The ground-breaking lesbian television drama, The L Word, will come to an end next year, the show’s producers have announced.

US television network, Showtime said that while it has renewed the show for a sixth season, this would be its final series. The L Word will culminate in eight final episodes which will be broadcast early next year in the US. The series is the network’s longest running show.

“It has been a privilege to do this series and tell these stories and have these characters in my life and to share them with the show’s passionate fans,” said Ilene Chaiken, creator and executive producer of The L Word. “I am thrilled that Showtime has given us this final opportunity to conclude this journey we have all taken together.”

The L Word’s large and loyal audience has played an unprecedented role in propelling the plotlines throughout the show’s five year history. Chaiken indicated that the final season will be even more interactive, with fan input guiding the season to its climactic conclusion.

“This is by no means the end of The L Word,” she added. “The brand and the social network community, OurChart.com, will continue to live and be a destination for lesbians everywhere and a lasting tribute to what The L Word has accomplished.”

The series follows a group of Los Angeles-based friends as they navigate careers, families, friendships, inner struggles and romantic entanglements.

The L Word has been a truly ground-breaking series, setting new standards for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender visibility on television through its portrayal of a unique and compelling group of women,” said Gay and Lesbian Alliance for Defamation (GLAAD) President Neil G. Giuliano.

“We applaud the cast and creative team for the sense of fun and drama that they bring every season in their depictions of both the day-to-day lives of LGBT people and the challenges and struggles faced by our community.”

In its five seasons, The L Word generated an avid audience, as well as critical praise and GLAAD Award recognition for its provocative, sexy storylines, the principal cast and for being a magnet for celebrated directors and guest stars.

Since its January 2004 debut, the series has become part of American popular culture, spawning its own social networking site (Our Chart.com), huge popularity in Second Life, dedicated fan websites and blogs, along with products such as The L Word-branded perfume, jewellery and books.

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