It may be about a group of lesbians but The L Word has plenty to satisfy gay and straight, male and female audiences.

The controversial drama series - hyped as Sex In The City and Queer As Folk with gay women - doesn't just focus on its characters' sex lives but explores their emotions to show that they experience real love and relationships in the same way a straight couple do.

The show isn't just about voyuerism or the shock value of seeing two women in bed - although it can get a little graphic. It's about portraying the ups and downs, happiness and heartache, trust andbetrayal of a relationship - a subject any spectator can relate to, regardless of sexual orientation.

They fall in love, break up, cheat on each other, struggle with commitment, sleep around, get married, have kids. Okay, most of the plots are predictable and have been done to death before but never in this context.

The show aims to break down barriers and destroy the myths and stereotypes surrounding the lesbian community. None of the main characters are butch with cropped hair wearing lumberjack shirts and dungarees. In fact, they are all impossibly beautiful, model-types with extra-successful careers, mostly in the arts. Not that this is necessarily more realistic - few women are this perfect. But hey, it's American prime-time drama and they have to be like Friends - easy on the eye and not short of a few bob.

The only exception to the 'lipstick lesbian' mould is the androgynous Shane (the wonderful Katherine Moennig), who endured a tough childhood in foster homes and life on the street before turning her life around.

But even she has found success, being a hairstylist to the stars (as you do), and is far from unattractive, with a figure so slender she must have to walk with her arms out to stop her falling down drains.

Shane is the show's slut, usually bedding a different woman - or two - every night. She shies away from relationships as she has had her heart broken in the past but eventually falls hard for sexy Latino DJ Carmen (Sarah Shahi) . But the course of true love never did run smooth and Carmen gets so fed up with Shane's initial rejections she dates her room-mate and best friend Jenny.

Jenny is, for me, the show's Achilles Heel. The wannabe writer struggled with her sexuality in the first series and is just coming to grips with being gay in the second. Too much time is devoted to her trying to write, with annoying fantasy scenes of what she is penning. Eventually we flashback to the traumatic childhood memories which inspire her work and explain Jenny's confusion and despair - but by this point I was so bored of the character I just couldn't care less. In a series of turn-ons, she is one major turn-off.

But it's not all heavy drama, tears and tantrums - there is plenty of comic relief. The comings - literally - and goings of best-pals-turned-lovers Alice (Leisha Hailey), a ditzy, bisexual magazine writer, and Dana, a conservative, recently out tennis pro, are hilarious.

Don't miss episode five Labyrinth (each episode's title is an L word, cute) , where they finally give in to their lust; episode nine, Late, Later, Latent, where they go shopping for sex toys - much to Dana's discomfort - or episode10 Land Ahoy, where customs find some interestingly-shaped items in Dana's suitcase and the pair dress up as characters from the Love Boat.

Just one word of warning - skip through the theme tune. It's an exceptionally annoying, cringe-worthy trashy piece of crap that, sadly, you won't be able to get out your head - no matter how many times you batter it off a wall just to make the pain stop. Lyrics such as "crying, lying, fucking, loving... it's the way that we live" are so bad you don't just smell the cheese but choke on it. Makes Prisoner Cell Block H's 'On The Inside' seem good. Nuff said.

Reviewed on: 14 Jul 2007
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The loves, lusts and laughs of lipstick lesbians in LA.
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