Jazz S. Williams
WARRIOR CRUSH WEDNESDAY: Our L-Word Favorites
The L Word
Premiering on Showtime in 2004 The L Word was an instant smash hit, earning itself a renewal within 24 hours of the first episode airing. It ran for 6 seasons and was beloved by many. The show features a core group of friends that mostly identify as lesbians. Over the course of six seasons, you follow them as they navigate queer identity in the Los Angeles community. Some characters experienced great adversity and inspired viewers everywhere. These are the warriors that stole my heart on the L word.
She was a late arrival into the series but a powerful one at that. We meet her in season four when she gets home from yet another tour in the middle east. Plagued with PTSD nightmares Tasha attempts to navigate life as a person who is split between the love of country and the love of women. She wants to keep her sexuality a secret because she genuinely loves serving in the military and is not ready to leave that life behind. In 2004 the infamous “Don't ask, Don't tell” policy was active, and members of the military were not allowed to be in a homosexual relationship. Unfortunately, a disgruntled employee outs Tasha to her commanding officer. Tasha’s life and career get put on trial and she preserves. She fights with everything that she has and ultimately walks away a winner. Tasha was a warrior on the battlefield and on the stand. And, let's face it, no one can rock a beret quite like her. Played by Rose Rollins from 2007-2009. Catch her next on the upcoming series “Long Slow Exhale” where she plays the lead. Airing on BET & Spectrum.
I will preface this by saying I know a lot of people have a lot of feelings about Max Sweeney. Drew
Gregory addressed some of those issues head-on with Daniela Sea, who played Max from 2006-2009.
For me, Max was my first introduction to the trans community. Regardless of the controversial portrayal, he showcases the hardships as well as triumphs of many trans folks today. Max quickly became my favorite character and arguably the one I had the biggest crush on. I mean, just look at those baby blues. When we are introduced to Max, they are pre-transition. Fighting a battle many of us know nothing about.
Before we even meet Max, we know he experienced great pain growing up in a very conservative, small Midwest town. His spontaneous move to L. A fits the rural to city queer exodus narratives we know so well. While the timing of his desire to transition is unclear, the storytelling presents his hometown life as stifling and at best toxic to his identity. Over the next few seasons, we journey with Max as he experiences everything from black market hormones to debates about top surgery. Max battled every challenge he faced head-on and always remained true to himself, even when that meant losing his job. When his own community of lesbians, gay men, and allies turned their backs on their trans peers and said offhand comments that exclusionary, Max stood up to them and educated them. He advocated for Trans rights every opportunity that he was given a platform.
We could argue all day that the writers of The L Word did not do the Trans community justice, but one thing is not debatable. Max fought long and hard a very difficult battle against every stereotype and trope writers can possibly throw at a character. Much more is known about the diversity of the lived trans experience than when Max showcased on screen, we can trace back the roots of our current social and political awareness of trans lives.
When we are talking about Pam Grier, the crush part is pretty obvious. I mean she's an icon and absolutely flawless. On The L Word, she played Kit Porter, the sister of one of the leads. While Kit is not the main character, she steals your heart right away. Almost immediately we learn that Kit has struggled with drugs and alcohol most of her adult life. We watch as the character navigates sobriety in an environment that's full of drugs and alcohol. I would love to say she stays sober and is the perfect sister. But unfortunately, viewers got to see how easily someone can slip. Kit fought to regain her sobriety and control over her life instead of letting it consume her. Kit Porter is one badass bitch.
Dana Fairbanks was played by Erin Daniels throughout the series. When we first meet Dana she is a national tennis star who is deep in the closet in order to protect her athletic career. We fall in love with Dana as she falls in love with Lara. And before we can get too attached, the viewers are crushed when Dana chooses to keep her sexuality a secret and end her relationship with Lara. This breakup puts Dana on a path that permanently alters her life. Ironically Dana ends her relationship for her career, but her career had other things in mind as Subaru assumed she is a lesbian and plans an entire ad campaign centered around “Get out and Stay out”. This forced Dana to confirm her sexuality and the viewers were able to take part in Dana coming out to her extremely conservative parents. Some might say that’s enough adversity for one character, but her coming out was just the tip of the iceberg. Fast forward a few relationships and tennis championships later, Dana is in her thirties and finds a lump in her breast. She struggles with the concept of losing her breast and what that means for her womanhood but finds strength in her friendships and chooses to fight even on days where giving up felt more than right. I sat and watched it unfold when I was way too young to be watching showtime. We lost Dana in the most heartbreaking way. As a fan I was gutted, it took me 15 years to forgive Ilene Chaiken. But I did forgive them because they gave us a real, raw, character who tackled every obstacle in her way. She lost her battle to cancer, but her legacy was permanently cemented in the L word universe and she lived on within every character. On the new spinoff, you will find that Shane names her bar Dana in honor of the friend that we all hold in our hearts. We remember and honor Dana Fairbanks as the warrior she was, someone who loved deeply, worked hard for her dreams, and stood up for her identity despite the effect it would have on her family and career.
The L Word can be streamed in its entirety on Hulu.
Written by Jazz S. Williams (@LittleMsSanchez) and edited by Cordelia Bristol (@terrigenmistyxo).
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