Last night, television’s only lesbian drama ended after 70 episodes and six seasons. The two-hour block given to The L Word was split up into a one-hour tribute episode and a one-hour series finale. The first hour hailed the series as groundbreaking and as a show worthy of the history books. The drama starring Jennifer Beals, Laurel Holloman, Katherine Moennig, Mia Kirshner, Leisha Hailey and Pam Grier was the first television show to explore the lives and loves of lesbians in West Hollywood as well as the first series with a deaf-lesbian character and a regularly occurring transsexual character. The L Word fans across the nation tuned-in in the hopes of seeing a wedding, a funeral, a baby, or at least a murder case solved. Major Spoilers Below:
And what did we see in the series finale? Nothing. Essentially, the episode was set up like any other episode. Dylan and Helena broke up again over trust issues. Alice and Shane chat on the phone and spend a day drinking their sorrows away together. Bette and Tina host a party. These all sound like normal L Word happenings. The problem is that there was a season-long mystery about who killed Jenny Schecter. Evidently, creator Ilene Chaiken never had any intentions of revealing how Jenny died. Earlier this year, when asked about the solving the mystery, she said, “I don’t actually feel compelled to answer it. The show is about character and relationships, and I used this story to deeply explore those relationships. It’s a risk not to solve a mystery, admittedly.”
A risk? Yes, Chaiken risked having the wrath of The L Word fans come crashing down all around her and it certainly is. Carolinagrrrl from AfterEllen.com said, “The finale was horrible and a slap in the face to the fans. Nothing of substance actually happened, and what ACTUALLY happened was left unresolved/didn’t make sense.” As a long time fan of the show myself, I’m still infuriated at the nerve.
The cliffhanger ending has been done before (when thinking of good ones, think of The Sopranos or Veronica Mars), but on a show where the fans have gotten to know the characters and care for them so intimately, it is insulting. For the whole tribute episode, when asked about the general believability of the characters and plotlines throughout the years, the producers kept saying “This is Hollywood” or “It’s television, what did you expect?” Yet when Ilene was asked to explain the unfinished plotlines in the series finale, she explained, “I was not interested in wrapping up the show neatly and tidily. I wanted to end with a sense that life goes on.” Well, Ilene, you seem to be giving mixed signals. The L Word is not real life my friend, it’s television. There’s no context as to what these characters’ lives might go on to be. Instead, their lives have come to an abrupt and heartbreaking end.
Many have speculated this is all a marketing ploy to convince investors to make an L Word movie. If so, many fans are outraged and want to see these characters again, someone will want to make it happen, right? Well, not if ninety percent of your fanbase thinks you’ve ruined the entire thing. I imagine that many hard-core fans would venture to the film. But, I would definitely not convince any of my friends to go with me because I wouldn’t want to put them through the inevitably atrocious plotlines that will come out of an Ilene Chaiken movie and I’m guessing many fans would agree with me.
I’d be even less inclined to tune in to Chaiken’s new pitch The Farm. Although I’m generally obsessed with Leisha Hailey and her character Alice, seeing Alice in prison sounds depressing. Chaiken has depressed me enough over these past six years. Chaiken claims, “it would be a great way to bring our audience over and tell them that we’re not abandoning them, which was really important to us.” Well, I think she’s already abandoned us after the series finale.
Ilene Chaiken refused to address the wishes of any of her fans. For instance: Did we see any growth in Shane’s character? Did (as some wished) Molly and Shane get back together after Shane found the letter? Did Tasha and Alice have a happy reunion? Did Helena regain any of her previous power suit cougar ways? Did we get to see Bette and Tina marry? Did we see any of the character’s dreams come true? Did we get any closure at all? After we watched our beloved characters lie, cheat and steal year after year, one glimmer of hope, one glimmer of happiness would have been nice. Instead, Ilene Chaiken gave the lesbian community murder, ambiguity and despair. I’m sure they’ll be sending their thank you cards any moment.
Note: I do not mean to demean any of the accomplishments of The L Word or Ilene Chaiken as a creator. I respect both greatly – this is just to point out the colossal mistake made in the finale that tarnished a fun, flirty, heartfelt series.
-Kim Wetter, BuddyTV Staff Columnist
Sources: LATimes, AfterEllen.com, Washington Blade
(Image courtesy of Showtime)