What could be better than keyholing the antics, spats and philanderings of a mixed bag of fictional lesbian hotties? How about giving the same telematic treatment to a gang of real-life lesbian hotties?
Like the show that inspired it, THE REAL L WORLD takes a multi-generational approach to its subject from the outset. Centered around a loose network of cliques in the Los Angeles area, the show attempted to cover the spectrum of personal and interpersonal issues in the local lesbian community.
The niche success of the show quickly made minor celebrities of the cast. But it was the high-key drama and tongue-in-cheek raunchiness of the Whitney/Romi love-hate entanglement that elevated the show to near cult status.
Whitney Mixter became the poster tomboy for cool promiscuity (a kind of LGBT Don Draper), while Romi Klinger (with her striking resemblance to a young Demi Moore) translated her neediness into the role of the series’s most strident booty call villain.
The end of season two saw Whitney on the verge of committing to exclusivity with Sara Bettencourt, in spite of having more than earned her reputation for bringing sexy back.
Meanwhile, Romi, having failed to foul things for Whitney and Sara, sparked an even greater furor in the community by flaunting her bisexuality — bouncing freely (if not smoothly) between genders at whim.
After two mostly successful seasons exposing the Lalaland lesbians to our unblinking eyes, the producers decided to shift the show’s focus somewhat in season three. Honing in on the hipper-than-thou appeal of the Whitney/Romi/Sara triangle, Showtime added a new set of sexy Brooklyn-based characters to the lineup, as well as some new LA minxes — all of whom skewed to the younger demographic.
By this time, most of the more senior
less nubile and notably settled roster had been shifted out of focus.
Never shy about showing a stretch of writhing skin or spritzing some sweat on the lens, THE REAL L WORLD capitalized on the fresh faces in season three to amplify its soft-core swagger.
Whitney and Sara, having become the cast-iron couple with wedding bells in their future, still managed to keep the home fires burning as fiercely as ever.
Meanwhile newcomer and aspiring punk rock goddess Kiyomi McCloskey inherited Whitney’s heartless heartbreaker mantle, a job made easier by the ambitious touring schedule of her band, Hunter Valentine.
Giving the show a bi-city setting breathed new life into it, making it feel not quite so culturally myopic. It also opened up the stories to all manner of jet-set romance and tribulation.
While not an entirely necessary jumpstart, it did reinvigorate the show for that last panting fumble over the finish line.