Oscar Wilde’s adage that “life imitates art far more than art imitates life” is both true and false when it comes to Ilene Chaiken.
When The L Word first began in 2003, to say the Showtime drama was a case of art imitating life may have been a stretch; but by the time Chaiken’s show was wrapping its six-season run, it wound up being more of a case life imitating art.
So then what will The Real L Word: Los Angeles be when it launches in the summer: a reality series based on actual reality or the reality as seen through the I-don’t-know-what-colored glasses that Chaiken wears?
The fact meets fiction debate is interesting, and one that the L Word creator/executive producer recently discussed with Emmys.org.
“When The L Word ended, I received so much feedback from fans who wanted more,” she told the site, “and, really, the show could have gone on and on. Doing the reality show is a logical continuation of the storytelling and a fresh way to circle back to it seamlessly without taking a year off.”
Of course fans wanted more, and of course the show could have gone on — there was no resolution to the final season’s big whodunit story line. And don’t get me started on the “Interrogation Tapes.”
“There’s nothing else on television that tells these stories and continues to shatter stereotypes,” Chaiken continued. “We can delve into issues that we could only scratch the surface on in the scripted show.”
While Chaiken’s comments are to be applauded for her effort to put TV’s focus on the underrepresented lesbian community, having her at the helm of anything is scary business. This is the woman who killed Dana Fairbanks, after all. Which issues will she opt to include: manufactured drama between the L.A. versions of Alice Pieszecki and Jenny Schecter (as depicted on The L Word) or issues based on actual reality, like that West Hollywood — L.A.’s gay Mecca — is a boys town?
“Are you telling me not all lesbians look like us?”
Dan Cutforth, the co-founder of Magical Elves, the company producing The Real L Word: Los Angeles, added that in an oversaturated market, “it can be important to hitch your wagon to something that’s already successful. Sometimes that’s a scripted drama or comedy.”
Is Chaiken, whose L Word spinoff The Farm didn’t make it past the pilot stage, just grabbing onto a successful franchise in a bid for 15 more minutes of fame, or is she truly interested in depicting life imitating her art?
What do you think? Will Chaiken do L.A. proud and “continue to shatter stereotypes” or will it just be more of the clichéd dyke drama?