Sunday 24 November 2019
Somewhere in the vicinity of fifteen years ago, I fell in love with a TV show that none of my friends a) had even heard of, b) would even consider watching, c) would likely have given me heaps of sh!t if they knew I watched it, and d) probably wouldn’t have ever understood why I watched it. Over the years, I encouraged a number of people to give the show a go, and a number of them (who, like me, are straight – this is relevant when I discuss the show’s storylines) realised what a great show it was. A couple of them even decided to buy the boxed set of DVDs.
Anyway, this year it was announced that a reboot of the show was being produced, and three of the original stars, plus the original creator were back onboard. Now, normally I’d say I’m not a fan of reboots, as they often lose the power of the original. However, I’ve seen three teaser trailers for this show, and I have to admit, it looks pretty bloody good. I’m not sure that I’ll be watching the show via whatever streaming app it’s going to be broadcast through. I might just wait until it’s available for purchase or download through my preferred carrier, or buy the boxed set.
I know I’m dragging this out, and you probably want to know what show I’m writing about. I’m not sure if I’ve written about it on my blog before. I want to say that I have, but nothing’s jumping out at me. I’m writing about The L Word and its reboot The L Word: Generation Q. For those of you who have no idea what the original The L Word was about, it followed the lives and loves of a group of lesbians and bisexuals in Los Angeles. Bette and Tina are the seemingly ideal couple trying for a child; Alice is trying to navigate romances with men and women whilst trying to make her mark in the world of journalism and the media; Dana is on the pro-tennis circuit and coming to terms with coming out; Shane the resident lesbian Casanova jumps from one-night stand to one-night stand, and can’t commit to a relationship; and my least liked character of every series, Jenny, who, despite being engaged to Tim, is seduced by Marina and then comes out. It’s complicated, confusing, and sordid in some parts, but the storylines (aside from the whole Jenny thing) are far superior to those you’d find in soapies or daytime TV dramas. It wasn’t just a show enjoyed by the LGBTQIA+ community. You didn’t have to be gay or queer or anything other than appreciative of good television to get into the show.
One of the best things about the original The L Word was the use of humour. Let’s face it, life is full of funny things, and they often happen at the most inappropriate times. In the original series, those moments of humour were perfectly placed, and didn’t appear contrived, just like real life. So, I’m hoping that the reboot maintains that humour. From the teaser trailers I’ve seen, there appear to be a couple of moments that stand out as quite funny, and that’s a good start. I also like that the reboot is limited to eight episodes like the final original season, not a full twelve episode season. Smart thinking by the show runner – give the new audience just enough to get them hooked on the show, give the returning audience just enough to keep them satisfied.
Of course, as a returning audience member, I think it’s safe to say that we’ll miss those characters who have not come back – Tina, Kit, Carmen (come on, we all loved the Shane-Carmen arc. it never should have ended the way it did.), Tasha, Helena. Okay, maybe not so much Tasha and Helena, but definitely the other three. They made good television. The one we all really miss though, is Dana. Unfortunately, there’s no way to bring Dana back without going into the realms of total unreality, and dismissing everything that happened from season tree onwards. It’s interesting to read that Ilene Chaiken, creator of The L Word, says it is the one storyline that she regrets – Dana getting breast cancer was a story that needed to be told, but killing her off was a mistake in the eyes of the audience, who never forgave Chaiken. It was a heart wrenching storyline, the finale of which was to have Dana die alone in a hospital room after Alice promised her she’d be there until the end. It broke Alice, the other characters, and it broke the audience.
I am delighted that The L Word: Generation Q will see the return of Alice, Bette, and my favourite character, Shane. Yes, my favourite L Word character is the hairdresser who can’t keep it in her pants. Can I use that euphemism when referring to a gay lady? Maybe I should have written that she couldn’t keep her hands to herself or her mouth shut. Yeah, pushing boundaries here, I think. Anyway, like about a million other audience members, although I liked Bette and Tina, Dana, Alice (because who doesn’t love the funny one?), Kit, and all the others who passed through The Planet, Shane was an enigma who had to be solved. As it turned out, there was no solving an enigma like Shane. Shane was as authentic a person as any character could be. That’s what made her appealing. Gay ladies wanted her, and wanted to be her, straight ladies would go gay for her. And Katherine Moennig portrayed Shane brilliantly – a little bit vulnerable at times, a lot promiscuous, but always authentic and true to herself in spite of adversity or public opinion. Everyone wants Shane, whether they publicly admit it or not. 😉
I’m interested to see how the writers have had Alice, Bette, and Shane grow. I hope they have grown. I’d hate to think that a decade or so has passed, and the women are still exactly the same – that would be a disappointment. Some aspects of their characters should remain the same, but as an audience member, I’d really hope that they’d grown. Experiences change us, and they should change the characters too. That change should be something more than simply getting older.
I’m also interested to see how the new characters fit in, and how they react to the original characters. Those are the interactions I’m most looking forward to. Admittedly, I’ll likely be more excited about the scenes with Alice, Bette, and Shane than I will be with the others. But hey, I’ll give the newbies a chance. There looks to be some interesting characters, like Finley, who will give us the drama and the humour that we came to love about the original. The jury’s out, of course, until we get to see the reboot, but I have a good feeling about this one.
Kudos to Ilene Chaiken for having the courage to allow the show to enter a new incarnation, to Leisha Hailey, Katherine Moennig, and Jennifer Beals for stepping up as executive producers, and to Showtime for sort of giving fans what we wanted, a reunion show. I did say sort of . . . a proper reunion should would have included every character we came to love and hate within the confines of the show, but we’ll take what we can get.