer stuff too, so the guy suggests that Tina work on that, but she wants to do something with kids, and apparently that has something to do with Christians, which brings up Fae Buckley so we can get back to Bette. Hey, it’s not like that: Tina’s storyline needs a little development before we can actually be expected to pay attention, and these people at the Headquarters for Social Justice have to stop talking in generalities and cliches so we can actually understand them.
The C.A.C. — Bette and her co-workers are practicing for the debate with Ms. Buckley. Bette’s phone rings, and she sees it’s Tina, so of course she answers it ’cause she’s worried and she’s the strong one. She goes down to the Social Justice Headquarters, where Tina reveals that she’s got the goods on Fae Buckley. Bette says she’s got her own non-slouchy people working on that kind of thing, and then she corners Oscar (the group therapy guy who runs the place) and says, “I thought this was supposed to be about Tina finding something of her own.” See? Bette’s not trying to hog the limelight: it just keeps landing on her.
A mini golf place — Shane, I can beat you at putt-putt any day. Shane and Clea (Steve and Cherie’s daughter) talk about playing golf, which Shane didn’t get to do as a kid because her parents weren’t around. She decides to give Clea a little golfing tip, which of course involves putting her hands on Clea’s hips and bouncing with her. Shane, what are you thinking? Everything you touch just melts in your hands, so you should make sure you want that to happen. Good thing you’re not wearing your glasses: that poor girl would burst into flames.
Headquarters for Social Justice — Bette is enjoying a screening of Here Cums the Principal,which is that porno we saw a little of at the beginning of the episode. Apparently it stars Fae Buckley’s seventeen-year-old daughter. She made her debut on videotape after leaving her abusive home, in which Ms. Buckley apparently could not or would not stop Mr. Buckley from beating the crap out of his kid. Well.
The mini golf grounds — Steve and Cherie’s daughter reveals that she’s gay and that her parents are pervs. She found a video of her parents doing it and enjoying a little mild S&M. Shane says it’s okay because it’s good when parents try to keep their lives interesting, but Clea is only interested in Shane. She moves in for the kiss, but Shane — what a relief — resists. Ack.
Headquarters for Social Justice — Oscar says it’s time to stop taking the high road and time to get into the conservative crowd’s closets. Ewww. But he might have a point.
The Palms, a women’s bar — Some couples are dancing — what the hell? They actually look like real lesbians! — and some crappy music is playing. Dana is sitting alone when she sees Jenny and waves her over. No, no: alone is better! Jenny is nervous because she’s never been to a women’s bar by herself: hey, that’s actually kind of cool, that she would give it a try. Dana says Alice was supposed to meet her but her boyfriend called. Jenny is shocked: “Alice is bisexual?” Dana makes a hilarious face and says “Yeah.” Jenny says the bar is so “butch and femme.” Wow: she already knows the lingo. I’m so impressed.
Wah! Bring back the soup chef! And why the hell are you saying that like you want to make sure that Jenny understands that you’re single? Stop it. Right now. Also, in any lesbian bar I’ve ever been in, Dana would be alone for about two seconds flat, so this would not happen at all.
Jenny’s studio — Dana and Jenny try to find a place to sit amongst the mess. Oh. God. They make some awkward small talk — Jenny wants to know what being a tennis player is like. Dana says, “I train a lot. I go on tour.” I start giggling in discomfort. Jenny tells Dana she doesn’t have anything to drink: “Do you want juice?” They’re saying everything like it’s very serious and important. Jenny gets the juice and they sit and sip it through straws and stare at each other: it’s sort of like the ending of Show Me Love, except it’s not as cute and is waaaaaaay less comfortable, but I still like Funny Jenny better than Dismantled Jenny.
Speaking of funny, Jenny suddenly pulls her shirt off. Dana just sort of blinks and puts her juice down, on the bed/couch behind Jenny; they start to kiss, at which point Jenny leans back and knocks over Dana’s juice and the awkwardness continues to heighten. Jenny says, “It’s okay; I know there’s worse stuff on it than that.” My giggling gets kind of manic. Jenny lies back again; Dana tries to figure out what to do. She clears her throat and takes her own shirt off; Jenny promptly and hilariously puts a hand on Dana’s breast and starts squeezing like Dana is an old bicycle horn. Dana tries to arrange Jenny’s limbs and general weirdness, and then too much hilarity happens for me to properly recap it. Finally Dana flops her arm down and they both acknowledge that the whole thing is a bad idea and they should just be friends. Jenny looks like Cousin It when she sits up, with her hair in front of her face — and her ribs are everywhere.
That was one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen.
The Planet — Cherie arrives to give Shane some expensive presents, as well as… well, some. Shane is grinning again: she really does seem to like this woman. She tries to talk to Cherie, presumably about Clea, and also feels guilty about taking gifts and possibly breaking up a marriage.
That’s what I’m afraid of. But under-the-table public sex can be fun, so please go right ahead.
The Paramount Lot— Bette and Tina are preparing for the debate with Fae Buckley. They seem to have settled on a way to distinguish Art from Not Art: if it lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value, it’s Not Art. Works for me. Don’t tell me that it begs the question of who gets to define value: Bette gets to define it. The end.
Tina wants to know what Bette will do when Fae baits her: Bette is already expressing a little more anger than she should and can’t remember that Kurosawa quote, but Tina quiets her fears with a kiss. Aww. Bette takes a moment to really make it a moment; they share a sweeter kiss:
Yay! Never mind all of my talk about affairs and getting to know yourself and all of that; actually, yes, do mind all of it, but please, please, stay together. You two rock as a couple, no matter what anyone else says.
They finally find Stage 4 — Bette mutters, “Jesus Christ, it was hard enough finding this place,” (ha ha) just as Jesus Christ’s representative, Fae Buckley, storms in to say how much she’s been looking forward to this. Fae, please: tell Bette how much you adore her and drop the charade. Meanwhile, a guy comes in to tell them that Darla will take them to makeup soon. Fae says, to Bette, “Hmm, it must be hard for makeup people to find your color: it’s so in-between. I guess Darla will have to mix.” Hey, Fae: Fuck you.
Bette’s boss, or whoever that random nameless guy is, tells Bette he’s fine with it if she wants to use that video. She just sighs and saunters on in her gorgeous long suit coat and foxy pink shirt.
Tim’s house — Tim’s in the pool with Trish. His cell phone rings: it’s Jenny, scolding him for fraternizing with a student. Blah blah blah. Tim knocks on the studio door (’cause that’s where Jenny’s calling form, like a dork), and ends up saying, “Nobody in their right minds would believe for a second that you give a shit about what happens to me.” Hey, that’s not nice. And why am I finding you kind of cute in this episode? And why are you reminding me of Katie Smith? Hmm. It must be your swagger and seemingly innocent looks. Whatever. She didn’t fool me when she signed my stupid basketball and said she hadn’t been out on the town much, and you won’t either.
On TV — The debate starts out with Fae smiling and Bette looking frozen. The moderator asks Bette whether she’s betraying the public trust: she says no, she’s “trusting the public.” Nice turn of phrase. She says that neither she nor Ms. Buckley should be able to decide what people can and can’t see. Yep. Hey, look: she’s wearing black while Fae is wearing white. Ooooh. And dammit, look at Helen Shaver’s acting: I hate that I like it.
Fae starts in about the “lifestyle,” claiming that Bette is trying to recruit through the exhibit. Bette grins and says “If I were trying to convert people to my lifestyle… do you really think I’d do it by using images of a man flaying himself and trussing up his testicles? That piece makes me so uncomfortable, I can barely look at it. I don’t think it’s going to make anyone want to become a lesbian.” Right on. Fae is drinking lots of water and staring intently. Yeah, get over yourself and get down. (And Helen Shaver is thinking that finally, someone is meeting her acting abilities without flinching.)
The Bordello of Evil — Francesca is packing her suitcase. Marina has opened a nice bottle of wine. Francesca wants to know which one, the something or the something, and Marina says if it’s too expensive, she can always pawn her watch. Meow! Francesca says, “Don’t be petulant, Marina: it’s not how you want me to remember you when I’m deciding who to take to Antigua when I wrap.” Francesca, have you met Fae? Anyway, Marina, with barely a second thought, dumps both glasses of wine directly into Francesca’s suitcase. Yee-ha! All the while, Bette and Buckley are on the TV. It’s a weird backdrop but kind of fitting.
On TV — Fae Buckley is talking about “sheer, disgusting, filthy, ugly pornography.” The truck-wide opening is too much for Bette to resist: she laments the bane that is pornography and then whips out the videotape that stars Fae’s daughter. Uh-oh.
In the green room, Tina stands up, shocked. On TV, Bette is horrified, and starts to cry, and there is absolutely no way to capture the authentic, heartbreaking devastation of her face and her heart.
Bette sobs openly: it’s time. Fae sees what she has done — yes, I really think she does see it, because she had to spit some of those words out, as if they didn’t come easily to her — and goes over to Bette to try to comfort her. Bette pushes her away: “Monster,” she sobs.
Bette gives the tape to the interviewer guy. We see more clips from Fae’s daughter’s porn film and her life in general, and we see a replay of the “Monster” line — because it’s that good and because we need to see it this close to Bette’s naked, beautiful, desolate face.
Rufus Wainwright sings “Hallelujah,” and that’s the only flaw in this scene: he doesn’t do the song justice. It’s a Leonard Cohen tune originally, and Leonard has more depth in his pinkie than Rufus has in his entire body — and if you can’t play Leonard, why not Jeff Buckley, who is still far beyond Rufus? The song is perfect for the scene, because it captures the sharp emptiness of the heartless ways people hurt each other, but you’ve got to sing it right or it becomes nothing but a weak imitation, as porn is to art.
NEXT WEEK ON THE L WORD: Our heroines go to a women’s golf tournament, where Jenny continues to come out; we learn about “100-footers”; Dana’s fans reach out.