The L Word Premiered Ten Years Ago Today: It’s L Word Week on Autostraddle

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


To_L_and_BackTen years ago today — January 18, 2004 — Showtime aired the first episode of its groundbreaking and hotly anticipated lesbian drama series The L Word and was met with “critical acclaim and instant popularity.” That first season remains the series’ best, and despite the show’s gradual decline in quality and its abysmal sixth season, The L Word remains an enormously significant slice of lesbian pop culture and one that changed many lives — including mine. (I had a lot of feelings about Shane, you guys.) Eventually, it was through the The L Word recaps I published on my blog and on The L Word Online that I met most of the humans who comprised’s founding team. As funny as it is to admit it, if it wasn’t for The L Word, Autostraddle wouldn’t exist. The communities that fostered online around the show were as transformative as the show itself, and therefore it seemed proper that we pay The L Word its proper dues right here on Autostraddle, right now.

For the next two weeks we’ll be serving up a whole U-Haul’s worth of L Word-related content. This will include such gems as Riese and Laneia’s Oral History of how online L Word fan communities enabled us to “come into our own” and eventually brought us together here,  L Word themed cocktail recipes, a critique of Latina representation on The L Word, an essay about Jenny Schecter from a very special guest writer — and so much more!

To get you geared up for the week to come, we’ve got some of the best L Word related content we’ve published here on Autostraddle since the show stopped airing, linked below. But first, a video, perhaps?

Autostraddle Presents: “TLW WTF?” from autostraddle on Vimeo.

Top 12 Best “L Word” Episodes Ever – Start here! This is where you’ll find our guide to watching The L Word for the first time, as well as my favorite L Word episodes of all time.

25 Reasons Why The L Word Should Come Back in 2014 – Because this is the way that we live… again.

behind the scenes l word

25 Lesbian Relationship and Friendship Truths As Told By “The L Word” – “Just because a girl says she’s straight doesn’t mean she won’t make out with you. (Or date you.)” and more things we learned from The L Word. Gifs and pics galore!

Style Thief: How to Dress Like Bette Porter – A fashion ode to the ultimate power dyke. We’re stripping down Bette Porter.

cast season one

Top Ten “L Word” Guest Stars: From Tegan & Sara to Alan Cumming – Surprisingly enough, you won’t find Betty on this list! But Gloria Steinem is definitely on it.

Autostraddle Presents: “The L Word WTF?!” Video Part #1 – “THE MUSIC BEGINS! And THEN! Bam!! -Max feels the baby kick BAM! – it’s Henry’s back fucking Tina – the music rises and BAM-BAM – Kit’s talking crazy BAM! The Nanny gives Angus a Blow Job BAM! Jenny with the paper dolls–”

Autostraddle Presents “The L Word: WTF!!?” Video Part #2 – “THE MUSIC BEGINS! And THEN! Bam!! – Max punches Tom BAM! – Catherine’s f*cking Helena with the cash – the music rises and BAM-BAM – Gomey says you can’t get up in there BAM! The Nanny gives Angus a Blow Job BAM!”

whole cast

100 Pictures of Shane – Probs the most important work I have ever done.

Playlist: Shane McCutcheon – Probs the most important work Crystal has ever done.

All Those Loving Laughing “L Word” Cast Members: Where Are They Now? – Not sure where they are NOW now though. But this is where they were in 2009.


Laurel Holloman Would Make Bette Porter Swoon, Too: The Autostraddle Interview – Jess chats with Laurel about her emerging art career, the controversy over The Kids Are All Right, her iconic lesbian roles as Tina and Randy Dean, what TV shows she’d love to be on, whether she’ll act again and much more! Plus, come face to face with Laurel and her artwork at The Dinah this Spring!

NY Times Talk Panel: Jennifer Beals is a Perfect Human and Ilene Chaiken Talks A Lot – “I had to to my best to serve the story, but the final season just didn’t do these women justice. It should’ve been a celebration of love and friendship.”


Live from Australia: Things I Don’t Understand About “The L Word” (or “Crystal Loves Papi”) – “See … I’m a little behind regarding the going-ons of this show because ’til just last year, I hadn’t even seen it. Some could say that makes me a lousy lesbian but in my defense, Australian free TV only aired the first season which’s why “this train’s running so late for lezzie town.”

Jennifer Beals Shoots L Word Book, Is Perfect: The Autostraddle Interview – Jennifer Beals, Supreme Being of Life, talks to Autostraddle about her new photography project The L Word Book, disappointment in Obama, the Johnny Weir controversy, the possibility of a movie, the TiBette phenomenon, closeted Hollywood actors, and just what makes her so goddamn perfect.

In Honor of NYC Pride, The L Word RECAP Returns with (15% of) Episode 211: “Loud & Proud”-If you forget the whole child-rape-flashback thing, the Papa Porter dying thing, the Helena-wasting-time-Tina-could-be-with-Bette thing, the paper-dolls/Baruch Atah LaLa Hoolehay Heeyhoooo thing, the Marc pantsing himself thing (when he really should just write “fuck me” on his chest) and the Jenny/Random Elder thing, Loud and Proud is one of the series’ best episodes. Let me rephrase this: if “The L Word” was “The Dana & Alice Show,” Loud and Proud would be one of THAT show’s best episodes.



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Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in nine books, magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. She's Jewish and has a cute dog named Carol. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3198 articles for us.


  1. Didn’t AS post a recap of the L Word’s best sex scenes? I am at work and really shouldn’t Google this right now but I need it for… reasons.

    • This is the most excited I’ve been since they put a real, live butch on the show, before IFC turned Max into a parody of a transgender person.

  2. Wow, I can’t believe it’s been that long. I remember TRYING to watch the first few episodes, but I didn’t have Showtime, and my cable descrambling box only provided sound, so um, it was an interesting experience.

  3. I’m just as disinterested in the L Word today as I was 10 years ago today. The only real change is my indifference to Ilene Chaiken has grown into a seething hatred.

  4. I just have to point out the fact that the one picture where Daniela Sea appears, she looks totally uncomfortable and out of place. So telling. I was scrolling and wondering why she’s never in any of the naked posters and bam, there Max is in a puffy, multicolored coat looking like he’d rather be anywhere else.

    I recently went through and read all the l word recaps. They made me life. It’s hard not to still love the show, even for all its flaws. fucking betty!

  5. Riese!!! Has it REALLY been that long? We had some good times. Thanks for linking to The L Word Online. I also wrote up a little something in honour of today but we have nowhere near the resources you guys have (well its just me left pretty much).

    But wanted to thank you for all the hard work you put into those recaps, they really did build the foundations for an L Word community that I think is still around today.

    I will always think of you and the people who worked with us over at The L Word Online as some of my oldest colleagues, who supported us through the crazy that is Ilene Chaiken.

  6. If the very special guest writer is Mia Kirchner I may just have scream and happy dance. I am just a huge fan of her and the character Jenny(except for the last season for obvious reasons). Sorry not sorry.


    Also. I was seven when this show came out. The fact that I watched it two years after it finished (2011) and it means as much as it does to me today really says something. It’s the most representation I have ever seen on TV (well, on the internet), even with its problematic portrayal of so many issues, and I love it.

  8. Yaaaay, L Word Week coincides with my birthday week!

    Even as a straight woman, I can say that TLW had a profound effect on my life. It was really THE show that got me “into” TV as more than entertainment, but as a medium that could be analyzed and critiqued, since it was so loaded (women AND queerness!).

    Looking forward to TLW goodies!

  9. I just finished rewatching the first season after my friends goaded me into it because they were rewatching for the 10th anniversary. It was ten years ago that I downloaded it and burnt it to DVD for people, because in the olden days I was the only one that knew how to illegally download stuff!

    Now I am older and we all have Netflix, but I was surprised by how well the L Word holds up; it still looks great, the acting is just amazing sometimes (not all the time).

    Of course, the bad stuff is still bad, but thankfully in the first season that was mainly just the hair and fashions. Like, I still can’t believe that Shane became the ultimate lesbian sex icon after some of the shit she wore. Just look at this, people, remember and weep.

    • That pilot episode was filmed a year before the show even aired. It also included Kit being the gay leader of all the ladies, wearing a ship captains hat AND having the chart tattooed on her back. Then they re-wrote & re-shot.

    • I just introduced my friend to the pilot episode today and I thought she was going to have a heart attack over that leather top. We were doing that wheezy laughter for like five minutes straight over those leather chest chaps.

  10. Umm…is that L Word Week header image really necessary? =\ There has to be a better iconic image to photoshop that doesn’t evoke so much racism and disrespect towards the Lakota.

  11. Despite its flaws, The L Word got some things right. Like presenting Dana’s (pre cancer) story in a realistic way that helped some folks (::cough::me::cough::) come to grips with their sexuality.

    Also, for introducing me to Carmen, which confirmed said queerness.

    …and to Netflix, thank you for the fast forward feature, which was especially handy during Jenny’s weird flashbacks in Season 2. Those scenes made me squirm, and not in a good way AT ALL.

  12. I am v excited for this whole situation due to having been hiding in a fort of teen angst when all this L Word stuff happened the first time around.

  13. Man, it doesn’t seem that long ago! I’ve learned a lot from this show :). Shane is my homegirl :)

  14. My gf and I have been re-watching the campy panto craziness that is this show on Netflix since just before Christmas…we just got to season 6 which everyone told us to avoid…aaaand ewww, I see why. In general the L word will always hold a strange and special place in my heart from the days when I lived in a shared house full of gaymos who watched it together with delightful gay abandon…how was that 10 years ago!

  15. WOW. Can you believe it? I mean to think this website started because of THIS very show that’s already 10 years old. Love the show. I really hope they bring it back in 2014!! NETFLIX GODS!!

  16. I remember downloading the pilot episode when I was just a confused little gay and actually having to pause in the middle of it and reconsider whether I wanted to keep watching it based on the FEAR I felt because it was like being slapped with the truth about myself. So I have nothing but love for it!

  17. I was a child back then. strange how much time has past. I always loved the show although it was really not that good at some point or another ;)

  18. Feeling old. I may have to marathon review to celebrate. Or maybe I’ll just reread the recaps :)

  19. To this day, I still rememeber where I was and how I felt when I first watched the pilot episode and the first Tibette sex scene when I was 19, two years after it had premiered. It’s going to sound cheesy but The L word helped me realize so many things about myself that I would have probably realized on my own but much much later. I will always be grateful for that.
    So despite its flaws and the ridiculousness of some of its plots, I love The L Word. I’m super excited about the 10 year anniversary and all the various articles we’ll get on Autostraddle.

  20. And credit where credit is due: thank you, Ilene Chaiken, for getting this show on the air so we could all get together to watch, make fun of and obsess over it.

  21. I will never get over how white Alice sounds saying ‘Papi’. It may or may not be my favorite thing about the whole show.

  22. After reading this yesterday I decided to re-watch the entire show (although probably skipping the last season). I’m already pretty much done with the first season. And what a season it was! It is probably my favourite one, if only because Dana and Lara was such a cute couple.

  23. I don’t care if anyone hates what im about to say im just gonna say it the betty theme song murdered this show

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