Here’s a secret: What The L Word really did for lesbiankind was to cover all the lingo and bad jokes right off the bat, thus protecting Senior Lesbians from having to school Baby Dykes every other minute because they’ve all already seen The L Word and therefore already know about 100-footers, U-Hauling and nipple confidence. JUST KIDDING NIPPLE CONFIDENCE ISN’T A THING. That one is there just to make sure you’re paying attention. Anyhow this is when Alice explains 100-footers to Jenny.
Jenny wants them to tell her what she is — femme? 50-footer? really weird? — and they’re like, just You do You.
What the girls DON’T KNOW is that Whitney Mixter has her eye on Jenny because does Whitney love crazy-ass bitches? Yes, yes she does, not gonna lie.
We then canoe all the way back to Los Angeles Artscene, where Candace and Bette are packing up their Cuban Sexy feast and giving each other sexy danger-eyes.
We then build a river out of pudding and swim on back to Palm Springs, California, home of my $8,000 medical bill, where the ladies, still wearing the same clothes they’ve had on since fleeing Los Angeles in the dead of night, are hitting up the White Party.
Jenny gets drunk with some Canadian extras and recaps the first ten episodes for them so they don’t have to go look it up on TWOP.
Jenny explains how Marina lied to her and destroyed her relationship with Timothy while keeping hers completely intact and then she realizes she’s telling her coming out story. The party lezzers chant TELL IT TELL IT like a bunch of over-grape-juiced pre-schoolers at storytelling time, what is going on here.
Riese: Um, no, they’d be more like TAKE IT OFF TAKE IT OFF
Laneia: literally no one wants to hear this story
Riese: except me in 2004
Laneia: ok valid
but not the people at the white party!
Thus Jenny launches in to her big story, which let’s just be grateful she’s telling it out loud instead of whispering it via EZ Girl.
Jenny: “I’m at the party, and there she is. I see Marina. She was possibly the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen. Later on that night, she followed me into the bathroom, and then she does it, the thing— am I crazy? am i drunk? am I hallucinating? And then she does it… the thing that would go on to confuse me and fuck with all the things stable in my life…”
Jenny says they had the best sex in the history of sex, because this was before The Real L Word came out, so.
The other lezbians get really into it, especially when Jenny notes that Marina told her “I think I could fall in love with you.” Some fierce bitch downing a pint in a plastic cup and sporting a scoop-neck and an enormous white belt is like FUCK THAT BITCH .
JENNY MOMENT: “She wrecked my fucking life with supposition.”
Everyone demands Jenny call her ex-girlfriend, because it’s time they had the talk. Say you hate her, say it’s all her fault. But you, will soon meet someone newwww, and her name is Robin!
NO! Not that Robyn! This Robin:
Robin saves the day by saving Jenny from herself — before Jenny can place the call and tell Marina to go to fucking hellllll, Robin snatches the phone from Jenny’s fragile paws. You know Robin is a serious person ’cause she’s wearing TWO white shirts to The White Party.
Jenny gazes at Robin like a lunatic and goes, ‘That was very nice of you. That was very kind.”
Elsewhere in Palm Springs, Ton-Ton is celebrity handling Dana Fairbanks, steering her away from adoring fans with wet sharpies and wetter vaginas, hoping for a scoop on Dana’s present relationship status.
Back at the White party, Shane creeps around giving everybody sexy eyes, eventually spotting Jenny chatting with Robin. She gives the pair a secret smile.
Turns out that Robin is a trapeeze artist, so she can probably have sex upside-down and orgasm on a tight rope and shit like that.
Jenny: If I was a trapeeze artist, I don’t think that anybody would catch me, I think that I would need like, this massive net or something.
Robin: You know that’s like the third time you’ve referred to yourself as worthless? Is this your big Leaving Las Vegas moment, did you come to Dinah Shore to get alcohol poisoning and die?
Jenny: No. I’m not — I’m not suicidal. I’ve just fucked up my life just a little bit. You know?
Robin delivers a litany of love/light mumbo-jumbo about flying in the air, taking risks, life and death and how Jenny needs to give life another try and become a unicorn pony of the stars. Yup, Robin will be playing the role of “stable and reliable girlfriend to soothe rebounding pains from unstable and unreliable ex-girlfriend heartbreaker,” which inevitably will transform into “boring girlfriend” versus “exciting heartbreaker,” because this is Jenny, and once upon a time I was Jenny, and I don’t think Jenny’s seen the light quite yet, and won’t for some time.
After a long hard day at the Nabisco-Whathaveyou Tennis Tournament, Tonya takes Dana back to her hotel room for a little bump ‘n grind.
Lesbian Sexy Moment: A Series of Unfortunate Events
The Players: Ton-Ton and Dana Fairbanks
The Pick Up: “Dana, I want to make love to you.”
Hot or Not? NOT. Horrible, actually.
Meanwhile in the Palm Springs Hotspot Superhotel, my three best friends are hanging out in bed with their room service and their beer and their potato chips watching movies and wondering when I’m gonna show up and hang out because this scene embodies all 567 reasons I wanted lesbian friends of my own. AND NOW I HAVE SOME! AND WE HUNG OUT ON BEDS IN PALM SPRINGS!
Then Jenny stumbles in, attesting that she’s imbibed too much tequila and witnessed so much debauchery! And now here she is with all that hair on her head and her silly shirt and her jeans being all adorable and brand new.
Laneia: it’s sweet how they’re still a group, even at this place — how they had them come back to the room to watch an old movie and drink canned heineken and talk
Riese: yes, this is what i liked best about the show
i liked their friendships so much, like this show made me want queer friends more than it made me want a girlfriend
Laneia: i agree with this 100%
Also! Jenny’s got a date with Robin on Wednesday night! Everybody approves.
Meanwhile Ton-Ton continues crawling all over Dana’s bod ’cause Tonya is the ALL TIME WORST. Alice calls her bestbest friend for an update on her life situation and can tell right away that Dana is hooking up with that “weird hospitality chick.”
Alice laments that Ton-Ton’s got super bad vibes, and then kinda apropos of nothing, Jenny notes that it’s “so difficult to meet the right person,” noting that everybody’s “coming out stories” are “about confusion and unfulfilled desire and disappointment.”
Shane demands Tina give ’em hope they can believe in by telling the story about how she met Bette and her Severe Bob at an art gallery opening, back when Bette and Alice had just broken up.
Firstly, Catherine Opie is there, which is badass, but more importantly, Tina and Bette share an instant sexyeyes connection, because Bette’s got magical eyeballs.
Shane and Jenny listen, Shenny-style.
Tina explains that Bette invited her to one of her “famous “artists dinners,” which involves a lot of glassware and art critics. Tina could’ve felt super weird at the artsy party, but instead she didn’t ’cause Bette was “so warm and gracious.” IN HER VAGINA.
Tina accidentally left her earring behind at The Fancy Art Party, so she had to come back to pick it up. This is when Bette and Tina shared their first kiss!
Back in La La Land, Bette and Candace have been working late and now they have to stand together in a hallway experiencing sexual tension.
Jenny asks Tina if she’s worried about never sleeping with another woman besides Bette, and Tina is like, have you seen Jennifer Beals naked? No you haven’t, have you, because she has a no-nudity clause in her contract. But guess who has seen Jennifer Beals naked? I HAVE ‘CAUSE I’M TINA BITCHES!!!!
Tina: “I think God am I gonna go to my grave and and Bette will be the only women I’ve ever slept with? But then I look at her and think, well, what more could I want?”
Back at The Art Club, Candace returns to Bette’s office to pick up the bag she left behind on purpose. Oh yeah and also she has a message:
Candace: “I forgot that I won’t be able to sleep tonight if I don’t tell you that all I’ve wanted to do all day long is kiss you. Please tell me if you don’t want me to.”
Laneia: This is the cuntiest move
Riese: argh poor bette
i mean, aghgh bette! don’t do it!!
but also i feel like if you’re not in a relationship and the other person is, it’s their call whether or not you’re gonna actually cross that line
They start kissing super juicy-like and Bette pushes her away and looks like she’s gonna cry and all our little hearts wilt and die, including Bette’s. The closed captioning says “[SOBBING].”
At some point between then, now and the entire expanse of our tiny lives on this strange planet, Shane awakens, kindly leaves a bottle of water next to a still-slumbering Jenny, and dips into the hallway to call Cherie Jaffe.
A girl walks by Shane and tells her that she’s cute and Shane’s like “thanks, but it’s okay, I’ve got my coug on the line.”
Back in Ton-Ton Town, Tonya is like, “I can’t believe I’m about to go down on Dana Fairbanks!” FYI, Haviland always said that she wanted somebody to say that to her one day, so just a heads-up for Haviland’s girlfriend Ashley.
The next morning, the ladies are supes hungover from their all-nighter eating Cheetos and watching The O.C. and Alice is skulking about until she hears a noise in the hallway, identifies it as Dana returning from her walk of shame, and leaps back into her bed. I also noticed a Dolphin was leaping with Alice at the time:
Thus Dana, who somehow made it all the way there in only a bra, is quickly and adorably tackled by her BFF Alice who wants all the dirty details.
Back in Chez Portard, Bette fields a call from Tina who says Bette sounds tired which is true, because she’s been up all night FILLED WITH GUILT.
Tina says they’ll be heading out that afternoon and then she runs back into the hotel room and leaps onto the bed, so all of them can form a cuddle puddle and make our hearts melt. Sometimes that’s what a long-term relationship needs — time away, spent with friends who give you life and make you laugh and talk to you about trivial things in a trivial place — to make your relationship and your sense of self feel special and alive again. It’s really fucking unfortunate when one member of that relationship uses that time to MAKE OUT WITH CARPENTERS, you know?
The lesbians are about to pack it in and head back to sunny Los Angeles, California, home of the Hyperion Wastewater Treatment Plant, when Dana shows up with a special guest: Ton-Ton.
Sorry, I think that picture is the photoshopped version. here’s the un-photoshopped version:
Riese: i feel like tonya didn’t ask for consent re: this relationship
Riese: i hate this whole thing
tonya was the WORST
Ton-Ton stinks up the car with her words / thoughts / ideas while everybody stabs themselves in the eyeball.
Does Dana just want somebody to boss her around? Something she can’t fuck up because she’s never allowed to think for herself or talk?
Tonya has 100 questions for Dana to fill out her fanfic, like for example is Dana a cat or a dog person, because Tonya really wants her to say dogs because she really hates cats. Yeah, I don’t think Mr. Piddles is gonna go for that.
When Tonya gets out of the car, Alice (who is #1 Mean Cunt for life, I love her) is like, wow that bitch is crazy. Alice notes that Tonya took $50 for gas money and the gas was only $32.50 but she didn’t give Alice any change, and Tina says Tonya told a stupid story about meeting Anne Heche, and Riese says that they should plow that van right over Tonya while they still have a chance.
Candace shows up at the Art Center in a tank top trying to tempt Bette / do carpenter things. Bette is like, I am wearing a sweater set from Sears today, this is my no-sex outfit, you are not entering these trousers.
Bette’s staring into the great beyond when somebody comes up behind her and embraces her around the waist. Bette, thinking it’s The Carpenter somehow, is like, “I’m sorry, I can’t.” BUT SURPRISE IT’S TINA!
Riese: wait for real
how would she confuse them
Riese: she would know tina’s body shape and hair and smell
i would never confuse somebody’s smell for somebody else
Laneia: or you’d at least like, turn around? abruptly?
it’s weird that she’s 100% ready to be touched from behind like that
Bette covers her tracks, claiming she just meant that she can’t get the show ready in three weeks.
Tina: “That party was so crazy. God it just made me want to go home and curl into bed with you.”
That is an authentic post-Dinah Shore feeling. And with that, the episode is over!
Lesbian Sexy Moments: 1
Lesbian Squabbles: 0
Quote of the Week: Shane, for “That girl took my Sunshine meal toy, and then she took my heart.”
On a Scale of 1 to 10: An 8-footer
I picked this episode to recap ’cause it’s one of my favorites — because what I loved most about this show was the friend-moments. See, prior to The L Word, we’d never seen ourselves represented in this way on mainstream television, and it sadly remains one of the few television programs focused completely on a group of female friends, let alone a group of gay female friends. There’s a scene in Sex and the City when the girls are analyzing yet another guy and another date and Miranda is suddenly like, “How does it happen that four such smart women have nothing to talk about but boyfriends? It’s like seventh grade with bank accounts.” That’s how other shows about women usually made me feel, and SATC is another show heavily praised for its focus on female friendships.
So this was a thing we needed, this show, because it was a whole entire life, not just a girl you kissed secretly or your aunt who lives with her partner. We’d seen three-episode romantic story arcs between a main character and a three-episode guest star, replete with varied reactions from heterosexual friends/family and some chaste kissing. We’d seen brand-new queers take tentative forays into lesbian bars buffered by their straight best friend or relative, who is subsequently delighted by improbably high levels of sapphic attention. We’d seen coming out stories. So many coming out stories. But this was a model for a life. A life with other people who were like you.
Although I know that for many gay ladies, lesbianism really is just about who they fuck and date, for me, “the lifestyle” really is a lifestyle. It’s about how we live and love all the time — where we work, who our friends are, what parties we go to, what vacations we road trip to, and the stories we tell each other that straight people don’t always understand. Television didn’t want us to see that. Then this show did, and my whole head exploded, just thinking of people like me living like this — without men, and happier for it.
And that’s what made the ending of this series so tragic — it was poorly written, for sure, but it also ripped all the characters apart, made Jenny into a sociopath and somebody-but-really-nobody into a murderer and then pitted these friends against each other in ensuing “interrogation tapes.” But by that point I didn’t need the show like I did in 2004, because I had my own friends, and we made this website together, and now here we all are, skipping parties to drink beer in a hotel room and having very mixed feelings about “Closer to Fine.”
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Okay 2 things Riese:
1. I am really glad you didn’t die in Palm Springs mostly because I’m really glad Autostraddle is a thing in my life and only a little but because I feel like that would be an incredibly stupid place to die.
2. The captions were so spot on that I wanted to acknowledge them in the comments but couldn’t pick a favorite so good job on making me giggle when I’m not feeling great. Thanks :)
gosh this recap is so spot on and the captions are hysterical. In honor of the L-word focus here this week I downloaded and am re-watching the series. I got through most of season two before getting bored but I’m gonna plug through till the end of the season at least. I forgot how over-dramatic/horrible/awesome it is. I also watched the friend aspect of the L word in amazement and envy. I’ve never had a big close group of gay friends.
I love the friend moments on the L Word too! Definitely going to re-watch this one tonight. I’ve never had a group of queer friends. Almost everyone I know is straight. Seems like such a TV like fantasy to have a whole group of gay friends, but maybe I’m not looking in the right way or place for friends. Good thing I’m coming to A-Camp! :)
Good job on the captions..my mom kept asking me what i was laughing at. Its a truth isnt it? Sometimes all u want is a bunch of lesbian friends who just get you. Happy L word week. =p
I was going to comment on the captions as well, they are so good. Due to the fact that while at work, in a relatively quiet office, I cry-laughed at “Come on, I know you stole a tampon from my bathroom, let’s have it”. I have to say that was my favorite.
Also, calling the Dinah pool party the innermost circle of hell could not be more spot on.
Very fun read, thanks!
I just finished rewatching season 1 on Netflix (they changed all the music!), and this episode is still one of my favorites, along with the season 1 finale. Every time I watch it, it feels like I’m hanging out with old friends I haven’t seen in a while.
Did anyone else notice that in Tina’s coming out story they explained it as Bette and Alice having already broken up, and yet in later seasons (3 and 5, specifically) that they claimed Bette cheated on Alice with Tina? That always irked me a little bit.
I loved this recap. I want more!
I rewatched this episode a couple of months ago. It’s one of my favorites as well. I too really love all of the friendship moments – that was always the show’s biggest strength. Ugh, I want a fabulous group of queer lady friends so badly!
It really is very sad that Jenny was turned into a sociopathic narcissist.
Riese, I nominate you to do the oral history of how the hell Betty and EZ Girl were allowed to happen, complete with secret testimony from the cast members about how mortified they were to be associated with it.
I’ll take Kit-Kat bars and darkness. Oh, and a group of queer friends if possible, I never had one.
Riese and Laneia,
I love your discussions about the L Word episode’s scenes as they are happening, even 10 years later, as I wished I was aware that you were recapping them at the time, but I still watched The L Word all of it as it was screened in NZ, without a lesbian group of friends, but the good thing to come out of me discovering Autostraddle and the great writing and recaps is that I am loving reading your recaps now!!! The gift of file save and recapping recaps, so that Riese your wider audience gets to share and be part of the conversation with you. That is worth a lot so thank you many times over!!!! :):):)
Just have to echo everyone about the photo captions. Also, this quote: “I am wearing a sweater set from Sears today, this is my no-sex outfit, you are not entering these trousers.”
Thank you Riese! Loved this trip down memory lane and you did a great job of articulating why this show was/is important and how Ilene Chaiken fucked it up in the end.
You know the friendships in this show really was what hooked me but I didn’t fully realize that about myself until I read this. I used to read all your recaps for this show and this one just brought back all the memories. Like the jenny moments.. the lesbian sexy moments/squabbles.. and those captions.
This was just a fabulous recap. So much L word nostalgia. The jenny and shane captions were so spot on.
This was perfect and I hope that you re-recap more episodes with the hindsight of time passed since the first time watched. Thank You!
Sigh. This is definitely one of my favourites! That scene where they all pretend to be asleep while Dana does the walk of shame cracks me up. This was seriously ill-timed though. I’m moving to Australia in three days and I’m already feeling major separation anxiety w/r/t my friend-family.
This reminds how much I loved Shane’s season one hair and how much I hated every other hairstyle she had. Man, nothing gold can stay.
You guys thank you for these comments!! This all feels so yesterday and I love it. :-)
IKR?! I’m totally transported back to L-word Night, about 10 people crammed into my friend’s bedroom, ordering Indian food and drinking gin. The good old days!
ah wow those captions.
this was perfect though – I’m getting super nostalgic & emotional <3
I read through this entire recap to find the name of the movie the friends were watching in the hotel room and I still have no answers! I just want to know why they were laughing… and I love old films.
Also, I am very late to this, it’s 2020 and I’m watching the L word for the very first time -sue me?! ugh please help!