Over the last few years, viewers have been able to find a lot of quality television shows on other channels besides the “Big 5” of CBS, ABC, NBC, FOX, and The CW. Going even beyond your basic cable channels, some great shows have been popping up on premium pay channels in HBO and SHOWTIME. HBO had the upper hand over SHOWTIME for years with The Sopranos and Sex and the City, but recently SHOWTIME has fired back with shows like Weeds. HBO and SHOWTIME can get away with more racy and shocking programming, because viewers have to pay extra to see it. But perhaps the most shocking show to come along in years was SHOWTIME’s “crown jewel of television programming”, The L Word. Now five years later, The L Word is still going strong.
For those that don’t know, the ‘L’ in the The L Word stands for “lesbian”. In the beginning, The L Word was basically like Sex and the City. Instead of upper class women and their “guy issues” living in New York City, The L Word focused on a group of middle class lesbians in Los Angeles. The group core includes Jenny (Mia Kirshner), who initially moved to L.A. with her boyfriend, but soon began questioning her own sexuality after hanging out with a group of lesbians; Alice (Leisha Hailey), always on the path to find the right woman, is also a magazine writer who is never afraid to speak her mind, even if it gets her into trouble; Bette (Jennifer Beals) and Tina (Laurel Holloman), the main couple that is focused on the show with Tina recently giving birth to a baby girl named Anjelica and Bette doing her best to officially adopt her; and Shane (Katherine Moennig), who is the resident hairstylist and who constantly catches the attention of everyone she meets with her just looking for a woman who will make her happy. These women often meet up everyday at “The Planet”, a local coffeehouse owned by Bette’s sister, Kit (Pam Grier), where the women discuss their lives, hopes, loves and losses.
In Season 5, Jenny is now a big-time neurotic writer / director. Shane is still the low-key ladykiller, who disarms seemingly straight women right into her hands and seduces the world. Bette is fairly comfortable in her relationship with a noted sculptress Jodi Lerner (Marlee Matlin) at first. But this doesn’t last that long as Bette and Tina remain in contact ostensibly for the child they share. It isn’t long before they return to a sexual relationship which puts a strain on Bette’s life with Jodi. Alice’s girlfriend Tasha faces the most difficult hurdle a gay person in the military can be confronted by. Pam Grier and “The Planet” are even in for a bit of competition this season. A new lesbian hot spot is introduced called “Shebar”. “Shebar” is invitation-only venue where the pretty lesbians get to drink and dance the night away, among other things. In addition, some new newest additions to the cast have some interesting storylines as well. Chancellor Phyllis (Cybill Shepherd), is a mid-life lesbian who ditches a 25-year marriage with children to play the field with the ladies. Helena (Rachel Shelley) is hapless rich girl who has her trust-fund money snatched away by her evil mother.
Once you get past the premise of the series, you will find that The L Word is like any other night-time soap opera. Instead of a group of doctors featured on Grey’s Anatomy, we have a group of lesbians. But beyond their sexual preference, these characters are ordinary people. They all have their own issues that they must deal with and that viewers love to watch. It’s an interesting look at a subculture that not many people know about.
The cast should be given a lot of credit. They are what have made The L Word last for 5 seasons and soon a final sixth. There are some interesting and diverse characters in this show, and the creative people do a tremendous job of casting them. It also should be noted that 90% of the main cast members are actually heterosexual in the real world. That will surprise many viewers of the series, and that all goes back to the fantastic acting that should be given credit.
There is a lot of sex on The L Word, but this show is on SHOWTIME, so that shouldn’t shock anyone. But for longtime fans of the series, you will be pleased to know the writing during the fifth season is stronger than it has been in previous seasons. Sometimes long-running shows get stale after awhile, and that was certainly the case for The L Word in season four, but season five is something that L Word fans can cheer about. This is still a night-time soap opera, though, so there is lots of melodrama campiness to be found. Just don’t look at the premise of the series and think you won’t be able to enjoy it, because you are not a lesbian. The truth is the The L Word can be as addicting as any other nighttime drama on any network channel for everyone over the age of 18, from lesbian women to heterosexual males that get forced to watch it by their girlfriends or wives but secretly enjoy it.
Episode 1 – LGB Tease
Following the events of the season finale, Helena is imprisoned and no one can get a hold of her mother. Jenny finds a rich investor and schemes her way to directing “Lez Girls: The Movie.” Shane is about to sign a lease on a house with Paige. The Planet hosts a coming-out party for Phyllis, where Alice and Shane attempt to hook Tina up with someone who isn’t Bette. Meanwhile, Bette is waiting for Jodi to come back home from New York.
Episode 2 – Look Out, Here They Come!
Jenny’s boss’s daughter is getting married and Shane gets a gig as the hair stylist at her wedding. Kit and Max spot a young girl who’s obsessed with Jenny’s work and hook her up with her dream job. Alice and Tasha go on a double-date with Bette and Jodi. Meanwhile in prison, Helena is rescued by her cell mate.
Episode 3 – Lady of the Lake
Jodi brings Bette to meet and hang out with her friends but Bette has a hard time letting go of control. Shane decides to give up on sex and instead pours her energy in exercising. Tasha faces new allegations. Meanwhile, Helena finally gets comfortable in prison but things are about to change when her mother turns up.
Episode 4 – Let’s Get This Party Started
Tina and Jenny squabble over casting the lead role in Lez Girls. An incident at Alice’s place triggers a change in Captain Beech’s view on Tasha’s defense. Being celibate has a toll on Shane and she reaches a breaking point. Alice encourages Tasha to go with her to a “Secret Love” party for closeted gays and lesbians. Meanwhile, the rest of the gang attends the opening of the city’s hottest new lesbian club, SheBar.
Episode 5 – Lookin’ at You, Kid
Jenny throws a party for the girls to get to meet their movie counterparts — with mixed results. Shane stirs up drama between Dawn and Cindi, which escalates into bitter rivalry between The Planet and SheBar. Meanwhile, Alice is stunned by a basketball star’s gay-bashing on national TV.
Episode 6 – Lights! Camera! Action!
The production of Lez Girls starts and Jenny runs into unexpected difficulties. When Adele impresses her on location scouting, Jenny treats her to a makeover. Dawn and Cindi try their best to sabotage Kit’s business. Phyllis’ daughter Molly catches Shane’s eye. Meanwhile, Tina and Bette rekindle their passion.
Episode 7 – Lesbians Gone Wild
Niki’s antics off and on set cause nightmares for her agent as well as the production team. Alice learns that in order to land the high-profile talk show gig, she needs to out people on live TV. Bette takes Phyllis’ daughter Molly to visit the movie set. She’s beyond bored until Shane takes her to SheBar to see lesbian oil wrestling. Meanwhile, Tasha meets the visiting prosecutor who’s about to go against her in the trial.
Episode 8 – Lay Down the Law
Niki’s multi-million dollar action movie opens, but allegations about her sexuality lead Tina and her manager to suggest she take a date, a male date, to the premiere. Jenny is banned from the theater causing Adele to take the reigns for the evening. Shane and Molly continue to play mind games with each other. Jodi throws a dinner party to some couples, and Bette is devastated to learn Tina and her date are also invited. Meanwhile, Tasha goes on trial and Alice delivers a shocking statement.
Episode 9 – Liquid Heat
Jenny gets jealous on the set when a love scene between Niki and her on-screen boyfriend looks too realistic. Dawn Denbo invites the girls to a mafia-themed night to settle the dispute between The Planet and SheBar. Meanwhile, Bette and Tina decide to go see a couples counselor when they’re interrupted by a rolling blackout due to a heat wave.
Episode 10 – Lifecycle
The girls attend the Subaru Pink Ride to support breast cancer research. Tina is furious for Niki blowing her cover with Jenny but Adele assures her the two won’t be seen together publicly. Meeting old friends prompts Tasha to ponder her long-term plans in life. A campfire game of “I never” turns into a discussion on cheating, with devastating results.
Episode 11 – Lunar Cycle
After the revelation at the Pink Ride, Jodi vows to fight for Bette. Tasha and Alice look for a house together, and at work, Alice meets a New Zealander fashion designer. Adele finally reveals her master plan: to take over the movie. Finally, Dawn Denbo and lover Cindi deliver a blow that pushes Kit over the edge.
Episode 12 – Loyal and True
The two Peabody ladies return to L.A. and Helena makes a tempting offer to lover Cindi. While Tasha has trouble fitting in in her new job, Alice has a fun day out with fashion designer Clea Mason. Bette gives a speech in honor of Jodi at the opening of her latest exhibition, but she is shocked by Jodi’s new media installation. Phyllis demands Shane not to ruin her daughter’s future. Finally, at the wrap-up party for Lez Girls, Jenny thanks the girls for their loyalty and friendship but is about to get a nasty surprise.
The video is given in widescreen anamorphic color with an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. Transfer is great as you wouldn’t expect anything less from a SHOWTIME show. No major problems at all.
The audio included is available in either English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround sound, Dolby Digital English 2.0 Stereo sound, and Spanish 1.0 Mono sound. The audio is pretty good as well. No major problems here either.
It should be noted that this is the poorest set of “extras” that I have ever seen for a TV series. None of them have anything to do with the actual show you see on TV really. Just a bunch of ads and promotions for L Word sponsors and other useless information we could find elsewhere. But here are the “extras” anyways…
The 2008 Wolfe Video Women’s Final Four Party –
This runs close to 5 minutes and it’s exactly what is says. Every year Wolfe Video hosts one of the largest lesbian events during the women’s NCAA Final Four Basketball tournament. You see the party and hear from various lesbians about how they love The L Word.
Point Foundation PSA –
Various real-life homosexuals and L Word stars, Rosa Rollins and Clementine Ford, talk about the Point Foundation college scholarship that homosexuals can win to go college.
Making of the Subaru Pink Ride –
This runs two minutes and it’s basically another ad for Subaru and their “Pink Bicycle Ride” event.
“Not A Love Song” Music Video –
This is a full music video for the song “Not A Love Song” by Uh Huh Her.
Here you gets text biographies on all of the main stars of the show.
Photo Gallery –
A collection of photos from the show.
Longtime fans of the show that might have gotten turn off from the boring storylines of previous seasons will want to run out and buy this season immediately. It is perhaps the best season of the show since the premiere season. There are hardly any “extras” to speak of, but don’t let that turn you off. If you have never seen the series, this season probably won’t be the best one to jump right into. But if you want to get a taste of the best of this show, this is a good place to start.
SHOWTIME Home Video presents The L Word: The Complete Fifth Season. Created by Michele Abbot, Ilene Chaiken, and Kathy Greenberg. Starring Jennifer Beals, Leisha Hailey, Laurel Holloman, Mia Kirshner, Katherine Moennig, Pam Grier. Running time: 535 minutes. NOT RATED. Released on DVD: October 28, 2008. Available at Amazon.
Tags: jennifer beals, pam grier, Showtime, The L Word