L-Word 4.03 and 4.04

I’m combining these because I watched them one after the other. They sort of felt like one episode, anyway.

OK, just to get this part out of the way: is it just me, or was the Shane underwear photo shoot the most *unsexy* moment *ever*? She didn’t want to be there, she was only there because she needed the money, and that uncomfortable way she’s covering her breasts and just staring away…. I don’t know, I kind of think the point of it was to show her lowering herself like she had to back in her hustler days, only this time not for survival, but for the sake of her caring for her brother.

Shane is one of the characters they’re taking in a totally different direction this season, which I like. The other is Helena. I was sort of miffed that she got a job offer so easily, ’cause I want to see her suffer!omg! (yes, I have issues with wealthy people). But then suffer she did at Shane’s workplace, and…tee hee hee…. Another is Tina, although the straight thing is sort of left over from the end of last season. I just have one thought on it though…if you’re going to be straight, why don’t you hang with some *cool* people? Her friends were so ignorantly boring it was pathetic. Although I think that was sort of the point. To show a gay-straight culture gap. Except, it was also somewhat contrived. I mean, Kit and Angus are straight. But they’re, you know, cool.

At least there isn’t going to be a custody fight. For now. Phew.

In the world of pathetically predictable, Bette/Nadia. I really hope they go somewhere original with this. Because the old power-play/she said-she said/sexual harrassment/yada yada thing isn’t going to be anymore fresh because it’s two women.

A much more interesting sex-doesn’t-belong-in-the-workplace tangle is with Bette’s boss, Phyllis. She wants to come out on Bette’s coattails, which sounds good on paper–ask a friend to show you around, introduce you to people, get you started. But from there it gets complicated. First, with the obvious…how likely is it that Alice has any real interest in Phyllis? But if Phyllis thinks they have a thing, and Alice doesn’t, and Alice blows her off and Alice is Bette’s friend, Phyllis’ broken heart gets dumped right on Bette.

And second with the more subtle issue, which for me was glaring, but might not be to some viewers and might not be to the writers of the damned show–Bette’s friends, and the crowd she runs in, is, for the most part, under 40. Phyllis is in her 50’s. She may have been too caught up in the heady experience of her first night out among lesbians and her first sexual experience with a woman to have noticed that she didn’t fit in there. Not because she was a newbie, but because she was older. There wasn’t a single other older dyke in the room. Dykes may be the most painfully politically correct subculture there is in this country, but there is still rampant agism. And classism, OMG. And a racial divide of self-imposed segregation and tokenism.

Are the L-writers planning to deal with this at all, or pay a little lip service to it, or sweep it under the rug? Now, I’m not saying it’s their responsibility to deal with it. After all, this is television, and its entertainment, and since there is exactly ONE show on the air about lesbians, they may not have the luxury of being anything but shallowly entertaining. Maybe they can’t afford to be otherwise. But they are *seriously* skirting the issue with Phyllis and with Papi. That basketball game was depicted as a “light-hearted” competition, but the class and race differences in that scene were text, not subtext. The L-word has taken its lumps over the past few years for being excrutiating white-and-upper-middle-class, but if they can’t give the stratifications and politics of the lesbian community a decent play, maybe they shouldn’t flirt with doing so, either. Promises, promises, unfullfilled to a politically savvy audience.

I’m gonna do the wait-and-see thing before commenting on the Max stuff (which I kind of already did), Jenny’s vengeance gig, and the Jodi (Jody?) Marlee Matlin thing. Except to say that once again, Bette’s job is becoming the stage on which the writers express their politics, which I have no problem with, except to say that perhaps they should step back and look at the more subtextual political message they’re delivering with the characters and story lines at the same time they protest the presidential administration with Art.

One last note. I love that Papi sees Shane as competition and Shane just doesn’t care. “I’m gonna win!” “OK, you win, *shrug*.”

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