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An Interview with Marja Lewis-Ryan, Showrunner of The L Word: Generation Q

Marja Lewis-Ryan

The L Word: Generation Q Showrunner Marja Lewis-Ryan (Photo courtesy of Showtime)

In advance of the season two premiere of The L Word: Generation Q, I sat down with showrunner Marja Lewis-Ryan to talk about all things Generation Q, including the decision to bring Tina back and what we can expect from this season.

What was your relationship like to the original show?

I was eighteen when the original show came out. So I sort of came out with the show. And the show changed my life. Not just as a queer woman living in the world but as someone who wanted to do [what I’m doing now]. The idea that you could just tell stories about your friends really hadn’t been true. It hadn’t happened yet. So the idea that I could just tell stories about my own life, my own friends, and my own experiences was a game changer. It is why I’m here.

I think you did a really good job updating the show while keeping true to the original. What was your general approach to the reboot?

I think from the outside it still feels new, but I’ve been in it for so long that they don’t even seem different to me. The old characters, the new characters, they’re just lesbians and queers in Los Angeles. But the introduction was hard. It was hard to figure out how to introduce these characters when I knew that people were tuning in to see the characters that they loved.

What went into the decision to bring Tina back in Season 1?

I always wanted to have her back. But I wanted to wait. I wanted people to get involved and get interested in these new people before I started pulling out these tricks.

Any big guests planned for this season?

I pull out some tricks in season 2, don’t worry. Nobody comes back from the original in episode 1, but we do have a pretty big guest star in that episode. And we’ve got Rosie O’Donnell this season.

Would you ever bring back Rose Rollins who played Tasha? I recently heard her on the PANTS podcast saying that she wants to come back.

Oh, really? I love her. She is so lovely.

How is Season 2 different from Season 1?

The vibe feels very different to me. The main thing I wanted to do during Season 1 is to ground the show. Some people really love the camp of it, and I do too, to a degree. But I also just want to feel something. I want to feel like I’m watching something that I experienced or that I know somebody that has experienced. It is a show about connectivity to me. It’s about seeing yourself on television, and that doesn’t just mean what you look like. It’s about seeing your story.

From a filmmaker’s perspective, can you speak to how you worked to tell stories through a queer lens?

We spent a lot of time, both on the directorial side and on the writing side, thinking about how you actually force perspective. It’s a conversation that Joey Soloway really started having years ago about the female gaze and how to not objectify women while taking moving pictures of them. When you look back on the work that I love, even by women, it is often told from the male gaze and is super objectifying.

So we’re inventing it, and we are still figuring out how to make clear that it’s your scene or it’s Sophie’s scene. What picture does that? Is it a picture of her face or a picture of her shoulder? Are we above her or below her or are we square on? All of those questions really matter.

What is an identity you want to represent that you haven’t gotten a chance to yet?

There are so many. I have written a queer Korean character in like every script I have written in the past ten years, and I cannot get it made. But I am developing a show right now with a Korean American writer that I hope Showtime buys about a dysfunctional Korean American family.

If you need a refresher on everything and everyone that went down last season, be sure to check out our weekly recaps.


The second season launches Aug. 6 through streaming and on-demand for all Showtime subscribers before making its on-air debut at 10 p.m. Aug. 8.



Becca Damante
Becca Damante
Becca is a Smith college graduate with a B.A. in Women and Gender Studies and an Archives concentration. She has worked and written for non-profits organizations such as Media Matters for America, The Century Foundation, and GLAAD, and loves to write about the intersections between pop culture, politics, and social justice. You can find her at @beccadamante on Twitter.