Jennifer Beals Is Stepping Back From “The L Word,” Deepening Our Collective Mommi Issues

Episode 302 of “The L Word: Generation Q” saw Bette Porter (Jennifer Beals) making a bold decision to move to Toronto with Tina despite not being in immediate possession of a suitcase, a passport, a work visa, a 6-ounce clear plastic bottle of Prada cologne or sensible airplane shoes — and Jennifer Beals has now confirmed that while she will appear again in Season Three, she won’t be present in every episode of the season or, seemingly, in every (or any?) episode of any future seasons, should those take place. According to Ash Silver, she’ll be back for Episodes 9 and 10 but out for the rest of the season.

In an interview with UPI, Jennifer Beals revealed that she will be “making space for other stories” because “the whole point of The L Word: Generation Q was to tell these new stories.” Which is true!

According to UPI, Beals will receive the “ninth credit in the ensemble,” thus moving beloved actor/musician/podcaster Leisha Hailey up to Number One. Beals also is pursuing other projects, such as a film set in India inspired by the Tollywood film RRR which Beals says was “a paradigmatic shift for me in terms of what filmmaking can be.”

Bette Porter is definitely the show’s most popular character, which could mean a rough road ahead for a show that already lacks a guaranteed future, despite our collective affection and desire for it. The original series was centered on Bette and Jenny (Ilene Chaiken has sad in interviews that Jenny was an avatar for her younger self, and Bette for her grown-up self), and Jenny is sadly dead. Bette and Tina’s reunion was also an opportunity to explore the nuances of a long-term relationship between two women in their fifties, which has been one of the more relatable elements of the show for many audience members.

“They were introduced as this functional couple that lived in West Hollywood and were having a baby. It was so aspirational for us,” showrunner Marja Lewis-Ryan told The Daily Beast. “Maybe that’s why we feel so invested in them, because it was the first time we were able to see a future for ourselves that made sense.”

Although this is definitely a loss, I’m hopeful about the space this opens up for Alice, Shane and the new Generation Q characters and I look forward to getting to spend more time with them. It’s also nice to have Leisha Hailey, a queer actor who’s been out since the jump, hold top billing on an iconic queer television show. As a central character from the original and the reboot, Bette’s story has already been given a lot of time and attention.

The character who seems in the most prime position to fill a Bette-Porter-shaped hole in our hearts is Gigi (Sepideh Moafi), who I’d definitely love to see moved to a more central position in the story. That said, fans are nervous about her future because it appears her and Dani are fighting in the Season 3 trailer, and unlike other couples fighting in the trailer, Gigi is not already connected to other characters through work or living situations. However, despite the end-of-302 car crash, she appears alive and relatively unscathed in already-released photographs from Episode 303.

Presently, imdb still has Beals and Moafi listed as appearing in every episode this season, although it seems clear that Beals will not be appearing in the next two episodes, at least.

I will be responding to the news of Bette Porter leaving me in the only way I know how: creating an art installation called “Core,” about the core values of love, loyalty, honesty and commitment.


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Riese

Riese is the 40-year-old Co-Founder and CEO of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in California. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3003 articles for us.

38 Comments

  1. Odd that they revived a storyline that had already wrapped. Bette already left everything she knew and followed/went with Tina to start a new life together in New York. Her parents were very dead. Bringing her mother back as a plot point for some unearned/redundant character development wasn’t necessary.

    I also don’t think the showrunner had much of a vision for Bette, I suspect because she doesn’t really have a good understanding of the character.

    It was tragic to see Bette retconned as some kind of loose canon (bombastic bully) who’d tear off a sobbing teenager’s head or be so unaffected by the stuff she went through with Tina in the original series that she learned nothing from it at all over the past 15 years.

    Good for Jennifer Beals. If I were here, I’d flee the horror of this show too.

    Gen Q is what emerges when you bury The L Word in the Pet Sematary.

    • They screwed this show up. We complained about the original series, but now watching this one, I’m very appreciative for the original. Of bette and tina were going to end up together this could have happened last season rather than cram it into two episodes then we get them again for episode 9 and 10. They knew from jump this couple was the heart and sole of the couples as well as the show yet they still screwed it up. It’s ok the have drama but sheesh let them stay together ans worl ot put like normal married couples. The writer always think more drama means rhr more we tune in. Nope not with this series. This could have been the proper example of what gay couples truly look like. Glad to see them back together, but I guarantee you JB pressured them to make it happen so they could get what they want and we’ll as the fans. It’s a shame but without bette there’s no L word let alone gen q. They might as well go ahead and cancel this show as soon as episode 10 airs. We would love to see Alice and Shane, but they even screwed their storyline up so there’s no point in them either. The others are a bore

      • I think dumping the entire original cast, except Angie, would be the move. Alice is an emotionally stunted middle-aged ladychild and Shane has had no growth since she left Carmen at the altar.

        Give us new characters making new mistakes.

    • Absolutely. I commented with a similar take below. There’s too much about this show that grinds my gears to really get into the stuff that I liked. I feel like the og characters kinda lack the same voice that Chaiken gave them, and are sort of weird caricatures.

    • The only reason I even watched GenQ was with the hope of reuniting Bette and Tina and to view the other OG characters this is the only Showtime show I watch so once B&T are gone so goes my Showtime account and any thoughts of watching Gen Q they need more talented actors and these except Gigi and Dani can go home

  2. I haven’t even been watching Gen Q (it’s weirdly hard to stream in the UK) but apparently Bette Porter still holds such a significant place in my heart that I yelled NO aloud on reading this headline

  3. Bette is obviously iconic but I’m not mad about this, there are a lot of characters to juggle and maybe there will be more room now for other stories to breathe. However, I assume that this means that Pippa isn’t coming back for more than just a moment, if at all, and that’s definitely disappointing because several recap commenters have shared how meaningful it was to have a dark-skinned Black character with some depth and complexity on the show.

    • Agree 100%. Bette’s racial reckoning ended up being a huge (sad trombone) and this show still has a lot of work to do re: telling Black stories. But thank goodness there are other outlets out there for telling Black queer stories. It’s fantastic to have more choice!

    • 100% Correct

      The way the writers handled the Pippa Bette storyline makes it clear that Black lesbians can’t look to The L Word/L Word Generation Q for representation.

      How does Bette’s character grow so much under Pippa’s influence only for Pippa to be inexplicably shipped off to Johannesburg and without any explanation of what happened to Pippa and Bette’s very real, very healthy relationship?

      Both series have suffered throughout by very poor writing and continuity.

  4. As somebody who always wanted Bettina to get their act together, I’m into this as a way for new characters (Gigi!) to get more in-depth stories. This way, it can be their happy ending, and we don’t have to watch more cheating storylines etc. I just wanted them to be happily ever after for soooooo long, and at the end of s6 it didn’t quiiite seem so happy with the whole murder and nobody going to therapy thing. So, new bette for the win! La La La I’m sure she’ll always forgive ppl for crashing into her car and never have any more strife with Tina ever

    As always, thanks for the solid updates

  5. Devastated to lose Bette, but so happy that she’s leaving on this note, with an ending that Jennifer and Laurel agree with. MLR and JB/Ilene seem to have different understandings of Bette, and MLR struggled to write her character some in S1 and very much in S2 imho.

    I don’t think JB closed the door on LWGQ – I take it as she’s officially saying she’s taking a step back, but if there’s a season 4 (which is unlikely tbh), there’s a decent chance she and Laurel will pop in an episode or two. JB didn’t actually say depart in any of the interviews I saw.

  6. Crazy to think about, but I actually think many of the other characters are ready and very capable of taking up the central mantle! Shane and Alice are of course iconic, but I also genuinely love Gen Q and would love to see those characters more explored – especially characters like Sophie and Finley and of course Perfect Human Gigi, whose backstories we’ve gotten hints of here and there, and are played by such strong actors!

    And if JB has been so hellbent on a Tibette endgame, I’m glad it’s over with and in the past now!

    • Agree 100%.

      Shane and Alice are already more integrated with the new cast via workplace as well as social ties, so I think it will be interesting to see how the Gen Q characters and story lines blossom without the gravitational force of Bette (who I do love) and Tibette.

      I did not at all foresee Bette and Tina basically exiting after ep 2, but that makes me even more excited to see how Carrie reenters the space of the show!

  7. Jennifer is right; this is Gen Q. We’ve had a big focus on the OG trio, which has been honestly amazing. When I think of The L Word, it’s Alice, Shane, Bette. And then yes, to a lesser extent the remainder of the cast but these three are icons for a reason.

    However when you’re trying to introduce new characters, it’s difficult to give them the full attention they deserve if we’re constantly going back to Bette, Shane and Alice. In some ways, having such a focus on the OG trio has been detrimental. We would have a much better connection to these new faces if we’d been given more time. Using the OG cast was the hook, it shouldn’t be the line and sinker too.

    • yeah — and honestly I liked 303 and 304 better than 301 and 302 (i’ve got screeners and thus have already seen them), and i think part of that could be that we were able to spend much more time with the other characters!

  8. Even though we knew this was coming, seeing the headline made me very sad. It will be hard, but I’ll keep on watching and trying to support the show, because I still think there’s nothing else quite like it. I just wish it was better in so many ways, but I’d rather have a crappy show than nothing at all.

  9. Honestly, good for her. This show is kinda tragic in its lost potential. An L Word reunion had a chance to be very good and there was so much room to improve on a dated but charming show from the aughts. Call me a Bernie bro, but it’s so clear how the milquetoast centrist politics of the show runner and writers made the whole thing a rather jumbled mess. I have a lot of love for the og actresses and the new cast seem like they could be great, but I barely made it to the end of season 2 and haven’t been able to get far with even the first episode of season 3. To each their own, but it’s a no for me on this show.

  10. I like Gigi. I wonder what they will do with all the characters that worked for Bette, specifically Dani’s character.

    Semi-related anyone think that Mia Kirshner(Jenny) watches Gen Q or does she want nothing to do with this show.

  11. Riese,
    I super appreciate the shout out! I just wanted to add that according to a few of my sources JB/Bette’s voice will appear in an episode on the phone (I am assuming on the phone to Angie). This of course could always end up on the cutting room floor but thought people might want to know.
    Again really appreciate you shouting me out, means a lot!
    Ash

  12. Im currently rewatching L Word OG and I’m starting to realize that **extremely cringe** is at the core of the full series and its wild that GenQ is a level up in all the chaos. 😂

    All that being said, I was sad to see the headline too and share the wish that GiGi’s fine a** gets a denser storyline instead casted aside for br[yite]r characters storyline.

    I actually do hope this gets a season 4 we deserve subpar dramas too gawd damn it 😂😂

  13. I am keen to see Angie enjoy college life at a distance from her moms, and also to have Carrie re-enter the picture outside of the Bette/Tina dynamic. Honestly I would adore it if Carrie had stayed in touch with Angie even after she called things off with Tina, because I feel like that kid could use some grounded people in her life.

  14. Jennifer Beals is wonderful, but I’m relieved that less Bette moving forward will (hopefully) mean fewer Black characters being sacrificed at the altar of propelling a single plot point for Bette. Kit and Marcus deserved better, and I didn’t want to see Pippa or Kayla or a dayplayer get offed just so that Bette could…idk have a reason to buy the Citizen app and crash it as a protest or whatever.

    Happy for all the Tibette shippers that have something of a happy ending, happier for Angie almost-Portard, who probably already has a callous developed from the last time a parent abruptly left town, and surely can get any last-minute parenting she needs from either Uncle Shane or whichever dining hall worker she sees most consistently.

    I am glad we got at least one more good, classic “Fuck” yelled by the best to ever yell it.

  15. On a positive note – can’t wait to hear you on The Pants Podcast with Leisha and Kate, Riese! Loved hearing them chat about you/Autostraddle and praising you when I tuned in to the new episode this morning! Made my day!

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