Salon.com interviewed Chaiken about “The Real L Word” and her former Showtime drama, “The L Word.”
Along with discussing the lack of diversity in the show and the sometimes heavy-handed scripts of the original series, Chaiken notes that she’d like to eventually have a version of the show based in Atlanta’s “vibrant” lesbian community.
Salon: Both “Queer as Folk” and, to a lesser extent, “The L Word” seemed to suffer in their later seasons from the need to incorporate newsy hot-button issues in their plotlines — like steroid abuse on “Queer as Folk” and transgenderism and “don’t ask, don’t tell” on “The L Word.”
Chaiken: On “The L Word” we let our stories evolve organically. We never started out with a list and said we’ve got to touch on FTM transsexuals and “don’t ask, don’t tell.” In the second season of the show I sat down with my group of writers and started to come up with stories. One of them started telling the story of an ex of hers that had transitioned and it seemed like an interesting story that would make sense in the ensemble. When people complained about how narrow our representation [of lesbian life] was, I said, “As we go on telling these stories, we’ll get to represent more and more.”
On “The Real L Word” I don’t know whether that will happen organically. My fantasy is that we carry on making “The Real L Word: Los Angeles” and then change up the ensemble a bit and do a version in Brooklyn or Atlanta or wherever else there are vibrant communities of lesbians
For now, the Los Angeles version of the show airs at 10 p.m. on Sundays on Showtime. It features six successful Los Angeles lesbians who give TV cameras a glimpse into their lives. The reality series is the second attempt by Chaiken to follow up on the success of “The L Word.”
A sequel series, “The Farm,” was pitched to Showtime but not picked up. It was to include “L Word” character Alice among the inmates, leading many to complain that Chaiken turned the last season of the “L Word,” with its “whodunit” plotline, into an extended intro to her longed-for next project.
The new reality series seems to draw heavily on the formula for the main characters of “The L Word,” with the entertainment industry well-represented.