Season Endings, New Beginnings
For six years, my partner and I, along with some lez and straight friends, followed their lives. We scoured the Net for downloadable videos, links or torrents and DVD vendors just to see how their lives (and wardrobes) are turning out. We felt like they were our best friends, a part of our barkada, people whose lives we were as involved in as our own. But now their stories have ended, our own vicarious “glam dyke” lives come to a close. Showtime’s revolutionary show, The L Word, is on its last season.
My partner and I personally identify with Tina and Bette. Long-time partners who want nothing more but to start their own family, yet suffer from the occasional relationship pitfalls of infidelity, distrust, miscommunication and an excess of emotional baggage and issues. I’m her Bette, and she’s my Tina. Like Bette, I can be a control freak, oftentimes critical, demanding, and high maintenance. She’s Tina, patient, optimistic, and well-liked. They fall apart, move on to new relationships, yet in the end, they know that they only want each other for the rest of their lives. In the process of trying to keep their relationship, they lose themselves, find each other, and eventually, find their own selves apart from each other. Their love story tells us that the once perfect, blissful union apparently never is perfect but that in the end, there is nothing wrong about hoping — and trying to achieve that almost blissful union, despite many trials and errors.
On the other hand, I think we’re pretty much like Alice and Tasha, too. We’re quite different, she and I, and like Alice and Tasha, there are not-so-good days when even the strongest TiBette love can shake. I’m bratty, catty and neurotic like Alice while she’s patient, even-tempered and thoughtful like Tasha. Despite our differences, I fight like Alice in keeping us together while she asks the high heavens for more patience in dealing with me. Hopefully, we’d be dancing the last dance until we’re old and gray.
There are other characters in the show whom we all can identify with one way or another, at some point in our lives. We all wanted to be Shane — or at some point, be Shane’s lover. Perhaps you wanted to be Carmen or wanted to do Carmen. Maybe you’re Papi. Or socially-maladjusted Helena, who sometimes used her money and charm to gain friends. Or perhaps you’re the needy, clingy, self-centered, and manipulative Jenny sometime in your life. (Poor you. Do you still have any friends left?) Better yet, you must be Kit Porter — fallen angel who’s managed to turn her life around to become motherhen for all.
More importantly, The L Word has brought us and exposed us to situations that we might not have known how to deal with, might not even be aware of, and dared us to tread through the unknown. It helped us confront common issues about being lesbian — self-acceptance, coming out, tolerance, acceptance, labeling, and stereotypes, among others. Aside from these, the show also dared to take us into tougher issues such as infidelity, gender identity, gay families, monogamy, societal acceptance, etc. But through all these, we traversed through a myriad of basic human emotions and experiences that transcend genders and sex such as falling in and out of love and lust, creating friendships, going through a heartbreak and mending a broken heart, celebrating triumphs and victories both big and small, births and even death.
We came out of the closet with them, at least I did. I remember sneaking my DVD set of Season 1 into the house and trying my best to keep it out of my parents’ sight. Now, 6 seasons later, I don’t need to hide my copies. Now I only want to build a closet-full of clothes like theirs.
I remember growing up with very few lesbian media icons. There was only Melissa Etheridge, whose music I listened to in all my teenage angst. Then there was Ellen Degeneres whose show, Ellen, I had to watch in vain through a snowy UHF channel. Of course, there were the occasional lesbian flicks that one can borrow from ACA Video namely Rose Troche’s (an L Word director and writer) Go Fish, and L Word‘s own Laurel Holloman’s Incredibly True Adventures of Two Girls in Love. I’m sure there’s one or two other lez films I saw as I was growing up a lesbian teenager in Manila but I forget the other titles.
Now, baby dykes are lucky to have something like The L Word to help them feel more confident about themselves, something that will make them feel more accepted, something that will reassure them that they are not sick, that they belong, that they can be loved and accepted and be productive, responsible, successful and happy members of society.
Am I sad that the show has finally ended? Yes. But I know too, that the best shows are the ones that leave you with memories and lessons that enrich your life. It’s the one that made you laugh out loud, cry and sob in cathartic relief, grit your teeth in anger, cringe in your seat, or sometimes, like in this case of The L Word, wet your knickers.
It doesn’t matter if the show has aired it’s final episode last March. Thanks to technology and its various forms, The L Word will continue to play on and continue to awaken senses, question and shake traditional notions about what the norm is, and in many ways more than one, challenge society’s many misconceptions about how other people live and love.
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