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?
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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.

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TOP TEN BEST:

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.

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TOP 10 WORST:

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.
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9. THE VORTEX IS OUT OF CONTROL
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.
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8. The Excessive Ripped-from-the-Headlines Stuff
Way too much meta & parody this season all at once.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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5. Jodi’s dress was the worst picture ever taken in the history of America’s Next Top Model.
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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?
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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?)
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2
Kit’s vocal inflection problem.
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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.
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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.

Riese is the 38-year-old Co-Founder and CEO 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 2843 articles for us.

25 Comments

  1. 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.

  2. 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!

  3. 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!

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