May 24, 2022 The Newspaper Serving LGBT Los Angeles

COLUMN: “The L Word: Generation Q” is a Pandering Mess

It’s strange to look back across a period of ten years and realize how much you’ve changed. Things that felt fresh and daring to you once now expose themselves as mediocre and cringe-worthy, while work you dismissed out of hand takes on new depth. Age changes a lot, but the perspective that comes with it is the real kicker. Thinking about who you were ten years ago, along with what the world looked like ten years ago, can be sobering, depressing, and fairly bleak. But only in light of what’s happening today.

In the early ‘oughts, a time of relative social and political innocence, a show existed that felt incredibly real, raw, and explosive even in its campiness. If viewers didn’t take “The L Word” seriously as a slice of lesbian life, we took it seriously as a kind of signpost of progress. The fact that women were kissing, touching, and existing in front of the camera independently of the male gaze felt, and was, groundbreaking. It didn’t matter that the show was a glorified soap, full of thinly-sketched characters and improbable situations. It was what we needed, over-the-topness be damned. We greedily sucked up every overwrought, cliche-ridden episode. We even endured Max the angry transsexual. That was how big the cultural need was for a show that was actually made for and about queer people. 

Today, we’re a long way off from 2004 and its promise of a better world. Bush has been out of office for awhile, though his war rages on. Obama, the great hope of the 21st century, has come and gone. We live in a world that can’t count on a single person, show, or ideology to fix all our problems. In short, we’re doomed, and we know it. And that’s kind of what “The L Word: Generation Q” is about. 

Not on the face of it, of course. At first glance, “The L Word” reboot doesn’t really look like a soul-sucking echo of a once earth-shaking concept. It doesn’t look like everything that’s wrong and lost and unfixable about the present and the future. It just looks like a lot of fierce women sporting Wildfang and armpit hair. It looks like a body-positive ad for a new feminist underwear line. It looks like everything else looks on Instagram: kind of pretty and soulless and sad, the way advertisers make it look when they want to sell us something.

At the center of the new “The L Word” are a few old characters and a mix of new ones. We’ve got Bette Porter, the art world firebrand now divorced from “Mama T” Tina Kennard and running for public office. Alice Piezecki, the gossip columnist-turned-talk show host now reluctantly locked into motherhood, and Shane McCutcheon, the rakish hairstylist with a heart of gold (she’s rich now, and it’s not clear why.) Everybody else is freshly recruited, diverse, and fairly under-drawn. As in the old “The L Word,” everybody lives in an apartment that they definitely can’t afford, and everybody’s job seems fake. What we’re looking at is not the real L.A., full of sad queers and hustlers and miserable, exhausted P.A.s. It sparkles and looks passive and pretty, just like the cast. 

Watching this world unfold, an eerie, warped mirror of 2004, it reminds you of the crucial emptiness that always comes out of trying recreate a perfect–or nearly perfect–thing. The original “The L Word” had bite, at least. It was so ridiculous, so self-consciously itself, so willing to be about what it was about, that you couldn’t help but love it. This iteration, with its empty, Sorkinized speeches about homelessness and the opioid crisis, its glittering apartments, and its exquisitely quirky, desperately expensive fashion, doesn’t know what it’s about at all. We’re in a post-queer world. It’s not enough to be a show about lesbians anymore. Instead, we have to put up with shows that attempt to cover every aspect of the queer experience, losing any semblance of truthfulness or heart in the process.

“Generation Q” may not be “The L Word” reboot we wanted, but it’s the one we deserve.

Related Posts

California Trans Child Molester Gets 2 Years In Juvenile Facility

February 2, 2022

February 2, 2022

A Los Angeles County judge ordered Hannah Tubbs, a transgender California woman, to serve two years in a juvenile facility...

Homeless Initiative Meeting In West Hollywood

February 2, 2022

February 2, 2022

The City of West Hollywood’s Homeless Initiative works to address homelessness with a multi-disciplinary, multi-agency, collaborative response. It’s estimated that...

WeHo Premieres the ‘Moving Image Media Art’ Exhibition Series

February 2, 2022

February 2, 2022

The City of West Hollywood announces the premiere of the Moving Image Media Art (MIMA) program and the worldwide debut...

LA Street Will Potentially Be Named After Anti-LGBTQ Singer

February 2, 2022

February 2, 2022

A portion of Bailey Street may be renamed to the late Mexican Mariachi singer ” Vicente Fernandez Street’ – a...

WeHo Spreads Word About Free Covid Testing

February 2, 2022

February 2, 2022

The City of West Hollywood is reminding residents that free COVID-19 testing is available for them.  Demand for COVID-19 testing...

Green Qween New Queer-Owned Cannabis Shop Will Open Downtown

February 2, 2022

February 2, 2022

Green Qween, a new queer-owned and queer-driven cannabis shop, will open in downtown on April 20th.  The shops owners, Andrés...

2022 ‘WeHo Reads’ Series Celebrates the ‘Road to Joy’

February 2, 2022

February 2, 2022

The City of West Hollywood invites community members to celebrate literature and local authors with its 2022 WeHo Reads literary...

New CA Law Helps With Transgender Deadnames

January 18, 2022

January 18, 2022

A new California law requires public colleges to update diplomas and records for transgender students who have changed their names....

MJ Rodriguez, 1st Openly Transgender Actress to Win Golden Globe

January 18, 2022

January 18, 2022

Michaela Jae “MJ” Rodriguez has made history by becoming the first openly transgender person to win a Golden Globe.  The...

Animal Shelter Donations In Honor Of Betty White

January 18, 2022

January 18, 2022

Animal shelter donations have increased exponentially in honor of late actress gay icon and animal lover Betty White. Over the...

AIDS/LifeCycle 2022 Needs More Volunteers

January 18, 2022

January 18, 2022

AIDS LifeCycle is back with more than $4 million raised so far for the 2022 ride benefitting the HIV/AIDS-related services...

Long Beach Named One of the Best LGBTQ Cities

January 18, 2022

January 18, 2022

For the 10th year in a row Long Beach has been named one of the best cities in the nation...

Gay Wedding At Dodger Stadium

January 18, 2022

January 18, 2022

Eric Braverman and Jonathan Cottrell will exchange vows at Dodger Stadium. Showing the progress the LA Dodgers have made as...

LGBTQ Haven in Long Beach

January 18, 2022

January 18, 2022

Long Beach is quickly becoming more and more of a safe haven for LGBTQ individuals with its queer spaces exploding...

Gerrie Schipske Enters Long Beach Mayoral Race

January 6, 2022

January 6, 2022

Gerrie Schipske announced on Thursday, December 30th that she would run for Mayor of Long Beach this year. The second-term...