Top Ten “L Word” Guest Stars: From Tegan & Sara to Alan Cumming

Over the course of its hackneyed six-year run, The L Word attracted a bizarre assortment of guest stars and cameos, drawing equally from the standard pool of lesbian icons and an ocean of rest-of-the-world celebrities. The show also had a knack for sticking these guests in the weirdest parts of the weirdest episodes, ever.

For all its failures, The L Word rocked at casting, especially casting bit parts — Rosanna Arquette as Cherie Jaffe, Devon Gummersal/Brian Krakow as Lisa the Male Lesbian, Clementine Ford as Molly, Guinevere Turner as Gaby Devoux, Kristanna Loken as Paige, Ossie Davis as Bette’s father, Holland Taylor as Peggy Peabody, Elizabeth Keener as Dawn Denbo, Kelly Lynch as Ivan and on and on. But what was really special and funny is when they picked the guest/actor first, and the role second. Then we got a big heaping serving of L Word Rando-Pie, and it was totally delicious.

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Top Ten Terrible/AWESOME L Word Guest Stars

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10. Camryn Manheim as Veronica Bloom

She had us at “What do you dress like? Are you the poster child for the under-nourished and gender confused?”

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9. Melissa Rivers as Melissa Rivers

Based on everything you knew about character development, you’d predicted that Dana’s dumping of Tanya would be a big scene, but thanks to this weirdo, Tanya flew off into the sunset, leaving Alice and Dana alone with their dildos and then cancer!

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8. Tammy Lynn Michaels as Lacey Hardaway

“Honey, you have a lot of feelings.”
– Shane, to Lacey (this phrase is now a permanent part of the lesbian lexicon)

Art imitates life? Life imitates art? The L Word predicts the future? Tammy Lynn was a stroke of genius casting, but only a psychic could’ve seen that Tammy Lynn herself would one day embody the spurned lover in real life after her breakup with Melissa Etheridge.

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7. Tegan & Sara as Tegan & Sara


In between shots of Team Camparoo trodding through a Cabela’s-esque life-sized diorama of “the forest,” the girls shared memories of their recently-departed buddy, Dana Fairbanks. This one was the best ’cause if you were tripping and heartbroken with Shane at a Tegan & Sara concert, you might hallucinate the very same thing she did that fateful night.

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6. Lucy Lawless as Sgt. Marybeth Duffy

Lucy Lawless’s casting was ingenious and strategic. Lawless appeared in the pre-season-six teaser and, obviously, in the last episode of Season Six and ensuing “Interrogation Tapes” because Ilene knew that without Xena the Warrior Princess all up in our television screen, we’d want to stab the television with a knife.

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5. Gloria Steinem as Gloria Steinem


So — randomly, Gloria Steinem and Papa Bette are BFFs, so when he dies, she shows up at the funeral like a pro. However, the icing on this cake of random occurs at the reception, with none other than EZ Girl badgering Gloria to fuck her just so she won’t be “missing out.” What ensues is a bizarre interlude about feminism and lesbianism, how all feminists aren’t lesbians, and — THANKS JENNY! — that apparently all lesbians aren’t feminists! Throw in some bisexual wisdom (“I follow the heart, not the anatomy” -Alice) and a brief convo regarding whether or not we were born this way, and we have an L Word signature cameo — so weird, so random, so undeniably awesome nevertheless.

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4. Ariana Huffington as Ariana Huffington

Dana: “You’re doing Ariana Huffington? She’s 50, Shane.”
Shane: “Her HAIR.”

Arriana Huffington came across as a sort of  fancy business-appropriate oracle, penetrating Shane’s emotional fortress with her cavalierly business-inappropriate rando conversation.

Arianna: “I like what you’re wearing. Who do you dress for?”
Shane: “Um–uh — myself? The girlies sometimes but mostly me.”
Arianna: “So you’re gay?
Shane: “Totally, yes.”
Arianna: “You know, I was at a dinner the other night and somebody said that dykes are the new fags. What do you think about that?”
Shane: “I think people like to categorize things too much… so, what’s your book about?”
Ariana: “This country, politics, my ideas about how to make the world better — what about you Shane, what do you want?”
Shane: “Wow uh– I hadn’t really thought about it.”
Arianna: “What about love?”
Shane: “No, love’s a bitch. i’d rather just have a good time and move on.”

Enter Carmen.

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3. Alan Cumming as Billy Blakey


First, his storyline involves cocaine, so we automatically like it. Secondly, everything about him was so deliciously over-the-top. Remember when Max fucked him at The Planet?

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2. Sandra Bernhard as Charlotte Birch


This bitch delivered the cold hard truth to Jenny — that her writing was fucking stupid. The guest role was good but the interview she did about it, along with Leisha Hailey and Kate Moennig, might even be better.

Sandra: “Listen if I had my druthers, I’d come in and I’d tear that thing from head to toe, shambles, I’d shred the whole thing and start from scratch..”
Kate: “I wish you would.”
Sandra: “…those girls from Betty would be back in New York begging on the streets, those losers, that coke whore, Jesus!… I love you girls you’re super-talented, you should not be forced to have to recite dialogue like that…. Ilene Chaiken should be taken out and flogged and beaten.”

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1. Snoop Doggy Dog as Slim Daddy

Slim Daddy: “I respect that she’s your woman… I guess I’ll dream about the two of you.”

Like what the fuck, how did they get somebody so relevant onto this show before it had even become a thing? Comedic gold, his whole situation and all those girls visiting the set. Alice in her sideways hat. Jesus Christ them were the DAYS.

What were your favorites?

Riese is the 37-year-old CEO, CFO and Editor-in-Chief of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker, low-key Jewish power lesbian and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and then headed West. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 2656 articles for us.

49 Comments

  1. Aw, this makes me almost miss The L Word… The keyword here is ‘almost’.

    Why did the writing fuck up so badly after the first season?! I remember feeling so awkward watching the Gloria Steinem scene, after all the amazing things she’s done to talk about THIS is what they came up with?

    Xena was boss as always.

  2. i was always really distracted by how sandra’s mouth moved on the show, like there’s just a whole lotta jaw and lips going on there and i spent most of her scenes staring at them in terror

    but that quote makes me want to worship the woman. truer words were never spoken, sandra…

  3. Kate French! She achieved the unthinkable: She made people like Jenny. If only for a short while. You’d think putting two emotional, chaos-causing people in a relationship would be a nightmare but they understood each others needs, imo. Also, um, closet sex, oil wrestling, strap-on star pupil etc…

    I remember when Karman from AE talked about how it was such a shame that the only reason Kate’s character was brought onto the show was to act as a puppet for Adele (and the ‘All About Eve’ storyline) aka Eve Harrington. So, they brought her on the show to have Jenny fall in love and experience young love for the first time and then they needed to take it away from her (and we saw this symbolically with the movie premiere). What Ilene wasn’t counting on was people liking them together. Since she still wanted Shenny as her endgame, she retconned Niki in S6 to make that possible.

  4. Robin from How I Met Your Mother (before that was a thing) was on for like half a second, in season 2 when Bette asked her out and then she went out with Helena and Helena told her she would look great pregnant, or something along those lines.

    I recently started re-watching it from season 2 since it’s on Amazon Prime, and I find myself skipping over SO MUCH. Basically, any intros, the theme song, anything with Jenny and her writing, Benjamin Bradshaw or whatever with TOE, Mark. It takes a few seconds to “reconnect” but’s better than suffering through “lots to do at the carnival.” What if there was a version of the L Word with all the crazy stuff edited out? For people who have already gone through the whole series and know what’s up.

  5. I love, love, loved Jenny so much. But I stopped watching after season 3 because I couldn’t take Dana’s death and upon the realization that Jenny would become a complete twat and.. the 6th season *cringe*. ugh, the show had so much potential. I will forever mourn over the ruins of the show that Chaiken left us with
    I agree with a poster from above^ I miss the L word so much because lesbians from everywhere, everywhere ever could discuss it and instantly relate over it. I don’t know if anything will ever replace the show for me. I don’t think anyone will ever be able to replace Jenny, Dana, Alice, Shane, Bette+Tina, and everyone else.
    The whole thing just makes me incredibly sad everytime I think about it. All we are left with are gifs and photos DDD’: no more of their stories
    sorry I just have too many feelings about this

  6. I remember in one scene they had Kinnie Starr performing. I was very excited because no one I knew had ever heard of her, and I thought she was awesome. Also, Ophelia is like the sexiest song ever.

  7. I didn’t watch enough to recall enough guest stars. I only watched the first series. And the bits of Shane and Carmen. On account of hotness.
    So that means that Snoop is my fave guest star. Even though I just witnessed the awesomeness that is ‘Intervention’ by T&S and Margaret Cho.

  8. Oh my god. I picked up the “lot of feelings” line without realizing that’s where it came from. Now I realize my crowning life achievement to date: getting my ultra-straight dude teammates using it.

  9. I absolutely love the L Word. Sure, some parts were nuts and OTT and season 6 was something I pretend never truly happened, but over all, I thought it was very erratic, but some of the writing for certain characters was really momentous and quiet unique for television, I could just relate (Bette). And some was like a monkey laced with LSD riding a broom wrote it (again, s6). But I feel like so many people from the lesbian community hate on it, and I dont understand why. I feel like straight girls like it more lol, because my girlfriends who are straight and I, we watched it almost the whole way through and found some of the characters so intelligent and relatable – you dont find women on TV written so well these days. Also, I think every actor on the show was excellent despite the shitty writing at time. I miss it. I hope they go through with the movie (provided they dont take s6 into consideration).
    Ps: The show had some of the best guest stars next to the Good Wife.

  10. It amazes me that you can write about such an eloquent and interesting way no matter what the topic! This post in particular shows off your talent as a writer. Good advice!

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