The “L” in The L Word, now ending its fifth season, will surely never stand for “logic.” But that’s why I (and I assume many others) watch, anyway: the hilariously incomprehensible plot turns and behavioral zigzags that make this Showtime series the most — pardon the pun — lip-smackingly versatile bad show on television. (And yes, this is my version of saying I read Playboy for the articles.)
The running story line of the making of the movie project Lez Girls has been pure catnip, a loopy behind-the-scenes melodrama of sexual-revolution integrity threatened by scandal, divadom, an ill-timed strap-on romp and All About Eve silliness. You could probably fashion a drinking game out of the blissful un-realities of show business perpetuated in every episode, but at the very least the pharmaceutical industry should work on hyping a new syndrome inspired by the vortex of solipsistic moods Mia Kirshner’s character, Jenny, runs through every year.
Then there was the ever-popular thread of art snob Bette’s relationship cruelty, which has successfully replaced Jennifer Beals’ genuineness as a conflicted soul in previous seasons with a kind of odd, disloyalty-spiral fatigue. The show’s penchant for starting story lines and then dropping them faster than a guest star’s panties stayed true to form: Lesbian soldier Tasha’s conduct-unbecoming military trial was mostly an excuse for a juicy speech, a happy coincidence and an exit with seemingly no thorny emotional residue. (Leisha Hailey’s Alice did get an out girlfriend, though!)
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But real, happy-viewer smiles came with any appearance by Catherine Keener’s wiry look-alike sister Elizabeth as evil club-owning Floridian Dawn Denbo. A butchy tyrant with a femmy, cowed blonde lover she totes around like a trophy and treats like a slave, Dawn targeted the gals’ hangout the Planet for takeover with all the relish of Snidely Whiplash by way of a ’60s-Batman villainess. The L Word reached its most deliriously crazy heights fleshing out Dawn’s shenanigans, from ludicrously evoking The Godfather — when the two sides have a meeting like a “family” détente — to even Pam Grier’s old blaxploitation revenge flicks, when her character Kit decides to settle the score with Dawn by climbing into her ’70s sedan with a gun and a murderous look. Next season will be the last for The L Word, and I only hope that with this insane show’s sunset, there will be room for a lot more Dawn.