The L Word Recaps: Episode 1 “Pilot”

THIS WEEK’S L WORD VOCABULARY:

  • Excited: What we all are, about this show — c’mon, admit it!
  • Urge to Merge: You know, the U-Haul thing.
  • Motility: The word you never thought you’d hear in a show about words that start with L.
  • Bush Confidence: It’s not about George.
  • Symbiosis: A word that Laurel Holloman carries with her everywhere she goes.
  • Sexy: A word you haven’t heard until you’ve heard Marina say it.
  • Clichés: Forget the warnings for nudity and adult language and sexual situations: they should give us a big fat “Caution: Clichés Ahead!”
  • The First: What this show is. The first one of the series, the first “lesbian” show on TV (well, except for Laverne & Shirley), and the first time I feel completely represented and reflected by something on TV. Oh, except for that last thing. But guess what? I wasn’t looking for that. Because that’s never gonna happen. For any of us. OK? OK.

THIS WEEK’S GUEST-BIANS: Tammy Lynn Michaels, aka Mrs. Melissa Etheridge.

The Prelude — Hey, that’s L.A., and that’s the Hollywood sign! And there’s the title: The L Word! OK, I’m kind of excited. Oh, and Marianne Faithfull is singing "The Pleasure Song," and now I’m so much more excited.

So there’s a guy who’s moving a table and then there are women. Women in bed. Together. Yay! Yeah, I need to calm down.

Lest we get even more excited, the music stops and somebody talks about ovulation. Great, another gayby — haven’t we already been through this with Melanie and Lindsay on Queer as Folk? Oh, but that’s Laurel Holloman: She played Randy Dean on The Incredibly True Adventure of Two Girls in Love. Her name is Tina in this show, but she still looks like Randy, so maybe she should just be RandyTina.

RandyTina hollers to her girlfriend, Bette: “I’m ovulating.” Ah, such romantic words. Bette (Jennifer Beals in a tank top — yum) says “Let’s make a baby,” and plants a kiss on Tina that seems unsurpassably hot, until her hand sneaks down and … um, yeah. Did I say I was excited before? But Bette is cruel to both me and Tina and tells Tina to get dressed: “I’ll drop you off on my way to work.” Way to kill the mood, Bette!

The Marianne Faithfull song starts again and there’s that guy driving off — Tina and Bette tell him goodbye. His name is Tim. He’s their neighbor. Who cares?

The Planet (a restaurant/cafe/trendy hip place) — OK, who is that? The one with the accent, behind the counter? Wait, where’d she go? Who are these other people? Focus, focus.

Shane, the one with the messy hair, doesn’t talk to anyone before she’s had her morning shot, and then she leaves. A gaggle of girls watch her go. Hmm, it looks like Shane is going to be the virtuous, repressed one.

Bette and Tina arrive. Everyone else rolls their eyes at Bette and Tina’s sickeningly sweet display of affection. Jennifer Beals looks great in her suit and has the attitude down: She can be sickeningly sweet with me anytime.

The others figure out that Bette and Tina are talking about the impending insemination, and then Tina says: “But first, Dan Foxworthy.” Dana whines that she doesn’t know what they’re talking about. Alice, who has already established herself as The One In The Know, explains that Dan Foxworthy is the hot shot “shrink to the stars.” So Bette and Tina are going to have a baby and be in couples therapy? Don’t bogart all the clichés, girls: Leave some for the other characters.

The airport — That guy, Tim, picks up a woman. Not “picks up” in a Shane kind of way, but picks up with a car. You know. But they are kissing, so it’s not totally innocuous either.

The shrink’s office — Tina explains that Bette is often late, because she’s the director of the California Art Center. And that later they have to go get sperm. Power Suit Bette shows up, still talking on the phone, and slaps Tina affectionately on the knee. Well, sort of affectionately.

The shrink asks them what it’s like to be trying to have a baby, considering the fact that their sex life has been “s—ty” for three years. Dude, duck! Bette’s gonna kick your ass! Oh, and add one more cliché to their list: Lesbian Bed Death. They defend themselves by saying that they’ve been together for seven years, and Bette points out that a straight male therapist couldn’t possibly understand. He explains, condescendingly, that “symbiosis” (the kind that kills the sex) is a standard thing in relationships and especially tricky between women. Hey, RandyTina: remember in The Incredibly True Adventure, when you didn’t know what “symbiotic” meant? My, how you’ve grown, and your vocabulary has too! Anyway, Tina supplies her own cliché to summarize the shrink’s rambling: “the lesbian urge-to-merge.” Whatever. Maybe this episode is supposed to be some sort of Lesbian 101 for people who don’t want more than the CliffsNotes.

Tina explains that the insemination is not up for discussion: she used to be a successful development exec and has quit her job to start a family. Oh, of course: that makes perfect sense. What is the shrink thinking — that it’s actually okay to change your mind about something? What an idiot! But Tina and Bette walk out of the shrink’s office, and I don’t think they’re ever going back.

Tim’s car — Jenny (the woman he picked up at the airport) seems to be impressed that the Pacific Ocean is nearby. Where did she think she was going — Los Angeles, Texas? They get to Tim’s house; he has converted his garage into a studio for Jenny. He seems nice.

A potential sperm donor’s house — Bette and Tina check out a guy’s paintings while he jacks off into a cup in the background. The whole thing reminds me of Lily Tomlin trying to explain the difference between Andy Warhol and Campbell’s — “This is art and this is soup.”

Bette’s car — Bette’s on the phone again and starts talking about the soup, um, I mean the sperm. The person on the phone must be asking for a description of the sperm. Bette examines the specimen and says, “God, it’s repugnant. I can’t believe I used to swallow that stuff.” OK, maybe the soup analogy was more appropriate than I realized.

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