February 28, 2005 12:00 PM

Showtime (Sundays, 10 p.m. ET)


It’s slick, stylish and oh-so-sexy, but plausibility is a comparatively low priority for this second-year series about a circle of L.A. lesbians.

In the season opener Feb. 20, aspiring writer Jenny (Mia Kirshner) appears to be clinging to her provocative sexual ambivalence, while tirelessly promiscuous hairdresser Shane (Katherine Moennig) still inspires mad lust all over town. Where to take these characters? By the fourth episode Jenny and Shane are sharing a house with a creep (Eric Lively) who makes sex videos for a living—gee, think he’ll respect their privacy?—and a stereotypically despotic movie producer (Camryn Manheim) impulsively hires Shane as her personal assistant.

Not all the multiple story lines are so hard to buy. Formerly self-assured museum director Bette (Jennifer Beals) comes convincingly unglued after her breakup with pregnant Tina (Laurel Holloman). The ill-timed surges of passion between marriage-bound tennis star Dana (Erin Daniels) and her friend Alice (Leisha Hailey) generate laughs and occasional heat. But often The L Word seems to arrange the characters in emotional and erotic poses rather than just let them breathe.

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