Season five’s major plot developments include a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” investigation of Tasha Williams (Rose Rollins), a closeted soldier whose moving romance last season with the out-and-proud Alice Pieszecki (Leisha Hailey) earned the show an award from the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.
Series creator and executive producer Ilene Chaiken is proud of the attention her series is bringing to the lingering but still-unresolved issue of gay military service. “I hope Tasha’s story will shed light on the military’s untenable policy of institutionalized discrimination again gay men and lesbians who sacrifice to serve their county,” Chaiken says. “Tasha’s experience with ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ only skims the surface of the battles gay servicemembers face everyday. We’re grateful to have had the opportunity to tell her story and hope that it sparks consensus, rather than controversy, on the need for policy reform.”
Debuting as the tough veteran Colonel Gillian Davis, who is charged with prosecuting Tasha’s case, is Kelly McGillis, star of such blockbuster motion pictures as Witness and Top Gun. McGillis brings grit and panache to a role that, like so many in The L Word, is less one-dimensional than it might be first assumed.
McGillis isn’t the only exciting fifth season guest star. Chaiken reveals that, “In addition to Jane Lynch and Holland Taylor, we’re delighted by the return of Cybill Shepherd and her real-life daughter, Clementine Ford, to play the mother-daughter duo of Phyllis and Molly Kroll.” Molly, who insists that she is straight (in contrast to her recently out mother) proves an unexpectedly stalwart foil to legendary heart breaker Shane (Katherine Moennig). Chaiken hints, “As for Shane…let’s just say she’s back and better than ever, but also more self-aware and prepared to deal with the girl drama she invites.
“Also new to season five is the incredible Wallace Shawn as the wily financier of Jenny’s movie,” reveals Chaiken. When Jenny’s undaunted persistence resurrects her autobiographical movie project Lez Girls with money from a hedge-fund billionaire (Shawn), the polarizing writer soon finds herself behind the camera directing the film, as well as wooing the hot new “It Girl” actress Nikki (Kate French) to star. “The production of Lez Girls is bringing a wealth of new talent to The L Word,” says Chaiken, who also cites guest stars Malaya Rivera Drew, who plays Jenny’s disturbingly devoted assistant Adele, and Patricia Velasquez as Begonia, a self-possessed actress appearing in Jenny’s film. “We are having an absolute blast with Jenny this year as she takes on Hollywood with her movie and its ‘fictional’ account of the friends’ lives,” Chaiken laughs.
Another significant story line for season five is the arrival of Dawn Denbo (Elizabeth Keener) and her lover Cindi (Alicia Leigh Willis), a pair of Florida party-girl emigres who open a new establishment to rival longtime hangout The Planet, setting into motion a rivalry with The Planet’s owner Kit (Pam Grier) that starts benignly but quickly turns bitter.
Then there are Bette and Tina, the former couple whose on-again, off-again romance remains, for many fans, the heart of The L Word. Despite Bette’s continued serious involvement with artist and professor Jodi Lerner (Marlee Matlin), her feelings for Tina seem to be gradually simmering into “on-again” mode, and the feeling could be mutual. The characters’ tortured passion will have viewers taking sides and glued to the screen.
When discussing the rollercoaster ride that is Bette and Tina, the executive producer chooses her words carefully. “I am certainly moved by how much the story of Bette and Tina resonates with viewers,” Chaiken asserts. “I won’t confirm or deny anything just yet but will say that everyone behind the show approached season five with a completely open mind. My personal hope is for Bette and Tina to find happiness, whether as friends and co-parents, or as a couple. We’ve seen them play both of those roles over the past four seasons and I believe they’re ready for resolution. But you’ll have to watch to find out which path they chose.”
Chaiken has a few more twists and turns planned for the new season, but says that the return of The L Word’s characters to the extended family vibe of the early years is the theme that really shapes the new episodes. “Some of our favorite scenes to write and shoot at The L Word have always been the big group scenes – those gatherings at The Planet, or get-togethers at Shane and Jenny’s or one of our famous dinner parties,” she relates. “If anything defines season five it’s a return to the magical friendship among our ladies and the humor it brings to their lives and our stories. At the same time, our characters are growing up and their core relationships to each other and as a group are shifting. In season five, I wouldn’t be surprised to see friendships take unexpected, dangerous, heartbreaking…or even romantic detours.”
The L Word is one of Showtime’s most popular series, generating a large and loyal audience, as well as critical praise for its provocative, sexy storylines, the engaging and nuanced performances of its principal cast, and its appeal to celebrated directors and guest stars. Premiering Sundays at 9 p.m. PT/ET with several multi-plays during the week and available on the ever-growing Showtime On Demand, the groundbreaking series follows a group of Los Angeles-based friends as they navigate careers, families, friendships, inner struggles and romantic entanglements. Since its debut in January 2004, The L Word has become part of American popular culture, spawning dedicated fan websites and blogs, and even branded products such as perfume, jewelry and books.credit: In Case You Didn't Know