I almost called Jennifer Beals “Bette” three times during our interview—but it’s not my fault her character from The L Word, Bette Porter, is so iconic. Plus, I’d be lying if I said Jennifer and Bette didn’t share similarities: They’re articulate, well-spoken, and fiercely opinionated, and both carry huge “step on me” energy. After a 10-year hiatus, the groundbreaking lesbian show returns to Showtime Sunday as The L Word: Generation Q, with Bette Porter—err, Jennifer Beals—at the helm.
“I’ve always loved Bette Porter,” Beals told me. “Even in her worst moments. I love her.” On the original L Word, Beals costarred with Laurel Holloman as the show’s leading lesbian couple, Bette and Tina. A decade later Bette and Tina have long split, but their child—now a vaping, class-cutting, possibly queer teen, Angie (played by newcomer Jordan Hull)—is front and center, alongside a slate of new queer cast-members and two other familiar faces. Katherine Moennig returns as lesbian legend Shane McCutcheon, and Leisha Hailey as the loquacious fan-favorite (or maybe just my favorite) Alice Pieszecki. The trio teamed up with The L Word’s trailblazing creator, Ilene Chaiken, to bring the Showtime drama back to life.
“Kate Moennig, Leisha Hailey, and I initiated the idea of the idea of the return of the show because we were really confident that something would take its place right after the show went off the air, because it was so successful,” Beals said. “But nothing did.” She added, “Certainly, shows like Orange Is the New Black,, around that time, occupied that space. But shows that we think of now, like Pose or Transparent, all came considerably after The L Word went off the air.” Beals pointed out that, when the original show was airing, things were very different for queer people; mainly, same-sex marriage wasn’t yet legal.