At first, this series makes you (or most people, anyway?) feel a little like Alice in Wonderland. Everything that's in the "regular" world is transplanted into the realm of the lesbian lifestyle. We have: lesbian stalkers, lesbian love-triangles, lesbian womanizers, vindictive lesbians, altruistic lesbians, confused lesbians, lesbian couples who want to have babies & much more. Somewhat surprisingly, however, after watching the show for awhile, all of the above stops being so strange and it blurs into the rest of the "regular" stuff in the world. That, I believe, is one of the focal points of the show.
One of the best ways to be introduced to the show is to have an overview of the main characters.
***Bette (Jennifer Beals) is a Type A personality, no-nonsense Ivy league graduate who is a curator of an L.A. art museum. Both her lifestyle as well as her profession draws the ire (not to mention persecution) of religious fundies. Beals is the Sarah Jessica Parker of "L Word" as she's the one actress whom we'd like to see strip down who never does so.
***Tina (Laurel Holloman) is a coy woman who wants to also be a mother. She always tends to have domineering women who try to seduce her - such as Bette, for one.
***Dana (Erin Daniels) is a professional tennis player who is an up & comer in the rankings. She is not as big a name as Marina Navratolova, so season one sees her struggle with keeping her personal & public life separate. By season 2, however, she has found a sponser (Subaru) that allows her to use her sexual orientation to her advantage.
***Alice (Leisha Halley) is the comic relief of the show, and she's also my favorite character. While her hairstyles are not always overly becoming, she's still absolutely adorable. She & Dana team up for some of the hottest scenes in the show. Alice also keeps a "matrix" on her wall @ home which tries to keep up with all the lesbian interactions in L.A. Whether she is straight, bi or lez, Alice would be an absolute BLAST to hang out with - regardless of your gender!
***Jenny (Mia Kirshner) is an import from the midwest, and it's evident that she feels out-of-sorts on the west coast. She moved to L.A. to be with her boyfriend, but she found herself to be sexually confused. She finds that she is bisexual (sort-of?), but more than anything else she is a sort of lesbian loose-cannon. With her gorgeous, mysterious eyes she is arguably the most visually stunning woman on the show (although I much preferred her w/the long hair she sported in season 1).
****My 2 least-favorite characters are Shane (Katherine Moehnning) and Kit (Pam Grier). Shane is a hairdresser who seems to have a phobia about combing her hair. She is a sort of female Don Juan (Donna Juan?) who can "score" with just about any woman at will. Why this is so, I have no idea. To me she looks like a female Johnny Depp. Kit, meanwhile, is Bette's straight sister who is not nearly so cerebral as Bette is. In truth, I find her character to be somewhat superfluous to the show, and I tend to fast-forward through her main scenes.
Many people have compared The L Word with [[ASIN:B000ASDFJU Sex and the City - The Complete Series (Collector's Giftset)]]. I don't think this is a comparison which should be pushed too far as there are some major differences in the timbre of the shows. First off, SITC is a lighthearted sitcom while L Word is a drama. L Word is NOT simply another SITC with a "twist" where the women are homosexual instead of heterosexual.
Secondly, the theme of homosexuality itself is not considered in a thoughtful way in SITC. Carrie has a gay friend named Stanford in SITC, but he's a buffoon who is not to be taken seriously. When 2 of the characters in SITC either engage in or think of engaging in lesbian encounters, it's in a recreational sense. The L Word, meanwhile, is about lesbian RELATIONSHIPS rather than simply some sort of recreational vehicle for women to find joy.
With that in mind, those who are looking for every episode to be filled with one steamy male-fantasy lez scene after another are likely to be a bit perturbed. There's no question that there ARE some smokin' hot scenes, but they go along w/the story as opposed to being contrived.
One of the most refreshing things about The L Word is the fact that, like [[ASIN:B0009Q0EMY Girl Play]], it's not a show that is about male-bashing. As a man, that's one thing I was wondering about when I picked up the first 2 seasons (I'd never seen an episode on SHOWTIME). Surprisingly enough, it doesn't even take sides in the straight vs. lez lifestyles. It's not a "recruiting tool" to coerce young women to test-out the lesbian lifestyle. Rather, it demonstrates that being a lesbian doesn't "simplify" things @ all. Our lesbian friends have to face off against the same set of relationship difficulties that all people do, be they straight or not straight.
Lastly, those persons (like me!) who are looking for Gina Holden's famous scene with Jennifer Beals, be sure to check out episode 4, disc 1 of season 2. It's good that this show was made for SHOWTIME so it could bypass the FCC. It simply would not have worked if they had tried to make it "G Rated." I'm hoping they never try to water it down into a syndicated show on a regular cable channel, as they did with SITC on TBS.