Have you seen Showtime’s newest line up? It’s a vag-bonaza! Even though the network tries to have something for every-type of kitty-cage owner, they all fall woefully flat. Here’s the breakdown of the of lady-centric season if the shows were an archetypal woman:
*The United States of Tara would be the Madonna
*The L Word would be the Whore
*And Secret Diary of a Call Girl would be, well, the actual whore.
The United States of Tara: Moms aren’t good in bed.
Tara was penned by Diablo Cody, the Juno author who got her start writing Pussy Ranch — a stripper-themed blog with the fastest puns in the West. Cody’s Tara, played by Toni Collete, is every bit the ideal American mother: hardworking, involved, down to earth. Her only problem? She suffers from Disassociative Identity Disorder, and her so-called “alters” are anything but perfect parental figures. These characters are varied — there’s wild teenager T, Stepford Wife Alice, and misogynistic Vietnam vet Buck — but the one thing they have in common is that they’re all embodiments of Tara’s sexual repression. T rams her tongue down husband Max’s throat, Alice tries to seduce him with whipped cream and a head full of women’s mag sex tips, and Buck plays grab ass with pretty girls and talks about his past exploits. So what’s the show saying? You can’t be a good wife and a good girlfriend at the same time.
Secret Diary of a Girl: The Blah Spot
Secret Diary is based on the (dubiously authentic) Belle du Jour blogspot hooker-saga. Watching Secret Diary of a Call Girl is a little like taking mushrooms and staring really hard at the sensual massage ads in the back of the LA Weekly. By all practical logic, this thing you’re looking at should be subversive, yet it ultimately isn’t creative enough to escape the page. The show, like the blog, is all grooming tips, superficial emotions and aristocratic sex. Lucy Prebble’s protagonist Belle (Billie Piper) claims to have become a call girl because she enjoys the work — which I guess I believe to an extent, although it seems she actually delights in the idea of being a high class prostitute more. Like maybe she’d rather just sit at home and write a fake sex blog.
The L-Word: The Lesbians and Order
The orgiastic lesbotronic extravaganza that is The L Word, created by Ilene Chakin and run mostly by ladies, makes no attempt to hide the fact that it’s a show for women and about women — girl-on-girl dude bait aside. Each episode is like a late night drunken drive through Los Angeles — storylines weave and meander a little too quickly with their shirts off and the moonroof open, making pitstops to fuck or fight, only to be abandoned on the side of the road when a shinier car comes into view. Fundamentally: the show is fun. But it also rings true, emotionally — the glamorous ladies of The L Word are real people with surprisingly relatable problems. Which is why this season’s premiere episode was such a disappointing shark jump: a main character turns up dead, and the rest of the cast huddles around in one of its trademarked incestuous circles, avoiding suspicious glances from a (female) cop. So what then — the final season of the show that revolutionized the portrayal of women in television will end up little more than a lurid Whodunit?
The idea that a television network is offering a season of shows both starring and created by women is, of course, a remarkable thing. But these shows are toothless and bland. While they sporadically rub up against some uniquely feminine issues they lack that grit and sass that us ladies love.