Season 3 of “The L Word”: You’ve Changed

Shane Helena and Alice Dana

Back in 1986, Pam Ewing awakened from the nightmare of everything that had happened on the previous season of Dallas only to find that it was all “just a dream.”

It’s safe to say that a lot of The L Word fans are hoping for just such a miracle at the opening of Season 4 next year. And although Ilene Chaiken and company have this season adroitly proven that just about anything is possible in the land of L, it’s unlikely that some deus ex machina will resurrect Dana or keep Shane out of that god-awful quinceanera dress.

Here’s an overview of how things changed for the primary players this season.

Bette got spayed. No, really. Where has the ass-whipping alpha disappeared to? Fans caught a brief glimpse of her in the “Light My Fire” episode, publicly dressing down a Republican homophobe and nearly seducing a Hillary-esque senator from New York to boot. But then she beat it back to Los Angeles where she could be insulted, ignored and ultimately dumped by her girlfriend (who appears to have been treated to a bonus lobotomy when they put her under for Angelica’s delivery).

Bette, armed only with snarky comments instead of her usual firepower, watches in horror as Tina makes nice with clueless straights who say things like, “Yeah, but Angelica’s really your baby, right?”, and bitches about the cost of Bette flying off to Washington to Save Art.

The Olde Bette would have found a way to get Tina deported, not slink off to Silence Camp and clamp down a well-deserved primal scream.

Tina got laid. As far as the whole insulting/ignoring/dumping of Bette thing goes, it’s fair to say “tit for tat” (see Season 2). But Tina has taken the standard nasty lesbian break up to a whole new level. It’s not bad enough that Tina became a score-keeping, money obsessed whiner. She also wore some really bad outfits to her new job, and stared blankly–mouth agape–when Bette quoted Pema Chödrön. Pema Chödrön for crying out loud!

Tina made uncharacteristic disdainful remarks and “Eww, gross!” faces whenever anyone brought up female anatomy or lesbian sex acts, then embarked on a voracious hunt for Anything With a Penis. And now she looks to be “starting a family” (the real kind, not the fake lesbo version) with the first guy she nailed. (Which made no sense. Tina gave selecting the right birthing tank greater consideration than which man she would date!) And in reaction to Bette’s own ill-advised legal maneuvering, Tina is thinking of following the advice of the homophobic adoption counselor and blocking Bette from sharing parenting privileges.

Tina deciding that she’s bisexual is one thing, but it’s as if she’s become repulsed by her former lesbianism. And the notion of Tina’s sexuality being in question felt more like a plot device than a complex issue with which the character had been struggling. Representing the only long-term lesbian relationship on the show (on any show, for that matter) as an “8 ½ year aberration” isn’t terribly revolutionary. If viewers wanted to see that, they could watch…anything else on network television.

Alice doesn’t live here anymore. Well, at least not for the first few episodes. Like Bette and Tina, Alice also seemed to have done an unnatural presto change-o into a shell of her former self. Yes, the constant pill-popping and Dana-stalking were clues that something was awry. But the (questionable) writing was really on the wall when Alice started acting like Helena was her BFF (Best Friend Forever).

Why was Alice practicing yoga with Helena and insisting on her inclusion in The Group? What happened over the summer that made these two so tight? Maybe Alice had something to do with the soul transplant that transformed Helena from the umbilical cord-twisting villain of Season 2 into a three-dimensional human being.

Luckily, the real Alice returned just in time to make it with a vampire and call bullshit on the de-gaying of Dana at her own funeral. And work out her grief issues in the arms of that adorable Soup Chef.

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