Last summer I took advantage of a special offer from my cable company, upgrading my service to include, among other things, all of the Showtime channels. Thus, I have spent the better part of the last year catching up on some of the original programs they produce. I watch very few, if any, weekly dramas (or any other genre, for that matter) on network television, but Showtime has a reputation – along with HBO – of producing some darlings of the critics, so I decided to tune in.
I watched “The Tudors” first season, enjoyed it, and look forward to Sunday when the next chapter will begin. I caught a couple of episodes of “Brotherhood”. It wasn’t my cup of tea. I passed on “Californication”, the title alone a turn-off for me. And regardless of whether it appears as a toned-down version on CBS or in its original format on Showtime, I simply will not watch a serial show about a serial killer. “Dexter” crosses some line with me and I can’t seem to find any redeeming value in the subject matter.
During the last few weeks – after I belatedly discovered the convenience of “Showtime On Demand’ – I watched the entire 3rd season of “Weeds”. As I said to a co-worker who asked if the show was any good, “If you check your moral barometer at the door, you’ll get a lot of good laughs from it.” It has the combination of a very good cast and very good writers who are able to give a story that is in many ways so inconceivable, believable. Not to mention, enjoyable.
Contrast this with the other Showtime drama I’ve watched this season, “The L Word”. “L” for ludicrous. Or laborious, leaden, lecherous, licentious, lascivious, lustful, lurid. Take your pick. So why did I watch it each week (With the exception of the episode that stooped to girl-girl mud wrestling. I just couldn’t take that.)? Maybe I kept hoping for a glimmer of something recognizable, something to reaffirm the reality of lesbian life that I know. But alas, the season finale came and went last week, leaving me and my hopes unfulfilled.
I can understand Hollywood’s desire to not create a showcase of lesbian stereotypes, but in their attempts to avoid such it seems they completely tilted off the other end of the scale. The women of “The L Word” are more a collection of bisexual porn stars. With all the frilly dresses and long hair, they ooze femininity (certainly in and of itself NOT a negative thing), yet they engage in sexual behavior to rival any gang of twenty-something males. Not surprisingly, the opening credits show a scene of two women making out behind the tinted glass of a men’s room door. Sure, lesbians enjoy sexual relationships, but by creating a show where women who love women literally do little more than “make love” to other women, the folks behind “The L Word” have inadvertently bolstered a very distorted and over-hyped stereotype of the GLBTQ community.
I know it’s only entertainment, but couldn’t there be just a hint of realism? These women don’t have any semblance of normal jobs. There are no teachers or social workers or nurses or librarians. And even with all of the focus on work in the entertainment industry, there’s not even a single folk singer!
There’s one couple who have a toddler together, yet the child is rarely seen and her mothers have all of the time and energy to go to parties every night, romp around in bed at 4AM, workout at the gym, and hang out at the coffee shop. Honestly, what child-rearing couple – straight or queer – is this couple supposed to represent? The make-believe one, I guess. Most, if not all, of the couples (or single parents) that I know who are raising children are (1) totally exhausted and (2) have little of their lives left for themselves.
A couple of weeks ago, the two somewhat stars of the show who have struggled all season with the rekindling of a past relationship, summed it all up for me when one said to the other that they connect because they share the same values… art appreciation and interior decorating. Evidently, this is my community. At least in the eyes of some. It’s more than a little bit sad (and revealing of something) that the entertainment industry can produce morally depraved, gun-toting, foul-mouthed, gangster drug dealers on “Weeds” that are more substantive and interesting than the lesbians of “The L Word”.