Almost as immediately as news broke that The L Word‘s reboot was finally, actually happening, it reignited the conversation about how the series could “atone for the sins” of its past. (Among them: its treatment of transgender and bisexual individuals, class, and race.)
Thankfully, the cast of the The L Word Generation Q, which premiered on Showtime on Sunday, is devoid of cis actors playing characters who are trans. It’s also notably more diverse, thanks to a whole crew of younger, fresh faces who’ve joined the familiar ones of Bette Porter (Jennifer Beals), Alice Pieszecki (Leisha Hailey) and Shane McCutcheon (Kate Moennig).
There is still plenty of sex, and the show’s interpersonal intimacies still drive it. Which is why these recaps will take the form of snippets of Alice’s legendary OurChart, tracking how each of their storylines intersect. (And not just sexually—no offense, Alice.) Here are the relationships that defined the pilot.
Dani and Sophie
Just because the cast doesn’t look the same doesn’t mean the show’s signature Stendhal syndrome-inducing sex scenes were about to become a thing of the past. But they will be a bit racier than usual, from the look of the vignette that kicks off the pilot between two of the new (and, yes, diverse) faces: Sophie Suarez (Rosanny Zayas), a producer on Alice’s show who is dying to get engaged, and Dani Nùñez (Arienne Mandi), a Young Urban Professional caught up in a personal and professional crisis. Dani eventually does get around to proposing—though perhaps only out of spite towards her boss (her father), who cuts her off when she starts to fill him in on her plans to get married to the woman he insists on calling her “friend.” Oddly enough, if Dani’s politics bother Sophie, she doesn’t show it. For some reason, it doesn’t seem like Dani would have filled Sophie in on her day of coaching a pharmaceutical exec on how to answer the media’s questions about his son’s overdose—regardless of whether or not they got engaged.
Bette and Angie
Angie, officially no longer a baby, is now a rebel in a school uniform who skips class to vape and dyes her hair blue with Manic Panic. (They grow up so fast!) As we learn from one of her many phone calls with Tina (who sadly won’t be joining the show’s reunion), Bette is perfectly confident that Angie can handle a school play and 14 AP classes. Angie, in turn, deals with Bette’s neurotic ways, such as by turning her phone off so that Bette can’t track her down. Unfortunately, that doesn’t stop Angie from seeing the flood of breaking news notifications when Bette—the first openly gay candidate to run for mayor of Los Angeles—is accused of having an affair with a former married employee. “Do you know how humiliating it is to be your daughter?,” Angie yells after slamming the door of her bedroom. She threatens to move in with Mama T, which Bette counters with a threat to tell Mama T that she was “vaping pot.” And, just like that, they compromise. Public cheating scandal and electronic smoking apparently forgotten, they close out the episode by cozying up in her bed together to share earphones and watch Netflix. Aw.
Dani and Bette
Here’s hoping that every Gen Q-er’s relationship with the original trio plays out like Dani and Bette’s—letting the former shine and the latter deliver one of the classic performances we know and love, like a cutting, self-righteous takedown from the inimitable Bette Porter. Filling in for her father, Dani takes his meeting with Bette—and quickly makes the mistake of underestimating her, downplaying the fact that the company invests in the production of opioids by playing up their investment in prosthetics for wounded warriors. “I’m not buying what you’re selling,” Bette tells her. “Do you know why I’m running? Because of people like you.” But she isn’t finished with Dani just yet: “While I might understand the willful ignorance of a straight white man, I’m having a hard time understanding how you could turn a blind eye. So I guess what I really want to know is, how the hell do you sleep at night?”
Cut to a sleepless Dani taking a seat in the audience of Bette’s appearance on Alice’s show, her face electrified (there’s that Stendhal syndrome again). By the end of the episode, she’s professing her undying (professional) love for Bette: “You ask me how I sleep at night. Well the truth is, I don’t. I am damn good at my job but I want to work for someone I believe in. And I came here [to Bette’s office] today because I believe in you.”
Shane and… Her Wife?
Fresh from shutting down the international branches of her ultra-successful salon, Shane returns to L.A. via private jet. Naturally, she hooked up with one of the flight attendants, and naturally, she isn’t ashamed of inquiring about the wellbeing of Alice’s mom—another former flame—over breakfast with her and Bette. (A moment of silence for The Planet; even if Pam Grier isn’t returning to play Kit Porter, they could have found a less swanky spot than The Line’s café.) In other words: She’s looking very Shane today. And then, the show throws a curveball that’s unprecedented for the likes of Shane: when Finley asks her who texted her, prompting her face to sour, she casually drops the fact that she has a wife. This mystery, which is clearly far from solved, is apparently named Qiara.