In Appreciation of Jenny SchechterComplications Ensue
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Saturday, October 23, 2010

We've been watching THE L WORD, Season 4, after a long hiatus -- we didn't feel like watching Dana's breast cancer spiral in Season 3, so that derailed our watching the show a few years back. I continue to be amazed at the high points of the writing. When THE L WORD is good, it's as good as anything on TV. I think part of the secret is that it has a core audience that can be counted on to watch it no matter what -- and that leaves the writers free to jettison any requirements of "likability" and just make their characters as compelling and human as they can.

Some of the characters are enormously likable. And then there's Jenny Schechter. Jenny is a narcissistic personality verging on a psychopath.


In Season 4, Jenny reacts badly to a bad book review, and, seeking revenge, concocts a plot that involves adopting a sick dog from an animal shelter so she can go to a vet to put him down , in order to seduce her reviewer's girlfriend, solely in order to prove a point.

Jenny is a dog-murderer.

Jenny is insane. But she is insane in a very human way. She is one of those people who is never, ever wrong, and it is always someone else's fault.

Jenny Schechter is one of the best villains on TV. None of us is very likely to meet Tony Soprano. But Jenny? I know Jenny Schecter. I have worked with Jenny Schechter.

The show isn't perfect. When the writing is bad, there are misfires. There is a tendency to present LA, outside of the lesbian circle, as if it's small-town Texas. Kit goes to an abortion clinic that turns out to be a Christian adoption clinic -- as if anyone in the 213/323/310 would have trouble finding Planned Parenthood. The girls go to Tina's party, and Tina's straight showbiz friends don't know what to say to them, and say stupid homo-uncomfortable things to them -- as if showbiz people don't already know a slew of gay and lesbian people. For heaven's sake, when Marlene Dietrich was dating a woman, everyone at the Brown Derby knew it. ("Women make better lovers," she said, "but you can't live with'em.") Tina's showbiz friends would be swarming around Bette asking her for advice on what art to buy.

But when it is good, it is very, very good. Hats off to THE L WORD.



Hey Alex,

FYI: Gmail is bouncing emails sent to and saying the account doesn't exist.

By Blogger The Spec Life, at 12:33 PM  

Works fine for me. You sure that's how you spelled it?

By Blogger Alex Epstein, at 12:37 PM extra N found its way in somehow. Feel free to delete these comments with extreme prejudice and chalk it up to a slow Monday morning start out here in Venice!

By Blogger The Spec Life, at 12:41 PM  

I think season 5 is my favourite of L Word, because they milk Jenny's craziness for a lot of humour. I mostly enjoyed the L Word throughout, even though it was a show that never seemed to know its own identity. (Hard-hitting drama? Sexy soap? Equal rights platform? Even Ilene Chaiken doesn't know for sure.)

But I still can't forgive season 6. Ugh.

By Blogger Crystal, at 12:07 AM  

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