'The Real L Word' premiere: Really, Showtime?

Welcome to The Real L Word, where the Power of the Clam is so intense that the sun shines out of your crotch. I can’t really believe this Showtime show exists or that Ilene Chaiken, creator of The Fictional L Word, has been so hell-bent on it happening. I could understand an L Word spinoff or even an entirely new show about different lesbians, but a reality show? Ugh. It just feels cheap and scuzzy right from the opening location shots, during which we’re treated to an in-your-face montage — Los Angeles! Fashion! Sunshine! Hotspots! — and then cheesy, stylized who’s-who chyrons reminiscent of Lauren and the gang on Laguna Beach and The Hills.

At least watching The Real L Word is better than watching other The Hills or any of the Real Housewives, because you get the feeling that the people on those other shows are all desperate to become bigger stars (in the field of reality TV, or possibly something even greater, if you can imagine that) and are therefore constantly constructing a persona according to what they think viewers want. It’s impossible to avoid the awkwardness of the camera’s presence in any reality show, but I do get the impression the Real L’s are at least trying to be real. Sure, they signed up for a reality show, but it’s not necessarily their fault “trying to be real” doesn’t ever truly work. (Whoa, you guys, I totally just discovered the basic problem with reality television.)

None of these women are bimbos; they know what needs to happen for TV — especially lame reality TV — to come together. Most of them even work in the biz. So while they might not seem desperate for fans, they do seem desperate to create soundbite-filled, neat little story lines for the producers. When Whitney drops off one out-of-town visitor and swings around the airport terminal to pick up another girl, it’s a little too convenient. So is her persona. She’s either just like Shane from The L Word or trying to come across as just like Shane — either way, she has the “innocent player” character down. I think Whitney probably knows she’s full of s— much of the time, but she also knows that being the Shane of the cast makes her compelling. I can’t wait for her dad to turn out to be Eric Roberts.

My favorite person so far is Whitney’s roommate/ex Alyssa, who delivers blunt blows to Whitney about her character in the way only a longtime true friend can. She even prefaced one of the tough-love dosages with the line “I’m trying to say something profound here,” which I loved because they’d been drinking and Whitney interrupts a lot. Similarly, the genuine love-hate banter between Tracy’s girlfriend Stamie and Stamie’s ex, with whom she’s raising three children, was the funniest part of the show. That woman doesn’t have time to construct a persona — she’s just dropping off the kids! Whatever, camera!

Production has a heavy hand, like when some of the women end up at the same bar and Whitney pretends she’s never met Tracy and MUST do so immediately because Tracy’s so hot and it’s an opportunity to make Sara jealous, or when two women hash something out “in private” in a large bathroom stall and all you can think is “typical L Word bathroom stall scene!” We don’t see enough actual sex — something The L Word usually did deliver. We got more footage of Rose lighting candles around her bed than what actually went on in her bed, and we even got the dreaded sex voiceover after the camera cut away during Whitney and Sara’s hookup. Lots of times keywords seemed to be employed just so they could be crammed into the first episode — Natalie insisting to Rose’s family that they’d want a baby, a friend’s helpful definition of “futch,” Whitney’s breakdown of “pants” vs. “pumps,” and Mikey announcing that she’s such a prototypical top that when her saintly girlfriend Raquel finally makes it home to cook dinner and wait on her, she thinks “I’m the man and I have a 12-inch c–k.”

The show is eye-roll central in general, but I know I’ll probably watch it again. Let’s be honest — when am I not rolling my eyes at my TV? I want to see whether anyone puts Mikey in her place, I like looking at Rose and Tracy, and even though I am utterly bored by Nikki and Jill as people, I am fascinated by their relationship. They were old camp friends who reconnected over 20 years later, and it just seems like they’re best buds instead of lovers — giving each other pedicures and dressing as twins. I wonder if Jill’s even a lesbian. (She’s totally the Tina!)

Who else tuned in last night — and will you be back next week? Will you too do a fake loop-around of LAX and return for another dose of Whitney’s “I’m not here to play games” games?

Annie on Twitter: @EWAnnieBarrett

Comments (86 total) Add your comment
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  • Madd

    Well, my day so far has consisted of watching random tv shows on the phone with my dad (a la Michael and George Sr) and waiting for True Blood to start, so I guess that, like Sookie, I am in no mood for “lesbian weirdness” tonight.

  • Merebear

    I loved The L Word. This show seems so ridiculous. I don’t have Showtime, so I can’t watch it. If I did have Showtime, I’d skip it.

    • C HOW U R

      I loved The L Word. They should have titled this show something else. It is a disrespect to the original.

  • Viv

    I may be desperate for queer visibility in pop culture, but I’m not desperate enough to watch this crapfest.

    • Liz

      Amen. I can’t help but think this kind of thing is a step backward. Or maybe it’s a sign that the queer culture has finally been accepted by being exploited by reality television?

    • Sara

      Have you tried watching the web series “Venice”?

    • Stacey

      SO with you on this one.

  • Ryan

    I didn’t watch it, but I may if you can tell me if there’s a “real world” counterpart to Crazy Jenny.

    • Melissa

      Not so far, thank god. If there was, I wouldn’t watch. The last season of “The L Word” was a COMPLETE disaster because of Jenny Schecter.

      • Joelle

        I agree. Jenny was the worst thing that happened to the l word but yet they kept her. In my opinion they kept her 7 seasons too long

    • Barbi

      Thank you both for capturing our most imtarpont night ever! You did and amazing job! Can’t wait to see the finished album! Xoxo

    • Fahad

      Oui l’expression : Pochette Cd est ce que je me suis effectivement dit aussi en mantont ces quelques photos. Je suis assez surpris du re9sultat d’ailleurs et je t’avoue que pour une premie8re, je suis satisfait de certains plans trouve9s.Je t’avoue qu’au niveau lumie8re, nous avons eu beaucoup de chance. Le coucher de soleil entre les vitres brise9es de l’ancienne mine, cela y a beaucoup contribue9.A dimanche Thomas,Philippe

  • zoey

    This is a true crapfest-boring….

  • Marty

    I miss the Fake L Word… :/ PS Who killed Jenny? LOL! Anybody?

    • Merebear

      In my dreams Bette did it. But in the world of the show, the killer was never revealed. The biggest con perpetrated on an audience in TV history.

    • Melissa

      I did it. LOL! Who didn’t want to kill her?!

    • Daisy

      I think Bette did, and I think the show was kinda plain about it. First off, Bette was the only one who lied about where she had been and what she was doing, and secondly, when they all drove to the police station, Bette got out first and had a totally smug look on her face. So, that’s what I think. Also: Jenny shoulda died years before, and this show is going to be a nightmare, but I’ll watch every ep. Sigh.

      • jacki

        i’m actually pretty sure that no one did it…the entire episode you hear about the railing on the new balcony being shaky.

      • Amanda

        If you guys watched the extras on the website in the weeks after the show ended, Ilene said that Alice did it and is currently (well, fictionally) in jail.
        Sorry to kill any dreams haha.

    • Xena W. Princess

      nevermind Jenny, why kill Dana? Still not over it…

      • cece

        yeah i said the same shyt dana was cool jenny was fake i tried understanding her role but wtf she was confused lonely bi polar and evil

    • rhonda

      I think Bette did it. Nikki was crazy enough but Bette would do ANYthing to protect Tina and the “her family” as she said. And she was ballsy and noble enough to do it. Jenny had dumped on ALL her friends — she morphed from this interesting, complex, erudite, beautiful lady into this cracken of a bitch. It was coming. . .

  • Jen

    Never saw the L word series. Loved this show. I think, with good reviews, it will get spicy….they need to be True Blood” sexy, and not hold back if that is what the moment is about.

    • Bernice

      If you like this show then you should really check out the fictional L Word because it is head and shoulders over this one.

      • Care

        (1 comments)So good to hear thgins like this. The fashion industry has got to stop pretending that the public is just made up of ultra-skinny men and women, but instead should more faithfully represent the full public.Angel’s last blog post..

    • JR

      The reviews for this reality show haven’t been great. They’re mostly mixed or bad. I’d say Whitney is the most annoying cast member, especially when she pronounces Sara. Someone told me it’s the Spanish pronunciation, but that seems unlikely considering that neither of them are Latino. It just seems pretentious and silly, just like her nasty hair and tattoos.

  • hartgrad

    WTF Cali will never pass marriage with this crap passing as the real L word. Come on people….get real! I am so sick of drunks and sluts representing. NO MORE

    • C HOW U R

      I agree with hartgrad. “… never pass marriage with this crap passing as the real L word. Come on people….get real! I am so sick of drunks and sluts representing. NO MORE.”
      30-40% of the straight USA at this 30 and younger world are drunks and sluts. I’ve never known lesbians like this… I’ve seen them when I occassionally go out though. I’ve had my moments… but it’s not like Rose and Whitney. My life and 60-70% of the other lesbians would make a pretty boring reality show though.

  • molly


  • molly


  • mzbeauty

    Great effin show!!!! Loved it . N omg is whitney sexiii

  • Juliet

    I loved it…. so did my fiance! We were both pleasantly surprised that the women did have some substance and chuckled at the typical lesbian drama, because it does happen. We both even wound up REALLY liking some of the ladies who we hadn’t initially thought we’d care to watch! The show definitely is not for everyone, but at lesbians we enjoyed it and all of the girls different personalities so we will be continuing to watch. That preview sure didn’t hurt either…. ;-)

  • Linda Levi

    I did see it tonight, and I might see it again. But like you I thought the production and the L Girls were cheap and sleazy. I’ve never seen so much makeup. I live in West LA and am a lesbian several generations removed from these women, and I wished that the females that were selected were more varied and fresher. The show seems phonier than the L Word.

  • George

    I can’t wait to start using “Power of the Clam” in conversation!

  • Dadi

    The reviewer was right: The ladies were TOTALLY aware of their need to build themselves as “interesting characters.” It was disingenuous. That, on top of Cali’s natural fakeness, just made it one, fake, hot lesbo mess of a story. I’ve never seen “The L Word,” but if it’s anything like this, I don’t feel like I missed a thing!

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