By Nicholas Fonseca
January 22, 2007 at 12:00 PM EST

Those sneaky writers over at The L Word have a most unsubtle way of letting us viewers know that Bette Porter is both totally hot and way, way smart. And it’s easy for them to accomplish–just throw a big art-world name or two into her normal, everyday conversation (pssst… Liza Lou! hey… Dadaism!), et voila!, their work here is done. It’s cheap, easy and effective, because every time Jenny Beals (pictured) purrs out the name of some modern artist during one of Bette’s classroom lectures, I go diving for the Wikipedia search engine. And then I find myself wondering why Bette — clearly a smart, well-toned, educated woman — can’t find a decent sexual partner to save her life.

Oh, don’t go there. Don’t give me that Tina crap. I used to think it was a shame that the central relationship of this entire series flamed out so quickly and pretty much died by the end of Season 2; at this point, Tina’s character has been so permanently tarnished that it’s all I can do not to scream whenever she’s on my screen. And now… now that Bette has faced the indignity of being dumped for a man while her partner and mother of her child jarringly reenters the straight world? Now she’s reduced to flirting with a pushy student, a Jewel lookalike who wears jean shorts and all but whips up sexy candlelight dinners at her desk. Last week, I openly disparaged Jessica Capshaw’s dim performance as Bette’s T.A., Nadia; this week, I’m here to do it again. What purpose does this outlandish development — and this totally wrong-headed casting decision — serve, other than to a.) irritate me, b.) diminish Bette’s academic credibility, and c.) extend Jessica Capshaw’s shelf life? Like, why, L Word? Why must you torture me this way?

addCredit(“Jennifer Beals: Paul Michaud”)

At least the rest of last night’s episode was enjoyable. I haven’tyet commented on Max/Moira’s new relationship with his boss’s daughter,Brooke, probably because the actress playing her can barely registermore than one emotion on her face. Sorry, Chelsea Hobbs, but it’s true.Loved you in Pasadena, and I’m sure to love you in your upcoming Lifetime movie,but I don’t love you here. Please exit stage left, and take JessicaCapshaw with you. Max/Moira, for some reason, seems to inspireuniversal hatred among all of my friends; me, I dig him/her/shim, andthere was a nice moment last night when he bonded with Shane’s littlebrother as they puttered around with the insides of a car. Helena hasbeen good for some laughs, but it’s clear that the show is just toocrowded for her, and she’s suffering from a bland storyline as aresult. Any suggestions out there? Me, I wouldn’t mind if she justhigh-tailed her way out of WeHo and traded places with her mother,Peggy Peabody. Because the way I see it, you can never get enoughHolland Taylor. (Dear Gods of DVD releasing: Please stop fiddle-fartingaround and put The Powers That Be on disc immediately. Mwah.)

Oooh, wait!! We haven’t even talked about last night’s mostentertaining-slash-horrifying scene, the so-called gay-straight mixerthat Tina and Henry threw at their house. Now, first of all, I surehope that my friends would call me out for being a lunatic if I everreferred to one of my parties as a “gay-straight mixer.” A party is aparty is a party, people, and anybody who classifies it as a meeting oftwo alien sexualities is pretty much setting themselves to step in abig pile of caca. I would like to think that the party scene — whichfeatured a sadsack group of idiotic, homophobic heterosexuals — waswritten to play as parody. To some extent, it did. But it was alsoincredibly irritating. Am I to believe that straight people gathered inthe home of a one-time lesbian — a home in or near West Hollywood, mind you — wouldopenly spout anti-gay remarks? Tell me, am I that naive? Aside frombeing uncomfortable and one-sided, this was a cheesy and off-the-markscene that lost something in execution. And you know it’s bad when aone-liner from Angus that references Boy Butter (they don’t make up this stuff, people) closes it out.

And what to say of Jenny, who’s continuing her reign of disgusting?My favorite Looney Tune has done gone lost her mind since the so-called”vagina wig” (NSFW ifyou’re offended by the sight of a furry, Muppet-like, hot pink, literalvagina wig) wrote that scathing Curve review, and she’s going all overthe neighborhood bitching and moaning that “my experience” iscritic-proof.” Any writer who believes that their own life story isn’tgoing to get ripped and shredded by someone is living in theclouds; hence, Jenny’s response, and my gratitude that Jenny is againgiving me full-on crazy this year. She’s so much more fun when she’sself-absorbed and detestable — a walking id, if you will. By the by,this must mean it’s time for my weekly Mia Kirshner clip, and thisweek’s is fun. Say what you will about Mia’s history of polarizingperformances, the girl has awesome taste in TV.

What did you think of this week’s episode? Was Bette right tofinally put the moves on Nadia? Should Tina be throwing these absurdparties (and, for that matter, was it right that she wasn’t going toinvite Bette)? What’s the deal with this summer-camp friend thatJenny’s trying to find? And who on earth is raiding Barbara Bush’scloset to outfit poor Cybill Shepherd?