Kate Moennig’s New Lesbian Character Debuts In “Ray Donovan,” A Terrible Show About Terrible Men Being Terrible

Universal lesbian heartthrob Kate Moennig, aka The L Word’s Shane, finally made her triumphant return to the world of lesbian TV characters last night on Showtime’s new summer show Ray Donovan, which we first told you about a few months agoRay Donovan is a man-show about a man who helps famous men hide their dirty little secrets, and Moennig plays one of Donovan’s employees, Lena. The show’s debut hit a new record for Showtime with 1.35 million viewers turning in for its premiere.

kate moennig shane ray donovan

No, I will not be addressing any questions about Ilene Chaiken at this time.

Showtime’s official description of Lena left me wondering if they weren’t, perhaps, pandering a bit to the Shane lovers of the world. Not that I’m complaining:

“Lena handles Ray’s office and research for his operation. She is a no-nonsense lesbian who is both sexy and tough. She is an asset to Ray both in and out of the office.”

For those of you paying attention, that means there are two lesbian Lenas on TV this summer.

Showtime even released a character profile for Lena as part of their Ray Donovan promotion.

The problem is that the pilot of the show really sucked. It was boring, overwritten, too sprawling and featured a solid five minutes of really really excruciatingly terrible unchecked transphobia. One often finds oneself thinking, “why is this a Showtime show and not a TBS show?” I can tolerate a whole lot of boring awaiting lesbosexy action, but this show’s problems go beyond “boring.” It seems Ray Donovan needs a major overhaul before it will be palatable.

Todd VanDerWerff at The AV Club points out in its excellent review of the episode that “Ray Donovan never suggests a good reason for its own existence, beyond the fact that shows with troubled, male, middle-aged heroes have been popular these last few years, so maybe there should be another one. There is not one thing that’s remarkable about Ray Donovan, the protagonist, to suggest that he should be at the center of his own television show.”

Emily Nussbaum at The New Yorker declared Donovan “straight out of antihero central casting: a sinner, but smarter than everyone else,”

Tim Surette at TV.com noted that “at times the pilot was good, at times it was shockingly bad, but mostly it stayed within that region no television show wants to be in: uninteresting.”

June Thomas at Slate wrote in “Enough With the TV Antiheroes Already” that we’ve seen all this before: “I’ve also seen damaged tough guys, demanding wives, selfish parents, messed-up siblings, snake-in-the-grass Hollywood lawyers, dumb actors, and deluded agents. And I’m very familiar with your way of introducing a female character and then involving her in a sex scene in a matter of seconds.”

Maureen Ryan at The Huffington Post describes it as “an awkward melange of anti-hero tropes.”

Yet it’s got a 75 score at Metacritic, which means a lot of reviewers really liked it, too.

It’s pretty clear to us that the only original and interesting thing about this show is that Shane is in it, but unfortunately Moennig only got about fifty-three seconds of screen time in the pilot. Fortunately, one of those seconds included Moennig waking up next to a cute girl and telling her to get dressed.

The L World Season Seven

The L World Season Seven

It remains to be seen if Ray Donovan will get it’s act together such that we can stand to watch it. I hope it does and that Lena will be our favorite new TV lezzie. Or a rehash of Shane. Or even both. In the meantime, treat yourself to just Moennig’s scenes from this week’s pilot episode, The Bag or the Bat!


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Lizz is a consumer, lover and writer of all things pop culture and the Fashion/Style Editor at Autostraddle.com. She is also full time medical student at Brown University in Providence, RI. You can find her on the twitter, the tumblr or even on the instagram.

Lizz has written 261 articles for us.


  1. Bleh. I’ve been pretty uninterested in this show since hearing the premise. Scumfucks in Hollywood helping other scumfucks get away with their scumfuckery. Whatever. But after reading this and especially since hearing about the transphobic stuff, I’m out.

    And hey Lizz, and everyone else, you want to see a good Shane type character in an actual good show, you should check out the Australian show Wentworth! Franky in it is awesome. Easily the best part of the show and I hope I’m seperating my lesbianness from my critical thinking when I say that. lol

    I’d describe her as if you mixed Shane and Frankie from Lip Service as silly as that sounds (but they are different characters!) add in some real anger issues and you have Franky.

  2. “They’re like private investigators. People that you wouldn’t notice.”

    I would never NOT notice Shane. Just sayin.

  3. So if the show had 5 minutes of unchecked racism would we care what its Rotten Apples score is? The fact is, it uses a dead trans woman (with, as described on the show “an adam’s apple the size of my fist”) as a sleaze tease and an object of humor… who give an EFF what critics think or what Kate Moennig is doing on the show? I feel shame for her that she feels the economic need to appear on a phobic piece of garbage like this. I’m glad you have an iconic lesbian performer playing a gay character on the show. As least she’s given some value as a human being… all trans women seem to be good for is as corpses, the butts of jokes or to add token sordidness to a secondary plot line.

    • Yep, this. I’m really tired of the queer-baiting so many shows seem to do these days (*cough*Rizzoli & Isles*cough*), and super duper tired of the dead-or-deranged trans* person trope. Not worth supporting, even with the hotness of K-Mo involved.

    • the trans woman discussed in the show wasn’t dead, but she was a sex worker. the weird thing is that the person who’d solicited the trans woman did in fact know she was trans and seemed to like that about her, or at least not care. it was the agent/PR person (?) who was an asshole about it.

      not trying to defend any of that at all — just clarifying.

      • The only real defense he provided was to say he “didn’t know it was a guy”. I mean, he breaks down and says he’s “addicted”, but that’s not really a defense so much as a mea culpa. And, this is a tangent, but if you use words like addicted, you’ll have to pay for it.

        I actually would’ve loved to see an actual defense. Even if he was shot down, it given a hint of characterization. But there’s no depth to any of the show. Hell, they start with an unexplained murder and then explain it ten minutes later. Thanks, Ray Donovan, I was almost getting intrigued. But now I don’t have to watch this show. Or ask questions about it or think about it ever again.

    • i think racism and racist characters go unchecked on queerbaiting shows all the time (e.g., everything Ryan Murphy’s ever done) — I think we can condemn and criticize and investigate the transphobia exhibited on this show without claiming that racism on queerbaiting teevee is impeccably policed. (or that it stops writers from wanting to write about it and discuss it, e.g., two broke girls)

      anyhow, i found the transphobia appalling and am disappointed that so far AS is the only media outlet i’ve found to even mention it. (but please correct me if i’m wrong) (because i’d prefer to be wrong) this show hit all the wrong notes for me: the inexcusable transphobia, the misogyny… i just can’t with any of it. i am shane’s #1 fan but i am totally stunned that this got any positive reviews at all.

      • “I think we can condemn and criticize and investigate the transphobia exhibited on this show without claiming that racism on queerbaiting teevee is impeccably policed.”

        Much of American television and film is built on a foundation of racism and sexism, so no, I would never expect that. But the kind of obvert dehumanizing disgust that was shown on Ray Donovan towards someone having sex with a trans woman (and played for both humor and sleeze) is not common on other US mainstream media (maybe towards fat women). And that this type of shaming humor has a direct impact on the violence trans women experience (especially those with intersectional oppression that most sex workers deal with). My comment was about my anxiety of having a thread consisting of “Kate Moennig is so hawt” while the show also contains unchecked transphobia.

        Laneia~ I first saw an edited snippet of the show about a month ago which made it sound as if the dead woman was a trans woman (I guess they wanted maximum sleaze impact)… that’s where my assumption came from. But I’ve since watched the ‘complimentary episode’ (ugh) and yes, you’re totally right, thanks for the clarification.

    • “So if the show had 5 minutes of unchecked racism would we care what its Rotten Apples score is?”

      Yeah, regardless of you later claiming otherwise, this is suggesting that racism and transmisogyny are interchangeable and that racism is taken much more seriously and is less commonly ignored, don’t ever pull this shit again.

      • “this is suggesting that racism and transmisogyny are interchangeable”

        I’m not vaguely suggesting anything of the kind nor am I saying one is universally policed and one isn’t… policing is situational and highly contextual even if both kinds of phobias happen to be pervasive and foundational in their own ways within in our culture. That doesn’t mean there aren’t possible points of comparing transphobia and racism and reactions to them within a given situation. If you had a tv show where a white character went on a rant about someone white having sex with a woman of color (especially if intended for largely comic or “transgressive” intent), it would be called out and there wouldn’t continue be a bland discussion of how some other actor in the show is hot. That’s ONE specific situation. Needless to say, there are COUNTLESS racist situations which are on tv every day… as I said, racism in US culture is pervasive. Contrasting racism and transphobia in one specific situation does not discount anything nor create equivalents. Just as pointing out that there are many supposedly “groundbreaking” tv shows with gay characters which continue to be racist shows.

  4. Ugh, the whole concept of this show is annoying. Why do we need another show that features a middle aged white dude as an anti hero? For the love of god, Hollywood, dare to be different. For the record, I will be watching the clips of the show that have Kate Moenning in it on Youtube.

    • *Except for those straight white dudes who perceive every show that even makes a minor effort to appeal to anyone else as proof that there are absolutely no TV shows directed at them anymore ever.

      • Oh, you’re right. I’m sure if I visited a fedora shop (?), I could hear that statement more than a few times.

        • Fedoras are FUNDAMENTAL PUA accessories!!!!!!!


          Okay I’m done because I cannot breathe from the laughing, you people are amazing!!!

  5. if i weren’t a poor poor english student i’d pay you to write incredibly abusive and incredibly hilarious recaps of this show.

  6. I was pretty disgusted when only about 10 minutes in the nastiest trans-phobia/misogyny showed it’s ugly face. Depressed me. And then Ray ends up giving the trans woman enough money to have her surgery. What a mind fukc. That scene was so touching it almost made me cry. If it wasn’t for the previous hate, I probably would have.

    Showtime has a transphobia/misogyny problem. That is what the big problem is here. Dexter, Ray Donovan…there was another I can’t remember the name of right now. I get so sick of this shit. I watch all of this alone and am thankful nobody is sitting next to me when this shit happens.

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