The news of Laurel’s pregnancy came before filming started for TLW’s second season. Although the audience was happy for her and her family, they worried that it would affect the storylines and limit the actress’s performance. Laurel proved them wrong by giving us a fearless and memorable performance, perhaps more so than any pregnant actress has given in the history of television. Here are some selected scenes from her portrayal of Tina in Season 2.
Season 2, Episodes 2 and 3:
We’re combining these next two scenes because they complement each other and make sense when seen together.
The first scene takes place in Episode 2, after the gang takes Tina for a lap dance to cheer her up. The woman who danced for Tina resembled Bette a little, and we can see by Tina’s expression that she is aroused by the Bette lookalike. She closes her eyes and turns her head away from the woman because it hits her just how much she longs for Bette. Tina doesn’t want to want Bette, because of the betrayal.
We next see Tina at Alice’s apartment, alone on her couch. The camera pans slowly up her negligee-clad body, which is partially covered by a blanket. We see Tina’s hand move along her leg, reaching under the blanket for her sex, and we hear her start to moan. With her other hand she reaches inside her negligee to cup and fondle her breast. She masturbates to a beat in the background of a woman’s voice saying “tick, tick, tick,” eyes closed, head thrown way back, buried in the pillow. We watch Tina’s face as she is lost in her fantasy … until she hears the mocking voice of Bette, laughing. Tina opens her eyes startled and starts to cry hard, covering her mouth with her hand and turning her face away from the camera.
That scene was incredible not only for its sensuality, but because Laurel showed us just how much Tina longed for Bette. Her imagination was so sharp, she hears Bette’s voice laughing at her as if to say, “I made a fool of you and look how weak you are – for all the hurt and humiliation I caused you, you still want and desire me.” Laurel made us feel Tina’s need and desire for Bette, as well as her bone-deep loneliness and pain, for still loving someone whom she felt didn’t want or desire her in return, and who took pleasure laughing at her for that need and desire. It was both a sensuous and uncomfortable scene to watch, because we were watching a woman at her most vulnerable.
The scene that complements this one takes place in Episode 3. Tina learns from Alice that Bette is going to be at the opening of the Planet, which was being remodeled. She goes to Bette’s house to pick up some of her things.
We see Tina in Bette’s bedroom taking some of her clothes out of the closet. She turns around and sees that the bed is a unmade and unkempt, and her first instinct is to fix the mess and make the bed. Tina removes Bette’s laptop from the bed and places it on her nightstand. She then starts to make the bed and picks up one of Bette’s pillows, but she cannot help herself as she smells Bette’s scent. She stops what she is doing, hugs the pillow to her as a substitute for Bette, and inhales Bette’s scent like it was oxygen and she can’t get enough.
We love what Laurel does in this scene to show Tina’s longing – carried over from the scene on Alice’s couch – and the conflicting emotions she cannot help but feel. We see Tina’s back hunched over the pillow like it stung her, and she is momentarily incapacitated. Or dejected. We then see Tina, the camera still on her back, drop to the bed in a sitting position like someone who suddenly became weak and didn’t have legs strong enough to keep her standing.
Laurel has a way of showing the weight of the world on Tina’s shoulders, and her pain, by using her body in this way. (She did something similar in a scene from Season 5, and as in this scene, it was extremely effective and heartrending.) Tina holds the pillow like a lover, and when she lowers it we see the longing in her face and in her bodily movements as she once again takes in a breath, releases it and winces as she closes her eyes.
Tina then comes out of her fantasy, and looks over to the nightstand where she placed Bette’s laptop. She reaches for it and looks at the screen, which lists emails from various people. The top name says Candace. Laurel’s face says it all, because we see her hesitation. To open the email, or not? It’s almost like she wants to take in more pain, so that she can snap out of being so vulnerable to Bette. She needs to get angry and shake that laughing, mocking Bette out of her system. What better way to do that than to read an email from your lover’s mistress? It’s the equivalent of having cold water splashed on one’s face when you least expected it.
That’s exactly what Tina got, because the last thing she was expecting to see was a picture sent by Candace to Bette, of them in bed after having sex. It woke Tina up, and brought back her feelings of anger and distrust. Tina sees the evidence of what Bette did with her own eyes: Bette went back for more from Candace, until she got her fill … and all their friends knew about it. It brought back the reality of what happened, and this fell on Tina like a ton of bricks. Tina winces at the sight, places her hand over her eyes and on her forehead as if she had a fever that was breaking. She moves her hand over her mouth and looks down once again at the evidence of Bette’s betrayal. That picture opened up an already deep and fresh wound, this time cutting even deeper.
Re-watching these scenes and how they played out, seeing how Laurel played them and writing about them now, casts what happened in Season 3 in a different light. We feel Tina’s unhealed wounds and feelings of white-hot anger at Bette. When coupled with what Laurel said regarding Tina’s behavior in Season 3, this goes a long way towards explaining what happened to make Tina want to free herself from Bette – as if Bette were her jailer. Tina did it as a caged,wounded animal might: breaking free at all costs, for the sake of her own sanity and survival.
Laurel just owned these scenes, and what’s remarkable is that not one word of dialogue was uttered. Through her body language, facial expressions and hand movements – instruments which she uses so well to complement the spoken word in portraying a character’s innermost feelings and thoughts – we understood clearly and viscerally what Tina was thinking and feeling.
Season 2, Episode 5
Tina meets Helena for the first time and comes to the very surpised realization that this beautiful, wealthy woman is attracted to her. Not only that, but she was attracted to Helena too.
Tina has had issues with self-esteem and having her body rejected by Bette. Now that she is pregnant, she is not feeling particularly sexy or attractive. Tina is almost shocked to see this woman aggressively court her. Once she saw just how much Helena was interested in her as a woman, Tina was taken aback in a good way. She was shy and acted like a schoolgirl being asked on her first date by a crush. Tina even blushes and puts her head down and starts to flirt with Helena.
Helena even notices that Tina is pregnant – something Bette had yet to do up to that point. For Tina, Helena was heady stuff after what she had just gone through with Bette, and all the losses she suffered – including the loss of her son. That Helena loved her kids made her even more attractive to Tina.
Laurel was so good in this scene because she transports us back to when we all felt like schoolgirls being asked out on a date by the most popular kid in class, and she played Tina’s shyness and coquettishness perfectly. It was an unusual but delicious combination, showing Tina’s attempt to pick herself up and start to enjoy being courted and desired once again – but this time, on her own terms.
We would be remiss not mentioning the love scenes Laurel did in this season while she was pregnant. Tina’s love scenes with Helena and then Bette are a celebration of the pregnant woman, how beautiful her body is, and how her sexual desire could be magnified because of the hormones coursing through it.
Laurel is one of the bravest actresses we have seen. When she was pregnant, she was also one of the most beautiful pregnant women we have seen, even in our own lives. Laurel says she feared doing love scenes while pregnant, yet she set the bar high for such scenes, which were done tastefully, beautifully, sensuously and artfully. There was not one false note – not one second when Laurel showed discomfort or took us out of Tina’s story. She leaves an indelible mark in TV history, with honorable mentions for the assists from Rachel Shelley and Jennifer Beals. We love beautiful and brave actresses who are fine performers. It’s easy to understand why Laurel has so many loyal fans.