Ilene Chaiken, the co-creator, writer, and executive producer of “The L Word,” appeared on the March 25th episode of Cameron Esposito‘s podcast “Queery” and gave us some juicy details about the show’s past and future.
One of the first things that Chaiken dished about was the setting for some of the scenes. Esposito brought up that she had been told that Bette and Tina’s pool was not outside (SHOOK), and Chaiken did confirm that the complex—including two or three houses, two backyards, a fence, and a swimming pool—was built on a soundstage. The pool itself, she said, was actually only three feet deep. However, Chaiken went on to note that the pilot was shot in a real neighborhood, and the first Shane pool sex scene (yasss) was filmed in a real pool.
In terms of casting, there was a lot to be said about Tina, Shane, and Jenny, specifically. According to Chaiken, Laurel Holloman was cast as Tina not because she had played a lesbian character previously in “The Incredible True Adventure Of Two Girls In Love,” but because she had intense chemistry with Beals and the character of Bette. Shane’s character, however, was less based on chemistry and more on what Chaiken and the other writers had envisioned in their heads.
“We saw lots and lots of people for the role of Shane, and I just wasn’t seeing it, wasn’t seeing it. And, Kate Moennig was in New York,” said Chaiken. “I didn’t know who she was; I hadn’t seen the television program that she’d done. … The New York casting director put her on tape, and I remember sitting at home on a weekend afternoon, looking through all those casting tapes and seeing the same thing over and over again. And then, there she was.”
It didn’t get any easier to cast the character once they found their Shane, though, according to Chaiken. Apparently, the president of Showtime, Jerry Offsay, didn’t fully understand Shane and who she was. In order to keep claim to the character, Chaiken and a few other lesbians behind the scenes had to strike a deal: if they cast someone that Offsay liked for a different role, he would allow them to cast Moennig as Shane. Chaiken noted in the podcast that she won’t say whose casting was part of the negotiation, however.
Chaiken also touched on Jenny and how much say the writers really had in their creation of the character. Originally, Jenny was just supposed to be the straight girl who realizes she’s not straight and dumps her boyfriend, taking the audience along into the experience of coming out. While Chaiken said that Jenny was supposed to be the most accessible character in the show, it was really Mia Kirshner who developed the part into something more complex.
Casting aside, Chaiken also gave listeners some tea on what she regrets the most from the show. The first issue that she had was with season six, which she felt was too overshadowed by the “who killed Jenny” concept. The second confession, however, was one of the juiciest. Apparently, people still hassle her about Dana’s death, and that even some of her close friends still haven’t forgiven her.
“I say this with a certain sense of self-awareness: it’s the one choice that we made on the show that, if I could go back and re-do—or, I wouldn’t do it differently, but I regret it,” Chaiken told Esposito. “It just caused so much pain, and I don’t want to be responsible for that kind of pain.”
Finally, Chaiken touched on the upcoming reboot. According to the co-creator, the new series will be more diverse and inclusive, with a strong dedication to “authentic representation.” The multi-hyphenate called it a more evolved version of the previous seasons, though it’s “still a sexy show where sex is front and center on a regular basis.”
When asked by Esposito if she minds talking about “The L Word” so much, Chaiken said that she never gets tired of discussing it. Specifically, she noted that “it’s especially delicious to talk about because there’s going to be more.” We definitely agree with her, and we can’t wait to see what comes next!