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The L Word
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this mature Showtime drama is a textured, complicated depiction of the lesbian scene in Los Angeles -- which makes for great grown-up TV, but not necessarily family-friendly fare. Sex, foul language, and questionable behavior abound ... but so do complicated, very human reactions and relationships.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
THE L WORD depicts lesbian relationships much like straight relationships: Messy, passionate, bewildering, challenging, and, if one should be so lucky to find a stable, solid one, ultimately fulfilling. The main characters include Shane (Katherine Moennig), a female lothario going through her list of conquests without an ounce of care; poet Jenny (Mia Kirshner), who is awakening to her lesbian tendencies Dana (Erin Daniels); and a female tennis player coming out of the closet in fantastically awkward ways. And there's the delicious/painful rollercoaster of Bette (Jennifer Beals) and Tina (Laurel Holloman), who struggle to make their live-in relationship work.
Is it any good?
Prurient minds may think that this hour-long drama is nothing but a romp-fest of naked women. And, in many ways, it is. Women do have sex -- and lots of it -- but that's not what it's all about. It's exciting for lesbian relationships to have such a frank forum; for them to be characterized in living color, with all their complications; and for the "L" word not to be a forbidden word anymore.
Yet while the series is stylish and its ensemble cast is obviously quite talented, in many ways it panders to the stereotypes it tries so hard to smash. Shane is caricatured -- as if to say she's just acting like a "man" instead of like someone who's simply unwilling to commit. Predictably, Jenny is a poet, as if to say only "creative types" go through sexual confusion. Why can't she be an accountant? With its hip L.A. backdrop, the show presents an exciting and dazzling, even intoxicating, milieu. But it's not perfect, and it's definitely not for kids.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what it means to be a lesbian and how difficult it is to exist in a world that has problems accepting people's sexual preferences. How complicated must it be to love someone and have that not be accepted by everyone important to you? Families can also discuss how there are many similarities between heterosexual and homosexual relationships.