Before my very lesbian eyes were ever ~exposed~ to “The L Word,” I had some pretty dismal fears about gay life. First, I feared the glamour would be completely stripped clean from my world the very second I came tumbling out of the closet (there were a lot of glamorous gowns in that closet). Second, I feared there would be no hypersexual, twinkly-eyed, wildly-charismatic girl players that would break my begging-to-be-cracked-in-half heart.
And then I began watching “The L Word” upstairs in my bedroom with the doors locked. Everything I had previously assumed about gay life was smashed like a Fabergé egg tossed out of an Upper East Side penthouse apartment by the scorned lover of a wealthy Manhattanite!
And I liked what lingered across the elusive lesbian pavement that had crushed the societal standards of beauty, baby!
And you know who didn’t just linger but *lounged* across the lesbian pavement that struck me like a lightning storm? Shane. Not only was Shane stunningly beautiful, she was swaggy. I had never seen swag like that — on or off-screen. Oh, Shane, with the smudgy black eyeliner resting beneath her milk-chocolate brown eyes! Shane, who entered the screen hipbone first and held you hostage with her smoldering gaze. Shane, who got down and dirty every single night with a different woman. Shane, who crushed hearts like fraternity boys crush beers. Shane with the wild charisma! Shane, who put every single doe-eyed skater boy I’d ever dated to shame with her effortless charm. I would lay awake at night and dream about going on some grungy glamour date with Shane in West Hollywood and then having sex with her poolside with a palm tree floating above my head, only for her to never speak to me again! Call me sick and twisted, but that was my deepest fantasy — to get ~taken advantage of~ by Shane. How glamorous to be forlorn over a self-medicating hair-stylist in a leather vest?
And then, we were introduced to Carmen in season two. Carmen was the kind of girl I idolized: universally hot and naturally feminine with sexy tomboy undertones.
Carmen was the kind of girl who is the star of her local boxing gym but also a nightlife queen. (Girls who DJ until three in the morning but still manage to have visible abs are *still* such a mystery to me.) She was the kind of girl who is able to speak her mind while resisting the urge to throw a drink in someone’s face. The kind of girl with tattoos and femme daddy vibes and gentle eyes and a giant smile that houses teeth as white as virgin snowflakes. She was the kind of girl I wanted to be but would never be. (I’m too artsy and weird to be a Carmen.)
When Shane and Carmen first hooked up, I almost died of acute jealousy. As I seethed in a green deathbed of envy, I was brought back to life by their riveting chemistry. I was used to seeing Shane play the starring role in all her gorgeously salacious hookups, but Carmen held her own. She commanded the screen as much as effervescent Shane did. Even when they fought and even when Shane pretended to be an emotionally distant f*ckboy at the beginning of their courtship, I proudly rooted for them. What I loved is that they were both the starring roles in their relationship. They were two women who glimmer and glitter and captivate the general population with equal magnetic power.
In my fantasy-world in which “The L Word” is not a work of fiction but a real-life that I’m deeply immersed in, I happen to know personally that Shane and Carmen both had the upper hand in their prior relationships. Because they’re both fiercely independent and jaw-droppingly hot and have the kind of jobs that get a person laid a lot, all of their previous lovers were vehemently threatened by their seductive prowess. But when two people who burn brightly get together, they have the ability to merge flames and create a fire so bright it lights up the fucking world.
And for a while, they did.
But they were baby dykes back in the early 2000s when they first got together! And like all baby dykes, they took their beautiful relationship for granted. It’s what you do when you’re young and vibrant. You can’t handle the heat from the fire you’ve started, so you destroy it — pour water over those pretty orange flames and snuff it right the f*ck out.
Especially when you’re used to being the shit-stirring, drama-provoking one in the relationship — especially when you’re not used to dating your physical and emotional equal. It’s a recipe for a hurricane of jealousy and fear of vulnerability, the kind that takes down entire towns.
So what happens? Carmen gets jealous of Shane. Shane gets jealous of Carmen. Shane cheats on Carmen because she’s hurt and has probably never been to therapy so has no healthy tools to help her deal with her ever-exploding emotions. Carmen cheats on Shane back because screw that shit, she’s not going to sit pretty and calm after being cheated on! (Girls like that never do, just so you know.) Then Shane’s best friend tragically dies of breast cancer. Shane hasn’t opened up to a lot of people in her life and is experiencing deep grief and loss. She comes from a dysfunctional family, so her friends are her family. She’s essentially dealing with the death of a family member and is terrified of losing a loved one again.
So Shane proposes to Carmen. One should never propose to a person because they’re afraid and feeling extra vulnerable and trying to cope with a devastating loss, but Shane doesn’t know any better; she’s young. You need ample life experience to learn sophisticated lessons like that. Carmen knows in her gut that it’s not the right time to get engaged to Shane; Carmen is naturally wise. She doesn’t accept Shane’s proposal at first. She knows they both have maturing to do before traipsing down the aisle.
But, my God, Shane’s friend just died, which is probably kicking up Carmen’s own deep-rooted death trauma (she lost her father in a motorcycle accident — that’s heavy), and she’s feeling hopelessly lonely because her beloved mother just disowned her for being gay. So, okay; she’ll marry Shane. And then, because like I said, Shane has never gone to therapy and worked through her shit, Shane gets cold feet. Her absent father poisons her by telling her, in a nutshell, that they’re both doomed to be asshole self-sabotagers the rest of their lives and takes off with a younger woman. All of the little voices in Shane’s head that tell her she doesn’t deserve to be happy get really f*cking loud. They get louder than the parts of her that know she is worthy of living a wonderful life with a wonderful partner. She gives into those devil voices and leaves Carmen at the altar and proceeds to go on a massive hard-partying bender. This is all very classic addict. And at this point, it’s glaringly clear that Shane struggles with addiction. Only, she has no idea that she’s an addict, so again, has no idea that her addiction is lying to her and is actually actively trying to pull her out of the light and into the dark. Sigh. (I am *so* glad we talk more about mental health and addiction now than we did in the early aughts.)
Carmen, understandably, is heartbroken, humiliated, and never, ever wants to see Shane again. She does what a lot of girls do after a heartbreak: She goes back home to be with her family (who have since accepted her sexuality). She needs time to crawl back in the womb and heal these blood-oozing wounds.
That amount of drama, hurt, tears, sadness, and betrayal run as deep as the Hudson River — so deep and remote that no light can penetrate its way to the core of it. The only thing for these girls to do is walk away from each other, start talk therapy, become better people — become more confident people who know themselves and love themselves more than they could ever love anyone else. This is why giant heartbreak is so important to experience when you’re young; it forces you to really look in the mirror and examine your life in a real AF way. It teaches you how utterly powerful love is and how vulnerable we all are to getting our asses kicked by its iron fist. It makes you aware of what your patterns are and what kind of baggage you’ve been unfairly tossing onto another person’s quivering back.
Shane and Carmen are better people for having had their hearts smashed open by their epic baby-dyke love affair. And, as we learned in the recent reboot “The L Word: Generation Q,” Shane has truly gotten her act together. She’s one of the most successful hairstylists in the world and owns salons in Paris. (For those of you killjoys I keep seeing post on social media that it’s “unrealistic” for a celebrity hairstylist to be that rich: You’re wrong, bitch. Superstar stylists make a ton of money and often become millionaires when they start their own hair care lines and own a slew of exclusive salons. It’s not just finance dykes who build empires, you know.) Yes, she’s going through a breakup and clearly still has lingering feelings for her INSANELY gorgeous ex-wife Quiara. And Quiara is everything — famous, talented, stylish, earth-shatteringly beautiful.
I suspect Quiara is a little young for seasoned Shane, and Quiara wants a baby — desperately. And Shane isn’t overly enthused about the whole thing. In fact, she’s made it clear she wants nothing to do with it. And I happen to think — if she truly, madly, deeply loved Quiara like she says she does — she’d be on board for the baby. I think the real issue is that Quiara isn’t Carmen. No one will ever be Carmen. (And Quiara deserves a lover that is excited to embark on the baby journey with her.)
We don’t know much about Carmen’s new life via “The L Word,” but I’ve created a strong narrative in my head. Here goes: Carmen went and saw a great shrink after Shane screwed her over. She dealt with the grief and loss of her father, finally. She dealt with the trauma of staying in the closet to appease her homophobic family. Seeking radical change, she moved to New York City and became the coolest, most widely booked DJ on the Eastern Seaboard. I mean there is no way she stayed in LA. Shane and her friends would still run into her whilst out on the town, for girls like Carmen don’t just disappear after a breakup! You either run into them all the time or they move to a new city and glitter like the diamonds in the window of the Tiffany 5th avenue store, in their brand, shiny new lives.
Carmen, like Shane, has gotten her shit together. And guess what? I doubt either of them has ever been in a relationship with such excitement and sexual chemistry like theirs! So after a decade and then some of healing, growing, learning about themselves, why shouldn’t they give it another shot? The ol’ college try has a much higher success rate when you’ve been out of college for over 15 years. Why shouldn’t they leave the baggage of their 20s on the luggage cart and buy a fresh set of suitcases from Louis Vuitton (if Shane can travel via private jet, she can afford Louis luggage)? They are now better, more stable versions of who they once were.
But sexual chemistry like they once had? That shit doesn’t burn out. Ever. I’m positively certain that they would rock each other’s world in bed. After all this time, it would be such exciting-yet-familiar sex! (Which is the best sex.)
In conclusion, Carmen should forgive Shane and go out with her already. All I’m asking for is *one* date, Carmen. You and I both know that one date would lead to another date, which would lead to sex, which would lead to them staring in each other’s eyes not daring to blink — not wanting to miss a second of each other’s naked skin.
So at least try it, girls. If not for you, for teeny-bopping ME! If not for me, for all the former baby dykes who learned everything lesbian from watching Carmen and Shane sparkle up an otherwise static TV screen.