Although LGBTQ characters and themes are seen more often on television now than when the original groundbreaking drama The L Word debuted on Showtime back in 2004, it’s still surprising — given changes in society over the past decade — that there haven’t been more shows quite like it since the series left the air in 2009.
Showtime looks to again pave the way for progress in this respect when The L Word: Generation Q, a sequel to the beloved original, premieres this month. The drama brings back original stars Jennifer Beals, Leisha Hailey and Katherine Moennig to reprise their roles, along with a new generation of characters played by a cast that includes Arienne Mandi, Leo Sheng and Jacqueline Toboni. The original and new characters all intermingle in L.A. as they experience love, heartbreak, sex, setbacks and success.
When we spoke with Beals, who is back as Bette Porter and as an executive producer, she explained how thrilled she is to fill the entertainment gap and to tell new stories.
“I’m really excited,” she said. “[We’ve] been advocating for years to try to get the show brought back in some iteration because we were all so surprised that nothing took its place given how successful it was.
“There are some interesting things. When we were [first] on the air, there was no gay marriage. And now, it’s just a given on the show. So, we get to look at how the conversation has changed, and we get to look at how the ways in which we talk about gender have changed.”
That is a good reason to bring in a younger generation of characters and actors who have grown up with such societal changes as a matter of course. New cast member Mandi, who says she was too young to have seen or really grasped the original series when it first aired, appreciates how the storytelling in Generation Q is a fairly even split between the established characters — whom Mandi lovingly refers to as “the OGs” — and the new ones.
“They do a great job of mixing us all in together,” Mandi said. “[The original actors have] been so welcoming to all of us and just so gracious, bringing us into the family, making sure we feel warm and just as part of the family as they are.”
The L Word: Generation Q
Sundays beginning Dec. 8
Stream on showtime.com