the l word: season three
TV, 2006, 3.5 stars
Created by: Ilene Chaiken
Well, this season can be summed up in one word really. Depressing. What, did all the writers lose a favourite pet just before they sat down to write? The scripts ran the gamut from downright awful to utterly insightful, but always so, so sorrowful. It was a rocky season, filled with enough heartbreak and hurt (both accidental and deliberate) to sink a ship full of lesbians. But there was some hope too, and a couple of the characters actually managed to grow a little.
I feel the need to bite the bullet here and congratulate the writers on at least one thing. I complain contsantly that television has a habit of shaving off all the rough edges of life and not giving it to us the way that life usually is; harsh, brutal, unforgiving. You can’t say that about season three. They made some dubious creative decisions, and I don’t think Bette had a single line all season that a real person would actually say, but you can’t say that they made the journey easy for us. And for one character the journey ended.
BUT, and this is a huge but, even in the roughest of moments the sadness needs to be tinged with laughter. You need those up moments, those moments of silliness to temper the bad, or else it ceases to be entertainment and just becomes a hard slog. I had to force myself to watch the second half of the season, you could see from a mile away what was coming.
Bette and Tina and Anjelica and Henry and the Buddhists
Bette kept saying ridiculous things like “I think you should explore these feelings you have” and “you no longer have the rights of being my life partner”. I mean, who writes this crap? And poor Jennifer Beals for having to say it! The whole buddhism thing was doomed to failure. Type A Bette was never going to be able to quiet her inner demons through silence. She’s a woman of action, and that’s finally what she took.
As for Tina… wow, is she confused. I absolutely see why they did this. After questioning her relationship with Bette, it makes sense she would also question the life she chose along with Bette. She’s questioning life without a father for her kid, and she’s questioning life with women. After all, why go after your true heart's desire if you could provide your child with a nice normal family? It’s a brave angle to chase, and turning Tina into a class A bitch was tough to take, for everyone.
Alice and Dana and the stalking
OK, the first few episodes of the season were not kind to Leisha Hailey, though her radio producer going off the rails was kind of funny. What was supposed to be the “funny” though was just embarrassingly stupid. The less said about that the better.
Dana and Lara
The kiss at the tennis match was worth waiting three seasons for. Wow. Imagine what they could do with Lara if they really wrote for her, rather than just have her stand in the background and say all the most obvious things? Lauren Lee Smith’s big episode, when she delivers Dana to the hospital for her first operation and battles the doctors for the right to see her, really showed off what this actress can do when given a chance. Now I’m afraid the character really has run her course, because…
Lara and Alice
...is going nowhere. A relationship built on fear of being alone and mutual grief? It feels so wrong. There’s absolutely no chemistry there, and I thought Leisha Hailey could generate chemistry with a wooden pole. I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks Lara is about to tell Alice she’s moving away for good. We’ve seen the last of the soup chef on The L Word, which makes perfect sense because as I've said on many a message board, the way they've written Lara makes her existence on the show pointless without Dana.
Even thinking about the breast cancer storyline makes me want to cry and vomit at the same time. I feel the need to rant a little. Dana was my favourite character, and I’m thoroughly sick of unimaginative writers who just throw characters aside. It was ultimately meaningless to have her die.
Dana’s final episode (written by Rose Troché) was the best of the season, and Leisha Hailey was magnificent. Also pretty damn cool was Alice walking out of the funeral but stealing the ashes. The hiking trip to the cabin and the whole waterfall thing was less successful, but Shane’s breakdown was not only poignant, but totally in character.
The bit at the basketball game is one of my favourite moments of this series so far. When they get it right, they get it absolutely right. When they kill off characters to make some stupid point and to "reinvigorate" the cast, they get it wrong. Besides, why couldn't they kill off Jenny?
Kit and Angus
Boring. Pam Grier wasted. And a whole episode with bad Betty acting and singing? Puh-lease. Get those chicks off this show now. It’s not that I dislike Angus, he’s just a bit of a nothing character, and he certainly can’t be Kit’s soulmate.
Dylan and Helena
By far the most interesting storyline of the season. Helena was a bitch in season two mainly to cover her own insecurities, and then she started spending all her money on her friends to cover her insecurities. Driven by greed, Dylan allows her boyfriend to use her to set up Helena for sexual harassment. Helena of course does her best to help out. Dylan seems to be genuinely caught in the middle by the end, and scared by her own feelings for another woman.
Of course, Helena gets her heart broken, but their first sex scene together was one of the hottest ever filmed for the show. The scene where she watches the tape Dylan leaves her, then turns down the sound to just watch the woman she loves had me in tears, and turned Helena into one of my favourite characters. Who knew?
Alice and the vampire chick
This was actually amusing, and gosh didn't the show need it. Starting with the bisexual speed dating and ending with Uta telling Alice she needs to sort out her feelings for Dana before they can go on, this was actually a hoot from start to finish. The sex scene with Alice swinging from restraints was super hot and a nice shout-out to the fetish community.
Jenny and Max and the utterly weird Alan Cummings
Wow, where to start? The initial transition phase that Moira is going through started out interesting enough (let’s just forget the lobster scene ever happened), but as s/he turned into a loser creep who lost his temper all the time I sided totally with Jenny, and that has to be a first. Max had some great scenes with Jenny, and a couple of wonderful scenes with Dana, but overall I think the character become less successful the further we got into the season.
Jenny went out with a bang this season, literally, getting her book published and having an affair with a French-Canadian chick at Whistler. I’m kind of glad they didn’t take the cutting bit too far. It was true to character for Jenny, but since she’s been the most vulnerable and screwed up since episode one, it’s time to begin the healing process. Please, I'm begging you, let Jenny heal.
And what the hell was Alan Cummings on? His portrayal of Billie was just downright odd. The sex between him and Max was odd. The whole thing was… odd.
Carmen and Shane
Did anyone actually think Shane would go through with the wedding? But Kate pulled off the lamest story twist in history, the meeting of the long lost father and having it destroy her sense of self, with aplomb. I thought the writing of that storyline was just dumb. But the wedding proposal itself, done through grief, and the acceptance at the waterfall, and the struggle as they got through infidelities… that was all gold.
I’ll actually miss Carmen. She suited Shane. She was a good contrast to Shane. The way Kate Moennig acts is both inspired and limiting at the same time. I think she works magnificently as a wounded soul, but they can’t keep that up forever.
This was the year of Leisha Hailey, the first few episodes notwithstanding. Alice came so far, went through so much, and traversed a lot of emotional territory.
We need to let Bette move on already. How much more energy did it give the show when Bette was being seduced by a Senator and defending art in the senate hearing? Cool, sexy Bette kicks arse over whiny, housewifey Bette. The Washington scenes were Bette’s best scenes, and I hope next season contains more scenes like it.
This season is hard to rate. The problem is, it killed off part of its core, and lost its sense of humour. If Dana had won her struggle with cancer (surely the message would have been just as strong having her battle to survive and win – let’s send a message of hope for early detection?) and the girls had shared even one hilarious ensemble scene on par with the best of season one, then we would have been getting somewhere.