Television has a late-breaking Horniest Show of the Year competitor and it is The L Word: Generation Q, a revival of Showtime’s classic lesbian drama. When the series premieres in America on Sunday 8 December (the UK has to wait for a 2020 release) it will offer up two full sex scenes — and the beginnings of a third romp — in less than 11 minutes.
It’s likely thirsty audience members will want in on the sexy new-ish series, which also widens its predecessor's scope along racial lines and the queer spectrum. The only question that may bar new fans from entry is one simple question: does a prospective viewer have to watch all 70 episodes of the original The L Word to actually understand, and enjoy, Generation Q?
As someone who has never seen the 2004-2009 run of L Word, I feel prepared to solve that mystery — and the answer is, not really. Generation Q is about so much more than rehashing the past.
We step into Generation Q a full decade after the events of the OG series’ 2009 finale “Last Word.” The opening scene of the revival quickly telegraphs that this series isn’t just about the three initial L Word characters returning to their Showtime stomping grounds: politician Bette Porter (Flashdance’s Jennifer Beals), hairdresser/heartbreaker Shane McCutcheon (Katherine Moennig), and TV host Alice Pieszecki (Leisha Hailey). Before we see any of those women — now comfortably in middle-age — we meet a brand new class of queer up-starts.
Premiere episode “Let’s Do It Again” opens on couple Dani Nunez (Arienne Mandi) and Sophie Suarez (Rosanny Zayas), two queer Latina women. Eventually we meet their roommate Micah Lee (Leo Sheng), a queer Asian-American man. As trailers tease, Micah’s inevitable crush is a neighbour hunk named Jose Garcia (Freddy Miyares), another queer man of colour. Rounding out the crew is Sarah Finley (Jacqueline Toboni), a woman who says things like “I’m like a traditional lesbian when it comes to tools.”
You don’t need to watch a second of original L Word to understand this fivesome, who is just as fresh to this world as newbie fans are. The crew even lives in the hipster eastside L.A. neighbourhood of Silver Lake — half a city from the OG’s iconic homebase of West Hollywood — to remind us Q is a full update on what came before it. Thankfully, “Let’s Do It Again” efficiently sets up this new universe and the backstories that come with it.
Dani and Sophie may get the lion’s share of exposition in “Again,” but the first three chapters of the eight-episode season fill in the blanks for their friends.
It’s through Sophie and Sarah that Generation Q finds its connective tissue to the L Word's foremothers. Both women work for Alice, who still spends much of her time with best friends Bette and Shane. It’s in this trio’s scenes that newcomers may feel a tad out of their depths. But, it’s important to remember everyone is learning about what happened over the last decade to this group of girl friends — not just first-time viewers.
We meet these women in the midst of shifting relationship statuses, new jobs, and fresh trauma. References to the drama around these changes may sound like inside baseball, but much of it is brand-new storytelling. Take for example Bette’s campaign to become the mayor of Los Angeles, which takes up a major section of the plot. As “Again” delves deeper into Bette’s politics, we learn she is staunchly against Big Pharma and particularly sensitive to the tragedy of the opioid crisis. If you've never watched The L Word, you may assume this storyline is referencing some series-rocking death from an old episode.
You would be wrong.
As Bette’s portrayer Jennifer Beasl told Allure, Generation Q is hiding something from everyone about a skeleton in her character’s closet. “I wish I could tell you exactly what’s going on with her right now, but you’ll see it soon,” Beals teased in November 2019. “These are issues that are affecting people right now, and in our current climate, it felt like something we had to address."
Although much of Generation Q is newly spun for our enjoyment, the revival inevitably nods towards past storylines and love interests. If you suddenly feel painfully out of the loop — like, say, when Bette’s daughter Angelica (Jordan Hull) mentions a woman named “Mama T” — don’t feel badly about taking a walk down Google memory lane.
Just don't let a few obscure moments get in the way of a good time. That's the last thing Shane would want.