For Kate Moennig, getting to play lesbian icon Shane McCutcheon across two decades feels like a privilege. Now that she’s getting to do it again on the second season of The L Word: Generation Q, which airs its first episode this Sunday, August 8 on Showtime, she feels like one of the luckiest people in the world.
“It’s a privilege to be part of something that impacted people’s lives, and the fact that Showtime wanted to bring this back after we’ve nudged them for so many years to do so was a gift,” she tells Out. “And then we managed to create a really beautiful season this year, within a pandemic, and that’s no small feat.”
She really feels lucky to be a part of the project, and even luckier to get to play this character since it’s the first time in her career that she would say her own character is her favorite on the show she’s on.
A big part of why she loves it is her co-star Jamie Clayton, who plays Tess, the sober bartender who runs Dana's. “I can talk about Jamie Clayton all day long. I'm her number one fan,” she says. “And we had such a unique, amazing working experience this year because chemistry is a funny thing. You never know where it will come from and you never know if they're going to sync up with the other person you're sharing the screen with, and Jamie and I, we just fused together organically.”
“Tess, Jamie's character, does not fall into Shane's charms, that's one of Tess's strengths,” she adds. “I think that's actually a really great balance for Shane because Shane is used to people making it easy for her and Tess doesn't. And so you're always sort of drawn to someone who holds you accountable and holds that mirror up and says, ‘Actually, look at what you do and who you are.’”
But it’s not only Shane who’s learning new things about Tess. Tess is going to be surprised by Shane this season as well. “I think Shane surprises Tess with not being all that Tess assumed she was,” Moennig says. “And she's not what Tess assumes she is. And because of that, there is misunderstanding and miscommunication, but these two are very much on the same level. It's just a matter of getting communication clear so that they're being honest with each other.”
Moennig says that in season two, Shane’s history is her albatross. “I actually enjoy seeing where this character wound up 20 years later and to see her become an adult and become responsible,” she says. “And I think that's what this season is about for her, actually, in a lot of ways and how she's trying to surpass her reputation from her younger years. I think that's something we all sometimes do, consciously or not.”
Shane isn’t the only one looking back. Moennig herself is taking a deep dive into the history of her character, as she and fellow L Word star Leisha Hailey are starting a podcast where they recap the original series. They’ve just begun rewatching the show, but Moennig says she’s surprised at how much she’s enjoying it.
“I can actually sit back from a removed position and just watch it with a new set of eyes,” she says. “Actually, Leisha and I, we find ourselves laughing so much at moments and the characters because there's a lot of funny bits that we completely forgot about. It's wild. That's what surprises me most. I thought I would maybe not enjoy it as much as I am.”
For the rest of us who can’t wait to see Shane’s growth, The L Word: Generation Q returns this Sunday, August 8 on Showtime.