Why Were the Women of The Real L Word Such Downers?

Slate's Culture Blog
Aug. 18 2010 2:15 PM

Why Were the Women of The Real L Word Such Downers?

I just had my first brush with reality television. Before you wonder if I lost the TV remote for 10 years, I should say that I do watch a few unscripted shows: I have an unhealthy obsession with Project Runway, and I've seen several seasons of contests like The Next Food Network Star and Design Star, but they're more like televised auditions.

The Real L Word was my first prolonged exposure to the kind of show that's premised on a bunch of people doing whatever it is they usually do while another bunch of people follows them around with cameras.

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It was awful.

There's no big insight here: Everyone who saw the show seemed to hate it and the women who were on it. But why was it so vile?

The problem with The Real L Word is that it was all about problems. Since Mikey was self-employed, at least we got to see her work life (elsewhere, for the most part, we saw side lines like modeling gigs and "comedy" acts), but it was a downer because she was so stressed out. Jill and Nikki spent all their waking hours planning their wedding

Doom, gloom, and boo-hoo. Every script needs conflict, but reality requires happiness.

June Thomas is a Slate culture critic and editor of Outward, Slate’s LGBTQ section. 

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