|“||Slander against cats. Write that down.||”|
Dana Fairbanks is a main character in seasons one, two and three of The L Word, before returning as a guest character in season four. She is portrayed by Erin Daniels and debuts in the series premiere.
Dana is a professional tennis player. Despite her profession, she is awkward and geeky off the court, and is the least sexually experienced of her friends. Dana often uses sarcasm to hide her insecurities, especially before she publicly comes out of the closet.
Dana was born and raised in Orange County, California, by her affluent Republican parents Irwin and Sharon. An elite tennis player on the WTA Tour, Dana has known she is a lesbian since she was a teenager, but is initially too scared to come out for fear that it will ruin her career. She first met Alice when the journalist interviewed her for a sports magazine, and the two went on to become inseparable best friends.
Dana is deep in the closet at the start of The L Word season 1, causing her to be resentful of her openly gay friends, especially Shane. Dana begins dating Lara but feels pressured by Lara to be open about her sexuality. When Dana lands a major sponsorship deal with Subaru, her manager pressures her to stay in the closet and she breaks up with Lara as a result. It turns out that Subaru want to run a pro-LGBT ad campaign starring Dana, and Dana finally comes out publicly, much to the dismay of her homophobic parents. Now a lesbian celebrity, Dana meets and begins dating celebrity liaison Tonya. Dana and Tonya's relationship progresses rapidly, and the death of Dana's beloved cat prompts them to get engaged. Eventually, Alice's constant disdain for Tonya culminates with the revelation that she is in love with Dana.
In season 2, the media-savvy Tonya turns her and Dana's impending wedding into a corporate sponsor event. Tonya also helps Dana mend her relationship with her parents, who give their blessing for the wedding. Despite their initial efforts to remain platonic, Dana and Alice begin an affair. Alice eventually gives Dana an ultimatum and Dana breaks up with Tonya, only to find out that Tonya is also in love and having an affair with someone else. No longer having to hide, Dana and Alice bask in their new-found love. Dana's ex-girlfriend Lara returns and is keen to be friends with Dana; Alice's jealousy over Lara causes Dana to question their relationship.
Season 3 begins after a six-month time skip with Dana and Lara once again a happy couple, fracturing Dana's friendship with Alice. Dana is also playing the best tennis of her life and, after winning a major tournament, is looking forward to Wimbledon. Her career ambitions come to an abrupt end when she is diagnosed with breast cancer. Dana's friends try to be supportive as she undergoes chemotherapy, but a bitter Dana pushes everyone away, causing Lara to leave for Paris. However, Alice refuses to leave her best friend's side and the two mend their friendship. Dana ultimately passes away and her devastated friends scatter her ashes and reminisce about their memories of Dana.
Early life and family
Dana was born to an affluent conservative family in Garden Grove, Orange County, California. Her parents are Irwin and Sharon Fairbanks. Dana describes Irwin as "dependable" and "supportive", while Sharon is a very prominent and active member of her local Republican Women's Coalition chapter. Dana also has a younger brother named Howie who is a "total pain in [her] ass."
Dana first knew she was gay at the age of 16 when she attended a tennis summer camp, Camp lmalahkaha, and fell in love with her bunkmate and counselor dubbed "Ralph". "Ralph" was also the first woman Dana ever slept with. After "Ralph"'s parents found out about their relationship, they withdrew their daughter from the camp immediately. Dana ran into "Ralph" at a few tennis matches afterwards, and "Ralph" refused to even look at her.
Years later, Dana would first meet Alice Pieszecki when Alice was hired by a women's sports magazine to interview her. The interview ended badly, with Dana threatening legal action, when Alice suggested the deeply closeted Dana might have had a crush on a girl when she was younger.
Some time later, Dana was out shopping with her mother when she ran into Alice again and the two became friends. Alice then invited Dana to a Millennium Y2K party hosted by Bette Porter and Tina Kennard, where Dana met Alice's other friends including Shane McCutcheon and Kit Porter. Although her new friends could immediately tell that she was gay, Dana continued to pretend that she was straight, using her tennis doubles partner Harrison Landy as her fake boyfriend. Dana only came out to her friends much later.
Lead up to The L Word
At the start of The L Word, Dana is now an elite tennis player on the WTA Tour, and competes against the likes of Jennifer Capriati. Off the court, Dana has only ever slept with two women, the aforementioned "Ralph" and a woman named Melanie. She remains deep in the closet out of fear that she will lose her tennis sponsorships if she comes out, and continues to use her tennis doubles partner Harrison (who is himself a gay man) as her beard at public events. Dana suffers from internalized homophobia and is at times resentful of her friends, especially Shane, who are openly and proudly gay.
The L Word
With a rising professional tennis career on her way, Dana Fairbanks was afraid to come out as a lesbian; she was raised in a conservative background and refuses to accept her sexuality, making her a rigid, fearful, and neurotic person. Dana knew her sexual orientation since her teenage years, when she fell in love with one of the girls also attending tennis camp. This latter girlfriend's real name (who Dana simply calls "Ralph") is never mentioned, since she is now famous and has chosen to remain closeted.
In order to appear heterosexual, Dana plotted a fictitious affair with her doubles partner Harrison, who also happened to be gay. She also evaded being seen by "geeky straight people" while she was hanging out with her friends in West Hollywood, and abhorred being seen on the streets with anyone that could be easily identified as gay. Her major attachment was to her cat, Mr. Piddles (who she called the "International Cat of Mystery").
While eating at the country club where she practiced, Dana met the sous chef Lara Perkins. Dana was soon infatuated with her but was unsure whether or not Lara was a lesbian. Unable to determine because of her lack of "gaydar", Dana invited her friends to help her figure it out. Dana's friends concluded that Lara was most likely straight, but Lara soon exchanged a kiss with Dana and, having noticed than Dana had been trying to determine her sexuality, told her that she was in fact, gay. She ultimately started dating her. At the same time, Dana also got the opportunity to receive sponsorship from Subaru, who was interested in using her image on upcoming advertising campaigns.
At the behest of her manager, Dana broke up with Lara and focused on getting the Subaru campaign. She eventually got the sponsorship, and Subaru proposed to position her as the "gay Anna Kournikova" under the slogan "get out and stay out". Dana took the challenge, accepted the strategy, fired her manager, and finally embraced her sexuality.
A new challenge then appeared on Dana's road: coming out to her parents. Sharon Fairbanks, Dana's mother, is a successful political leader of the Orange County Women's Republican Coalition, and her conservative standards of lifestyle would cause her trouble accepting her daughter's sexual orientation. Considering the scandal was to come national shortly, and with the support of her bisexual friend Alice Pieszecki, Dana decided to confront her parents during the award ceremony held in honor of her mother. Caught off guard, her parents rejected her and entered a phase of denial, in which they tried to hook up Dana with men. One of these men ended up becoming an interest for her friend Alice.
Once out of the closet, Dana finally had the freedom to embrace her real identity. She got a makeover and started to visit lesbian bars. She was even nominated to receive a Human Rights Campaign award, and it is during the ceremony where she met Tonya, who later became her girlfriend and moved in with her. After the unexpected death of Mr. Piddles, she decided to take a step forward in this relationship and got engaged with Tonya (the main reason behind her decision was the fear of losing the people she loved). In the season finale, Alice, who never liked Tonya and did not believe in her good intentions, let Dana know she really loved her more than a friend.
Engaged to Tonya, Dana struggled with her growing interest towards Alice. After a brief discussion, they both decided not to succumb to their mutual desires, so they came up with certain "rules of un-attraction" they were to follow, such as never being left alone together. As the tension between Alice and Tonya increased, Alice's friend Shane McCutcheon noticed what really was going on between Alice and Dana. Tonya obliviously set up Alice on a blind date with a guy and Dana got jealous.
While preparing the gift bags for her bachelorette party, Dana and Alice had sex, despite Dana still being in a relationship with Tonya. Later on at Dana and Tonya's bachelorette's party Alice is forced to give a toast, in which she tells Tonya she is "the luckiest woman in the world." Days later, she cleared things up with Dana: she was not willing to become her secret lover, so the only way she could expect to have a chance with her was if Dana broke up her engagement and canceled the wedding. Considering the emotional value the upcoming Celebrity Heineken Jam n' Slamming Tournament had for Tonya, Dana agrees to break up with her after its conclusion. Dana then confessed to Tonya that she didn't believe it was right for the two to be married, and Tonya in turn confesses she had cheated on her with celebrity Melissa Rivers. Tonya says that she feels very guilty but wants to end the relationship. Dana agrees, and they break up.
Free from Tonya, Dana immediately began a secret relationship with Alice. Only Shane knows about it, and the girls planned to announce it at The Planet. Shane had arranged a surprise party, aided by Carmen, who announced over the loudspeaker that Alice and Dana were a couple. The relationship seemed to be doing pretty well, until Lara reappeared on the scene and caused Alice to start feeling jealous. Alice started to become extremely needy and clingy, slowly driving Dana away. Alice eventually asks Dana to move in with her, but her proposition is rejected.
The third season is set six months after the finale, in which it is described that Dana was back with Lara after having a harsh breakup with Alice. Things were uncomfortable between them: Alice's obsession with Dana disturbed all possibilities of friendship.
After Dana breaks up with Alice, she gets back together with Lara. Dana makes it clear to Lara that she did not break up with Alice for her, but that she did it for herself and for Alice.
During an intimate moment, Lara noticed a lump in Dana's breast. Dana evaded visiting the doctor, but soon after winning the Mercedes-Benz Challenge she decided to get a checkup. It was discovered that Dana had an infiltrating ductal carcinoma, an aggressive form of breast cancer that began in the milk ducts. Dana was then scheduled for a mastectomy and decided to keep her operation as a secret from her friends. After she learned that the cancer had already spread to her muscle tissue, however, Lara calls them.
As Dana started her chemotherapy sessions, her relationship with Lara deteriorated. She became verbally abusive towards Lara and told her to leave her and go to Paris to take a course of cooking classes that she had been planning before the diagnosis. While Lara was in Paris, Dana rekindled her friendship with Alice, as a result of Alice being there to support her during her difficult time. Dana's immune system became weakened by the chemotherapy. As a result, she got an infection for which she was taken to the hospital. Alice stayed with her and took care of her for most of the time she was there, and refused to leave her bedside for days on end. On Dana's fifth day at the hospital, a nurse recommended that Alice take a walk outside to relax: as Alice had been in the room for all five days. Right before Alice walked out, Dana told Alice she loved her, to which Alice replied, "I love you too." Soon, when no one was in the room, and Alice was outside, Dana's heart stopped beating. The nurses and doctors rushed to start her heart again, and Alice walked in as this was happening. She had brought a gift for Dana, an electronic singing plush flower, and she was carrying it with her. The doctor could not bring Dana back, and he told Alice that he was sorry, before leaving. Alice broke down on the hospital floor and crumpled to the ground, as the electronic flower began to cheerily sing "You Are My Sunshine" in an excruciating moment of juxtaposition.
Dana was cremated, according to her wishes. During the funeral, which was organized by her parents, Dana's friends were seated way in the back of the church because of their sexuality and because Dana's family did not wish to acknowledge Alice's relationship with her. Enraged, Alice stole some of her ashes in order to prepare a proper ceremony. Dana's ashes were then spread by her friends in a waterfall at the tennis camp where she had met her first girlfriend and had originally discovered her sexuality. Together, they all mourned her there, and each of her close friends took turns dumping her ashes. During this ceremony, Alice was the most emotional of all.
Dana reemerged in the 4th season finale, presumably as a figment of Alice's imagination, forcing Alice to confront her fears of losing someone she loves again. It is unclear how long Alice had been seeing Dana in this way, but Alice expresses surprise that Dana has appeared without Alice asking her to. Dana successfully persuades Alice not to let Tasha go off to Iraq without saying goodbye. At the end of the scene, Alice comments, "You really curse a lot more now." Oddly, Dana's apparition lingers after Alice has left the room, replying, "Yeah, well, you'd curse a lot too," and seems to take in a moment of quiet reflection. The sequence leaves open whether this manifestation of Dana was consciously imagined by Alice, a splinter of Alice's psyche, or an apparition Alice is haunted by against her will.
In season 5, the group discusses doing a breast cancer ride with the team name of Team Dana. In a pit stop during the race, there's a shrine of many women who have died of breast cancer, Alice grabs a pin with Dana's face on it and puts it up in the shrine stating the circle of friends love her and miss her every day.
The table below shows the complete known history of Dana's romantic relationships.
|1||TLW||Lara Perkins||Girlfriend||TLW: 1x02 – 1x07|
TLW: pre 3x01 – 3x07
|2||TLW||Alice Pieszecki||Girlfriend, affair||TLW: 1x13 – post 2x13|
|3||TLW||Tonya||Fiancée||TLW: 1x11 – 2x06|
|4||TLW||Jenny Schecter†||Fling||TLW: 1x10|
|5||Pre-TLW||Melanie||Fling||TLW: pre 1x01|
|6||Pre-TLW||"Ralph"||Girlfriend||TLW: pre 1x01|
|The L Word, season 1|
|"Let's Do It"||Appears|
|"Lies, Lies, Lies"||Appears|
|"Luck, Next Time"||Appears|
|"Limb from Limb"||Appears|
|The L Word, season 2|
|"Life, Loss, Leaving"||Appears|
|"Lagrimas de Oro"||Appears|
|"Late, Later, Latent"||Appears|
|"Loud & Proud"||Appears|
|The L Word, season 3|
|"Light My Fire"||Appears|
|"Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way"||Appears|
|"Losing the Light"||Appears|
|"Left Hand of the Goddess"||Mentioned|
|The L Word, season 4|
|"Legend in the Making"||Mentioned|
|"Livin' La Vida Loca"||Absent|
|"Luck Be a Lady"||Absent|
|"Lesson Number One"||Absent|
|"Lexington and Concord"||Absent|
|"Lacy Lilting Lyrics"||Absent|
|"Little Boy Blue"||Absent|
|"Literary License to Kill"||Absent|
|"Long Time Coming"||Appears|
|The L Word, season 5|
|"Look Out, Here They Come!"||Absent|
|"Lady of the Lake"||Mentioned|
|"Let's Get This Party Started"||Absent|
|"Lookin' at You, Kid"||Absent|
|"Lights! Camera! Action!"||Absent|
|"Lesbians Gone Wild"||Absent|
|"Lay Down the Law"||Absent|
|"Loyal and True"||Absent|
|The L Word, season 6|
|"Long Night's Journey Into Day"||Absent|
|"Leaving Los Angeles"||Absent|
|"Last Couple Standing"||Absent|
|Generation Q, season 1|
|"Let's Do It Again"||Absent|
|"Less Is More"||Absent|
|"Lose It All"||Mentioned|
|"Lapse in Judgement"||Absent|
|Generation Q, season 2|
|"Late to the Party"||Absent|
|"Lean on Me"||Absent|
|"Luck Be a Lady"||Absent|
Quotes by or about Dana from The L Word and Generation Q.
- Dana: "Slander against cats. Write that down."
- -- in "L'Ennui"
- Dana: "Mr. Piddles. Señor Piddles, International Cat of Mystery. My mysterious one man show! He's my special furry man."
- -- in "Looking Back"
- Alice: "The only person that I ever really loved as much as Tasha was Dana. Dana Fairbanks."
- Duffy: "And Dana broke your heart as well?"
- Alice: "She broke my heart, and then she got sick."
- -- in "Last Word"
- Tom: "What about Dana? Is she up there rooting for you?"
- Alice: "Nah, she's uh...she's too busy playing tennis."
- Tom: "She's the love of your life."
- -- in "Lake House"
Notes and trivia
- Dana was a huge basketball fan and San Jose Lightning was her favorite team.
- In "Lady of the Lake" (TLW 5x03), Dana's friends decide to join the Subaru Pink Ride for breast cancer research as "Team Dana".
- In "LA Times" (GQ 1x04), Shane reveals that she has named her bar after Dana.
- The L Word, 1x11: "Looking Back".
- In "Looking Back" (TLW 1x11), Dana is said to have been 16-years-old 12 years ago, making her 28. This was retconned in "Lone Star" (TLW 3x07), where Alice says Dana is 32 years old.
- The L Word, 3x10: "Losing the Light".
- The L Word, 1x08: "Listen Up".
- The L Word, 2x12: "L'Chaim".
- In "Pilot" (TLW 1x01), Dana says she was 15 when she slept with "Ralph". This was retconned in "Looking Back" (TLW 1x11), where Dana says she was 16.
- The L Word, 3x11: "Last Dance".
- The L Word, 1x01: "Pilot".
- The L Word, 3x08: "Latecomer".