Bette Porter is a fictional character on the Showtime television network series The L Word. She is played by Jennifer Beals.
Fictional character biography Edit
Back story Edit
Bette is introduced as an affluent, Yale-educated lesbian of multiracial heritage. She was an art history major at Yale, where she had sex with a gay man (Coleman) who at the time was her boyfriend, but she realized she had no interest in men through her crush on her Art History professor. Eventually, she came out as a lesbian.
Tina met Bette when her then-boyfriend Eric took her to the Bette Porter Gallery. Tina found Bette to be smart, tough, incredibly beautiful, warm, and gracious. Bette noticed Tina's right earring had fallen off, and Tina supposedly put it back on.
Later that night, Tina returned to the gallery to retrieve the lost earring. Bette had kept it for her. While Tina was picking it from her hand, Bette kissed her for the first time.
Season one Edit
Bette and Tina's relationship appears to their friends as very strong. Tina confirms to their closest friends that Bette is her "first, last, and forever" love. However, from the very beginning they seem to have problems, and even as they attempt to start a family, it is revealed that they no longer make love. Although they seem to move past this problem as the series progresses, Bette's career in the California Arts Center is shown to come between them, with Bette frequently not having time to spend with Tina.
Tina gave up her own career in order to have a child, leaving Bette as the sole breadwinner. Bette has a difficult family life, with her father Melvin only barely tolerating her relationship with Tina, and flatly refusing to acknowledge Tina's baby as his grandchild.
In addition, Bette at first has a difficult relationship with her sister Kit, a recovering alcoholic who has often let her down. As the series progresses, however, Bette begins to support Kit's attempts to turn her life around, and their relationship is shown to improve.
Tina's miscarriage takes a toll on Bette, and when her partner decides to become involved in a charitable organization, Bette finds that their careers make it almost impossible for them to spend any time together. At the same time, she finds herself drawn to Candace, who is working as a carpenter at the CAC. Bette tries to resist this attraction at first, even going as far as to attempt to have sex with a wall while imagining it to be Candace. However, she eventually gives in to desire, and cheats on Tina (implying that she might not love Tina as much as she believes). When Tina discovers what is going on, she flies into a rage. In the ensuing argument, Bette attempts to seduce Tina, and in retaliation, Tina moves out.
Season Two Edit
In the second season, Bette is desperate to make amends, and finds that her relationship with Tina is disrupting all other elements of her life. Her job becomes an increasing pressure, especially when Tina's new lover, Helena Peabody, is added to the Board of Governors, and her boss hires another curator who threatens Bette's elevated position.
At first, Bette feels isolated from Alice and the others, who she feels have mainly taken Tina's side in their argument. Although Shane and Jenny are both supportive of her, it takes a while for Bette to feel on good terms with Alice again. After Tina begins to see Helena, however, the group appear to rally around Bette, who is now aware that Tina is pregnant again and has a great desire to raise their child together.
Matters are further complicated when it is revealed that Bette's father Melvin is dying from advanced prostate cancer, and is refusing treatment. A distraught Bette brings him home to die, so that he will not be trapped in a hospital, but this difficult experience leads her to reach out to Tina. Tina, who by now feels trapped by her relationship with Helena, grows closer to Bette again, and although Melvin never really blesses his daughter's homosexual relationship, he does once refer to Tina as 'Tina' rather than 'Miss Kennard' before he dies. His death is a great blow to Bette, who receives news of the loss of her job at Melvin's funeral.
Though upset and furious, Bette continues to derive comfort from her improved relationship with Tina. Bette's relationship with Kit is also vastly improved in this series, with Kit being her main source of comfort at the beginning of the season. She helps Kit to take over The Planet cafe, and begins actively involving herself in Kit's life. Eventually Tina chooses Bette over Helena, and the end of the season shows Tina asking to move back in with Bette. Tina's labor is surprisingly difficult, but their daughter Angelica is eventually born, and the end of the season shows Bette as calm and happy in her new family.
Season three Edit
Six months later, Bette and Tina are feeling the stress of raising Angelica, Bette's unemployment and Tina going back to work for Helena at her film studio. The relationship ends yet again due to Tina's renewed interest in men. She becomes involved with a divorced father, Henry Young, and Bette has her move out. Tina moves into her own place. Bette fears Tina will take Angelica away from her by starting a family with Henry. Bette becomes a Buddhist and goes on a silent retreat, but leaves it. After seeing Angelica being raised in Tina's "white, privileged, heterosexual world", she hires the same lawyer who tried to seduce Tina last season in a custody fight. Bette retaliates by seeking sole custody of Angelica on the basis that Tina is ill-equipped to raise a biracial kid.
At Shane and Carmen's wedding, Bette begins to have second thoughts about this, but when Tina gets the lawyer's letter and digs in her heels, Bette kidnaps the baby without anyone knowing.
Season four Edit
Bette returns Angelica to Tina, who doesn't press charges. Soon after, she becomes the dean of art at a university. Her boss, Phyllis Kroll, confesses to her that she is a lesbian. Later on, Phyllis starts dating Alice, which makes Bette feel uncomfortable due to what might happen later in the relationship.
While working at the California University School of the Arts as a dean, she begins an affair with one of her graduate students, Nadia, but soon breaks off the relationship because she realizes it's inappropriate. Then, she begins a sexual relationship with Jodi Lerner, a sculptor who has begun lecturing at the university. Tina and Bette's relationship has had some rough patches, but they become closer and friendlier with each other. Tina confesses to Bette that she still loves her and that she misses her life as a lesbian; when she meets Jodi, Tina realizes how much she wants Bette back.
Once Tina learns of the affair between Angus (Kit's boyfriend) and Tina's nanny, Hazel, Tina informs Bette. This causes major stress to their relationship, as Bette wants to keep this from her sister and Tina disagrees. Things become even more complicated after a disastrous dinner party, thrown by Bette for Jodi, where she learns Kit--a recovering alcoholic--is drinking again to deal with Angus's infidelity. Because of Bette's reaction to her sister's drinking, Bette and Jodi get into a heated argument. As a result of the argument, Jodi realizes that Bette's controlling ways are too much for her and takes a job offer in New York. In the season finale, Bette, with Alice and Shane's help, steals a sign from an old building in hopes of getting Jodi back, as Jodi had once told her that she believed it would make a great art piece. It was after speaking with Tina about her feelings for Jodi that made Bette decide to get the sign, which reads '17 reasons why'.
Season Five Edit
At the beginning of L Word, Season Five, Bette and Jodi's relationship seems very loving to their friends. However, it doesn't take long before the problems begin to show. When Jodi insists on bringing Bette on her yearly vacation with her close friends, Bette finds herself annoyed and upset with Jodi and her friend's activities.
Though Bette continues her relationship with Jodi, she longs for the life she shared with Tina. Bette and Tina soon begin an affair, though they both claim to be unsure if they want anything more than their sexual reconnection. So Tina begins a flirtation with Sam, a woman who works on the set of Lez Girls. Due to her own jealousy, Bette becomes angry with Jodi when Jodi decides to have a dinner party and invites Tina and Sam. When Jodi confronts Bette about their distance emotionally and sexually, Bette chickens out of telling Jodi the real reason: she is in love with Tina. During rolling blackouts, Bette and Tina are trapped in an elevator on the way to their couples therapy session. During their time in the elevator, Bette and Tina discuss their fears about their relationship and end up making love, in which Bette tells Tina she loves her. Bette also reveals to Tina she wants to tell Jodi about their reunion after the Subaru Pink Ride.
Meanwhile, Jodi sees Bette is moody and upset about something but is not sure. By this time, Jodi has resigned from California University after one of her students held a realistic-looking gun made of soapstone to his head in front of the class. While on their Subaru Pink Ride, Jodi learns of the affair during a game of 'I Never' when Alice begins calling Bette a "giant and 'gi-normous' cheater" for having cheated on Tina and on Alice herself when they were dating. This statement leads Jodi to jokingly ask if Bette is cheating on her. When Bette doesn't respond and Tina runs away from the group, Jodi finally realizes that she is being used.
After the truth is revealed, Jodi returns to Bette and completely brushes off Tina. Bette takes Jodi to her house trying to talk things over and nearly loses herself in Jodi's attempt to seduce her back. They agree to clarify things in Bette's office. It is here that Bette tells Jodi that their relationship will not work because Tina is her true love. Jodi concedes and leaves without further fight. She retrieves her personal items from Bette's place and leaves Bette an early birthday present. At the end of that eventful day, Bette joins Tina and takes both Angelica and Tina back home.
With her real admiration for Jodi, Bette introduces Jodi at the public exhibition of a new Jodi Lerner piece, entitled "Core." It turns out to be Jodi's viciously spiteful revenge against Bette for using her. After the shocking public humiliation, Bette returns to find solace in Tina. Later, Bette and Tina go to Lez Girls wrap party where their reunion and display of affection is admired by closest friends.
- Kera Bolonik, The L Word: Welcome to Our Planet. New York: Fireside. 2006: 64 - 68
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