by Yelin Gemma Lee, Peak Associate
For those of you that don’t know, SHOWTIME’s L Word is a six-season TV show that aired between 2004–09 about the loves and lives of a community of lesbians. The show that critics raved to be “groundbreaking” was the first show of its kind in the way it centered around lesbians and the female gaze.
It is still considered iconic and notorious for being a part of many coming out journeys. That being said, the script is cheesy, cliché, melodramatic, and has many documented wrongs in irresponsible discourse towards transgender, bisexual, people of colour, sexual assault survivors, and addiction.
10 years after the last episode of L Word aired on a cliff-hanger to a frustrating final season, L Word: Generation Q made its grand debut. Judging by the five episodes that are currently released, many stylistic elements remain the same as the L Word — it shows many different characters’ stories while still tying it together under one intertwined community. The clear difference is that the content and target audience has shifted from being a show dedicated strictly to lesbians to a show dedicated to queers.
Feminist and progressive thinking underline the show, and each episode seems to tackle an extremely relatable and prominent topic in the queer community. It seems that Ilene Chaiken, the creator of the original L Word, intends to mend these critical mistakes and properly give it another go in this sequel show. L Word: Generation Q introduced a racially diverse cast which includes a transgender main character.
Several of the original L Word characters return as leaders in the community, and this adds a very accurate and wonderful element of intergenerational queer culture. How an older generation become business owners, show producers, politicians etc. and make space for younger queers — this element is one of the things I love the most about L Word: Generation Q and our very own Vancouver queer community.
The show seems to focus much less on unnecessary dramatics, and more on the real life struggles and queer experiences, these include religious trauma, family abandonment, addiction, transphobia, sexism, homophobia, gender discomfort, healthy communication, and consent culture. Not only does the show introduce these, but they’ve been doing it responsibly and thoughtfully.
Despite these serious themes, the humour is fresh, the relationship drama is entertaining, and the soundtrack is a bop. I didn’t know I could still gain anything from the L Word, but with Generation Q, I realized I do. I needed the complex storylines and themes that this show bravely faces to show the queer community that we are not alone in our struggles and victories.
Generation Q has come to make amends for all the wrongs in the original series and to show everyone else in the industry what queer representation can really look like. It drops the melodramatic tragedy of L Word and proudly presents a more realistic portrayal of the persevered and united queer community of our generation. Although it’s a very queer show, I think it would be interesting, valuable, and enjoyable for heterosexuals to watch as well.
By no means do you need to watch the L Word to watch Generation Q. In fact, I highly advise against it. Take a break from RuPaul’s Drag Race or Queer Eye to peer at what the queer community looks like from a less ‘spectacle’ lens in what is marketed as “a bold new series for a bold new generation.”