THIS WEEK’S L WORD VOCABULARY:
THIS WEEK’S GUEST-BIANS: Sandra Bernhard shows her cards; Camryn Manheim asks the ultimate question; Charles S. Dutton is mercifully missing.
First things first, to my British readers (the few I have left) — Helena herself told me I should never apologize or explain, so I won’t. Instead I offer this: I’ve had some fantastically great sex in your country — positively earth-shattering sex. Phenomenally brilliant sex. Have I mentioned the sex was great? That’s the generalization I’ll always make: Britain = really good sex and gorgeous women. Hello to the many of you who’ve given me such a warm welcome during my sojourns there.
Now, for the love of Monty Python, let’s move on to something completely different, shall we?
Moulin Mockery — We’re in les Rues Montmartre, in “some other time,” and Sandra Bernhard is walking with a guy (oh, the guy who plays Hunter the hunky student) who wants to know what kind of woman she likes. Sandra’s playing it up, and I still dig her, so I’m liking every word and every look as she peruses the prostitutes.
A stupid French version of the theme song is playing in the background. How many versions are there? Can we look forward to more? And by “look forward” I mean that feeling you get when you realize you’re about to hit a squirrel on the road and there’s nothing you can do about it. Or maybe I mean how the squirrel feels when it realizes it’s about to get hit.
Charlotte-in-some-other-time stops before a Brazilian beauty:
The important part of this is how hilarious Sandra is, as she tosses her head back whilst saying “wild and craaaaaayzy.” And how she tosses it back again to laugh at the silly mistake she’s made.
Ta-da, there’s Jenny, or the Rues-Montmartre-some-other-time equivalent of Jenny, and I’m trying as hard as I can to not find her kinda cute. This whole damn thing is so prefrenchious. But if it means that Charlotte might splay Jenny across her desk after class someday, then I’m all over it.
The Hunter guy sees Jenny and calls her “a little gamine, but she’s nasty.” There are probably no better words for Jenny, and I wish I’d thought of them first.
(For those of you who don’t have a good dictionary, here’s a definition of gamine: “a girl of ingratiating qualities, typically slight build, and a pert saucy air or a wistful elfish charm.” See? Perfect.)
I don’t speak French, but a friend tells me that Jenny’s accent isn’t bad. What I know to be good is the way Sandra stares as Jenny asks (prefrenchiously in French) “What about your lady friend? Does she want me? Am I going to satisfy her?” — and the way Sandra lights her cigarette in response and then nods ever so slightly and waves out the lighter. Hello.
Good morning — Alice and Dana are in a big orangey peachy bed, smooching and sleepily talking.
Cute. Damn, but they’re cute. I wanna be in a Dana/Alice sammich. Look how cute Alice is with her messy morning hair! And kudos to these two for making it look so real… well, I think it is, anyway. I live in the land of the real, not the land of the super hot uber Bette sex.
Yawn — Jenny is wishing Mark good morning and wondering how he is. We don’t care. Mark is still fixated on what makes Shane so Shane, and Jenny offers the obvious angle: people want what they can’t have. Jenny also says that she has no interest in Shane as a lover because they’re very good friends. Hallelujah. That must not change.
Somewhere in there, Jenny tells Mark, “You’re weird. Weirder than me.” And with that she proves she’s not hyper about grammar — otherwise she would have said “Weirder than I.” But that would make her more anal than me, or anal than I, and that’s not a good thing.
Another good morning — Tina’s lovely. Helena’s making her smile, which is probably the only good thing I’ll ever say about Helena. So Tina’s smiling, and responding as Helena’s hand wends its way under the covers. But then Helena’s kids rush in, so Tina stops Helena’s hand, despite Helena’s assurances that it’s okay. Helena starts to say “They have very healthy attitudes towards —” but Tina interrupts because she’s a prudish American.
Wilson, Helena’s son, wants to hear Tina’s “baby’s hearts beating.” Oh, so it’s an alien baby with multiple hearts? That explains a lot.
After the kids leave, Tina says the whole thing freaked her out because “It’s not natural for them to see their mother fucking someone they barely know.”
Well. Word. But Helena just gives Tina some “I’m a parent and you’re not” line and says she’s taking Tina and the kids to San Diego, and she’s already talked to Tina’s co-workers about covering the youth arts outreach thing Tina was supposed to do, because Helena is Bette minus the heart and Tina has no idea what she’s in for. That last part was mine, if you were wondering.
But Tina does like the kisses, and she does look great in the golden morning light. Yeah. And Helena has perfect teeth.
The C.A.C. — Bette meets Leo Herrera the fundraiser guy. He says they’ve met before, but she has no recollection of meeting him, and I love the fact that she refuses to apologize for that. Leo says he respects Bette’s position, but then he sticks his big wing-tipped foot in his mouth and says he met Bette’s “ex” with “Helena” and that “they’re so excited about the baby.” She does the only thing she can, which is smile fakely and walk off. Well, she also could have kicked Leo’s glasses right into his face, but that would be a different show.
Bette goes to her office, but doesn’t break down — even though I fear for the phone she picks up. Instead, she calls Tina and leaves a message, saying that she “need[s] to have some kind of resolution before the baby is born.” It seems like a reasonable request. She didn’t even throw the phone this time — what more do you want?
James shows up with some money stuff and with a message from Alice, who wants Bette to be at The Planet for an “emergency meeting.” Bette makes a sound that’s a mixture of a sigh and a scoff, which I interpret to mean “lesbians are so high-maintenance.”
James also gives Bette a catalog of Leigh Ostin’s work. Ostin does mobiles or kinetic sculpture or whatever you want to call it, and I feel like I’ve seen similar stuff before. But I haven’t seen anything like Leigh, which is exactly what Bette’s thinking as she flips the pages to Leigh’s picture. Bette decides it’s high time for a studio visit.
Veronica’s office — Veronica Bloom is swearing about the betrayal that is Marty, her ex-husband. I think we’re supposed to think that Marty is Scorsese. It’s all kind of blah blah, but the point is that she still wants Shane there, even though she wants everyone else to leave. I think Shane is wearing the exact shirt that I wore to the fall dance in 8th grade. Anyway, I like the part where Veronica throws the phone at some random assistant, and refers to “M. Night Fucking Shyamalan.”
And then Veronica tells Shane to sit down, but then Veronica stands up and says “let’s go out.” Somehow I doubt she can go out far enough to truly hang with Shane.
The hell that is Jenny’s brain — Jenny’s writing a story called “Luminous.” Is it a story? Or is the proper term “a horrific mess”? Anyway, the short film we get this time is still carnival-related, but a bit less precious. Barely.
The girl in the story wants to see the Fabulous Venus de Mylar. But the person in the Fabulous Venus de Mylar’s trailer is a man, who quickly explains “I’m her, girlie,” and puts on his wig and platform heels. So, thinking back to Sandra/Charlotte/Madelaine and her little mistake about the Brazilian prostitute, I suppose we have some sort of genderblur letimotif. But since this show hasn’t figured out that presenting a thematic element is not the same as exploring it, I’m not going to get excited about it. Nor can I get excited about the Fabulous Venus de Mylar’s wig. Pink can be divine, but at the moment it’s just scary.
Oh, perhaps the gender stuff is not the focus, so much as difference and otherness in general:
So they talk. Dee Dee wants to join the circus because she doesn’t belong anywhere and her family thinks she’s a freak. This is nothing new to Venus/Victor, so he cuts to the chase: “Do you have any talent? Any special circus skills?” In reply, Dee Dee lifts her skirt.
And there (thankfully) the vignette (again, the better term is “horrific mess”) ends, and we cut to Jenny’s writing class, where she is reading the last line of her story. Not very well, I might add.
Charlotte asks for comments. Hunter says Jenny’s story reminded him of Rick Moody, and that “Jenny is to the Midwest as Carson McCullers is to the South.” Is your heart a-lonely, Hunter? Sorry. Charlotte would not approve of that pun. Nor does she (and nor do I) approve of the analogy:
Jenny agrees that it’s generous, and we all agree that Charlotte is gross when she flirts so openly with Hunter.
A spa — Veronica is getting some sort of peel or something (don’t ask me, I’m not into that stuff) and asking the question we all knew was coming:
Camryn Manheim, did you hear that? It was the sound of every lesbian in the world screaming “You SHOULD!!”
Shane’s not so sure: she says that women are intense, and a lot of work, and can suck you dry. Veronica likes the sound of that, because when things aren’t intense, she gets bored. Shane is just watching the peeling with a series of appalled and disgusted looks on her face — you know, sorta like what I go through whenever Jenny’s writing.
I love the way Shane pulls her own fraggly hair and says “faaahhhhk.”
The studio visit — Bette thinks Leigh Ostin’s work is “exquisite.” Bette wants to know why she hasn’t seen Leigh’s work before, and Leigh says Michael (gallery owner dude) has been “trying to get you in here for ages.”
Those words don’t even begin to capture what they’re saying with their eyes — well, at least not what Bette’s eyes are saying. I’m not so sure what Leigh’s eyes are saying because I’m sort of fixated on her tank top.
Leigh shows Bette some copies she’s done of Renaissance paintings. Bette is delighted, and I don’t think anything’s sexier than a delighted Bette. Well, maybe a triceps- or biceps-highlighting shot of Bette, which is what I’m drooling over at the moment. Wait, I’m missing all the dialogue. It’s kinda important: Bette is inviting Leigh to join her at The Planet, where Sharon Isbin will be performing. Leigh says she saw Isbin perform with the NY Philharmonic at Avery Fisher Hall, and Bette says (again, saying way more with her eyes) that “this will be a bit more intimate.”
Yow. I don’t know how Leigh can resist, but she does — because “it’s Valerie who’s the classical music aficionado.” Yep, Leigh has a girlfriend, so Bette invites them both to the show and smiles widely in a “damn the luck” sort of way.
The adorable couple — Remember when Dana and Alice were doing that silly pseudo-jogging? Well, here they are again, but this time they’re walking and holding hands. Cute, cute, cute. They’re talking about their big announcement. Alice thinks it’s important that all their friends find out at the same time. Dana points out that Shane already knows, but Alice says Shane didn’t tell anyone — “She’s like the only person on earth who can actually keep a secret.”
Once again, “subtle” is clearly not an L word.
Playing house — Tina tells Helena’s kids it’s a nice day and they shouldn’t be spending it staring at the TV. I wish I’d listened to my mom when she said things like that. Moms, don’t let your babies grow up to be recappers.
Tina’s brought art supplies for the kids, and is ready to play with them, but Helena interrupts: “Tina has to come and spend a little time with Mama.” Whoa. Look at Helena’s stomach. And look at Tina — she just licked her lips!
Tina has to come, indeed: she and Helena go out on the roof and have sex. Meanwhile, Helena’s ex has arrived. She asks her kids where Helena is. They probably don’t give her the proper directional signal, which would be “down.” ‘Cause Helena’s head is between Tina’s legs. Helena’s ex strolls out onto the roof and just sort of stands there and watches for a bit. Tina finally realizes she’s putting on a show, and sort of sighs and tries to cover herself. That’s her reaction? If I were in her position, so to speak, I’d end up making my lover’s ears ring, because I’d slap my knees together faster than Helena can say “cacophony.”
Helena just looks annoyed, wipes off her mouth, and says “Tina, meet my ex, Winnie Mann.”
Winnie Mann? Really? Somebody wasn’t thinking — either her parents or the L Word writers. Hmm, I wonder which.
Where have I seen Winnie before? Did she play a cowboy in something? Or is that just how she’s behaving at the moment?
Turns out the kids were due back with Winnie that morning. Winnie’s not happy. That might be because she actually started a family with Helena, and now understands that it would have been smarter to start a family with Michael Jackson.
Tina interrupts their row (that’s “quarrel” to you jingoistic Americans who don’t travel enough1) to get her stuff and get the hell out of there. Helena wants Tina to stay, but Tina would rather throw herself at a sushi-eating tie-wearing kissing-impaired unethical lawyer than hang around for this. Or maybe I just hope that’s how she’s feeling. Either way, she’s suddenly remembered that she needs to go hear the big announcement at the Planet.
Veronica Bloom’s house — Shane is emptying a packet of something into a glass of water. I hope it’s not that Emergen-C stuff, because that stuff tastes weird. Whatever it is, I hope it will help Veronica’s polka-dotted peeled face.
The Planet — Sharon Isbin is awesome. But all eyes are on Bette. Even Sharon’s — after the show, she asks Kit to introduce her to Bette in six months. I guess we’ll miss that, because in six months we’ll still be waiting for season 3 to start.
Kit grins and tells Sharon she’s a smart woman. Kit, you’re dating the TOE jam guy — as much as I love you, I don’t think you’re in a position to be dispensing dating advice.
A woman approaches Bette and introduces herself as Alyson Palmer from Betty — “we performed here a couple weeks ago.” Bette smiles and says “You guys were great,” but it’s about as sincere as the smile she was sporting when she found out about Leigh’s girlfriend.
Alyson tells Bette that everyone’s watching her:
As Alyson goes away, it sounds like Bette mutters “meat-tagged. eww.” Haha! Also, isn’t “meat tag” what you call the identifying tattoos that Marines get in case they lose their dog tags and get blown to bits? I mean, I know dating is tough, but geez.
Right away, another woman shows up and introduces herself to Bette. The woman, Meryl, used to be an exec at Disney, but now she’s a therapist. She hands Bette her card and says “I would rather date you than analyze you. Call me.”
Wait: Meryl was hot. Maybe I don’t want Bette and Tina to get back together after all, if there are such yummy alternatives.
Veronica’s house — Veronica’s hitting the Xanax. Shane finds some other interesting pills and pockets them. But then she asks permission anyway: “You had some oxy in there… would you mind?” Veronica tells her to take the whole bottle.
But Shane wasn’t planning to stick around. So she starts to go. That is not okay with Veronica:
But Shane’s already gone.
The Planet — Kit doesn’t know what meat-tagged is either. Bette starts to explain, but another admirer interrupts and says she has a friend who’d be happy to be Bette’s rebound girl. Get in line!
If it weren’t for Pam Grier, none of that would have been very funny, but the “pimped” line made me snort. Thank you, Kit.
Cars are sexy — Alice and Dana talk about what they’ll say to their friends:
They grin at themselves, and Dana does a little “yeah, I’m cool” expression that cracks me up. Alice checks her watch. Dana says they’re early. So Alice pulls the car over and they have some of that mind-blowing sex, which from my point of view is also pretty damn funny. I know some people think these two are better friends than lovers, but I still say they’re adorable.
The Planet — Carmen is teaching Jenny how to be a DJ, and is also flirting with Jenny. And again, I can’t help but think Jenny’s getting more and more appealing with each episode, and I like the way she teases Carmen and holds her gaze. And I love the song that’s playing: “Mmmnn” by Grandadbob.
Tina shows up. She sees Bette, and looks uncomfortable. How can Bette look that great whilst just sitting at a table?? Also, Bette is drinking Perrier, not Absolut — again, I question the quality, but I’m glad she’s not drowning her sorrows.
Kit greets Tina, calling her “Mama.” She sees the way Tina’s looking at Bette:
Tina’s nervous, but she sits down next to Bette. They exchange civil hellos and agree to talk after this weekend. Ack. That expressionless thing that people do when they’ve broken up — it’s ouchy.
Back in flirtsville, Carmen is teaching Jenny how to slide channel buttons and flick crossfaders. Yes, it’s as dorky and innuendo-laden as I’m making it sound.
So Jenny slides and crossfades and flirts, and thank god her flirting skills exceed her mixing abilities. And her fashion sense. Well, barely, but it’s enough.
Just as Jenny and Carmen are starting to smooch and get cozy, Shane shows up. Carmen sees her and stops and stares. Jenny sees the reaction, loud and clear. Shane turns around and leaves, running into Dana and Alice on the way.
As Alice and Dana walk in, a spotlight hits them and Carmen grabs her mike: “All right, everyone, if I could have your attention please, there is a happy new couple in the house.” Yeah, everybody knew, and we’re all so shocked.
Dana and Alice do the spotlight dance (is this prom or something?) to a remix of Shirley Bassey’s “Where Do I Begin.” (If you like this track, do yourself a favor and pick up Hotel Costes Etage 3).
I love Alice’s big smile as she and Dana dance. But I can’t help but wonder whether some people in the crowd are thinking “Weren’t we just here for Dana’s bachelorette party? Where’s the Ton Ton?”
Shane and Jenny’s place — Carmen and Jenny are still flirting, only now Jenny’s wearing some sort of gigantic scary fur coat — what happened, did they go bear hunting on the way home? Carmen puts a strawberry in her teeth and leans against the fridge, and Jenny takes the cue and kisses the strawberry away. They start to make out on the countertop, and I have to slap myself for finding it sexy. Actually, Carmen could probably make out with Joyce Wischnia and I would find it sexy. Almost.
Just in time, Shane shows up, with twins. Yes, she’s brought some vacuous twins home. Shane, what is wrong with you? Carmen stops in her tracks again, and Jenny feels weird and lights a cigarette, and it all goes to hell.
Jenny kisses Carmen on the cheek. Sniffle.
What Mark sees — I still really hate the Mark stuff, but I have to recap this one. He’s watching Shane and the twins, but he has to pause and rewind because he sees that Shane is snorting something. Great, another Oxy moment.
The twins are rolling around on the bed and begging “Shawn” to come play with them, but Shane’s not interested. I don’t want to know what the twins are going to do to amuse themselves.
The morning after — Carmen goes to see Jenny. Carmen wants to know if this is the “cool clear light of day.” Jenny invites her in. Look at all the sexy lesbo pictures on Jenny’s bedroom walls: they’re kinda weird. And sort of exclamatory.
Carmen’s trying to figure out why she freaked out.
Carmen doesn’t know what to say, so she just takes her shirt off. You know: sorta like Jenny did with Dana, but it’s sexy instead of funny. Way sexy. Carmen = sexy.
But then something weird happens. Well, first there’s the weird way Jenny flops on the bed and says “here,” as if she’s offering Carmen a snack. But then they kind of claw at each other. And then there’s the slapping. Jenny slaps Carmen, and Carmen slaps Jenny back, and then again and again, and then they struggle a bit, and, well, then Carmen sort of curls up and looks as if she wants to take a nap on Jenny.
It’s not really violent; it’s just weird. Perhaps they’re saying “I’m fucked up, and so are you, so let’s be friends.” I dunno. It may also be that Jenny’s saying “I’m mad that you don’t want me,” and Carmen’s saying “I’m mad that I don’t want you,” and then the whole thing grows tiresome so they really do need a nap.
Somehow, I still kinda like the two of them together. I must need a nap myself.
Fun in the sun — Tina’s doing the art-for-kids workshop. Helena shows up in her shiny snazzy car (one could even call it luminous) and saunters over. Tina’s surprised that Helena’s not mad at her for leaving during the argument with Winnie. Helena’s actually nice about the whole thing, and apologetic, and talks about how sad it is that the kids’ mummies are splitting up. Helena says that Winnie’s trying to keep the kids all to herself and cut Helena off, and it all hits home with Tina:
Shane and Jenny’s place — Shane is passed out on the couch. Also, the music is loud and the phone is ringing. Jenny answers it; it’s Veronica Bloom. Shane doesn’t want to talk to her.
Oh, nice, there’s Carmen. After Jenny leaves, Carmen has a few words for Shane.
Carmen’s smile is so damn dazzling. And Shane looks really sorry, and even seems to start to cry.
Writing class — Hunter is talking about beating his cock while Jenny fathoms Charlotte’s pussy for the 27th time. Okay, he’s not really talking about himself or Jenny or Charlotte; he’s reading a story. But he’s referring to “Madelaine,” so we know what he means — we’re back to the prelude again. And Hunter’s writing is a load of crap.
When Charlotte asks the class to comment, Jenny raises her arm so high, she practically hops out of her chair, the way Horshack used to do on Welcome Back Kotter. She compares Hunter to Henry Miller, but when Charlotte presses for more, it gets a little less friendly:
Indeed. And if that looked like a lot of breathless blathering, that’s because it was. But it was also pretty damn cool and funny. I just wish it hadn’t reminded me of Marina, with the “opened up your world” thing. Yuck.
Mark’s den of iniquity — Mark’s phone rings. It’s Shane, wondering whether Jenny’s home. But Jenny’s busy lecturing the likes of Hunter, so Shane has to ask Mark for help instead. He understands about the oxy, and tells her not to drink too much water, and he’ll be right there.
On Mark’s computer, we see the shot of Shane that I liked so much — one hand flipping off the camera and the other hand holding a spliff. Yeah, it kinda says a lot.
After class — Charlotte asks “Schecter” to stay behind. But no, she’s not going to fuck Jenny right there on the desk like I want her to. Instead, she’s giving Jenny an opportunity: some formerly famous dude needs a ghost writer for his memoirs. Charlotte says “I told him you were my most gifted student.”
Go ahead, Jenny. Smile. And then throw Charlotte on that desk!
Kids — As she plays with the artsy kids and watches Helena help a kid build a sand castle, Tina calls Bette and leaves a message.
Trouble town — Mark finds Shane. Am I supposed to think that Mark is a good guy now, just because he’s helping Shane? And why are those two big guys beating Shane up and calling her a little freak? Is she getting bounced from somewhere? I dunno, I think maybe this is suddenly an afterschool special about the many ways in which drugs are BAD. Also, I guess we’re supposed to think that Shane has finally hit rock bottom. Well, good. Next scene, please.
Meat — Bette arrives home to find an eager, waiting delivery girl.
Bette just chuckles and goes inside. Did you SEE her, Bette? Invite her in and give her a drink and the run of the kitchen. She can cook for me anytime, even though I’m a vegetarian.
Something else is waiting for Bette: a big box. Also, Tina’s message, which is wonderful: “I just wanted to let you know that I’ve been, uh, thinking about our baby. We conceived of this baby together, and you should absolutely be part of her life.”
Bette smiles a hopeful half-smile. And she opens the box to reveal a special-order mobile from the sexy artist. Bette’s smile gets bigger as she says “I think she’ll like this.”
Maybe when she’s 17, but what’s a baby going to do with a dangerous contraption made of wire and glass? Never mind, I’m still stuck on that smile. Leonard Cohen sings “Coming Back to You” and we all hope.
1. My references to prudish Americans and jingoistic Americans and prefrenchiousness are jokes. I know that none of the Americans or French people who read these recaps are prudish, jingoistic, or pretentious, and I know you’re all nice enough to let it slide and not e-mail me about it.
NEXT WEEK ON THE L WORD: Soup chef soup chef soup chef soup chef soup chef soup chef soup chef soup chef soup chef soup chef soup chef soup chef soup chef soup chef soup chef! But she’s dating Gabby. What the hell? Also, Winnie tries to make a deal with Bette, and Shane ‘fesses up.