Looking back- 10th Anniversary of The L Word

 

It’s been 10 years L Word fans! On January 18, 2004 a brand new drama series called “The L Word” premiered on Showtime, portraying the lives of a group of predominantly lesbian women living in West Hollywood. Most names of the main cast didn’t ring a bell except for the real “Foxy Brown” Pam Grier and the girl from “Flashdance” Jennifer Beals but it was a groundbreaking moment in the history of tv: For the first time ever, a show evolved around a group of strong, successful gay female characters.
The audience was introduced to these glamorous ladies by the character of Jenny Schecter, an aspiring writer and college graduate who moved to LA to live with her boyfriend Tim Haspel. He happened to be the neighbor of Bette Porter, a strong-willed curator and Tina Kennard, a former movie executive. They formed a long-term couple who was struggling to find a sperm donor what would eventually strain their relationship. The two of them were surrounded by a potpourri of friends: Shane McCutcheon, a promiscuous hairdresser, Alice Pieszecki, a bi-curious journalist, Dana Fairbanks, a closeted tennis player, Marina Ferrer, a coffee shop owner and last but not least Kit Porter, a straight singer and recovering alcohol addict who also happened to be Bette’s half-sister. It’s probably fair to say that most fans fell instantly in love with these cool ladies, and for many of us  Bette and Tina aka Tibette were the center of the show.  Their on screen chemistry was unbelievable and when they were sitting on their porch the morning after trying to get Tina pregnant by some random guy, we got a feeling that they were doomed and so were we. We knew they were deeply in love with one another and when Bette cheated on Tina for all the wrong reasons our lives started to feel like a roller coaster for an ongoing six years. Never before did we feel so connected to fictional characters, “The L Word” became our “drug”, our escape from the daily madness.

Laurel Holloman, Ilene Chaiken and Jennifer Beals at the premiere of The L Word in Los Angeles in 2004

Laurel Holloman, Ilene Chaiken and Jennifer Beals at the premiere screening of The L Word in Los Angeles in 2004

Fans wanted what Bette and Tina had and all of a sudden people all over the world, who virtually had nothing in common, started bonding over this tv show. Gay or straight, it didn’t matter. Blogs, forums, fan sites and fan fiction spread like wildfire all over the globe. “Illegal” episode downloads became a habit and week after week, Ilene Chaiken was the “best loved” or the “best hated” person on the planet, depending what team you were on. We were all kind of crazy weren’t we? How come that thousands of ordinary women all of a sudden started to act like addicts on detox? We felt happy and alive during the 13 episodes but once the season was over we got kind of desperate because we kinda wanted more and more. Fans stayed up late at night watching and re-watching whole episodes or just their favorite moments time and again. We knew all the lines of the most pivotal moments by heart and we would use some expressions in our daily life even though non-Tibetters had no clue what we were talking about. We kept searching the internet for spoilers as we were dying to know what was happening next, we were strung out on Tibette. It was a “whole movement”, as Jennifer would call it. Fans were in shock after watching the “fight” when Tina confronted Bette with the betrayal (the best scene ever in many fans pov). Who didn’t hold her breath when Bette and Tina made love in Season 2? Who didn’t feel for Tina when she realized that Bette got involved with Jodi? Who didn’t gasp when Bette grabbed Tina’s arm at She Bar and just went for THAT kiss? Who didn’t watch that scene in slow motion at least ten times? Who didn’t cheer when Tina went over to Bette’s house to have stir fry sex? Who didn’t sigh when Bette finally told Tina in the elevator that she was deeply in love with her and that reuniting felt like coming home? Who didn’t adore a confident Tina doing business in New York, leaving Bette with her new business partner Kelly Wentworth who was supposed to be a temptation? Bette passed the test as we knew she would but crazy Jenny wanted to ruin it for them. So who killed Jenny Schecter? Those were such good times and it’s all but fair to also briefly look at the social impact of this groundbreaking series: Gay and straight people didn’t just interact via internet, they also gathered at L Word conventions in the UK, the USA and in France. Fans from all over the world met the stars of the show up close and personal and heard firsthand stories about the making of “The L Word”. Some of the cast members like Jennifer Beals became fierce advocates of the LGBT community and slowly but steadily, the perception, i.e. society started to change. By watching “The L Word” it became obvious that gay and straight people are not that different indeed: At the end of the day it’s all about love, compassion, happiness, safety and family. During the six seasons of “The L Word” life started imitating art not just the other way around. While same sex marriage was quite widely accepted in Northern and Western Europe prior to the shows’ premiere in 2004, a couple of US states eventually started to legalize same sex marriages. Today same sex marriages are legal in 18 states while 33 states still ban it. The Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010 is a another landmark federal statute enacted in December 2010 that established a process for ending the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) policy, thus allowing gays, lesbians, and bisexuals to serve openly in the United States Armed Forces. It ended the policy in place since 1993 that allowed them to serve only if they kept their sexual orientation secret and the military did not learn of their sexual orientation. It’s still a long way to go for all people to live equally on this planet no matter what gender or sexual orientation but thanks to a small tv show that ran for six years, the course of the world has changed a wee bit. A big thank you to the creators, cast and crew of “The L Word” and we all hope that the “L Word Movie” will see the light of day eventually! All of us diehard fans do still have a soft spot for Bette, Tina, Shane, Alice, Kit, Helena, Jenny and the rest of the amazing cast. Happy 10th anniversary!

The L Word - Season 6 Who were and where are today the stars of The L Word?

Jennifer Beals (Bette Porter – Seasons 1-6): Jennifer after The Lword has been on popular tv shows like The Chicago Code, Lie To Me, The Mob Doctor as well as films like The Book Of Eli and some other independent films Laurel Holloman (Tina Kennard – Seasons 1-6): Laurel gave up her acting career to become an artist. She’s exhibited her abstract paintings in Berlin, Venice and Paris. Pam Grier (Kit Porter – Seasons 1-6): She’s appeared on Smallville as well as other films. She also published her autobiography in 2010. Leisha Hailey (Alice Pieszecki – Seasons 1-6): She’s been on a few tv shows after The L Word but she is more of a full time musician these days with her band Uh Huh Her. Kate Moennig (Shane McCutcheon – Seasons 1-6): She’s appeared in the films The Lincoln Lawyer and Gone and tv shows like Three Rivers, Dexter and currently on Ray Donovan. Mia Kirshner (Jenny Schecter – Seasons 1-6): She’s been working on some indie films and tv series like Defiance, Lost Girl and The Vampire Diaries. Erin Daniels (Dana Fairbanks Seasons 1-3): She’s appeared on tv shows like Rizzoli and Isles, The Sitter, CSI and films like a Single Man and a few other indie films. Karina Lombard (Marina Ferrer Season 1, season 4 (two episodes) season 6 (one episode)): She’s appeared on the tv series Rescue Me and CSI:NY and NCSI. Rachel Shelley (Helena Peabody – Seasons 2-6): She’s appeared on the tv series Episodes, Casualty, Rogue and Once Upon A Time. Eric Mabius (Tim Haspel – Seasons 1-3 and 6): Eric starred in the popular tv series like Ugly Betty and appeared on Scandal, Blue Boods and The Client List. Marlee Matlin (Jodie Lerner – Seasons 4-6) Marlee can currently be seen on the tv show Switched At Birth Daniela Sea (Max/Moira Sweeny – Seasons 4-6) Daniela has worked on a few indie films Rose Rollins (Tasha Williams- Season 4-6) Rose has worked on tv series such as CSI, NCIS, Chase and Southland Sarah Sahi (Carmen De La Pica Morales – Seasons 2-3) Sarah has been very busy starring on tv the series Life, Fairly Legal, Chicago Fire and Person Of Interest. These are some of the actors who made guest appearances: Elizabeth Berkley, Holland Taylor, Lauren Lee Smith, Cybill Shepherd, Jane Lynch, Alexandra Hedison, Janina Gavankar, Clementine Ford, Alan Cumming, Ossie Davies, Kelly Lynch, Anne Ramsay, Rosanna Arquette, Lolita Davidovich, Guinevere Turner, Jessica Capshaw, Annabella Sciorra, Lucy Lawless, Kelly McGillis, Cobie Smulders, Melissa Leo, Eric Roberts. Written by Pebbles70 and BM for Jennifer-Beals.com

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