Friday, 17 October 2014

The L Word, Season 1 (2004)

Pilot episodes are tough.  Not only do you need to tell a decent story, but you also need to introduce your cast, communicate to the audience what your show is going to be about and why they should watch it, set up your initial conflicts, and deliver a conclusion that's both satisfying but leaves them wanting more.  Now sure, a movie has to do all that too, but most movies (at least nowadays) are longer than even a double-length TV episode.  Plus movies tend to have smaller main casts, so there are fewer characters to introduce.  And of course, movies don't need to set up longer term plot lines while they're doing all this.

I mention this because, whatever bad decisions the show might make later - and believe me, in its six season run, there are plenty - The L Word delivers a cracking pilot.  It introduces the nine(!) main characters, sets up an immediate story hook for each of them (and longer term hooks for most), establishes most of the main locations it will use, and make it very, very clear what the show will be about: sudsy melodrama and lots of sapphic sex.

If that sounds like lesbian Melrose Place to you, then you're as old as I am.  From the tagline on the DVD cover, I suspect "lesbian Sex in the City" was the actual target mark.  But I've not seen the latter show, so I can't say how similar they actually are.  If you like, you can think of it as Game of Thrones, except with lots of lesbian sex and the conflict generally being limited to verbal/emotional confrontations rather than physical violence.

In the manner of such shows, there are too many plot threads running at once for me to give a summary of the season, so I'll just call out what I think are the two main arcs for this season.  The first revolves around Bette and Tina, who are trying to have a baby together while failing to address some pretty fundamental issues with their relationship.  The second involves Jenny, a young woman who has just arrived in LA to live with her fiance, Tim, but who soon finds herself drawn to Marina, the beautiful owner of the local coffee shop.  Both these arcs are packed with craziness, sex and melodrama, and play an important part in many of the events of the season.

The L Word season 1 is sudsy, sexy nonsense.  It definitely won't be to all tastes, but if you're looking for a show about impossibly beautiful people screwing up their lives with bad decisions, it's a good example of the type :)

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