WHAT TO WATCH
The L Word for a New Generation
The new series’ head writer on LGBTQ+ apps, streaming, and authenticity.
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As the first mainstream TV series about lesbians and bisexual women, The L Word broke new ground when it debuted on Showtime in 2004. Yet its stories of breakups, makeups, families, and careers weren’t especially sensational. They were simply reflective of real life.
Now, a decade after the end of the original series, Showtime is premiering a sequel, The L Word: Generation Q. We spoke with lead writer and showrunner Marja-Lewis Ryan about creating a new chapter of the show that inspired her career—and the apps that bridge reality and fiction in the series.
The L Word: Generation Q is a sequel, taking place 10 years later. What role do apps play in depicting life in the LGBTQ+ community today?
It’s important to represent what is real. Tinder is real. Grindr is real. Raya is real. Her and Bumble are real. So we nod to the virtual world in the show because our characters live in the real world. The apps in the show are always reflective of what a character would be doing in reality.
How have streaming apps influenced today’s TV shows?
There are something like 430 scripted television shows being made now—and that’s allowing more marginalized storytellers to be in positions of power. More than ever, the stories are coming from us, and that is really exciting. But it’s still hard to come by really well-funded shows with marginalized content. As an industry, we could do better.
Inclusion of LGBTQ+ characters on TV has improved over the past decade, but queer communities remain underrepresented. Does this impact the stories you tell on the new show?
We still see so many queer stories that depict us as victims and tragic heroes. But this show is an opportunity to see us as just heroes, to see us in fancy places with big jobs and relationships that work and that don’t work. I tend to stay away from real darkness. Our characters live in the real world, and bad things happen, but bad things don’t necessarily happen to them.
What themes do the original and new series share?
The thing that I wanted to honor most were the friendships. The original got a lot of attention for its sexuality, but as a viewer I thought, “Wow, I wish I was friends with them. I wish there was an extra seat at that coffee table for me.” The new show definitely honors the idea of having a really inclusive queer friend group. I think that’s actually the dreamiest part of the original—how close and open they were.
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