The L Word, which aired from 2004-09, was a groundbreaking series about a group of lesbian friends in Los Angeles as they navigated the challenges of life, romance and career. For an entire generation of queer women, The L Word was the first time they could see themselves represented on a major television network. From watch parties to fan clubs, it was an historic and culture-shifting moment.
Now, Showtime has the series slated for a reboot this fall with the official title, The L Word: Generation Q. In even more exciting news, three members of the original cast—Jennifer Beals (Bette), Leisha Hailey (Alice), and Katherine Moennig (Shane)—are not only returning as part of the on-screen cast, but are executive producing along with the original creator Ilene Chaiken. However, despite becoming a cult classic, the original The L Word missed the mark in a lot of ways. Most specifically, women of color either felt left out of, or misrepresented by the series. Frequently, the WOC characters included on the show played up to stereotypical tropes and left much to be desired. One key example is the soldier Tasha (Rose Rollins). Many were excited when the character Tasha was introduced as she was the first reoccurring masculine of center character on the show, but the joy was fleeting once it became apparent that the character was one dimensional with limited personality or range of emotions, most acute when addressing the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) policy. She was usually depicted as always the soldier and rarely the human. This also played into the strong Black woman trope of always being able to endure.
In the spirit of the highest hopes that this next iteration will learn from the mistakes of the past, here are five web series that The L Word: Generation Q should be inspired by.
1) New York Girls TV (NYGTV)
NYGTV places at the forefront the experiences of queer women of color in the heart of New York City. What makes this series so special is the ordinariness of it. The web series highlights what it means to be young professionals in the city while also striving to maintain healthy relationships—both familial and romantic—and the sometimes messiness and drama of trying to balance it all. The series also never shies away from addressing social justice issues that reflect current happenings in society. With some television series presenting NYC as a beacon of whiteness, it is refreshing to see WOC at the center of the story.
2) Between Women
Between Women is somewhat of an originator in the realm of Black queer web series. Originally debuting in 2011, the web series accentuates the happenings of queer women in what some have lovingly coined “the Black gay Mecca,” Atlanta, GA. The series is transformative in that it often tackles issues that are sometimes overlooked in discussions of the LGBTQ community, such as domestic violence, co-parenting and the ramifications of infidelity.
3) Entangled with You
As a web series, Entangled with You often stands out for its well-developed plot and seamless humor. The series follows the main character as she explores her sexuality after being cheated on by her boyfriend and becoming roommates with a lesbian. Though the premise may sound a bit cliché, the series demonstrates its brilliance in the nuanced way that the pair are able to build a true friendship and support each other in navigating the challenges of romance and life, while also addressing the bias against bisexuality.
What is life without true friends to help guide you through it? That’s the premise of Studville. The series features a group of friends with varying degrees of maturity and emotional intelligence. However, whatever area one may lack in there is always a support system in the others to make up for the difference. Also, a character on the series encounters the divine and subtly calls the viewer to question how God is portrayed in popular culture.
This series stands out in its premise and tone. Studworld focuses on an aspiring rapper who hasn’t been dealt the easiest hand to play in life. Despite the daily challenges, the protagonist is self encouraging, optimistic and determined to succeed. The series also introduces “stud on stud” romance in a way that is natural, unstigmatized and beautiful to see.
Photo: Getty Images
Porscheoy Brice is an editor at Shadow And Act. She is also the editor-in-chief of msmalcolmhughes.com. She is a Chicago, IL native strategizing in Washington, DC. In the words of the genius Jay-Z, she is “Pretty, Witty, Girly, Worldly; One who likes to party, but comes home early.” You can follow her on social media @msmalcolmhughes.