Sunday night’s episode of The L Word: Generation Q featured a surprise guest: Megan Rapinoe, whom Alice (Leisha Hailey) introduces as “America’s gay sweetheart” as Le Tigre’s “Deceptacon” plays in the background. It’s about time the show’s reboot started peppering in some cameos; the original iteration of The L Word was full of them, starting off with Snoop Dogg in 2004 and capping off with Lucy Lawless in 2009. (Rumor has it that Paris Hilton was even once in talks to play Nikki Stevens.)
Now that Alice has her very own talk show, there are bound to be more in Generation Q. (Though we’re still praying to the new Gay Hot Priest that former series regulars like Pam Grier and Holland Taylor will also come back as guests.) In the meantime, revisit all that the new show has to live up to with a look back at some of Bette, Shane, and Alice’s one-time costars.
Snoop Dogg: season 1, episodes 8 and 9
Long before he started regularly appearing on TV with Martha Stewart, Snoop Dogg enjoyed a surprisingly lengthy stint on The L Word, essentially playing himself. Over the course of his stint as Slim Daddy, Snoop does exactly what you might expect: marvel at all the hot lesbians, and worship at the altar of the inimitable Kit Porter (and by extension the inimitable Pam Grier). Highlights include the scene in which he invites Kit into his limo and offers her a smoothie, and the scene in which he meets rival player Shane. (“It’s like some weird carnival mirror or something,” Dana remarks of the latter.)
Ariana Huffington: season 2, episode 1
“You know, I was at a dinner the other night and somebody said that dykes are the new fags. What do you think about that?,” Ariana Huffington apparently volunteered to ask Shane in 2005, the same year that she launched the Huffington Post. She was one of Shane’s first high-profile clients, which led to some confusion with Dana, who at that point was more accustomed to hearing about Shane’s sexual conquests than celebrity bookings. “You’re doing Ariana Huffington? She’s 50,” she says to Shane, who’s then forced to clarify that she’s doing Huffington’s hair, not Huffington herself.
Sandra Bernhard: season 2, episodes 2 and 3
Anyone who ever drags Jenny deserves a gold star, but none so more than Sandra Bernhard, whose character, Charlotte Birch, calls out Jenny’s “hubristic, overly precious bad puns” in front of her entire creative writing class. And yet, Jenny still doesn’t understand why she’s rejected from taking her workshop. Birch’s candid explanation serves as the closest Jenny gets to a wakeup call: “I want real writers in this class. Fiction writers. You don’t write like that. You journal,” Birch tells her, calling out Jenny’s “school-girl outfit” for good measure. “I’m not here to read The Autobiography of Miss Jenny Schechter.”
But that’s just the beginning of Bernhard’s glorious dealings with The L Word. On the occasion of Leisha Hailey and Kate Moennig’s guest appearances on a 2006 episode of Queer Edge that she co-hosted, Bernhard reflected on her stint as Birch. (It was her idea to play a straight person, aka “an S word.”) Mostly, though, Bernhard took the opportunity to deliver a scathing takedown of The L Word—and especially its creator, Ilene Chaiken—in general. “Listen, if I had my druthers, I’d come in and tear that thing from head to toe. Shambles. I’d shred the whole thing and start from scratch. Those girls from Betty would be back in New York, begging on the streets,” she says. (At the mention of the phrase “coke whore,” her rant briefly gets cuts off.) “I love you girls. You’re so talented. You should not be forced to have to recite dialogue like that,” she continues, addressing Hailey and Moennig. “My girlfriend and I watched it that night and we said, ‘Ilene Chaiken should be taken out and flogged and beaten’ … she’s a lunatic.”
Camryn Manheim: season 2, episodes 4 and 5
“What do you dress like? Are you the poster child for the under-nourished and gender confused?,” Veronica Bloom, played by Camryn Manheim, says to Shane before hiring her as her (miserable) personal assistant.
Gloria Steinem: season 2, episode 13
“What’s Gloria Steinem doing here?,” Jenny whispers to Bette at the funeral of her father (who, by the way, was memorably portrayed by Ossie Davis). Before Bette can answer, Steinem does so herself, telling Bette and Kit that she and Mr. Porter were friends. Later, at lunch, a members of Betty comments that she’s been trying to sleep with Steinem for 15 years, which leads to a mini debate about man-hating, feminism, and sexuality. “I like the penis,” Alice candidly weighs in, then apologizes to Steinem. “No, no, no, you don’t offend me—I like sex with men, too,” Steinem kindly responds.
Billie Jean King: season 3, episode 4
Dana can’t help but gush during an interview about sexuality in sports with her “hero,” Billie Jean King.
Sleater-Kinney: season 3, episode 6
“These sisters are bad to the bone,” Kit Porter tells the crowd gathered at The Planet to see Sleater-Kinney, who erupt into cheers as she cedes the microphone to Carrie Brownstein. (Unfortunately we don’t get to see the entirety of their performance, thanks to a very uncomfortable sexual encounter between Max and Alan Cumming’s Billie.)
Tegan & Sara: season 3, episode 11
The undeniable highlight of the bittersweet remembrances prompted by Dana’s funeral is Shane’s retelling of the night that she and Dana did acid and went to a Tegan & Sara concert. Still in denial that she’s tripping, Dana is shocked when she hallucinates that the iconic duo pause the show to out her. Initially, she’s outraged and paranoid. But there’s only one way for a mid-aughts lesbian to respond when Tegan & Sara personally call on you to come out of the closet: with glee. “She danced her ass off,” Shane reminisces.
Lucy Lawless: season 6, episode 8
By the time the series reached its final episode, the plot was so convoluted that even the writers knew only one person stood a chance at saving it: Lucy Lawless, aka Xena the Warrior Princess. Ostensibly out of respect for the lesbian icon, they spared Lawless from having to go deep into attempting to do the impossible— solve the mystery of Jenny’s death. Instead, her character, Sergeant Marybeth Duffy, simply tells the crew to come on over to the police station.