The L Word premiered on Showtime on January 18, 2004, and for the subsequent six seasons we tuned in every Sunday night to the drama, scandal, and sexcapades of Los Angeles’ titillating lesbians. Bette, Tina, Jenny, Alice, Kit, Helena, Dana, Max, Jodi, Tasha, Carmen, Lara, Marina, Phyllis, Joyce, Papi, Molly, and the unforgettable Shane.
The impact of showrunner Ilene Chaiken’s characters is undeniable. They helped change TV’s LGBT landscape forever.
We now see out lesbian and bisexual characters on primetime network TV (Grey’s Anatomy, The Good Wife, Glee), as well as cable family channels (Pretty Little Liars, The Fosters), and even the new medium of Netflix streaming (Orange is the New Black) on a regular basis. However, it’s usually in a more PG-13 approach.
The writers and actresses of TheL Wordtook a more candid approach with their story. They were pioneers in conveying the everyday lives of every day gay women. In their world, partnerships failed, the joys and sorrows that come with parenting (or trying to conceive) were real, the fight for equality in the work place and in the armed forces was authentic, the confusing coming out process was genuine, and no one can forget the sex.
TheL Word wrapped in 2009…wow, was it really 5 years ago? Since then Chaiken’s second partnership with Showtime in 2010, The Real L Word, a lesbian reality show that ran for 3 seasons, had its core fans, but never really took off like the original drama.
So, in celebration of the show that started it all, we wanted to track down all of the beloved actresses we tuned in religiously to watch.
Jennifer Beals (Bette Porter)
Widely recognized for her role of Alex in the 80s classic Flashdance, was the matriarch and the core of the show, viewers all over the globe tuned in to watch Bette, and all of her friends and lovers navigate through gay LA. It was her world, they were all just living in it.
Since 2009, Beals went on to a multi-episode arc on Lie to Mebefore landing the lead as a tough talking police chief on Fox's short-lived The Chicago Code.She also starred alongside Troian Bellisario (Pretty Little Liars) in the heavy hitting webseries Lauren. The actress also appeared in several episodes of ABC’s Castle, andshe starred in an indie set in the world of jazz, The Lord of Vinyl. Beals just wrapped another indie The White Orchid,a noir crime thriller, co-starring Olivia Thirlby (Juno) and L Wordalum Janina Gavankar (Papi). She also costarred in the indie Cinemanovels with another L Wordalum Lauren Lee Smith (Lara) in 2013.
Beals went on to release a "photographic journal" of photos she took behind-the-scenes of the show entitled, The L Word Book. Also a vocal supporter of LGBT rights, the actress received the Human Rights Campaign’s Ally for Equality Award.
Laurel Holloman (Tina Kennard)
Bette’s first and last love on the show, first landed on the radar of lesbians everywhere for her turn as Randy Dean in The Incredibly True Adventures of Two Girls in Love. Since playing Tina, this mother of two had an 18 episode stint on TeenNick's Gigantic, which co-starred Meryl Streep's daughter Grace Gummer.
Recently, Holloman has devoted her time to her other passion, painting. She donated a series of paintings to the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Fund in Oregon. In 2012 she had two shows in Germany and Italy, and in 2013, her piece “Swell,” was added to the prestigious Venice Biennale.
Mia Kirshner (Jenny Schecter)
Kirshner started out on the show as the new kid on the block, but by the end of the run, her character departed under very tragic circumstances. These days, she’s keeping busy with indie films and a few TV projects. In 2011 she made the thriller 388 Arleta Avenue with Devon Sawa and Nick Stahl. She's also appeared on several episodes of the CW's hit The Vampire Diaries. In 2013 she co-starred with Julie Benz (Dexter) in the scifi, post apocalyptic thriller Defiance, in which her character had a relationship with a woman, and had a three episode arc on the SyFy channel’s favorite show about a bisexual succubus, Lost Girl.
Leisha Hailey (Alice Pieszecki)
Hailey, as Alice, was a perennial favorite throughout her L Word run, keeping tabs on everyone in LA with her chart. She still pops up on TV when she’s not on tour with her band Uh Huh Her. She’s appeared on primetime hits American Dad!,CSI, Drop Dead Diva andThe New Normal. She also starred in the psychological thriller, Fertile Ground. But since the show ended, Hailey's primarily kept busy with her band Uh Huh Her touring with her bandmate and girlfriend Camila Grey.
Katherine Moennig (Shane McCutcheon)
LA’s resident player, has been keeping busy! She starred in the short-lived Three Rivers, appeared on an episode of Dexter during which she flirted with Dexter's sister Deb (Jennifer Carpenter), and appeared in the star-studded Everybody’s Fine (Robert De Niro, Drew Barrymore, Kate Beckinsale), The Lincoln Lawyer (Matthew McConaughey, Marisa Tomei) andGone with Amanda Seyfried. Currently, Moennig is starring as Lena, an out press agent, opposite Liev Schreiber and Jon Voight in the Showtime hit Ray Donovan.
Pam Grier (Kit Porter)
Grier, who played Bette’s loving older sis, has appeared on the big screen in Just Wright, playing Queen Latifah's mom, and in Larry Crowne, co-starring Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts. She also starred opposite Russell Crowe and Lucy Liu in The Man with the Iron Fists, and in Ving Rhames thriller Mafia. Currently, Grier is in production on a vigilante thriller entitled Skinny Dip, costarring porn star Sasha Grey and Danny Trejo of Machete fame.
Rachel Shelley (Helena Peabody)
Bette’s rival-turned friend, welcomed a daughter in 2009, and since then Shelley has appeared on Showtime’s Episodes playing a California girl who hooks up with star Matt Le Blanc, and in two episodes of the ABC fantasy Once Upon a Time. Shelley, who starred in the 2001 Oscar-nominated Bollywood film Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India, also had a five-episode arc in Thandie Newton’s cop thriller Rogue. But lately she's returned to across the pond to star as Yvonne Rippon in the long-running UK series Casualty.
Erin with Emma Watson in The Bling Ring.
Erin Daniels (Dana Fairbanks)
Daniels auditioned for the roles of Bette and Alice before landing the role of Dana, a pro tennis player starting the coming out process. Sadly, her character was killed off from breast cancer during the show’s third season. After popping up on TVs Swingtown and CSI, and in Tom Ford’s directorial debut, A Single Man, Daniels also appeared on Rizzoli and Isles. She also costarred in the Jonah Hill comedy The Sitter and with Emma Watson in Sofia Coppola’s critically acclaimed The Bling Ring. In addition to her acting gigs, Daniels is also a mother of two.
Daniela in The Dead and the Living.
Daniela Sea (Max Sweeney)
We first met Max in season three when Jenny meets and hooks up with him (then Moira) in a bar. Sea’s memorable performance took the viewers through Moira’s transition to Max. Since then, Sea keeps busy with her acting, activism, and music. Sea starred in director Steve Balderson's drama, The Casserole Club, which focused on a group of mod 1960's era suburban housewives. She also appeared in the sci-fi venture The Pyrex Glitch, written and directed by the Go-Go's Jane Wiedlin, and in the European drama, The Dead and the Living.
Marlee Matlin (Jodi Lerner)
This Oscar winner joined the cast in season 4, playing Jodi, a fiery artist and Bette’s post-Tina girlfriend. Since the show Matlin has appeared on CSI,Switched at Birth, and Family Guy.In 2009, Matlin released her autobiography, I'll Scream Later, about her history of drug abuse and her journey to get clean. She’s currently filming How to Make Love Like an Englishman, a drama co-starring Jessica Alba and Salma Hayek.
Rose Rollins (Tasha Williams)
Rollins played Alice’s girlfriend, the sexy Military police officer who refused to serve in silence. Since the L Word, this model-turned-actress co-starred in NBC'sChase alongside The Good Wife andSVU’s Kelli Giddish, but sadly, after 16 episodes the series was cancelled. Rollins also had bit parts in the critically acclaimed cop series Southland, Nikita, and NCIS. She was also in POWER UP'S Girltrash: All Night Long, which was released this past December, and in the shortIn 3 Days.