Monday, January 10, 2005


There's a certain television show that Sketchbomb (and Smitty for that matter) have been dying for me to watch since it premiered on Showtime...I dunno...a year ago? In fact, SB was so excited to hear that I had finally seen the pilot episode (on the DVD that she semi-coercively loaned me on Friday) that she fell out of her chair and into a paper lunch sack.

The show in question is The L-Word, and like any soap opera, it's probably not fair to make any judgements based only on the first episode - a soap opera draws you into the world of personalities and relationships that evolve over time. So this is just some initial feelings about he first episode:

It's probably the most commonplace question about this show, but to start off with, you have to wonder why all the lesbians on this show look like this and none of them look like this or this or this. Actually, you don't really have to wonder why - even if Showtime wants to push values-America's envelope with a(nother) show about queer people, it's not like cable's ready for Leslie Feinberg or anything. So the lesbians in this show are rich, young and typically beautiful. Anyway, this topic might be old news at this point, so moving on...

The pilot episode covers a bunch of the bases I'd expected it to - a mixed bag. You've got a lesbian couple trying to have a baby, queer folks dealing with squeamish straights, a straight person beginning to question their sexuality, and the trope of the lesbian socio-sexual web. The basics, I guess.

Jennifer Beals' art-maven is seems pretty one dimensional, and her stay-at-home partner is a little too reminiscent of the lesbian mom-to-be on Queer as Folk. You meet the seductively intellectual cafe owner and the bubbly semi-vacant fashion writer (played by Leisha Hailey - as a moderate fan of the Murmurs, I was a little sad about that) and the punky artist heartthrob. It seemed pretty clear to me that character development took the backseat in the pilot in order to pack in as many steamy scenes as possible. The threesome scene was saved from unforgiveable soft-core gratuitousness only by it's awkward conclusion.

The only other thing I have to say is that I think it might have been possible to create a straigt male character who was a little less clueless than Mr. Swim Coach. It's sort of irritating that him and all of his friends are painted into the classic boring suburban stereotype. At least Queer as Folk has Debbie.

Admittedly, future episodes may very well draw out the complexities of the characters. And if you're just looking for an engaging soap (or hot femmes touching eachother), complex character development may or may not matter all that much.

I'm sort of afraid that I'm going to catch a lot of flak for making so many critical remarks, so I'll just reassure SB that I'm going to watch the rest of the episodes on that disc and report back. SB asked me to grade the episode on a scale of 1-10. I'm going to be difficult and give it three grades:

As a soap opera: 8
As well-writted drama: 6
As a statment on queerdom: 3


Blogger Stephanie said...

I'll have more to say on this tomorrow, but I just want to say that I didn't get that into the show from the first second. It took a couple episodes and some great plot developments to really suck me in.
More tomorrow...

January 10, 2005 at 5:02 PM  

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