Pam Grier on How The L Word Changed the World



 There’s a lot of preaching on the flip side.
There are a lot of black preachers with serious, serious issues who don't want to discuss it with me to this day. Because they deal with their biblical legacies, their biblical reasons, but I think they should look a little deeper. And people interpret the Bible in so many different ways, it’s just crazy. But I just said, I just want to be in contemporary society with contemporary thought, to where we are today. Because we couldn’t possibly have projected the outcome and the resonance and the whole intellectual forum that the show would create globally. For Ilene Chaiken and her cowriters and Showtime and Jerry Offsay [then president of programming at the network] and the cast members who came aboard and wanted to tell great stories, kudos. And it’s going to resonate many, many years to come. It will probably be a part of those studies we were referring to. If they're studying Coffy, Foxy Brown, and Jackie Brown in film school and African-American pop-cultural studies, I know The L Word and every aspect of it will be projected 10, 20 years from now in academia. It's got to be done.

There were more stories left to tell too. I hear you had one in mind.
We could have gone a good eight seasons. Easily, because I was writing a script about two women that I read about while I was in Canada; they had left their country, a Muslim country. Many Islamic countries are diverse; [the religion is] monolithic, but still fundamentalist, conservative, moderate, and liberal. These two women were a couple who had to leave their country and their family and their fathers had put a fatwa on them. They had to put their daughters to death because homosexuality in their culture was a death sentence. So they were living in Toronto on the run. And this father had sent uncles and brothers to kill them and bring back fingers and hands and heads or whatever, but they were supposed to kill them. I was horrified by this. It was in a Toronto newspaper and I was like, What a great story! So I pitched it ... but I said there won't be a fatwa against Showtime or none of the [regular cast members], but it is a great story to be told and I would love to write it and direct this episode. Alice has this radio show and the two women come to her for asylum because they know their families are very close to finding them. So they come down to Los Angeles, to where we are, and ... relatives are going to kill them once they find them. So Alice is going to bring them to the club, to the Planet, because there is alcohol there and it is forbidden to them. So once the men, the brothers and the cousins, find out it’s a female club and there’s alcohol there and a tough sister that runs it, they will back off but try and find a way to take the girls from us. And I wanted that to be so much one of our stories. Where everything else has been social and legal and a few intimate pugilistic episodes, I really wanted that to be one of our episodes, to see what lengths we would go to protect them and to see Kit go ghetto.

That must have been a huge disappointment, then, to have it not come to fruition.
The depth and spectrum of so many lives and stories just haven't been told. But it’s OK. The Real L Word is on and Ilene is doing great and everyone is doing well. Real stories were told, but there is still more to be told.