“L Word” Co-Creators Michele Abbott and Kathy Greenberg Break Their Silence

 
 

AE: Speaking of storytelling, let’s talk about Dana’s death. Michele, you’re healthy now, but you were diagnosed with breast cancer
during development. How did you feel about Dana’s death?

MA: I thought it was total bullsh-t that she died. I liked
her story until that point. …We were all aware of my issue and talking
about it in development. It was on the table — not in the script, but
on the table personally — and it was pretty distracting for me as far
as what was important in my life. … Once you get in that world, it’s
very scary, because there’s no doctor who can tell you, “Okay, here’s
exactly what you have to do.” You have a million different choices and
you have to go to different oncologists. … It’s insane, the complexity
of treatment.

KG: It would have been a great thing to explore in the show. It was a missed
opportunity.

MA: Anyone who’s experienced it knows the truth of it — you always
want to see someone survive. … I think the threat of death would have
been enough of an element of drama. … Viewers could have been taken on
an inspirational journey where Dana battles cancer and wins. It was a rotten
portrayal and it didn’t play out.

AE: You’d get no argument from fans … or from Erin [Daniels].
But she nailed her part.

KG: Yeah, she was great.

AE: All the original cast members were. Can you share a memory you
had with them during production?

MA: There was this amazing moment after a day of shooting, when we ended up
in a karaoke bar in Vancouver. …

KG: Kate [Moennig], Leisha and Erin got up and started singing “What
A Feeling” from Flashdance to Jennifer [Beals]. Jennifer was mortified
at first, but then, like the good sport that she is, she grabbed a bottle of
Perrier off a table, took the stage, dumped the water over herself and started
dancing.

(Laughter)

AE: The dance?

MA: No, but she swung her hair around and spun a bit … She rallied!

AE: I like her even more now!

MA: I’ll have the utmost respect for her forever for that.

AE: Why do you think there’s nothing on TV comparable to The
L Word
? Do the execs think we can only ‘process’ one lesbian
show at a time?

KG: The answer has less to do with the fact that it’s a lesbian show
and more to do with how executives program. … Creatively, execs would
rather be seen breaking new ground and not copying existing formats. But I think
the real answer is that the audience is already somewhat niche and loyal, and
there would be a risk that [another show] would only get, at best, a portion
of that audience.

AE: How did you feel about the retrospective prior to the finale, especially
given that you weren’t acknowledged at all?

MA: It was moving, but we watched with a lot of ambivalence. We were sad to
see it end — the show accomplished more than we ever thought it would
— but we were also relieved to see it end …

KG: It was what it was. Regardless, watching it made me feel lucky to have
had a hand in something that engaged the community in so many ways and gave
us unprecedented visibility.

AE: What did you think of the ending?

MA: I thought it was consistent with everything we had come to expect from
The L Word. I think it would’ve been great if Sounder the dog had come back
and pushed Jenny into the pool himself. (Laughter) Who knows, maybe Sounder
will be investigated and confess. Stranger things have happened on the show.

KG: To me, it felt incongruous They tried to accomplish a
lot in a little amount of time and it ended up a little muddled. But, it’s
an auspicious task to try to wrap up a series. I also think that a show that
ends in a non-answer, like The Sopranos did, is basically
trying to tell the audience, ‘This wasn’t the issue; this isn’t
germane to the show.’

AE: But The Sopranos didn’t end in a way that made some
of us feel baited, as The L Word did. It didn’t end with, ‘And
stay tuned for a special announcement!’ — which was a plug for The
Interrogation Tapes.

KG: I know what you’re saying … but I’m also saying that
you can do that when you’re taking a loftier view on the whole show, and
you have a point. But The L Word never was that.

AE: No, it wasn’t. So we were forced to focus on the whodunit
and, in the end, many viewers felt gypped.

KG: This wasn’t one of those genius reveals where we’re able to
look back on that information and say, ‘Oh my God, that totally makes
sense.’ … The show early on stopped being a show and started being
a commerce feed, a brand.

MA: Right. … I’m trying to think of another show, in any other
genre, that did that as much. The ourchart site … the Interrogation Tapes
… What other shows do that?

AE: The self-promotion was obvious and weird.

KG: Yeah, so from that point [viewers] already felt manipulated.

AE: Do you have anything to say to The L Word fans that were
disappointed in the finale?

MA: Don’t blame me!

KG: It’s not my fault!

(Laughter)

AE: Finally, what are you both doing now?

KG: I’m working on another draft of a movie for Working Title, and just
finished a couple of comedy scripts for Paramount Vantage and Walden Media.

MA: I’m producing commercials, running my production company, and I just
wrapped a TV pilot.

KG: And together we’re working on something that might help to fill some of
the space left by The L Word.

AE: Really? … Will you tell us more about that when you can?

MA: Absolutely!

For outtakes of this interview, go to Kim
Ficera’s blog

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