"The Real L World" is a reality show version of the fictional "Showtime" series, "The L Word". Rather than following a set of fictional lesbians as they work, play and go through highs and lows, "The Real L Word" follows 6 very different lesbians throughout their daily lives in Los Angeles. The series is produced by Magical Elves productions, who are behind "Project Runway" and "Top Chef", and while the first season had the crisp style of the location filming of both of those shows, the second season has much more of an MTV appearance, looking like "The Hills" and using a couple of "Jersey Shore"-ish visual gimmicks - the grainy freeze frames introing the characters. The nearly wall-to-wall (irritatingly so at times) music also sounds almost exactly like what one might hear on any MTV reality show.
I certainly didn't know what to expect when viewing the series, which could certainly have been a train wreck like one of any number of "VH1" reality shows (not that those shows aren't fun on occasion), but the result certainly is different in tone from the fictional series that spawned it. "Real L Word"'s first season did certainly have different target audiences; one that could watch these individuals find love, find drama and go through the trials of daily life. In terms of the other target audience, let me just say, to quote "Family Guy"'s Quagmire: "Giggity, Giggity!" The second season leans more towards the latter - while the season's tagline is "This Time They're Getting Dirty", that's a little closer to the truth than the hype of the first season, as there's more personal drama (last season was a more wide-ranging look at the daily lives of the characters) and more nudity.
There was initially a casting call for the second season, which made me believe that the series would be getting an all-new cast. However, season one's Whitney does return here, which isn't entirely surprising, given that she was one of the stronger personalities of the first season and one of the few who created more drama. She's joined by Francine, Cori, Claire, Kacy (who is together with Cori) and Sadjah. All of them are from different backgrounds, but certainly are all more for a younger target audience than the cast of the first season.
Maybe as a result of shifting the series towards a younger audience, the show has seen a shift in terms of focus - while the first season was (to its credit) really focusing on the day-to-day life (certainly some drama, but a lot of the general ups and downs of life) of the characters, the second season is, "Hills"-like, a lot more about the personal drama. There's some more serious drama at times (Cori and Kacy are married and have to look for a donor because they want to have a child and then find it's hard to find donors from men friends; Sadjah is an activist), but a good deal of the season focuses on dating drama.
In my review of the first season, I suggested that the series either choose to be a genuine exploration of who the characters really are or a more 'traditional' scripted-style reality show. Unfortunately, the series seems to have gone in the latter direction, as while this can be viewed as a "guilty pleasure" in the way that "The Hills" or other such reality shows can be, the second season of "Real L Word" is incredibly melodramatic at times and the relationship drama feels forced, with the smallest details seemingly turned into Big Emotional Soap Opera Moments. It's all a little tiring after a while, as reality shows about "who's hooking up with who" - no matter who they are - are starting to feel old. Some of the characters this season have a bit more substance than others, but there's definitely less substance this season than last.
Blooper: is that a crew member in the car in the background at 53:20 in episode 4 who ducks away as if he realizes he's clearly visible?
• Season 2
10 2-01 05/Jun/11 Fresh Start
11 2-02 12/Jun/11 The Morning After
12 2-03 19/Jun/11 Back To Square One
13 2-04 26/Jun/11 The Other L Word
14 2-05 03/Jul/11 It's About To Get Juicy
15 2-06 10/Jul/11 Baby Batter Up!
16 2-07 17/Jul/11 Playing With Fire
17 2-08 24/Jul/11 The Hardest Time
18 2-09 31/Jul/11 The Pieces Fall Into Place
VIDEO: "The Real L Word" is presented by Showtime Home Entertainment in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. The presentation quality is about as good as one can expect, given the material. Sharpness and detail are a tad soft throughout much of the episodes, although never to the point where the picture looked hazy or blurry. A few traces of pixelation were also spotted in a handful of scenes. Colors generally looked natural and well-saturated, with no smearing. Flesh tones looked natural, as well.
SOUND: Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack that delivers crisp, bassy music and clear, well-recorded dialogue.
EXTRAS: Episodes 1 & 2 of "The Borgias".
Final Thoughts: I think "The Real L Word" makes its choice in the second season and the choice is to focus largely on standard reality fare: who's with who, melodramatic personal drama and more. Some characters are more substantial than others, but the second season is definitely changed and not for the better. Skip it.