Where We’ve Been, Where We’re Going: L Word Season Five Retrospective, Unfortunately Not a Recap

OMG wasn’t 511 THE MOST? I’ve got no idea, ’cause some people have been leaking spoilers all over the internet (what people? I dunno! E-mail me, I’m jonesing), and therefore it’s been all-but-impossible to get my hands on the press screeners I generally use to produce mega-timely recaps for y’all … and I’m in a room in Texas w/o Showtime. Yes: the last two episodes are secretly very secret. I’m trying to be Zen/Not Bitter. Besides, I’ve got these fantastic promo shots of Jodi looking like she’s just affixed some magic earrings and TWO (two!) photos of Shane reading the newspaper, and you all know what that means? Bette and Tina are getting married like Kelly and Dylan! Like Kermit and Miss Piggie! Look!

Receiving these stills is like wanting to have sex and getting a cold peck on the cheek. Like ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife, like fucking the girl of your dreams and then meeting her psychotic wife, like when you’re a ba-bay and want cake and instead get more lentil soup. Hypothetically.

Yes: I’m in Austin for SXSW! Allegedly — after much wrangling — I’m told there’ll be a 511/512 disc waiting for me in NYC when I return, though I thought about five days ago I’d be entirely sans-screeners altogether, and G-d forbid I recap the finale after scribegrrl. For many pious Persons, Sunday is the Lord’s Day. But I’m a Jew and an L Word recapper, so for me: Sunday is finish-the-recap day. It’s been strange, a Sunday sans recap duties. Some might say … peaceful. Except we decided to enter the Uh Huh Her video contest (hoping to be the only entrants), so I’ve had that to do … and you know … SXSW! Cait! Crystal! Tara! Tinkerbell!

WTF Bettina?
Anyhow … The L Word’s almost over!! Two short-but-sweet weeks from now, we’ll all be forced to look at each others’ faces and speak words to each other about actual life instead of funneling all our feelings into fictional characters who change personalities every season and often disappear suddenly without warning/explanation.

But I wouldn’t leave you high and dry with no reading material whatsoever, would I? Of course not. Let’s take a little look back at the highlights of the season thus far.


10. Visiting Hours [501] & [502]
Remember Helena? Her entire jail sentence was comedy gold … beginning with the Shane-Tina-Alice jail visit, which was a cute between-friends moment of genuine humor, followed by Kit’s jail cell catwalk — we were actually grateful for a hot minute that Pam Grier is in the show. That changed later, and then again, and now I can’t keep up. Don’t drop the soap.

9. More Lesbian Sex! We Need More of It! [502]
Our sentiments exactly … and to kick off this sex-fest of a season, Team Lez Girls pitched a number of improbable pairings and then presented these hypothetical hookups. Including: Bette & Helena, Bette & Shane, Shane & Tina! My only request: Shenny? I mean … trust me: I’m a fan of Sholly, I was all about Sharmen, I’d cite Shane-Cherie (no cutesy way to combine those names, really) … clearly I’m a sucker for anything starting with “Sh.” Someone tell me about the church of Latter Day Saints or Magic, I’m ready, I’ll buy anything for at least a second. Like Shariese. That name has serious attitude, that name can CHECK IT-SELL-ELF.

8. The Kiss Heard Round the Bettina Forums [504]
I wasn’t expecting it so soon, though I knew it’d happen eventually this season. That reach-out, that pullback, that special kind of torture: needing to reach out, or being unable to resist. I’ve never been with anyone for two years, let alone seven, and I can’t imagine how familiar those wrists could become in your grip (or that kiss written on your body). At one point Bette and Tina were so familiar to each other they’d become useless, but every time they reuinted — even during a dryspell in their own relationship, not necessarily within the context of infidelity — they did burst into glittery bright passion, and so it was in this scene. All the garish sequins of their ugly party shirts lit up like electroshocked hip-bones.
The moment we maybe all started to like Jodi better, ’cause also — you’ve SO been Jodi.
Also do you think it’s possible that Tina’s just the only one who’s lived with Bette long enough, and loves her deeply enough, and understands her thoroughly enough, that she can put up with Bette’s total control freakishness? I mean, I love Bette as most of us do, but she is quite a handful. I’d be able to put up with Bette for about 1.5 seconds before I’d be asking Sam to take off her bandana and get comfy.

7. Shane’s Look of Love [510: Lifecycle]
Shane’s never given anyone this look before. When she goes into it, it’s usually from underneath (yes, I know this, I know, it’s pathetic, I know this, I totally know this), it’s a kind of reluctant attack, an aggressive resignation or an “okay, you’re right, you’re dead sexy, watch me smirk and put my palms on your cheeks,” but the way she looked at Molly is a look that Shane’s never given to anyone ever before. Not Cherie, not Carmen, not anyone. I could be wrong. I hope I’m wrong, ’cause this kind of absolute knowledge of someone’s eye/mouth/jaw/passion when someone=unreal character is not altogether cool. I think it’s ’cause Molly looked so cute with her little fists under her chin yelling about how she was gonna SO go DOWN on HER! I think my first serious straight girl said something more like, “Don’t tell my boyfriend, OMG, there he is outside yelling, BRB.”

6. Blackout Sexathon [509: Liquid Heat]
When the power goes off, I get really hot and irritable and d
on’t want anyone to touch me. Also, I sweat buckets. Howevs, on The L Word, the whole gang deals with the heat by giving each other oral pleasure. Also I’m talking about the power going off like I live in Indonesia or something, clearly my power is generally 100% functional, there was a famous blackout in 2003, I wanted to die, I ate a lot of peanut butter and watched my Sims family die a slow death as my laptop battery ceased to exist and then me and my Significant Other decided we were too hot to touch each other the end. Enough about me, everyone got naked in this episode, our heads exploded, we lit up the whole sky of Los Angeles, there was no more smog, death, war or tears.

5. The [Ultimately Unfulfilled] “Y’all Don’t Know How to Have Lesbian Sex do you?” Scene [506: Lights! Camera! Action]

In which Mia Kirshner is so just so. Just so perfect. This scene’s got some fundamental errors — Gretchen is later cited as the only out lesbian in the cast, but in this scene she’s got no idea how to fuck, and the promised sex coaching is never executed. Nevertheless, I’ve watched this scene approximately ten times and every time I’m 100% pleased.

4. Remember When You Said You Wouldn’t Ask Anybody or Tell Anybody Anything? [508: Lay Down The Law

As you know, a triumph-over-the-odds love story makes my heart sing and my tear ducts wail. I was mostly grateful that Alice’s supreme twatilicious outing-everyone-Perez-ish storyline ended up paying off in some way. I don’t care if it was corny. Howevs Tasha and Alice are opposites, like at the base of things, and that concerns me: as soon as Alice meets someone she clicks with just a little bit better, Tasha’s gonna be out like a tofu dog at a football game. [Does that work? I’d like to use hot dog metaphors as often as possible]. Also, they’re not real people, so no worries.

3. The Eagle Flies at Lunchtime [509: Liquid Heat]
This scene was half-retarded, half-AMAZING. Which’s all you can ask of this show, ob-vi-ous-LEEE! But Jenny’s whispering, Kit’s Kitaliciousness … I did the Top Ten on this already. Also we all enjoyed Papi’s Rules of Poker Team making a re-appearance in the background.
3a. Runner-Up
Shane playing with the special effects during Alice’s podcast: perfect!

2. Lesbian Oil Wrestling [507: Lesbians Gone Wild]
A’ight lemme get this out of the way straight off: actual Turkish Oil Wrestling — as a lesbian phenomena — has been going on in Brooklyn for over eight years. It’s meant to be a “safe space” where queer/trans women of all sizes can have a good time – there’s a strong sense of political and cultural passion and queer inclusiveness. The L Word took that concept and fucked it all to hell. It did the exact opposite. So when I speak of my appreciation for hot girls wrestling in hot oil, it’s ’cause that’s better than most things I’ve seen on this show, not ’cause I think it’s honouring the spirit of the actual event itself.But … what do I do for y’all if not herald the gospel of hypocrisy, paradox, and the simultaneous love/hate of just about everything — teevee, myself, other people, life itself — so … there you go. How hot was this?!

1. I Want Y’all Back! [505: Lookin’ At You Kid]
Seriously, this scene makes my stomach jump out of my skin, become its own independent creature, birth babies that look like a pre-teen Michael Jackson, make a bunch of yummy brownies, put on Adele’s glasses and get down like Dana’s come back to life. Pure, warmly lit, stoned delirious, BFF-forevs and evs. And if Dawn Denbo and her lover Cindi bust up the fiesta, we’ll just laugh our asses off.



10. I have One Request for Season Six:
You’ve brought Max on this show to ‘tell the story’ of transgendered persons, you’ve brought Phyllis on to tell the story of women w/children coming out at “mid-life.” So fucking DO IT! Integrate them into the storyline! Involve them with other characters we already know & love & understand! For reals.

Seriously, not just complaining for no reason, where the F is Papi? It’s not just a running joke, if this was real life, I’d be printing my own milk cartons.
8. The Excessive Ripped-from-the-Headlines Stuff
Way too much meta & parody this season all at once.

7. That episode with all the OurChart talk about like meeting girls on OurChart, and all that podcast hoo-ha, and really, any time OurChart is namedropped, a lesbian baby in a third world country goes hungry. That being said, Max seems to have been working hard this weekend, they may have improved their look slightly, I’m speechless.
7. Tina and The Agent did not invent the concept of a “beard.”
A “podcast” is audio, not video.
My name is spelled “Riese,” not “Reise.”
I think Adele’s warnings to the world are crystal clear, I’m disappointed in everyone for not noticing.

6. Alice hasn’t really done anything cute yet … almost everything she’s done has been either annoying or unrealistic. I love her anyway, especially when she’s wearing her glasses or has her sleeves over her hand, and we’ve spent the whole weekend stalking Uh Huh Her (playfully!), but I feel our unconditional love’s being taken for granted.

5. Jodi’s dress was the worst picture ever taken in the history of America’s Next Top Model.

4. Always the loose ends with you people!

What happened to um, filming most of the movie? The sex coach? WAX BURNING DOWN? Jodi getting fired? Where’s James? (Where’s Papi?) Why is the Adele thing taking so long to unfold? And really how did Dawn find out about Cindy & Shane? Why does Jodi not need Tom anymore? Who shot the sheriff? Are you ten years ago?

3. Helena totally busting town randomly — and everyone’s complete Zen attitude about her departure. Seriously, do these girls miss ANYONE? Dana? Papi? Carmen? Their parents?)
Kit’s vocal inflection problem.

1. I think Angelica needs a Mary-Kate or something, ’cause childcare should seriously be a legitimate issue in Bette and Tina’s relationship, and instead it’s just ignored. Although it’s been really funny to make jokes about where Angelica is. I think she was in this episode. Who knows? I now know what it’s like to be everyone else in the world. This is the only teevee show I watch, seriously, and I always watch it the day of, or ahead of time, and so this is a strange experience, like the whole “world” is spinning on without me. Whatever, it’s totally fine, I hate this show, worst show ever.
What happened? JK don’t tell me. I’m gonna search YouTube again for Episode 511, maybe I can watch Bryan proposing to Justin for the 15th time.

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Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in nine books, 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. She's Jewish and has a cute dog named Carol. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3152 articles for us.


  1. Although not a recap, this was still an excellent post.
    I loved your summary of the pros and cons and the “half retarded, half awesome” description of the show.

    Another ego inflation: I hope you get credit from your friends about how funny/awesome you are.

    And did you meet Uh Huh Her? Or just admire from a distance?

  2. I have a lot of feelings about Uh Huh Her right now. Did I tell you that I met Alice from The Chart this weekend?? It was magical, she reminded me a little of Leisha Hailey.

    But anyway, nice one tiger. I’m honestly quite excited about watching the next two episodes.

  3. I think it’s ’cause Molly looked so cute with her little fists under her chin yelling about how she was gonna SO go DOWN on HER! I think my first serious straight girl said something more like, “Don’t tell my boyfriend, OMG, there he is outside yelling, BRB.”

    – hilarious!

    I hate to admit it as well, but I know what you mean about the kiss shane gave molly… it was different than her usually approach. or maybe, its just her approach when she kisses straight girls… maybe she has another approach for bi girls too! now I am even more pathetic because I am thinking about the way a fictional character approaches hypothetical situations… sick in a bad way.

    kit is the nemesis to the 2nd amendment… some people simply are not smart enough to own a handgun. first she left it sitting out in the presence of a small child, then she throws it in the trash for any criminal to find and use, btw its registered in her name…. kit will be in jail in season 6, not because she killed someone, but because someone used a gun registered in her name to kill someone, oh, with her fingerprints all over it.

  4. you can watch the show on surfthechannel.com !
    Thats how european people do it ;)
    by the way the nr.1 best moment was really a perfect choice!i loved that scene sooo much!
    looking forward to the recap ;)

  5. The pot brownie BFF dancing party was absolutely the best scene in season 5. Everyone having fun, dancing, laughing at DD.

    “Oh, you’re Cindy”.

    “They’re the girls from She-bar.”


  6. Riese!
    It must be so hard but somehow it’s just fair ;). You know we Europeans sit here every sunday night waitin’ for the dawn (not Denbo) to come so we can finally illegaly download our copy of the epi. Now you had to wait just once.

    Seriously I’m sorry, not only for you bur for all of us. It became a habbit for me to watch the epi and then I’d be able to read your recap

    I hope you’ll get to see it soon.

    Enjoy your trip.

  7. thanks for the post! for me, number one moment was jackson five’s i want to take you back. when they played it in the beauty bar this weekend i almost cried of emotion.
    have fun in tejas!

  8. yes Riese, check out those streamingsites mentioned and feel like us europeans.. i’m always amazed that tons of people still talk about watching clips on youtube.. also, you as web-junkie should have Torrent-download no? than you at least have good quality as well.. right’o..

  9. anna: wow, you guys, this show sounds serious… i think i need to watch it. is it actually good?

    stef / elena, at the exact same time: it’s the worst show ever / it’s the best show ever.

    stef: i think that’s all you need to know.

  10. I was just wondering if we were going to hear the word “flailing” yet again in episode 12? If I kept count right, either Bette or Tina have used the word in the last three episodes. Somebody give the writers a Thesaurus please.

  11. Loving the hot dog jokes. I think a hot dog is even a joke in itself. Which is awesome.

    1. Carly IS dreamy!

    2. Not one picture of Tinkerbell?! I miss that bitch… whatever, it’s fine, cause there were plenty of me. memememekrjwerjsf

    3. Thank you for including the half-nekkid wrestling/almost having sex photos of Bette and Helena.

    4. I’m with you on Team Shenny.

    This is good… you couldn’t help yourself, could you? :)

  12. curious choice…and not the best at all for me…

    i don’t like every couple with Sh….because as jodie she
    is a bad kisser …what’s the problem with her head always in her shoes??? arthrosis???

    but sometimes i like your humor in recaps…the problem today is probably you have nothing to say …


  13. jodi and bette were destined for breakup once they started wearing matching pantsuits. when they were walking to the car i just about lost my shit. did bette finally pull jodi aside and say “ok, after you wore that awful muumuu dress, i have decided you will just wear what i wear. but mine gets more ruffles. got it? good. p.s. i’m fucking tina.”

  14. riese…
    you are the most funny, sarcastic and adorable person alive!
    I discovered (very sherlock holmes) your blog about two weeks ago…and I after reading all your recaps my world is so much better now…

  15. hay, alex is right not enuf tinkerbell w,t,f?????????

    erm other than that yet again another spot on recap/but not recap!!!

    top ten + and – bob on!!!
    brownie party highlight of the season by far!!!!

    see ya

  16. So, at the end of the episode showed 3/16, the words final season 2009 were said. True? False? Anyone know for sure? Would suck if it is, lil more character developmentuld keep this thing going as long as the … simpsons?

  17. Excellent post, thank you for writing, I was jonesing for my Monday TLW fix. And I agree with you about pretty much everything, except I felt the need to point out the one truly cute Alice-ish moment that reminded me of my undying devotion to her – when she was looking in the mirror, smoothing out her outfit and saying “Professional.” Other than that though, yes, it has been a strange trip into annoying/unrealistic land.

  18. OMG I DVR’ed 511, we watched it, it was super depressing, I have a lot of feelings. Thanks for the links, champs, I got to watch it in the hotel a little bit before we had to leave for the plane, so I started having a lot of feelings even before I got home and saw the whole depressing thing. Also thanks for your patience, it should be up in the next 24 or so.

    I downloaded torrent but I don’t know how it works. My computer gets stressed out really easily and doesnt like running a lot of applications at once.

    Now i know what the kit-gun reference was to, and all i can say about that is that that whole sequence was so painful I wanted to scream and wear sunglasses/an eyepatch for all of time. I hope she’s in jail in Season Six ’cause jail scenes are fun, maybe she can go gay again.

    -Whomever mentioned that Bette/Tina have been using the same word in the last three episodes, that’s the kind of thing I’d totally notice … but totally didn’t! So kudos. Three or four kudos.

    -Carly IS dreamy! So is Tinkerbell, but she needed to take a TO from all the attention this week.

    -The matching pantsuit thing … omg

    – “i don’t like every couple with Sh….because as jodie she
    is a bad kisser …what’s the problem with her head always in her shoes??? arthrosis??? but sometimes i like your humor in recaps…the problem today is probably you have nothing to say …”
    Srsly if you have something bad to say, I’d recommend saying it in words/phrases I can at least understand. How can I argue with “her head always in her shoes” and the curious word “arthrosis”? C’mon.

    -Yes, 2009 is the final season. i just hope all the actresses are signed on for it ..

    -Alice was cute when she smoothed out her dress in the mirror, yummy!

  19. To the person who left the last comment: You need to take your excitement about hating the L Word elsewhere.

    Reise your recaps are awesome and have become better over time. I love it when you throw in little anecdotes about your self or when you poke fun at this show. You rock sista!

  20. i agree with eglsrock. we all owe so much to riese (and friends) for devoting so much time and charisma to these recaps. thanks!

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