Jenny Schecter (Mia Kirshner) is a young writer who graduates from college in Iowa and moves in with her boyfriend, Tim Haspel (Eric Mabius), a university women's swim team coach, in Los Angeles. Her new neighbors, Bette Porter (Jennifer Beals) and Tina Kennard (Laurel Holloman), a lesbian couple for seven years now, have a hard time finding a male willing to donate his sperm to fulfill their wish for a child. Tina introduces Jenny to her lesbian circle of friends: Dana Fairbanks (Erin Daniels), a prim, proper, and closeted tennis player, the witty and ambitious bisexual journalist Alice Pieszecki (Leisha Hailey), and the androgynous, sexually aggressive hairstylist Shane McCutcheon (Katherine Moennig). Jenny also meets Marina Ferrer (Karina Lombard), European owner of The Planet coffeehouse; they are immediately drawn to each other and eventually share a passionate kiss. Bette and Tina have their own problems and discuss using an African American as a donor for their child, which Tina will carry. Bette also deals with her alcoholic older half-sister Kit (Pam Grier), who has problems with her singing career. Jenny soon betrays Tim by sleeping with Marina. The next morning, Jenny finds a ring from Tim on her breakfast table.