On Monday, Showtime announced that it has renewed The L Word for an eight-episode sixth and final season, to air in early 2009. This makes The L Word the longest-running scripted television series focused on LGBT characters; Showtime’s Queer as Folk aired for only five seasons.
"I am thrilled that Showtime has given us this final opportunity to conclude this journey we have all taken together," said series creator Ilene Chaiken.
Showtime’s President of Entertainment, Robert Greenblatt, praised The L Word as "a groundbreaking series that well surpassed its niche as a gay show."
"The L Word has been such an important franchise for Showtime," said Showtime’s CEO, Matthew Blank. "We look forward to an outstanding finale season next year and know this show will live on in many, many ways."
Chaiken indicated that the show’s fans will be given the opportunity to participate in guiding the series to its conclusion, although details on how that will occur have not yet been released. Last year, FanLib and The L Word sponsored a contest in which fans competed to write a scene for the show. The winning scene, written by Molly Fisher, was later incorporated into Episode 5.3, "Lady of the Lake."
Over its five seasons to date, The L Word has made a significant and hopefully lasting impact on mainstream views of lesbians, particularly in combating stereotypes of lesbians as ugly and unnaturally masculine.
While some of its story lines — particularly those about transgender people and bisexual women — have been problematic, overall The L Word has done more good than harm. In particular, it has brought lesbian relationships into the mainstream, thus taking some of the stigma out of lesbianism, and it has given lesbian/bi viewers a show to call their own.
Given the continuing lack of lesbian and bisexual characters on broadcast scripted television, cable remains the primary place to find lesbian/bi characters on TV. The L Word has been the leader in representing lesbian/bi sexuality on the small screen in the past five years, and its renewal can only be seen as positive news for lesbian and bisexual viewers.