Tonight, at 10 p.m. EST on Showtime, The Real L Word is back for another episode of its third season, which promises to be the reality show's sexiest one yet. Not only has the engaging docu-series, which chronicles the lives of a group of lesbians living in Los Angeles and New York, brought back its most engaging cast members (including Sara Bettencourt and Whitney Mixter), but it's also added a few more exciting women to the mix, most notably Lauren Russell and Amanda Leigh Dunn.
Arguably the most intimately connected new cast members, Russell, who's based in L.A., and Dunn, who recently moved to the golden coast from NYC, have a history of being best friends with benefits. And, given their past, what will play out in the future episodes of the series will surely be chaotic, drama-filled, and, most of all, riveting.
Complex recently spoke to Russell and Dunn about how the cameras have affected their relationship, the difference between east and west coast women, and the most obnoxious misconceptions about lesbians they regularly have to face.
Interview by Tara Aquino (@t_akino)
How did you both get involved with the show?
Amanda Leigh Dunn: Basically, Lauren signed on to do it and I had already gone out to visit her one weekend, and we decided that I was going to be moving out there. Literally a week later, she found out that she was going to be doing the show. I had already decided to live with her and we just thought it would be fun to do with a close friend, so I decided to hop on board and do it with her.
Lauren Russell: I got involved because a friend of mine was going for it, and we were at dinner one night and she was like, "You should do it." And she's a pretty cool girl, so I thought if she's doing it, it can't hurt, you know? I thought it'd be good a experience, so I applied, went through it, and that was it.
I think it's hard to meet a new girl [in L.A.] because everyone has already slept with each other... In New York, we U-Haul up. — Amanda
Did you have any apprehension showing your "friends with benefits" relationship on screen?
Lauren: They filmed us for so many months, and you'll see that it'll translate on the show that we're friends first. Everything that we went through was ultimately a lot of fun. I think we just had fun showing our lives. Amanda, what do you think?
Amanda: I mean, we've been friends for over five years so it's sort of like nobody really understands our dynamic because a lot of people find it hard to just balance between having any kind of sexual relationship with somebody and being friends with them. But we've always been friends first and we always will be friends first. So, we'll always remain close and anything that we do in any kind of transitional way won't take away from that.
With the kind of relationship you guys have, though? Are there any challenges to maintaining a solid friendship?
Lauren: That's a question you'd probably have to wait to see. You'll see the challenges on screen.
Amanda: Yeah, it definitely gets a little bit complicated sometimes, but I think when you get to a point where you just know somebody so well, it's a lot easier than you'd imagine it would be. It's not even something that we put that much thought into.
So, in a way, the problems just heal themselves?
Amanda: Yeah, when I say that we don't put that much thought into it, I don't mean we don't care. I mean, we don't...
Lauren: It's not like a big deal.
One of the main themes of this season is showing the difference between L.A. and New York. How does the dating scene compare between both cities?
Lauren: I think that both cities are pretty much the same culturally. The way you meet a girl, I think, is the same way in both cities.
Amanda: I don't agree at all. I think it's completely different. I think in L.A. people are a lot more casual and incestuous. [Laughs.] It's hard to meet a new girl because everyone has already slept with each other. It's not the same. In New York, we U-Haul up. We wife up. We date one person and we're super territorial and protective, in my opinion, from my experience.
Does the lesbian community being so small pose any problems?
Amanda: That's very funny, because in West Hollywood, I feel like it's a funny Mean Girls type of thing where it's super cliquey and there's different groups of girls that stick together and there's this rivalry between different groups of girls. It very much turns into something like, "These are your friends, these are my friends."
In New York, I feel like the lesbian scene is a little smaller and a little more spread out. In my opinion, everyone kind of hangs out together or at least knows each other a little bit. I don't want to say it's friendlier, but there's definitely a different level of bitchiness in L.A. and it's a little bit more dry in New York. People don't really care or they will tell you to your face. In L.A., it's a little more catty.
How did you adjust to L.A. coming from this different culture in New York?
Amanda: It was definitely a slow progressive thing because it was a completely different way of life. In New York, everyone's all hustle and bustle, and you're constantly moving and working, and everyone's just trying to make their mark. Then you go to L.A. and you ask somebody what they do for a living and they're like, "What do you mean?" It's definitely a very slower pace and after awhile I adjusted to that, but it's hard going back and forth.
What are the biggest misconceptions about lesbians?
Amanda: I would probably say that there's a lot of misconceptions about lesbian sex and the culture. I definitely think there's a lot misconceptions about the community in general. A lot of times, when you're going into a show like this where all those crazy points in our lives are displayed, it looks like we're these dramatic wasted crazy people. [Laughs.] It doesn't necessarily gives us a lot of kudos when it comes to people who don't understand the community as a whole.
I think [the lesbian community] definitely turns into a family-type community because there's so many difficult things that everyone is getting through together. I'd say like 90% of the people in the community have experienced some sort of gay bashing and this community is definitely misconstrued a lot of the time.
Lauren: I also think there's always those questions of if you're gay and how you're gay. A lot of people just assume we've had bad experiences with guys or whatever. I don't think people understand that girls can be gay just as much as boys can be gay. Especially feminine lesbians, that's definitely an issue. I wouldn't consider myself completely feminine but I guess on the scale, I'm more on the feminine side. You definitely get a lot of shit for being a feminine lesbian. I don't know why but it's definitely mostly from straight guys.
I don't think people understand that girls can be gay just as much as boys can be gay. — Lauren
When guys hit on you, what do you tell them?
Lauren: I definitely try to keep it humorous a lot. I try to keep it light but I'll say, "I'm into girls," or "I'm gay," or "I have a chick." I just sort of keep it playful. If it escalates to disrespect, then I'll just walk away. Sometimes I can be a bitch. [Laughs.]
I've definitely experienced guys saying, "Maybe you haven't met the right guy," or things like that. They'll say that they're cool but then they'll get a little too bro-y. To a certain point, you just get used to it after awhile and you can see it coming and sort of step out before it turns into an argument.
Did you guys know any of the other cast members on the show before you started filming?
Lauren: I knew a few people. Kelsey and I have been friends for a long time, and I knew Whitney, but we've definitely grown a lot closer throughout the show.
Amanda: I knew Rachel from New York. She dated a friend of mine, so I knew her from the culture. [Laughs.] And obviously, Lauren and I knew each other. I knew two of the girls from New York and other than that, I don't think I really knew anyone else. Did I?
Was it easy adjusting to being in front of the camera?
Amanda: It's so funny because we set rules for ourselves before filming started. We said, "OK, we're not going to be crazy. We're not going to drink on camera." You know, we made a list of what we weren't going to do. Literally a week in, you just forget that they're there and you sort of start living normally and you quickly adjust to it probably a lot sooner than I expected. I'm kind of excited to see what we look like when we're kind of spread out and chopped into little pieces and put back together. [Laughs.]
Lauren: We actually haven't even seen it. We basically see it when everyone else sees it. I felt a little weird at first but I got used to it pretty fast. The process takes a bit to adjust to but you start to forget that the camera is there all the time and you get a little too comfortable, which isn't necessarily always a good thing. There are definitely times when we'll say things to each other and we'll just be like, "Oh, shit, we're wearing a microphone."
Interview by Tara Aquino (@t_akino)