- In November 2004, Mark Burnett (Producer) refused to show a lesbian kiss on Survivor (CBS).
Every season, contestants at some point during the game are reunited with their loved ones.
What results is a lot of hugging, kissing and "I love you's." In the ninth season, two lesbians
were on the show; Burnett edited out what happened (i.e. the kiss) when each lesbian was reunited with her partner.
Burnett stated this was as a result of the recent presidential election. Thus we have Republican
ideologies, which have constructed American nationalism driven by capitalism, once again typing lesbian
identity as sexless. The lesbians fit into stereotypes used for humor (Rosemary Hennessy's idea of
masquerade from her book Profit and Pleasure: Sexual Identities in Late Capitalism) or as objects for
male desire, the latter especially true for bisexual characters (147).
- Showtime broke boundaries with both The L Word and the previous Queer as Folk (QAF), as well as
shows featuring other marginalized groups. They call this diverse programming No Limits entertainment.
Though this may be a response to ratings (re HBO), it has given many minoritized groups images to watch
- "According to Showtime, 'The L Word' had 936,000 viewers its first week and has stayed fairly constant" (Guido).
- I discussed the show with everyone I know. Most said their friends saw themselves. When the show first came on the air this was the buzz, perhaps because there was, and still is, nothing else like it on television.
- These comments, from one of the special features from the DVD box-set, are followed by writer/director Rose Troche stating that people say "as long as there's a cowboy-boot-wearing, you know, lesbian with four cats and a girlfriend who's Chinese," they will be happy
(“The L Word Defined”) . This was also a response to statements that all the characters are lipstick lesbians.
I would be happy with less white and more butch.
- There has been much debate over the generalized male gaze, but I tend to think that media, even gay media, caters to men and their sexual desires. We live in a heteropatriarchy (simply put, a patriarchy defined by heterosexuality) and from this a male gaze has been created, partially out of relations of power and partially from sexual desire. The concept of male gaze will be discussed further in the media section.
- Showtime was very heavily promoting The L Word at gay pride events the summer of 2003. When Queer As Folk first came out you couldn't go to a queer event without hearing about QAF. I attended events during both of these promotions.
- Rose Troche responds to the comparison to QAF by saying there is "a lot less drugs and a lot less dancing" ("The L Word Defined").
- Add to this Ellen DeGeneres's new talk show, Rosie O'Donnell's show (as its image changed after her coming out), as well as Will and Grace and Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.
- According to tvtome.com, QAF first aired in December 2000. This would mean that The L Word was pitched sometime in 1999, five years prior to it airing in 2004, with contracts for production probably being signed around the beginning of 2002 ("the L word").
- I attempted to contact Showtime about this, but have yet to hear anything back.
- If you were to look at ratings for the most popular shows today - Survivor, CSI, and Grey's Anatomy for example - you would most likely find that the first season or two of these shows was far less watched than the shows are now.
- As queers are not allowed to adopt, or get married, it is assumed that we (I mean white gay men) have less people to support, therefore we (also white gay men) have more wealth. In some cases this is true and has recently been discovered and thus exploited, especially in urban areas as there is more wealth near a city in general than in a rural setting. This would also explain the heavy promotion in places like New York, L.A. and San Francisco both with commuter traffic and queer pride events, which have become more about capitalism than queer pride. This would also be why it has taken a season or two airing for my lesbian friends in the middle of the wheat fields to catch onto the phenomenon that is The L Word.
- This was seen in the movie Chasing Amy (the lesbian loses the woman to a man) and Gigli. More recently, in the second season of The O.C., one of the main characters dated a woman, but eventually went back to her man.
- One look at AfterEllen's "Timeline of Lesbian and Bisexual TV Characters" will show the femininity of the majority of lesbian and bisexual characters on television (AfterEllen.com). MTV, among other channels, does the same with queer female characters on their reality programming (only scripted television is listed on AfterEllen). Even QAF's lesbians fit into the mainstream notion of what women should look like or be.
- The only time the lesbian actually wins the women, it is done to demasculinize a male character, generally for humor, as was the case with Ross from Friends.
- A cutter is someone who cuts himself or herself, with razorblades, usually based on depression or the need for attention. This can eventually be taken to the extreme, as was Jenny's case in the last episode of season two. What would The L Word be without a season ending institutionalization or lesbian gone mad; first Marina, then Jenny, both for attempted suicides. Though not institutionalized, Alice and Bette also seem to be having a bit of a mental breakdown. Sadly, these issues, like many of the important issues on the show, have been swept under the rug.
- See http://ismsandsuch.com/TLW/begin.html.
- This argument and the idea of the male gaze are explored more deeply in the next section on consumption and marketing.
- While they never discuss Ivan (see the characters section on supporting characters) as transgender (unfortunately this is only implied in the second season) he is never shown as a woman, rather always in some form of male drag. Thus, Ivan is male and will be described here as he and him. While some would say "he" or "him," using quotation marks, I avoid the use of quotation marks around the words he or him as I feel this would demean Ivan's identity.
- I have had numerous discussions about this scene. Some did not see it as a rape while others did. Either way, the relationship clearly ended violently and was never properly deconstructed.
- This is Alice's rendition of the concept six degrees of separation. She has constructed a web on a white board linking names to every person they have slept with. She can then take a single person and link them to anyone else on the board. It is quite an interesting concept and the show really begins to delve into this concept with the third season.
- Bulldaggers are the butchest of lesbians; short hair, leather and spikes, motorcycles, unemotional, predatory, and menaces to society. This is not to say that they are harmful to one's health. In fact, many women find this attractive and sexy.
- This rush from major fashion labels to have the characters sporting their outfits was actually discussed in Showtime's 15-minute preview, "All L Breaks Loose," which aired the week prior to the second season's premier.
- Though Reading The L Word: Outing Contemporary Television (2006) began as a project by Sarah Warn, the founder of the entertainment site AfterEllen.com, it is edited by Kim Akass and Janet McCabe, both academics, and does include some critical academic work alongside the episode guide, fan essays and interviews with actors and writers that will satisfy hardcore fans. Expecting the book to be targeted towards gossip hungry fans, I went into it sort of reluctantly. Surprisingly, I found this book to have a nice balance with differing perspectives on the show, including perceptions from the UK, coverage of the music, a comparison of characters to mythical demons, and commentary on heteronormativity, sex and relationships, race and biraciality, gender and identity, target audience and of course the lesbian visibility and invisibility created by the show. Though I don’t know that I would use the book as a whole in pedagogy (unless, of course, for a class specifically on The L Word), I do think there are articles that could be pulled out for classes on media or queer studies. However, the book would certainly be useful to anyone doing a research piece on the show.
- As a point of clarification, the "certain stereotypes" are those of lesbians as butch.