Here’s a question to chew on: What responsibility do the makers of a reality show about the real lives of lesbians have to the real live lesbians who will watch the show? To inform? To entertain? To enlighten? To titillate?
If you listen to the makers of The Real L Word, it sound like titillation is the name of their game. Cast and crew of the new Showtime reality series spoke with The Advocate and Out magazines recently. As Ilene Chaiken herself said to The Advocate: “I hate to use the word ‘titillating,’ but it is from time to time.” Gosh, really? I would never have guessed that from the promo poster where palm trees pose as panties.
The series has been ramping up the sexy factor in previews and promos, making sure everyone within earshot knows that Real! Live! Lesbians! will be doing sexy things on screen throughout the show’s nine-episode run starting June 20. As series co-executive producer executive producer Jane Lipsitz told The Advocate: “The Real L Word is going to be a sexy and salacious reality show series. We shot everything from bubble baths to actual sexual activity.”
While the people behind the camera were gung ho about showing the word that comes after “talking, laughing, loving, breathing, fighting…” in that infamous theme song, some of the cast wasn’t as sure. In fact engaged couple Nikki and Jill had a no-sex-on-camera rule, telling The Advocate, “I’m not here to open up my bedroom door to cameras.” Rose said she kept it “pretty PG-13” in the bedroom, saying “I didn’t get into the X-rated side of it. That I’ll leave to Whitney” who, instead, deserves the “Golden Strap-On Award” according to her castmates. Well OK then.
So, now that we know all about these ladies’ sex lives, how about we learn a little more about the rest of them. Showtime has released a series of promos introducing our six soon-to-be celesbians. Say hello, ladies.
Meet Tracy, 29, film & TV development executive.
Meet Nikki, 37, rep/manager/producer, Jill’s fiancée.
Meet Jill, 33, writer, Nikki’s fiancée.
Meet Mikey, 34, Producer of LA Fashion Week.
Meet Rose, 35, real estate advisor.
Meet Whitney, 27, special effects artist.
Also, in case you were wondering, Ilene knows all your complaints already. In fact, she runs them off like a grocery list while discussing the chief gripes people had about The L Word to The Advocate: “Where are the women of size? Where are the women of color? You’re not representing me! I’m not rich! I’m not skinny!” But this time, she has an iron-clad defense: “It’s about six real women, so nobody can say that’s not real.”
Oh, Ilene. Things have been plenty real in your work before: real confounding, real frustrating, real crazy — you see where this is going. So, how does The Real L Word make you feel so far? Titillated? Or perhaps just tired?