The L Word

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Name: The L Word
Abbreviation(s): TLW
Creator: Michele Abbot, Ilene Chaiken, Kathy Greenberg
Date(s): January 2004 – March, 2009
Medium: tv
Country of Origin: USA
External Links: Showtime's official site, wikipedia, IMDB, v.com
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The L Word is a drama series set in Los Angeles that follows the lives of a group of (mostly) lesbian friends.

Overview

The L Word follows the lives and loves of a group of lesbian friends living in Los Angeles. The main character, Jenny Schecter, is a recent graduate of the University of Chicago, who moves to Los Angeles to live with her boyfriend Tim and begin a professional writing career. Jenny's life is turned upside down when she attends a party hosted by Tim's next-door neighbors, Bette Porter and Tina Kennard, a lesbian couple who are about to take the step into parenthood after being together for seven years. A brief encounter at the party with Marina Ferrer, the owner of the local coffeehouse, suddenly has Jenny thrust into a whole new world that makes her question her own sexual orientation. Other friends of Bette and Tina include Dana Fairbanks, a professional tennis player who is shy but eager to meet the right woman; Alice Pieszecki, a magazine writer who creats The Chart, a recompilation of all the relationships and one-night stands which she knows of; and Shane McCutcheon, a hairstylist who can't stick to just one woman, and Kit Porter, Bette's half sister who struggles with alcoholism.[1]

Fandom History

When looking back at The L Word's influence on their own site, Autostraddle noted that -

The L Word premiered at a very specific time with respect to the internet’s evolution — right when blogging and online community-building was becoming increasingly accessible, wireless internet enabled uber-private browsing, podcasts were popping up on iTunes and TV recapping was becoming a relatively respected vocation. For the lesbian community specifically, the internet radically changed how we connected to each other and our own identities, offering a “safe space” to explore, meet like-minded humans, and build community without having to leave your own.The L Word became, for many internet queers, a common ground, a narrative we all knew and could talk about, even though things didn’t really get serious until those conversations evolved into more serious ones about our own sexualities and relationships.[2]

Our Chart

"The Chart" is a graph of the affairs that occur among Alice's friends and acquaintances; it is an undirected labeled graph in which nodes are labeled with people's names and the lines represent affairs or hookups. The Chart is a recurrent element in the show's storylines, especially those related to its creator within the series. During Season 3, it also serves as a marginal storyline that advances through each episode and concludes in the season finale – as well as a way to track the characters and get to know how they interact within the lesbian community.

The concept of The Chart was further exploited in Season Four, where it evolved into an internet social network. At the same time, a real-world parallel project OurChart.com was launched. The website, which allowed registered members to create their own profiles and also hosted several blogs on the show, was heavily promoted throughout Season Four. However, fans were quick to note that the site on the show bore little resemblance to OurChart.com. Some fans also noted that while a TV series showing the connections between characters and their ex's works well within a narrative, many actual users would be reluctant to a join a social network based on that idea. By 2009 it was merged with Showtime's website.

Pairings

Thanks to the shows premise centering around a group of lesbian friends, the majority of the shows shipping was femslash. Many of the popular parings where in canon relationships at various points within the shows airing. Lesfan (formally L-word.com) currently hosts the biggest fanfiction collection, with over 34,000 stories.

Communities, Archives, and Websites

Conventions

  • The L Event, 2005-2012. The L Word convention held in Birmingham, UK.

Fanfic Archives

Livejournal

Tumblr

Websites

Example Fanworks

Fanvids

Meta

Podcasts

References

  1. imdb plot summary
  2. How “L Word” Internet Fandom Built Autostraddle Dot Com: The Oral History