Generation Ex: 9 Chaotic Queers on Their Decision to Watch “L Word: Generation Q” With Their Exes

When I first put out a call on Twitter for folks who will be watching The L Word: Generation Q with their exes, I could not have anticipated the sudden onslaught of queer chaos that hit my DMs. This is not just a trend — but a movement. Some folks I talked to said they’ll be watching with exes, some with their current partners’ exes, some with exes who they’re still hooking up with. What a rich tapestry of messy queer life.

Olivia, watching with their ex and their ex’s new girlfriend

Why are you watching The L Word: Generation Q with your ex and their new girlfriend?
Because we’re not only all close friends, but we also all live together. (The cat that my ex and I rescued together will be in attendance, along with our respective dogs that we each have adopted post break up.)

Is this an episode of The L Word?
It absolutely is, as is most of my life.

Mallory, watching with her ex

Who are you watching The L Word: Generation Q with?
I will be watching with my ex, who I am still sleeping with and eating pasta with on a semi-regular basis.

Did you two watch the show together when you were dating?
She had watched it since high school and introduced it to me when we were dating, and I hated the first episode so much I almost gave up on it. But then we watched it all together and loved it/loved to hate it. We broke up and then reconnected before watching the finale because the last season was so horrendous we couldn’t ever manage to get through it.

Was your reconnection tied to the experience of watching the show together?
I’d say no, but it was one of the first things we did when we were together again.

Do you think that the show might dig up old memories and emotions for both of you?
I’d say probably not. I think we’re in a place where there isn’t much left to dig up. I think if anything, it will solidify our friendship, regardless of the status of our relationship.

Dylan, watching with her ex, who lives across the country from her

So you’re going to watch The L Word with not only an ex but a long-distance ex?
I am the messiest, and my ex-girlfriend and I are definitely going to long-distance watch it together. We use one of those programs where our screens sync so we can watch at the exact same time. And then are also on the phone together.

What do you remember about the original experience of watching the show together?
We began streaming The L Word together just as we were evolving from friends to friends-that-hooked-up to full-blown relationship. I had recently ended a LTR with a man (due to being too gay), and was in the process of fully coming out beyond my small social circle. She had watched the show for the first time as a baby gay with her college girlfriend and was eager to indoctrinate me into the world of terrible lesbian television. I remember after the first episode looking at her and saying, “So I’m clearly a Jenny.” And her laughing and retorting back with some version of “Just you wait. You will totally hate her.” We spent that fall and winter drinking boxed red wine, shrieking at the television in delight and disgust at the twists and turns as we binge-watched for hours, often having to pause and debrief over the absurdity (or problematic nature) of what we had seen.

What’s your relationship with her now, and how did you decide that you’re going to watch it together long distance?
She and I are friends now that live on opposite ends of the country. We’ve found the easiest way to stay connected is to periodically watch (often comically terrible) gay content together, drinking, making commentary, and laughing over it—just like we would if we were in the same place. Watching The L Word reboot together wasn’t even a question. We texted each with links when the news broke that it was coming back and the day the trailer came out.

If you had to compare you and your ex to two exes on the show, who would it be?
My gut answer is Alice and Dana because I was so crazy when things first ended but then it got back to friendship when we needed it most, but I feel like there’s some dark death implications with that.

Mikayla, watching with her ex

Who specifically are you watching The L Word: Generation Q with?
My ex (that I’m hooking up with again).

How did you decide to watch the new series together?
We were joking around about which of our mutual queer friends were similar to characters from the original show, and she mentioned that a new trailer had come out for the reboot. So we watched it and realized that it might be fun to watch if we’re still fucking around when it comes out!

M., watching with her ex T.

So you’re one of the many folks planning to watch the show with an ex…go on.
When you posed this question on Twitter, my first instinct was, “what a cliché.” And then I was like, “oh wait, this does apply to me! Shit.”

What is your relationship with T. like?
Our relationship ended about five years ago, but we’re still really good friends. And we’re both single at the moment—don’t know how someone would feel about us watching the show together if either of us were in a relationship. My best guess is that it wouldn’t go over well.

What were your initial experiences like watching The L Word?
I know for a fact that when The L Word first came on, it was one of the biggest catalysts to her realizing that she was gay. Unfortunately, she had a hard time accepting it. We were each other’s first real loves, and our relationship contained all the passion and excitement and messiness that comes with first-time love. It was often a struggle for her to accept her sexuality and, sadly, it affected our relationship (it wasn’t the only thing, but definitely a factor). Now, she’s much more comfortable with herself. We’ve been through a lot together and we’re closer now than we were when we were dating. I think the new L Word is like a full-circle thing. We’ve both grown and matured so much over the years and watching now as seasoned lesbians will be a much different experience.

Your relationship with each other has changed, so do you think your relationship with the show has changed, too?
I definitely think so. I remember when I first watched it, I was really so interested in Dana’s story (and so was my ex) because she seemed to be just beginning to accept her sexuality. And some of the more mature relationships on the show, I didn’t connect with as much, because I hadn’t experienced it. I mean, it was still hot as hell. But it’s one thing to watch something and another to really have gone through it. But as I got older, I started to connect with the other stories on the show, and that was just a matter of having had those experiences.

Caroline, watching with her girlfriend…her girlfriend’s ex-girlfriend…and her girlfriend’s ex-girlfriend’s girlfriend

Oh wow a lot to unpack here. So you’re friends with your girlfriend’s ex-girlfriend. I’m trying to conceptualize this in terms of the show…it’s kinda like Jodi and Tina hanging out.
Haha yes, it’s like if Jodi and Tina became good friends through Bette and then maintained a friendship apart from Bette. For example, my girlfriend isn’t big into reading for fun, but her ex Morgan and I are, so we’ll like go to a Jia Tolentino reading just the two of us.

And then Morgan’s new girlfriend is part of the crew, too?
All of us are good friends, so we do weekends away just the four of us. I guess that would be like Jodi and Bette and Tina and whoever she was dating then (Henry?) going to the beach together.

Mariah, watching with her ex’s new partner

For clarity: You’re not watching with your ex but you ARE watching with your ex’s new partner?
Yes exactly! And without my ex there. I met her new partner at a mutual friend’s wedding we all attended, and we ended up in a corner discussing The L Word (because of course).

So this would be like Tina and Jodi just chilling watching the show without Bette.
Yes. And scary, as my ex is very similar to Bette personality-wise, so spot on.

WOW, your ex is a Bette who refuses to watch the show. Seems very Bette actually.
Like so many who have come before her, she’s a short-haired queer who definitely would self-identify as a Shane and would not understand it’s a compliment we call her a Bette….ya know?

So are you and your ex’s new partner are going to physically watch it together in the same space?
That’s the plan. Considering on going in together on a Showtime subscription.

Megan, watching with her ex Gabby and her ex’s new girlfriend

What was your experience watching the original together like?
She is actually my first ex and the one who showed me the original L Word to begin with. She showed it to me my freshman year of college when I was falling in love with her and coming out at the same time, and she told me it was necessary viewing. She actually gifted the first season DVD box set in a “how to be gay” package for Christmas that year. Other highlights included Old Spice deodorant and a rainbow bracelet that I wore for like year. We used to watch it in her bed together freshman year “as friends” before we officially got together. She showed me the episode “LifeCycle” first. And, “LifeCycle” was the first episode HER first girlfriend showed her. Life cycle indeed haha.

So you knew going in that Dana was going to die?!
Yes I suppose I did! Although I don’t remember that impacting my first watch, and it certainly didn’t keep me from falling HARD for Dana immediately. She is still my fave character to this day. I do remember relating really hard to Molly’s speech to Shane about graduating from AP gay to PhD gay. I felt that hard in my baby gay heart, and I still reference that speech all the time.

Do any of the characters remind you of your ex?
During my first watch, I feel like Shane made me think of her, but I think it was just because I was infatuated with both of them in that moment. Now, there are just certain random scenes that make me think of Gabby every time I rewatch. Things that we commented on together or noticed or turned into an inside joke that I rediscover when I watch it again.

If you had to compare you and your ex to two exes on the show, who would it be?
I guess I’d say Dana and Alice, because even though it was really rough for a while post-breakup, they ended up being there for each other in the end anyway. Like, some kind of a friendship still survived after everything, even if it wasn’t the best ending.

And now you’re gonna watch the new series with not just Gabby but also her new gf?
Yes! Gabby and I have been broken up for about three years, and we’re good friends now, and I’m planning to watch it with her and her girlfriend and my current girlfriend because we are extremely gay. We’re gonna make sure one of us has a Showtime login and gather every Sunday night to watch together.

Gabby, watching with her ex Megan

I just spoke with your ex, and she told me that when you introduced her to the show you had her start with “LifeCycle.” WHY?
Oh! Well. Three reasons: A) It was the first episode that my first girlfriend showed me (by happenstance—she just so happened to be on that episode in her first viewing); B) It’s my favorite episode (see A); C) Molly, my forever fave

I didn’t know there were Molly fanatics.
We are few but mighty.

Did you circle back to the beginning of the show after that?
Yeah, for sure. I was worried she wouldn’t love the first few episodes (because, I now realize, I made a fatal error in attempting to show it to straight friends in high school, and they were decidedly unimpressed by episode one), so I started with my favorite. But she loved it right away! I mean I think it was half loving it, half enjoying having an excuse to “platonically cuddle,” but. We’ve all been there.

Who are YOU watching The L Word: Generation Q with? Also, if anyone reading this gets back together with their ex as a direct result of watching the show together, you’re morally obligated to tell me.

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Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya

Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya is the managing editor of Autostraddle and a lesbian writer of essays, short stories, and pop culture criticism living in Orlando. She is the assistant managing editor of TriQuarterly, and her short stories appear or are forthcoming in McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, Joyland, Catapult, The Offing, and more. Some of her pop culture writing can be found at The A.V. Club, Vulture, The Cut, and others. You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram and learn more about her work on her website.

Kayla has written 870 articles for us.


  1. Would totally do that if the new L-word was on Netflix (which my girlfriend and I share an account on with my ex and her new girlfriend. Acquired post break-up. Because lesbians.)

  2. This post! Among the attendees at the watch party my wife and are hosting: my best ex/BFF and her wife, a high school crush and her girlfriend, and a former dating partner of my wife’s. You think you’re one way, but then it turns out that you’re just like everyone else.

    • The easiest one is to use the chrome extension Netflix Party–I couldn’t recommend it more highly, but as the name implies it only works for Netflix.
      For non-Netflix co-streaming, my recs are: Gaze (which works for youtube videos) or Rabbit (which works for basically anything but can be a little slow/buggy).

  3. Wow. Wow. Wow. Just, wow. I can’t believe you actually outdid yourself because you’re already probably the funniest writer at AS…yet here we are.

  4. I liked to think that I perfectly crafted my l word watch party invite list to have just the right amount of dyke drama but now I’m thinking that I need to invite all my exes who still live in the same city as me just to further enforce that

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