The announcement that The L Word was greenlit to return to Showtime after a decade off the air was met with mixed response by fans. Years ago, young people like me were just excited that a show centering only queer women would even air on television — it seemed nearly inconceivable at the time. These feelings soon dissolved, as it became apparent the characters weren’t representative at all. Each week the show played out as a soap opera, chock full of cheating, heaps of emotional and mental instability, and probably the worst depiction of a trans person and trans narrative on an LGBTQ-written show. And yet I still watched religiously — what else was there?
Some of the original cast, Bette (Jennifer Beals), Alice (Leisha Hailey), and Shane (Katherine Moennig) are confirmed to return for the reboot, with others potentially making a comeback. It has me thinking about how starting over and completely recasting the show could help make it more representative of the queer community. While opinion of the show remains divided among its viewers, I think we can all acknowledge it failed to present nuanced characters of color (though hiring writers Lena Waithe and Roxane Gay who have each expressed interest, might help). Though the idea of a sequel brings back many — mostly painful — memories, I’ve reimagined what the show could be by dreaming up my own updated L Word cast.
While Tessa could easily portray a biracial art director for a prestigious museum from an affluent family, I could imagine she’d also bring Bette’s character down to earth, fully embodying a black power femme, and revealing the inequalities gay, black women are subjected to on a daily basis.
There was something special about Dana. She was the athlete struggling to come out to her mother. She was the awkward woman finding her tribe and learning where and how to exist in her community. She was also that one friend who literally did not know how to flirt or what to do during a date. Samira Wiley could easily fill Shane’s shoes, but I much rather she portray a humorous and awkward Dana.
Could you imagine a quirky, intelligent, high-spirited woman who just happens to be trans AND bisexual? Funnily enough, I could name several women, including Jen Richards who has played a queer woman on the hit youtube series, HerStory. And as previously mentioned, The L Word could do better at portraying trans narratives
Hear me out! Jenny was in a “cis het” marriage, before she stumbled upon her queerness while falling in love a woman. She realized, Oh shit, I'm not straight!, subsequently divorced her husband, dated women, dated men, dated both simultaneously, literally lost her mind (yet another character the show depicted as mentally unstable), became the worst and most hated character on the show, and was then killed in a dramatic final season of who done it. I think it’s safe to say we all wanted her to… disappear, and we still want to know who murdered her. Lindsay Lohan had a very public fall from grace. If the show does decide to bring back Jenny, let’s just say this wouldn’t be a major reach for Lohan.
Max was also the first time any of us, including a trans person like myself, saw a trans narrative on screen. But a bold first move certainly doesn’t mean best, and in Max’s instance, it was the worst. Max was introduced to the show’s clique and to viewers as an outsider because he and his gender were “different.” Adding insult to injury, he became yet another character depicted as mentally unstable, with the focus placed on his medical transition, which was also unrealistic. The show also failed to show how Max’s character gained any privilege as a white man and continued to dehumanize his existence because he was trans. I could go on, but I think it is fair to mention, if the writers wanted to reveal the inequalities a trans man experiences, he should have most certainly been black. Smith, though, could easily bring his own personal experiences to The L Word.
Outside of Jenny, Tina was, for me, a difficult character to care about or just simply like. Tina was excruciatingly bland, but if Showtime decided to revive Tina’s character, Sarah Paulson could definitely add more spunk to her personality.
Kit was always the cool aunt, that we wish was our IRL Auntie. In Kit, I found the loving and accepting mom and family I always desired. Yes, she was always down with the latest, but there was more under the surface. Kit’s ability to open up her heart to love whomever, regardless of gender or presentation, moved me. If Kit’s character was rebooted, we need our favorite Auntie, Queen Latifah FOR THE CULTURE!
Indya Moore is more than just an actress or model. She an activist, speaking up for silenced voices, and speaking publicly about her experiences as a Afro-Latina trans woman. Indya embodies everything Carmen, the show’s one main latinx character, should have been. Yet instead, Carmen was, unsurprisingly, reduced to her “spicy’ temper and beautiful looks, as most Latinx characters in media are portrayed. She was
Her touch was sweet, her gaze was seductive, and her charm was undeniable. She wooed 13-year old me right along with Jenny, by Marina’s allure. I was devastated when she was written off the show. Although I wouldn’t replace the actor from the original, if anyone else could play her role with same grace, the beautiful Portia de Rossi is fitting for a woman with so much class.
The potential for Tasha’s character was largely neglected — she was trumped up to be an angry, black woman whose blackness was minimized in an interracial relationship. But, I do think these mishaps can be salvaged. On-screen representation for a butch, woman of color is low and necessary. Sara Ramirez, a masculine-presenting, self-identified bisexual woman could bring much to the table and the show. Now that’s a story I would watch.
Related | 'The L Word' Sequel Will Premiere on Showtime By the End of 2019