It’s been ten years since The L Word premiered, and we’ve got lots to talk about. Welcome to The L Word week!
Welcome to the twelfth recap of the first season of The L Word, a supernatural drama about a precocious dolphin trainer with shiny hair who enjoys riding her vespa, doing cartwheels, reading the Delia*s catalog, eating peanut butter and banana sandwiches, trying on strapless bras, sledding in the summertime and collecting band-aids. This episode promises hijinks and madness, including a race to the top of a mountain, nipple confidence, and tiny robots that can can give alternative lifestyle haircuts.
Yes it’s true, I’m recapping an episode from Season One in honor of L Word week. Previously, I have recapped the pilot episode as well as all of Seasons Four, Five and Six, back when I had a giant hole through my brain and said a lot of strange things on the internet. I used to pepper these recaps with quotes from my pals/viewing partners and photographs of said pals, but alas now I live on the dock of The Bay far away from most of my pals, so instead I g-chatted Laneia while watching it and included some of that here! Anyhow, ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOSBALL????
We open at a poolside party in Los Angeles, California in 1979, where free spirits are listening to disco music, snorting cocaine, and probably celebrating the recent return of NASA’s first orbiting space station Skylab to earth. A few douchey guys in unfortunate fashion situations with brawny chest hair have gathered ’round the pool to encourage three naked ladies to stick their tongues down each other’s throats. Because free love!
The camera cuts out before we see what really goes down, but I hope it doesn’t involve someone going down on somebody else, because then that somebody would probably drown.
Laneia: i’m making a face
Riese: welp, i already hate men
jk i hated men before i started watching this show
Cut to the present day circa the buttcrack of dawn, where the ladies are prepping to drive out to the Dinah Shore Sexy Slut Partyathon, Bette’s considering hiring The Carpenter for the Provocations Project and Dana’s presenting Kit with her 56-page thesis entitled “How To Take Care of Mr. Piddles.”
Marina’s employing her one and only facial expression, “Serious and Smarter Than You,” to subtly disapprove of Jenny joining the lezzies on this sultry vacation.
Also, somehow Alice’s Mom Lenore has invited herself on this road trip! Oh, Lenore. You are a permanent reminder to us all of the missed opportunity to name an L Word episode “Lenore’d.”
En route to Palm Springs in the dead of night, Alice exposits the history of Dinah Shore — used to be a golf tournament, now is lesbian spring break — and then Tina exposits the history and greatness of the Human Rights Campaign, who we’re told will be giving Dana Fairbanks an award, probs for Best Female Ejaculation ever.
Because this show is sometimes adorable and Alice’s breasts look amazing in that shirt, everything is perfect. The carload erratically sings along to “Closer to Fine” as dawn breaks, because I guess these girls left at 4 AM to make the 2.5 hour drive to Palm Springs, or something.
Alice’s Mom, continuing on her quest to be a Cool Mom, is inspired by The Indigo Girls to tell everybody Alice’s “coming out story.” Apparently, back in high school, Alice snuck behind the bleachers to get drunk and smoke cancer sticks with her hot friend and then her hot friend threw up in Alice’s mouth. Alice is like, that is not my coming out story, my coming out story is way more punk than that.
Once upon a time, Alice chewed a lot of gum and played in a band in her pajamas with her boyfriend Greg. Then she met a hot chick named Tayo who played bass and they played tonsil hockey together all over Oberlin or wherever but then Tayo broke her heart and now Alice is eating Burger King in a car with a bunch of lunatics who will probs kill Jenny some day.
Next up is Dana, who’s reluctant to share ’cause her Patient Zero Lady-Love is a famous tennis player, maybe the one whose girlfriend submitted this really g-dawful manuscript to us in 2010. Mystery Tennis Homo was Dana’s counselor at Tennis Camp and they were in love and liked to suck face until MTH confessed to her best best friend and her best best friend did the worst worst thing and called her parents, thus getting MTH kicked out of Tennis Camp, leaving Dana to spend the rest of the summer with her Hitachi Magic Wand.
Lenore, a sudden expert on the lingo, moans, “tennis players are like girls in college, gay until graduation,” and the girls politely chuckle.
Back in WeHo, Bette’s trying to register for A-Camp when JAMES (a member of my short list entitled “men I don’t hate”) arrives to inform her that Candace “The Hottie” Carpenter is here to ruin her life I MEAN TALK ABOUT BUILDING THINGS. The Carpenter has big ideas about wall mounting and scaffolding and how to make the space “more dynamic.”
We then strap jetpacks onto our tank tops and rocket on back to The Longest Drive to Palm Springs In The History of the Automobile, where Lenore’s got a coming out story to tell because why the hell not. Her story, which we now recognize was the intro scene, takes place at “one of those Hollywood parties” in the ’70s “full of swingers and orgies and drugs.” Lenore claims she got busy with four melons in a pool, but our visual flashback reveals that the other two wild children went for it but Lenore didn’t, she just treaded water and looked timid. If only she’d known that one day she’d grow up and kiss Shane.
Next up is Shane’s “coming out story,” except it’s not really about coming out but also none of these stories are so whatever. Shane shares the touching tale of tiny Shane watching Tiffany Gardner play in the park all day until one day she was like, “You know what? Fuck this, I’m gonna talk to this girl.”
Laneia: Baby shane just hopped up like she was putting out a cigarette
Riese: She was practicing for when she would grow up to be Shane
Tiny Shane’s already wearing Shane pants.
Shane: “So I pack up my Sunshine Meal, and I walk over to her, and she’s just sitting there in the sand playing hard to get, and I knew I was hooked. That girl took my Sunshine meal toy, and then she took my heart.”
WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU TIFFANY GARDNER.
Then they drop Lenore off on the curb and zoom into balmly Palm Springs, California, where thousands of lesbians are preparing to give each other yeast infections.
Cut to The Palm Springs Hotelscape Center of Lesbolife, where the girls skulk in with their luggage and their tiny goth friend Jenny Schecter, queen of the underworld.
Before anybody can look around and wonder who was in charge of casting these extras because they aren’t repping the Pussy Juice and Creamed Corn Contingent accurately, Tonya the Guest Liaison sweeps in.
Riese: everyone is so grown up
and wearing such clothes
Laneia: yes they really are overdressed. way too many spaghetti strap tanks
Riese: everybody seems really polite and there are no tattoos or crazy hair
Laneia: no one’s passing out from axe
Tonya is here to steal Famous Dana Fairbanks from her darling friends and protect her from Rabid Lesbian Fandoms with strong feelings about the Soup Chef.
The best part of this scene is that Jenny looks like she just walked into a morgue and isn’t sure who killed all those innocent people.
Starsweep to the Grand Pool Party, otherwise known as the innermost circle of hell.
Jenny: I’ve never seen so many women in one place in my whole life.
Alice: And every one of them is greased up and ready to go!
When I went to Dinah Shore for the first time and stepped out of our room to overlook the pool party, I felt and looked exactly like Jenny does right there. If Jenny is anything like me, she will turn around immediately, open the top dresser drawer, snag a slice of psychedelic banana bread, and trip her balls off until Sunday.
Riese: this is how i felt when we went to dinah
Laneia: yes, complete with jeans and long sleeve shirt
and the feeling of never leaving that deck
Riese: i like how jenny stays dressed like emily the strange the whole time, she was my Dinahspiration
The camera pans down to reveal small gaggles of moderately aged women gently tossing beach balls, neatly teasing one another with towels, enjoying many varieties of sarong and sipping on POM juice while floating listlessly upon inflatable sharks.
Riese: this is really low-key
where are the Go-Go’s
where are the F-list celesbians
Laneia: where is the screaming
i remember trying to walk to get a burger with palmer and it took like 20 minutes to get to the other side of the pool
it was actually god awful
Riese: yeah and you had to buy tickets and then buy the burger with tickets.
Laneia: OMG SHARK
Riese: when i felt weird i just thought “if jenny could do this then i can too”
Dinah Shore, according to The L Word:
Dinah Shore, according to The Real L Word:
[Sidenote: This L Word episode was actually filmed in Vancouver, according to The New York Times, but its impact on the Palm Springs Dinah Shore weekend was monumental :
After the Dinah party — or a simulacrum of it, filmed in Vancouver — was depicted in the show’s first season in 2004, attendance at the real thing promptly doubled, to 2,500 people from 1,200 at the splashy Saturday night party alone.
Over 10,000 women now attend Dinah Shore Weekend events, which are now exclusively hosted by Club Skirts. According to NewNow Next, "while the Dinah Shore weekend of events has existed for decades, when Showtime’s hit show The L Word filmed an episode there, it pushed the weekend into notoriety." Robin Gans of Girlbar (whose logos can be seen on the wall of the White Party in this episode) told The Bay City Reporter that "The L Word really helped kind of skyrocket [Dinah Shore].” In 2007, Ilene Chaiken visited Dinah Shore for the first time when The L Word and OurChart (its companion social network) did live events at Club Skirts. Ilene Chaiken told Curve Magazine, “I’m all in favor of any excuse for tens of thousands of gay women to get together and have a good time.”]
Before Dana can settle in and realize her true feelings for Alice or worry that she might sit on some placenta and ruin her white pantsuit, Tonya swoops in to yank her back into Ton-Ton-Town, after being supper inappropriate and flirtatious regarding Dana’s physical appearance at this juncture.
Back at The Art House of Sin, The Carpenter has dared to charge $50 more than the highest bidder for her project, because oral is extra. This is a big deal to Bette despite the fact that her left sock probably costs $50.
The Carpenter kindly draws Bette a Project Management Triangle just in case Bette literally just got born, but Bette’s distracted by The Carpenter’s gams, jaws, facemeat, hipspace, buttpad, et al.
The Carpenter and Bette have sex with their eyeballs and then The Carpenter jets to that Cuban place to get some Cuban food to eat while having sex with their eyeballs later in the afternoon.
Meanwhile, Tina, Shane, Jenny and Alice weave through the crowd with all their clothes on, stopping to heavily pet a booth selling tacky t-shirts and, apparently, Hpnotiq.
Back at Cuban Sexy Food Time, Bette and Candance are talking about how Candace and Yolanda are splitsville when Tina calls. Tina’s like Dinah is WILD I wish you could see it! You guys, HER WISH CAME TRUE, because now when you go to Dinah Shore you can send people pictures on your phonepiece.
Tina can barely hear Bette over the sounds of Celesbians in the Wild.
Back in La-La Land, Bette hangs up the phone and Candace is all like, “I didn’t know you had a girlfriend,” and Bette’s like, “why would you?” and I’m like, “I don’t know, maybe Candace saw the pilot.”
Laneia: bette just wants someone to boss her around
Laneia: poor thing