New ‘L Word’ season targets military policy
Rose Rollins is defensive about her Tasha.
‘‘Attitude? There’s a lot more to Tasha than her ‘attitude,’ ’’ Rollins says of the smoldering, secretive soldier she plays on ‘‘The L Word.’’
Then Rollins laughs loudly, passionately.
It’s a laugh that viewers rarely heard from tightly wound Tasha Williams last season on the steamy ensemble drama.
It’s a laugh that may well be in short supply on the upcoming fifth season of the Showtime series, premiering Sunday night, when Tasha is investigated for homosexual conduct under the U.S. military’s ‘‘don’t ask, don’t tell’’ policy.
‘‘Tasha definitely comes to a crossroad,’’ Rollins says during a location shoot at Venice Beach, Calif. ‘‘She will have to re-evaluate her life.’’
A captain in the Army National Guard and a decorated Iraqi war veteran, Tasha has remained in the closet throughout her military career.
'‘Her chances of staying in the military are not good,’’ says executive producer Ilene Chaiken. ‘‘The only way someone like Tasha can stay in the military, under the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy, is to be completely closeted and say, ‘No, I am not gay. These are lies being told about me.’ And once charges have been brought, it becomes harder and harder to prove that (they’re lies).’’
Tasha’s troubles started last season, when Rollins joined the show’s cast of romantically tangled characters.
Tasha quickly fell for out-and-proud Alice Pieszecki (Leisha Hailey), who runs a lesbian Web site, after accidentally injuring Alice in a brawl.
As the relationship deepened, Tasha was cautioned by her commanding officer for openly engaging in homosexual conduct. Meanwhile, Alice and Tasha argued bitterly about the war.
On the season premiere, Tasha begins the process of being discharged from the military.
Add in Tasha’s implosive ‘‘attitude’’ - she may be suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome - and the new season of ‘‘The L Word’’ does not bode well for the patriotic character.
As the season progresses, Alice is used as evidence against Tasha in a two-episode arc featuring Kelly McGillis (“Witness,’’ ‘‘Top Gun”) as Col. Gillian Davis, a by-the-book military lawyer.
‘‘Alice ends up on the stand (at Tasha’s hearing),’’ Hailey says. ‘‘That’s when you see Alice in her full glory. She’s not ashamed to speak out. She’s not afraid to put her foot in her mouth. She’s not afraid to be out of the closet.’’
From the start, the show’s politics also have been very uncloseted.
‘‘I do think of the show as political in many senses,’’ Chaiken says. ‘‘But we endeavor to be true to the politics of our characters. And if you want to tell stories about big issues, you should tell them from the point of view of relationships.’’
As always, stormy relationships drive ‘‘The L Word’’ this season, from Bette (Jennifer Beals) and Jodi’s (Marlee Matlin) contentious love connection, to Shane’s (Katherine Moennig) infamous hook-ups.
But of all the series’ fragile romances, Alice and Tasha’s seems the iffiest.
‘‘We have a different point of view on whether this relationship should last,’’ Hailey says of herself and Rollins.
‘‘Alice is very flighty, very pulled by her emotions,’’ Hailey says. ‘‘And Tasha is such a solid, conventional, conservative person. The differences they see in each other - that’s really beautiful. But sometimes they seem unhealthy. Sometimes it just doesn’t fit.’’
Then again, ‘‘you enjoy working so much with each other that you want the characters to stay together,’’ Hailey says. ‘‘We laugh hysterically all the time. Have you heard Rose laugh? It’s real infectious.’’
A former model, Rollins never had qualms about playing the tough girl on ‘‘The L Word.’’
‘‘It’s my comfort zone. I hold a lot of things in. I’m careful with what I say, especially to people who don’t know me well. I will seethe, I will boil, and then I will explode - if needed,’’ she says. ‘‘And I think Tasha has a lot of that. But I am a pretty levelheaded person overall and so is my character.’’
Ask Rollins what the future holds for Alice and Tasha and she laughs her signature lion-roar: ‘‘Does anyone not see the connection between the two of us?’’
‘‘Alice gets me to loosen up,’’ Rollins says. ‘‘She aids me in realizing what it is I’m fighting for - not the soldier but Tasha as a woman, first. When you don’t think we stand a chance, maybe we do. It is a good relationship.’’