Dear Lesbian Bloggers, Isn’t it Time to Forgive?

[Note: This isn’t my usual writing prompt. If you want to use it as a writing prompt, take “time to forgive” and run with it.]

I’m asking you, dear lesbian blogging colleagues, isn’t it time to forgive Ilene Chaiken and The L Word for not being perfect? I’m not a lesbian blogger, so I fully I realize the hypocrisy of me chastising you, but let me explain my thinking.

the l word promo for season 6
Season 6 promo image from The L Word

I don’t have Showtime, so I didn’t start watching The L Word until it was off the air. I watched DVDs sent to me by Netflix. I was hooked on the large cast filled with women from the first episode. I wanted to be there in The Planet with them, having morning coffee and listing all the euphemisms for vagina I could imagine.

While I was busy relishing the refreshing impact of a drama featuring mostly female characters, I looked around the blogosphere for reviews and comments on this show I thought was so fabulous. That’s when I discovered lesbian blogs and bloggers.

Keynote panel
Ilene Chaiken (in white) at BlogHer09 via Flickr

I surfed around among many lesbian writers, sampling what they had to say about The L Word. I was surprised when I discovered a plethora of complaints, vilifications, and shaming. Nobody liked Ilene Chaiken. Nobody was satisfied with the plot. The characters were all too pretty. It wasn’t realistic. Everyone was mad because Dana died. Everyone hated Jenny. And on, an on, and on. Strangely, however, everyone seemed familiar with every episode.

That was a couple of years ago. From the many lesbian blogs I looked at back then, only two have remained on my regular reading list: Dorothy Snarker’s Dorothy Surrenders and the big group blog After Ellen. Why those two? Well, although Dorothy Snarker posts a fair number of eye candy posts, she also writes serious posts. When she does, they are exemplary: thoughtful, well-written and full of emotional impact. I admire good writing, and I agree with her stance on equality for all LGBT people. After Ellen has a variety of posts, but often reviews or talks about movies and TV shows that I watch. The recaps of TV shows that After Ellen publishes are sometimes hilarious and often better than the shows themselves. I support the values and societal changes that After Ellen endorses and promotes. After Ellen gives me insight.

Yet each time something related to Ilene Chaiken or The L Word comes up on After Ellen, there is still that continuing little dig, that continuing little echo of complaint.

Even as that continues, The L Word has become like Shakespeare or the Bible as a point of reference. A quote or a scene from The L Word is as well known to the lesbian community as any quote from Shakespeare or the Bible or any other cultural focal point. That says to me that most lesbians know everything there is to know about The L Word! Because in spite of all the kvetching, they’ve seen every episode more than once. In spite of the complaining, it was important and it mattered to them. It created a common vocabulary, a common means of connecting one cultural event with another, a common history that informs everything that followed.

When Sarah Shahi guest stars on Chicago Fire and says to her hunky fireman, “I’ll dance. You can just watch,” the image of Sarah Shahi dancing for Shane (Kate Moennig) in her undies in The L Word enters the head of everyone who ever watched The L Word. Because it’s a shared reference point. Like Shakespeare, the dots connect and the image applies to multiple situations.

Pick a scene. Any scene. If there is even a remote connection to a scene in The L Word, it will be recognized and commented upon. I think it’s because everyone knows The L Word because it meant something important to them – perfect or not.

When a gorgeous brunette (Anna Silk) throws a gorgeous blonde (Zoie Palmer) down on a bed, rips off her jeans, and then climbs on top of her in Lost Girl, L Word fans remember another brunette and another blonde – Jennifer Beals and Laurel Holloman – doing almost exactly the same moves.

While we’re on the topic of Lost Girl, the show takes a lot of moves from Buffy the Vampire Slayer too, but nobody is complaining about how Joss Whedon portrays lesbians. There are some who name the BtVS character Willow (Alyson Hannigan) as their favorite lesbian ever. Is that because Whedon gets some slack for being a man, but Ilene Chaiken who is both a woman and a lesbian has to be perfect?

For whatever reasons, Ilene Chaiken and The L Word complainers haven’t been ready to give even a tiny bit of slack to a show that brought them from almost no representation on TV to at least some representation on TV. Isn’t it time to ease up, forgive the imperfections, and recognize the importance and achievement of Ilene Chaiken to the lesbian community? If I had a valid vote to cast in that world, I would vote in her favor.


When the cast of your favorite show takes to Twitter

When I decide to follow someone on Twitter, it’s because they’re talking about things I’m interested in. I follow web designers, writers, people associated with, and some people I actually know. Then there are the celebrities I follow. Since I follow them because I’m a fan, I like to ponder the stuff they say that wasn’t scripted by someone else. Okay – I play amateur analyst with their tweets and try to understand more about them as humans rather than as characters.

A number of the celebrities I follow were formerly members of the cast of The L Word .

I got excited recently when the most important (to me) holdout from the cast of The L Word  finally joined Twitter. Yes, @jenniferbeals is finally tweeting.

Jennifer joined because she’s training for an iron man triathlon and wanted to share that experience. She’s talked about running, biking and swimming, and beating the clock. (And being freaked out by the clock!) But, inevitably, more of what she’s thinking about appears. For example:

Athletic and brainy seems an apt description. But it’s early days for her Twitter account, so who knows.

Then there’s Pam Grier. She often links to the Huffington Post, talks about animal welfare, and works on local issues – especially with the recent fires in Colorado. Here are a couple of her thoughts.

Laurel Holloman talks about where she is in the world, and about her art. For example,

Sarah Shahi makes a big effort to interact with her fans, something a bit rare among this group of L Word alumni. She also talks about her current show.

Kate Moennig rarely tweets. Sometimes it’s a generic sort of Happy 4th of July tweet, other times she gets philosophical. We also learn that she loves Downton Abbey and Girls.

Janina Gavankar is a prolific tweeter and might mention just about anything – music, her shows, things she wants. She’s another who will interact with fans. She’s impossible to summarize she’s so prolific. Maybe because she so busy.

MarleeMatlin is another prolific tweeter. She talks about everything from her current show, rights for the deaf, sports, to life in general.

Erin Daniels is on Twitter, but rarely tweets. Talk to us, Erin.

Leisha Hailey talks about her life and travels and what her band is doing.

I know I don’t have the entire cast listed here, but some of them I cannot find on Twitter. It’s interesting to me that I can care about a character in a story and that interest transfers over into real life. Especially because the real life person is nothing like the character I grew attached to. (I mean, I’ve been a Drew Barrymore fan since ET . . . hey, wonder if she’s on Twitter?)

So much Twitter analysis causes me to pause and wonder about the power and influence of celebrity. How do people use that power and influence? The former L Word women are using Twitter just like the rest of us – to chat about and promote the things they care about. Once in a while something besides generalized chatting comes up – like the time Leisha Hailey and her partner got thrown off a Southwest Airlines flight for kissing – or when Pam Grier got on a soap box because the firefighters risking their lives in the Colorado wildfires don’t have health insurance. The difference between what might happen if an ordinary smuck like myself tweets something significant and what might happen if one of them does becomes apparent when you’re looking at influence.

Many celebrities have used their Twitter presence to cause themselves massive train wrecks and epic fails.

I feel my fangirl attachments are well placed when “my” celebrities use their influence for good. How about you?

Please leave a comment with your first 50 words on the topic “when the cast of your favorite show takes to Twitter.” Feel free to go long today, since I took that liberty.

Best Wishes

I’ve been thinking about how the human mind works. For example, my post yesterday about Laurel Holloman’s artistic success. One part of my brain was thinking, wow, that’s wonderful – hope the show is a big success. Some other part of my brain was generating inappropriate sexualized images of her. The split between intellect and emotion rules so much of what humans do. I think it explains a lot about why the political situation is what it is right now in the U.S. I think it explains a lot about the state of the economy. And it is definitely fodder for writers.

Please leave a comment with your first 50 words on the topic “best wishes.”

Art Exhibit

Laurel Holloman, one of the stars of The L Word, has been painting since the end of the show, and is preparing for a show in Paris. She’s been tweeting about it all week. Here are a couple of examples:


I know it’s silly, but I can’t help picturing her preparing for the show while climbing on a ladder in a very tight dress.

For those of you who are L Word fans and are about to write a comment telling me it was Bette, not Tina, on that ladder – I know. Told you it was silly, but the image of Laurel in that pose is stuck in my imagination.

Please leave a comment with your first 50 words on the topic “art exhibit.”