The show follows the lives and loves of a tight-knit group of lesbians living in Los Angeles. There's Bette (Jennifer Beals) and Tina (Laurel Holloman), long-term couple who recently split and are engaged in a custody battle for their daughter, Angelica. There's Jenny (Mia Kirshner), the selfish writer who will go to great lengths to get revenge and become a star in the writing community. Alice (Leisha Hailey) is a bubbly and adorable radio personality who seems to get into trouble quite easily. Then there's Shane (Katherine Moenig), the loner who often looks a lot like Jared Leto in 30 Seconds To Mars. Shane's a bad-ass hairdresser and party girl who co-owns a skate shop and seems to fall into bed with different women as easily as Colin Farrell. Kit (Pam Grier) is Bette's sister and she owns The Planet, the restaurant the girls hang out at. Kit is considered an "honorary lesbian" by the girls and dates the much younger Angus (Dallas Roberts), who is a songwriter trying to get his band off the ground. Finally, there's the lovely Brit, Helena (Rachel Shelley), rich girl recently cut off financially by her mother, struggling to make a buck and learn how to get along in life without her millions, and there's Max (Daniela Sea), a lesbian woman transitioning into a man this season.
Throughout the season, lots will happen. Bette, having just started a new position as Dean of the Art Department at California University, will embark on a brief affair with her teacher's assistant, Nadia (Jessica Capshaw), she'll get involved with an artist-in-residence, Jody (Marlee Matlin), and she'll be the impetus for her boss, Phyllis (Cybill Shepherd) to come out. But this backfires on Bette when Phyllis gets involved with Alice, only to fall head over heels for her even as Alice moves on to the next hot thing, Tasha, recently back from a tour of duty in Iraq. Tina, having left Bette and the lesbian lifestyle, will start to question her decisions and will have regrets. Shane, after having left Carmen at the altar at the beginning of the season, will have her half-brother, Shay, literally dumped on her doorstep and she'll have to step up and start being an adult. She'll get involved with the mom of one of Shay's friends, Paige (Kristanna Loken - Terminator 3), model a pair of underwear to pay for Shay's broken arm, and grow up some, at least a little bit. Alice goes off in search of Papi, a girl who has more hookups than even Shane - as Alice is forever obsessed with her lesbian hookup-tracking website, The Portal, and Papi is crashing the servers. Jenny has her book, "Some of Her Parts," reviewed by a caustic fellow lesbian who is involved with a survivor of abuse. Jenny sets out on a strange, but hilarious course of revenge and ends up hurting herself and several other people in the process. She writes a work of fiction in the New Yorker called Lez Girls, using all of her friends and their experiences, only slightly changing the names, much to the girls' collective chagrin. Lez Girls gets picked up by interested movie companies and Jenny gets greedy instead of sticking by Tina and letting her movie studio produce the film as agreed. Finally, there's Max, a computer programmer now living as a man. Max's boss introduces his daughter and she and Max start going out. When Max reveals the truth to her, she bolts. Then Max has to come forward when a female co-worker gets looked over for a promotion, as apparently the same thing happened to Max when she was a girl at that company. I was a bit lost on that part since it referred to earlier stuff that I had missed. Eventually, Max is shunned and passed over at work and ends up going to work on Alice's website full time, also rethinking her transitioning surgery by the season's end.
Overall, The L Word: The Fourth Season has lots of laughs, more than a few cries and is overall just a really intelligent and funny show. I liked the writing and there were several times when really interesting directing was implemented such as an episode that has all the girls talking on the phone. It's just handled in a really amusing and clever way. I must warn you, however, that this show is not for the kiddies. There's a lot of sex in this show and straight or gay, it's just not for the younger set. So if you have any problem with girls making out and well, doing a good bit more than that actually, stay far away. These gals have no compunction about getting naked in front of the camera, so you can tell it's a show from a premium channel. Sometimes it seems more than a bit gratuitous, but I guess if their target audience is happy, why mess with something that works? Also, the general thrust of The L Word is very liberal, so there's plenty of anti-war, anti-Bush stuff as well, as you would expect.
Special Features include the freebie episodes of Showtime originals The Tudors and Californication, along with a PSA on rescuing animals by Pam Grier and Leisha Hailey. There's also a featurette on the winners for the three fanlib contest sessions, plus Biographies, and a Photo Gallery. Sundance Diaries with Kate and Leisha, along with Episode 2 of The Tudors and Californication, plus an interview with Cynthia Summer and Udi Bier are available if you pop the DVD into your computer, but quite frankly, I couldn't get them to work. The screen simply said "loading" and went dark for all but the Australia Sweepstakes and the Showtime Discount. For me, having to take the DVD out of my DVD player and put it in my computer is a complete aggravation and I'd rather skip those features. But I did try to access them and they didn't work for me.
Overall, I think The L Word: The Fourth Season is a no-brainer for fans and I have certainly been roped in by the characters and have every intention of renting Seasons 1 - 3 just to see what happened to get the girls to the point where I started watching. If you are a fan and missed a few episodes along the way, definitely go out and pick up Season 4 and catch up.