Let’s get real about “The Real L Word”


Hey, have you ever wanted to find out what happens when lesbians stop being polite and start getting real? Probably not, because that’s what you see every morning when you walk into the kitchen and your girlfriend yells at you for finishing the milk.

But, thanks to Ilene Chaiken, we are all going to be subjected to the true story of six lesbians who live in Los Angeles and have their lives taped for Showtime.

The news of Ilene’s new lesbian reality series, The Real L Word: Los Angeles, sounded at first like a bizarre, belated April Fool’s joke. Wait, really? No, really? And they called it what? Really?

Look, I am all for more lesbian representation in the media. In fact, I ache for it. But down the reality television road lies largely heartbreak and hootchies in hot tubs.

What I don’t understand is why, with all the infinite and infinitely more original options available for lesbian representation on television, Showtime and Ilene have chosen to get into the reality business.

And why make it derivative, both of Ilene’s own work and several existing shows?

The Real L Word sounds like a bad mashup of The L Word, The Real World, The Real Housewives and Gimme Sugar.

Now, could this turn into a thoughtful look at lesbian life in LA? I suppose. There is potential within the reality format to tell authentic and interesting stories. But “real” is not a word I would readily associate with Ilene’s storytelling style.

I mean, we all saw how well her other show ended. Note to future cast members: Don’t go in the pool.

So then why make this series at all? As Ilene told Variety, “Even though we concluded our sixth season of The L Word on Showtime this past March, I believe we are not nearly finished telling our L Word stories.”

Hmm, guess that movie version isn’t getting greenlit as quickly as she had hoped.

Also, is anyone else troubled by how readily Ilene blurs the boundaries between the fiction of TLW and the reality of actual lesbians? How can this be “telling our L Word stories” when it should be telling the stories of these six, as-yet-uncast real lesbians?

Unless, that is, the entire L Word cast is about to come out as lesbians and let us follow them around with cameras. Now that is something I might actually watch.

Look, we deserve fresh, quality shows about lesbians and we deserve them now. Come on, Ilene, we’ve seen this pony. Now show us another trick, if you can.

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