The show retains the gloss of the original L Word, with plenty of stylish homes and flashy wardrobes. As in most other reality television shows, power, wealth, getting lucky and achieving a degree of "celebrity" are the obvious (if unspoken) objectives. In one scene, Nikki sings, "This little piggy went to Gucci…" as she administers a pedicure to fiance, Jill.
Later, Rose explains, "There’s a top one percent in the lesbian scene, someone who looks good, can dress good, who has a good job, who can show you a good time. If you have that, you’re on top of your game. It’s done." The Los Angeles "lifestyle" is practically an uncredited seventh character on the show.
When the cast for the show was originally announced, one of the first critiques was that it lacked racial diversity. In response, Chaiken has said, "Personally, I do think it’s a diverse cast. I don’t think diversity is represented only one way, but there is some cultural ethnic diversity in this cast. " Cast member Rose also told us, "I’m Puerto Rican, born and raised in L.A. and New York, family from Puerto Rico; Tracy is from back east, half Puerto Rican and half Jewish; you’ve got a couple of Jewish girls; Mikey is straight-up L.A. from Culver City. So there’s diversity for me in that regard. Women of color? I’m Puerto Rican. My nephew is African-American and so is my niece. So there’s a lot, you just have to see the show."
Is the show "real" in its representation of the true racial and ethic diversity of LA’s lesbian community? Not in my opinion. But even though it’s set in Los Angeles, the show seems to actually be depicting the specific West Hollywood "scene," which is not as racially diverse as some other communities in the city. One wonders why the cast doesn’t include an African American or Asian lesbian, and how the inclusion of either (or, better yet, both) might have helped the show more accurately depict lesbian life in Los Angeles.
Chaiken promises that if the Real L Word franchise expands, we will indeed see more diverse casts. "So if the community and the world at large comes out and supports us and embraces the show, we’ll keep on doing it and we’ll expand the ensemble and hopefully do it in other cities. We’ll represent much more fully and completely." (Notice that the responsibility for diversity lies, at least in part, with viewers. She tells us that we, of course, will have to watch the show in order to give her that opportunity.)
The popularity of the show will ultimately rely upon the likeability of its six stars. Will people find Rose’s brash self-centeredness sexy? Will Whitney’s lothario-with-a-heart-of-gold shtick come across as endearing? Will straight and gay couples alike relate to Jill and Nikki as they squabble over how much money to spend on their wedding? Will Tracy’s new role as a co-parent garner sympathy from those in similar situations? Will Mikey ever remove her sunglasses when she enters a room?
Nikki and Jill
Whitney and Tracy are probable fan favorites, with their easygoing attitudes and friendly demeanors. I admit that one of my favorite scenes in the show involves Whitney providing car service to the airport for a visiting lady friend. I won’t spoil the surprise, but I will say that LAX should consider naming a terminal after Whitney. If Rose is The Real L Word‘s Papi, Whitney is Shane, but with a steady job and a sensitivity chip.