I may have spent too much time on Youtube watching Buffy fanvids with Lady Gaga songs, but I also made time to watch the pilot (and second episode) of The Real L Word. Read on to see if the show is aimed for actual lesbians or horny boys.
Pictured L-R: Nikki, Jill, Mikey, Tracy, Rose, Whitney. I see no reason why the poster had to show them in nude form (unless the show took place in a nudist colony), and think that’s an exploitative way to gain viewer appeal. Do you like the poster? Do we really need a vajayjay that blinds us to make us watch?
I’m not the biggest reality TV show fan there is. I like a decent handful, but not as many shows as others tend to have in their personal viewing schedule’s. So let me just tell you what I told my Dad (yes, he’s cool and I can talk to him about anything) “I can’t tell if it’s bad because it’s uniquely awful, or if it’s on the same level of all other hyped-up dramatic reality TV shows.”(I asked him if he wanted to watch for himself, but he decided to watch Man vs. Food on Netflix Watching Instantly instead. The man LOVES that show.)
I believe the reason that I won’t be continuing to watch The Real L Word is because for any reality show to make me watch I have to like the general premise where I can relate to an aspect (i.e. fashion design, cooking), and I have to be invested in these real-people “characters:. So, while I didn’t love it, I think there’s a chance that you could. Because I am a straight woman who only liked two of the characters (Tracy and Jill), it’d be hard to put this on my TV schedule and stick to watching it as loyally as I watch Glee or Weeds.
And I also want to address something before this review goes any farther. I feel like I’m in an episode of Seinfeld where they would go, “He’s gay – not that there’s anything wrong with that!!!” because even mentioning homosexuality can put some people on such edge that they’re waiting to crucify you as a homophobe at the first chance they get. (That’s my observation, at any rate.) I have nothing against homosexuals. I support them. My review does not reflect any dislike aimed towards anyone who is a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transsexual. I want to make note of that because otherwise I worry* people will say “If you don’t like the show, you just hate gay people.” That’s not true at all. And I didn’t even entirely hate the show! Of course, in terms of a tagline – that can’t really sell it. “Here, watch this show, it wasn’t entirely hated by me!” But there’s nothing I can do about my opinion being what it is, other than being aware that future episodes may prove to be better.
Now, let’s go on with this dang review! (And who types ‘dang’? why am I so weird?!)
The Real L Word focuses on six women: Mikey, Whitney, Rose, Tracy, Nikki and Jill. All of these girls start off in lesbian relationships, except for Whitney. She’s a drama magnet (or…drama-chasing magnet, actually) who walks a weird balance between dating no one and dating four women at once. She’s not what you’d picture when you think of a player, and yet a player is kinda what she is. (This idea is cemented for me when she drops off one woman at the airport, only to circle around and pick up another potential love interest at the airport. Whitney’s problem isn’t that she’s a jerk, she just likes too many people who like her back. It’s hard out there!
Mikey is a tough chick who says, “I’m a gay man in a woman’s body.” She has a girlfriend named Raquel and they both work in the fashion industry. She’s very Type A.
Rose is an aggressive, glamorous woman who has a girlfriend but isn’t ready to put away her bad girl ways. Her family is very accepting of her decision to date women, and actually wants her to settle down. Rose isn’t so sure.
Tracy is my favorite. She’s pretty, but doesn’t seem annoyingly perfect or like someone who primps in the mirror for hours. She has Mommy issues, because her Mother does not let her talk about the fact that she’s gay. As a 29-year-old, she seems very down-to-earth. She’s dating a woman who has three kids.
Finally, we have Nikki and Jill, who are in a relationship together. They’re actually engaged. Of course, in California they can’t “legally” get married and that’s very unfair. But that isn’t stopping them from planning an expensive wedding. Nikki is very secure in her relationship, while it seems like Jill can feel less secure on account of being in love with a woman, while not feeling that she’s a lesbian or bisexual. She doesn’t know how to define herself, and this type of discussion (about loving a person, not a gender) is interesting and something the series should show more of.
Nikki and Jill are two women who I suspect live out of a J-Crew catalog. They are the two who are intertwined on the show, while the other’s are all in their separate worlds. While all of the women live in L.A., the show does not group them together like most reality shows do. At one point, Tracy and Whitney do meet (which might have been a scripted incident) but otherwise these women don’t see each other. That’s a challenge. The show flips around to the six different stories, but it’s clear they favor certain women and storylines (Whitney is their favorite, no doubt.)
Every episode starts with the different women talking to the camera, answering interview questions. They speak candidly, but I couldn’t help but wonder if they were pushed to say things that were wilder than would normally come out of their mouth Within the first three minutes of the first episode you hear the phrase, “breast in my mouth”. While there are other reality TV shows on cable networks, this one has WAY more swearing than those. I’m used to cable shows with lots of language, but I’m not used to reality shows that don’t bleep it all out.
For sure, titillating aspects are high on the agenda of the show. But The Real L Word doesn’t completely ignore emotion. A heavy focus is placed on the dating scene for lesbians in L.A., and lesbian relationships. And, well, there’s lots of emotions there! As stated earlier, they talk a bit about loving a person rather than a gender. Important issues and topics are touched upon, but there is just as much screen time for the general antics of a reality show where people are dating and screwing around with drama everywhere you look. Lives are dramatic. Unless you’re Madonna (I always picture her sitting in the English countryside drinking soothing tea and feeling strangely apathetic about Glee.)
In the second episode, the women are answering a question about what kind of lesbian they are. I actually really liked their answers. I believe it was Jill who pointed out that no one asks “what kind of straight person are you?”
Something I didn’t like was that between the intro credits and the recap of last week’s episode, you’re four minutes (booooring) into the show. Speed it up!
When Pop Matters was reviewing The L Word, David Swerdlick wrote:
Does The L Word change anything? Or does it perpetuate the straight male fantasies it purports to parody and complicate? The answer seems to be both. The L Word can create long, sensual sex scenes, and explore lesbian sexuality as an integral part of its plotlines. At the same time, the titillating scenes draw viewers — gay and straight, male and female.
One thing is for sure, The Real L Word will provide the gay world with more visibility. Whether the series is giving that world a fair overview is hard to say, because everyone really approaches love and dating differently. It’s difficult to say that one show, and six women can define a culture or generation of a culture. So, keep an open mind. And if you watch the pilot, let me know what you think of it.
The Real L Word premiere date is June 20th, 2010.
The Real L Word trailer:
*The anonymity of The Internet means that for every supportive comment I get here, I get five that tell me I’m an idiot for having a typo or a moron for disliking an episode of a show. People tend to only leave comments when they’re mad. And that’s a shame, because I’d really love to have more of an open-dialogue with other TV fans/readers who visit the site! I do read every comment!
Previously: Weeds season 6 promo is dangerously seductive