Showtime renews 'The L Word: Generation Q' and 'Work in Progress'
Both shows are led by mostly LGBTQ casts and work to bridge the gap between different generations of queer characters.
Jennifer Beals as Bette Porter in "The L Word: Generation Q."Hilary Bronwyn Gayle / Showtime
By R. Kurt Osenlund
“The L Word: Generation Q” and “Work in Progress” will be back for second seasons later this year, Showtime announced Monday. In addition to being renewed, both series will be expanded to 10 episodes. The announcement comes on the heels of the shows receiving GLAAD Media Award nominations.
“The L Word: Generation Q” premiered last month, a decade after the original series left the air. The reboot reunites fans with returning stars Jennifer Beals, Leisha Hailey and Katherine Moennig, while introducing them to new younger cast members played by the likes of Jacqueline Toboni, Arienne Mandi, Rosanny Zayas and, perhaps most notably, rising star Leo Sheng, a trans male actor who plays trans male character Micah.
As “The L Word” series creator Ilene Chaiken told NBC News last February, she contacted Showtime Entertainment President Gary Levine in 2016 with the idea to revive the lesbian drama. In the midst of other projects and an exclusive deal with Fox, Chaiken recalled telling him: “I don't think I should do it. I think we should find some fabulous and gifted new young lesbian who still dates, knows what's going on in the world and has something new to say about the experience of being a lesbian and living our lives.”
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This led to Chaiken to hire writer/director Marja-Lewis Ryan, 33, to step in as showrunner of “The L Word: Generation Q,” and the result has been a series in which two different generations of queer people share their experiences of love, work, success, loss and joy in modern-day Los Angeles.
While the new series has sapphic history and a built-in fanbase in its corner, “Work in Progress” is an entirely new creation without any household names attached. Born from the minds of the Chicago improv duo Tim Mason and Abby McEnany (who plays a version of herself in the leading role), the show's pilot made a splash at Sundance last year, before it went to series with Mason as writer/director and Lilly Wachowski (“The Matrix”) as co-writer and executive producer. The bittersweet, Chicago-set comedy stars McEnany as Abby, a middle-age lesbian who's planning to take her life until she sparks up a romance with Chris, a young trans man played by trans nonbinary actor Theo Germaine (“The Politician”).
Like the new iteration of “The L Word,” “Work in Progress” thrives on sparking dialogue between different generations of queer people, and in an interview with NBC News last month, Germaine, 27, discussed the informative value of that.
“I felt it had a necessary balance that made it be for the community and also a little educational,” Germaine said. “That's something that made me feel really good about the project.”
Jeremy Blacklow, director of entertainment media at the LGBTQ media advocacy group GLAAD, said the success of these programs proves “there is an audience for these stories, and it's only getting bigger.”
“Showtime has a long and incredible track record of allowing queer people to tell their own stories. When this happens and networks trust LGBTQ creators, the result is authentic and impactful content that truly reflects the lives of the LGBTQ community,” Blacklow told NBC News. “It’s also a huge victory that both shows have prominent characters who are trans men, played by actors who are also trans men, a part of our community that is so often erased.”
R. Kurt Osenlund is an award-winning editor, writer, creative director and producer. He is the former editor of OUT Magazine, and is currently a contributing editor for Playboy. In addition to NBC News, he currently contributes to the Observer and Los Angeles Magazine, among others. He lives in Brooklyn with his husband.