Ilene Chaiken recently chatted with The Hollywood Reporter about the ongoing lack of lesbian representation in pop culture 10 years after the premiere of The L Word and shed a little more light on the new documentary format for her Showtime reality series The Real L Word.
Photo via Getty Images
On how this version of the RLW will be different than what we’ve previously seen:
It’s going to be quite different in tone and ambition. I have been feeling this for a while and [producers] Magical Elves and Showtime felt compelled to look in this direction. It’s going to be different in that it’s going to be grittier, less glamorous and a story about different facets of gayness. We all know, especially those of us who are gay, that there are challenges and hardships and that there are a lot of places in the world in this country where it isn’t easy to be a lesbian or to be gay. That part of the story gets touched upon in The L Word and in three seasons of The Real L Word in Los Angeles and New York but we’re really going to look at what that is and explore it now in a more unvarnished way.
On whether the show will be narrated or “told through the lens of a camera crew”:
We haven’t figured out all those details. Although it’s not going to look like The Real L Word, the style of filmmaking — where we send a small and unobtrusive crew to spend time with the people whose stories we’re telling to be in their lives and capture as much as possible — the reality and texture is what we’re going to do. We may decide it calls for narration. We don’t know yet. We want to let the people tell their own stories.
On how she sold Showtime entertainment president David Nivens on the show:
He was excited and moved by the idea of taking our franchise in new territory. We talked about where the moments in television are and that the last election was a good one for gay Americans. We made incredible gains and the world seems to be moving in our direction and embracing us in ways it hasn’t before. We recognized that it doesn’t change the world instantaneously. Even if, for example, the Supreme Court case goes the way that many of us hope it will, it’s not going to change the hardship for gay Americans in the communities and circumstances we’re talking about. We don’t want to forget or assume that everything is fine; we want to make sure we’re taking opportunity to say, “This doesn’t end when the civil rights laws change.” There are still people struggling. We want to look at what life is like for those people. We’ve told the story of women living in Los Angeles and New York and the fairly glamorous milieu was something we’ve shown and something I set out to talk about in the scripted L Word. We’ve shown that lesbians can be many things that most people don’t assume we are. I’m not saying we’ve done it or only ones who have done it but we haven’t touched on this other powerful story. We want to do something with an impact.
Chaiken says the new version of RLW will be approached as a “single documentary,” but added, “We may find that there’s a compelling reason to do either two separate ones or a two-part documentary. In this documentary process, you don’t know what the story is going to do until you star telling it.”
Read the interview in its entirety at The Hollywood Reporter.
The producers of Real L Word are looking for lesbians with important and compelling stories to tell for a documentary-approach to lesbian life beyond the city lights. This project will focus on the experience of living as a lesbian in more conservative areas throughout the country where non-acceptance is still the norm.
We are looking for stories of all kinds from places where living a closeted lifestyle in terms of family, job, religion or general environment is often part of daily life; where same-sex parents raising kids are met with the gamut of hostility and prejudice; where a supportive LGBT community barely exists. If you came out recently; are struggling with coming out and the implications it would have for all areas of your life; or if any of the above resonates with you, we ask that you get in touch with us.
We are interested in hearing about you and your story. Please send the information below to: realLwordDoc@magicalelves.com
- Current contact info
– Current photo(s)
– Town/city you live in
– Relationship status
– A few sentences about you and your experience that makes you right for this documentary; What challenges have you overcome? What challenges do you currently face?
Do you think the revised Real L Word will be a good addition to the L Word franchise and legacy? Would you ever consider submitting your story for the show?