Ten years ago this Sunday, Showtime premiered the first ever television series focused on lesbian life and relationships. The L Word boasted star power from lead Jennifer Beals, legendary actress Pam Grier and the Murmurs‘ frontwoman Leisha Hailey. Behind-the-scenes were Guinevere Turner and Rose Troche of Go Fish, a popular lesbian film from the ’90s, and on the success of Queer as Folk and Sex and the City, premium cable networks were pushing the boundaries of the kinds of sexuality they would dare to show on their late night programming.
The pilot episode of The L Word introduced us to characters that we had not seen on TV. Up until 2004 queer-identified female characters were part of larger ensembles (ER), featured players in only one or very few episodes (L.A. Law) and frequently the only gay woman on the show, outside of their prospective partner/love interest. The L Word revolved around several queer-identified women (mostly lesbian, one bisexual), and they were each well-defined, three dimensional characters. If you watched the show, you saw them develop further through romances, heartaches, new friendships, protests, and other facets of life that, although often glamorized, showed that we are not all one and the same.