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02/16/2007

Confessions of a Latent 'L Word' Junkie

by Jeremy Hooper

Picture 6-48The below is cross-posted over at Queer Beacon as part of their "Guest Reviewer Week." Thanks to Augusto for giving this writer a much needed break from writing about "the culture war!"

Confessions of a Latent "L Word" Junkie

I knew there was a character named Bette, as well as another, more promiscuous one called Shane. I was aware of virtually all of the actresses, having seen their visages at various queer events and on more than a few magazine covers. I even knew that the initial premise of the series involved a small town "straight" girl moving to glamorous L.A., where she learned more about herself than she had ever planned or imagined. Yet despite all of this cursory knowledge of Showtime's Sapphic sisters, I had never seen one episode or even given "The L Word" more than a passing thought. This all changed on January 7, 2007.

My partner away on a business trip, I found myself bored and lonely on a Sunday night. Being the geeks that we are, TV viewing is quite the serious concept in our apartment. We don't as much watch shows as we consume, analyze, debate, and discuss the plot lines of our favorite programs. This being the case, we NEVER watch one of our regular shows without the other. Sick, I know -- but it's the truth. So wanting to watch TV but not wanting to upset the balance of things, I decided to to make a one-off venture into the West Hollywood of Ilene Chaiken's imagination.

Monday, Jan. 8: I watched the entirety of season three on Showtime On Demand.

Wednesday, Jan. 9: I found a nice deal on the Season One box set on Ebay, and snatched it up faster than you can say "Carmen de la Pica Morales"

Thursday, Jan. 10: Found Season 2 available for download on Amazon Unbox.

You get the picture.

I've since yelled at Faye Buckley, wept over the demise of Dana Fairbanks (and we're talking Shelby's death in 'Steel Magnolias' tears!), and gone from loathing to loving the theme song (then back and forth again between the two emotions several times over). I've eagerly read Scribegrrl's Monday morning quarterbacking over at AfterEllen. I've found myself lying in bed actually wondering if Tina And Bette have a future, only half-admitting to myself that they aren;t real. When, during a recent trip to a local used book store, I saw the official companion book for a mere $6.00, I literally let out an audible squeal.

Yes, I have become an addict, with dyke drama my poison of choice!

You can blame "Queer As Folk" for my initial apprehension. While that Showtime series will always hold a place in my heart for breaking new ground and unapologetically portraying LGBT lives, it also stands out for far-less-flattering reasons. I need not go into the details, but let's just say that I wasn't expecting Showtime's newest gay-focused series to artistically shine. But you know what? It oftentimes does! Watching the shows in the back-to-back fashion that I did, I certainly see the flaws and ridiculouness about which so many of its ardent fans have bitched (I'm looking in your direction, scene in which Billie Blaikie fellates the prosthetic penis of Moira/Max). However, there have been more than enough poignant moments to write off the missteps. There is also a core of actresses that genuinely comprise one of the finest, most capable ensembles on television. In fact, I genuinely have to question why we live in a world where Teri Hatcher is an Emmy winner for doing such madcap things as falling into bushes, yet none of the ladies of "L" have ever even been nominated for also falling into....ooh, must resist.

For those gay men like myself who have previously shied away from the show for whatever reason, I urge you to give the ladies of "The Planet" a shot. The show is currently in a creative stride, with Cybill Shepherd, Marlee Matlin, and Kristanna Loken bringing in some refreshing new life. Also, Leisha Hailey is truly standing out this season as an extremely deft comedic actress, while Jennifer Beals and Mia Kirschner continue to shine. "Vagina wigs", poker debts, discreet soldiers, and sign language -- likely to be far more interesting than anything you'll see over at Wisteria Lane.

Now if you'll excuse me, I must go see if another Sunday night cable show, A&E's "Intervention," is seeking applicants for those who've been hitting the Pieszecki pipe a little too hard.

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