I first watched “The L Word” when I was in law school. Law school sucks, especially when a) You don’t really want to be a lawyer, but you’re almost two years into a three-year program, so what else are you going to do, really? and b) You aren’t straight, and you’re in a state of denial about that, which will last another 15 years.
But I digress.
“The L Word” DVDs that I obsessively rented from Blockbuster (RIP) got me through what I now officially refer to as The Dark Days, which is when I inhabited a dorm room miles away from family and friends, surrounded by screeching undergrads and heavy textbooks. I rediscovered “The L Word” when I moved to the city and started a new career, and then the show was going through its own Dark Days, leading up to that murder mystery that never should have happened in the first place. As I prep for “The L Word: Generation Q,” I decided to start a rewatch in its honor.
And boi, was I surprised.
When did Tina get so boring? When did Alice get so neurotic to the point of being a giant jerk by the end? Bette, I still dig your suspenders, but grow some empathy. Dana, whyyyyyyy?! (I will never stop crying over beautiful, dorky Dana.)
However, the lesbian grandmommy of rewatch surprises came in the form of one Jenny Schecter.
Jenny Schecter, I think I love you.
One of the many things I love about GO Magazine is how very not-alone I am on this. Shenny shipping, best-of Jenny quotes, and Jenny as a feminist icon are fair game here, and it’s enough to make my writer-femme self swoon. And that’s just the beginning. Here are my favorite things about the doe-eyed beauty Shane once called “a Jewish star,” because as a lesbian, she is just that special.
Mia Kirshner is one badass actress.
When the podcast “To L and Back” theorized that Kirshner should have won an Emmy for the first season, I scoffed. How hard is it to widen your peepers while coyly peeking from underneath long-ass bangs? Then I started my rewatch and promptly ate my words (which tasted delicious when smothered with cookie dough). I was with Jenny every step of the way, and that’s all because of Kirshner’s perfect balance of charisma and empathy. Even when Jenny fucked up, I could more or less understand why. Yes, she was written well, at least initially, but a lesser actress could have made Jenny’s journey one big ole baby-queer cliché, and Mia elevated every syllable. As Jenny slowly lost it and became the obsessed psycho who lost her life, I still couldn’t take my eyes off of her.
Jenny has a believable and complex coming-out journey.
One look at Jenny Schecter stepping tentatively over to baggage claim and you know girl is not straight. No one’s coming-out journey is smooth (except maybe Tina’s, but I’ve already established that Tina is boring), and as someone who clearly relied on her boyfriend for emotional support and had probably done so for years, Jenny’s was especially fraught. People were going to get hurt and she was inevitably going to fall for a snake like Marina who’d use and abuse her for her own enjoyment. (Sorry, I don’t buy that Marina loved Jenny; I don’t care what season two says). Rewatching the first season—this time as an out person—I found myself relating to every one of Jen’s deer-in-headlights “I’m doing what with a woman? And it’s amazing!” gazes.
Jenny is successful in a (semi-)realistic way.
Jenny’s fiction writing could be its own post, and not because it’s good. If there’s a more intent navel-gazer in TV land, I haven’t met her. Don’t even get me started on the circus stories from season 2; I was Team Sandra Bernhard all the way. That said, a memoir about a traumatized woman discovering her sexuality while facing her demons? You’re damn right that would sell, especially if the author is gorgeous. It makes sense that Jenny would sell tons of books (and attract obsessive fans like Adele). Despite the shitshow “Lez Girls” turned out to be, even Tina admits that Jenny’s a genuinely talented director, which also makes sense. Jenny’s better with the big picture than she is with tiny details.
Jenny is forthcoming about her feelings—even the cray-cray ones.
This is my absolute desert-island favorite thing about Ms. Jenny Schecter. Her speech to sleazoid voyeur Mark about how all women are victimized had me cheering and clapping in the early aughts and shaking my head about how right she still was in 2019. In the early days with Max, she was the only one who supported his transition, and upon catching him with Billie, just said, “Don’t hide!” Even during “Lez Girls,” she let the straight actresses know what she expected of them in terms of conveying queer sex in the right way. During the last season, she was forthcoming with Shane about her feelings, as off the rails as her actions were. No matter her mental state, Jenny always had straightforward down to an art. If only her prose were as awesome as her confrontations.
Make no mistake: Jenny is truly bananapants. However, can you imagine “The L Word” without her? Frankly, I’m having a hard time imagining “Generation Q” without her (ghost subplot, perhaps?). Next time you revisit Bette & Co., I hope you’ll join me and the GO crew on Team Jenny. We have dresses, angst, and strap-ons.