Jenny Schecter is a gifted young fiction writer who has just graduated from the University of Chicago. With a major literary award and one published short story to her credit, she arrives in Los Angeles to begin her "adult life" with her boyfriend, Tim Haspel, an anthropology student.
Tim resides in West Hollywood, next door to Bette Porter and Tina Kennard, two thirty-something professionals, who, after seven years together, are just beginning to navigate the choices and challenges that lesbians face when trying to start a family. They are also struggling with the direction of their relationship and what the future holds for them.
Bette and Tina’s close network of friends include Shane McCutcheon, a hairdresser and the resident heartthrob; Dana Fairbanks, a tennis pro not yet out of the closet; her bisexual pal, Alice Pieszecki; and Bette's half-sister Kit Porter, who is a musician and a recovering alcoholic.
As the series unfolds, Jenny’s self-image and future plans are rocked from their foundation when, at a party hosted by Bette and Tina, Marina, a beautiful and compelling café owner, makes a pass at her in the bathroom. Amid denial and confusion, Jenny starts to question her love for Tim and her attraction to Marina.
Meanwhile, Bette and Tina, stunned at how difficult it is to find a suitable sperm donor, attempt to seduce a handsome, young artist on the night that Tina is about to ovulate. The seduction attempt fails, but the encounter does serve to rekindle, at least momentarily, Bette’s and Tina’s passion for each other. From tears to laughter, The L Word revolves around the lives and loves of a group of lesbian women living in the City of Angels.