Of all the characters on “The L Word” (both the original and the reboot), I’ve always loved Alice with a visceral fervor. I’m not being dramatic when I say I love her like she’s my family. Or even more powerful, I love her like she’s my chosen family.
When “The L Word” first came tumbling into our lives sixteen years ago (holy shit, it’s been sixteen years that I’ve known these characters? No wonder I dream about them like they’re actual *real* people in my life. They’ve been taking up space in this lesbian brain since I was a closeted teenager!), I ~instantly~ connected to Alice, because Alice was just…well…real.
In the original rendition of “The L Word,” Alice put her foot in her mouth. Constantly. She recklessly fell in love with her best friend, a painful rite of passage every lesbian under the sun experiences at some point in their queer coming of age. She had her heart smashed into a million little pieces when her best friend realized she wasn’t in love with her back — not *that* way, at least. She acted like a loon when her best friend would come twirling into her local coffeeshop canoodling and clutching hands with her new girl (If you haven’t made an asshat out yourself whilst under the influence of heartbreak, I have absolutely nothing to say to you). She freely wept during yoga (I once sobbed so loudly during Shavasana that I was gently asked to exit the studio). She self-medicated by throwing herself into the numbness of a booze and meaningless sex bender after Dana tragically died. Alice grieved the loss of Dana like a real, raw human. And real, raw humans don’t ever grieve gracefully.
Alice shamelessly loved the scene, the gossip, the sex, the celebrities like we all secretly do, no matter how cool or woke we pretend to be. She never tried to be cool. Cool is a straight jacket, and Alice moved freely.
Alice’s best friend Shane, even made out with her mom. (My mom would totally make out with Shane).
She was always Alice — funny, honest, gorgeously-vulnerable Alice, no matter where she was.
Yet for all of Alice’s fierce eccentricity and charm and beautiful quirk, Alice always had this wild integrity about her. If she felt an inkling of a feeling for someone while she was in an exclusive relationship, she couldn’t help but confess. She hated (like hated) when couples she loved cheated on one another. She never lied. She was a true activist. A feminist. No matter the circumstance.
That was the old Alice.
And the new Alice?
Exactly the same.
Yes, Alice is famous now. She’s (rightfully) scored her own talk show and she has assistants who dutifully deliver her coffee and she wears expensive, obscure-looking fashion backpacks and canary-colored shirts and has chic reporters from the LA Times follow her around all day long.
But Alice, even with the notoriety and her own badass staff, is still the same exact woman we all saw ourselves in a decade and change ago. She sticks up for Bette in the face of Bette’s political scandal on her talk show, despite pressure from the network to be more “palatable.” And when she finds out that Bette wasn’t being fully transparent regarding her indiscretions, she’s gutted. She’s betrayed. Even though Alice works in one of the most brutal industries to exist (Hollywood) and has seen some crazy shit swirl in front of her eyes, she isn’t jaded. She still has the high standards that some might argue are overly idealistic or unrealistically innocent. But her strict moral code isn’t rooted in naivety; it’s rooted in trust. If you’re Alice’s friend she expects you to tell her the truth. She expects you to stick to your word. She feels angry and emotionally socked in the stomach by the fact that a friend she’s had for over two decades jeopardized not only the integrity she’s built with the audience she’s cultivated over the years, but looked her deep in her trusting eyes and lied to her.
And she isn’t going to bullshit Bette (or anyone) about their morally bankrupt behavior either and pretend shit is okay when shit is not okay.
That’s Alice. She tells you how exactly how she feels. She isn’t passive-aggressive. She’s tough, even with her blonde bob and brightly colored clothing and extra-large, ultra-adorable oversized glasses. I wouldn’t fuck with her. Only a fool would fuck with Alice Pieszecki.
Which isn’t to say that Alice is perfect. Part of what makes Alice so goddamn likable is that she’s not perfect, at all. She doesn’t try to be. She asks the people around her for advice endlessly, because like every real human, she’s unsure of what to do and craves validation and feedback from the people she loves. Even if she ends up going with her gut, she still asks and suffers and self-doubts, which makes her far more interesting and nuanced than someone who is so self-confident they don’t need guidance from anyone. She takes fashion risks that sometimes soar and sometimes fail. She’s trying her damn best to be this Insta-mom figure to her girlfriend’s kids, and more often than not she’s met with an angsty eyebrow raise and the typical-yet-hurtful “you’re not my mom” tween snark.
Alice is *definitely* not perfect, because she has a threesome with her girlfriend Nat and her girlfriend’s ex-wife Gigi! (Has anyone else noticed that the former couple is named Gigi and Nat, like previous GO Cover Couple and newlyweds Gigi Gorgeous and Nats Getty?). Anyone with half a brain knows it’s a terrible idea to add an old ex into a new relationship equation. Alice certainly knows, for you can tell deep down inside she knows it’s a terrible idea — another thing I love about Alice. Her feelings are always transparent, and she allows fear and embarrassment to shamelessly dance across her face. But Alice goes through with the threesome anyway, because the thruple is hot. Because sometimes, doing something that will likely hurt later is so worth the rush and the thrill and the mind-blowing orgasm(!) that comes hand in hand with choosing your libido over your intellect.
Speaking of Alice’s relationship, is anyone else irrepressibly obsessed with Nat? It’s so telling of Alice to be dating this funny, adorably nerdy, high-strung woman who isn’t remotely famous or swaggy or absurdly LA cool. Because while Alice *loves* the gossip and the glitter — at her core, she’s not impressed by sparkly illusions. (Amused maybe, but not impressed.) She sees through people’s bullshit and is able to zero in on who they are in their most stripped-down state. And you can tell that Nat is a *good* person. And Alice, as a woman forever carrying a moral compass in the pocket of her jumpsuit, is attracted to *good* people.
She dabbled with the snakey Gabby Deveaux back in the bloom of her clueless youth, but after that brief shit-show, her dating track record is pretty clean. She went after the madly authentic and sweetly anxious Dana and the super reputable and honorable Tasha. I think Alice’s ability to see people for who they are and the way she refuses to get lured in by the bullshit of swag and sales make her the most intimidating character to ever grace the Sapphic screen of our favorite show. If I met Alice and she didn’t inherently like me, I would know it would be because I was full of shit somehow.
But Alice doesn’t try to not like people.
Alice roots for people, especially other women. She roots for her young staff and is never threatened by their fresh ideas. She roots for her young, queer audience by asking tricky questions to Bette’s privileged male opponent, even after being instructed not to by the insufferable mansplaining boy consultant to her show. She’s always the first to show up at a friend’s art opening or birthday party. She’s as tough as a shot of whiskey and as a warm as an oversized cashmere sweater all at once, which makes you want to be her best friend.
In fact, Alice is the ultimate best friend: loyal, honest, fun, and unafraid to tell you that you’re acting like a colossal asshole.
When Alice walks across a room casually in a scene, she does so in this specific Alice way. Even when she’s in the background, you can see Alice’s wheels turning in her head and having Alice thoughts (which is truly just a massive shout-out to Leisha Hailey for serving us ALICE all the time, regardless of her role in a given scene).
I would dare to say Alice is the heart of “The L Word.” Alice is our trusted narrator. Even when she’s heartbroken or depressed or sloppy drunk, Alice somehow manages to always keep it real. She looks at her fellow characters with a clear, non-biased state of mind. She says what the rest of us are thinking.
We watch “The L Word” through the eyes of Alice. Which is why anyone I’ve ever spoken to who loves “The L Word,” feels this deep, family-like connection to Alice.
Which I suppose makes us a part of her and her a part of us? I don’t know. All I know is that when Alice is around, I can feel myself exhale, ’cause no one gets away with shit when Alice is around. Which means I don’t have to hold anyone accountable. That’s her job. I can relax and watch my show, babe.