There’s often a bitterness implied when a person calls someone “Boomer.” It’s immediately considered an insult; a dismissal of their experience or overall point of view. While this prevails on social media, we also see it replicated on series like the “Saved by the Bell” reboot and Netflix’s “Blockbuster,” a sitcom that makes mocking anyone above age 30 its entire personality.
So when Showtime announced a few years ago that it was returning to the world of “The L Word,” its groundbreaking mid- to late-2000s drama centered on lesbians in Los Angeles, and uniting its OG cast with a young new cast, there was plenty need to be concerned.
For one thing, the original series, as progressive as it remains in many ways, is very white. It also has an antiquated portrayal of a transgender character. So the potential for the writers to have the younger characters on “The L Word: Generation Q” throw snarky remarks at their older counterparts or transform them into a couple of out-of-touch quacks (like “And Just Like That...” did) was very, very high.
But “The L Word: Generation Q,” helmed by showrunner Marja-Lewis Ryan, has never done any of that. It also has a fuller representation of queerness.
Now entering its third wonderfully textured season on Sunday, it gives its original characters ― played by Jennifer Beals, Kate Moennig, Leisha Hailey and Laurel Holloman ― the grace to still be flawed and deeply human, to acknowledge their shortcomings and be open to learning.
And refreshingly, they have honest conversations and friendships with the millennial cohort, among those played by Rosanny Zayas, Arienne Mandi, Jacqueline Toboni and Leo Sheng. They even exchange advice; a simple, common thing you’d expect in real life that is almost totally lacking on television.
The second season gives one of the best examples of that. Finley (Toboni), a fun-loving, young bar worker, is struggling with alcohol abuse and her partner Sophie (Zayas) helps coordinate an intervention for her. Sophie brings together everyone who loves Finley, including Shane (Moennig), Alice (Hailey) and Micah (Sheng).
It’s not just the fact that this gathering represents a spectrum of generations coming together for a shared cause. It’s also a difficult, heartfelt and earnest conversation that includes various voices, perspectives and personalities.
These characters don’t always agree and they all make mistakes, but there’s respect between them that makes it easier for them to coexist and root for each other.
Season three of “Generation Q,” even in just the first four episodes made available to press, has that same effect. We see it with both the personal and professional friendship between Sophie and Alice, talk show colleagues who lean on each other when they need it most.
Like when Alice asks Sophie’s advice about rejoining the dating world after cutting ties with her on-again, off-again former partner Nat (Stephanie Allynne), opening the door for a very intriguing romantic possibility with a certain “Chasing Amy” star.
Or when Finley, fresh out of rehab and striving to make amends, sits down for a heart-to-heart with Carrie (Rosie O’Donnell), Tina’s (Holloway) ex, who recently suffered an alcohol relapse.
In a moment of much-needed release, Finley also has a pretty incredible water fight with bar owner Shane, who in many ways is her older and just as messy counterpart, while the two try to help Shane’s partner, Tess (Jamie Clayton), set up a new business. (This scene is very funny and wild until Tess shows up, rightly pissed).
There’s also on-again partners, a noticeably less Type-A Bette (Beals) and Tina, navigating the reality that their daughter Angie (Jordan Hull) is all grown up and in college — and dishing out her own Gen Z relationship advice in which her moms find value during a sweet moment.
Even before then, Shane, who can’t seem to help but create disorder in even her healthiest romantic relationships, is happy to sit down and help unpack some of Angie’s relationship woes.
As complicated as these unions occasionally become, there’s a necessary mutuality reflected. And it’s so seeped into the DNA of this sequel series that you don’t even consider taking a step back to really admire it. It’s just there.
But that’s not all “Generation Q” has going for it, though it is certainly one of its virtues. Even with its extra large cast of characters, none of them feel shortchanged. Keeping with the essence of the original series, they’re all looking for love, some semblance of life and career satisfaction in remarkably disparate and significant ways.
Micah and his girlfriend, Maribel (Jillian Mercado), have an honest — and quite necessary — conversation about whether they can and should move forward with having a baby after Maribel sprang this on him (and honestly, the audience) last season.
Meanwhile, hella Type-A PR executive Dani (Mandi), Bette’s obvious counterpart with whom she also works, attempts to enter a fragile relationship with realtor Gigi (Sepideh Moafi) that takes a very unexpected turn.
While it makes sense in some ways that these characters would coalesce on a show that has unflinchingly focused on the lives of queer people in the City of Angels, it’s still bracing to see people across generations actually have conversations with and not at each other.
And to watch these characters ― including one from the OG series this season ― hash things out whenever one does fuck up and hurts another’s feelings. It’s the humanity and vulnerability from both parties that grounds those moments, because they’re not laced with nastiness.
These are characters that, yes, occasionally steal another’s romantic partners (I may never get over Finley breaking up Dani and Sophie) and crush their hearts or get on each other’s nerves because they don’t do the thing they really should be doing or saying. But one of the things “The L Word: Generation Q” does get right is showing their intentionality. And with that, their heart.