The first-ever American TV series about lesbians signed off for good in properly maddening fashion last night. And SPOILER ALERT RIGHT HERE AND NOW its overarching final-season murder mystery remains, from what I can tell, completely unsolved. That’s right, readers: The L Word did not, in fact, reveal which of its principal characters killed Jenny Schecter.
I’d say I’m pissed off, but as a loyal viewer of the six-year-old Showtime drama from day one, I can’t say I expected anything less ludicrous than the series’ final minutes. Just after Alice discovered Jenny’s body outside Bette and Tina’s home–where the girls had gathered for the couple’s bon voyage party–the police arrived, Nikki Stevens jumped out of the bushes (random!), and the girls were called into the cop shop for questioning. Then, the money shot: Cars pull up to the station, and the girls–looking as shiny and luxurious as ever–emerge one-by-one to walk toward the camera (and apparently a wind machine), beaming as the end credits roll. In the background, a retooled version of Betty’s epically obnoxious theme song played, no off-pitch voices or dorky lyrics muddling the moment. I didn’t know whether to laugh, cry, or just sigh loudly and take another deep gulp of wine (my usual m.o. while watching the show).
Creator Ilene Chaiken is currently awaiting word from Showtime on whether or not L Word spinoff The Farm is a go. The series’ premise has already been announced: it’s another show about females, this one set in prison. And the main cast member has long been known to be Leisha Hailey, who plays Alice on The L Word. So…in some ways, the question of who killed Jenny has been moot from the start; Chaiken told EW earlier this year that “if the new show goes on the air, it will be connected to theWho-Killed-Jenny? storyline, and I would say that that’s what Alice isin prison for. I don’t know that she actually killed Jenny.” In addition, viewers of last night’s episode were beat over the head with the reminder that Bette and Tina’s giggly contractor, Weezie, hadn’t finished the railing on their new second floor landing. This is not a show known for its subtlety…which leads me to believe that Jenny hurled her own damn self over the thing, intentional or not. Really, can you see any of the show’s main characters killing anyone with anything but a stiletto heel to the aorta at a particularly stressful sample sale? Let’s be real here.
As series finales go, this one was a head-scratcher. The tone felt heavy and ominous, and all that moody music was making me wonder when The Log Lady and The Man From Another Place would come sashaying through a scene. Dylan and Helena’s storyline was resolved in particularly sloppy fashion. I’d been expecting Max to give birth before the series ended. And oh yeah, they didn’t solve the mystery.
But years from now, will it even matter how the show went out in its final hour? It was really the other 69 episodes that made The L Word a TV milestone. As the retrospective that aired beforehand reminded us, its impact expands far beyond its barrier-busting stories: TV’s first deaf lesbian, its first regularly occurring transsexual character, bisexuals of both genders, drag kings, the US military’s don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy, biracial identity, gay parenting, sex/drug/alcohol/gambling addiction, sexual abuse, midlife sexual awakenings, breast cancer…this show took on a lot. Judging by the frequent erraticism of its storytelling, it probably took on too much. In the end, I say, thank goodness it had the guts to take them on at all.
Talk to me about the finale. What did you think of that unresolved ending? Are you surprised? Then talk to me about The L Word. Why did you watch–and what will you miss?