Thursday, March 08, 2007

She's a maniac

Catching up with the ongoing fourth season of The L Word, I must grudgingly give kudos to creator and frequent writer Ilene Chaiken. I'm not sure I'd like to share an espresso with her, and I can't tell whether her choices stem from cluelessness or rebelliousness—there's such a thin line between visionary and nincompoop—but her blithe disregard for narrative conventions and psychological logic makes for addictive television. Ever since the series started, characters have made stupefyingly dumb choices (Bette's flirtation with the carpenter and the student, Max going out with his boss's daughter), undergone personality transplants (Helena's turn from arrogant rich bitch to poor patsy, and hard to remember now that she's a saint, but Bette started as an obnoxious alpha female) and somehow tolerated asshole behavior of the highest order (psychopathic Jenny and cheating, scheming Tina still have friends).

And yet…oh, Chaiken, how you torture us with your gallery of self-involved L.A. lezzies in tight tank tops and horrifying haircuts. The show is like a trip to Payard: shiny colors and sweet, sweet indulgences, including my personal favorite—the hilarious name-dropping in conjunction with Jenny's literary career.

I might also mention that Jennifer Beals has been inducted in my highly selective roster of stage/screen crushes, which includes the likes of Vivica Genaux, Valérie Lemercier, Karin Viard, Elizabeth Marvel and Catherine Keener (Diana Damrau, I have my eye on you too). There are many things to praise about Ms. Beals in The L Word, but a personal favorite may well be the fact that unlike less high-profile cast members, who have no choice but to bare all, Beals seems to have a no-nipple clause in her contract. She's been in quite a few sex scenes over the past four years, and every time it's a pleasure to watch the director of photography go through exquisite contortions in order to avoid showing the Bealsaboob.

Another pleasure has derived from seeing the extremely gifted cartoonist Ariel Schrag benefit from gainful employment as a story editor and occasional episode writer (she displayed a sure comic touch in the recent episode in which the girls comfort Cybill Shepherd's husband). She's come a long way since I wrote about her autobiographical comics in the Village Voice back in 1999.

1 comment:

judy said...

I think my favorite (read most gaggy) Jenny moment was when Marina compared her work to Mary Gaitskill's. Ha! Either that or when Sounder tried to dig his way out of his grave in her dream.

Oh, and speaking of nonsensical personality changes, what about Alice's foray into psychosis after Dana dumped her? I know it's easy to lose the plot during heartbreak, but this was verrrry out of character for her. But you're right--the inconsistencies are fairly compelling.