You’ve listened to me talk about this show for the last eight weeks, and now this week you’re gonna listen to me again but ALSO to other members of the Autostraddle TV Team and podcasting crew. Let’s kick off with two very important topics — love and/or sex!
Our Favorite “L Word: Generation Q” ‘Ships
One of the purest joys of a television program centered entirely on queer women and other trans people is that we don’t all have to root for the one queer character to be with Person A or Person B. There’s so many Persons to pick from and to match up with other People! Here’s who resonated with us:
Jordi & Angie / Andi
Carmen Phillips, Senior Editor: There’s one specific moment that sold me on this teenage love story. It’s in episode five, “Labels,” and Bette is bickering with Angie during morning drop off at school. Bette’s planning on getting to Angie’s school play extra extra early with Alice and Shane, just to get a good seat (we don’t know that Angie is only working crew yet, which honestly in retrospect just makest this moment more perfect). Angie tells her not to come, it will be embarrassing, probably because she knows that her Aunt and Uncle are going to scream their heads off and take flash photography during the between scenes blackout, which… of course they do! Anyway, Jordi is sitting in the backseat during this whole exchange. Bette asks Jordi what time her parents will get there, and Jordi downplays it. Her parents aren’t coming, but she promises that it’s no big deal.
Angie and Jordi gather their backpacks and get out of the car. Just before she pulls off, Bette gets a text from her daughter. Angie tells her that she can come, but for Jordi. Not for Angie. That quiet protective energy? Damn, it can move the world.
Drew Gregory, Writer & Podcaster: I think I’ve more than established across this website and the podcast that I don’t care what anyone says Tess and Jordi are both canon trans in my heart. And oh my while I often adore gay movies and TV shows about tiny cis queers getting to have the high school romances I was denied WOW does this one take that to the next level. Like on Euphoria, I relate far more to the cis girl than the too cool for school trans girl, but it’s still fun to watch queer girls fall for the kinds of people I fell for in high school but have that person be trans. And if it feels nice for me to feel included I can’t even imagine how it feels for a trans girl who is actually a teenager. Their romance is simple and sweet, but we don’t often get that and I’m so grateful for it here. Angie and Jordi are just two kind teens escaping their family dramas with the comfort they find in one another. Also their ship name is Andi.
Kayla Kumari, Writer (and L Word reviewer for The AV Club): Um real talk this might be the only functional relationship depicted in the series? I honestly don’t think I ship anyone else? I was on board with Shane and Quiara for a second because they’re extremely attractive together and Quiara seems to understand Shane in a way a lot of her previous partners do not, but I find the pregnancy storyline—and eventual miscarriage—to be sorta shoddy storytelling that renders them both flat instead of really digging deeper into either of their perspectives or even wants in the relationship (esp for Quiara who remains too underdeveloped over the course of the series). ANGIE AND JORDI MEANWHILE!!!!! I love these kiddos and their heightened feelings and their trouble making and their love for each other. It’s sweet but not at all corny. It has that high-stakes young attraction vibration to it that we so rarely get to see from a queer perspective on television.
Valerie Anne, Writer: Often on TV shows, teenagers are played by people in their late 20s and they’re having sex before they say hello and it’s all fun and hot and everything but it’s just not reflective of my own teenage experience. But this best-friendship-turned-into-something-juuuuuust-a-little-more is exactly what I always would have wanted if I Catholicism hadn’t locked me in the closet until college. It feels retroactively cathartic to see such a simple, joyful, friendship-based romance played by actual teenagers feels so fresh and necessary.
Natalie Duggins, Writer: Before Angie can find the words to tell Jordi she loves her, she shows up for her. Skipping school to hang out and vape, joining the stage crew of the school play, inviting her family to the play to cheer Jordi on. And then when — after some coaching from Quiara and Uncle Shane — she finds the words, Angie rushes to Jordi’s door, tells her how she feels and they share their first kiss.
I don’t know two teenagers ended up with the healthiest relationship on this show but they did. Everyone else could stand to learn something from them. Imagine if Dani were like Angie…and, even when she can’t find the words to tell Sophie how she feels, she shows up. What if Sophie had the strength to tell Dani how she feels? What if Finley communicated as candidly about sex as Angie does when she talks to Alice and Bette?
I wonder sometimes who we’d be without our traumas…of parents, of religion, of heartbreak. I hope we’d be more like Angie or Jordi but I suspect that wouldn’t make for very good television.
Analyssa Lopez, Podcaster: The only gay show with “teens” that I ever watched as a baby gay was Faking It, which premiered when I was 20 and in the throes of my first heartbreak over, of course, falling in love with my best friend. That show told me over and over that even if I tried to date other people I’d probably never be happy unless my best friend reciprocated, and guess what she probably never would! In this sense, Angie and Jordi feel like a balm to an old wound. When Angie told Jordi she like, maybe loved her, and Jordi said it back, I cheered like Shane and Quiara did, for all the baby gays who get to see that the chemistry they’re feeling between them and their best friend isn’t all in their head, that sometimes you get the girl, that sometimes you get to just be loved.
Riese Bernard, CEO: I think everything anybody could say has been said, but obviously I’m all in on Andi!
Sophie & Finley / Sinley
Riese: It feels just so fucking real. Sophie’s happiest when she’s with Finley, and I think has the patience and maturity to help Finley through her myriad emotional issues and baggage while also maintaining boundaries to ensure she’s not doing all the heavy lifting for her. Their friendship has been really sweet, too, and also really honest, on both ends! Both draw the line when they need to, and get close when they need to. Finley has kept Sophie in check when Sophie wants to register complaints about Dani that aren’t entirely fair, like Dani not coming to the hospital after she told her not to, or when she’s got some paranoia about Bette Porter. When Finley invites herself to be Sophie’s much-needed drinking buddy after Sophie’s had a hard day, Sophie’s fine to reject that invitation and call her sister instead, and Finley rolls with it. I think Sophie’s ambition and ability to get Finley to open up and be vulnerable is unrivaled. Their intimacy feels organic, their chemistry is palpable. If I’ve learned anything from television it’s that if they do get together, they’ll break up before Season Two ends — but I really hope that’s not what happens! I’d love to see what happens if these two best friends try to make it work for the rest of the series. I’d love to see them grow up together, to struggle and succeed and evolve and all the messy stuff of life. The current relationships on the show are ones we’ve not actually witnessed the early development of, and I think this would be a strong turn in that direction.
Carmen: When I first starting getting glimmers of Sinley, back when they got drunk at the bar in episode six “Loose Ends,” I wasn’t sure how I felt about it? In fact, I think I felt – to quote Finley – “swirly about it.” I loved Sophie and Finley as bros and I was unprepared (and unhappy) to see that change. Then, in the next episode, Finley shows up to the hospital with a tray full of junkfood snacks and arms full of hugs and it was all over for me. Finley, who we know has her own hangups and trauma about religion, offers to pray with Sophie because “it’s just us, that’s not scary” and I lost it. Then came the “What are you doing Buddy?” kiss and OH MY GOD HAS ANYTHING EVER BEEN THAT SWEET OR THAT HOT??
They are perfect. P E R F E C T. And if it’s not Finley that Sophie is running to in that airport, I’m jumping off the ledge Lost & Delirious style. The end.
Valerie: I don’t condone the cheating situation, but I can’t help but be drawn to the magnetic way these two got together. It felt inevitable. I think they’re a much better fit than Sophie and Dani, for so many reasons, but I think they bring out such good qualities in each other. Finley always makes Sophie laugh, Sophie makes Finley get out of her own way and be good without even trying. While they were planning their wedding, Sophie said she didn’t want to get married somewhere she felt like she had to keep her spine straight. But ever since their fight about the wedding, ever since Dani joined Bette’s campaign, that’s all Sophie’s done when Dani is around. Kept her spine straight, hoping Dani would notice her, hoping she wouldn’t shut down again, hoping her phone wouldn’t go off, hoping she’d stay. But with Finley she could breathe.
Alice, Nat & Gigi
Analyssa: I mean, come on. My deep attraction for Leisha Hailey, Stephanie Allyne, and Sepideh Moafi aside, I was so glad that Gigi’s presence in Nat and Alice’s lives didn’t turn out to be another infidelity storyline, and I loved that the relationship was born out of a messy drunk hookup but evolved to be real and meaningful and actually good for all three parties involved! Despite what Alice says to Roxane Gay, I really don’t believe she only participated in the throuple because she wanted to be a hip queer lady. Alice wanted to be with Gigi and Nat. She had a blast having that threesome. She loved the color-coded closets and skipping the soccer games and holding Nat AND Gigi’s hands in public. And it worked so well! Nat and Alice were never more likeable as a couple than when Gigi was also in the room. These three have so much chemistry together, it’s unbelievable. And it’s also unbelievable to me that the final straw for Alice would be two spoons in a tortilla soup. They could have lived happily ever after, if only they’d talked about what that would look like, for all three of them, together.
Riese: I’m not totally sold on Nat for Alice yet, though I’m very open to it — but I don’t think we got the backstory we needed to make their relationship really resonate. Plus, Alice just… doesn’t wanna be a mother. But Gigi is a great mother and I think adds a lightness to their relationship through which Nat and Alice have been able to find what they value about each other, and it’s just interesting to see an alternative relationship structure explored on television. I was disappointed by how this wrapped up in the finale (although it was definitely great for The Aloce Show’s future) but I’m holding out hope! Their sex scene was so hot! It’s definitely in second place for best sex scene of the series.
Dani & Pierce
Drew: Dani was at her funniest, hottest, and most on top of her shit when she was at work. That’s why I’m prescribing her a retroactive office romance. No, I don’t think she needs to top off with Bette Porter (though I would watch this happily). She should be with Pierce! They’re back-and-forth bickering banter was funny and charming and now that the campaign is over I’d love to see them reconnect and take that energy from the office to the bedroom or, I dunno, another office, I don’t know where they’re both going to be working. We don’t know how Dani identifies but I see no reason she can’t be bisexual. She needs someone who can call her on her bullshit with a smile and Pierce has shown he’s more than up for that job.
Rebecca & Tess
Valerie: HEAR ME OUT. I love Rebecca and the soft and emotionally intelligent way she talks and her patience and the way her eyes lock on someone when she’s talking to them and the way she smiles like she means it. But her and Finley aren’t right for each other. And I love Tess and her strength and her humor and how she’ll talk to someone like she’s known them her whole life even if they just met and how quick to smile she is. But her and Finley aren’t right for each other. And obviously neither her and Lena. SO WHAT IF we took these two amazing beautiful smart kind mature women and PUT THEM TOGETHER. Just a free idea from me to the writers of Gen Q.
Micah & Maribel
Riese: Since everybody else is offering free ideas to the Gen Q Writer’s room, here’s mine (besides my #1 idea which is “put me in the Gen Q Writers Room”): Maribel and Micah! I love both of these characters and the actors who play them SO MUCH and I’m excited just THINKING about what they could accomplish together. Plus, it ties both of them to other main cast members in more definitive ways, ensuring more screen-time for both. Maribel and Micah are both ambitious and successful, and I think Maribel could get Micah to chill out a little and Micah could provide Maribel support and understanding. Although she doesn’t need to be queer to date Micah, as a sidenote I would still like her to be queer. MICABEL 2020 y’all.
Our Favorite “L Word: Generation Q” Sex Scenes
One of the Hottest Topics around the reboot has been the undeniable authenticity of its sex scenes. So many small nuanced inclusions reminded us of things we never got to see in the original, which generally stuck to digital penetration as the primary lesbian sex act. In our interview with Marja and with the new cast members, it came up a few times that Gen Q wanted to do something different with its sex scenes — to break down sexual and body shame, to involve and respect consent, and to show genuine racial diversity.
Amongst the TV Team and podcasters, we’ve talked a lot about why it might be that these scenes feel so real, often realer than the original series. Our theories include: 1. An even larger percentage of behind-the-scenes people on Gen Q are women and trans. (The original had 20 episodes directed by cis men and 5 written by cis men, Gen Q has zero so far.) 2. Intimacy Coordinators.
3. More Queer Actors. On the original L Word, 48 of 99 sex scenes between two women involved at least one queer female actress, thanks almost entirely to Leisha Hailey and Kate Moennig, with a few more coming in hot from Alexandra Hedison, Lucia Rijker and Anne Ramsey. The number of sex scenes that included two queer actresses? SIX. Two from Shane and Molly (Clementine Ford), two from Shane and Paige (Kristanna Loken) and that threesome that involved both Shane and Dawn Denbo (Elizabeth Keener). Over a six year time span, Alice never once had a sex scene with another queer actor.
Without knowing everybody’s sexual orientation on Generation Q for sure, somewhere between 92% – 100% of Gen Q girl-on-girl (on girl) sex scenes involved at least one queer actor, and between 50% – 71% involved two. That’s a big up from 50% and 6%, respectively, and although I definitely am not in the “gay parts should be played by gay actors” camp (I think anybody of any sexual orientation should play whomever they want), that element of this show might also be part of why the sex scenes felt so specifically queer and so specifically real.
We also saw a lot more people of color having sex than we did on The L Word! 58% of all Gen Q sex scenes (including Micah’s three scenes) involved at least one POC and 35% had two; compared to 28% and 3.4% in the original series. (That 3.4 percent accounts for Bette and Candace, as well as Kit and Papi’s unsuccessful sex scene.)
Anyhow, here’s our favorites!
Alice, Nat & Gigi, 104 “L.A. Times“
Kayla: I alternated between screaming in abject horror at the self-sabotaging/impulsive implications of Alice fucking her girlfriend and her girlfriend’s ex-wife at the same time and screaming in delight at how fucking hot it all is. Gigi literally tops both of them at once throughout this gorgeously filmed sequence (I think Alice/Nat don’t work because they’re bottom4bottom sorry!). I’m a sucker for finger sucking, and I’m a sucker for spit, and while there isn’t overt spitplay in this sex scene there is an implied spitiness to it all DOES THAT MAKE ANY SENSE?
But absolutely honorable mention to the opening scene of the series. While Dani/Sophie quickly become a weakspot for the series (it almost feels like the writers were fighting about what to make this couple fight about), that sex scene—the fact that it involves cunilingus, the fact that it involves period blood, the fact that it is between two women of color—is very special, meaningful, and also very believable.
Valerie: I’m only human, after all.
Sophie and Finley, 108 “Lapse in Judgment“
Natalie: I tried to avoid picking this one, but as I cycled through the sex scenes — “It’s research for work!” I yelled when I was caught — I realized that there were sex scenes that I thought were hotter, this was without a doubt my favorite sex scene of the entire show. And, if I’m being honest, it’s probably my favorite scene of the first season, period. It’s less about the sex itself — though, good Lord, Rosanny Zayas *fans self* — than it is about what it represents.
“I don’t think I’ve ever had sober sex,” Finley tells Shane earlier in the series. “I need that liquid courage, you know? Or, like, I can’t even tell if someone’s into me.”
But in that dressing room, Finley is a different person. She doesn’t need alcohol…her heart is racing and she’s giddily high off this feeling she’s still too scared to say aloud. She looks at Sophie and she can tell. She knows Sophie’s into her and vacillates between really wanting her to and not.
And then there’s Sophie, who whispers “it’s just me” against Finley’s lips. She’s spent the entire season wanting to be enough for Dani — just her — but, seemingly, she never is. She needs Finley’s help saying yes to this thing that feels so good because she’s languished in her relationship with Dani for so long. Yes, it’s cheating. But how to do you begrudge her for reaching out to someone who genuinely and earnestly wants her…who never looks at her like she’s not good enough.
In this show, where character growth for the four characters we’ve known the longest — Bette, Tina, Shane and Alice — has been minimal, at best to have this sex scene with two new characters, so fraught with emotion and character development, feels like a tremendous revelation… and a really positive step for the show.
Riese: The queer sex happening on Generation Q has consistently felt more authentic than what we saw in the original, and none moreso than this one right here. It’s not glossy or overdone, there’s no suggestion of a male gaze. I could feel this scene in my bones. We know Finley’s never had sex sober, we know she only hooks up with “strangers and priests.” She’s terrified of actual intimacy. And here she is with somebody who knows her, who sees her, who has loved her for so long but didn’t understand the actual dimensions of that love until really recently. This is someone who could break her heart and this is somebody who’s life she could potentially destroy, too. For Sophie, the scene is much more fraught — a “never happening again” kiss has become actual sex, and REALLY GOOD SEX at that, despite the fact that she’s in a monogamous relationship with Dani, whomst she’s planning to marry later that same week. But she’s realizing that what she wants isn’t what she thought she wanted, either. The ease and chemistry between these two is palpable throughout. They can switch from fear to lust to joy lickity-split. It’s just me. Finley has never looked happier than she does in this scene, and Sophie seems more emotionally present than she’s ever been with Dani. They’re so playful and hot together.
I think I also related to this progression because I’m also a person who tended to have sex first and get to know somebody afterwards, and the first time I had sex with a longtime friend was in a way somewhat terrifying — they know me! We’ve talked about other girls to each other! THEY KNOW ME. But something more becomes possible in that knowing, if you’re willing to open yourself up to it. It’s someone who already accepts and loves you, not somebody you’re trying to impress. And it’s somebody you HAVE to be real with, you can’t hide from it. Also honestly “sitting on top of somebody on a couch while grinding with our underwear on” is a primary lesbian sex act and we don’t see that represented enough!
Drew: Choosing one sex scene was not easy. We can talk about the areas where Gen Q can still improve, but the sex scenes are not one of them. I could fill two hands with noteworthy sex scenes and at least one hand with sex scenes that made me actually scream. Speaking of hands, one of the reasons the sex this season was so stellar was its specificity in both act and emotion. The best sex scenes – like the best action scenes and musical numbers – function both as standalone feats of choreography and heightened moments to move story and character forward. Honorable mention shoutout to the threesome and to the messy Tess/Finley tryst, but the best sex scene of the season was saved for the finale: Sophie and Finley.
Nat and Gigi, 107 “Lose It All”
Analyssa: Look, I’m not happy about this sex scene eventually leading to the demise of the throuple. Let’s just get that out of the way now. But! The way these two look at each other between kisses. The way everything they do feels urgent without being frantic or sloppy. The fingers in mouths and the hands around necks and the gripped thighs! These are two very hot people who have missed each other for a very long time and would like to have very hot sex about it. I love that for them, and for me! Sorry Alice.
Sophie and Dani, 101 “Let’s Do It Again”
Carmen: Sophie and Dani are absolutely not right for each other, and we all know it. So I may be the only one who picks this sex scene as my favorite. I’ve been struggling with how to write about this without seeming pervy, which isn’t my intent, but I don’t know if (or when) I’ve seen brown breasts and brown nipples framed as beautifully, in broad daylight, during sex on a television show. The one other example I’m stretching myself to remember? The woman had small breasts that didn’t hang with weight like my own. There’s a lot of ways that we internalize body shame around what we’re “supposed” to look like and for queer women, the original L Word did a lot of hurt around that, with the majority of its cast being stick thin and white in ways that my body never will be. I learned a lot of how queer women have sex from watch original L Word clips on YouTube, but I never got to see myself in them.
The showrunner about what it was like to film that scene for actress Rosanny Zayas, specifically that “she knows the power of her brown skin on that screen. None of that is an accident.”
The opening scene between Sophie and Dani is hot, but it’s also rare in ways that we often still overlook. And that matters. (The fact that’s period sex on top of it? Babbbyyy, the category is realness and Generation Q came to play.)