Thoughts on the L-Word: Generation Q

I am completely unqualified to be writing a review on this show, I thought to myself as I sat down to start this piece. I’m someone who’s never been able to distinguish “good” media from “bad” media; if it’s entertaining and can bring me close to tears (from crying or laughing), I’d call it good. I was afraid that my lack of knowledge in this area would prevent me from doing the show justice, but I’m going to try anyway. After all, there’s a reason I’ve never written a review before-- and there’s a reason I’ve decided to write this one now. 

I never watched the original L Word. It’s one of many queer culture staples I missed out on growing up, but I wasn’t going to make the same mistake with Generation Q. I watched the first episode as soon as it came out. I could sort of tell I was missing a bit of background, as some of these characters were clearly well-developed and loved from the original show. Though at first I thought that might make the show harder to enjoy, I actually discovered that it could be an asset-- this way the show couldn’t rely on my memory of the old characters to elicit emotion, and it didn’t need to.

One way The L Word: Generation Q has impressed me so far is in the variety of ways in which it celebrates diversity. Its characters are members of various different religions, cultures, and communities. Characters that belong to underrepresented groups, such as trans men or disabled women, are seamlessly integrated and easy to love, and feel far from stereotypes or tokens. In addition, and maybe most importantly, the characters fuck up in very different ways. It’s refreshing to see a show that doesn’t often fall down the easy “misunderstanding” plot device to create drama; the L-Word digs deep into characters that feel immensely real, and showcase rich and relatable insecurities, mistakes, fights, and learning experiences. 

I did start watching the original L-Word about halfway through the Generation Q, and one of the big differences I immediately noticed was the shift in attitude towards race. The cast itself is noticeably less white, but additionally, the characters have strong opinions on racism. Bette in Generation Q is painfully aware of and enraged by the racism that affects her sixteen-year-old daughter in an LA private school, while in the original, Bette was willing to forego a black sperm donor because it made her wife uncomfortable. I also noticed a difference in socioeconomic statuses; the show seemed to recognize its previous problematic plot where all the characters lived comfortably in Los Angeles and made sure to give these new characters realistic financial situations and troubles. The characters have strong views on issues in society that reach beyond the LGBTQ+ community, and they don’t give in easily when it comes to their morals.

But although the characters do have strong beliefs, they are so clearly still growing and changing. For example, I thought that Generation Q did a wonderful job of developing a realistic and respectful “throuple” plotline in a way that gently pushed both the characters and the viewers to challenge their perhaps unwelcoming or outdated views. Characters may make decisions based on their strongly-held beliefs, but they are also willing to find room to compromise or reevaluate.

Personally, this show hits a home run for me. It’s groundbreaking, entertaining, and touching in a way that makes me forget how incredible it is that nearly all of the main characters are a part of the LGBTQ+ community in some way. In addition to being a show where every character feels so beautifully flawed and human, it’s a show about queer people. It paints familiar pictures, like the juggling that takes place in a divorced family, but makes them gay! While I think this show checks just about every box for me, I do think it was built for a specific audience. The name itself scares some away, as the original did, and so does the racial diversity of the cast, or the complete lack of cishet characters. The show pushes boundaries in a beautiful way, but unfortunately, not everyone is ready to be on board with the ideas it presents. Of course, sometimes it’s no use waiting for people to catch up. It’s their loss, anyway-- they’re missing out on a truly relatable and interesting show, and: lots of hot girls.

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