I Like to Watch
08-01-06 Crónicas del Carbono
* Katee Sackhoff of
In a genre switcheroo, "The L Word" offers fantastical tales of pretentious little girls from outer space, while "Battlestar Galatica" tugs at our heartstrings -- and knocks our fracking socks off!
by Heather Havrilesky
it takes a village idiot
Happy New Year, chickens, and welcome back to the comforting arms of a full lineup of televised entertainments! Or, if TV isn't your thing, welcome back to the warm embrace of workaholism, neurotic motherhood, compulsive drinking, relentless self-loathing, perfectionism, self-imposed isolation, obsessive consumption of online media, seasonal affective disorder or whatever floats your deeply flawed little boat.
The nice thing about debilitating habits is that there are always people out there with the same debilitating habits as yours. That's what's known as a community, see? And community is very important.
Now, when we're young and spend most of our time getting wasted on canned beer and driving around in circles in deep mud until our cars overheat, we don't care much about community. We don't care about community because we don't need community, chickens. All we need is an older cousin to buy the beer, and another older cousin who doesn't mind if his El Camino gets a little muddy.
As we get older, though, our needs grow. We need to borrow our neighbor's lawn mower to cut the grass. We need to borrow our neighbor's wife to get laid. We also need water, electricity, gas, food, cable TV and a wide variety of expensive insurance policies to protect us from worrying incessantly about negative circumstances beyond our control.
In order to meet these very adult needs, we're required to talk to others -- and not just to talk, but to cooperate with them. We're required to ingratiate ourselves, to engage, to barter, to compromise, to make people like us and accept us into the fold. Once we kiss enough ass to get into the fold, then we have to imitate other members of our community so that we won't stand out too much. Once we all sound and look alike, we start to look scary and repugnant to those outside our community. But that's great, because being hated by others is what bonds any community together!
L is for lazy
Now, I don't need to tell you that TV land is brimming over with communities: Cop communities, lawyer communities, middle-class family communities, aspiring-model communities, etc. When you throw in the communities of fans that rally around each TV community? Well, that's a lot of people to buy you beer and lend you their El Caminos.
Or, in the case of "The L Word" (10 p.m. EST Sundays on Showtime), that's a lot of hot gals to buy you cappuccinos, style your hair, play the latest Metric CD for you, fund your nonprofit organization, rent you an architecturally desirable house, make out with you in the Châl;teau Marmont pool when you're big and pregnant, and read you their provocative short stories about the circus. Hurray!
Ah, but let's start with the basics: This is a show about women, smart women who have a lot to say and who look good saying it. When you've spent a lifetime watching the same old macho-guy characters saying the same old things, it's nice to watch a show with nothing but women in it.
The other thing that's nice is, the women are gay, so they don't sit around talking about men the entire time. No, they talk about other women, and themselves. Have I mentioned that they look good doing it? They do. This is a nice-looking community.
On "The L Word," stories are mostly fun and soapy. Dana (Erin Daniels) the pro tennis player falls for a controlling but highly effective manager-publicist named Tonya, but she's having an affair with her old friend Alice (Leisha Hailey). Bette (Jennifer Beals) cheats on Tina (Laurel Holloman), but she's tortured when Tina finds a beautiful, ultra-rich girlfriend, Helena (Rachel Shelley), who gets hot just looking at Tina's big, pregnant belly. Shane (Katherine Moennig) is a player who continues to sleep around, but regrets having set up Jenny (Mia Kirshner) with her ex-lover Carmen (Sarah Shahi) because she's still sort of into Carmen. Kind of.
Most of the stories are fun and a little less formulaic than other soapy fare like, say, "The O.C." Once you watch a few episodes, you want to watch some more, to see how it all turns out. Some of the characters -- Dana, Bette, Shane -- feel very organic and believable. And Camryn Mannheim's turn as a bossy, self-involved movie producer who's charmed by Shane is particularly memorable. Basically, the elements of this show that work, work well.
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