My friend in the States told me recently, and on good authority because her sister is a filmmaker in Hollywood, that a new series of The L Word is in the pipeline. I checked our UK press and she’s right – in July 2017 news of an L Word reboot was all over the mainstream papers and queer press. Who knew they’d revive it after it slid into that preposterous whodunit metanarrative of Jenny’s life-imitating-art and vice versa storyline?
The portrayal of writers in the show really got my goat but that wasn’t the worst of it. In the La La Land of The L Word everyone had designer clothes, immovable hair and pitch-perfect eyeliner. Even the shit-poor characters looked like they’d just stepped out of a fashion shoot. Over the course of the show no one struggled to pay their bills and when they had sex it was mainly by the edges of their own swimming pools, or in stretch limos, or on the roof of the Chateau Marmont. As one does.
It’s easy to rip into it, because The L Word got a few things wrong (things that I won’t go into here), and when I went back to it before writing this, I wondered how I’d feel about it today. It’s a gloriously camp lesbian soap opera, simple as. I can just suspend my disbelief for an hour and glory in the mad wonder of it all. The women-centred drama still seems important and I didn’t realise it at the time – because I was so busy adjusting to seeing lesbians on the telly at all – that it’s really funny and self-deprecating. It was a mainstream ground-breaker when Showtime first released it in 2004, seven years after Ellen’s coming out episode, and for all its flaws I have a fondness for it that endures.
If the news reports are reliable, familiar faces – Bette, Shane and Alice (where’s Kit Porter in the list?) – may act as bridge to a new set of characters and storylines. I am curious to see how the writers and producers will tackle today’s political and cultural landscape – and, if nothing else, it will be nice to see it back on our screens. So, for all your wonderful flaws L Word, I for one look forward to your return. Let’s just hope they’ll invest in a new theme song.