All week my colleagues and friends have been asking me what I thought of the opening episode of The L Word: Generation Q. Like many others I missed out on getting tickets to the sold-out screenings happening round Melbourne and decided to wait until the end of the week before checking it out on Stan.
Before I dive in, let’s point out the obvious elephant in the room.Yes, I’m a cis gay white male writing a review for The L Word for an LGBTIQ+ publication.
But better to have a cis gay white male who loves popular culture write about the series than have nothing at all. I loved doing the Drag Race UK reviews, so why not The L Word. Do you want to write about it? We are always looking for contributors, so why not get in touch.
As a not so young gay man in the naughties, I was obsessed with any television that explored anything that wasn’t heterosexual. I had grown up secretly watching EAT CARPET and Queer as Folk on SBS and was drawn to The L Word because it wasn’t about me in any way – it was about queer women. Plus it straddled sex, soapiness and drama like all guilty pleasures should and there was something truly exciting for me about that. But when the trailer dropped for the reboot and the title was announced with the addition ‘Generation Q’ I got worried.
With only three major cast members – Shane (Katherine Moennig), Bette (Jennifer Beals) and my personal favourite Alice (Leisha Hailey) – returning, would this be the show I remember?
With a majority of the cast being brand new, would I be let down like Tales of the City which tried to straddle the old nostalgia and capture the energy of today so hard that I still haven’t finished watching it?
My concerns were completely unfounded. The strength of the series is in its ability to weave new characters with the old ones in a way that isn’t generational, but, like the reality of many queer spaces, simply is.
It’s ten years since the series ended, and how we talk about sexual identity and gender is different now. But The L Word: Generation Q isn’t here to give you an explanation or education. You can either jump on board now or binge the first series.
Diving straight in with a hot sex scene between two beautiful women of colour, Dani (Arienne Mandi) and Sophie (Rosanny Zayas) sets the tone perfectly for the series.The new cast of lesbians (and gays) now live in Los Angeles, not West Hollywood as in the previous series. In a clever exposition, we are introduced to the new neighbour moving into the building through the gaze and commentary of Dani’s housemates Micah (Leo Sheng) and Finley (Jacqueline Toboni).
Finley is the offbeat character who snuck out on a hook up again to head to work with Sophie, who jokes that Dani will never propose to her, even though Micah knows Dani is waiting for the right moment to pop the question, even though her father won’t approve (spoiler alert, she does it later in the episode anyway).
Finley and Sophie work at Alice’s talk show. Alice is now raising a family with her fiancée, Nat (Stephanie Allynne) whose children hate her. Alice wants to be taken seriously on air, but guests don’t think she has the platform they need. Alice was everything for me in this episode, she brings such great energy to the screen and has the best lines.
Everyone’s favourite power lesbian, Bette is running for mayor and in need of backers while raising her daughter, Angie (Jordan Hull), alone. Angie decides to skip school and try drugs and, like many young people, just wants to explore what her life has to offer.
The driving force of the first series was Bette and Tina’s desire for a family and the struggle to keep it together amidst personal dramas. Tina is gone, but I’m glad they had Bette and Angie together for the series return. Angie’s storyline is given the same scope and treatment as everyone else’s even though she is a child. She is “Generation Q” and I look forward to seeing them explore her arc.
Shane is as sexy as always and returns from overseas single (again) starting her new life in LA. When Shane, Bette and Alice meet up for breakfast, they discover Shane is living in an empty house. Alice sends her assistant Finley over to sort out some furniture for Shane. Finley then confesses her admiration for Shane. Could something be on the cards for them both? Probably not.
Bette, who is running on a platform to shut down drugs in the city, meets with Dani whose father’s conglomerate wants to support the campaign. But Bette doesn’t want money from big pharma.
At a press conference, a man accuses Bette of sleeping with his wife who worked for Bette years ago. Alice encourages Bette to come and share her story on the show, which Bette does, at least, selectively enough to win back supporters.
The energy of the returning cast picks up right where it left off, with no need for reintroduction. Weaving this with the next generation gives the viewer a comfortable re-entry into this saucy soap. It’s a balance of strong issues and drama with a fun and vibrant energy that hooks you in perfectly.
The big question on everyone’s lips is will we find out who murdered Jenny, the original series’ most polarising character? Even though the final ‘murder mystery’ season is one that cast and fans would rather forget, it is still canon and there have been hints that The L Word: Generation Q will give us the answer.
It’s certainly not the driving force that will keep me watching each week, and with such a strong start, I can’t wait for the next episode to drop.