Tuesday, March 23, 2004

The L Word - Liberally 

Let's just call this one The Awkward Episode. Not because the acting, directing or anything else production-related was awkward, because that was all spot on. The characters simply all repeatedly either found themselves or got themselves into incredibly awkward situations. When Bette was describing how some of the pieces in Provocations make her so uncomfortable she can hardly bring herself to look at them, but she knows she must look at them, I was thinking, "I know exactly what you mean."

A run-down of awkward moments:

-Jenny, with incredibly tragic bedhead, is caught spying on Tim by the student who has apparently spent the night. She compounds the awkwardness of the situation by launching into an endless series of statements meant to smooth her exit but which just serve to prolong and expand the humiliation.

-Jenny later points out to Tim that he's putting himself in an awkward situation by carrying on with a student, but she does it so ineptly that the two of them end up having a spat in front of Trish. Awkward for all.

-Bette runs into Angry Woman Yolanda from group at Kit's show. Angry Woman Yolanda asks Kit if the group had fun talking about her since she dropped out. Angry Woman Yolanda is great at creating awkward moments, but Bette is suave as ever and points out that they had enough other issues to discuss, but that group is definitely less intense without her.

-Any scene with Slim Daddy. He just continues to say things that make everyone around him uncomfortable. And was Bette checking out Candace? Repeatedly? No Bette, No!

-"I could use a drink." Not really funny, Kit. A little too soon, I think. And judging by the nightclub audience's nonreaction, definitely awkward.

-"Bette, have you cried yet?" Pause. "I don't need to cry." Awkward for Tina, who is immediately approached by Oscar in order to push her into volunteering, since assisting people who know nothing but despair is the best way to forget your own despair. Okay, I can kind of see where he's going with this, but his delivery just made me wonder "What's this guy's problem?" He seemed more like he was scolding her than offering help. I hope he's not on the Suicide Hotline.

-All scenes involving Francesca. Marina has lost all her poise and self-confidence (and even her perfect posture) since Francesca's whirlwind return visit. Apparently at some point Francesca "rescued" Marina and got her set up with The Planet, and is now using this as leverage to justify requiring that Marina keep house for her and be ready and willing whenever Francesca blows into town, without any obligation of mutual respect or fidelity when she's away.

-The spine was still forgotten or beaten down while they were at The Planet, and Francesca was criticizing everything Marina did, and ordering her around like a handmaiden, which is what I pretty much think Francesca believes Marina to be. Shane and Alice recognized the awkwardness and smoothly excused themselves but Dana, Queen of Awkward that she is, didn't know how to remove herself. Fortunately Francesca jumped in and dumped some more discomfort around by saying pointedly, "Aren't you late for something?"

-I literally clapped my hands and cried out "YAAAAYYYY!!!!" when Marina finally remembered her spine and dumped the two glasses of wine (which Francesca had pooh-poohed as less than worthy) into Francesca's suddenly and rapidly filling suitcase. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but I'm thinking there may have been an awkward moment afterward. We didn't have to see it, though, and can just revel in the rebellion.

-Shane and Dana are making it rather awkward for Alice by their attempts to press her into having a baby and giving it to Bette and Tina. The poor woman doesn't even know if she's actually pregnant and if so, what she would prefer to do, and they're treating it like a done deal.

-While Dana is looking quite hot with her new hairstyle courtesy of Shane and her new outfit courtesy of Alice, the entire concept of her getting together with Jenny was just an awkward situation from the moment either of them first got a glimmer of the idea in their heads. It made for a hysterical scene, though, that's how awkward it was. Thankfully they realized the error before getting in too far.

-As a subset of the above - is Jenny spring-loaded? How did she manage to whip down her top that fast and with one motion? And why on earth did she think that was the smooth thing to do? For that matter, why did she think that outfit works? She vaguely resembles a badly dressed stick figure. "Maybe we should just be friends." Yes, please. You two should never, ever attempt physical contact with each other again.

-Back at the coffee shop, after Dana sat down with her hot new look and they all complimented her, Shane asks Alice pointedly, "What are you doing?" Alice replies quickly, "Nothing." It turns out that Shane was referring to the coffee drinking during possible pregnancy. I initially thought that Shane was bagging Alice for checking out Dana a little too closely. I still think Alice was indeed checking out, and that Alice thought Shane was calling her on it.

-The whole Shane-Cherie-Steve-Cleo situation is just one giant ball o'awkwardness and really bad ideas. But I'm definitely moving on board with the whole "Shane is hot" view of things, especially with the continued use of those glasses, and more insight into her history and personality. I'm also glad that she at least appears to have some insight into the fact that her drug use is problematic. And that she recognized the incredibly poor judgement that would have been demonstrated by any sexual contact with Cleo. She tried to make some good decisions regarding Cherie, but was quickly talked out of that.

-Subset of the above: Cherie - put your freaking leg down! I can understand the initial impulse, but the continued elevation of that fishnet and spiky sandal clad leg as the action continued was just incredibly awkward. Perhaps if you hadn't been in the barber chair it would have worked better, but be willing to modify your approach to fit the situation.

-Shane's putting style was truly bizarre. Her teaching style was fiiiine, however. But that really set her up for the later awkward moment under the tree when mopey teenage girl went in for the kiss.

-Fae Buckley is the Queen of Awkwardness Imposed, but Bette is the Queen of Awkwardness Deflected. Bette's subtle deflection of the issue onto the porn star prodical Buckley daughter, without actually naming names, was brilliant, and pushed Fae into a blatantly hateful attack on apparently live television. Fae's desperate lashing out, blaming the miscarriage on Bette and Tina's mere existence, then calling it a blessing was beyond outrageous, but her follow-up attempt to regain audience favor by going in to offer a comfort hug to the now finally tearful Bette was horrid. Again, Bette handled the situation perfectly and elegantly by blocking Fae's access and issuing a quiet statement, "Monster." Bette finally gets catharsis, Fae shows her stripes, and hopefully the audience sees things as they are. The audience of the debate, that is, not us. We already know how things are. I just wish that Bette and Tina had had an opportunity to make out in front of Fae as they had planned on their way into the studio. Unfortunately Fae had to ruin the chance with her thinly veiled racist remark regarding makeup blending for Bette's skin tone.

Next week: Group road trip to the Dinah Shore!!! This is going to be so good...

*******
Update: AfterEllen.com points to WillowFriendly.com, who has some excellent screenshots. The recapper on AfterEllen also has a brilliant description of the terminally-awkward scene between Jenny and Dana. Scribe Grrl's recaps are excellent and most detailed, by the way. I always put off reading them until after I've finished, and it's torture not looking.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 9:12 AM