The Real L Word: Season 01, Episode 01

 

Whitney and Sarah in the bedroom

 

First of all, I have to congratulate Ilene Chaiken. Not only did she *not* leave lesbian audiences around the world hanging (for entertainment, forget the unresolved series cliff-hanger), but she found a way to reinvent a tried and true concept in a way that is fresh, sexy, edgy and as real as you’re going to get in front of lights and cameras.

Perhaps because I am a current Angeleno who lives in the world portrayed, I was doubly stoked to view the debut. I’ve heard the gripes that the show’s lesbians aren’t representative of the lesbian world population at large, but I, for one, can vouch that the world as aired is *authentic*. I’ve been to the clubs the characters visit….And believe me, the crowds are packed with LA’s own brand of sexy, baby doll dykes. Maybe it’s because some Hollywood clubs have selective door policies that keep other types at home, but you really do see super-attractive women parading around West Hollywood, more so than in other parts of the country, I’ve found. As a New Yorker at heart, upon arrival on the left coast, I had to admit immediately that though New York beats the hell out of LA in many aspects, namely the internationally flavored populace, the chicks are hands-down more banging’ in the Wild, Wild West.

 As for the specifics of the show, there are many elements, I could click “Like” about :).  I like Nikki and Jill. It’s too cute, that they are TRLW’s own “Tibette,” complete with Bette’s white power suit in the opening credits and the planning of the finale wedding that we never got to witness. The only ugly thing about this version of Tibette … is that there’s no sexy Bette or Tina :). I think Nikki, in particular, is an interesting character. At first glance, she seems soft and delicate … but early on you glimpse that her eyes are steel. And by the show’s end, you can see whose will wins out. And I also love that they flipped the physical dynamics from what we’ve seen, the blonde is big, bad Bette this time around.

I Like Mike :). She’s funny, sexy and real in front of the cameras. I dig her with Raquel. I think Raquel and Mikey are more “Bette and Tina” than Nikki and Jill, in some regards. Mikey and Raquel are both Type A personalities, which is a large part of Bette and Tina’s magic. Just because Tina wasn’t working when we were introduced to them doesn’t erase that she’s Type A. Her ambitions are just channeled into her home life at the series’ start. Tina’s drive and determination are a big ingredient in Tibette’s success throughout the life of the series. And we see this same steeliness with Mikey and Raquel, though who knows what the future holds for them?

I think the way Mikey and Raquel handle dinner after working equally long days shows who really wears the pants of maturity in the relationship. And it illustrates the level of flexibility required to fully inhabit femininity. In addition to the other hats Raquel wears in a day, Mikey slaps the sole-responsibility-for-the-couple’s-health-and-well-being hat onto Raquel’s head. And even though Mikey could opt to cook, since she arrives home first … she doesn’t. And on top of this, she pouts when Raquel calls her on her selfishness. I applaud Raquel’s relationship skills, because not only does she deal well with a pouting partner … but she’s able to express love, while doing so.

But the biggest thing that can be learned during the “Guess who’s Tibette” segment is that you can’t categorize, fathom, or orchestrate real life. The harder you try, the bigger the resulting clusterf*ck you end up with in the end. I do look forward to watching the characters transform their relationships and vice versa throughout the season.

I like Tracy, though I think Stamey, though lovable–a funny and tough Sandra Bullock-type,  is a mismatch. I’m particularly feeling that Tracy’s Latina. At first glance, she’s ethnically ambiguous. And the way she presents herself in the interviews doesn’t reveal her racial background. But the moment she gets on the phone with her mother, the real Tracy comes out. I’m like, sweet, mami! Love to see my rainbow sisters (in more ways than one ;))  represented.

I like Rose. She’s down-to-earth, straight forward, and knows and plays the game. I love the way they portray Rose’s familia and their acceptance of her. I think Natalie is a great match for Rose. At first, Natalie’s energy doesn’t really come across, perhaps because she’s camera shy. But by the end, we get a peep of the real chica, and  we glimpse the reason Natalie has been able to challenge Rose into evolving. Natalie is using her will to sculpt the person she wants to be in a relationship with. And though Natalie’s possessive streak is more like a river, I’m not mad at her. Perhaps Rose needs a “stricter” lover in order to walk the straight 🙂 and narrow. We shall see if Rose sticks with Natalie, and goes with her flow … or whether she drifts away towards other shores.

Persons, places and things I unlike :):

Whitney :). Whitney is the resident villain, though no one is ever a villain in her own eyes. The road to hell is paved with … “I didn’t *mean* to hurt you, baby, I’m just being me.” The thing is, women like Whitney derive their power from the divide and conquer mentality. When her lover’s esteem becomes divided by the ego blow of Whitney’s blatant flirting with other women, her lover becomes easily conquerable. She begins to subconsciously measure her self-worth, in terms of Whitney’s affections. This is shameful because a quick flip of the psyche would help Whitney’s women understand that *if* they recognize their own self-worth, *Whitney* wouldn’t stand a chance with *them.* Her lovers would realize they deserve better. And I’m not saying Whitney is queen of the damned, she’s as motivated by fear as the next heavily damaged/guarded person. But what sets her apart from others is that her ego is particularly powerful. It drives her to satisfy her momentary desires in a muscular manner, without regard to who she topples. Or maybe she’s just perpetually in the habit of “trading up.” Whatever it is, I don’t love it. I don’t judge it, but I hope she changes soon, before she ends up with a lifetime pass to those senior lezzie cruises, still single, still seeking, never finding.

As far as the show in general, I didn’t love the layer of “ice” that needs to be broken before we can really get into the show’s core wholeheartedly. Even fictional shows, with actors who have been trained for decades to behave otherwise, succumb to the initial stiffness that happens with series/season debuts. But the characters of TRLW are doing exceptionally well, considering that they are not only brand new to living their lives publicly, but they’re doing it loud and proud. This really amps up the complexities. Thus I can overlook any self-consciousness, for the time being.

On the one hand, I do enjoy that some of the characters are able to forget about the cameras and *live* authentically, for the most part. Mikey strikes a good balance between humility and ego during the fashion week casting fiasco. She is humble enough to show herself, blowing her top, without regard to what we think. But it’s only because her ego is pumped up by the agent’s ire that we get the chance to witness her explosive reaction.

I think Rose is able to “live” for us, without showing her awareness of us … and Natalie, as well, which isn’t surprising as real attracts real. I liked Nikki and Jill’s dose of docile reality, too, though they’ll tend to bore me, just like Bette and Tina did initially with their tranquil, domestic bliss.

Also, I didn’t love the blatant surrendering to the ills of the reality genre, which leaves the audience *reeking* with the smell of a set up. I could buy that a group of friends end up at the same club, especially if one friend rounds everyone up. But to show Whitney and Tracy meeting, as they’re both being followed by camera crews, without acknowledging that maybe their paths have crossed, stretches the limits of credibility, imho. In my book, the moment would have been more life-like, if one of them would have commented about, at the very least, a pre-knowledge of the other, just to avoid raising questions in the discriminating viewer’s mind. Because my initial thought was, Hmmm – don’t they know each other? They’re both on the show… And the show’s finale was cute, but completely fake. I don’t think even Whitney could arrange a switcheroo so smooth, without the aid of the show’s writers/producers, conveniently booking overlapping tickets. If the new girl had showed up the next day or even that evening, I’d probably buy it. But in my book, no one in her right mind would arrange the outgoing and incoming lovers so close to clockwork, even if turns out to be innocent, or in order to avoid a double dose of the nightmarish 405 freeway. God forbid Sarah’s plane had been delayed. A real player considers these things and acts accordingly ;).  

And I’m on the fence about the new L Word’s treatment of the “S” word. On the one hand, I respect the fact that it stars individuals who have chosen to open up their lives to millions of prying eyes in order to entertain us. So I’m not demanding to see blow by blow, hardcore, hot, wet hookups. But I wonder why some characters are more comfortable stripping down or making out for the cameras. Is it contracted? Or is it just personal preferences/comfortability? What was hot about The L Word sex scenes was that we were flies on the wall, allowed to eavesdrop on sexperiences. But the new TRLW forces us to be butterflies on the wall. We’re conspicuous observers, because the characters are noticeably conscious of us. Thus the  illusion is shattered, along with a lot of the sexiness, in my view.

But really,  the nuances of the sex are not that big of a deal. As most of us know, the show, itself, the very existence of it … is bringing sexy back. Somebody better ask Justin Timberlake!

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