Sunday, January 25, 2009

Like Anyone Watches "The L Word" for the Stories

Mia Kirshner (on the set of "The Black Dahlia") tearfully asks God,
"Why can't I catch a break?"

Does anyone else find it a bit odd that the L.A. Times is questioning whether killing Jenny Schecter on "The L Word" will drive viewers away from the show? As much as I hate to defend any of the decisions made by the hackety-hacks (don't talk back!) who write for "The L Word" (assuming it isn't written the way I've long suspected it was: by putting typewriters in front of oversexed zoo animals and handing the resulting drafts over to escaped mental patients for polishing), aren't they just finally, after five long years of mind-boggling mediocrity, giving the viewers what they want by killing Jenny, one of the most widely loathed central characters in the history of television? (Is it not true that all twelve of the people who paid to see "The Black Dahlia" in theaters were rabid Jenny-haters who wanted to pretend it was a movie about Schecter's violent death?)

Mind you, I watched "Big Love" last week instead of the season premiere of "The L Word," so I can't comment on the particulars of this "Oh my God, they killed Jenny! You bastards!" plot development yet. It just seems obvious that the viewers who have faithfully watched (and almost as faithfully complained about -- not that that ever stopped them from watching) this train wreck for the last five seasons aren't tuning in for the storytelling.

Grouse as they might at the prospect of Jenny's death spurring a season-long game of Clue, these viewers come from hardy stock, having suffered through missteps including but not limited to voyeuristic roommate guy; drag king Ivan; the Max debacle; the Betty invasion, which happened over and over again; Jenny turning into a self-harming stripper/Talmudic scholar when repressed memories of childhood sexual abuse came to the surface (she wasn't really a Talmudic scholar, but I still laugh when I think of her breaking out the Hebrew); Dana's death; Alice fucking a vampire; Tina's ill-fated return to man-cock; Kit getting pregnant at the age of 87; Shane having sex with every woman she meets (and not seeming to care when it's hinted that one of them might be an arsonist); and freaking Papi.

In other words, the people who watch this show -- and I know because I'm one of them -- have no respect for their own intelligence, don't care about decent writing or acting (if the fans cared about decent acting, they wouldn't have spent so much time complaining about Mia Kirshner and Marlee Matlin on assorted message boards over the years; and they wouldn't have been so invested in the Tina/Bette pairing), and only watch "The L Word" because lesbian characters are almost impossible to find anywhere else. Hell, the writers could probably kill off several more characters and while the viewers would complain, they'd likely keep tuning in as long as every now and then a hot actress appeared and (to borrow a phrase from an SNL sketch) hugged another woman with her legs in friendship.

The real crime in all of this (if the character is actually dead) might be that Jenny wasn't killed off years ago, which would have served the dual purpose of pleasing viewers and freeing Mia Kirshner to pursue more work with directors like Brian De Palma and Atom Egoyan and less with visionless goofballs like Ilene Chaiken.

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