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l word season finale

I was writing something about the season finale of L Word and accidentally deleted everything. It's a sign of the quality of the show that I have little interest in recreating my discussion. Season Four (FOUR!) was arguably the best, although it may just have been that it's worn us down so we don't complain as much. A couple of the most annoying characters remained annoying, but for the first time, it seemed like we were supposed to be annoyed … in earlier years, these characters were presented as the best, their worst aspects somehow seeming to be meant as endearing. Jenny, the Most Annoying Character on Television ™, was crappy again after almost being human for most of Season Three … but everyone seemed to finally recognize this, and she didn't fare well, about which I can only say "about time." (Mia Kirschner has always been great, which helps, but just barely.) Jennifer Beals' Bette is a control-freak who was, along with Jenny, the heart of the show, and it was nice to finally see her called on her self-centered dominatrix tendencies. Beals is also doing a fine job, and her character actually made progress this season.

And (she gets her own paragraph) Leisha Hailey is the best thing about the show, even when they give her character, Alice, stupid things to do.

Oh, and the women are all gorgeous and they have on-screen sex. A lot.

But the problems of past seasons haven't really gone away. Characters change their core personalities from one season to the next to fit whatever plot shenanigans have been devised for them. The worst in this regard is Rachel Shelley's Helena (it's always worth mentioning the name of the actress, because with a couple of exceptions, these women do excellent work, better than the show deserves). She was a rich bitch in Season Two, everyone's dearest friend in Season Three, and a ditsy doofus in Season Four … none of these people resembled their earlier manifestations, but what the hell, Shelley did what she could with the role(s) and, like everyone else, she's hot and does lots of sex scenes. Also, as always, the show comes to a complete stop on a regular basis in order to climb on this or that soap box for speechifying of the worst sort (it doesn't matter that much of what is said in these scenes is on target, for they come out of nowhere and are completely inorganic in their presentation).

A special mention must be made of the song that closed off Season Four. The L Word, like far too many shows these days, loves to end episodes with meaningful montages underneath a "relevant" pop song, and this was never as bad in its worst moments as it got on Sunday night, when they managed to combine two of their worst qualities into one laughable mess: the anvilicious speechifying and the let-the-pop-song-do-the-work-for-us montage. As the season ended, Bette was impressing her former and perhaps future girlfriend, an artist played by Marlee Matlin, by bringing a huge advertising sign all the way across the country … it showed that she could break free of her control-freak patterns in the name of love. Meanwhile, back at home, we got The Montage of the various other characters doing whatever it is that characters do in these montages. While this occurred, the inevitable pop song flowed through the speakers, in this case, a song from one of my favorite singers, Pink. The song? "Dear Mr. President," wherein Pink chastises President Bush for being a fucking dickhead. I'll give a quarter to anyone who can tell me what "Dear Mr. President" has to do with anything that was on the screen as it played in the background.

Grade for season finale: B-

Grade for Season Four: Ah, what the heck, B.

Comments

Chris

It hasn't been since the end of the first season that Karen and I said the same thing at the end of a season: we're going to miss The L Word during the off-season. At the end of last season (the worst yet, IMO), we genuinely wondered if we would even watch this year. The show got its sense of humor back this season, clever humor, and I appreciated that. We also saw more sex this season than last, and I'm not about to complain about that, either. It's hard to know if Ilene Chaiken, creator and producer of the show, listens to what fans and critics have to say about the show (if she did, Jenny would have been killed off long ago), but this season was a huge improvement over last year's, so she must have recognized something had to change.

Apparently, that change continues to involve Helena, who, as you mention above, changes her core personality as often as she changes her shoes. Regretfully, she's become a bit of a joke ("Will she now become a criminal in jail the women go visit in Season Five?"), and that's too bad.

The political speechifying doesn't bother me as much as it does you (this was also true for The West Wing, as I recall), primarily because the message agrees with my own (and I'm rather shallow that way!). And I definitely think that was why Pink's "Dear Mr. President" played at the end. The introduction this season of the new character, Tasha, a proud-to-serve-her-country military gal, gave Chaiken an opportunity to explore the Iraq war (mostly delivering a very anti-war message) with a nod of empathy to those who go fight. It was a theme that was revisited nearly every time Tasha was on screen throughout the season, with our fave Alice delivering most of the "how can you fight in an illegal war?" messages while struggling with her own feelings for one of the fighters. Toshi Reagon's appearance in the finale gave another opportunity to deliver a subtle anti-war message when, upon being introduced to Tasha ("the one we are sending back to Iraq tomorrow to fight in the war"), Reagon merely continued playing her guitar, deciding to say nothing rather than say something negative to or about the woman of the hour.

The problem with choosing this song was what was on screen when it begins. It's several minutes of Bette and Jodi as Bette delivers the sign, and Chaiken should have waited to begin the music. However, the final scene is of Alice and Tasha holding each other on the beach, both knowing the next day, Tasha would leave for "her orders." Pink's song is primarily an anti-Bush song, but it's impossible to separate an anti-Bush message these days with an anti-war message, and Chaiken wasn't about to leave any doubt of where she stands about Bush and the war at the end of this episode or season. It wasn't a new message just introduced in the finale, and while it's true it didn't fit with the entire final montage, it wasn't totally out of place given the final screen shot of Tasha and Alice.

Do I get the quarter? :-)

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