Celesbians: They’re just like us — as in, they love their dogs, they recruit their best friends to help with home projects, and the chaos that is 2020 has taken its toll on them. When one is also part of the original cast of “The L Word” — as in, Leisha Hailey (Alice) and Kate Moennig (Shane) — there’s never been a better time to start a podcast!
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That’s right: With “PANTS,” all of our “The L Word” reunion dreams come true every week. Leisha and Kate are more than lesbian icons who cut their teeth on one of TV’s most groundbreaking queer shows; they’re also best friends who are missing each other a lot right now (sound familiar?). Since June, they also host a weekly podcast from their respective homes where they chat about everything from first concerts to celeb encounters to what it was like to audition for Ilene Chaiken back in the day. Produced by Helena herself, Rachel Shelley, and featuring a host of excellent guests, “PANTS” has become the highlight of my Wednesdays. Here are a few brilliant moments to listen for:
Rachel Shelley (Helena!) roleplays as a French maid
Yes, you read that right. We don’t hear from Rachel too often, as her editing/producing role is almost exclusively behind the scenes. However, once in a while, she’ll treat us to an aside in her gorgeously crisp British accent — the meaning of the word “sprezzatura” or snarky comments on Kate’s segues. On the episode “Stinkers help you grow,” she narrates Leisha and Kate’s caffeine break as a breathy French maid named Babette who arranges the coffee service while Rachel tries to keep her on task. While brief, the clip is both silly and sexy, giggle-inducing while driving the listeners wild with possibilities. It’s like Rachel’s in our horny Helena-loving brains!
Lesbian fashion according to Alice and Shane
Leisha Hailey loves Carhartt, and I love knowing that Leisha Hailey loves Carhartt. On the most recent episode “Phoney Baloney Fashion,” both she and Kate go on about the joys of workwear: beat-up boots, farm jackets, and jumpsuits before they were cool. “I feel feminine, even though there’s nothing feminine about it. It’s a happy place for me [and] a sweet spot for me,” Leisha says. Kate then waxes poetic about a perfectly fitted pair of jeans and a T-shirt: excellent fantasy material for those of us who still lust after Shane. (In fact, one of these perfect pairs first belonged to Leisha after a particularly heinous breakup.)
Learning about what the real-life Alice and Shane love to wear — in COVID times and in the bygone era when we could actually go out — is satisfying, surprisingly intimate, and indicative of the “PANTS” vibe: Two gay women who know the importance of a good tailor are picky about hats and are always there for one another even when they can’t be together in person. (Don’t wash your beanies too much!)
Sarah. Freaking. Shahi.
Even after Shane left her at the altar and she disappeared for parts unknown, we “The LWord” stans never forgot the lesbian legend that was Carmen de la Pica Morales, the sexy AF aspiring DJ who captivated characters and audiences alike with her outspokenness, short-shorts, and heart-stopping dance moves. Leisha and Kate perform the ultimate fan service by hosting their old pal Sarah Shahi for one glorious episode (appropriately titled “Sarah f**king Shahi”), where Shahi is just as gloriously hot as ever. Now a divorced mom who swears she’ll never wed again, Shahi dishes about playing Carmen — her first major acting gig! — as well as the emotional rollercoaster that is coronavirus and making it work as a single parent in quarantine. Her adorable kids even make a cameo at the end! In many ways, Shahi is Carmen — direct, empathetic, funny, and incredibly hot — and any day we can hear her velvety voice is a good one.
Mia Kirshner calls herself “Barb”
Say what you want about Jenny Schecter: She was always entertaining, and Mia Kirshner’s stellar performance was worthy of at least one Emmy. Kirshner, who coined the term “PANTS” for Leisha and Kate back in “The L Word” days when the two were inseparable, is as cool as ever. On “W.W.M.K.D,” she talks about rooming with Leisha and Kate — painting her room dusty rose pink because “I had my f*cking head up my ass” — and the victim advocacy organization she now runs in her home country of Canada. (Schecter at her most lucid would be proud.) Also, the three ladies enjoy a hearty laugh at this photo of Kirshner in her most, uh, awkward phase. Quoth Kirshner, “I look older than my mother [and] like my name is Barb!”
OMG, it’s “The L Word” tea!
The best part of “PANTS” by far is hearing about the golden age of “The L Word.” According to Leisha, Kate, and every single guest thus far, the most lesbian television show of all time was chock-full of goodwill. The role of Alice was essentially created for Leisha, who, at the time, had very little acting experience and originally auditioned for Shane (!), while Kate auditioned for the role she would eventually make iconic, among the potential Jennys. Once Leisha and Kate met, they immediately bonded with Erin Daniels, leading to the very funny Shane-Dana-Alice Greek chorus moments in season one.
Besides the tight cast bonding, what was also unique about “The L Word,” according to Leisha and Kate, is the input they had on their respective character arcs and stories (very unusual for a TV show, then and now). Just as those of us watching in real-time knew we were witnessing queer history on-screen, so did the cast and crew of “The L Word.” It’s lovely to hear how Leisha, Kate, and company knew they were a part of something big and important and brought that energy to set every day. “The L Word” led many of us on the paths we continue forging today, and hearing behind-the-scenes stories is almost as good as being on set.
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