If episode 1 transitioned from Season 3, episode 2’s job was to get the new arcs (and the issues underlying them) established. Which are, without further ado:
– Shane’s in a family way. I don’t remember Shane’s whole back history, but my understanding is she spent a lot of time in foster care before living on the streets as a teen. Bottom line is, she has no family experience to draw on in dealing with her new little brother. Sure, she’s had roommates, good friends, and lovers, but that’s all been in the company of other young adults and not a little kid who’s actually entitled to his immaturity. Balancing work and parental responsibility isn’t easy for anyone, but it’s even more so for someone who has inherited an instant 9-year old. And he’s got to believe that neither his father, his mother, nor his sister really wants him. He has classic “abandoned child” issues. So he runs away. Which I think is his attempt to test Shane, to see if she’ll follow. And it kicks Shane’s long-buried maternal instincts into gear. When she finds him (luckily he end up in the hands of someone responsible) she says to him, “I’m your home now, we both have to get used to that.” *sniff*
– Helena has been fired on top of everything else. They don’t explore that, or her new-found poverty in this episode, but so far she seems to be adjusting O.K. That won’t last long (tee hee).
– Bette has a new job as Dean of a university School of Art. And cute little Nadia-the-grad-student flirting with her! Of course, Bette is in her 40’s. And her boss Phyllis (Cybil Shepard) is in her 50’s. Phyllis comes out to Bette looking for a shoulder to lean on–she’s been playing straight all her life. How many eps do you suppose until she comes on to her?
– Kit is dealing with the aftermath of abortion. This is a brave story line. The chance to show that that choice isn’t a glib decision for the woman who makes it. It’s tough to make and it’s hard to live with. But it’s a choice they felt they had to make for complex reasons.
– Alice’s story line is about “The Chart” again, which is something I’ve always had ambivalent feelings about. On the one hand, I think a woman’s sexual decisions are her own, and the number of partners she has is one of those choices. I think responsibility is important when making those choices, but responsibility is important in most choices in life. On the other hand, story lines about promiscuous women are almost always touchy territory, because society still judges such women as unfeminine or immoral or “fucked up,” and literature does its part by depicting such women right in line with the stereotypes and then duly punishing them for their behavior. When you think of it, for example, Shane hasn’t been an exception to this kind of implicit judgment.
– So now we have this new Latina character “Papi.” She is in many ways a lesbian archetype the same as Shane before her. If you’ve been out in the lesbian community for enough years, you’ve met women like Shane and Papi (or maybe not exactly like Papi). Papi is a slightly different archetype than Shane. She comes across as completely in control of her sexual choices (unlike Shane). She seems to be living the life she does out of passion for it, rather than to feed some emotional hole left by her childhood (like Shane). And yet I can’t help get the feeling that she is playing a role. The female gigolo who “luvs thee womeen soooo much.” I guess the question is is she playing a role, something she learned because it was rewarded somehow (for example, her Latino community was more accepting of her if she took on the persona of the “hot Latin man”?) Or is she simply being who she really is, as she claims? Or perhaps she’s been playing a role so long it just is “who she really is” now? Or is the truth somewhere in between?
Oh…a sex scene. What was I saying?
– So Jenny is being interviewed by a freelance writer for Curve Magazine. Let me tell you, *I* knew she was going to get screwed over before the interview was even over. Because the whole scene was a classic set-up that happens all the time in fiction–one person opens up to a stranger after they’ve developed an “instant report of trust,” and then they get screwed. Predictable. The interesting irony is Curve Magazine is a real lesbian magazine and they are one of the L Word’s biggest sponsors. They regularly pimp the show and the actresses at big parties in L.A. and San Francisco.
– Moirax is still pulling off the “passing” bit. S/he goes to visit hir boss and his college-aged daughter at his house. Of course the daughter just *loves* Max. We’ll see where that goes.
What interests me about Moirax is that s/he still hangs with hir dyke friends. I don’t know how realistic that is. I think the conversation last week at hir transsexual support group about transsexuals finding themselves suddenly part of “neither” the straight or gay world is more realistic.
I think a lot of lesbians see FTMs (female-to-male) transsexuals as “traitors” of a sort, abandoning their womanhood to “grab the privileges” that come with being a man in a man’s world. The FTM isn’t “one of us” anymore, and so we no longer associate with him. And a lot of straight people simply don’t know what to make of FTMs that they know to be FTMs. They have less experience with gender ambiguity, and might even have a hard time thinking of that person as a man.
MTFs who go from being straight men to lesbians (which not all do–any combination is possible, gay to straight, straight to gay, straight to straight, gay to gay) might be a little more accepted by lesbians, since gays tend to have more experience with gender ambiguity than mainstream heterosexual society. However, a lot of lesbians are *very* prejudiced against women who weren’t “born women.” Believe me, I’ve seen it. And for a similar reason as the other case–since the MTF didn’t experience childhood as a girl, but a boy, they haven’t really experienced the same sexism natural-born women have, and hence “aren’t really one of us.”
I don’t know what issues they’re going to explore with Max yet. There’s a lot to choose from.