Monday, March 9, 2009

So Long, Suckers (and Good Riddance, Betty!)

Pam Grier is prepared to defend herself against another Papi-centric story line.

"The L Word" was put of out of its misery last night after six seasons of unwavering mediocrity, and while I didn't see the finale (a few episodes into the shortened final season, when it became clear that the writers had again failed to come up with any kind of game plan, I bailed), some guy who did says it sucked. He misspelled Pam Grier's name in his review, by the way, so I'm not quite sure that he can be trusted, but ... Oh, who am I kidding? There's no way in hell the finale wasn't every bit as terrible as all the episodes that preceded it. And if you're looking for a second opinion, Entertainment Weekly's Nicholas Fonseca agrees the big denouement left something to be desired, but ends things on a more philosophical note, writing:
But years from now, will it even matter how the show went out in its final hour? It was really the other 69 episodes that made The L Word a TV milestone.
If by that he means a milestone in unbridled -- and unrivaled -- awfulness, then I agree. But Fonseca continues:
As the retrospective that aired beforehand reminded us, its impact expands far beyond its barrier-busting stories: TV's first deaf lesbian, its first regularly occurring transsexual character, bisexuals of both genders, drag kings, the US military's don't-ask-don't-tell policy, biracial identity, gay parenting, sex/drug/alcohol/gambling addiction, sexual abuse, midlife sexual awakenings, breast cancer...this show took on a lot. Judging by the frequent erraticism of its storytelling, it probably took on too much. In the end, I say, thank goodness it had the guts to take them on at all.
My thoughts are slightly different. Maybe, on occasion, when you know you're failing miserably at something, you have to stop trying to do it. I know that's the kind of crazy notion that runs contrary to everything the entertainment industry normally believes in (after all, these are the same brain trusts who thought Freddie Prinze Jr. was a good idea in the '90s), but can you honestly say that "The L Word" was successful in its handling of any of those issues?

It didn't entirely botch the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' story line (which was less effective than it would have been had viewers been given more reasons to care about Tasha, the new character who was the focus of the subplot), and no missteps were made with issues of biracial identity, but the failures of all those other story lines were pretty massive. What "The L Word" did best was frivolity and froth, and even those episodes (which were mostly the work of writer-director Angela Robinson and not Ilene Chaiken, the show's demented creator and resident peddler of overpriced "L-Word"-themed jewelry) were few and far between.

Altogether, this is a series that will be remembered for two things: having a bunch of lesbian characters (which is good) and inspiring eight trillion shitty YouTube fan-edited clips of C-list actresses making out with each other while Sarah McLachlan wails in the background (which is bad). Call it a draw.

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