Year: 2004
cast: Jennifer Beals, Mia Kirschner, Erin Daniels, Malaya Rivera Drew
Rating: ****

A perfectly cast ensemble of different personalities that both clash and connect with an equal balance and, like any soap operatic series it keeps the viewer interested in the characters that are all stuck in the quagmire of maze-like relationship purgatory. The only problem is how political the show can get, targeting only Right Wing Christians when the more-gay-hating Muslim faith is never mentioned (throughout the series are many harsh critiques on President George W. Bush while, ironically, it's also mentioned that The Bush Administration doesn't allow criticism).

The "worst" character is also the most important, at least initially, providing the white rabbit into the wonderland of lesbians... save for Pam Grier, sister of control freak Bette played by Jennifer Beals, in a relationship with a lip-less, whining bisexual named Tina. And they're not the only couple on board. Jenny's married in the first season, and has an affair that brings her into the fray and then, by season two, she becomes the most preachy and, intentionally, pretentious, by the end basically the villain "Joan Collins" of the series, where she's bad on purpose (aided by a cute, sneaky Malaya Rivera Drew, pictured above, on the left, and below).

Alice is the smart ass: providing (albeit whiny and polarizing) not really "comic relief" but a relief of being vulnerable and funny through good (Erin Daniels as a pro tennis player who dies in the third season) and bad relationships (getting dumped by said athlete), all posted on her website. Meanwhile, an androgynous Shane is the token player (but Shane is not butch). A Joan Jett of the Runaways era-looking grunge chick, any and every (outside the group) girls, gay, straight, bisexual, are after her, and it's fun how the more monogamous lesbians react to her wild lifestyle, which is what most people expect them all to live... giving the L WORD a glimpse not just into a lifestyle but into a group of friends that struggle with love and loss without juggling too many cliches.

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