by Malinda Lo
This morning, PopCandy drew my attention to two articles about The L Word, which wraps up its fourth season this Sunday night on Showtime. Now, we at AfterEllen.com cover The L Word a lot. So much so, in fact, that sometimes I forget that anybody else actually watches the show and even thinks about it. But these articles — written by two straight women — have reminded me that yes, other people watch the show, and no, they're not always gay. It's an eye-opener, lemme tellya.
Let me just pull out some of the most intriguing quotes from these articles for you to look at:
The first article, titled "To L With It!" (great title) is written by Hillary Frey and is published in the New York Observer. The article's subtitle is "How Showtime's sultry Sapphic saga stopped talking to straight women," which gives you a good idea of how Ms. Frey feels about the program. Here are some of her surprising conclusions:
Um, I would like to think that if The L Word can be credited with one thing, it is that it clearly showed that lesbians are not interested in "soft-core, girl-on-girl" versions of Melrose Place. If straight women still think that lesbians like that stuff, well, the divide between straight women and lesbians is wide indeed.
(Click "read more" for more enlightening tidbits from these articles.)
Let's go on. Here's more of Frey's take on why The L Word no longer appeals to straight women:
If there's anything I can tell you about Ilene Chaiken, it's that she has said she never writes with any particular audience in mind. I'm pretty sure she wasn't taking a cheap shot at women who like men, but welcome to the land of bitching about The L Word! And by the way, lesbians do not by definition dislike men or avoid living with them.
That's right: Straight lives are tossed in the trash, right alongside the lives of butches, Latinas, Asians and sane lesbians.
Um, wow. Max is the "savior of The L Word"? I grant you the sex scene with Billie was kinda shocking, but other than that moment of shock, his character's story line has left a lot to be desired. And I'm pretty sure Max's transition underscored, for lesbian viewers, the walls between genders.
So the second article, titled "Women's Work," is written by June Thomas is published on Slate.com. Thomas, unlike Frey, loves this show. Why? Because, she says, "The L Word has become a workplace drama—and it is very satisfying." She points to Bette's job at the university, Tina's job as a movie exec, Shane's job as a hairdresser and mom (wow), Helena's "job" as a gambler, Max's job as a programmer, Alice's job as a dot-com entrepreneur and Jenny's job as a writer as evidence that The L Word is now focused on careers.
Well, I grant you the ladies of The L Word do work, but frankly, they have worked since Season 1! That's what lesbians do! Probably a lot of straight women work, too, right? And did you catch all the sex that happened in the workplace? I don't think rational motivations were overpowering for, um, Bette (and her student as well as her co-worker), Shane (who hooked up with her buddy "mom"), Jenny (who tried to seduce the girlfriend of a critic who panned her book), Max (who tried to date his boss's daughter) or Helena (who is dating the woman who is funding her job as a gambler). But, OK, I like the fact that the women work, too.
My favorite part:
Ha! Hahahahahahaha. (That was a sarcastic laugh.)
My conclusions? The divide between straight and queer women is vast and deep. This saddens me a bit. I grant you that I may be an anomaly: I live in San Francisco, I'm a lesbian who works for a lesbian website, and the vast majority of my friends are gay (I think I know about two straight people). But damn, I didn't know we were that different. What do you folks think?