The L Word: Season 1

The L Word: Season 1

The L Word: Season 1 has been called by many as the lesbian ‘Friends’ but the show is far deeper than that

The L Word: Season 1

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In recent years television series presented by premium cable networks have become increasingly popular. Because of much more liberal standards and less restrictions, often referred to as no restrictions at all, these series are able to delve into far more adult subject matter than would be permissible on regular broadcast television.

These series have become so watched that they are now the mainstay of not only the premium networks but have all but taken over the viewing habits of the audience. One such series now of Showtime is The L Word. Many have called this the lesbian ‘Friends’ but the show is far deeper than that, this description is almost insulting, grouping a prime time, safe comedy with a cutting edge drama. The ensemble cast centers on a group of young, professional women that all happen to be lesbians. As with any group of friends, gay or straight, there is a fair amount of diversity among them. Bette (Jennifer Beals) and Tina (Laurel Holloman) has been a couple for seven years and are contemplating taking the big step of having a baby together. While their relationship has undergone the usual ups and downs they basically are in love and committed to each other. Best of friends and almost constantly seen together are Shane (Katherine Moennig) and Alice (Leisha Hailey). Shane is the sexual dynamo of the group, always looking for her next conquest. Alice is a bisexual writer with an obsession for connecting everyone on the planet using their sexual partners. Dana (Erin Daniels) is a professional tennis player that is still in the closet although she is constantly in the company of the other girls. While each of these women have their own trials and tribulation most of the angst in the show comes in the form of Jenny (Mia Kirshner), a writer that just moved from the Midwest to join her finance Tim (Eric Mabius). Jenny finds herself in love both with Tim and a neighbor, Marina (Karina Lombard), an exotic beauty.

Since this is premium cable there is nudity and language that many may find over the top but The L Word: Season 1 is centered not only on gay issues but human relationships. While many topics and themes that are explored are specific to the lesbian community, at the heart of it all is human beings that need to be loved. When Bette and Tina discuss who will be the donor for their child the issue of inter-racial children comes up. Bette is of mixed race and wants her child to reflect not only her background but the relationship she is in. Alice’s obsession with her own personal take on the six degree game goes from a little chart in her note book to a large white board behind her desk and eventually to an internet site where numerous lesbians list and connect their partners. One of the most provoking and well done threads is that of Jenny. While she is truly committed to Tim her growing fascination with Marina is more than just sexual experimentation. She is torn, her sexual identity has been challenged in a way that she never encountered in her safe, well defined world in the Midwest. The scenes where Dana is interested in a local sous chief are reminiscent of high school girls wondering if their crush is reciprocated, her friends acting in a mini version of Mission Impossible to gauge whether the object of Dana’s desires is gay or not,

The L Word: Season 1 is not targeted at the mainstream audience but at the same time The L Word: Season 1 is not restricted to just the lesbian community. Those that enjoy a well constructed drama and posses an open mind will find The L Word: Season 1 almost instantly addictive. There are elements of a soap opera in The L Word: Season 1 but after all isn’t that part of everyone’s life, those little moments that seem so important while you are going through them.

The L Word: Season 1 holds together for audiences of all preferences due to the extremely high caliber of the cast. These women are some of the best actors around and they are giving their all for The L Word: Season 1. Jennifer Beals plays Bette as a professional woman that is used to being in control faced with emotional and relationship issues that she has to cope with. There is a natural feel to her performance, chemistry with Laurel Holloman that few heterosexual on screen couples can match. Mia Kirshner is another example of a fine actress that has been honing her craft for years, mostly in excellent little Indy films. She gives a depth to Jenny that is incredible to watch. The confusion that Jenny feels comes across immediately resulting in an emotional connection with the viewers. Erin Daniels gives an almost innocent feel to her character of Dana. She knows that she is gay but is so afraid that coming out will ruin her professionally, just as she is breaking through to the top of her game, that she is hesitant to make her true self known. Much could be said about every performance in The L Word: Season 1. Each actress is willing to take on controversial subject matter while still instilling a very human sense of humor.

The creative force behind The L Word: Season 1 is Ilene Chaiken. While her resume is not extensive and includes writing the extremely male oriented Barb Wire, she manages to give The L Word: Season 1 the direction that is required to make it the instant hit that it became. She also wrote the television movie Dirty Pictures which took on the controversy of the Robert Mapplethorpe trial held in Cincinnati in the nineties. She does manage to get a little of this topic into one thread of The L Word: Season 1. Whether you agree with what is presented in The L Word: Season 1 or not the fact is it is extremely well written, acted and presented. The nudity is not displayed in a gratuitous manner, it is there as part of the lives of the characters. The language is often over the top but fits into a natural way the characters would speak to each other, blunt and to the point. One down side is men, when they are shown, are presented as one dimensional characters. It would be a bit better to show the interaction of the main characters with men as well written and acted as the women.

The L Word: Season 1 DVD box set is well presented. The audio is Dolby 5.1 offering a clear and full spectrum. The music used in The L Word: Season 1 is excellent and this sound track gives a rich, full sound. The anamorphic 1.85:1 video is well balanced with no discernable defects. The extras where somewhat disappointing, particularly the fashion and wardrobe featurettes, an insightful commentary with the creator, directors and cast would have been far better. If you want to take a chance on something different but well done than The L Word: Season 1 is a worthwhile purchase.

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