1. when breast is not best
Last night at Nicole’s, we watched an episode of The L Word, which I hadn’t seen in ages. Nicole caught me up the plot, which has the ups and downs of a soap and the wild, jerky pace of a cab darting through traffic.
“Okay,” said Nicole, “so Max, the trans guy, was dating this bio gay guy who got him pregnant, then freaked out and left. Now Max’s friends are throwing him a baby shower, and for some reason there’s a Willy Wonka theme.”
When I came in, Max’s female friends were all chatting happily about episiotomies as Max looked on with horror. Because, you know, that’s what gay women who don’t have kids usually talk about. They’re LADIES! They love their vaginas! And childbirth!
Then Jenny—oh, Jenny—gave Max a breast pump, which he also gazed upon with horror.
“I’m not gonna breastfeed,” grunted Max, played by actress Daniela Sea, who seems to think that lowering her voice is a substitute for saying her lines with any expression whatsoever.
“I know you identify as a man,” Jenny explained to Max, the audience, and GLAAD researchers possibly not sure which column of their annual queer TV tally to put Max in. “But you should really breastfeed. It’s what’s best for the baby.”
Then Max had a panic attack (presumably induced by the public celebration of his breasts, although I think the paisley Willy Wonka blouse he was wearing was a far more serious attack on his manhood) and Jenny panicked in response.
“Help her!” Jenny yelled. “Someone get her some help! Help the pregnant lady!”
Oooops. God, it’s so embarrassing when you forget that your stubble-faced friend whom you’ve known for three seasons identifies as a guy and accidentally refer to him as “her” three times in a row.
But that was actually the least of Max’s worries. “I can’t do this!” he monotoned (I added the explanation point. Daniela Sea does not exclaim). “Bette, Tina, will you adopt my baby?”
2. if the l word ladies go to malaysia, i’m really in trouble
We shall stop here. I was going along, enjoying how delightfully terrible The L Word is, when I remembered: Oh my god, I just finished a draft of a novel that features queer adoption, a trans parent and someone unexpectedly offering up their baby. (Um, I guess that was a spoiler for the novel that may, with a lot of luck, come out like four years from now.)
Fuck. I write crappy L Word plots.
I could come up with a lot of defenses here, pointing out that it’s all about tone and dialogue, about how you handle the material, not what the material is—and how there are no baby showers in my novel. But don’t you think the writers of The L Word think their handling is all clever and nuanced too?
Okay, maybe some of them know they’re writing a bizarre cross between Melrose Place, The Facts of Life and an informational brochure at the Gay and Lesbian Center. And the rest are probably too distracted by the ka-ching! sounds of money landing in their bank accounts and the rrrrrip! sounds of stories being torn from the headlines.
There but for the grace of poverty and the alleged subtleties of literary fiction go I.