The L Word: Generation Q
The L Word: Generation Q’s second episode makes three things abundantly clear: Shane McCutcheon will own a lesbian bar in Los Angeles before season’s end — maybe even by next episode — Finley will probably bottom out there, and sometimes less is more.
Let’s start with Finley. Kudos to the show for addressing alcoholism/addiction within the queer community, assuming that’s what is being conveyed by her many shots and “I’ve never had sober sex” dialogue. I hope that what’s happening here, and that the show does some appropriate repositioning of the conversation around alcoholism and recovery in the queer community. My only memory of substance abuse being addressed during The L Word prime’s run was through Bette’s as-yet-unaccounted-for-in-the-revival sister, Kit Porter. Kit was one hell of a character, Baby Girl, but given that queer folks are more likely to struggle with substance abuse and addiction, and given the preponderance of queer-oriented recovery centers and 12-step groups, her alcoholism and recovery being so outside every other character’s experience was odd. A more realistic show would have more characters ordering soda water with a lime at the Planet, maybe even being offered a “friend of Bill” (or Lois) discount on that pear polenta tart.
Sidebar: I miss Pam Grier on this show.
At any rate, I’m curious to see how Finley’s storyline continues to progress. So far we know she’s got lots of roommates offscreen, and her level of actual friendship to Dani, Sophie, and Micah isn’t clear. She’s around a lot, but we haven’t seen her have a real conversation with anyone yet. We have seen her respond to someone telling her she’s beautiful while in the throes in exactly the same way I do, with a guttural, knee-jerk “NO.” (I’m working on that.)
Actually, conversation-wise, things are pretty light across the board on Generation Q so far. We’re only two episodes in, and getting us back into this world is admittedly a heavy lift, but so far, there’s been so much place-setting action that the characters haven’t gotten much chill time together. Even Sophie is like, “Uh, Dani, what do you mean you got a new job without telling me? That’s strange.” And it is. At this admittedly early stage, the show is churning through so much introductory plot that we haven’t been able to actually spend some time getting to know these characters.
So let’s get that plot out of the way and just sum up where everyone is this episode: Finley is staying at Shane’s sold-the-salon-in-Paris-fancy house, Shane is dodging divorce papers and fielding interest from an already-partnered bartender — a couple Shane will likely buy the bar for — Alice is trying to figure out her place in her girlfriend’s kids’ lives and enjoying a casual sick day with her girlfriend’s ex, Sophie and Dani have an engagement party in the public space outside their apartment but don’t invite Shirtless Neighbor, who just went on a date with Micah, or seemingly any other neighbors. Plus there’s a man trying to write for Alice’s show and, obviously, men are bad at writing. That’s why I am doing these recaps. Also, speaking of men — Micah is a top!
Amid all of these moving parts, though, are a few moments that have real resonance, beginning with a beautiful scene wherein mayoral candidate Bette visits the Los Angeles LGBT Center to speak with, and listen to, queer youth. Jennifer Beals is always worth every single cent she’s being paid, whether she’s pulling down that bucket of water or delivering her lines with emotional intelligence, and this scene is no exception. It’s cool as hell to see a political figure, even a made-up one, speak about queer trauma from a place of personal experience. Queerness isn’t, after all, an issue; it’s a lived identity, and a culture. So if anyone on Pete Buttigieg’s campaign is reading: Show him this scene. Or if anyone from Elizabeth Warren’s campaign is reading: Make sure Pete doesn’t see this scene. And if anyone from Joe Biden’s campaign is reading: You know about The L Word?
We get another resonant character moment between Micah and Shirtless Neighbor when they’re in the pool, post-date, and S.N. asks Micah some questions about whether he was into guys before transitioning. Micah swims away after stating that discussing his pretransition life makes folks squint at his face, looking for signs of what he looked like before. This struck me as a particularly brave thing for Leo Sheng, the actor who plays Micah, to say on television. An audience is watching him tell someone how people watch him; it’s vulnerable. No idea if Sheng’s actual experience matches up, but it was interesting to witness.
And the sex scene right after was sweet, if too short. Don’t give me that Call Me by Your Name cut to the tree, TLW! I would like to see full sex to orgasm, and yes: between two men. Why do you think I watched Queer As Folk? So far in this series, the cuts and pans feel like they’re a bit before what I want to see, which brings me back to my earlier point about not seeing enough about who these characters as people. I want to see the talks between friends, and I want the sex scenes between lovers to be as drawn out and detailed as the period sex that opened the pilot. So please, episode three: Slow us down a bit. Gimme more time to like these new folks. Or gimme back Pam Grier.
• Does the show think pot is a big deal or not a big deal?
• Angie is my favorite character. I like her eyerolls. I like her constantly saying fuck. I like her five blue pieces of hair and her cute crush on Jordi.
• I honestly like Alice and Gigi together. We’ll see!
• Shane has special muscles. We saw her boxing in the first episode and in this one, she judo throws a drunk bar patron to the floor. There’s a bouncer nearby, but Shane is the actual thrower of the drunk fellow. I can also see Shane with my eyes and she seems a bit small, like she would not be boxing or throwing strong, and yet, I am proven wrong again and again. Shame on me. (“Shane! On me.” — me buying Shane a soda water with lime.)