Revisiting The L Word- Ten Years Later and I’m Still Irritated (But I Love it Anyway)

For whatever reason that I can’t conceptualize, I started watching The L Word again and the same things still irritate me years later especially Tina’s lack of a back story. I hate that Ilene fucking Chaiken made her a cypher to Bette for six years. While most everyone else (that was in the opening credits in the first three seasons) got a back story the only thing we know about Tina is Bette was her first relationship with a woman, she had two abortions and she grew up in the suburbs. I don’t count what was revealed about Tina in the interrogation tapes that were released online following the sixth season because we never met anyone from her past like we did with Alice, Dana, Shane, Jenny, Carmen, Helena, Kit, Marina, Tasha and Max.

Other stories that got on my nerves…

Dana’s cancer although Erin Daniels knocked it out of the park. Really Ilene she was the heart of the show!!!

Jenny’s hideous tights, numerous mental breaks, constant self-absorption and that damn manatee sub-plot. I hated going through her writing process and I’m a writer so WTF?

Bette and Tina’s toxic relationship. Why did they have to cheat on each other??? It’s a wonder that they ultimately ended up with each other.

Mark videotaping everyone in Jenny and Shane’s house (so creepy).

The Lez Girls movie plot.

Dawn Denbo and her lover Cindy and that awful She Bar because no one messes with The Planet.

Kit Porter being relegated to one-liners and her cluelessness about technology.

The entire sixth season (ENOUGH SAID)

Betty and that damn song (once you hear it the song stays in your head for weeks and not in a good way)

Having said all that, The L Word (along with the Otalia story line on Guiding Light) helped me realize that I am a lesbian (I still can’t believe I didn’t see the signs before my 30’s) so I will forever be grateful to Ilene fucking Chaiken and Crystal Chappell/Jessica Leccia aka Otalia for awaking my sexuality. Also, Ilene should be applauded for giving queer women a platform for our stories, however messed up they are.

What I did love was her subtle and overt railings against the Bush administration’s anti-LGBT stand and censorship in the media with Bette’s art gallery story arc. The show tackled a lot of issues that many LGBT people still face today like lack of family acceptance with Dana and Carmen’s stories, subtle discrimination in the workplace, marriage equality since the couples on the show couldn’t legally marry, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell with the Tasha story (which thankfully got repealed though without trans protections), transphobia with the Max story and lack of acceptance for bisexuals among the gay and lesbian community.

Stuff I really liked:

Lara’s sexuality caper with the ladies trying to find out whether Lara is a lesbian so Dana could ask her out on a date

The Dinah trip

The Olivia Cruise trip

Alice’s chart and her ridiculous radio show because it is true that lesbians are incestuous with each other. I’ve seen it among the lesbians in Chicago and we see it all the time among celesbians.

The love they all had for each other no matter how many times they disappointed each other.

Helena’s transformation from an imperious woman who used money to manipulate people into a caring, warm person. Her time in jail and being cut off financially by her mom Peggy only made me love her more.

Alice and Shane’s unwavering friendship.

The fact that every actress actually kept their fingernails short because no lesbian or bisexual woman has long nails. I really appreciated that touch of authenticity even though the show was criticized for casting so many femme actresses.

The overall message that our stories are important.

Watching the show now, with all of the positive changes that we’ve seen since the show ended, was a reminder of how far we’ve come as well as how far we have to go to achieve full equality. Shows like Orange is the New Black, Orphan Black, The Fosters, Pretty Little Liars, Faking It or Modern Family or any number of other queer inclusive shows wouldn’t be on the air without The L Word and for that matter Queer as Folk but there is still a resistance to our community among many Americans. By showcasing our stories Ilene and the other amazing showrunners of queer inclusive shows should be applauded. I thank them from the bottom of my heart for creating these amazing flawed characters that we can cheer on and yell at when they make stupid mistakes.

Long live LGBT representation in the media!!!

Oh and if you haven’t read these recaps done by the talented scribegrrrl already go to this archive link and have fun. http://www.afterellen.com/tag/the_l_word_recaps/.

 

 

 

Oscars 2014- when Hollywood finally found diversity (just a little)

It’s been 86 years since Hollywood first gave out awards to honor their own and until last night there hasn’t been near enough diversity among nominees and winners. Hollywood still has a lot of work to do not only in movies but also in television, however, last night was a good start. See this article for more information http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/03/oscars-diversity_n_4889293.html?utm_hp_ref=entertainment. (Full disclosure I am a white lesbian so I to these issues from two marginalized groups while also being a part of a majority group)
I blame the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for the lack of diversity since 94 percent of the members are white while 6 percent are members of other racial groups and 77 percent of members are male while only 23 percent are female. Also, they are overwhelmingly older which translates into a lack of understanding of the multicultural world that we live in today. As for television the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences that votes for the Emmy’s has the same problem. If membership in these two organizations keeps skewing white and male and execs at movie studios and television networks keep putting media out that doesn’t represent the world around us they will lose out to the web. Look at how the Veronica Mars movie got made. Producers, writers and directors are increasingly bringing content directly to the web so their stories can get told without studio and network influence. The ability to get financing via Kickstarter and other means has also freed up creators in ways that society is only beginning to grasp.
Last night the Academy showcased a group of young filmmakers (3 women and 3 men) from colleges around the country and what struck me was their diversity. This is what the country looks like and what the Academy needs to work towards. See this article for more about them http://www.arabnews.com/news/532306. I hope the new Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the first African-American president, stays strong and commits to diversity among the membership of the Academy.
Also, a study was recently done that showed among the Oscar nominated films male leads averaged 85 minutes of screen time, while female leads averaged only 57 minutes. One only has to look at television credits to see how many males are on shows VS females. One network that reverses these numbers is ABC Family with their female fronted shows Switched at Birth, The Fosters and Pretty Little Liars.
While I take issue with a Woody Allen movie being recognized by the Academy (due to Dylan Farrow’s molestation accusations- which I believe BTW), I did appreciate Cate Blanchett calling out Hollywood to make more female fronted films. They should take note of the fact that The Hunger Games-Catching Fire (with Jennifer Lawrence in the lead role) was the highest grossing film of last year. The movie also passed the Bechdel test which should be an important part of how films are constructed.
They say that culture moves society faster than legislation and the courts and if that’s the case we still have a long ways to go regarding representation in movies and TV. I hope that the next ten years sees a sea change in representation similar to the advancements that the LGBT community has made since former President Bush waged a war on my community with his call for a ban on same-sex marriage across the country in 2004.

Golden Globes 2013…or the night when Jodie Foster upstaged Bubba

Setting aside the winners in each category, the 2013 Golden Globes will go down in history as the most interesting, funny and newsworthy awards ceremony in recent memory.

As others have mentioned on twitter and other social media/blog sites, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler should host the Golden Globe, Oscar and Emmy shows for as long as they want to do the job. Their humor was timely and appropriate for the occasion and they also didn’t have a problem poking fun at themselves when necessary. For all the naysayers who say that women aren’t as funny as men, they need only to look at all the ways in which Fey and Poehler and later Wiig kept the Golden Globes from turning into three hours of self-congratulatory narcissism. My only complaint- I really wish they were used more throughout the ceremony.

Also, in a moment that almost always falls flat during these ceremonies (when awards officials take the stage) Dr. Aida Takla-O’Reilly, president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, made the most of her three minutes on stage. In an almost grandmotherly fashion, she chided the control booth when they didn’t follow her instructions to pan the audience, called out industry people for not knowing who she was in the first place and name checked Bradley Cooper at the end of her speech imploring him to “Call me maybe?”. She changed the game and effectively made it harder for other awards officials to just come out and make a bland statement during awards ceremonies. Rock on Dr. Aida for adding to the funny!

I also noticed that with women at the helm the ceremony was almost free of the usual testosterone filled bluster that pervades most of society including Hollywood.

It was also a night full of surprises. First Bubba aka Mr. Hillary Rodham Clinton introducing a clip from “Lincoln”. For most of the people in the room his arrival was like the second coming of Jesus…except for Tommy Lee Jones. Bitter much? I guess he’s still mad that Bubba didn’t help Al Gore enough in the 2000 campaign (Jones and Gore were college roommates). It was amusing to see Hollywood celebs snapping pictures and fawning all over him.

Also, Bubba is so damn mesmerizing. He can make the most mundane of topics the most exciting thing you’ve heard all day. For all of his faults (DOMA, DADT and Monica) he still has it.

Only in the United States would Jodie Foster upstage a former President but she did it. In what will go down in history as the most non-coming out coming out speech ever, Foster finally acknowledged what most of Hollywood, her closest friends and family and the wider LGBTQ community already knew. That she is a lesbian (of course in pure Jodie fashion she didn’t utter the word nor did she say the word gay) and has been raising two boys with her former partner Cydney Bernard (they started dating in 1993 and broke up in 2008).

Many people have already weighed in on her coming out speech and the opinions are all over the map. I personally believe that every person’s journey towards coming out to the public is as unique as the person coming out. My coming out was vastly different from everyone I’ve met or read about. Look at how long it took for Meredith Baxter, Kristy McNichol and Kelly McGillis to come out to name just a few slightly older women in Hollywood.

Also, Foster has had to deal with being a public figure for 47 years (she is 50 now) and is the only person to have a someone (John Hinckley) try to assassinate a president (Ronald Reagan) in order to impress her. Ironically, Hinckley shot Reagan at a time when Foster was out of the limelight attending Yale (Hinckley began stalking Foster while Foster was at Yale). I think these two incidents, being a working actor beginning at the age of 3 and the Hinckley situation, have caused Foster to retreat from society in a way that other celebs haven’t.

Prior to posting my thoughts on the Golden Globes I read Alison Arngrim (she is a former child star aka Nellie Olson from Little House on the Prairie) twitter feed since she had some very cogent points about being a child star and the effects it has on your pysche. I agree with everything Arngrim said. Her twitter feed is https://twitter.com/arngrim.

The one message I want to convey to the LGBTQ organizations who are itching to give Foster some award. Wait until she does something meaningful for our community. I’m looking at you HRC and GLAAD!