The L Word: Generation Q

(L-R): Jennifer Beals as Bette, Laurel Holloman as Tina, Leisha Hailey as Alice and Kate Moennig as Shane in THE L WORD: GENERATION Q, "Looking Ahead". Photo Credit: Isabella Vosmikova/SHOWTIME.

The L Word: Generation Q

Created by Ilene Chaiken, Kathy Greenberg, and Michele Abbott


Season 3 Review by Dallas L


As someone who has been watching this sequel series in perpetual longing for the original The L Word cast, the season three finale of Generation Q might be the series finale for me. Perhaps watching season four—if it is renewed—I will allow myself to consider the show as a stand-alone spin-off, instead of holding it on a pedestal, so that every time I walk by my trophy case of life-changing box-set DVDs, I don’t ask myself, “Does that really belong there?”


The L Word (2004-2009) was a historical debut of lesbian drama depicted on late-night TV, opening the doors for The L Word: Generation Q, which premiered in 2019. The executive producers were smart enough to include some of the original cast, which is pretty much all the fans were asking for. Season three of Generation Q brings closure to the stories of the original cast, as the finale ends with Alice letting go of Dana and finding her way back to Tasha, Shane refusing to learn from her mistakes, and Bette and Tina getting married.


What is marriage but an antiquated way of symbolizing monogamy through a contractual agreement to be financial partners in the business of life in late-stage capitalism? Bette and Tina do that, again, finally. Original fans would have already played out this ending over a decade ago, but actually seeing it with the included crisis of Bette and Tina getting locked in a walk-in cooler was exactly the cheesy entertainment I wanted.


Reboots, spin-offs, and sequels always have the disadvantage of lacking history with their viewers. These shows cannot escape my natural skepticism and withholding nature. I knew I wasn’t going to like Generation Q—which revealed itself as a hyper-dramatic show that sacrifices character development for instant gratification. 


The sequel provides filler for criticism the writers and producers received during—but mostly after—the original show ended. Society has changed in 10 years and the new generation of youth understand their power in numbers. This generation has been more willing to have discourses on transness, lack of accessibility, and being Black in America, among other relevant intersections of queerness. 


Generation Q feels like Ilene Chaiken and the other creators tried to jump on that bandwagon without doing any of the work within themselves. The temperature of the show’s conviction for some of its more political commentary has been lukewarm and came off as superfluously redundant at first sight. 


A lot of the storymaking feels random and chaotic. In season one, Bette fought in a campaign to be mayor of Los Angeles, but was simply okay with losing in a devastatingly dirty way? This felt untrue to the vengeful Bette we came to know and love in the original show. Alice was supposedly in jail for murdering Jenny Schecter—according to the short interview tapes released after season six of The L Word—but she’s now a beloved TV show host, and Jenny—a sexual assault survivor—actually committed suicide? That’s pretty disgusting writing; this was an opportunity to challenge tropes on the aftermath of sexual assault. Some things made a lot less sense than Shane still being a selfish and perpetually broken and unaccountable toxic force in the queer community. 


Why was the show trying to impress us by having Shane attempt to steal culture and business ideas from a Black couple in season two—not to mention the disregard for the harm caused by accidently sleeping with one of them? Integrating a critique of Shane’s actions into the narrative would have been a relevant addition that needed to be heard by the white queers loving the sequel.


Generation Q’s regurgitated “critique” of today’s society feels like white people prorating their political correctness due to the inflation of social credit received from being “woke.” The original show was more honest about the flaws in the LGBTQ+ community, magnifying the lesbian community’s racism and violent tradition of transphobia.


Being a feminist media consumer involves balance and consideration. We lament the lack of representation, call out problematic writing, and mock the implausibility of every single character affording homes that overlook downtown LA, but we still see the value in gratuitous storytelling and drama. Trust me, there is a balance in there somewhere if we are meant to enjoy life while understanding its current condition is unlivable, but endured by many.