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Set in the chic world of Los Angeles, this humor-laced dramatic series explores the lives of a group of lesbians, their friends, family and neighbors. The series takes a smart, sexy and fun look at the hopes, dreams and lives of these people as they deal with things like career struggles, relationship issues and the pressures of trying to start a family. The show provides a fresh look at everyday life, told with passion, frankness and humor.
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Four years after Showtime made gay men the focus of its original series Queer as Folk, it was time for a little turnabout with The L Word (bad title, great show). Centering around a tight-knit group of lesbians in Los Angeles, this drama was far removed from its working-class male counterpart in both style and content. While the men of QAF enjoyed a fabulous if melodramatic life on the middle-class streets of Pittsburgh, the women of The L Word lived it up in sunny California, with gorgeous houses, glamorous careers, and sexy wardrobes. Ironically, though, The L Word adhered more to the everyday drama of ensemble shows like thirtysomething than the soap opera antics of QAF, and the results were surprisingly heartfelt and effective, appropriately stylish but never over the top. There was plenty of room for titillation, but creator Ilene Chaiken fashioned from the start a show centered on characters and not just sex, aiming for the heart rather than... well, other places.
The L Word focused primarily on committed couple Bette (Jennifer Beals) and Tina (Laurel Holloman), a former power-career duo who've decided to have a baby; however, artificial insemination and the changing dynamics of their relationship throw their previously happy existence off-kilter. Within their orbit are spunky journalist Alice (Leisha Hailey), sultry hairdresser Shane (Katherine Moenning), closeted pro tennis player Dana (Erin Daniels), and espresso bar owner Marina (Karina Lombard) who, in the show's most polarizing storyline, bedded the seemingly straight Jenny (Mia Kirschner) and shook up her heterosexual world. Jenny's am-I-straight-or-not? kvetching frustrated both her fiancé (Eric Mabius) and many viewers, who were alternately irritated and intrigued by her inability to decide one way or the other. But Jenny's weakness was part of The L Word's strength: in exploring many sides of many issues, both domestic and political, it never came up with an easy answer for any of them, making the show all that more fascinating--and compulsively watchable. --Mark Englehart
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