I'm in Pain! I'm Watching The L Word! 📺
"Let's make a baby."
Hello girls in tight dresses who drag in mustaches. Hello chicks drivin’ fast and Corbin Bleus with long lashes. Yes, the rumors are true. I had emergency oral surgery last week and somewhere in my Vicodin fog, I was visited by the ghost of Sounder. He told me to recap the first season of the original L Word. I asked him why and he said it’s what the people need right now. He’s a subscriber and I rely on subscribers to keep the lights on and pay the dentist, so I’m not going to argue.
It’s the first ever episode of The L Word. Los Angeles, 2004. The vibe is clunky cell phones, newsboy hats, and the Iraq War. I’m tearing up watching these characters being introduced for the first time. We meet Bette and Tina, lesbian homeowners who are desperate to have a baby. Bette is a big deal in the art world. Tina quit her job to mindfully tend to her herb garden and “prepare her body for pregnancy.” Bette and Tina seem like the perfect couple, but Bette is kinda mean. They don’t have sex anymore, they just make out and talk about ovulation.
Next door, a young man called Tim is remodeling his garage. He’s setting up a studio for his girlfriend, who’s moving to LA to be with him. Her name is Jenny and she’s a writer. Thunder claps evilly in the distance.
Jenny gets off the bus wearing a velvet blazer and enormous bellbottoms. She’s immediately horny and annoying. She pounces on Tim, then watches through the fence as Shane bangs a chick in Bette and Tina’s pool. She’s turning gay before our very eyes.
Bette and Tina see a celebrity couples therapist. Bette arrives late and is a real Defensive Debbie. The therapist asks why they’re trying to have a child when their sex life has been shitty for years. He actually uses the word shitty! Then he calls them “mutually codependent.” Tina nods in agreement, while Bette calls him a dummy who has nothing to offer lesbiankind.
After couples therapy, Bette and Tina visit their sperm donor. The donor is a painter whose work Bette admires. He goes behind a screen to jerk off while Bette and Tina tour his studio. “I love his new work, he’s using paint so much more freely,“ says Bette. Meanwhile this man is exactly one foot away, groaning and shooting his wad into a cup. There must be a more private place for him to do this?? You really wouldn’t expect so much of this show to be about jizz, but it is.
Next, they go to the doctor’s office so Tina can be professionally inseminated. The doctor says that pregnancy is more likely to occur if Tina is *~aroused~*~ and then winks at Bette (wtf). Bette lifts up the Tina’s gown and starts eating her out in a mechanical, deeply unsexy way. Tina’s face is like, ehhh. She’s physically present, but her mind is busy visualizing a gayby.
The doctor returns and says just kidding, Bette doesn’t have to arouse anyone. The artist sperm is not viable (“these little fellas just don’t have what it takes.“) All the professionals on this show are wildly inappropriate and I love it. Tina is only ovulating for another 2-3 days. They need sperm and they need it NOW. When did sperm banks become a thing? It’s not very gay rights to track down your own spunk.
Next, Bette and Tina stop by a quirky little cafe called The Planet. We meet all their friends. There’s Alice, a bisexual writer for L.A. Magazine. Shane is a hair stylist and tortured lothario. Marina has unsettling European energy. She’s also the owner of The Planet. And finally, there’s Dana! Dana is a professional tennis player who’s still closeted. I forgot how problematic Dana is in season 1—she tells Alice to choose between dick and pussy and yells at Shane for dressing like a dyke. Shane is wearing a sheer western shirt with pearl buttons and the sleeves cut off. It’s very Von Dutch. I would yell at her too.
Bette and Tina have a party. Dana attends with Harrison, her go-to beard. Harrison is super obviously gay and Dana is pouting about having to spend time with him. It’s a funny bit. Tim and Jenny are there, so is an unhinged woman that Shane hooked up with and never called. Meanwhile, Bette and Tina are on the prowl for baby batter. They approach several men and everyone says no. What do Bette and Tina expect? Donating sperm is a big decision. It’s not something you agree to at a party like a body shot or reading someone’s WiP.
Alice is flirting with Jenny when Marina sidles up. Marina’s voice is a sultry whisper. She starts naming women writers and Jenny basically creams herself. The camera is zooming in on their eyes and lips. It’s a very sensual conversation about books. They make out in the bathroom and Jenny has a full-on panic attack. She grabs Tim and makes him go home so she can have aggressively heterosexual sex with her BOYFRIEND, who she LOVES and is SO INTO.
The rest of this episode is more of the same. Jenny goes to The Planet and acts surprised to see Marina. Bette and Tina meet a promising donor, but he wants to have a threesome. This show loves minor characters with strange, overblown accents. It’s very Disney Channel in that way.
I was really surprised by this episode. It has mumblecore vibes!! Unlike later seasons that involve Gloria Steinem and murder, there’s solid logic to the story and the characters’ actions. It doesn’t hurt that there’s no intro and notorious “living laughing loving“ song.
Until next Friday.
Other Stuff That Came Up for Me:
There’s so much time devoted to Tim and his job coaching the UCLA women’s swim team. The other coach is a legit character with a name, that’s how much college swimming is in this season.
Dana is so horny and bitter!! She begrudges everyone for having sex and relationships, especially Shane. I love how everyone calls out Dana’s internalized homophobia. It’s what she needs.
Do you think I should be doing this?