Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The L Word Goes out on Top

This Sunday night at 9 PM, Ilene Chaiken's groundbreaking Showtime drama The L Word enters its final season, with one storyline providing a framework for the season:  who killed Jenny Schechter?

As Chaiken told critics at today's TCA convention in Los Angeles, her show is going out on top.  Season 6, she says, is the show's strongest.  "We've had our ups and our downs, but it has all come together."

When asked why Showtime has chosen to promote the show this season by revealing Jenny's death, rather than using it as a big bang surprise during this weekend's opening installment, Chaiken didn't question the network's wisdom.  The mystery angle will be eminently promotable.  And Jenny's demise, she said, "happens in the first 20 seconds of the episode."

Guests to look forward to this season will include Xena lesbian icon Lucy Lawless and gay camp icon from Showgirls Elizabeth Berkley.

And let's not forget the show's fabulous cast, who was in attendance, including another icon, Pam Grier, as well as Leisha Hailey, Laurel Holloman, Katherine Moennig and the incredibly beautiful Jennifer Beals.

Beals spoke eloquently about how much The L Word has meant to its fans -- not just as entertainment, but as a lifesaver for questioning women and men.  She remembers one older lesbian couple who won walk-on roles on the show as an auction prize; the show, they told her, had inspired them late in life to come out to their families.  And Beals began to cry when she recounted other stories of how much the show has meant.
I told Ilene when we started this show, "I want this show to change the world!"   And she said, "Calm down, it's just a TV show."  I want the show to be for that young girl in the middle of nowhere who decides that she's gay and has no one and has to come out to her family.  I want her to turn on the television and have her see the most
 fabulous, resourceful version of herself shown back to her.  I recently got a letter from a young woman who told me she had just come out.  She was 16 years old.  She said it was the loneliest time of her life.  And she said by watching the show, the show had saved her life.  Because she had contemplated killing herself. And that by realizing there were other people who were out there like her and there was a larger community to which she belonged, and in which one day she might be able to take part, she was encouraged.

Beals went on to compare the show to Flashdance, where her character was also an "other," or outsider.  In Flashdance, she says, the woman finds her outlet in dancing.

[On The L Word], in playing this character, it's an extension of what it means to be "other."  I don't know what role will be next.  but what will be the most difficult thing to do is to find something that is written as well and as helpful as [The L Word] has been to people.

The L Word
Season 6 Premiere
Sunday, January 18, 2009
9 PM Eastern

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