“The L Word” Season 2 Review

Kit (Pam Grier) and Ivan (Kelly Lynch)Sandra Bernhard guest-stars as Jenny's teacher

If they truly want to push the envelope, the writers could devote more time to exploring bisexuality, an area in which they now appear to be playing it extremely safe. Both of the show’s bisexual characters, Alice and Jenny, are increasingly bisexual in name only as they drift more and more towards the lesbian side of the scale. There’s nothing wrong with this in theory, as there are plenty of bisexual women who are more attracted to one gender than the other, but if The L Word truly wants to be different and thought-provoking, they could introduce a likeable, well-adjusted straight guy who complicates Alice’s feelings for Dana.

The L Word continues to challenge assumptions about gender, however, by exploring the relationship between Ivan and Kit. Dialogue around who is allowed to define one’s gender and sexual orientation, and what exactly determines gender in the first place, make for a thought-provoking subplot, and one you truly never see on television. The storyline does get back-burnered for several episodes, however, and never feels quite resolved–but then, this is television, after all.

Kit’s other storyline this season involves buying The Planet from Marina’s family, and turning it into The L Word‘s version of The Peach Pit After Dark. Fortunately, the writers don’t overdo the musical performances, and The Planet continues to serve primarily as a backdrop against which the drama unfolds.

Those wondering about the lesbian sex scenes this season–in light of last season’s equal or greater emphasis on heterosexual sex–can relax: the balance has definitely tipped towards more lesbian sex this season, although the camera still tends to cut away too early. A scene involving Tina, Helena and a swimming pool, however, is actually one of the best sex scenes in the first half of the season, even though it’s actually one of the least explicit.

Overall, the second season of The L Word mostly lives up to its potential, offering storylines that are alternately controversial, humorous, challenging, emotional, and frustrating, even if they’re also occasionally disappointing.

For lesbian and bisexual women used to seeing only tiny slivers (and usually stereotypical ones) of our lives on television, The L Word offers a welcome respite–where for 50 minutes a week, the world, however flawed, looks something like our own.

The L Word airs Sundays on Showtime beginning Feb 20th;
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