Listling Without Commentary: Conversations I Had While Watching the L Word for the First Time

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


It was 2013 when I finally sat down in my bed and decided it was time to watch The L Word. The first time I did such a thing was with Katrina Casino in 2011, when I was coming out, and the show was legitimately “too real” for me. (Read: too much Jenny.) I tried again in 2013 because I wanted to know what all the fuss was about.

I ended up watching the entire series on Netflix in two weeks, in between work shifts and even sometimes on my iPhone. I even got skipping the awful tragic death to music that is The L Word’s theme song down to a science. The entire time, I was narrating – mostly to Stef and Geneva – about my bewilderment, my fascination, and the feeling of wishing I could hit my head into a brick wall until I lost consciousness.


on Facebook chat

Stef: when carmen asks shane if she ever had a hamster growing up
Stef: and shane’s eyes just like darken




on Facebook chat

Stef: just drinking with gloria steinem and betty at my friend’s dad’s funeral, nbd, just a day in the life
Stef: (on the l word not my actual life)

"I'm being paid handsomely to be here."

“I’m being paid handsomely to be here.”


on Facebook chat

Carmen: i just like
Carmen: i lost my life
Carmen: i’ve lost my life
Carmen: i eat breathe sleep the l word
Carmen: i need it to be over

Stef: this is like when i read twilight
Stef: you’re TOO FAR GONE


on Facebook chat

Stef: you know who i wish was on the l word
Stef: alice motes


via Geneva Armstrong, ofc.


on Facebook chat

Stef: jenny you’re doing like a hanukkah candle blessing at a carnival chill out

Jenny Clownface 2


on Facebook chat

Carmen: this show makes me want to die and live simultaneously


on Facebook chat

Stef: a moment please for the hilarious violin music playing when helena bangs pregnant tina in a pool



on Facebook chat

Carmen: jenny doesn’t donate money at the dance a thon? bitch made 500k the other episode

Stef: don’t worry SHE’S ABOUT TO DIE


on Facebook chat

Stef: Goodbye mark, I’m sorry you weren’t a 3 dimensional person


on Facebook chat

Stef: crystal’s camp band is called the dead meat schecters
Stef: mine is called ‘those sweet little figs’

Carmen: OMG no sweet meats?


Carmen: “Carmen rios and the eviscerated I am band”


unnamed (1)


on GChat

Carmen: how come bette and candace having sex in jail is so fucking weird like what the fuck is happening

Geneva: everything’s awkward and horrible
Geneva: there is nothing remotely sexy about bette / carpenter sex

Carmen: no like why did they theatricalize themselves in a prison cell
Carmen: it was quite possibly the least realistic thing ever
Carmen: jenny is sort of the worst
Carmen: but bette standing with her body pressed against a prison cell wall while describing her sexual desire for the carpenter as “painful” was worse

Geneva: I was hoping we could role play that actually


on Facebook chat

Carmen: geneva and i are about to get into a fight about The L Word excuse me i need to smoke weed


on Facebook chat

Carmen: if dana had to die a slow and painful natural death after being a perfect human
Carmen: jenny deserved to have bette like, tie her to the back of her suv and drive down a mountain or something



on Facebook chat

Carmen: thanks for being my friend and not hiding letters in the attic from me
Carmen: you’re the best stef

Stef: i hid letters from geneva in your attic


on Facebook chat

Stef: are you up to adele already?!
Stef: jeez
Stef: carmen do you have a job?! what do you DO
Stef: do you sleep

Carmen: my hours got cut




on Facebook chat

Carmen: i hate you ilene chaiken
Carmen: i hate you so much that it brings tears to my eyes
Carmen: ILENE —
Carmen: 4 U
Carmen: next stop, the real l word



on Skype Video Chat

Carmen: Today was hard. Dana died.



on Facebook chat

Carmen: this show ruined my life


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Carmen spent six years at Autostraddle, ultimately serving as Straddleverse Director, Feminism Editor and Social Media Co-Director. She is now the Consulting Digital Editor at Ms. and writes regularly for DAME, the Women’s Media Center, the National Women’s History Museum and other prominent feminist platforms; her work has also been published in print and online by outlets like BuzzFeed, Bitch, Bust, CityLab, ElixHER, Feministing, Feminist Formations, GirlBoss, GrokNation, MEL, Mic and SIGNS, and she is a co-founder of Argot Magazine. You can find Carmen on Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr or in the drive-thru line at the nearest In-N-Out.

Carmen has written 919 articles for us.


  1. this is wonderful and makes me want to go back to the time when me and my then best lesbro would try and watch season 5 and 6 together, which meant synchronising our streams and simultaneously chatting about it on whatever that thing was called that we used for a short while after ICQ started dying.

  2. Yeah, this is actually so accurate. I just finished watching it too. Why? Why was this train wreck created?

  3. Stef: carmen do you have a job?! what do you DO

    Stef: do you sleep

    Carmen: my hours got cut

    ^Story of my life right now.

  4. I just finished watching The L Word for the first time and this post is so accurate to my life and feelings.

  5. Okay, so now I want Alice Motes to be photoshopped into *every* portrayal of queer women on television or in movies or basically I just want Alice Motes photoshopped into everything? All the time? Is anyone else with me on that?

  6. The L Word week has already topped Underwear week as my favorite Autostraddle week of all time! And we are only on day 3. Things only get better from here. I can feel it.

  7. I think a lot of my immediate reactions first watching TLW were along the lines of “jeez, that is a truly terrible outfit.” Probably at least once every episode.
    Oh man, that weird leather stuff Shane had on S1E1? ERGh.


    Carmen and Geneva, you’re killing me….or maybe immortalizing me?

    Can that be on my gravestone?

  9. i can’t wait for The Dead Meat Schecters and Those Sweet Little Figs to play a show together. a BETTY tribute nite, maybe.

  10. The first (and only) time I watched The L Word was also with Geneva!

    It was many years ago, huddled around her laptop. I was being a supportive sister by feigning interest in the program.

    Then there was Shane, and I thought “maybe I’m not so straight after all…” But after several episodes it seemed everyone only had sex while standing, and in uncomfortable confined spaces. And I was like, “well I have no desire to do that, so I must be straight after all.”

    Intimidated by lesbians’ seemingly innate ability to have vigorous sex without falling over, I abandoned the show, and have not seen an episode since.

    I no longer think I’m straight, but part of me still fears I don’t really count as queer until I have sex while vertical, to be honest.

    I’m working on an essay about my disability and shitty balance and queerness. This anecdote will probably not appear in it. But I’m serious, for an embarrassingly long time I thought I wasn’t athletic enough to have sex with women.

    Also, sorry I stopped watching without explaining why Geneva! IT WAS COMPLICATED.

  11. I watched The L Word for the first time only this past summer and I’m already feeling the urge to rewatch it. It’s ridiculous…so ridiculous…but you just can’t stop!

  12. I can remember keeping my comments to myself because no one else I knew was watching it. They were all either done or not interested. xD I remember when Dana died. I started to cry and my mom walks in just when Shane and Carmen are having a moment then it kinda flashes back and forth between everyone and it was awkward cause she goes ‘what are you watching??’ and I think she thinks her daughter watched porn in broad daylight at 2pm and couldn’t understand why the hell I had tears flowing from my eyes.

  13. I really want to see an L Word spin-off about Alice Motes called “The Al Word”.
    (PS, Alice, hopefully that pun is sufficient thanks for giving me a solo-cup at camp! You’re the best!)

  14. #1: Carmen, you are my favorite.

    #2: I saw betty (amy ziff) walking her dog in Chelsea at 8:15am yesterday and I don’t know who else to tell.

  15. After reading this I realize how much of the show I’ve actually blocked out. Like I have no recollection of so much. I am totally going to have to re watch.


    I’ve always said, every so often in a lesbian’s like she’ll stop and pause and reflect for a moment and ask “why the fuck did that bitch kill Dana.”

    and the “baby you could have called” is so justified, i sobbed for forty five minutes.

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