What can I say about Showtime’s huge hit, The L Word? If you don’t already know what this show is about, and I was surprised at the number of people I talked to who didn’t, then I’m pretty sure this isn’t the show for you. Remember the old days when you used to watch Sesame Street, and each day the show would be brought to you by a letter and number of the day? Today this review is brought to you by the letter L and the number 6. L stands for lesbians, and 6 is how many seasons the series would be fated to last. Unlike that adorable count, I won’t be able to take you through the count, as I have never seen the show before last season and so only have seen 2 season releases. If you’re a fan and have collected the previous years, this is the portion of the review where you can go to your DVD shelf and count the sets. When you’re done, you may return to the review.
Finished? Good. Now unlike that wonderful muppet inhabited street we were just talking about, The L Word is strictly for the adults in the group. There is little doubt that the series is not only about gay women but for the most part is targeted to that same demographic. If you take a look at the limited extras, it is quite obvious who the intended audience is. There are obvious winks to the lifestyle that I’m really not able to understand, so I missed many of the in jokes. The storytelling is also very much in the vein of a soap opera, so you need to already know these girls before you can really get into these stories. It also doesn’t help to come to this party so late. If you have not been following the show to this point, this is not the time to join in. I suggest that if you are at all interested you go back and start from the beginning. Time and money make that impossible for me, so I’ll have to tell you what I think based on this limited exposure.
This series feels a lot like HBO’s Sex In The City, but with the obvious lesbian point of view. The show follows a diverse group of gay women and takes us into the intimate details of their lives and most particularly their relationships. The cast is solid, and even if I wasn’t able to get to know the characters this quickly, I recognize solid chemistry and acting when I see it. It’s no real surprise to me why this show is so popular with people who like this sort of thing. It’s really a bit outside of my tastes, and not really because of the sexual orientation. Honestly, I’m not a fan of these kinds of heterosexual shows either. I won’t really try to venture into the long list of characters. The season appears to concentrate mostly on the aftermath of Lez Girls. The studio got cold feet and changed the ending to where the lesbian lead ends up rethinking her choice and runs to the arms of a man. It doesn’t really matter, however, because the master prints get stolen and the film will never get released. The first episode begins with the murder of one of the girls. Within minutes we are transported back in time to the point where last season ended. In fact the entire season takes place in the pick-up from last season, returning to the murder in the season and series finale. I have a feeling that fans will be disappointed. I know I would be.
Each episode of The L Word is presented in its original 1.78 widescreen format. Again, I can’t compare to broadcast versions of the series, but these DVD transfers are quite nice. The sharpness is excellent. Black levels are well above average for television, even in the HD age. Colors aren’t necessarily bright at all, but remain constant and solid throughout. Flesh tones are dead on reference.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is more aggressive than I expected going in. There are not a lot of dynamic opportunities for an audio track to particularly shine here, but it does a wonderful job of immersing the viewer in the show. The plentiful musical numbers are well placed, usually not interfering with the action. Dialog is always easy to hear, and placement is spot on. Not much for the subs here, but who cares?
There are some DVD-Rom extras and some episodes of other Showtime’s series. The real L Word extras are as follows:
L Word Generation: (25:00) Real gay people talk about the impact the show has had on their lives and their community.
Gay American Heroes: (4:32) This is a PSA for the Rainbow Memorial Fund.
11th Annual Women’s Event In New York LGBT Community Center: (24:35) The cast made an appearance at this charity event, and it’s covered here.
Photos From Jennifer Beals: Beals took pictures during the entire 6 year run of the series, mostly in black and white. This is a collection of those shots with an introduction from Beals.
With the end of the series, I suspect this community has lost more than just a television series. There can be no doubt that the series cast and crew members were active in various ways to help the gay community. There has certainly never been a show quite like it, and I doubt there will be again. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be films and shows dealing with this subject matter; only that this one was one of a kind. There was an obvious commitment level here that is rare. Still, now’s the chance to share a few more memories with the girls of The L Word, “however fleeting they may be”.