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Well, I'm a woman. I'm gay, I'm biracial. I'm a mother to an extraordinary daughter. I'm an ex-wife, a friend. I think I'm a really loyal friend. I'm a daughter, I'm a sister and I'm you. I am a part of you. I really feel that. I'm that part of you that wants to do better. I'm that part of you that loves this city and wants to see all of its communities thrive. I'm that part of you that makes mistakes. And I know I've disappointed people that I love. And that's not a mistake that I want to make again. And I hope that my indiscretions don't cloud my greater purpose, because while I know I'm not the perfect messenger, I do have the perfect message.

Bette in a campaign interview, "Let's Do It Again"

Bette Porter is a main character in The L Word and its sequel The L Word: Generation Q. She is portrayed by Jennifer Beals and debuts in the series premiere.

Bette is an affluent, Ivy League-educated, biracial lesbian. Poised, professional and extremely driven, she is highly regarded as a titan of the art world. Bette is uncompromising in her convictions and is never one to shy away from discussing hot button issues. Her romantic entanglements remain complicated, particularly her relationship with her on-again, off-again girlfriend, and eventually ex-wife, Tina. Beyond all that, she is a devoted mother to her daughter Angelica.

Bette grew up craving the approval of her strict and bigoted father, Melvin. Her mother Maxine walked out on the family when she was young, while her older half-sister Kit struggled with addiction and was often absent from her life. Bette graduated from Yale University with a BFA and MFA in art history, and quickly made a name for herself in the art world by opening her own gallery in the 1990s. Bette also came out as a lesbian in college and has never shied away from her sexuality since. In her younger days, Bette was a "player" who slept around[3] and she gained a reputation for being a serial cheater.[4] One of the women Bette dated and cheated on at the time was Alice, who became her best friend after they broke up. However, after meeting Tina and stealing her from her boyfriend, Bette settled down in a long-term committed relationship.

At the start of The L Word season 1, Bette and Tina have been together for seven years. The couple live a seemingly idyllic suburban life in West Hollywood, surrounded by their friends Alice, Shane, and Dana, and their new next-door neighbor Jenny. To the outside world, Bette and Tina appear to have the perfect relationship as they try to start a family of their own. However, Bette is consumed by her work as the director of the California Arts Center (CAC) and has little time or patience for Tina. Over the course of the season, Tina suffers a miscarriage while Bette's problems mount at work as she faces off against a conservative Christian group. Bette eventually cracks under the pressure and begins an affair with Candace, the carpenter she hired for her career-defining Provocations exhibit; Tina discovers the affair and leaves Bette.

Bette initially continues her relationship with Candace but decides at the start of season 2 to try and win back Tina, whom she later discovers is pregnant with their child. Standing in Bette's way, however, is her new rival Helena who interferes in both Bette's personal and professional life. Bette slowly mends her relationship with Tina, but her life is turned upside down when she learns that her father has cancer. Melvin passes away and Bette is fired from the CAC, having neglected her work to look after her dying father. Finally, after a difficult birth, Bette and Tina's daughter Angelica is born.

Season 3 opens six months later with Bette and Tina struggling to rekindle their sexual desire for each other amid parenthood. At the same time, Bette refuses to curb her expensive lifestyle even as she turns down job offers to focus on her unpaid passion project. Bette also seeks to be legally recognized as Angie's parent, and the stress over their finances and the anti-LGBT adoption system further fractures her relationship with Tina; Tina eventually breaks things off with Bette to explore her rekindled attraction to men. Feeling threatened by Tina and her new boyfriend, Bette tries to gain sole custody of Angie. A custody battle ensues that leads to Bette kidnapping Angie out of desperation.

Bette returns with Angie at the start of Season 4 and, despite their hostile relationship, her and Tina agree to share custody for the sake of their daughter. Bette also embarks on a new career as the academic dean of California University's School of the Arts. She initially runs into trouble after a fling with her teaching assistant Nadia, but later meets and begins a relationship with the School's artist-in-residence Jodi. The new couple grow closer but Bette's controlling nature clashes with the free-spirited Jodi, and the latter leaves for a job offer in New York. Distraught, Bette seeks Tina's help in getting Jodi back and succeeds after pulling off a grand romantic gesture.

In season 5, Bette and Jodi's relationship is put to the test as they clash over work and Jodi's friends. Bette begins an affair with Tina and finds herself caught between the two women in her life. Jodi eventually discovers Bette's affair and humiliates her at an art show in revenge. Meanwhile, Bette and Tina officially get back together.

As their relationship progresses in season 6, Bette and Tina decide to adopt another child but the birth mother changes her mind at the last minute to the couple's devastation. Bette is also forced to resign from the University following complaints over her previous affairs with Nadia and Jodi. However, a new career opportunity presents itself when Bette is reunited with her college roommate Kelly, who opens an art gallery with Bette. A misunderstanding later leads Jenny to believe that Bette is having an affair with Kelly, jeopardizing her relationship with Tina. After Tina receives a big job offer in New York, the couple decide to leave Los Angeles for a fresh start.

Generation Q season 1 begins ten years later, with Bette now divorced from Tina and back in Los Angeles with Angie. Kit's death from a heroin overdose has inspired Bette to run for mayor as she hopes to fix the city's opioids crisis. With the help of her PR manager turned campaign manager Dani, Bette finds herself in a neck-and-neck election race against deputy mayor Milner. However, a public scandal over Bette's affair with her married subordinate Felicity ultimately sinks her campaign.

In season 2, Bette returns to the art world as the managing director of the Zakarian Gallery, but finds herself hampered by her racist boss Isaac. Bette also struggles to get along with Tina's fiancée Carrie, and gets back into the dating scene with a short-lived romance with Gigi. Meanwhile, Bette's passion for art is reignited by the artist Pippa, and the two begin a professional and romantic relationship. A dispute over the funding of an art show ends up pitting Bette and Pippa against Dani.

Background[]

Early life[]

Bette is the daughter of Melvin Porter and Maxine. Her father is African-American while her mother is Caucasian, making Bette biracial.[5] She presumably grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with a father who supported her every career endeavor and gave her every opportunity to follow her dreams.[6] Her mother, Maxine, was an artist and Bette kept all of her watercolor paintings even after Maxine abandoned her.[7]

Maxine and baby Bette.

When Bette was little, her mother found out her father was having an affair and walked out on the family.[7][8] Bette tried to reconnect with her mother years later but did not like the experience; she has not seen her mother since and does not know if Maxine is even still alive. Bette has been resentful towards her mother for abandoning her ever since.[9] Bette also grew up idolizing her older half-sister, Kit, but Kit was often absent from Bette's life due to her drug and alcohol addiction. Kit once hid her drugs in Bette's teddy bear and let Bette take the blame when their father found the drugs.[10]

Growing up, Bette played various sports including basketball and soccer. She was on her high school's basketball team until her junior year,[11] and was a runner in college.[3] Bette also won the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award at a soccer camp she attended, after being pissed off by the racist and homophobic slurs she was subjected to from two other campers.[12]

Bette attended Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, where she switched her major from comparative literature to art history after being inspired by Pippa Pascal's senior thesis. Bette continued to follow Pippa's career after that, driving to New York during finals to see Pippa's first post-graduate show at the Amelia Spalter Gallery, attending Pippa's first museum show at the Studio Museum in Harlem, and joining the protests when one of Pippa's pieces, "America's Original Sin", was dropped from the Whitney Biennial.[13]

Bette during her undergraduate days in Yale.

As an undergraduate at Yale, Bette had a boyfriend, a gay man named Coleman Alt, who she would imagine was her art history professor, Danica Palmer, when they had sex.[1] She eventually realized that she was a lesbian. In her junior year, Bette had her first sexual experience with a woman, a first year drama graduate student by the name of Phoebe Cadleck. Bette had a huge crush on Phoebe and after the final performance of a play Phoebe was directing, they had a sex marathon that lasted for days in Phoebe's apartment. Shortly after, Phoebe dumped Bette to get back together with her ex-girlfriend.[14]

By the time she did her MFA studies at Yale, Bette had become a player who was always sleeping with at least two women on the side even when she was in a relationship.[3] During this time, Bette shared a house with Kelly Wentworth (née Freemont). Bette and Kelly kissed once but Kelly was so overcome by gay panic that she immediately moved out of their house.[3] According to Kit, Bette was so in love with Kelly that she was suicidal after Kelly rejected her advances.[15]

While at Yale, Bette attended a lecture series taught by the artist Allyn Barnes.[16] Bette would later credit Allyn as her inspiration for pursuing a career in the arts.[7] Bette's graduate thesis was about one of Allyn's earthworks, "A Season In Hell", and was published in Artforum magazine. To even see the earthwork, Bette travelled to Humboldt County, California, and was almost shot at by security when she proceeded to scale three fences to get up close to it.[16]

Bette and Alice on a date at the Los Angeles Opera in 1996.

After college, Bette worked at The Drawing Center in Manhattan, New York, before moving to Los Angeles and opening her own gallery in Bergamot Station.[17] The Bette Porter Gallery gained a reputation for picking all the great artists.[18] During this time, Bette once competed with a rival gallerist, Gina Ferrara, for a sculptor's exhibit; Bette won after she slept with the sculptor and Gina hated her ever since.[19] Bette also met Alice Pieszecki when the LA Magazine writer helped her develop an invite list for a party at her gallery.[17] Bette and Alice subsequently dated for six weeks,[20] during which time Bette cheated on her.[21] The pair had public sex at the opera on their third date, after which Bette broke up with Alice and told her that she had just met a "straight girl" that she could see herself falling in love with.[22] Despite this, Bette and Alice remained close friends.[18]

Bette had her own gallery in the 1990s.

The "straight girl" in question was Tina Kennard; Bette had met Tina and her then-boyfriend Eric at an art opening at the Bette Porter Gallery. Bette and Tina were immediately attracted to one another and Bette invited the couple to one of her famed artist dinners. Tina later returned to the gallery to retrieve an earring she had lost at the dinner, which Bette had found and kept for her. As Bette handed her the earring, the pair shared their first kiss.[18] Bette and Tina started dating and Tina moved into Bette's house at some point.[20] Bette also closed her gallery and became the Director of the California Arts Center (CAC).

Pre-The L Word[]

After seven years together, Bette and Tina have decided to start a family.[23] Tina has given up her career as a film studio executive at Bette's urging[20] so as to carry their child, leaving Bette as the sole breadwinner.[24] On the outside, Bette and Tina appear to have an idyllic relationship, one that their friends put on a pedestal. Things are more complicated beneath the surface: Bette is consumed by her work at the CAC and has little time and patience for Tina, while their sex life has been lacklustre for the past three years.[23]

Bette has a strained relationship with her half-sister Kit, now a recovering alcoholic, who has already let Bette down too many times in the past. Bette also has a complicated relationship with her father, whose approval she desperately craves. On one hand, Bette is the apple of Melvin's eye and he is extremely proud of her career achievements. On the other hand, he barely tolerates her relationship with Tina and refuses to call Tina by her first name.[24][7]

Throughout the series[]

Season summaries for Bette Porter in The L Word and Generation Q:

The L Word[]

In between[]

Generation Q[]

Physical appearance[]

Personality[]

Relationships[]

...the sexually predatory, emotionally abusive 'Bev', who uses her professional stature to bed every girl and woman who crosses her path.

Jenny's description of Bette in Lez Girls, "Literary License to Kill"

Notable relationships[]

Full list[]

Series Name Type Summary
GQ Pippa Pascal Girlfriend
  • Bette and Pippa are in a relationship in season two of Generation Q.
GQ Gigi Ghorbani Girlfriend
  • Bette and Gigi are in a relationship in season two of Generation Q.
GQ Maya Stevenson Date
GQ Felicity Adams Affair
  • Bette and Felicity have an affair in season one of Generation Q, while Felicity is married to Tyler Adams.
TLW Tina Kennard Wife, girlfriend, affair
  • Bette and Tina are in a relationship in seasons one, two, three and six of The L Word.
  • They have an affair in season five of The L Word, while Bette is in a relationship with Jodi.
  • They get married and divorced prior to season one of Generation Q.
TLW Jodi Lerner Girlfriend
  • Bette and Jodi are in a relationship in seasons four and five of The L Word.
TLW Nadia Karella Fling
  • Bette has a one-night stand with her teaching assistant Nadia in the episode "Lassoed" in season four of The L Word.
TLW "Twink" Fling
  • Bette has a one-night stand with an unnamed woman in New York in the episode "Lynch Pin" in season two of The L Word.
TLW Candace Jewell Girlfriend, affair
  • Bette and Candace have an affair in season one of The L Word, while Bette is in a relationship with Tina.
  • After Tina leaves Bette, they briefly continue their relationship in season two of The L Word.
Pre-TLW Alice Pieszecki Girlfriend
  • Bette and Alice date for six weeks in 1996[22] until Bette cheats on and then dumps Alice.
Pre-TLW Megan Friedman Fling
  • Bette mentions sleeping with a sculptor named Megan Friedman when she was a gallerist.[19]
Pre-TLW Phoebe Cadleck Fling
  • Bette's first sexual experience with a woman was with Phoebe Cadleck during her junior year in college.[14]
Pre-TLW Coleman Alt Boyfriend
  • Bette's college boyfriend before she realized she is gay.[1]

Career history[]

Series Position Affiliation Summary
GQ Managing Director Zakarian Gallery
GQ Candidate Los Angeles mayoral election
  • Bette launches a campaign to be the mayor of Los Angeles before the series premiere of Generation Q.
  • She loses the election in "Lapse in Judgement" (GQ 1x08) following a public scandal from her affair with her married subordinate Felicity Adams.
Pre-GQ Director Department of Cultural Affairs, City of Los Angeles
  • Bette was the Director of Cultural Affairs before leaving to launch her mayoral election campaign.
TLW Partner Wentworth Porter Projects
TLW Dean School of the Arts, California University
TLW Director California Arts Center
  • Bette is already established as the Director of the C.A.C before the series premiere of The L Word.
  • She is fired in "Lacuna (TLW 2x13) following a leave of absence to take care of her sick father.
Pre-TLW Owner Bette Porter Gallery
  • Bette opened her own gallery in the 1990s.[18]
Pre-TLW Unknown Drawing Center
  • Bette was working at The Drawing Center in Manhattan, New York, before opening her own gallery.[17]

Episode appearances[]

The L Word, season 1
Episode Appearance Status
PilotAppears
Let's Do ItAppears
LongingAppears
Lies, Lies, LiesAppears
LawfullyAppears
Losing ItAppears
L'EnnuiAppears
Listen UpAppears
Luck, Next TimeAppears
LiberallyAppears
Looking BackAppears
Locked UpAppears
Limb from LimbAppears
The L Word, season 2
Episode Appearance Status
Life, Loss, LeavingAppears
Lap DanceAppears
Loneliest NumberAppears
Lynch PinAppears
LabyrinthAppears
Lagrimas de OroAppears
LuminousAppears
LoyalAppears
Late, Later, LatentAppears
Land AhoyAppears
Loud & ProudAppears
L'ChaimAppears
LacunaAppears
The L Word, season 3
Episode Appearance Status
Labia MajoraAppears
Lost WeekendAppears
LobstersAppears
Light My FireAppears
LifelineAppears
LifesizeAppears
Lone StarAppears
LatecomerAppears
Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the WayAppears
Losing the LightAppears
Last DanceAppears
Left Hand of the GoddessAppears
The L Word, season 4
Episode Appearance Status
Legend in the MakingAppears
Livin' La Vida LocaAppears
LassoedAppears
LayupAppears
Lez GirlsAppears
Luck Be a LadyAppears
Lesson Number OneAppears
Lexington and ConcordAppears
Lacy Lilting LyricsAppears
Little Boy BlueAppears
Literary License to KillAppears
Long Time ComingAppears
The L Word, season 5
Episode Appearance Status
LGB TeaseAppears
Look Out, Here They Come!Appears
Lady of the LakeAppears
Let's Get This Party StartedAppears
Lookin' at You, KidAppears
Lights! Camera! Action!Appears
Lesbians Gone WildAppears
Lay Down the LawAppears
Liquid HeatAppears
LifecycleAppears
Lunar CycleAppears
Loyal and TrueAppears
The L Word, season 6
Episode Appearance Status
Long Night's Journey Into DayAppears
Least LikelyAppears
LMFAOAppears
Leaving Los AngelesAppears
Litmus TestAppears
Lactose IntolerantAppears
Last Couple StandingAppears
Last WordAppears
Generation Q, season 1
Episode Appearance Status
Let's Do It AgainAppears
Less Is MoreAppears
Lost LoveAppears
LA TimesAppears
LabelsAppears
Loose EndsAppears
Lose It AllAppears
Lapse in JudgementAppears
Generation Q, season 2
Episode Appearance Status
Late to the PartyAppears
Lean on MeAppears
Luck Be a LadyAppears
Lake HouseAppears
Lobsters, TooAppears
Love ShackAppears
LightAppears
Launch PartyAppears

Quotes[]

Gallery[]

A more complete gallery with pictures of Bette Porter can be found here.

Notes and trivia[]

  • Bette used to be a regular smoker but quit four years prior to "Loneliest Number" (TLW 2x04).
  • Bette's campaign slogan in season one of Generation Q is "Passion. Progress. Porter."
  • Bette is a graduate of Yale University while in real life, Jennifer Beals graduated from Yale with a B.A. in American Literature.
  • The show had to take great pains to hide Jennifer Beals's real-life pregnancy during the filming of The L Word season three.
  • In "Lifesize" (TLW 3x06), Bette's hair and grey sweatshirt in the college flashback is a shout-out to Jennifer Beals' iconic role in the 1983 film Flashdance.

References[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 The L Word, 3x06: "Lifesize".
  2. 2.0 2.1 The L Word, 2x13: "Lacuna".
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 The L Word, 6x02: "Least Likely".
  4. The L Word, 5x10: "Lifecycle".
  5. The L Word, 1x08: "Listen Up".
  6. The L Word, 2x11: "Loud & Proud".
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 The L Word, 2x10: "Land Ahoy".
  8. The L Word, 2x12: "L'Chaim".
  9. Generation Q, 2x05: "Lobsters, Too".
  10. The L Word, 1x02: "Let's Do It".
  11. The L Word, 4x04: "Layup".
  12. Generation Q, 2x07: "Light".
  13. Generation Q, 2x04: "Lake House".
  14. 14.0 14.1 The L Word, 4x07: "Lesson Number One".
  15. The L Word, 6x04: "Leaving Los Angeles".
  16. 16.0 16.1 The L Word, 2x08: "Loyal".
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 The L Word: Interrogation Tapes.
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 The L Word, 1x11: "Looking Back".
  19. 19.0 19.1 The L Word, 1x03: "Longing".
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 The L Word, 2x02: "Lap Dance".
  21. The L Word, 5x10: "Lifecycle".
  22. 22.0 22.1 The L Word, 3x07: "Lone Star".
  23. 23.0 23.1 The L Word, 1x01: "Pilot".
  24. 24.0 24.1 The L Word, 1x05: "Lawfully".

External links[]

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