It’s time for episode 604, Leaving Los Angeles, seemingly produced on a $35 budget. We’re joined this week by author/activist Thomas Beatie, who has the unique perspective of being the subject of the “pregnant man” story ripped from the headlines and stuffed into Max’s body under very different circumstances for Season Six! Join us as we reflect on Dylan being meh, Bette being hot, Jenny descending into bananas girlfriend behavior, time being a flat circle and Max having a not-so-great time with all of this!
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Riese: Hi, I’m Riese!
Carly: And I’m Carly!
Riese: And this is—
Carly and Riese: To L and Back!
Carly: A podcast that you’re listening to.
Riese: About The L Word. Yeah, we’re talking on it. You’re listening to it.
Carly: This is the agreement we’ve all made with ourselves coming into this — years ago now — we’ve really all been through a lot together and we’re about to all go through so much more as we plow through season six. Once again, to remind you, the worst season of television ever made.
Riese: Ever produced.
Carly: Ever produced.
Riese: We have a very, very, very special guest today that we’re super excited about.
Carly: We are so excited.
Riese: Would you like to introduce yourself and tell everyone about yourself?
Thomas: Yes. Hi, I’m the guest. I’m Thomas Beatie. I am known, I guess in the media, as the guy that gave birth a few times. Gosh, that was back in 2008, so I’ve since had four children. I have four kids right now. I gave birth to the first three and then my wife, my new wife, my second wife, gave birth to our last and he’s now two years old. So, that’s me. I’m living in Phoenix, Arizona and so honored to be a part of your podcast today.
Riese: We are so honored to have you on our podcast today!
Carly: Yes, we are!
Thomas: Thank you.
Riese: What is your… Do you have a history with The L Word?
Thomas: Yeah, I mean, I definitely love The L Word? When did it first start, what year was that?
Thomas: 2004, okay. I technically wasn’t a lesbian at the time when I started watching, but I was really into it. I watched, I think, just about every season and then obviously I had to catch up for today’s discussion, but it’s been a while, but I did like the show. I like it.
Riese: Who are your favorite characters?
Thomas: I think I like Bette. I like Alice too. I think I have a new respect for Alice.
Riese: I feel like that’s consensus generally. I think most of our guests on the show have liked Bette and Alice.
Carly: Yeah. I feel if we go back and actually run some numbers on every guest, I think that they would probably be in the lead.
Riese: Yeah, I agree. I think Bette’s probably the number one response that we get.
Thomas: I think so.
Carly: Because you don’t bet against Jennifer Beals.
Thomas: Yeah. She’s very attractive, she’s smart, she’s relatable. That’s important.
Riese: Yeah. And she’s a boss.
Carly: Yeah. Even when she’s behaving really terribly, we just still love her.
Thomas: Exactly. We forgive her.
Carly: Do you remember watching this season of The L Word when it came out?
Thomas: I do. I feel like it’s been a really long time. Ironically, I was in the midst of giving birth and having the baby when these episodes came out and I was like… I wanted to watch it, but I never got around to it. But I remember hearing that there was a trans character named Max, and that he gave birth and that possibly he was inspired by my actions.
Riese: A hundred percent, he was inspired by you.
Carly: A thousand percent.
Riese: A thousand percent, yeah. Was that weird to hear that there was a storyline on The L Word inspired by you?
Thomas: You know, it is a trip, because I watched the show — and this happened to another one of the shows I like to watch, Supernatural, they mentioned me. Actually I think it was Smallville.
Riese: Oh, really?
Thomas: Yeah. They talked about me. They didn’t say me by name, but I knew that they were referencing me and it’s a trip to be watching one of your favorite shows and then you get tied into the plot. But I knew it was inevitable. I mean, it was such a sensational story at the time. Obviously, TV had to include it in some way, shape, or form and they still are to this day.
Riese: Did you expect to become a national news — International news story, when you first wrote about your pregnancy?
Thomas: Oh, hell no! I was very tunnel vision. All I wanted to do is have a kid, that’s it. I had no idea that it would just spur all kinds of conversations. Even to this day, it’s quite a trip. But I’m glad. I’m glad I did, because it really opened up conversation for a lot of other guys like me.
Carly: That’s awesome.
Riese: Should we get into the episode?
Carly: Yeah, I think we should. Let’s do this. All right. Today’s episode is season six, episode four, entitled “Leaving Los Angeles,” which is sort of a weird title because only one storyline even exits Los Angeles and they’re coming back. So I don’t… This is an interesting title. It was written by Ilene Chaiken and directed by Rose Troche, and originally aired February 8th, 2009. A lifetime ago.
Riese: Yeah, so long ago. As a pre-episode note, I just like to say that I hated every minute of this episode. Every minute of it, I hated. I was like, “This is it. This is where season six really starts—”
Carly: This is where it turned.
Riese: Falling off the building and splattering all over.
Carly: Like Looney Tunes-ing off a cliff, yeah.
Thomas: Yeah, so, tell us about your feelings. Cause I’m feeling a lot of animosity and darkness. Why do you hate it so much?
Riese: I feel like this episode was… I feel like they had a budget of like $35. Because almost all of it, they’re just sitting in The Planet.
Carly: And in the dark.
Riese: In the dark. I guess I dislike everyone’s storyline. Did you like the episode?
Thomas: I was a little nervous to watch it, actually.
Riese: Right, I can imagine.
Carly: For sure.
Thomas: How much disservice are they going to do to this topic? But I have to agree. I felt like there was a lot of darkness, like the lighting. You’re right, because even to the point of Max’s character, he was always in the dark and he always had circles under his eyes, so I was wondering, “What’s going on?”
Carly: What is going on?
Riese: They are terrible to his character, all the time, in any way they can be.
Carly: All right, let’s dive in.
Riese: We open in The Planet, where Alice and Tasha are eating food with Max and Tom, and everyone has grossed out about Shane and Jenny. Except me.
Carly: Except you, because you are the number one Shenny stan. Thomas, how do you feel about the Jenny and Shane pairing? Do you have any thoughts about that?
Thomas: I think in some way it’s cute, I guess. I see the animal magnetism of Shane. I get it. I’ve grown to dislike Jenny. Her character right now is pretty despicable, in my opinion.
Riese: Really bad.
Carly: In fact, in this scene, she starts off just terribly.
Riese: Right out of the gate. Right. This is part of what I hate about it because suddenly… In this scene, basically, Jenny… even though… I think by the end of last season, everyone was using correct pronouns with Max and everything, and now all of a sudden Jenny’s, like —
Carly: Like, viciously mis-gendering him and then acting like “What? What are you guys talking about?” When everyone’s like, “What the fuck?” It felt like such a weird character thing. You’ve mentioned this before Riese, but in this season they really try to change her even more and twist her even more to make her so unlikable to, I guess, somehow justify the death. But this is weird. It just felt really out of character for where she’s come to at this point in the story.
Riese: Yeah, so Jenny calls Max a mother and uses she pronouns, and says that Max looks so womanly, and Shane is like, “Please stop,” and then of course Max is upset and leaves.
Carly: Which leads to Max saying,
Max: I hate her. I hate these fucking hormones, I hate these hormones. I hate these tits and I hate these fucking hips, and I hate Jenny Schecter.
Carly: Which as we’ve mentioned, every cold open in season six is somebody vowing to kill Jenny or saying they hate Jenny. I like when he goes in the bathroom and Tom walks in and he goes, “Are you crying?” And he’s clearly sobbing. I was like, “Tom, yes, he’s crying. I don’t think you need to ask.”
Riese: Tom seemed upset, like mad that he was crying though, which is also weird.
Carly: I liked when Tom was standing up for him at the table with the group, because Max is always left on his own in these group scenes, and it always is terrible.
Thomas: I think there was a foreshadowing there with Tom in the bathroom, because what I noticed was — Max’s in the dark again, and Tom comes up, and I guess he’s trying to console Max, but if you notice the end scene when they reflect into the mirror, he’s gone and Max is standing there alone, and I felt like that was a foreshadowing for the rest of the episode.
Carly: Absolutely. They’re breaking apart in some way. There’s a distance.
Thomas: Yeah. But the whole Jenny thing, I mean, I actually get it. It’s weird. She’s saying that Max is beautiful and, “Look at your breasts and your hips.” I actually don’t think that she was trying to be mean or manipulative. I think that it’s just what people do. I mean, I’m living through experience. Even people that I knew really well, my friends, neighbors, my own family, they did the same exact thing to me. I mean, it had been over 10 years that I’ve been living my life as a male and then suddenly I’m female. My own father did that to me when I broke the news to him that I was pregnant. He’s like, “Oh, mommy!” I’m like, “I’m not mommy.” And so then, he’s just uncomfortably silent or he changes the topic or he makes a grunt or something like that. It’s part of the experience where it overrides everything that you know about the person. You’re totally just going off of visual cues and the fact that someone’s pregnant, that is, quote unquote, “the ultimate” in being female.
Riese: A woman, right.
Thomas: I mean, even Jenny… Even though she’s misgendering Max, I actually think that’s a really…
Thomas: A realistic view from the writers, because they really hit on the head on that part as far as I’m concerned.
Carly: That’s the way that we view pregnancy as a society. Culturally, there’s this… You know, like the way people behave around pregnant women in public is… People just feel so entitled to their bodies. They want to just touch a belly or ask all these really probing questions. It’s a complete stranger. And there’s something… I feel this is symptomatic of that, I think, in a lot of ways.
Thomas: But it’s ironic too, that it’s coming from Jenny. Even Alice says “she” at the table. It’s coming from a lesbian community and that’s exactly what it was in real life for me too. You’d think that a community like this is no stranger to discrimination and judgment. I mean, it’s so powerful. It was a powerful statement, I think.
Riese: What they did with Max that’s interesting was that, he got pregnant — He didn’t go off testosterone or anything. He didn’t get pregnant on purpose. It happened on it… Somehow just happened anyway, and so it’s this unwilling pregnancy, so that they have this dynamic where he’s really upset about it also, which in my understanding is not really possible. Is it?
Thomas: How long was he on testosterone, does the show even say?
Riese: It was two or three years?
Thomas: Three years?!
Thomas: Yeah… I think that’s a little unrealistic, because I’ve heard of a lot of trans guys getting pregnant, but it’s usually in the beginning part when… Maybe it’s the first few months, they just started testosterone therapy, so it’s possible. But I think three years is really stretching it.
Carly: It seems more like he would have had to deliberately go off of testosterone for a while for that to happen.
Thomas: Exactly, and you don’t get a beard like that if you’re not on it for a really long period of time… Because I didn’t even have a beard like that, and by the way, that looked like a Halloween costume, I’m sorry. Max needs to be a little bit more believable.
Riese: It did, it’s terrible!
Carly: That beard looks really bad. It’s not a believable beard.
Thomas: No, it’s not and that was part of the struggle for me. It’s like, “Come on now.”
Carly: The beard’s very over the top.
Riese: Right, I mean, I think it’s part of what this show… Because the writers obviously were very transphobic towards Max. They created him and then just threw all this shit at him for so long that they… I think they wanted that visual of the idea of him having a full beard and being pregnant. They just wanted him to be as uncomfortable as possible, it seemed to me.
Thomas: You think the writers are transphobic?
Thomas: Yeah? Ok, I don’t know enough about them, but I saw a lot of — I don’t know, they really wanted to focus in on his body dysmorphia, and the showing of his chest is… I guess he’s pre-surgery on the top and then making sure that we see his body as curvy and cellulite and all this stuff, and his really high voice. I felt like it… I can see where it might be coming from a transphobic writing point.
Carly: I will say, I think that the writers didn’t make an effort to not be transphobic. I feel like… Because I think if you were to talk to the writers of that writer’s room now, they maybe would not be necessarily transphobic people and they maybe would have a lot of regrets about how Max’s character and storyline were handled, but at the time, they seemed to make no effort. It just felt like the show was from this very cis lesbian gaze that was othering to Max, and they were kind of unrelenting in that.
Thomas: For sure. I don’t think that Max’s character is developed at all.
Carly: No, not at all.
Thomas: It’s really hard to identify in, and invest in, and get to know and root for Max. If they’d taken Shane’s character, for example, and had Shane transition, got Shane pregnant, everybody would be open-minded. They want to see Shane succeed, and it could have been way more compelling. But the way they presented Max, you wanted to hate Max. None of this happened out of love, it was an accident. And Max didn’t want to go through with the pregnancy. For me, that’s not relatable. I mean, even though he may have been inspired by my story, I can’t relate at all, because I wanted to get pregnant.
Riese: Because it wasn’t your story, yeah.
Thomas: I was fine with my body. I knew that my body had to do what it needed to do to be a father. Max hated his body, and there was no real love story.
Riese: That’s true.
Thomas: It’s just… I felt icky, I felt icky watching it.
Riese: They had it… He had gone in for his final consult for his top surgery, and that’s when they told him, “Oh, you can’t have it because you’re pregnant.”
Carly: Yeah, so he was so close to getting that, taking that step and then they pulled it away from him and gave him this instead. Like story-wise, that’s just brutal. All right, so opening credits, opening credits, love that theme song.
Riese: Do you have any feelings about the theme song?
Thomas: Isn’t there… There’s a word in it that I was… Sing it to me.
Riese: Singing Girls in tight dresses, who drag with mustaches, chicks driving fast, ingenues with long lashes. How do I know this?
Carly: We all do.
Riese: Women who long, lust, love, women who give, this is the way, it’s the way that we live. Then it’s all the verbs loving… Fucking, fucking—
Thomas: Fucking. That’s great.
Thomas: I was trying to do my research for this show and watching it and I have kids coming and going and when they said the F word I was like, “God, I need to watch this in private. I guess it’s a little in your face. I’m not a fan. Yeah.
Carly: It’s entirely.
Riese: I hate it.
Carly: Ok, so we go back to The Planet.
Riese: Again, $35 for this episode.
Carly: I swear this is lit like they’re at brunch. But then—
Riese: Then suddenly it’s night.
Carly: It’s nighttime. This is absolutely a morning scene and then from here they’re like, “We’re here for dinner,” and then it gets darker and darker immediately. I guess this is supposed to be late afternoon right now. That’s very confusing, that’s not the lighting.
Thomas: I thought it was breakfast.
Riese: Yeah, I thought so too.
Carly: It totally looks like breakfast.
Riese: But then two scenes later, they’re still there and it’s dinner. It was very confusing to me. I feel like this isn’t the only episode of the season where they spend almost the entire time at The Planet.
Carly: When Kit comes to the table later in the scene, she’s like, “What is going on in here tonight?”
Riese: In this scene?
Carly: In this scene that is lit like morning. Yes, she says it.
Thomas: She did.
Carly: When she said that I was like… Because I had written, “everyone’s at brunch” in my notes and then I was like, wait a minute, this isn’t night.
Riese: I wrote that too. I was like, “everyone’s at brunch.”
Thomas: Maybe it was time lapse. Maybe it was just so boring that they were really bored there the entire day.
Carly: They were there all day. They ordered three meals. They had breakfast, lunch and dinner at The Planet today. Maybe that’s what it is. Bette and Tina are now sitting at the table in Max and Tom’s seats, which was… They don’t explain what’s going on. They’re both meeting people there, they’re just early, so they’re hanging out with the group. But it was really funny as if they just got replaced.
Riese: Bette and Tina are planning to go to Nevada to meet the birth mother of the child they want to adopt. Tina is dressed like she’s going to a late night cocktail hour and Bette is wearing… There’s wildlife on her shirt. There’s like a whole… A lot is happening on her shirt and Bette’s there to meet up with Kelly, who we met last episode, played by Jessie Spano. And also Alice is being really condescending towards Tasha. Tasha is trying to participate in the conversation. “Alice, you’re doing so good. Good job.”
Carly: She’s like, “She’s gossiping and participating with the group!” I was like, “Shut up Alice. That’s not a good way to…” If somebody is insecure about something or has a certain way they approach things especially in a group setting, calling it out in front of the group is only going to make them want to do it less. Great job, Alice. Glad to see their couples’ therapy is going really well. Jenny has an epiphany that William stole the negative to the film, because she overheard him once talking about how he wanted to burn down one of his buildings for the insurance money. Ok.
Riese: Oh, and Dylan. So, Dylan made a meeting with Tina.
Carly: A secret meeting. Her agent made a meeting—
Riese: A secret meeting with Tina.
Carly: I cannot believe Tina or Tina’s office agreed to a meeting with a filmmaker, and the agent just said, “A filmmaker.” She didn’t know who it was. This would never happen. This would absolutely never happen. Especially an in-person, in a cafe, meeting. That’s so silly.
Riese: Also, Kit tells Tina that Bette almost killed herself because of Kelly, and Tina didn’t know that. So now, everyone’s on high alert that Bette could possibly be heading on a train towards—
Riese: Cheatsville, USA as they call it. Where all the women go to cheat.
Thomas: Did you all see Alice looking at Kelly? Was that an insinuation that she thought she was hot?
Carly: I think so.
Carly: Alice had a lot of really good facial expressions in this big group scene, like the one before and this one. She just had a lot of good eye-rolls and glances and I appreciated Leisha Hailey’s face acting in the scene. I thought it was very good.
Riese: Great face.
Carly: Great face.
Riese: Then we go back in time to, I guess, mid-afternoon, right?
Carly: Time does not exist.
Riese: We’re going to have to let go of time, probably.
Carly: We’re going to have to let it go. We can’t try to track what time it is and what’s going on. We have to let our hang ups with logical linear time go, because there isn’t any.
Riese: Right. There’s no time. We’re going to the Sherman Oaks Inn, which is the normal location for a prenatal class, the conference room of a hotel in Sherman Oaks. And I don’t know what this is, actually. They’re lying down and practicing giving birth. Lamaze class. Is that a normal?
Carly: I’ve seen them on TV shows and movies. That’s all I know about Lamaze class.
Thomas: It’s totally a Lamaze class.
Carly: And the instructor… To her credit, the instructor seems less confused. I thought they were going to make some huge thing out of this scene where the instructor, or the people in the class, were going to all be like, “What’s your deal?!” I really thought this was going to be a ridiculous scene, but it was pretty low key considering what the show’s capable of. The instructor does misgender Max initially, but then corrects herself. Kind of, kind of. There’s this weird moment in the lobby where Tom yells at Max. Max takes his binder off in the middle of the lobby.
Riese: Oh right, because he’s hot.
Carly: And then Tom is like, “What are you doing?!”
Thomas: Yes. I thought that was odd too. It wasn’t a lot of support from Tom. So Tom is also starting to see Max as more female because, why would you do that? You should be doing that in the bathroom, taking your binder off.
Riese: And also this is the most we see of their relationship. Already, in this episode, we’ve seen more of their relationship than we have in—
Carly: Any other episode.
Riese: Any other episode.
Thomas: Well, I think that once again, the writers weren’t being realistic because everyone in that room would have been giving dirty looks or doing something, because they made it way too normal.
Carly: Yeah, I was really surprised they didn’t make this scene into some big thing. Some huge, awful thing. Especially with the doctor’s office scene from — was that last episode, Riese? Or the episode before?
Riese: Three episodes ago, yeah.
Carly: I can’t keep track. But when he freaks out and screams at everyone in the doctor’s office waiting room, I thought this scene was going to be more like that. I was watching it a little like this, because I was like, “Oh God, like something horrible is about to happen.”
Thomas: And then there was that mini reference to me, saying…
Max: Yeah, that’s right. Take a good look. I’m a man and I’m pregnant. It happens. Don’t you read the fucking tabloids?
Riese: Don’t you read the tabloids? Because that’s where they got the story from, guys, come on.
Thomas: It’s ironic because the instructor of the Lamaze, she did misgender Max and then she said…
Lamaze teacher: Spread her legs apart. Sorry. Spread the legs wide, but wider.
Thomas: She couldn’t say “his legs.” And ironically that’s what my first wife used to do to me. Because I was with her during my transition and she would refer to my body parts as “the.” I thought that was really weird, but it was like her way of going through the transition with me. She couldn’t say “his”, she said “the,” and that only lasted for a little bit of time, but yeah, people do, do that.
Riese: That’s interesting. I also appreciated that they had, like, a fake vagina thing. The little — which I’ve only ever seen before in the context of, like, as a sex toy, that they sell those. There’ll be like, this is like a porn star’s vagina. And then people buy them and like… But I didn’t know, but this is another way to use it. This is probably what it’s supposed to be for.
Thomas: My wife was like is that for real? What are they doing? Did you see though that Tom was getting uncomfortable with that?
Carly: Yeah. He definitely was.
Thomas: I think he was starting to get second thoughts there.
Carly: For sure.
Riese: He seemed somewhat supportive in the very first scene and it’s just plummeting from there.
Thomas: Do you think his discomfort has to do with not wanting to raise a child or you think it kind of had more to do with his identity? Like, Max, you know, we’re looking at vaginas and everything. Do you think he was second guessing himself? If everyone around Max is calling him “she,” that maybe he’s with a woman and he had to hightail it out of there?
Carly: I think… my gut tells me it’s both, because they went from just being boyfriends to suddenly having a baby in a few months, like overnight. Because it was this big surprise. Oh, you’re already in your second trimester. And I’m sure that’s what Max is going through too, except we don’t get to see that. We only really see it, like, what Tom’s experiencing, we see it less for Max, of the internal struggle of like — are we ready to have a kid? This is all happening really fast. I feel that’s part of it. But then I think you’re absolutely right that the feminization of Max in this moment, and then as this evolution with the storyline, I think it’s definitely getting to Tom on some level.
Thomas: And then Tom goes to a bar and is hitting on a dude. I feel like he’s needing more dudeness.
Carly: Yeah. He seems to be on the hunt for dudeness.
Riese: And, like, dude culture. We get back to The Planet. Surprise.
Carly: Surprise, surprise. Back at The Planet. Bette and Kelly are eating dinner, because now it does look like evening time.
Riese: We’re letting go of time.
Carly: Sorry. I’m so sorry. Do you know what it is Riese?
Riese: What? It’s the butterfly effect?
Carly: It’s the butterfly effect. So, we talked last time about how the lighting in this season has been horrible. All these night time scenes and you cannot see anything that is happening and this is where it starts in this episode. It’s really dark. We’re kind of cutting back and forth from the Bette and Kelly meal to Tina talking to Dylan. Dylan’s agent secretly set up this meeting with a filmmaker, which again would never happen and Dylan just wants to apologize to Tina and tell her that—
Dylan: Helena is the love of my life and I would give anything for another chance to be with her.
Riese: And Tina is just chugging water out of a martini glass, and is very lukewarm on this. And then at the other end, Kelly is talking to Bette about art, but she’s mostly just flirting with Bette about art.
Carly: And then Bette’s flirting right back?
Riese: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Bette’s flirting back, but I think she can’t help it. And Bette basically pitches a job for herself to Kelly. I actually loved this moment when she asked like, “Oh, are you ready to be working for me?” And she’s like, “No…”
Carly: Absolutely not.
Riese: I will not be working for you.
Carly: I like how Kelly took… Wanted to take her to dinner to… Like that thing where you’re like, “Oh, I want to pick your brain about this new art thing that I’m super into. But just… Because I am…” She’s dabbling in this new thing and she wants to pick Bette’s brain and Bette has been cultivating her particular sense of what is art and what looks good to her plus working in the field as an expert for 20 some odd years. So this is like in a way deeply insulting to be like, “Just tell me what kind of art to buy.” And so, I love that Bette called her out on that and was like, “Oh, just because you’re rich doesn’t mean you can have a gallery, but if you’re serious, I’ll be your partner.” And I enjoyed that. I thought that was a great way to handle it. Because I feel like these things do happen a lot in the world.
Thomas: Well, later on in the episode, Bette said that she didn’t know that she was going to say that when she was talking to Tina, but the way it came out, it couldn’t have been spontaneous because it would appear that she would think deeply about this. So, is she thinking about Kelly?
Carly: For sure.
Thomas: Trying to find ways to be with her.
Carly: She’s been thinking Kelly a lot, I think.
Riese: But we have been given zero reasons for why anyone would like Kelly.
Carly: I mean, Nomi Malone.
Riese: Jessie Spano.
Carly: Jesse Spanno. Butterfly effect? I don’t know. I’m grasping at straws here. I feel like what the show could have done was given us an incredible Yale flashback episode or flashback series of scenes. And we could really understand why Bette was so obsessed with this girl, because she clearly was. Whomst among us has not gone after a straight girl with all of our power in the past, maybe made some very stupid decisions. But the fact that Kit is talking about it, like it’s still a thing that is happening, which I think is interesting. We’re not seeing a lot of this, other than them just like gazing at each other over food in a dimly lit scene.
Riese: Here’s one thing that Jennifer Beals and Elizabeth Berkley have in common. They both appeared on the screen of a show — a film in Jennifer Beals’ case — wearing the off-shoulder sweatshirt. That was like a pretty popular style at Bayside High too, so I’m still thinking about what the Yale flashback could have been for us. It could have just been a lot, like so much shoulder.
Carly: It would have been, like, so many exposed shoulders.
Riese: So everyone’s very concerned about Dylan returning to everybody’s life and Helena was like, “It’s fine. I can take care of myself. Don’t worry about it.”
Carly: Jenny says, “What can we offer you in the waiting protection?” Like she’s in the mob. That was hilarious.
Riese: And we find out that Dylan got a short into Outfest.
Carly: Lauren needs to put this line in because the line is:
Tina: She’s been living in San Francisco. She moved back to LA because her dramatic short got accepted into Outfest.
Carly: Now, I love Outfest.
Riese: Didn’t your short get accepted into Outfest?
Carly: It did. My feature and my short were really championed by Outfest. Them getting behind Suicide Kale really opened up a lot of doors for us. I love Outfest. However, no one relocates because a film, especially a short film, gets accepted into a festival. That is so silly.
Riese: The short film market is booming.
Carly: Just say that she moved back here because she’s still obsessed with you. Come on. That’s… This is so goofy.
Riese: Speaking of people who are obsessed with other people, Tasha and Alice are suggesting that they could set Helena up with Jamie who they obviously are both wild about and so excited.
Carly: They are both in love with Jamie.
Thomas: It’s not just me? Alice is under her too?
Carly: No. Tasha and Alice are both obsessed with Jamie.
Thomas: Every scene, I’m thinking, “When’s the threesome?” Does that come up, right?
Carly: Oh my God.
Riese: I mean, that’s what we were all waiting for. I think. It doesn’t happen. But you know what we do get?
Carly: We get Dylan’s business card. I really feel like we need to talk about this.
Thomas: So what are your thoughts on Dylan? Do you guys… Are you pro Dylan?
Riese: I’m anti-Dylan.
Thomas: I’m anti-Dylan, too. I don’t think I like Dylan.
Carly: I also am anti-Dylan.
Riese: How do you get past entrapment into sexual harassment then that turned into a lawsuit that made Helena’s entire life fall apart? I feel like I would just always hold that grudge.
Thomas: Yeah. That’s really… You can’t get over that.
Carly: No, how do you… You can’t just be like, but I love her… Come on, stop it. Also she fucked with Tina and Tina is just like, “What are you doing?” She did way too many unforgivable things to just be kind of waltzing back in here. But I do need to talk about her gay filmmaker business card. They don’t give us a closeup of it, though it definitely has some purple-y pink vibes. Very L Word colors. Yeah. But apparently her production company is called—
Tasha: Do Ask, Do Tell Productions? Oh, please.
Carly: Tasha rips the business card up, which is exactly what you should do with a business card that says, Do Ask, Do tell Productions. That is so funny.
Riese: This is a real pivot for Dylan.
Thomas: Well she’s out and proud now!
Riese: She is asking and telling everything. She’s asking and telling that she is still love with Helena, that she moved back to LA for her short, that she is going to wear those really gauzy long sweaters for this episode and for the remainder of the season. She is who she is. She hasn’t yet married Jodi Foster, but she’s out, she’s in LA.
Carly: And she’s asking and she’s telling.
Riese: She’s asking and she’s telling.
Carly: That’s what she’s doing. When they’re talking about setting up Helena with Jamie, Tasha and Alice are talking about how they’ve gone bowling with her. I love that they have this whole friendship off camera. It’s just so funny. It’s just so funny the things they choose to show us and the things they choose to not show us. It’s usually not letting us see anything that looks fun.
Riese: They couldn’t afford the bowling alley.
Carly: Yeah, truly. That was an extra location with a lot of extras.
Riese: So then we get a big b-roll sunrise, just in case anyone forgot what the sun looks like when it rises, that’s what it looks like. And then we go to Shenny’s, where Jenny wants to do this cool thing that she read about called clutter cleaning, otherwise known as just… That’s cleaning, I think.
Carly: Cleaning, throwing out old clothes.
Riese: Donating stuff.
Carly: Donating clothes I think. It seems like stuff that doesn’t… It doesn’t really need a title. It seems like a normal thing people do occasionally.
Thomas: Maybe even in the spring.
Riese: Exactly. A nice spring cleaning, a nice spring cleaning.
Carly: Interesting. But this is different. This is a thing Jenny invented. It’s called clutter cleaning. This is Jenny’s thing. Don’t. This is nothing that you’ve heard of. It’s totally different and it involves being very controlling over the roommate that you recently started dating. This is stressful.
Riese: Honestly though, even though Jenny has become a living nightmare, I related a little bit to Jenny in this scene from the experience of someone being like, “You need to get rid of your art supplies,” and me being like, “Well, one day. These little things are going to be valuable one day.” I have so many things that people are like, “Get rid of it.” And I’m like, “The Lesbian Herstory archives are going to want these one day, and I can’t just throw them away.”
Carly: Oh no, that was my favorite part of the scene. Someday a foundation will want these bits and pieces of my art supplies and art. That was so good. The rest of it was very stressful.
Riese: So then we go to Be-Tina’s, where Tina initially doesn’t approve of Bette working with Kelly, but then changes her mind because they need employments.
Carly: She’s really stressed about the addition they’re adding to the house and how they’re going to have a new baby and she’s worried about her own job stability given the just never-ending series of bad decisions made by her film studio. Truly.
Thomas: I sensed the hesitation though, toward the end. I feel like she’s thinking she might be getting herself into something. She’s more quiet at the end. Just more thoughtful.
Carly: And Bette’s still pretty dismissive of Tina. They’re both trying to grow and be better at being together this time. But Bette is still a little steamroller-y with her. Like, “everything’s fine…” like… “What are you talking about? No. No, I’m not in love with her. No, it’s a job.” And then, Tina’s like, “Were you going to talk to me about this?” Which mirrors what happens with Jenny and Shane later in the episode, which I think is interesting. This new couple and then this long-term couple, both in the similar, weird situation of this control.
Riese: Like we should discuss changes before we make them or whatever.
Carly: So we’re now in Shane’s bedroom, Jenny’s going to clean out Shane’s closet. Shane has four shirts. Jenny has a closet full of designer clothes. I don’t think either of them should get rid of anything if they don’t want to.
Riese: First of all, she wants to get rid of a t-shirt from Wax, which the legendary skate park milkshake bar, hair salon, Wax, which we all miss so dearly.
Carly: Tattoo parlor.
Riese: Talk about something that — exactly — that an archive is going to want one day. She wants to get rid of the blue shirt that Shane wore in the season one press photos.
Carly: I wrote that down too! Because each of these outfits or shirts are tied to a different ex. And Jenny’s referring to them as “eras” of Shane, which is funny, because she might as well just say, “This was really your season one vibe. And this was kind of your season two vibe. Wax was like a season two, three thing.” Cherie Jaffe is kind of never gone. Shane doesn’t want to throw out the Carmen shirts.
Riese: That red shirt is so cute though.
Carly: It’s so cute!
Riese: I remember she wore that on the cruise.
Carly: Yeah, I loved that shirt.
Riese: And I also appreciated that Shane refused to get rid of it.
Carly: Yes, I was really happy that she stood her ground there. I also was kind of confused because she was definitely talking about Carmen as if she had died.
Thomas: That’s what I thought!
Carly: She was like, “I need to keep these shirts in remembrance of her.”
Thomas: My wife was like, “Did Carmen die? Oh my god.”
Carly: And we are like, if she did, they didn’t tell us. You know who did die? Dana.
Carly: Do you know who we never talk about? Dana. This show.
Riese: Right. Then we go to the airport and they’re continuing the conversation they were having earlier where Bette is saying that Kelly is a god sent. And then Tina asks Bette, like, Kit says you want to kill yourself. And she’s like, wasn’t there someone you want to kill yourself over within the past 15 years? And my first thought was, yeah, you.
Carly: That was my first thought as well.
Thomas: So she’s admitting though that she’s quote unquote getting into bed with her former partner, like in a business deal. So, I don’t know. I wouldn’t have answered it that way if I were Bette. Because I… It alludes that something else could happen. She’s admitting—
Carly: It sure does.
Thomas: Tina didn’t know. Now she’s admitting, yeah I did want to kill myself over her, but let’s get into business with her.
Riese: Don’t we all?
Thomas: That was kind of weird.
Carly: Yeah, and then they’re kissing and everything’s fine. I was like, oh no, you two are such a mess all the time. So Shane is having lunch with Alice and Alice will not shut up and stop talking about Jamie. And she says it’s because it’s like a new friend and we’ve all had a new friend that you get excited about, but this is definitely not that. This is clearly a crush.
Riese: And she says that Jamie is the most honest self-sacrificing person ever. And also says…
Alice: Isn’t that weird though that we’re both vegetarian?
Shane: You are not vegetarian.
Alice: I have been eating so many vegetables lately, like extra—
Riese: So I thought it was very funny.
Carly: That’s not what a vegetarian is. Everybody can eat vegetables, Alice. Also, I would say that that descriptor of how she described Jamie could apply to Tasha, her girlfriend, and she keeps forgetting she exists.
Riese: But you know who we can’t forget about is Jenny. Because she shows up unexpected which is—
Carly: She just invited herself.
Riese: Red alert. Like what? Yikes.
Carly: And chastises Shane for smelling like smoke. She was like, “Oh, have you been smoking?” It’s a lot of control happening here that — I don’t like it. I don’t think Shane likes it either. Alice certainly doesn’t like it. More good eye rolls from Alice.
Riese: Then we go to Nevada to meet the pregnant teenager in her overalls who has a Canadian accent.
Carly: She’s a big time Canadian accent. Can we talk about this actress for like a hot second? This is Katharine Isabelle who was in the very queer-seeming horror film, Ginger Snaps and had a role on my favorite television show Hannibal. So, having her on show is… I forgot she had a small role on the show. So I was excited when she showed up.
Riese: I didn’t recognize her. I haven’t seen either of those cinemas.
Carly: Well, you need to get into it, Riese. You do. So this meeting is like… meeting the birth mother. Birth mother has kids so Angie gets to play with some kids. And it’s going fine. There’s this very… These two are these urbane people from the big city and this lady is from Nevada and it’s very “that.”. It’s very… The rest of America that doesn’t let… It’s very, like the coastal elite thing, which is very 2009 of the show.
Riese: Well, first I say that they do all love Beverly Hills Chihuahua, which I thought was an important detail.
Carly: That is actually a really important detail and I apologize for glossing over it.
Riese: Thank you so much.
Carly: You’re so welcome. And then the mom and the stepdad show up. They ask a lot of really rude and probing questions of the couple and Bette cannot help herself getting into a very detailed answer about gay marriage and all this stuff. And it’s just very city folk, country folk. These guys are homophobic, and they are and they kick them out of the house. So, great meeting.
Riese: Yeah. Everyone did a great job.
Thomas: Yeah. That scene made me feel uncomfortable.
Riese: I didn’t like it. The show loves presenting anyone that doesn’t live in New York or LA as some sort of country bumpkin or something. The show… I think… like remember when The L Word premiered and they were playing off of Sex in the City with the marketing? It was like sex — ”same sex different city.” I think that they’re very much like, “We live in a city and that city is Los Angeles.”
Riese: Oh, just one little note for everyone who has watched Gen Q is that when Bette and Tina arrive, in the beginning of the scene they arrive in the driveway, there’s a shot of them standing there with Angie in the driveway. That shot was used in the attack ad against Bette Porter for Mayor in The L Word Generation Q.
Carly: Whoa, eagle eyes, Riese!
Riese: Thank you.
Carly: Good job. I forgot about that.
Riese: Again, these are the things that are taking up space in my brain that could probably be used for better purposes. Back to Alice’s kitchen.
Carly: Alice and Jamie are cooking and flirting.
Riese: Yes. And we find out that Jamie tried to be a cop also, and comes from a whole family of cops.
Carly: And service members.
Carly: Military and such. Alice is like, “You save more lives at your job than any cop.” And I’m like, “Alice, you’re laying it on a little thick.” But they also have really good chemistry.
Riese: They do.
Carly: They have great chemistry in this scene.
Carly: Tasha has great chemistry with her too, in the other scenes that we’re going to see after this. But, they did a really good job casting someone that could play off of both of them really well.
Thomas: Yeah. I’m rooting for them. I honestly thought they were going to kiss over — what were they cutting, beans? Was it croutons? I don’t even know what she was doing.
Carly: I think they were smashing nuts or something? I don’t know.
Riese: Yeah. We had nuts. Nuts, for the nut loaf
Carly: For the nut loaf. And she floats the idea of, “Alice, you should come work at the center.”
Riese: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Carly: But we’ll get back to that later. Then we have another incredibly dramatic b-roll shot to tell us that it is nighttime. I love that in the first half of this episode, we could not tell what is going on in the time of day. And now we have the sun has risen clip, and now the sun has set clip.
Riese: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Now we’re at Porter Peabody’s Pleasure Palace.
Carly: A.K.A Hit Club.
Riese: A.K.A Hit Club, where Sunset is asking Kit about what put her off men. It seems Sunset still thinks that Kit is dating Helena.
Carly: Despite her telling Sunset that they’re not dating.
Carly: Sure. This is where we’re about to go into scenes of virtually no lighting at all. It starts here and it is terrible. The lighting is terrible on people of all skin tones in this episode, but it is incredibly egregious in these club scenes, how horribly lit all the Black actors are.
Carly: We’ll see it here. And we’ll see it in the scene with Tom.
Riese: We sure will.
Carly: But, first…
Riese: First, we go back to Alice’s
Carly: And Helena’s here.
Riese: Yeah. And I feel this was a very accurate L.A. conversation where people have very strong feelings about how they feel about going hiking in Runyon Canyon.
Carly: Correct. Yeah. Everyone has an opinion about it here.
Carly: This is definitely an opinion to have.
Riese: Jamie loves it. Helena hates it. How are they ever going to date?
Carly: How are they going to date? Look at this odd couple.
Thomas: Yeah. There really was no suspense for the rest of the show. We know they’re not going to work out.
Riese: They just cut right to it.
Carly: Yeah. Just like everything we know about them as characters, even before they get in a room together, we know it’s not going to work.
Riese: Yeah, exactly. Back to Hit Club where Tom is talking to some guy at the bar, because it’s Boys Night, at Hit Club — which, I love this world where there’s just one Boys Night, and every other night is Girl’s Night, and it’s a business. You know? I wish that was…
Carly: That would not sustain as a business in real life. But I wish it would. That would be great.
Riese: Yeah. And then Max comes up and he’s like, “What are you doing?” And Tom’s like, “He’s just being friendly. And that’s what guys do.” But I don’t know about that.
Carly: That was hot. I mean, I think he was… The lighting was so terrible on him. I could not see him at all.
Riese: He seemed hot, yeah. But, Max has come dressed to club in a plaid button-up shirt. He’s ready to have a night out, obviously.
Carly: In 2008, we were wearing plaid at the club. Okay? First of all.
Riese: Okay. Fair. All right, fine.
Carly: Come on.
Riese: I believe you.
Carly: But also he’s dressed so differently than Tom. Tom’s in that tight muscle tee.
Riese: Deep V. Isn’t he in that deep V? The deepest V? Or was that earlier?
Carly: The deepest V. No, I think he… Shit. Now I can’t remember which scene was the deep V. This was definitely muscly though.
Carly: It was tight.
Thomas: No, it was a deep V, because when they get back and he disrobes you can see the deep V. Yeah.
Riese: The green — it was green.
Carly: Deep V’s were having such a moment in the early 2000s.
Riese: Yeah. I had several.
Carly: So, Kit has a moment with Max that I thought was sweet.
Carly: She’s like, “Look, it’s just a few more months. You’re going to get through it. He seemed really like he needed to hear that, which I thought was good. I liked that little brief moment. And then there’s this hilarious shot of Max and Kit talking, they cut away, and Tom is like, sullenly sulking against a pillar in the middle of the dance floor. I love that shot. That killed me. That was so unintentionally funny. Or maybe intentionally funny, Rose Troche did direct this and she is pretty funny.
Riese: But I think it was unintentional.
Carly: I also thought it was unintentional.
Riese: And then Max is like, “I’m just scared because he has all these hormones going through his body and he feels things so intensely. And it makes him feel nuts.” Which is—
Carly: Oh, Max.
Riese: Probably a lot compared to Tom who doesn’t seem to have any feelings.
Riese: At all. Then we go back to Alice’s where they have shifted the focus of — they’ve had the nut loaf, and now it’s time to look at memories, at childhood memories.
Carly: Alice has a photo album of herself as a young child in her apartment, and they’re looking at it. And I wish they had given us a wide cutaway because the threesome is sitting on the couch and Helena is just awkwardly standing behind them.
Thomas: Yeah. She’s not even present. You don’t even see her. And then in a later scene she’s there just kind of hovering. I was like, yeah, that’s weird.
Riese: She’s binge drinking in the background. Which, fair.
Carly: There’s definitely a moment earlier in the episode where they focused very heavily on Helena pouring herself a drink at the bar. And I wonder… They really want us to know that Helena’s drinking.
Riese: Right. Oh yeah. That’s a thing.
Riese: Tasha says she wants two or three kids. Jamie wants kids. And then Helena, it’s brought up that Helena has kids, but her ex took them to the South of France, as one does.
Carly: Yeah. And then they want to play a game and Helen is like, “You know what? I really have to get to work. It’s Boys’ Night. I got, I got to go to Boys’ Night. So busy.” And I was like, yeah, you need to get out of there. Get out of there, Helena. She’s just so awkward. The whole thing was very awkward.
Thomas: And she clearly did not like the nut loaf.
Riese: Oh yeah. She hated the nut loaf.
Carly: She hated it. She basically implied that she was going to get something to eat when she left, too. Which she then kind of stopped herself. But all of us who have been to anything where someone serves something that you don’t like. No.
Riese: And I’m like, I got to go to Wendy’s.
Carly: I’m going to leave and immediately go eat something else.
Riese: Yeah. Oh right. One thing I also liked about this was the one Tasha was like, “I’m not playing a word game with you both.” Because that happens to me a lot where people are like, “I’m not playing a word game with you, or I’m not playing a trivia game with you. We’re going to play something like less—”
Riese: Yeah, like Monopoly. And I’m like, “Ugh, fine. I was going to crush all of you. But, sure.”
Carly: Anytime someone suggests playing Monopoly, I always am immediately suspect of them because it is impossible to finish a game of Monopoly quickly. That game takes hours, hours out of your life. So anytime anyone suggests Monopoly, I’m immediately like, “What’s wrong with you? Why are you suggesting that?”
Riese: There’s so much sexual tension though. That I think if anything’s going to make an endless game of Monopoly entertaining, it’s going to be the sexual tension that’s soaking the room, that’s coming out into Alice’s apartment that they’re all drowning in. This intense sexual tension.
Carly: It’s super intense.
Thomas: They should play Twister.
Riese: Right! Yes, perfect!
Carly: Yeah, right. Just get it over with.
Riese: Yeah. Just do it. Just do it. Oh, that would’ve been a funny scene too.
Carly: Yeah. That would have sped this up real fast.
Riese: Let’s just get down to business.
Carly: Get to it. So, you know when Tasha ripped up Dylan’s hilarious business card and Helena clearly took it. I guess Dylan put her home address on her Do Ask, Do Tell business card? Okay. Sure.
Riese: I don’t even put my phone number on my business card. I don’t want anyone to call me. I give my email. It’s just my name and my email and my job. That’s it.
Carly: Yeah. At one point I had my phone number in my email signature. And then I was like, one person called me once and I immediately took it out and it hasn’t been in my email signature for literally a decade. I was immediately like… I was like, never again.
Thomas: Someone used it.
Carly: That’s so personal.
Riese: I didn’t put it there for someone to use it. Come on, guys. It was just in the template.
Carly: I thought it was just the thing we did.
Riese: Okay. Again, I did somewhat relate to Helena in the scene in which she drives to Dylan’s house and asks her to dinner. Because sometimes you’re trying to date, and you try to date someone, and then you’re like, “Well, maybe my ex wasn’t that bad.” And then you want to go and ask your ex to dinner. But also her ex ruined her life.
Carly: This is also again, just pitch black. Just one light on a house, and that’s pretty much the lighting in the scene.
Carly: So, we go back to Shenny’s], and Jenny’s got this cool surprise for Shane, which is that without telling Shane first, she fully converted Shane’s bedroom into Jenny’s office. Yikes.
Riese: That’s bananas.
Carly: That is a lot. And then Shane,
Shane: Are you testing me? Is that what this is about? I mean, are you putting on the Crazy Jenny Show just to see how far you can push it with me? Is that what this is?
Thomas: That was really funny.
Riese: Because also, yeah.
Carly: It seems like what she’s been doing the whole episode, whether intentional or not. I mean, it’s…
Riese: I love that she thought Shane would be excited for Jenny to have an office.
Carly: It’s not even like she made Shane an office.
Riese: Right. Shane would be so excited for Jenny to have an office, that it would overcome any of Shane’s feelings about losing her entire bedroom.
Carly: Any private space she had in her house.
Riese: Right. But then Jenny’s reaction to Shane is so manipulative and insane that Shane eventually caves.
Riese: This whole thing is just really weird and annoying.
Carly: It was really manipulative.
Riese: This is not how I imagined Shane and Jenny in my head when I wrote their love story in my own head in 2008.
Thomas: At the end there, it’s almost like she’s hiding a knife behind her back. I kind of got the hand that rocks the cradle kind of vibe. Like, do you love me?
Carly: Oh yeah.
Riese: Yes, yes. Yeah. She did this demented head… Yeah, exactly. She did this little—
Carly: She did the head turn and everything. The head tilt. Oh my God. Yeah. There was a little horror movie vibe.
Riese: And had her little bit of tears in her eyes. Like she wasn’t crying yet, but she was on the verge. So anything Shane could say could potentially unleash a waterfall.
Carly: Like you almost would have believed that, if she turned away from Shane for a second, you’d see her putting little drops in the corners of her eyes. If she was some sort of femme fatale in a dramatic film.
Carly: Yeah. This is very manipulative. I’m very concerned about the both of them.
Riese: Yeah. It would have been funny if she’d done it to the bathroom. If she’d been like, “Close your eyes, come in.” And then Jenny had turned the bathroom into her office and then Shane would be like, “Where are we going to pee?” And she’ll be like, “In the backyard.” And then Shane will be like, “That’s a little crazy.”
Carly: She has a lap desk over the toilet.
Riese: In your room. Get a chamber pot. Come on, get it together.
Carly: Jenny has a lot of great interior design ideas.
Riese: Yeah, she does. She’s an interior designer. We all have our paths in life. Jenny thought she was a writer, we all know she’s a terrible writer. Now she’s exploring a new career in home decor. You know? And that is growth.
Carly: Great. Really excited for this path that she’s on.
Riese: Back to Alice’s where they’re bitching about fundraising dinners, and how annoying fundraising dinners are.
Carly: So they’re in the kitchen cleaning up.
Riese: We find out Alice used to be in Act Up.
Carly: Yeah. Why did they never tell us that before?
Riese: That’s so interesting and cool.
Carly: I know. She talks about they did a dance marathon, and Jamie thinks that that would be a really cool idea as a fundraiser for the Center.
Riese: I agree.
Carly: And, I also agree. And then somehow Alice has been roped into being an event chair for the LA LGBT Center.
Riese: Yeah. She’s sus. I guess Alice lost her job?
Carly: Yes. Yeah. Tasha says that she’s unemployed. We saw what happened at The Talk.
Carly: Is that what the show is called? The Chat? What the fuck is her show called?
Riese: The Look!
Carly: The Look! The Talk, The Chat, The Look, great.
Carly: Doing great. Carly knows what’s going on.
Carly: Yeah. She got super duper fired from that. Jamie hugs them both in that hug kind of way. This kitchen is full of tension.
Riese: I think that they should open their minds to the idea that they should be a thruple. And I think it’s realistic that another person would remind them what they love about each other, remind them what they love about themselves, and bring them even closer together. In theory, they could be closer together naked, or as a relationship. And I think it would work really well and it would be very progressive.
Carly: That’d be great. I kept waiting for something to happen in this kitchen.
Riese: Yeah. Also I love Jamie as a character.
Carly: I know. It’s a bummer we only get her for half of a season. She should have been part of the cast way sooner.
Carly: She’s great.
Riese: And Tasha is more animated. You know? Tasha is laughing more, Tasha seems like she’s in a much better mood than she’s been in a while.
Carly: Jamie’s presence is bringing out good stuff in both of them. And like I said before, she has such good chemistry. The three actors have great chemistry.
Thomas: I noticed that Tasha’s laugh is really authentic.
Carly: Her smile just lights up a room.
Thomas: As an actress, it’s legit.
Carly: Yeah. Yeah.
Riese: Yeah. That’s my favorite part. Her cheekbones obviously are, I’m a fan of the cheekbones. And then I’d say the laugh is number two. Back to Porter Peabody’s Pleasure Palace, where we get a little trip into the mind of Kit Porter and all of her sexual fantasies, which I am just so pleased involve Gelson’s Market.
Carly: I was waiting for you to bring up Gelson’s.
Riese: Her fantasy is—
Kit: I’m shopping at Gelson’s for groceries. When this straight up brother comes up to me, no bling, no attitude. And he says to me, “You are one beautiful woman. And I would just love to wake up with your arms and legs wrapped around me.”
Riese: Is Gelson’s just in L.A.?
Carly: I have no idea.
Carly: Just talking about L.A. supermarket chains.
Riese: I wish they’d given us that sequence though. A little fuzzy scene in the grocery store of Kit walking with a basket, with, I don’t know, pomegranates in it.
Carly: A baguette.
Riese: A baguette. Yeah.
Carly: The baguette sticking out of the basket.
Thomas: Yeah. They totally should have done a scene. I agree.
Riese: Yeah. Yeah. She bends over to pick up some string cheese, and then she turns around and there’s the man of her dreams. You know? And she’s like, “Oh, do I poke you with my baguette?” And then they start flirting, and then they get married, and then they have children.
Carly: Do they get married at a Gelson’s do you think?
Riese: Yes. Catering in house. Yeah. Everyone gets to eat little plastic containers of tuna salad.
Carly: Oh, that’s delicious.
Riese: Okay. Back to the tool shed.
Carly: Also, I just have a quick question. Why is Max still living in a tool shed? Where does Tom live? Why would they choose to be in Jenny’s tool shed instead of wherever Tom lives? And I know it’s because the show doesn’t want to give any more thought to either of these characters, clearly, to develop either of them in any way. I want to spend money on another location. But, they’re in a tool shed.
Thomas: I had no idea. I thought they were in the Ozarks. It just looks dark.
Riese: Yeah. This is the tool shed that Jenny lived in, moved into after her and Tim broke up. Then when Tim left, she moved into the house, and then when her and Max broke up. So it’s sort of like, it’s where you go when you break up with someone who lives in the big house. But then Max, now it’s been about two or three years, and Max is still in the tool shed, which as far as I know does not have — actually, I do know because it is addressed in season one — does not have its own bathroom.
Carly: It does not.
Riese: Which is probably really great for a pregnant person to live in a tool shed with no bathroom.
Thomas: Yeah. Where does Max go to the bathroom in the night? When you’re pregnant, you have to pee all throughout the night, every hour. Is he going behind the shed?
Riese: He has to go into the main house. Or yeah, behind the shed. Yeah.
Carly: I guess the idea is that he would have to go into the house every time he has to pee.
Thomas: That’s no way to treat a pregnant man. I’m sorry.
Carly: I agree.
Riese: Absolutely. Absolutely. So, Max is like, “What’s wrong? Why are you mad at me?” And Tom’s like, “I’m just tired.” And he says, “It’s getting old, Max putting himself down all the time.” And it just seems like Tom is over it.
Riese: And I feel like the show seems sort of ambivalent about it, but it’s also like Tom did get Max pregnant. He’s part of this decision, even though it wasn’t a decision, he’s part of it. But it seems like he’s sort of waffling on whether or not he wants to be a part of it or not. You know what I mean?
Carly: Because he could just disappear. And as long as he could live with himself, he wouldn’t have to be a part of it. And that’s shitty.
Riese: Yeah. Then they show Max taking all of his clothes off. They show him just undressing.
Carly: This show is so obsessed with Max’s body in a way that is just so dehumanizing.
Thomas: It is. I mean, showing him shirtless and then kind of flopping out. He can’t even walk right. He’s just wearing a t-shirt and then, there’s the circles again. And it’s such a sad ending. It’s like, I felt terrible.
Carly: Yeah. This show is like at every turn it’s always, the decision is always, what can we do here to make Max feel horrible in his body and show the audience that, and it sucks. It just sucks. I think he gets in bed and I think they’re spooning and cuddling, and maybe there’s an expression on Tom’s face that we’re supposed to know what’s coming. But, I could not tell you because it was so pitch black dark that I couldn’t see a goddamn thing.
Thomas: Well, at first I thought they were facing each other, and they were going to have relations. But then I think that Tom’s back was to him, and I think it was just Max being needy and then Tom is just going to bed.
Riese: Right. You know what? It would be nice to see them have relations, because I don’t feel like we get to see them be affectionate or loving. Because, mostly when they portray Max’s body, it’s Max looking at his own body and being upset about it.
Riese: But they don’t really ever show him getting to use his body in a way that he’s not upset about. You know? Him and Tom had one ten second sex scene in episode 509, and that’s it. I think that’s the only time we’ve ever even seen them kiss.
Carly: We never have scenes where there’s any external affirmation from someone else to Max about his body. And, we were talking about this earlier in the season, about how Tom and Max are talking about their relationship and how all these conversations they’ve had about their relationship and about their lives that we’ve never seen on screen. And it’s like, the show only wants us to see their relationship when it’s traumatic, and not when they’re happy. And it’s just such a shame.
Thomas: Well, Tom did mention that other guys in the bar were checking him out. Which, I thought-
Riese: Yeah. That was cute. I remember that.
Carly: That was cute, yeah.
Thomas: That was cute, but we didn’t see it. And, I’m just speaking from experience, I didn’t get that comment when I was pregnant, and I don’t know why. Alas…
Riese: Well, you know, alas…
Thomas: I’ll just be jealous.
Riese: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, you should have gone to Hit Club.
Thomas: I know.
Carly: Yeah. If you had gone to Boys’ Night at Hit Club it would’ve been a different story.
Riese: If you had taken your wife to Boys’ Night at Hit Club.
Thomas: Even pregnant and you think?
Riese: I mean, I’ve never been to Boys’ Night at Hit Club,
Carly: But I have been in gay male spaces, and I think they would probably be less than welcoming to a pregnant man. Just a hunch.
Carly: Knowing the cis gay male culture.
Thomas: Well, so Max says, “I am thinking that they’re just trying to figure out if I’m fat, like I got a beer belly, or I’m pregnant.” Which I think that’s what a lot of guys would think if you’re a pregnant man going into a gay male bar. I think the first suspect would be you’re overweight. But given that there are more and more pregnant men these days, they may question.
Carly: I think it would be very different now than it would have been in 2008, 2009, being pregnant man in the club. I’d have to assume that there’s more awareness and visibility of, like you’re saying.
Riese:Well, yeah. I mean, you were the entirety of the awareness and visibility. It was just you. Yeah.
Thomas: Well and if anything, I don’t think anyone pregnant should be in a club. So maybe…
Riese: Yeah. Right.
Carly: You know what? Fair.
Thomas: What are you doing here?
Carly: Shouldn’t you be resting? Or at home? Why don’t you go like read a book or chill out? I don’t want to be at a club not pregnant. Although I do now just because I’ve been at my house for a year. But before that I was very like, “Oh, I just want to go home and read a book.”
Carly: So Bette and Tina are in their little hotel in Nevada for the night.
Carly: And Angie’s wearing headphones so they can have some Mama B, Mama T real talk.
Riese: Basically. It seems like Bette thinks that Marcy is stupid. And it’s like, “Maybe we dodged a bullet because obviously, our kids would be dumb.” That’s how it read to me.
Carly: Yes. There’s a lot of that energy with what Bette’s saying. We know Bette’s kind of a snob, so it’s not surprising.
Riese: Yeah. But also, I think she’s trying to make herself feel better about her situation that she feels really bad about.
Carly: Yes. Yeah. And Tina’s trying to be comforting. She’s like, “Don’t be discouraged. We’re going to find another baby out there in the world.” Bette says that she’s stunned by the ignorance that she encountered today, which I think, were we really stunned by that type of ignorance in 2009? I don’t think so.
Carly: That felt pretty, not entirely out of left field.
Riese: No, that’s crazy.
Riese: Yeah. That’s yeah, no.
Carly: In fact, Tina says—
Tina: Welcome to the rest of America.
Riese: Right. I mean, even in New York, there was still a lot of… And I’m sure in LA too, but yeah. Angie looked really cute in the background of the scene.
Carly: She had her headphones on, she’s like, “I’m doing my own thing. Please don’t bother me.” And I was like, good for you. These two must be exhausting to listen to all the time.
Riese: But you know what? Marcy is actually a secret genius because she found their motel and their motel room, and is there, knocking on the door to let them know that it is her body, her choice and she wants her baby to be raised by these hot lesbian moms.
Carly: She does. She says she likes them more than all the other couples she’s met with. And she mentions that the baby is a boy.
Carly: Gender reveal!
Riese: I was like, well maybe. You never know.
Riese: I was like, well, we’ll see. I think you let him choose.
Carly: Yeah. But Bette also — right before Marcy gets there, says that she is having second thoughts about the whole adoption idea, having another baby right now. She’s like, “Everything is so up in the air with our jobs and our lives and whatever.” And then Marcy shows up and is like, “I am giving you my baby. It’s going to be great. You’re going to raise this boy. He’s going to have lesbian moms. He’s going to be so cool.”
Riese: He’s going to be the coolest little boy.
Carly: He’ll be so cool.
Thomas: I thought the actress, Bette, I thought her reaction was pretty good. You could see the emotion in her eyes. I don’t know what it was, realizing that it’s going to be a quote-unquote boy and she can picture it. But I could feel happiness for them.
Riese: Yeah. She did a good job.
Carly: Yeah. Especially because she was like, “I’m having second thoughts.” Three minutes before that girl walked in.
Carly: So that was, again, some excellent Jennifer Beals acting.
Riese: And it was excellent Marcy acting, she really—
Carly: Yeah, she sold that.
Riese: I thought — honestly, everyone in that scene was being a really good actor. I teared up.
Carly: It was really well done.
Riese: But I mean, I’m prone to tear up often in this show for some reason. But I was really excited for them. It’s a reaction when they start to tear up, I just accidentally also tear up. I don’t know. Then we get a little smooth jazz, just some—
Carly: Yeah, we do.
Riese: And then we get a little close-up of Bette’s eyelashes.
Carly: I liked how this was shot. It’s very different for the show, but I appreciate it. I appreciated it.
Riese: And then I guess, is that all?
Carly: Well, Bette says — she tells Tina that she is happy and that it was a momentary thing, her having second thoughts about the adoption.
Carly: And I have to wonder if she’s saying that not just for Tina’s benefit, but for her own, to kind of convince herself that she’s happy with this going forward.
Thomas: I think so too.
Riese: What’s a little weird though, is that also, there’s actually someone who didn’t want to be pregnant or have a child already in their life in LA, and that’s never brought up as an idea.
Carly: Well, that would require the writers having Max be part of the group, and he never gets to be in scenes with the group.
Carly: Yeah. Interesting that there’s these sort of dual pregnancy storylines and not a single character on the show is making any connection there.
Carly: It is really interesting.
Riese: Then we go back to Max’s tool shed, where he wakes up and Tom has completely just moved out?
Carly: I guess? So were they both living in the tool shed? I just don’t understand what’s going on. Also, they show Max open that closet door and I think what you’re supposed to see is that half of it is empty, I’m assuming. Tom took all his stuff. But again, the lighting does not even allow for that to happen.
Riese: I thought it was completely empty.
Carly: But where’s Max stuff? I mean, I’m just…
Riese: He just has two shirts.
Carly: He has two plaid shirts.
Thomas: Two plaid shirts.
Carly: That he wears to the club.
Riese: Two plaid shirts.
Thomas: And a white undershirt, for the binder.
Carly: For the club. Exactly.
Riese: A white undershirt and a binder. That’s it. That’s all he has.
Carly: And again, what Thomas was saying about the last scene with Max, about how he’s just sort of portrayed as this kind of sad… The physicality is so sad and the way the camera’s treating him is so sad. It’s just so… This whole scene is him. And then, Tom left the door open. What even is that? Who does that?
Riese: Yeah. If you’re going to walk out on somebody, close the door.
Carly: What time of year is it? I mean, even when it’s warm out, it gets chilly at night. I mean, what is going on? This is just wild.
Riese: And so that’s how it ends, with Max just standing there. Wow, now I’m alone and pregnant and unhappy.
Carly: It’s heartbreaking.
Riese: Right. And it is, I think also sad because it was inspired by your story, but you were happy to be pregnant.
Thomas: No. I mean, it was anti my story.
Thomas: I fought really hard to get pregnant, and it’s not like I had an accident. I mean, it would have been cool if I accidentally got pregnant with my wife, but it didn’t happen right away.
Riese: No. Yeah. Right. It was very intentional.
Thomas: Yeah. We had to spend a lot of money and it was a big investment of time and just emotions and everything. And I mean, I can’t even imagine. Max didn’t even want the baby, he tried to get rid of it in the beginning, but he was too far along.
Thomas: It’s like, I can’t even sympathize. So I’m not a Max lover at this point.
Riese: It’s interesting that they saw that story and they were like, “Oh, that’s interesting. Let’s do something like that, except with a completely different emotional landscape. And let’s change literally everything about it, besides that one thing.”
Thomas: Well, I think they wanted the visuals because I was in the tabloids, right? I mean, I didn’t choose to be in the tabloids, the tabloids put me there because it was something you couldn’t walk away from. I felt like the writers, they caught wind of my story, like a lot of people did and they wanted to incorporate it being current and hip and they just didn’t really do their research.
Riese: No. Right. It felt like it was completely, we want to have a body like that on our show, but let’s not look into it in any other way. I don’t even feel like they looked into it medically of how this would be happening for Max at all either. Because it was also interesting, because they had it, he didn’t know that he was four months along pregnant, even though he was watching the development of his muscles and stuff because he had been working out all the time. But that somehow, this came as a complete surprise to him that he was already four months pregnant, which I feel like isn’t… But I actually don’t know. I hate the story, I guess, the way they told it.
Thomas: Well, Max is rather thin, so I feel like that’s not realistic at all. I could tell after about eight weeks when, the first month you don’t even know, you see nothing at all.
Thomas: But yeah. I mean, I had to go off of my testosterone. It took me about a year and a half.
Riese: Oh wow.
Thomas: In order to get pregnant. So it’s kind of strange that he’d been on for three years and then got pregnant so easily.
Riese: Right. Yeah.
Riese: And maintained that beard that they glued onto his face every day. The trailer, which is new for the season.
Carly: Yeah. He does not… This full, over the top beard is a season six edition.
Thomas: Yeah. Well, I do relate in that aspect because when I was pregnant I felt like my beard got longer, you know?
Thomas: Yeah, because I was really into identifying as male and then growing it out. However, when you do get pregnant, you’ve got other hormones competing with the testosterone and for me, I didn’t have… I had been off of the testosterone for a year and a half, but the facial hair just doesn’t come in the way you want it to.
Thomas: Yeah. In retrospect, I probably should have shaved it.
Riese: Or you could have just gotten whatever they did to Max.
Thomas: Exactly. I could have done that.
Carly: Just glued it on.
Riese: Glue, just glue.
Thomas: Glue it.
Carly: It was just glue.
Riese: Yeah. Right. And also, he needs a haircut really bad.
Thomas: Really bad.
Riese: His hair is just too long.
Carly: Yeah. They just don’t care. The people that make the show, just don’t care about this character and it’s so upsetting.
Riese: Yeah. Anyway, definitely a sad ending. And I don’t remember… Because I hated this season so much, so unlike all the other seasons, which I’ve watched a million times, I’ve only seen this season whenever I originally had to watch it. So I don’t remember what happens after this, with Tom. But it’s just such a sad way to end. And it’s also interesting, because they contrast it. They have Bette and Tina, thinking they’re not going to get to adopt a child and then finding out, oh, they are going to be able to adopt a child. And then you go straight from that, to this. And it’s just this sort of jarring of like, these are the characters that the writers, it feels like the writers are rooting for. And this is the character it doesn’t feel like they’re rooting for at all.
Carly: Very clearly. Yeah.
Riese: And that’s the episode.
Carly: So did we like the episode? I give it an A. I’m kidding. I really don’t like this episode.
Riese: I didn’t like it either.
Thomas: Yeah. No, on a scale from one to 10, I would say probably about a two.
Carly: That’s fair. Maybe generous.
Riese: Here’s what I liked. I liked Bette saying that no, she was going to be her partner in the business. She was not going to work for Kelly.
Carly: I liked all the Jamie, Tasha and Alice stuff. Right?
Riese: Yes. I liked the nut loaf. The repeated references to the nut loaf, I thought were funny. I thought Angie looked really cute in the motel in her headphones.
Carly: She looked great. That’s it.
Riese: Yeah, I think that’s it.
Carly: Oh, season six. Was this 604? Does that mean we’re halfway through season six now?
Riese: Yeah, it does.
Carly: Right? There’s eight episodes?
Carly: Oh boy. Four left. Can you believe it, Riese? Four episodes left.
Riese: I’m trying to think if there’s anything else I liked.
Carly: You might be thinking about this for a while because there’s nothing else.
Thomas: Well I liked, ultimately, the hope for Bette and Tina having a child. That was very uplifting. As much as I dislike the way Max was presented, I do think that the way Jenny reacted, all the she pronouns and the way Max was treated by people around in his circle, even though it’s sad at the time and I think even now it is still pretty realistic, I think that people who go through — trans men, male identifying who get pregnant, I think sadly, they do feel alone. And it really points to the fact that they needed to have more support and be respected more. So even though the writers probably didn’t do the best, I think that they were reflecting what they’re seeing around them, which is what the episode showed.
Riese: Yeah. And that was what the world was.
Carly: That’s a really good point.
Riese: It’s a good thing that there are people like you, who have been fighting for better representation and treatment.
Riese: And awareness.
Thomas: I do what I can. No, I think doing stuff like this, just talking about it, I think that just the visibility of it is helpful.
Carly: It’s so important.
Carly: It’s a perspective that absolutely needs to be heard by more people.
Carly: And thank you for bringing your perspective to our ridiculous podcast today. It was so wonderful having you as a guest today. Thank you for being here.
Carly: Yeah. Thomas, do you have anything you want to plug, anywhere people can find you online? Anything you want to, you want to throw out there for the listeners?
Thomas: Well, gosh. I still have my company, Define Normal, and you can catch me at definenormal.com. We’re launching a whole new line of t-shirts, so that’s going to be up probably by the time this episode broadcasts.
Riese: Oh cool.
Thomas: And I’m a public speaker. I do speaking across the world, really. But if you’ve got a college or university, or a corporate, like a company that needs a speaker, I’m available. I’m also an actor, so.
Carly: Oh wow.
Thomas: If The L Word reboot wants to tap into some transgender ideas… Yeah, so I’m doing that as well. And also working on a television series called Define Normal.
Riese: Oh, awesome.
Riese: That’s so cool.
Carly: Do you want to plug any Instagram, Twitter or anything like that? Where can people follow you?
Thomas: Yeah. So you can see my social media links at definenormal.com. My Instagram handle is @Thomas_SS10, which sounds a little like weird code, but I was on Secret Story in France. It’s France’s version of Big Brother, so. I didn’t even have an Instagram before I went on the show and then they kind of created one for me.
Riese: So was it Season 10?
Thomas: It was season 10. Yeah. That was a lot of fun.
Carly: Good job, Riese.
Thomas: And then my… Let’s see. My Twitter is @Thomassecretstory10. You know what? It’s reversed. 10 is my Twitter.
Riese: It’s hard to remember.
Thomas: I rarely go on those sites very often, but I do the obligatory post once a week or so.
Riese: Yeah. I like to post on Instagram once every three months or so.
Carly: Yeah. It’s good. Thank you so much for listening To L and Back. You can find us on social media over on Instagram and Twitter, we are @tolandback. You can also email us to firstname.lastname@example.org. And don’t forget, we have a hotline. You can give us a call, leave a message, it’s (971) 217-6130. We’ve also got merch, which you can find @store.autostraddle.com. There’s stickers, there’s shirts, including a Bette Porter 2020 shirt, which is pretty excellent. Our theme song is by Be Steadwell. Our logo is by Carra Sykes, and this podcast was produced, edited and mixed by Lauren Klein. You can find me on socials, I am @carlytron, Riese is @autowin. Autostraddle is @Autostraddle. And of course, autostraddle.com, the reason we are all here today.
Carly: All right. And finally, it’s time for our L Words. This is the segment of the show where we end things by simultaneously shouting out a random L word. Usually, these have little to no relevance to anything we just recapped. Okay. Riese, you ready?
Riese: Okay. One, two, three. Lorax.
Carly: LeBron James. Riese, what’d you say?
Riese: Lorax, as in the Lorax.
Carly: Dr. Suess.
Riese: Who speaks for the trees.
Carly: Because trees have no tongues.
Riese: Of course.
Carly: Or was it because the trees have no mouths?
Riese: I don’t remember.
Carly: I remembered it as tongues. Anyway. Thomas, what did you say?
Thomas: I said lesbian.
Carly: Riese, have we ever used lesbian as an L word on the show? I actually don’t know that we have.
Thomas: It’s only the obvious.
Riese: I can see where that—
Carly: I know.
Riese: I can see where the inspiration came from.
Carly: Mine was LeBron James, because I’m going to watch a Lakers game later today, from the comfort of my own couch.
Carly: Yeah. Pretty cool. Thomas, thank you again for being here.
Riese: Yeah, thank you so much.
Carly: This was a delight.
Riese: It was really great to have you.
Thomas: No, it was fun.
Riese: Yeah, it was really fun.
Carly: Everyone at home, thank you for listening. There are four more episodes of season six left. And as we said before, these are coming out every other week because otherwise we’d be done too soon and really, it’s because of our sanity. But otherwise, it would be over before you knew it.
Carly: And then what are you going to do?
Riese: Then what are you going to do? Watch The Farm? Hopefully, yes.
Carly: If anyone can get, somehow, any footage from that pilot, we will take it, no questions asked. Just send it tolandbackcast, right? Is that our Gmail?
Riese: I have assembled all my sides, so I have enough. I have pages one through 33 of the script, with only a few pages missing in there, so.
Carly: Oh my God.
Riese: We’re going to get enough.
Carly: We’re putting it together.
Carly: We’re doing it.
Carly: Awesome. All right. Thank you all for listening. Bye.