Schecter 3:16 (Or How Jenny Schecter Saved My Life)

It’s been ten years since The L Word premiered, and we’ve got lots to talk about. Welcome to The L Word week!


I make people laugh for a living. Well, no. That’s not exactly true. I make people re-laugh for a living. As a recapper/reviewer/pop culture commentator on the WebTubes, I retell people — mostly gay ladies — the stories they’ve already watched or read, so they can re-laugh or re-think or re-swoon or re-rage about it. But my main goal is the re-laugh part. People tell me I’m pretty OK at it.

That’s what I told my best friend last summer when she waded through a heap of takeout boxes and t-shirts and comic books and RedBox DVD sleeves to sit beside me on my bed, which I hadn’t left in at least a week, to tell me she thought I might be depressed. “I can’t be depressed,” I said, opening up my laptop to my Twitter/Interactions feed and showing it to her. “Look at all these LOLs.”

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There were other reasons I knew I wasn’t depressed. When I was growing up, my mom’s physical and emotional abuse, her inability to think through things rationally, her bone-deep narcissism: all of it was a byproduct of what she called her “condition,” but what our family doctor called “depression.” Later, doctors would call it “Bipolar I” and then “Borderline Personality Disorder,” but her traumatizing behavior had taken root in my brain as “depression.” I wasn’t flying into frantic rages or going on impulsive spending sprees or being dumb about sex and life-threatening drugs or beating up the people I claimed to love. So, no. I wasn’t depressed.

And, of course, I didn’t want to kill myself. I didn’t even really want to die. Not in the conventional sense. I did spend a lot of time fantasizing about how I could stop existing — but in ways that wouldn’t be sad or inconvenient for my friends and family. No funerals, no dead bodies, none of that. I thought about exploding into a shower of adorable forest critters like in Sonic the Hedgehog and imagined my family being like, “It sure was cool when Heather was here, but look at these little bunnies!” Or being called up to heaven like God did for Elijah in the Old Testament. Like, “Good work, man, but take a break for an eternity or two.” A boating accident wouldn’t be so bad, hitting an iceberg while doing climate change research or something. Or maybe falling off a cliff after rescuing a bus full of puppies and otters. I didn’t want to be alive, but I didn’t want to be selfish about it.

I don’t remember how my not-depression started. I remember waking up on Christmas Eve morning in 2012 and crying so hard into my girlfriend’s shoulder that it took me over an hour to explain that I couldn’t explain what was wrong with me. I remember crying in the grocery store for no reason, in the line at the DMV for no reason, at the movie theater for no reason. I remember feeling impossibly alone even when I was surrounded by people who adored me. I remember slipping my hand under my girlfriend’s t-shirt in the middle of the night, resting my palm on her stomach, feeling her breathe in-and-out, the warmth of her skin, the way she always smells a little bit like peppermint even though she never eats peppermints. I remember whispering over and over, “She loves me she loves me she loves me she loves me.” I knew she did. I knew it. But I couldn’t feel it.

Sad things stopped making me sad. Happy things stopped making me happy. Cold things didn’t make me cold. Hot things didn’t make me hot. I wasn’t hungry. I wasn’t thirsty. I wasn’t sleepy. I opened my eyes in the daytime and closed my eyes at night time and that was my whole life.

My friends hosted viewing parties to remind me of movies and TV shows that used to fill me up with energy and joy, but I’d already begun to resent the reminders. Belle, my all-time favorite Disney princess, suffered from Stockholm Syndrome and dissociative personality disorder. Elizabeth Bennet was selfish and impractical and really fucking cruel sometimes. Emma Thompson had no excuse for not leaving Alan Rickman’s cheating ass in Love Actually. And I read the Wikipedia entry about the real Von Trapp family, so I don’t know why you’re acting so self-righteous, Fraulein Maria. I could find nothing wrong with my beloved Harry Potter books, but Dumbledore’s death didn’t even bum me out anymore.

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Somewhere between the engulfing cloud of despair and isolation and the Astronomy tower where Snape blasted Dumbledore with an Avada Kedavra curse, I’d stopped feeling… everything.

But, hey, I was still making people laugh! Sure, it took me 18 straight hours of sleep to recover from writing a five-hour TV recap. And yeah, I’d completely stopped returning my friends’ and family’s calls and texts. I didn’t shower or eat. I couldn’t even work up the energy to wish people happy birthday on Facebook. But those LOLs were rolling in. I was OK. I was going to be OK. Writing about TV was going to keep me OK.

When Syfy announced a Julie Benz/Jaime Murray/Mia Kirshner tag-team in their post-apocalyptic human/alien space western Defiance, I campaigned to cover the show. Because did you hear what I just said? Post-apocalyptic human/alien space western. When I was prepping to interview the cast, I decided I should rewatch The L Word. My frustration at that train wreck is as fresh as the day it was when Max got pregnant, but Mia Kirshner is a notoriously tricky interview because she doesn’t want to placate you with viral soundbytes; she wants to have an actual conversation about shit that matters. So I figured I should brush up on my Schecter 101 before I talked to her.

And it’s a good thing I did, because I’m pretty sure it saved my life.

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Jenny Schecter was a mess. There’s no denying it. The writing for her character was so outlandishly inconsistent that you never knew which incarnation you were going to get from one season to the next. She was a duplicitous megalomaniac whose self-indulgent, self-destructive antics knew no boundary. But you know what? So is Don Draper. So was Walter White. So was Dexter and Jack Bauer and House and Tony Soprano. But they’re dudes, so that makes them interesting. Jenny Schecter is a lady, so her deal makes her a cunt.

I knew that in my head when I was rewatching and then an amazing thing happened to me: Jenny Schecter made me feel it in my heart. During her tirade against Mark, her roommate who filmed her on the sly for all of season two, her rage became my rage:

What I want is for you to write “fuck me” on your chest. Write it! Do it! And then I want you to walk out that door and I want you to walk down the street, and anybody that wants to fuck you, say, “Sure! Sure! No problem!” And when they do, you have to say, “Thank you very, very much.” And make sure that you have a smile on your face. And then, you stupid fucking coward, you’re gonna know what it feels like to be a woman!

I was angry. Really fucking angry. Angry because Jenny Schecter was right. Angry because Jenny Schecter had endured so much hate and criticism over the years that had never been leveled at male archetypes who behaved like she did. Angry that I’d been so brainwashed when I first watched the show that I hurled horrible sexist/patriarchal insults at her too. (Some insults she deserved [see: Sounder] but most she did not.) Because of the way Mia Kirshner refused to cloak Jenny in anything other than the rawest emotions, she became real to me in ways none of my go-to happytimes characters ever could have. I didn’t have anything in common with her, really. But I felt connected to her because I was rooted in that expanse of ancient sadness she also seemed to occupy.

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I hadn’t realized it the first time I watched: how righteous her fury really was, how deeply neglected were the wounds of her childhood (one of the show’s many enormous failures was never getting Jenny into therapy), how terrified she was of her own potential for creating chaos, and all the million ways she begged and pleaded and cried out for compassion.

Feeling sad, feeling angry, feeling connected, feeling any feelings at all was so foreign to me by then that my heart beat as fast as a little rabbit caught in a cage of fire all the way through my The L Word re-watch.

After I interviewed Mia Kirshner, I cried for a couple of hours. Crying was as weird as feeling. I hadn’t done either of them in so long. It was unprofessional, I know, but I told her that connecting to Jenny’s darkness had helped me start my own journey back toward the light. She sighed sweetly. “Thank you for telling me that.” And then she paused for a long moment before saying, “Stories are deeper than reality, you know.”

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I didn’t snap out of my depression. I clawed my way out, inch-by-inch, with the help of people who love me more than I deserve, and I know I’m going to keep on battling this beast for the rest of my life. But I had to ask for help. And I had to feel something about anything before I knew how much I needed it. It couldn’t be a Disney princess; it had to be someone who’d crawled on her hands and knees through the shadows like me.

There’s a Post-It note on my refrigerator that says Schecter 3:16. “Jenny died so you can live?” my roommate asked the first time she saw it. “Yeah,” I said. “Yeah, something like that.”

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Profile photo of Heather Hogan

Heather Hogan is a rural Georgia-born writer who now lives (and gets lost on the regular) in New York City. One time she cried in front of J.K. Rowling and J.K. Rowling patted her hand. Talk to Heather about TV, books, and dinosaurs on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, or Instagram.

Heather has written 12 articles for us.

69 Comments

  1. Thumb up 48

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    oh heather i relate to all of this so much. and lately it’s been heavy on my mind so seeing this draft when you sent it felt really comforting in a way. maybe we should start a Recappers With Depression support group. but anyway — i’ve always felt like jenny’s last fan standing and i know that my attachment to her is because sometimes the ugly things she does remind me of the things i have done, or would have done, but in a less cinematic or exciting way, and the reason has always been depression. i hated season six the most for so many reasons but one of them was what they did to jenny that season.

    ” I felt connected to her because I was rooted in that expanse of ancient sadness she also seemed to occupy.”

    yes, yes, yes, this, so much this.

    thank you
    <3

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      ALL OF THIS. Everyone I’ve ever watched the show with has been a Jenny-hater, but I just never understood it. So much of what Jenny’s done, I’ve done (to varying degrees), thanks to that super lovely thing called borderline personality disorder. Seeing a character like Jenny–in all her raw, messy glory–made me feel significantly less alone, especially as a teenager. It wasn’t that she was perfect–it was that I felt like I GOT her–& conversely, that’d she’d GET me. If there were characters out there like me, that meant there had to be people out there like me, even though I’d never met them, & that meant the world to me.

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      I second this.

      I recently re-watched the l word out of boredom and my girlfriends reaction was “ugh the l word, I hate jenny”. Which resulted in me defending Jenny’s actions and my gf looking at me as if I was crazy.

      Ok, a lot of that show was completly ridiculous, but jenny was obviously so messed up. I’ve been in so many similar situations that seeing a character like that makes me feel much less like a crazy person, or at least that other people are kind of crazy too.

      In short, thanks Heather for the article :)

  2. Thumb up 8

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    Heather, yes. Thank you very much for this.

    I am, obviously, like many of us, a huge fan of The L Word, and even more of Jenny Schecter’s character, which is the deepest and unforgettable fictional character of all time, to me.

    I’m currently re-watching The L Word (and I think I might stop at Season 5, maybe because I do remember last scene of that season who totally broke my heart even though I hated that whoever star she dated, and I didn’t know why at the time…)and I feel even more connected to Jenny now that I kind of sorted out my issues.

    When I first watch the show, and I didn’t know then, I was also going through depression. Everything you said about it was so me : being dumb about sex, crying for no (obvious) reasons, relentless spending sprees… I was a total mess but thought it was natural, you know. Just me growing up, actually.

    Then I “met” Jenny and I was like, “do I really wanna end up like her ?” So tortured and self-centered, very persuasive about what I have to give to the world to my writings and stuff… I decided to acknowledge as mine “some of her parts” while totally staying true to who she is and defending her, for like ever.

    Jenny is a human being, she is full of flaws but she deserves to be loved. And I love her because of that. And will always.

    Anyway, I loved your article. Thanks again for sharing. Just a thought : I think Jenny went through therapy. Isn’t it where she met Max in the first place ? I’m not sure she stayed there for so long, but I think she’d been in a psychiatric hospital for six months before coming back to her “friends” in LA, bringing Max with her.

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    I’ve re-posted that exact quote from Jenny so many times. Its one of the reasons that Jenny is my favorite character.

    Lately I’ve realized that I am almost exactly like Jenny and Mia Kirshner, which is okay. Except for the dog killing thing. Though I’m not really a dog person.

    I’m a little worried though because I have your exact same symptoms and behaviors except I don’t have or like having many friends to save me and I often push my family away. But I won’t kill myself because I’ve worked too hard to get where I am and I won’t give up now. Plus it would be a real drag for a few people.

    Nice article.

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      “I’m a little worried though because I have your exact same symptoms and behaviors except I don’t have or like having many friends to save me and I often push my family away.”

      I was in this exact place a couple of years ago – depressed and without a whole bunch of people to turn to (and I didn’t want to turn to the people I had). I made the decision to help myself get better. I tried drugs, and that didn’t work, so I tried changes to my diet, exercise, sunshine, natural supplements, and I went out and made a couple of new friends. It was EXHAUSTING, but each day got a little better.

      Anywho, just trying to say that you can get better, even without relying on others. Good luck.

  4. Thumb up 10

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    Thank you for sharing, Heather. I deeply relate to this, and am always so thankful when people share their stories of depression — and overcoming the depression. When I first watched The L Word I immediately related to Jenny. I’m not outlandish, I’m not as manic or brave as her… but it was her sadness and her unapologetic complexity that resonated with me. Then I discovered “most people” hated her, and so I pushed my Jenny love away. So thanks for bringing her back into the light!

  5. Thumb up 7

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    This is such a beautiful peace thank you for sharing.

    On a side note, I too never understood the hate Jenny got. Sure she had her flaws, and issues, but she still was this raw human as you pointed out. She is and always be my favorite character on the show. I miss her.

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    And, of course, I didn’t want to kill myself. I didn’t even really want to die. Not in the conventional sense. I did spend a lot of time fantasizing about how I could stop existing — but in ways that wouldn’t be sad or inconvenient for my friends and family.”

    So much this. I’ve never even attempted to explain this to anyone because I couldn’t handle the reaction.

    I’m so glad you’re doing better/have people who care and notice and want to help. :)

  7. Thumb up 7

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    You know, with all of the L Word Hype celebrating its tenth anniversary,this is the one post that has actually made me want to rewatch the show.
    I guess I never thought about it, but WHY wasn’t Jenny in therapy?
    She had friends,she had girlfriends..the L Word made sure to not skip too many of the clichés..so why didn’t Shane or even Alice, or anyone, really, ever suggest therapy for her?
    Just imagine the possibilities for awesome guest stars playing Jenny’s therapist!
    I’m thinking along the lines of one of the Cagney and Lacey girls… Oh, well. That would have involved actual development and maturing of her character and some very unsexy, painful processing.And that wouldn’t have been very L-Word.
    I love Ms.Kirshner’s quote about the stories, and I would like to commend you for making it to the Lonely Mountain and back again.May the Force be with you, and the wind be ever strong underneath your wings.

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    Thank you so much for this Heather. It sounds amazingly familiar to me unfortunately. I’ve noticed something was off in your writng at AE this past year, but I’m so grateful for all your wonderful writing and so proud of your continued fight.

  9. Thumb up 3

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    That was a great read, Heather. Thank you. I can relate to this part so much ‘I remember crying in the grocery store for

    no reason, in the line at the DMV for no reason, at the movie theater for no reason.’ That was how my depression

    manifested, too. I had always thought that depression meant refusing to get out of bed, having no energy and feeling

    despondent. It was only when I went to the doctor that I realized that what I was experiencing was depression.

    On another note: I loved your ‘If The L Word Were on Facebook’ posts. They were fun.

  10. Thumb up 6

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    what a great f’ing post. thank you SO much for saying these things better than I ever could. i’ve been an out not-straight lady for years, but coming out as a jenny fan is a whole other story…

    i still haven’t seen the entire show, but i prefer to leave jenny (and most everybody else) at the end of season 2: in a writing class, breaking down, and finally admitting to her friends that she needs help after hitting rock bottom. in my head, she goes to therapy and gets all of the help she needs and then lives as a functional though still slightly messed up writer in a very messed up world. it’s wish fulfillment and probably not dramatic enough for TV, but i still like it.

  11. Thumb up 21

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    Oh wow, I had dreamed that one day Heather Hogan might write for Autostraddle, and now it has happened and it was wonderful, and I’m sure they would never let you say cunt on AfterEllen! Thank you for opening up.

    The comparison with all the male anti-heroes is so apt, and I wonder if The L Word was made again now, whether they’d be brave enough to follow through with her character, and make her a true anti-heroine, rather than the campy villain she died as. Mia Kirshner is one of the few actresses I’d trust to portray mental health problems in a realistic way (i.e. not perma-bulging eyes a la Clare Danes). She is so good. Rewatching that scene recently where she’s silently sobbing in bed with Tim stopped me in my tracks, and I can still visualise when she got her hair cut by Shane is season 2. Fuck’s sake, she was even good as a bit part in Lost Girl.

    I might have enjoyed season 2 of L Word the best, because I always felt like they covered all the most obvious tropes in the first season. Season 2 started to delve into some more interesting areas, particularly with Jenny. The popular TV coming out story is usually “oh, I was all confused and miserable, but then I realised I was gay and after some obstacles everything is unicorns and sunshine.” Whereas with her, she comes out and realises she’s still broken. If anything, it just lets her realise how broken she is. And that, to me, is interesting.

  12. Thumb up 12

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    My Jenny feelings have always been … complicated. “Love to hate” characters are all over the place, but Jenny evoked a different kind of feeling. I simultaneously loved and hated her in the same way I loved and hated myself. Sometimes she was so brave and righteous; saying and doing all the things I wished I could. When she tazed that guy and said “We’re not faggots we’re dykes” it was like watching the Queer superhero of my dreams. The times when she was selfish, mean or
    self-destructive I cringed and want to look away, because I was reminded of times when I had done similar things or wanted to. Jenny was painfully human and that’s why I love her.

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    I have often dreamed of a day when Heather Hogan would write for Autostraddle. Heather, your writing always moves me- in any forum that you choose to express it. Thank you for being such a special unicorn. You have been such a large part of allowing me to accept myself as a queer woman, without you even knowing it. I’ll always be a fan! Thanks for always striving to be a Gryffindor, from one Hufflepuff to another <3

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    Whoo boy. This stopped me in my tracks. To echo the sentiments of others, thank you, Heather, for this piece and for having the bravery to share it.

    In other news, I adore your PLL recaps. If I ever met you in person, I would freak out (in a good way).

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    Really excited to see Heather Hogan on Autostraddle, and what a lovely piece.

    I agree that Jenny Schecter belongs in the same category as Don Draper, and I don’t understand why antiheroines are so much more difficult for people to stomach than antiheroes. I feel similarly about the way people react to Lena Dunham on Girls.

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    Yes, thank you Heather. We humans have a lot of darkness and craziness in society and, collectively, in ourselves. We all connect to the “ancient sadness” somehow, and we need help to work through it together. I think a main way we work through meaning is with stories – which are, as Mia says, “deeper than reality”. No wonder that seeing the depth of craziness embodied in Jenny’s character made so many people uncomfortable (and no wonder the shitty writing infuriated everyone else). But the depth of that craziness is exactly why such characters have worth. Because they illuminate parts of ourselves that are buried. I’m sure you’re not the only person who, watching Jenny, felt a hand reach into their darkness and say, “You’re not alone – let’s work through this”.

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    Dear Heather, thank you for sharing a part of your story. I don’t normally post much, but to show my gratitude I wanted to post a part of mine. When I first starting thinking I might be shifting towards being a lesbian after identifying as asexual for several years, I found afterellen. I loved the humor and the heart that you put into your retelling of stories. Then wanting a bit more feminism and politics I found Autostraddle. Seeing that you wrote an article for Autostrattle made me smile.

    Now I have a wife whom I adore, who also has some issues with depression. Thank you for sharing your story and some of your insights. Take care and may we all try to be kind to ourselves and to others.

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    I think Hogan is probably right about a lot of the Jenny-hate being driven by an unconscious double-standard. I hadn’t thought about that before.

    However, I’ve always attributed my personal “hate” only to what seemed like the gutting of the character I most closely identified with in Seasons 1 and 2. After that, (along with Alice’s sudden paranoid obsessions and her new buddy heiress), Jenny transitioned into this unrecognizable narcissistic cliche. Her character was a clown that lost credibility with each subsequent season.

    I really mourned what I thought was the loss of rich potential for an onscreen introvert (imagine!) struggling with realistic mental health issues.

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    I feel like I need to rewatch TLW. When I first watched, I was definitely one of those vocal anti-Jenny viewers. It’s an easy camp to be a part of…Jenny’s personality was scary and self-indulgent. Once I took to rewatching the 2nd season (her weird carnival phase) and skipped over everything that was Jenny-related. I couldn’t watch. But I have also been in and out of depression…that probably had a lot to do with my aversion to that character. Maybe I’ll try to be more open-minded. It’s scary to think that Jenny could reflect some parts of my depression and the weight of being a survivor. Maybe I was closing my eyes to keep from seeing those connections. PS It’s good to see you on Autostraddle! Big fan

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      Totally agree that a lot of my aversion to Jenny on first watch was probably because she hit too close to home — I just reread Riese’s pilot recap (shoutout/call-back!) which perfectly describes Jenny as “like, all the worst parts of ME.” I know this is mostly referring to her being a “standard bisexual nightmare,” but I think it’s true of a lof of aspects of Jenny. And it’s definitely a lot of the uncomfortable rawness that Mia put into the character, even in her most ridiculous, badly-written scenes.

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    Heather, it’s wonderful to see you on here. Thank you for sharing your story. I’ve been a fan of yours for years. When I was first coming out to myself, secretly reading your Skins recaps on AE was so comforting and validating. You’ve always given me lots of LOLs and even more to think about. Now you’re validating my feelings again with this post, gosh I relate to so much of this.

    This is exactly my life right now: Sad things stopped making me sad. Happy things stopped making me happy. Cold things didn’t make me cold. Hot things didn’t make me hot. I wasn’t hungry. I wasn’t thirsty. I wasn’t sleepy. I opened my eyes in the daytime and closed my eyes at night time and that was my whole life.”

    I also liked how you said that you felt like you couldn’t be depressed because you didn’t want to kill yourself, because that’s literally my thought process almost every day. I tell myself my depression isn’t extreme enough to be real depression, or something. And this is exactly why I relate to Jenny too: ”I felt connected to her because I was rooted in that expanse of ancient sadness she also seemed to occupy.” The only thing that’s made me feel truly excited and like I have something to look forward to was signing up for A-Camp, but I’m scared that it’s all the way in May and I don’t know how to help myself until then. Like you said, I’m not going to “snap out of it,” and I need to claw my way out. I guess I just feel like there’s no one to help and it’s too challenging to do on my own. Perhaps I’ll start by re-watching the L Word. Hah, never thought that could help.

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    This was wonderful, thank you. And I might add that it’s clear Lady Schecter wasn’t such an evocative and polarizing character because she was written with such depth and insight for 6 seasons. She got a few good scripts (in particular some great satire in Season 5), but for the most part the whole story of that character was told by Mia Kirshner. I didn’t think much of her before The L Word other than “Oh yeah, the hot chick who hooked up with Dominique Swain in New Best Friend,” but then I actually thought she was the strongest actress in the entire L Word ensemble. She brought so much nuance and depth to something that she could have just glossed over (and easily gotten away with). I really hope someday she gets rewarded with the roles that she’s worthy of.

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    Reading about depression/bipolar/mental illnesses is always…good but hard. V V V hard for me. Especially now, as I’m working my way through a cloud of crazy right now. I appreciated this piece…and now I feel like I need to look at Jenny again and not just see her as a cuny!

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    Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing this and sharing it with us. I finally feel validated in my dark Jenny Schecter obsession and the love I have had for her since season one (as an unmedicated, semi-out-of-control depressed teen) that never truly died. I am feeling so many deep, inarticulate feelings right now. Eviscerated I am for you, Jenny, Our Lady of the Sweetbreads, Our Savior.

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    Oh, same here to be happy about HH+AS togetherthing happening. When I saw her name I instantly clicked to open the article. I can relate to some of her feelings. I went through my own battle with thoughts about not wanting to live anymore in my life and only few things kept me here. One was similar to hers not wanting to let family deal with grief, never unanswered questions e.g. “why?” and so on. Second was this quote: “Who commit suicide is coward”. (side note: I do not judge people who did it. I am not entitled to do so. I thing that everyone has experienced at least once some state of difficultness to live and everyone handle it differently with different outcome. I hope I made it clear enough that I have no intention to offend somebody.) Maybe it is strange but it worked for me. And now I am really happy that I let myself live because otherwise I would miss for example this.

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    I’ve been such a different person every time I’ve rewatched the series, and the character I most connect with always tells me a lot about how I’m doing at the time. I actually didn’t see season one (after seeing the rest of them a zillion times) until I was going through my most horrific romantic breakup combined with the loss of several of my most important friendships. The combination of those things made me see Jenny in a whole new light. She felt as broken and helpless and used-up as I did. She had the same anxious energy that I did, and she didn’t know what to do with it, either. She used it as an excuse to be reckless and hurtful and even invite people to hurt her, because they’d done it before and she hadn’t been able to stop them, so why fight a losing battle? Just like me. And it didn’t snap me out of everything right away, and it wasn’t the only influence that helped me, but seeing someone who was as completely lost in her own darkness as I was in mine made me feel the slightest bit less insane. And when people stuck around Jenny at her darkest, I realized they would stick around me, too, if they were friends worth having. Jenny being miserable and immature and fucked up and lashing out at the world and yet never just disappearing was important because it struck me where I was, crying and eating ice cream in my bed every night. It didn’t chide me and urge me to remember who I used to be when I was happy. It didn’t even try to pull me out. It just showed me that I wasn’t the only one who had felt that way, and that it didn’t have to be the end of my story.

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    I love this post. Thank you for writing something so personal – I admire that.

    I have to agree with a lot of what you said. The hate for Jenny has always rubbed me the wrong way. I mean, yeah, she could certainly be annoying at times and I didn’t always enjoy her character or the way she was written, but the vitriol for her character often takes this misogynistic turn…or it’s shrouded in shitty attitudes about mental health and mental illness. There were a lot of good, real moments with Jenny’s character that I feel get ignored because people are more interested in hating her. They don’t allow her to be fucked-up, flawed, confusing, etc. at times like they allow other male characters.

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    It’s so great to finally see a positive article about Jenny Schecter. There’s usually just a lot hate involved when people discuss her character, and I feel the need to constantly defend her. P.s, I’ve watched that scene where she yelled at Mark so much that I have almost every word memorized.

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    Echoing others – I was so excited to see Heather Hogan had written a post on Autostraddle!!

    I want to thank you, so much, for sharing this. This article is so poignant and beautiful and a tiny bit heartwrenching and must have taken a lot of guts to submit, so thank you.

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    A few things.

    Don Draper, as much of a self-destructive Dick as he is, isn’t inconsistent. Jenny is inconsistent. It’s possible sexism is a factor, but I need more examples than consistently annoying male leads vs. inconsistent female leads.

    Also, the writers really messed her up. She could’ve been a strong character. She could’ve introduced serious issues in a positive way. But she didn’t. She had an “issue of the week” every week and then she was evil. The transition made no sense and she was hate-able from the beginning. The thing is, she could’ve improved. She could’ve been a good character. Instead, she got worse.

    I’m disappointed in the Jenny character because, no matter what she did for certain people, she could’ve (should’ve) done so much more. She could’ve, God forbid, been a respectable character.

    And I’m annoyed that she is allowed speak for women. That whole “write fuck me on your chest” scene bothered me, not because I don’t think she addressed a serious issue and not because I don’t think sleazy men could stand to be taken down a peg every now and then, but because I don’t like the idea of ANYONE (male or female) speaking for all women. I am not Jenny Shecter.

    Thank God for that.

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    I’ll add another one to the pile: Thank you.

    By the time The L Word ended, I’d started to want to protect Jenny, from the writing, from the world, from everything. It surprised me to feel that way. I think I was starting to feel the lifesaving impulse you’ve captured so well — the impulse to help and hug the Jenny stuff (wherever it appears, in myself or anyone else), instead of mocking and reviling it. I know this article will help spark that flame in some currently anti-Jenny hearts.

    Also, Riese, where do I sign up for the Recappers With Depression support group?

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    I was overwhelmed trying to find the words to express how much this article meant to me. Jenny has always been my favourite, hands down. Which was always hard to explain to the large majority of lesbians I know who despise Jenny. But I’ve always loved Jenny because I understood her and could relate to her thoughts and feelings.
    I liked your article so much that I got carried away trying to show my appreciation and ended up just writing my own blog post haha….and of course giving you credit and linking back here. So I’ll post the link if you’re interested, but mostly just thanks so much for writing this!!! It meant a lot to me. :)
    Posted here: http://likeloveadore.tumblr.com/post/74261485758

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    Heather, THANK YOU so much for this article. I’m having trouble articulating how much finding this, today, meant to me (warning: this is gonna get super sentimental super fast) — I feel like reading this was for me what rediscovering Jenny was for you? I haven’t had any feelings in so long, and I read this and just started sobbing. It HURTS to feel something after so long, but it does make it a little easier to know other people are going through similar things.
    Like everyone else commenting here, I relate to so much of this. My whole family is full to bursting with undiagnosed depression/bipolar disorder (I’m only guessing because my mom and grandma and aunt have still never gotten help), and so even though I was seeing every day with my own eyes what depression IS, I stubbornly ignored it. I think maybe (like you?) I live inside stories so much that I based my idea of what depression is on what books/movies/tv tell me, even though that’s kind of naive. So I thought depression was, like, putting on a leather jacket and smoking cigarettes and getting drunk and having lots of hot but self-destructive sex, and it CAN be, obviously, but that’s also just a lot more fun to watch on the teevee than someone sitting in their room in unwashed pjs, just sitting there and staring with their eyes at things and sometimes eating and sleeping too much or too little. Like, I don’t even want to watch myself do it, so I certainly wouldn’t want to watch the sexy people in Hollywoodland do it.
    Anyway, this is all to say that this article means the world to me (especially the part about depression not being something you suddenly snap out of but, like addiction, something you deal with for your whole live and claw your way out of step by step), and I wish you all the luck and love and support. You do way more than make people re-laugh (although you do have an incredible gift for that) — you are saving lives too.

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    Really enjoyed some questions you’ve put in this post. We are used to see women like Jenny like “bitches”, or damaged in some way. And therefore is fucking hard to build any sense of community between women…
    The first (yeh…) time I’ve watched L Word, I thought that Jenny totally deserved to be killed. And even thought abouot this like it was a funny idea. But murder isn’t a funny idea at all… I mean, Jenny might have been a not-really-perfect person, but, came on, in the shows protagonized by men we dont usually have a sadistic need to have that person killed.

    Think I’m gonna use this quote to respond men that are used to drop male tears:

    “What I want is for you to write “fuck me” on your chest. Write it! Do it! And then I want you to walk out that door and I want you to walk down the street, and anybody that wants to fuck you, say, “Sure! Sure! No problem!” And when they do, you have to say, “Thank you very, very much.” And make sure that you have a smile on your face. And then, you stupid fucking coward, you’re gonna know what it feels like to be a woman!”

    And, Heather, I really liked your post.
    Sometimes we forget that the other ones in the internet are as much human as we are.
    Thank you!

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