Now before I really delve into the topic of The L Word and monogamy, I would like to state for the record that I LOVE the L Word! I'm a HUGE fan and think it's a really entertaining show to watch. I'm actually quite saddened that next year will be the 6th and final season, and as much as I like to make fun of Ilene Chaiken and the other writers for their cheesy plot lines and writing, you know that my ass is parked in front of that TV every Sunday night at 7pm PST. With that said, I would like to explore the lack of monogamy themes on our favorite lesbian drama, The L Word.
Ever since the first season of The L Word, cheating has been incorporated into the plot about as often as two women kissing, and if you've seen the show, you'll know that's a lot. I sat down and thought about all the cheating that had occurred over the past 5 seasons and was quite shocked at the list I came up with:
- Alice cheats on Lisa, the lesbian identified man with Andrew, who initially was set up with Dana by their mothers. Jenny cheats on Tim with Marina.
- Bette cheats on Tina with Carpenter-Candace.
- Dana cheats on Tonya with Alice (don’t we all remember the scene in which they go at it on the living room floor and end up in the kitchen with whip cream and strawberries…?).
- Tina cheats on Helena with Bette after the sonogram
- Kit is sleeping with married man, Dr. Benjamin Bradshaw, the motivation speaker.
- Shane cheats on Carmen with Cherie (and let’s not forget that Shane was with her in season one while she was still married).
- Tina cheats on Bette with Josh
- Jenny cheats on Max with the French woman at Shane and Carmen's wedding
- Phyllis cheats on her husband with Alice
- Angus cheats on Kit with Hazel (the skanky nanny)
- Shane cheats on Paige with the Realtor
- Lover Cindy cheats on Dawn Denbo with Shane
- Nikki cheats on Jenny with some actor dude
So there you have it, the proof is in the non-monogamous pudding. As I started to think more and more about these prevalent themes of cheating in the lesbian community as portrayed on The L Word, I wondered what the basis for it all was. After all, The L Word is hugely influential on the lesbian/bisexual/transgendered community. Do you think all the cheating is based on real-life lesbian experiences and that the lesbian community is really as promiscuous and anti-monogamous as the L Word portrays it to be? OR, do you think that The L Word has taken the cheating story lines too far and is depicting a negative image of what the lesbian community is like? After all, the writers of Queer As Folk got a bad rap for incorporating so much promiscuity in QAF, yet, it resonated as ironically accurate in real life. As much as we love the L Word, we can't help but deny the fact that it is watched by millions of impressionable young gay women. Is this the message we really want to give them?
Personally, I am an advocate for monogamy. I think it is important to build a healthy, stable and monogamous relationship with someone you love. I don't condone cheating and I also don't think it is acceptable. The L Word seems to paint a picture that cheating is not only prominent, but it's tolerable, showing that couples who cheat on each other get away with it, and then get back together despite of it. I understand that hot, steamy affairs add an element of intrigue, drama and excitement in a fantasy sense to the storyline, but what's to be said about a show that can't even boast ONE solid, happy, long-term, MONOGAMOUS relationship?
Although The L Word is coming to an end after next season, I would have liked to see more stable, healthy relationships thrown into the mix. It would've been nice to see one couple 'make it' and defy the stereotype that lesbians can't hold down stable long-term relationships. The one thing I really don't understand is why there is so much dysfunction in the relationships on the show, when the show is written/directed/produced by lesbians. I would probably expect this type of behavior exhibited from straight authors, prejudiced against gays, but to have such dark and negative themes from lesbians themselves can only make me think that either a) Ilene Chaiken is really jaded and has had her heart broken too many times or b) She's actually straight.
Call me the eternal optimist, if you will, but maybe I've just read too many love stories, written too many romantic poems and dreamed too many dreams of being swept away by Princess Charming to want to be able to watch a show where lesbians get to have their "Happily Ever After" too. Here's hoping the final season of The L Word gives us something wonderful to look forward to, for once.