Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Jenny Dies In The End (And The Beginning): The L Word Season Six!

The Good: Good acting, Moments of character
The Bad: So many soap operatic conceits, Very short, Still focuses a lot on Jenny!
The Basics: For the severely shortened final season of The L Word, the writers and producers seem to realize that Jenny Schecter is a loathsome character and they push the series to its resolution.

As a television series comes to a close, the producers have to decide whether to make it a complete conclusion or to treat the show as a snippet of a larger continuum (i.e. the story we see on screen is merely a few years out of the lives of the characters in the series). In the case of The L Word, the final season takes the tact of presenting the series as a slice of life for the bulk of the characters and the end for one. It’s not a spoiler to say that Jenny Schecter dies in the sixth season of The L Word. The death of Jenny occurs in the teaser to the first episode of the season and the rest of the season builds up to her death.

It’s almost like after the fifth season of The L Word (reviewed here!), the producers realized what a loathsome character Jenny Schecter had become and they decide she must get rid of her. Just as the fifth season used a new conceit where the teasers frequently played with moviemaking conceits of the events of prior seasons as Jenny and Tina work to get Jenny’s book Lez Girls made into a film. The sixth season has a similar conceit where virtually every episode begins with a character realizing how Jenny Schecter has affected their life and they comment on how it would be nice to see Jenny dead. As a result, the season builds the tension through the eight episodes to ask the question, “Who is going to kill Jenny Schecter?”

Dealing with the fallout of the studio deciding to change the end to Les Girls, all of the relationships are strained. Jenny evicts Shane after Shane screws Nikki, then sabotages Shane’s relationship with Molly. Tasha leaves Alice for her near-affair, while Tina and Bette actually come together thanks to Angelica’s fever. When Alice chases Tasha to Papi’s, she is able to talk her way back into the apartment as the friends fracture into two groups based on how they feel about fidelity. After being spurned by Jenny, Nikki has a meltdown and threatens to kill Jenny. Tina makes the same threat when the negative for The Girls goes missing. Jenny becomes erratic and Shane sleeps with her. In the process, she comes to fear that Jenny will kill herself if she leaves and she makes the uncomfortable choice to stay with Jenny, despite the fact that Shane does not want anyone to make her change.

Max finds out s/he is pregnant and after a brief fight with James, decides to commit to the pregnancy. Alice and Tasha go to therapy and shortly thereafter, they develop an uncomfortable threeway with Jaime, a social worker in the gay community. As Tina and Bette reconcile, despite Bette’s college roommate returning to the equation, the two restore their relationship. With all of the dramas between the members of the tight-knit lesbian community in Los Angeles, they all find themselves loathing Jenny.

The L Word Season Six is hampered by soap operatic conceits. There is an annoyingly gossipy, girlish sequence the moment Shane and Jenny sleep together. As well, the climactic events surrounding Bette in the season are based on Jenny’s video evidence of a non-event. Bette’s old roommate makes a pass at her and from Jenny’s house, Bette cleaning up the glass she dropped looks vaguely like Bette going down on her. The conflict is easily resolved by Bette explaining literally what happened and telling both Jenny and Kit exactly what the video portrays. Instead, Bette remains tightlipped and that causes an unfortunate bit of dramatic tension between her and Tina.

In the final season of The L Word, the main characters are:

Bette – Who forges a new relationship with Tina and with Angelica they once more come together as a family. When fallout from her failed relationship with Jodi causes Phyllis to fire her, she starts working with her former college roommate, who views her as the “one who got away.” She comes to loathe Jenny for the way Jenny continues to interfere with her relationship,

Tina – She loses a lot of her connections when Jenny pretty much ditches her professionally. She starts trusting Bette again, despite Bette’s old roommate coming around and shamelessly flirting with her partner. She and Bette try to adopt again. She comes to hate Jenny when the negative for The Girls goes missing,

Alice – Desperately tries to save her relationship with Tasha. She gets fired from the daily talk show by highlighting the story of a gay person who was killed. She then goes to a crisis center where she becomes enamored with the head therapist. Unfortunately, the more time she and Tasha spend with Jaime, the more she suspects that Tasha and Jaime have true feelings for one another,

Tasha – Furious about Alice flirting with another woman, she leaves Alice. When Alice talks her way back into her life, she starts to believe Alice has real talent for social work. She agrees to therapy and commits to Alice, despite her underlying feelings for Jaime,

Helena – In business now with Kit, they rename Denbo’s nightclub The Hit and it is a tremendous success. The woman who betrayed her years before comes back into her life and tries to convince her that she is now trustworthy. With her trust issues, though, she finds that virtually impossible,

Max Sweeney – Once the transgendered woman becomes comfortable with himself, he gets into a gay relationship with Jodi’s interpreter. However, when he gets pregnant, her gender issues become more of a conflict again for both herself and his relationship. He comes to hate Jenny for Jenny’s lack of acceptance for his gender identity issues,

Kit Porter – She supports her sister and develops a friendship with the transvestite guy who starts working at The Hit,

Shane – Tries to talk her way out of having sex with Nikki, then admits she actually loves Molly. She begins a relationship with Jenny and starts to fear Jenny might hurt herself if she leaves,

And Jenny – Having lost everything, she does her best to ruin Shane before pushing Nikki away once and for all. As everyone turns against her, she tries to assert herself. She meddles in Helena’s relationship, threatens Tina’s career, and starts trying to change Shane once they sleep together.

The final season of The L Word features solid acting. Despite the soap operatic qualities of the season, the performers do a good job. The banal aspects of the show are mitigated by the Tasha/Alice relationship which is presented with a decent amount of realism and enjoyable (to watch) tension and conflict. The other worthwhile aspect of the season is the character journey Max goes on. Max is a character who is an outsider of the outsider culture and when he gets pregnant, it is heartwenching to watch her suffering.

That said, the short sixth season of The L Word finishes the series and it might not be the most satisfying end, but it has a few moments that make it worth watching once, at least.

For other final seasons with intriguing endings, please visit my reviews of:
Frasier - Season 11
Lost - Season 6
V - Season 2


For other television reviews, please visit my Television Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2013 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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