The Real L Word premieres this Sunday on Showtime and all you motherf*ckers better watch it because we cannot witness this monumental occasion alone, and I’m feeling a lot of pressure to recap it, like when you’re 12 and suddenly your Mom is like, “hey you’ve got a year to learn Hebrew, memorize a Torah portion, write a speech about it in preparation for an upcoming Saturday morning in September where you’ll have to stand on stage in a dress and chant like a crazy person” and if you don’t do it, G-d will hate you forevs. You know?
Hey but first wanna hear the best news you’ve ever heard about The Real L Word?!!
Will Nat appear elsewhere in the universe of The Real L Word? You’ll have to wait and see. Obviously she is a shining star of lightbeam in any sunburst, raincloud, or otherwise-identified multi-gendered weather situation.
So there’s one of a few reasons to watch. And furthermore, y’all must watch it to ensure Showtime continues providing us with the steady flow of DVD screeners required to recap this program in a timely and potentially thought-provoking manner.
Get your clits out, girls, and please do take several drinks — ’cause I might be bad at recapping this!
Let’s talk about different kinds of television.
See, The L Word OG was an hour-long serial ensemble drama. That’s my favorite genre of television! Other favorite shows of mine include Queer as Folk, Dawson’s Creek, Skins, Party of Five, The O.C., The West Wing, Beverly Hills 90210, My So-Called Life and Six Feet Under. The genre’s dedicated to character development. Each human being is given a chance to evolve, complicate and grow up along with the audience. I felt qualified to assess a series’ potential for excellence and recapped with confidence.
However, The Real L Word is a docusoap reality show, my least favorite style of television ever. As my (joking) title implies, I don’t need to wait for the premiere to hate it. I already hate it. (Update: I’ve now watched the pilot. I stand by my prediction.) Aside from the first ten or so years of MTV’s The Real World, Intervention, Hey Paula, and about four episodes of The Simple Life‘s first season, I’ve mostly stayed away from reality TV and definitely from any docu-soaps. I’ve never visited The Hills, The City, The Laguna Beach, The Jersey Shore, or the Real Housewives of any city, nor have I kept up with the Kardashians, Lived Lohan, Swapped Wives, or Inked Miami. Furthermore I’ve not Survived, Raced Amazingly, required Charm School or Tool Academy. And as far as love goes, I’ve never wanted a Rock or Flavor of Love, a Shot at Love, or the Love of Ray J. Howevs, I read a lot online and edit other TV writers and therefore am peripherally aware of these shows’ continued existences.
Once upon a time while recapping Two & a Half Men (I don’t know, I was feeling reckless) I made a graphic for you to illustrate my feelings about television:
I’m not judging those who do enjoy such programs, but I’m just warning you that I am one of those people who just doesn’t get it. I flee the room when Millionaire Matchmaker is being watched. I know many find these programs to be guilty pleasures but I’ve never found pleasure there, let alone guilt.
I need a heart to grab onto when I engage in a story: I require something fleshy and honest and sincere in there to focus on and feel for. Actors are better at honesty than reality TV “personalities” because being honest in “real life” while being filmed is literally impossible; the presence of the camera inevitably taints your behavior and that of those around you, particularly when the activities being filmed are supposed to be things you do every day regardless of the camera’s presence.
But in scripted television, actors can rely on writers to do the truth-telling. It’s an arrangement which’s worked well for centuries. Then the actors learn the lines and say them right and ta-da! We have excellent, honest television like The Office and Glee where even if the plot is heightened/”unreal,” the emotions are genuine.
Every now and then, an actual human creature lands themselves on a Reality TV Show but is not really a Reality TV person (often they landed there on a “dare”), good examples include the people we often discuss here: Adam Lambert (American Idol), Dani Campbell (A Shot at Love), Kim Stolz (America’s Next Top Model), Kelly Clarkson (American Idol), Ashley Merriman (Top Chef), half of the casts of the first several seasons of The Real World (excluding Miami) — people you’d just as easily be friends with as you’d want to observe on a TV set. Those “characters” have the power to make or break a show.
Perhaps I’m kidding myself to insist there’s something sociologically fascinating about how drug addictions evolve and how families struggle to enable/detach and how Allison inhales so much computer duster she thinks she’s walking on sunshine while simultaneously insisting that Lauren Conrad has not and never will speak a word I want to hear.
But drama for the sake of it — particularly when staged by real people instead of by actors — just really bores the fuck out of me.
In other words, I’m destined to hate this, just like I hated Gimme Sugar (with all due respect to Charlene, who is a lovely girl)! I mean, this show is basically Gimme Sugar: Five Years Later.
BUT I’m hoping that a little heart-shaped feeling will pop up in future episodes. I think it will. I have some specific hopes. I can see places where a heart-shaped feeling might grow.
My second concern w/r/t recapping is that I feel weird that the cast of The Real L Word are actual human beings. Luckily, I’m pretty confident they’ve been made into ‘characters’ to a degree where I can’t possibly be criticizing anyone besides my nemesis Ilene Chaiken. I was put on this earth to criticize Ilene, so this is perfect. It’s still her story after all yeah?
You’ll have to tune in for our full recap on Sunday after the 10 PM premiere on Showtime. In the meantime, there’s plenty of advance word to increase the “guilt” of the guilty pleasure you’ll be enjoying.
1. New ‘Real L Word’ Clips
Preview Clip One: Whitney Cannot Multitask Ladies
In Showtime’s first offering, Whitney learns that “multi-tasking is bad for you.” If you’re interested in why multi-tasking is bad for you, I’d suggest Walter Kirn’s 2007 article from The Atlantic, The Autumn of the Multitaskers. However Whitney isn’t here to teach you about words, this is the REAL L word, not everyone can learn sign language or English overnight here.
In this context, “multitasking” means running into a girl you hooked up with at a lesbian bar. This happens all the time, actually, so on a scale of 1 to 10, this counts as “stopping being polite and starting to get real.”
Preview Clip 2: Rose vs. Natalie
All her life Rose has been going out with girl after girl after girl, just like Papi. Then she met Kit Porter and knew it was time to change her ways, she even brought flowers to the botanical garden Mangus was building in Kit’s office after diddling the conehead Nanny Robotress (long story) to seduce her straight paramour. But now Rose has met Natalie and this has inspired her to keep her clit in her pants. In this scene, Rose communicates with another human female and her girlfriend freaks out. Watching this scene is like taking two Xanax while your parents fight in the other room.
We’ve also seen this season’s premiere. we have some feelings about it JK no we don’t. There are no feelings in this show! Just “fighting about nothing” and “having fights about having sex” and “tattoos.” Do I have feelings about animated lezbot sex/money robots? Not really.
2. New ‘Real L Word’ Press & Reviews:
The cast of the The Real L Word (sans Tracy) celebrated with Mama Chaiken at the show’s premiere and enlightens us with new facts about the show.
– Whitney uses a strap-on and you will see her use it on your TV
– Nikki & Jill won’t let cameras in their bedroom
– Tracy is half Puerto Rican and half Jewish
– Rose‘s family is Puerto Rican and will appear on the show
THE NEW YORK TIMES:
“Too often “The Real L Word” feels like sitting in a restaurant and hearing about some incredible specials that happen to be sold out. Anything genuinely interesting seems to have already taken place. If you are wondering, for instance, how Tracy’s girlfriend wound up with joint custody of three children, or how they came to be named Jagger, Dautry and Nikos, “The Real L Word” isn’t inclined to tell you. For all of its nonsense, the fake “L Word” never seemed this stingy.”
So while Chaiken may not purport to introduce America to Lesbianism 101—as she once told The New York Times, “I won’t take on the mantle of social responsibility”—between the tits and ass, the lights-out groans, and constant references to “f–king,” she does more to glamorize that tired old Sapphic fantasy (girls making out? hot!) than to teach us anything about real-life lesbians. Even an on-air discussion of “sexual fluidity”—the idea that people can be attracted to others, regardless of gender—is completely negated, as references to “pants and pumps,” Mikey’s complaint of “starving to death” because her woman hasn’t cooked her dinner, and the production’s entire undertone, which is more or less an excuse to show hot chicks making out, couldn’t be any more stereotypically gendered. It’s entertainment, sure. But if The Real L Word wanted lesbians to be seen as real people, for real—maybe it should have stripped away the pseudo-“reality” and shown real life.
“Their trials, tribulations, betrayals and sex talk without the sex aren’t exactly enthralling. Nikki and Jill are the most relatable stars of Real L Word. But wishing them well doesn’t exactly get the blood flowing.”
THE NEW YORK DAILY NEWS:
“You get the distinct feeling some cast members see this show as an opportunity to make a sex tape.”
“When the second hour opens with the participants being asked, “What kind of lesbian are you?” the most honest answer in TV terms would be, “Shamelessly derivative ones”…”I don’t play games,” Whitney says during the direct-to-camera confessionals, the content of which — other than the same-sex orientation — could be culled from almost any network dating show.
3. Final Thoughts:
a) We are so excitant about Nat! Every episode she’ll be asking a new cast member questions afterwards live on Sho.com, somehow this will involve an iPad, and you will have lots of questions for her to ask I’m sure. You all must go to Sho.com right after the show on Sunday okay? Thx.
b) We are gonna do this thing because despite Autostraddle’s commitment to convincing you that we’re super-smart and intellectual, the fact remains that Autostraddle.com itself was birthed from the belly of The L Word. It was my own little L Word recap blog which led me to The L Word Online (s4, s5, s6) which led me to an unpaid OurChart guestbian gig (remember OurChart you guys, wasn’t that so much fun? Were you on it? I was totally on it.) (our Executive Editor Laneia also not-enjoyed a columnist position at OurChart!) and then to Showtime’s Lezberado and then to creating this here Autostraddle.com! — when The L Word ended, I didn’t want to lose the online community we’d built around it, so I thought I’d try to build a new one around something smarter. One year and three months later, here we are!
Therefore I am obligated by some sort of cyber-peer-pressure or karmic retribution to recap this television program for you. This show’s got nothing in common with the original, I think Ilene Chaiken just likes to call everything The L Word so that people remember what she’s the Producer, Creator, Writer and Masterbrainer of. She’ll probs name her next daughter “The L Word.” People will be like, “Hey L Word, you big Gaymo.” Regardless, Nat is super cute and Tracy Ryerson is a supreme being and lesbians love hummus.