Kate Clinton

They've Killed Jenny

Filed By Kate Clinton | February 27, 2009 6:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment
Tags: killing, lesbian drama, lesbians, The L Word

When I was coming out and up in the 70s, we were very proud of a local Syracuse, New York girl band, "Sweet Jenny Grit". They were a proudly defiant rock and roll hair band and toured throughout the northeast. lesbian_collective.jpgWe all went the regular Speakeasy Dance on Friday nights at a friend's loft in Cazenovia, a little lake town near Syracuse. Once in a while Sweet Jenny Grit deigned to play there.

It was sexy, sweaty, flirty fun, fueled by Bud and shots of Tequila slyly recommended by the crinkly tanned, turquoise laden poet/forest ranger on leave from her fire spotting outpost in the mountains of New Mexico. Her goal was to turn the dance into an orgy. She was on short shore leave, so she didn't seem to have a lot of time for individual attention to the ladies. She was trouble. Someone always ended up in tears.

You will never see the story line on "That 70's Show" but those were the days of the much-caricatured lesbian feminist separatist movement. In urban and rural settings, groups of women separated themselves from the trappings of patriarchy, lived together on and off the land, started women's health care clinics, record companies, writing centers, anti-nuke and peace movements, hydroponic pot wholesaling and tried to live a utopian dream.

In my early years of comedy travel sponsored by production collectives spawned in those communes throughout the country, I would listen to dystopian dyke-dramas in intense twenty-four hour gabfests, interrupted by my show, before I had to trundle off in my van to the next gig. Time and time again I was struck by the inability of another group of women to cope with some member of the group whose mental problems would eventually bring them down.

As an outsider I could see that the woman, let's call her Jenny, was mentally ill, deeply damaged by her nature or nurture. Jenny was certifiably a narcissist, a pathological liar, manic-depressive or some combination thereof. But the community was completely unable to call it out, get her help, or for the good of the group, send her packing. And another well-intentioned group would fall prey to the tyranny of the weak and bite the dust.

I have no idea how the L-Word will answer the season and series ending question of who killed Jenny. When I saw the season opener shot of Jenny doing her William Holden dead man's float, I must say I was relieved. MiaKirshnerasJenny.jpgI've never liked her. But to have the whole last half-season be about establishing a motive for every major character to kill Jenny, who is emotionally ill in anyone's amateur DSM, is finally a sad conclusion to the initial promise of a show about lesbians. It's so 70s.

I will miss the final L-Word episode because I will be returning from an Olivia Cruise. Olivia is a travel and leisure company for lesbians which grew out of a lesbian music business which grew out of a lesbian collective that wanted to hear and see their lives as lesbians represented. I will have someone TIVO the show for me. I hope it will be about a miraculous resuscitation, a kindly but stern intervention, some appropriate medication until Jenny is stabilized, then a lot of individual and group therapy followed by everyone's gracious acceptance of Jenny's amends. Then her voluntary relocation to the screenwriting department at Jerry Falwell's Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.


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I have a hunch the murderer will be the gal who stole Jenny's movie. They should have had Jenny put out of our misery 3 seasons ago, but me thinks she is the alter ego of Ilene Chaiken.

Honestly, has no one considered that Jenny committed suicide? That's my take anyway. I heard that they will not reveal a killer, which really bugs me, because they are going to the trouble of establishing motives gor everyone. It seems a waste not to resolve the murder/death.

Jenny was killed in the billiards room, with the pipe, by Mrs Peacock...

actually, I don't care who killed Jenny, and hoope in fact that no one did.

Just what we need, another murderous Lesbian portrayal

Does this mean the meme that all Texans are violent came because someone shot JR?

I am envious of Kate's description the group of women that gathered around her with their freedom, creative constructions of living in this life on the edge that was stimulating.
I envy her because my time of communion weren't experiences I was going enjoy. During college a friend and I were hitchhiking through North Carolina Piedmont. Two men stopped to pick us up. Sitting in the back seat one of them put a hand on my knee and didn't even work out that I was being propositioned. When enlightened, I backed out, but from the whimpering of joy,I could tell my friend was having the time of life. I was 38 when the repressed memories began to burst out of their hiding place in my subconscious and revealed to me the awful things I had repressed. There were two women in the family who took out their rage against men by sexually abusing me over a period of years. And there was a man who was about to rape me until my dog saved me from his full depredations. But enough of it was accomplished that I bore the physical scar the rest of my life. A part of that awakening was realizing that men turned me on. I'd had inklings: I loved to play strip poker with the guys even after they'd passed that phase. When my college friend and I occupied a double bed, I was mightily turn on and didn't understand.
I would have been sheer pleasure to have been able to go through my teen, college, and even later surrounded by a group with whom I could safely talk about my deepest secrets.

I have to say that I have thought since hearing that Jenny was killed that it was suicide. Appropriately fitting for someone so self-absorbed to die of her own volition yet leave things so open ended that someone else has to take the blame.

I really am disappointed with this season. I think that all the background could have occured in the first episode or two and then we could move on to the present (Jenny's dead!!), attempt to solve the puzzle of her death and have more character development and closure. At this rate, with only 2 episodes left and horrendously slow story movement, the season will end with many loose ends, and a hole where our love for the L Word used to be.

Kate! You hit it so square and true. Home run, woman. '70s lesbian communities were rife with nutcases, but also a serious commitment to rescuing every one of them, to the detriment of everyone else. Let's not do that again! I don't watch the L Word, so have no investment in Jenny, dead or alive. Your commentary and recollections of our community sicknesses prompted a bit of despair that in 2009, we can't do better than we did in the '70s? All our psychotherapists need to roll up their dyke sleeves and get workin' w/ us. Pass the Prozac, sisters!