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The L Word: Season 2 DVD Review

The L Word: Season 2

February 5, 2006

Director: Ilene Chaiken, Ernest R. Dickerson, Tony Goldwyn, Jeremy Podeswa, Lisa Cholodenko, Rose Troche, ,
Starring: Jennifer Beals, Erin Daniels, Leisha Hailey, Laurel Holloman, Mia Kirshner, Katherine Moennig, Pam Grier, Rachel Shelley, Eric Lively, Sarah Shahi, Ossie Davis, ,

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DVD Review

The L Word is a fascinating drama about a group of lesbians living in Los Angeles. Airing on Showtime frees the program from the restraints of network TV and allows it to explore issues of sexuality in a more frank and open way. Thanks to the success of the first season, Showtime quickly green-lighted a second and increased the budget of the show significantly. Would this sudden flood of fame and money spoil this provocative show? Would it sell out and soften its edges? No chance.

Bette (Beals) is a successful businesswoman who works for a prestigious foundation for the arts. Her partner, Tina (Hollowman) is having their baby but Bette ended up cheating on her and got caught. As season two begins, they are dealing with their messy break-up and what is shaping up to be an ever messier divorce. Alice (Hailey) is a free-spirited woman with her own radio show and who has a crush on Dana (Daniels), a successful professional tennis player that recently went public that she’s gay. They have finally taken the plunge and started dating which provides the source for a lot of comedy in this season. Jenny (Kirshner) is a struggling writer who finally came to grips with being gay which didn’t sit too well with her husband who left her. So, she moves in with Shane (Moennig), an excellent hairdresser who never lets anyone in, preferring short, intense physical relationships. Finally, there is Kit (Grier), Bette’s sister who bought the Planet, the local café where all the characters hang out. She is giving the place a new look, turning it into a nightclub at night and imparting her own distinctive style.

The character development/story arcs for The L Word in season two are quite dramatic for much of the cast. Jenny has gone from a whiney, wishy-washy character in season one to a stronger, more assertive one who finally comes to grips with issues that have plagued her all her life. Bette went from a likable character to a loathsome one because of the hell she put Tina through. Now, the tables are reversed and it is Tina’s turn to put Bette through some tough times. Thankfully, Alice and Dana’s courtship provides some light-hearted moments.

The L Word isn’t all about softcore sex scenes between good-looking women. That is only a small part of the show. Its real strength lies in the well-written scripts with dialogue that feels natural and is smart with well-developed character and story arcs. The cast is also uniformly excellent, especially Moennig as the rebellious, mysterious and very charismatic Shane. Her character has a refreshing no B.S. attitude the plays well off the other characters, especially a larger-than-life movie producer whom she works for as her assistant.

Thankfully none of the intensity of the complex issues raised and addressed in the first season is watered down in this one. Despite the addition of a new, cheesy opening credits and theme song (I miss the simplicity of season one’s), The L Word has lost nothing that made it so good and enjoyable to watch in the first place.

Special Features:

On the third disc is an audio commentary for “Land Ahoy” by actresses Erin Daniels, Leisha Hailey and Katherine Moennig. This is a fun track as the ladies crack jokes at each other’s expense and generally have a good time watching this episode. Fans of the show will enjoy this entertaining and often very funny track.

The fourth disc features an audio commentary for “Lacuna” by executive producers Ilene Chaiken and Elizabeth Ziff. They comment on Jenny’s storyline and the themes it tackles – mainly the notion of fragmented memory. Chaiken argues that Jenny isn’t going crazy but suffering from an emotional breakdown. Both women are very well-spoken and their track is the sobering alternative to the more frivolous (yet equally good) cast track.

“L Word Girls on the Record” features soundbites from the cast on specific moments on the show, including Daniels and Hailey commenting on their characters’ budding romance. Mia Kirshner talks about the impact of cutting her very short hair for the show and why she chose to make such a drastic change.

“L Word Balderdash” features the cast playing the game with all sorts of funky words in this amusing but ultimately superficial extra.

“Playing with Girls: L Word Shorts” features a series of silly questions posed to the cast. For example, they are asked to describe their first kiss or “if you were a fancy drink…”

Also included is the music video for “Some Kind of Wonderful,” a funky, soulful cover by Pam Grier and Betty (who also do the show’s new theme song) that features loads of clips from the show.

“L Word Fan Mail” includes a selection of stories from fans of the show about how it affected them personally. These are well-written, heartfelt correspondence about how these people relate to the characters and stories on the show.

“More on Gloria Steinem and the Foundation for Women” takes a brief look at this living legend and her organization. Among other things, it addresses issues of violence against women.

Finally, there are biographies for the cast.

J.D. is a freelance writer who is currently doing research for a book on the films of Michael Mann. He likes reading anything written by Jack Kerouac, James Ellroy, J.D. Salinger, Harlan Ellison or Thomas Pynchon. J.D. is currently addicted to the T.V. series 24 and enjoys drinking a lot of Sprite. This is not a blatant plug for the beverage but if they ever decided to give him a lifetime supply he certainly wouldn’t turn them down.
view all DVD reviews by JD Lafrance

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Rating: 85%

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