The L Word united gay women the world over when it brought us our first TV portrayal of lesbian life. Sure, some say it wasn’t a realistic portrayal, but that’s sort of the point of TV – to show us a version of ourselves in a heightened, dramatic way. The L Word captured lesbian life through the eyes of West Hollywood glam, but it did so much more than that. Many lesbians know or have crushed on a Shane type, or have heard horror stories about a Jenny (usually an ex-girlfriend). And while most of don’t have the luxury of an infinite amount of free time to just hang at the local coffee shop with our local lez squad all day (if we even have one) we could still relate to being women who love women.. It was groundbreaking to finally have a whole drama centered around us, and we have Ilene Chaiken to thank for that.
At a time when there was no lesbian representation on TV, Chaiken persisted in producing The L Word after being turned down initially by Showtime. She talks about this in the EW reunion video, which I highly recommend you watch if you haven’t already. It certainly made me love her even more, if that’s possible.
EW’s reunion of Chaiken and the cast of the show has spurred a frenzy of excitement, and understandably so. Leading up to the reunion, Chaiken had posted a tweet that set off much social media speculation about a potential reboot. The tweet, of course, ended up being about this reunion, but it also started a conversation about reviving the show. We all want The L Word back, because frankly, there hasn’t been anything like it since. Even Ilene Chaiken herself says there is a lack of lesbian representation on television today, and for that reason alone the show should definitely get a second life. The original cast is down for it, too, as we already reported when Kate Moennig said she would be in 100%. Don’t miss Kate’s chat with Liz Feldman on potential Shane at 40. Shane would obviously be hot at 40, because Kate is hot at 40, so duh. And might I add, 40 is the new 30…isn’t it? Ok, so I might be biased, because like Kate, I’m turning 40 this year. *Breathes in deeply.
The truth is, The L Word was a major part of our lives for six seasons, and beyond. It remains a significant part of lesbian culture. TV is a powerful art form, and the characters on that show made many women feel connected. I personally came out in 2009 after watching it because it made me feel empowered to do so when I couldn’t before. And since that time, I’ve heard so many stories from other women who say the same. For some, seeing a community of confident, out women living their lives openly was a revelation. For the closeted baby dykes in the world, Bette, Tine, Shane, Alice, Jenny, Dana and the gang were literally the only lesbians they knew. The show was a bright light of hope beaming into your living room via the TV (or laptop). It filled a void.
The series also aired during what now seems like a simpler time, before all the policing of language and the infighting that has cropped up within LGBT politics. I can’t help but notice that in some online media, there is almost a negative view of the word lesbian – which ironically has almost become the dreaded “L word” whose stigma the show sought to overcome. In 2004, everyone was just happy to have a show about lesbians. Maybe that’s a part of the nostalgia.
So, what would a revived version of the show look like? The original cast, now a bit older, would certainly be a progressive move, since Hollywood still has some serious ageism issues, what with the whole Xena reboot. Is it possible that we might really get to have our favorite lesbian characters back and not replace them all with twenty-five year-olds? I guess time will tell.