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The following appeared on a Television Without Pity chatboard:

As it's the only full on lesbian show we've got at the moment, maybe we could show a little restraint on the pedantic nitpicking and character hostility and more support instead.
The blatant negativity isn't likely to help the show in any useful way, IMO.

Television Without Pity is a site famous for the presence of both gushy fans and snarky haters, so discussions there often have a certain intensity, although fans obviously tend to vastly outnumber the haters (who else would spend time watching and commenting on a teevee show other than fans?). More often, you'll get fans who are frustrated with certain aspects of favorite shows. Which is to say that the author of the above words isn't wrong about the negativity that sometimes rears its head at TWP, but otherwise it's very hard to take the writer seriously ... except that there are a lot of attitudes expressed that I fear are more common than they should be.

The fundamental flaws begin with the idea that fans writing on a webchat board should be concerned with "helping a show in a useful way." Back in the day, when people got together around the proverbial water cooler on Monday morning to talk about the previous night's television shows, did any of them think for a second that they were somehow charged with "helping a show in a useful way?" Of course not. They talked about their shared culture with friends. Moving the discussion from the water cooler to the Internet doesn't change that.

But the only reason I'm bothering to bring this up at all is the persistence of the extremely stupid notion that we should support art, no matter how crummy, if it meets our preconceived notions of what is necessary in the socio-cultural arena. In the case of L Word, this means we're supposed to restrain ourselves from commenting on its suckiness, because "it's the only full on lesbian show we've got." It's clear the creators of L Word are counting on this ... no matter how bad the show gets, we're supposed to be grateful it exists at all.

Something similar is happening right now in the community of American soccer fans, believe it or not. A new film that tells the story of a famous 1950 World Cup match between the United States and England is being heavily promoted in that community, with fans being co-opted into the publicity scheme of the movie. Happily co-opted, I should add ... none of them have actually seen the movie, but they don't care, they want it to be a success because soccer isn't a popular spectator sport in America and they want to "help the movie in a useful way," in the process hopefully helping soccer in general.

Underrepresented groups understandably want to increase the amount of positive coverage of their culture. This has nothing to do with the quality of a work of art. That a full on lesbian show finally exists is a good thing ... that it's The L Word is a bad thing, because The L Word isn't a good show.

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