When The L Word [Showtime, Sundays, 9/8C] returns this evening, it does so with a bang and whole heaping helping of crazy. By the time the teaser has ended, Jenny [Mia Kirshner] is dead and it looks like murder – and the determined investigating detective is Sgt. Duffy [Lucy Lawless]. Then the show skips back in time by three months and we get to see how events led to this point.
As a straight fan of the show who enjoyed the way the series dealt head-on with issues and various types of relationships within the lesbian community [which pretty much mirrored relationships in the straight world – except with hot lipstick lesbian sex], I got to know and love [or hate] the characters for who they were as people, from the exceedingly promiscuous Shane [Katherine Moennig] to the fruitcake that is Alice [Leisha Hailey] to the steady and motherly Kit [Pam Grier].
Over the four episodes I received from Showtime, I found that everything I enjoyed about the series has been taken to new levels – levels to which they, perhaps, should not have been forced to go. Alice [my least favorite character] and her black girlfriend, Tasha [Rose Rollins], have hijacked a disproportionate amount of the series – and their relationship woes are so obvious [and boring] that a couples therapist flat out tells them that he’s never seen two people who have less in common.
Meanwhile, Bette’s [Jennifer Beals] old college roommate, Kelly [Elizabeth Berkley], is back in town and despite knowing that Bette and Tina [Laurel Holloman] are together, seems pretty intent on getting with Bette. Then there’s Max Daniela Sea], who has learned, the hard way, that taking testosterone for her sex change has not prevented her from having some major problems [which, I have to admit, I saw coming for miles]; the return of Dylan [Alexandra Hedison] complicates Helena’s [Rachel Shelley] life; Phyllis [Cybill Shepherd] gets a marriage proposal; Jenny reveals the one true love of her life – and shakes up things for everyone. And have I mentioned the way that the studio has tampered with Lez Girls – turning it from a lesbian love story into a hetero love story?
Somehow, The L Word has gone from cool lesbian soap opera to way-over-the-top lesbian soap opera. The sex may still be hot, but I’m not sure the new levels of crazy are necessarily the right way to go here. Of course, there may be some entertaining value is seeing how much crazier the show can get – it’s not like it’s being done less well technically, or anything. I’m just finding it to quite as compelling, this season. It’s kind of like standing on a hill above an intersection and looking down at two cars speeding toward that intersection. You know it could end badly, but you can’t look away.
Final Grade: B-