The L Word left our screens in dramatic fashion back in 2009 after five seasons of ‘talking, laughing, loving, breathing, fighting, f*cking, crying, drinking, riding, winning, losing, cheating, kissing, thinking, dreaming…’
But now, ten years later they’re back to sexually awaken a whole new generation of queer women – only this time with significantly fewer low rise jeans.
The L Word holds both fame and infamy within the queer community, for good reason. It broke the glass ceiling as the first ensemble queer female cast show on television, depicting a group of queer women navigating life, love and friendship in LA. However, it has also garnered a lot of fair criticism around it’s distinct lack of diversity within its main cast; it’s perpetuation of queer stereotypes; and sometimes down right offensive portrayal of trans or bisexual characters.
Re-watching the original in 2020 it feels dated, something the returning cast original themselves freely admit, and yet the show still holds a special place in the hearts of many queer women as having been one of the first places their sexuality was represented on television on such a scale. It even helped one of its stars, Katherine Moennig, come to terms with her own sexuality back in the mid 2000s. Ever since it’s shocking cliffhanger tense final, fans have been calling out for a revival; a call which has finally been answered in ‘The L Word: Generation Q’.
Fan favourites Jennifer Beals, Leisha Hailey and Katherine Moennig are all reprising their iconic roles as Bette, Alice and Shane, as well acting as Executive Producers to the show. The three of them are also joined by a brand new cast of characters.
Dani (Arienne Mandi) and her girlfriend Sophie (Rosanny Zayas), who are balancing the pressures of work, family and a healthy relationship. Their friend and housemate Micah (Leo Sheng), exploring a budding relationship with their attractive neighbour. Finley (Jacqueline Toboni) somewhat of a ‘baby gay’, laden with emotional baggage, inexperience and the energy of a golden retriever. As well as the local bartender Tess (Jamie Clayton), walking the line on her own sobriety.
Meanwhile, Bette is balancing single parenthood, whilst also pursuing a campaign for Mayor of Los Angeles. Alice’s radio show of the original series has expanded into her own talk show, whilst in her private life she is thrown into parenthood suddenly as co-parent to her girlfriend Nat’s (Stephanie Allynne) children, navigating shared custody and complex emotions with Nat’s ex Gigi (Sepideh Moafi). Meanwhile, Shane has moved home to LA following several years of success of her hair salons but is reeling from the collapse of her relationship with wife Quiara (Lex Scott Davis).
One thing that is immediately noticeable from Generation Q is that lessons have clearly been learnt from the mistakes of the first iteration. The fact that the main cast are significantly more diverse than that of the original series is a encouraging sign. In particular, given the worrying trend still prevalent today of trans characters played by cis actors, even within the original L word, it is reassuring that all trans characters within the show are played by trans actors. Jamie Clayton is likely familiar, especially if you were a fan of Netflix’s Sense8 where she portrayed hacker Nomi Marks, whereas Leo Sheng is a relatively new talent to television but easily an instant fan favourite. This new found diversity is also reflected within the recurring cast and storylines, showing a refreshing and much needed update to bring The L Word firmly into the 2020s.
So, who is The L Word: Generation Q for? Original fans looking for nostalgia and to fall back into crushing on Shane McCutcheon? Or the new generation of LGBTQ kids? Easy: both.
The series requires no real prior knowledge of the show beyond one off references; such as the naming of a bar after Dana, an ex-girlfriend of Alice’s and close friend of the group whose story ended in tragedy back in season three. Yet, for the most part The L Word: Generation Q holds alone, on it’s own two feet.
The L Word: Generation Q stands out as a celebration of queerness, out and unapologetically proud. It seemly has matured and learnt from it’s older sisters strengths and mistakes and luckily for us all, even in 2020, is ‘still looking very Shane today’.
The L Word: Generation Q airs in the UK on Now TV and Sky Atlantic on Feb 4th. Watch the Trailer below: