“The L Word” Reboot: Lots of Bette, Shane and Alice, a “Little Browner and a Little Less Cis”

It’s all happening: Showtime has announced its eight-episode reboot of The L Word and Ilene Chaiken has spoken and now Lesley Goldberg at The Hollywood Reporter has sat down with new showrunner Marja-Lewis Ryan for her very first interview about the show. It’s a long one! Lots of details! But still lots of mystery!

Just for one example, in terms of mystery, both Goldbeg and Ryan seem to be operating under the incorrect impression that “nobody liked Jenny,” a theory that has been challenged repeatedly by this very human on this very website! But that’s not the main thing; what Ryan seems to want to get across most to her new audience is that she grew up watching the original show, just like the rest of us, and she understands what made it great and also that it needs to be “a little browner and a little less cis” (and with trans actors playing trans characters). That’s very good news, and she backs it up by noting that she started her search for writers by reaching out to Lena Waithe and then name-checked Vida, one of the absolute best queer shows on TV last year, and one whose cast and writers room were made up entirely of Latinx folks. (And also, to be honest, the first show to ever really challenge The L Word in terms of very, very sexy lesbian sex on-screen.)

There were a couple of things that really surprised me about this interview: 1) That people are still treating Jenny this way! 2) That Ryan is hoping Jennifer Beals, Leisha Hailey, and Kate Moennig will be in all eight episodes. I had assumed they’d be in one or two at most, to introduce us to the new cast, and then be on their way. 3) That the writers room will be made up of all LGBTQ writers, with one exception: Ryan’s longtime assistant. 4) That Ryan is hoping to get back to the show’s season one fun and soapy roots — “the feeling of that good cringe” — which is a relief. And 5) That Ryan might actually solve the murder mystery season six was built around, even though Ilene Chaiken herself doesn’t know whodunit.

Besides the answers to those burning questions, Ryan talks about how she moved cross-country in her early 20s to live inside IRL TLW and try her hand at becoming Bette Porter, after realizing how impossible it is to be an actual Shane. She’s got a wife and a baby on the way, so she’s kind of doing it! And she chats about how she got this job, her first meeting with Chaiken and subsequent meetings with Beals and Hailey and Moennig, and what she thinks those characters might be up to ten years after they were all arrested for killing Jenny in the series finale.

You can read the whole interview at The Hollywood Reporter. (Also, Marja, if you’re reading this: Call Riese!)

Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle managing editor who lives in New York City with her partner, Stacy, and their cackle of rescued pets. She's a member of the Television Critics Association, the Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer critic. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Heather has written 855 articles for us.