ALWAYS A JENNY: The Irrational Jealousy I Feel Toward Carmen In ‘The L Word’


She’s your cool straight girl best friend who is *so* cool, she’s actually gay.

CARMEN is the HOTTEST character on the L Word.”

“She’s my dream woman.”

“She’s so sexy.”

Brittnay you’re a Carmen.”

“Yeah, totally.”

Zara you’re not a Carmen. You’re a Jenny.”

“Yeah, totally. A Jenny.

This was a scene at Cubby Hole not that long ago. I was hanging around the bar with Stacy, Lauren, Nika, Armine and a few other “Cubby Hoes” on a Monday night. Brittnay, the mega-babe-with-a-heart-of-gold was bartending. She was wearing a loose baggy rocker t-shirt and her black hair was fastened into a high ponytail. She looked casually sexy as she slickly made everyone cocktails. She looked effortless. Very Carmen.

I, on the other hand, was wearing a not-so-effortless prairie dress. There is nothing effortless about a prairie dress. A prairie dress has the desperation of a little girl’s birthday party dress. Look at me! Look at me! I have big puffy sleeves and a smocked high neck and am long and loudly patterned! Give me presents and shower me with attention! Wah! Not only was I wearing a prairie dress, I was wearing green hair extensions I had carefully arranged into tight french braids. I looked like I was stuck in the age of a childhood trauma. Which, I’m sure I am, but like, do I really have to (literally) wear that shit on my sleeve?

Do you know who else seems to be stuck in the age of many a childhood trauma? Jenny Schecter: The character from The L Word that lesbians everywhere just love to hate. Jenny is always in some sort of peter pan collared get up that screams “I’m mentally ill!” from the rooftops, if you’re over the age of twelve.

Photo by Showtime

I, too, gravitate toward peter pan collars. Sigh. In fact, most of my unhinged, sinful, complicated, slightly-psychotic-when-not-medicated-properly girlfriends do as well. It’s like dudes with small dicks who drive loudly colored sports cars to over-compensate for their small dicks. Adult women who wear peter pan collars are trying to bedazzle themselves with as much faux-innocence as possible to make up for their dark, tarnished souls.

I want to be a cool girl Carmen.

Photo by Showtime

Carmen is the opposite of Jenny, and that weird, brief moment that they hooked up was so paradoxical I feared the whole world would short-circuit. Like, if cool girl Carmen and crazy girl Jenny hookup will the Indigo Girls come out as straight? Will Tegan & Sara start wearing long, shiny hair extensions? Will dykes trade in their U-Hauls for long, acrylic nails? But before Melissa Etheridge collaborated with Brittney Spears, that affair was disrupted by player Shane. That’s the other thing that really triggers me about Carmen. She was the only girl in the world that attained the ability to tame our blasphemous Shane. And is there anything in the world more validating than being able to make a serial slut yours and only yours? The Jennys of the world can only hook a Shane through extreme emotional manipulation. The Carmens snag the Shanes by being hot. And at the end of the day, I’m just like every other basic bitch who owns more than one pair of Ugg boots — I just want to be hot. 

And universally adored by all lesbians. And when I say all lesbians, I mean, all lesbians. Prim femme lesbians sweat bullets when in the realm of Carmen’s hotness. Butch lesbians are still furiously masturbating over Carmen and it’s been over a decade since she’s graced lesbian screens. Sporty lesbians dream of squatting alongside her at the gym. Lipstick lesbians are desperate to know what lipstick she wears. Chapstick lesbians want to press their perfectly moisturized lips over her perfectly moisturized skin. Security guard lesbians want to protect her. Lesbian DJs are convinced they are her.

Being universally adored by all lesbians is not an easy feat to pull off. Lesbians are a wickedly picky breed. “She’s too…freckle-y for me.” “She wears jeans too much of the time, you know?” “Her energy isn’t aggressive enough for me.” “I don’t like blondes, they remind me of my mother. She’s institutionalized.”

Seriously, when you date the same sex that you happen to be, your taste gets really specific. It’s the only way to stop yourself from falling in love with all of your friends.

But Carmen contains all the ingredients that will universally wet the collective lesbian loins. She’s a tomboy, who wears baggy pants but still has long hair (That you know she doesn’t blow-dry. It just. Dries. Like. That). She drinks beer but still has visible abs. She has tattoos but when she smiles she still looks sweet and pretty. She has sex-appeal and good-girl appeal. She’s got opinions but isn’t generally angry or overly emotional when someone challenges them.

She’s your cool straight girl best friend who is so cool, she’s actually gay.

And I am wildly, wildly jealous. Because even though I have long dark hair and bedroom eyes, no one ever calls me a Carmen. My deepest fantasy is that someone somewhere will call me a Carmen. It feels really vulnerable to admit that, but it’s the truth. All I want is to be a girl who gets up and goes to the gym even when she’s hungover, like you know Carmen does because her ass is so high it reaches the heavens and probably hangs out with God. I want to be a girl who is accepted by sporty lesbians but also lusted after by them. I want to be the girl who can lock down the crazy booze-swilling slut. But I will never be that girl. Because I’m too much of a crazy booze-swilling slut, myself. And girls like Shane can see that in me and they run for the hills because they crave a stability I will never be able to give them.

I’m never a Carmen so I hate Carmen! I know it’s unfeminist to hate another woman because she’s prettier and cooler than you’ll ever be, but I can’t help it.

And when I meet fellow Jennys out in the world, I instantly detest them too. I would be much more likable if I was the kind of girl who took pride in being a Jenny and felt a kinship with other Jennys. But I don’t. When I meet other Jennys it’s like looking in the mirror and I don’t like what I see. But here’s the thing: I can’t repress my Jenny. She’s a nut, but she’s powerful, like most nuts. The need to manically write everything down, the fact that I look good with bangs, the frantic energy that radiates out of my eyes, the magnetic draw toward Peter Pan collars — it can not be contained. And a Jenny could wear Carmen clothes and still make them look gothic and gruesomely kinky. A Jenny could go to the gym all day everyday and still rage with irrational emotion.

So the only thing to do is to accept the Jenny. When they say at the bar, “Carmen is so hot.” I will not say stupid, transparently jealous shit like “I don’t get what the big deal is?” I have to will myself to not hate Brittnay when they say she is a Carmen, which is sad because Brittnay is like a little sister to me. A hot Carmen little sister, and I’m her whacked-out Jenny big sister, drinking wine at the dive bar in a fucking prairie dress.







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