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Tuesday, October 25, 2005

In the first season, I could relate to the women, they were quite
similar to me and my friends. We don't have quite as much drama as
they do but their lives seem to parallel ours. Some of us are
executives, some are artists, there's a "shane" like friend (not in
"butchness" but in the love'em and leave'em kinda way). And the
problems they faced seemed "real" to me and my friends who fell in
love with the show.

During the second season the writers seemed to have decided to throw
in everything but the kitchen sink. Jenny's storyline was nothing but
annoying. I know strippers who are lesbian, not one of them uses
their job to purge some childhood trauma. In fact, they are mostly in
it for the money and the power trip. One of them told me that she
liked dancing since she had all the power in the room when she was on
stage.

There were complaints during the first season that not a lot of
"butch" women were portrayed on the show. Ilene Chaiken defended
against this by saying that it was a story about 6 friends, and their
lives, and wasn't meant to be a representation of every facet of
lesbian society. NOW... on the third season, they have abandoned that
and are going to introduce a Female to Male transsexual. I've been a
lesbian in Atlanta (the gay mecca of the South) for 15 years and I've
NEVER meet or heard of a FTM tranny. Let alone have it be so
convenient that Jenny (the "new" lesbian) be the one who gets involved
with her. I think I would have less of an issue with it if one of the
more established as lesbian characters were given that story line.
Give me some emotional reality, some angst about being attracted to
someone like that when you don't define yourself as anything but a
lipstick lesbian who exclusively dates your own "kind" or woman. That
kind of thing. Not this instant meet Jenny at the bar (in IOWA!) one
night and run off to LA to live with her crap.

It just seems that they've decided to throw in every damn thing they
can think of instead of following the premise of the series which is
the story of the 6 friends. Most of the plot lines were are
preposterous. They've managed in 2 seasons to have one character
(Marina) attempt suicide, and then it was revealed that she was
married to a male "Count". Plus it was totally unbelievable the Jenny
didn't run to the hospital when she heard the news. Shane and Jenny
had to take in a roommate in order to make ends meet but are
constantly wearing new clothes and doing things like going on cruises
(Olivia cruises are NOT cheap). Dana changed from being a kinda goofy
I-don't-have-a clue lesbian who was basically a good egg to being a
sex crazed and conniving cheater who gets dumped and moves on without
a batting an eyelash. Mark would have gotten his ass KICKED for
filming any of my friends. The whole Jenny/Shane/Carmen thing?
Unreal. Yes, the lesbian community is incestuous but friendships (of
many years) have been killed over a woman. Not made stronger by it.
The whole sex on the toilet thing... DISGUSTING. And the hits keep
coming... one stupid plot line and after another.

My friends and I have discussed this, and we all agree, there's plenty
of drama in "ordinary" lesbian lives without the circus freak show
aspect the Chaiken and company seem determined to pursue. For
instance, they could have explored Jenny coming out to her parents and
then dealing with her childhood abuse through resolving the issues
brought up within that dynamic. But.. no.. they had to give her the
latest traumatic acting out de jour... she's a cutter.

They could dealt with the drama of having a woman who's firmly
established as being lesbian finding a guy attractive and her dealing
with not only an erotic attraction to him but also being attracted the
ease with which "straight" people are accepted by society.

They could have taken longer with the Dana being gay but having to
stay in closet for her career's sake plot line.

There's many stories that they could have done, however, all of those
stories require strong writing and while I think it was present in the
first season, it was sadly and noticeable absent in the second.


I've noticed a number of shows that seem to lose faith in their main characters and their template. The OC jumped the shark for me when it stopped being about a poor kid, Ryan, dealing with the problems of a bunch of rich kids, and started being about characters coming from everyone's past, and fugitives on the run from 20 year old bombings and the like. It seems to me if you were honest about it, you could stick with Ryan and the rich kids and never run out of material. But once you go for the flash, your show gets hooked and it's hard to go back to good story telling. Whereas if you trust your characters, like Gray's Anatomy does, you discover they're much more interesting than they were when you first wrote them.

I hope we keep trusting our characters on the show we're creating now...

UPDATE: Welcome, Television Without Pity readers (and thanks to Writergurl for the many new visitors!). If you're interested in posts about writing and watching TV, here is an index of some of my best, I think.

9 Comments:

I just started watching Grey's Anatomy and I'm liking it. The characters seem to be well developed and I'm starting to see depth. BTW, we're well on our way over here at UCLA. I'm about to start writing my first thirty pages for Hal's 431.

By Blogger Lawrence, at 8:33 PM  

Wow. I didn't know you were gonna quote almost all of my email. LOL Cool! Although.. I gotta watch those typos!

Some background... what Alex posted was my reply to him when he emailed to ask what I thught was wrong with the L word. So, there you have it.

Denis might take umbrage since I'm not "in the room", and thus this is all "fangirl" garbage. I don't think it's garbage but then I do know that the writer's of the show will likely pay no heed to what I have to say. Besides, I can't be accused of radical "fandom"... I haven't even writing any fanfic!

This is just my honest opinion of how they wrecked a good show. During the first season, it had the fastest renewal of a series in Showtime's history... 11 days! THAT'S how hungry we were (and still are) for a show about US. My friends and I used to have "L word" nights. Bars used the "L word" to fill their otherwise empty nights. Now, I ask my freinds if they're gonna watch it and most of them sneer and say, "Nah, it's stupid now."

Well, you can regard it as one thing. A primer on how NOT to let a good show slip out of your fingers.

By Blogger writergurl, at 11:15 PM  

Make that "one good thing"...

Geez.

By Blogger writergurl, at 11:16 PM  

Nah, I actually think that was a good analysis of L Word...and from a stakeholder, too.

I never said that writers should never listen to their fanbase. If you'll notice, though, you framed your critique in how you and your group reacted, and how the creators have strayed from what their own stated intentions were... that's a very different thing than a bunch of fan-haters doing armchair writing.

Sometimes decoding criticism means that you get an insight into how you're not connecting with the audience. And the L word is a very different beast from those who critique LOST. L Word has lost serious Buzz and cachet, whereas Lost is still packin em in.

If all criticism was unfounded, then why would anyone do it?

Part of the job of the writer is to learn to mine what's useful from the criticism..it's not all wheat. But it's rarely all chaff.

By Blogger DMc, at 8:34 AM  

Wahoo! I'm not a "fangirl'!

Seriously Denis, I didn't meant to imply that your were telling writers to ignore their audience or constructive critisims. I was just trying to make sure that I wasn't tagged with the "fangirl" label.
You are so right, "L Word" is such a different beast than a show like "Lost", it had so much going for it and they totally blew it. It was appointment tv for many many lesbians as well as a lot of other people. I know a straight guy who LOVED the show and would watch it. During the first season, he actually got rid of some preconcieved notions and figured out that relationships are relationships, no matter what genders are involved. How big is that? You educate as you entertain. Now they're not even entertaining.

So sad. All that potential... wasted. Just wasted.

Unless they manage (somehow) to steer back on course, this show is doomed. I predict this will be its' last season.

By Blogger writergurl, at 12:29 PM  

I would be interested in seeing the Nielsen numbers for both seasons to see if the changes that were made for L-WORD equaled higher ratings or a broadening of the viewership demographic.

By Blogger Bill Cunningham, at 9:18 PM  

Someone correct me if I'm wrong but I don't believe there are Neilsen numbers available for subscription cable like Showtime or HBO. I think its based solely on the uptick in subscription sales. But, I could be wrong, wrong, wrong. it's happened before and I'm positive it will happen again.

By Blogger writergurl, at 11:38 AM  

There are Nielsen numbers available for HBO and Showtime but Showtime doesn't particularly like advertising theirs because the ratings don't exactly inspire excitement.

Here are some numbers for their series premieres:
L Word 936,000; Weeds 537,000; Huff 456,000; Fat Actress 924,000. Queer as Folk had the highest premiere out of all of them but I don't know what the exact number was.

The L Word season 2 premiered to 515,000. These are numbers for their first airings and of course the shows tend to be repeated throughout the week.

By Blogger Jeff, at 12:14 PM  

See? I was right! About being wrong that is...

Thanks for the info, Jeff!

By Blogger writergurl, at 8:14 PM  

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