The Real L Word, Ilene Chaiken's reality series version of her groundbreaking lesbian drama The L Word, is real, Chaiken insists.

The Real L Word returned for its third season Thursday on pay cabler Showtime with producer Chaiken back at the helm.

The L Word was in many ways inspired by my life, by people I knew, by a culture and a lifestyle I had experienced,” Chaiken told The Los Angeles Times, whose writer Amanda Hess was trying to answer what is real lesbianism.

“The question is not whether The Real L Word's shower sex sessions and vodka soda bar fights between the lithe, long-haired lesbians are orchestrated by producers (for the record, Chaiken says the series is 'completely unscripted'). The question is whether the women tapped to be taped by Chaiken's cameras represent the true breadth of the lesbian experience or just a carefully selected feedback loop of Chaiken's own fictionalized archetypes,” Hess wrote.

“Reality takes on its own reality. The show took a life unto itself. It's become a very different show that portrays very different characters,” said Chaiken, who then added: “They're real people, so I'm not sure it's right to call them characters.”