HBO Max recently announced that the show Genera+ion will not be renewed for a second season. While there are some episodes that were previously filmed that will still be released, fans (such as myself) are devastated that the show was canceled. The 16-episode-series had a diverse cast and characters that made people feel seen in the media. When the show was first released, many were excited to hear that it was made for Gen Z by Gen Z, since an 18-year-old named Zelda Barnz helped direct the show alongside one of her dads, Daniel Barnz.
This show was important to so many communities of people, especially those in the queer community. It tells the story of many queer students, including a queer Hispanic woman with undocumented immigrant parents, a bisexual boy with religious and conservative parents, a gay Black student who expresses himself through his outfits and a queer girl dealing with the repercussions of her parent’s divorce. There are also several supporting queer characters including a trans aunt, a queer guidance counselor and several drag queens. One student even has two dads.
This series was important because it showcased so much diversity and the actors who portrayed the characters were diverse themselves, ensuring they fully understood the stories they were telling. Queer representation in the media is extremely important; it normalizes being queer and makes life a bit easier for those who are coming to terms with their sexuality. Being a part of any minority group can feel isolating, but seeing characters on TV who have similar stories changes lives and contributes to a more inclusive and educated society. That’s why this cancellation hurt so many people who were finally able to see themselves on the screen.
Something I personally enjoyed a lot about Genera+ion was that these characters were clear about their identities and their stories, but their lives weren’t centered around those identities. Their identities were an important part of who they were, but they had deeply complex and layered stories beyond those identities. I also enjoyed that these characters didn’t follow the typical tropes that queer characters often fall into, like getting into queer relationships through cheating on their previous partner, falling in love with their bully, or the ever-so-popular “Gay Best Friend” trope. Those tropes are harmful and don’t express the queer experience in a valid way, they just contribute to harmful stereotypes that many people start to believe. Genera+ion didn’t have those tropes or stereotypes, it just showed queer Gen Z people as normal teenagers with average struggles. I can’t think of any queer TV shows that did it as well as Genera+ion did, except for shows such as The Society, and One Day at a Time which were also canceled too soon despite their huge following. Do you get why I’m so frustrated?
These deeply complex and layered characters were also played by queer people themselves, which is a very important step in the media. Hiring queer actors to portray queer characters not only makes the characters significantly more believable but also gives queer artists a platform. Fans can resonate with both the actor and the character, and the actors can act out stories that they’ve dealt with. A lot of the time, “queer icons” are not queer themselves — and while their contributions to queer culture are important, giving platforms to actual queer people is important as well, which makes it even sadder that this show had to come to an end so soon.
I might not ever get over the cancellation of Genera+ion, but I hope that in the future queer TV shows fall out of this pattern of being canceled way too soon. They’re important to spreading narratives that aren’t always shown and vital to educating and informing audiences. The diverse and complex issues that this show covered deserve to be shown in the media, and I hope that there are shows that fill this void for me in the future and break this cancellation curse!