The L Word—the massively popular 2000s Showtime drama series about lesbians in Los Angeles—is coming back. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Showtime just gave the sequel the green light for its new season, which will pick back up in the same sun-kissed queer world of the original, only this time with a contemporary crew of new characters that have tie-ins to the lives of some women from the original series.
The original show became the guilty pleasure of people across the spectrum during its run from 2004 to 2009, when it broke new ground for lesbian representation on television. Gone were the days of seeing lesbians as token characters adding brief color to someone else’s story. The L Word gave viewers an array of front-and-center lesbian characters and invited audiences to see facets of their lives rarely seen on TV as they navigated love, sex, friendship, and, of course, a bunch of deeply messy drama. The show wasn’t perfect, raising eyebrows at the time—and in retrospect—from fans who wanted to see even less stereotypical characters, and more diversity in just about every arena (gender, race, class, body type—you name it). But importantly, the show depicted a community of lesbians, allowing folks who felt isolated to live vicariously through a world in which lesbians were everywhere.
The show’s team seems well aware that they’re going to need to upgrade their sequel. Original creator Ilene Chaiken is back as executive producer, along with original actresses Jennifer Beals (who played Better Porter), Katherine Moennig (Shane McCutcheon) and Leisha Hailey (Alice Pieszecki). But the show has added Marja Lewis Ryan, the executive-producing showrunner who, hopefully, can lend some fresh perspective to the series.
“Marja has brought her unique and contemporary vision to The L Word and blended it beautifully into the fabric of Ilene’s groundbreaking series,” Showtime president Gary Levine told Deadline. “This revered show was both entertaining and impactful when it originally ran on Showtime, and we are confident that our new version will do that and more in 2019.”
It goes without saying, but a lot has changed in the lesbian community between the 2000s and now. As The L Word’s title suggests, being proudly out of the closet was still taboo when the show aired, and many of the show’s fans were tuning in privately themselves. But now, there are more popular shows with leading queer characters—from Orange Is the New Black to Queer Eye—and some of the stigma has lessened, which means the sequel has to do a lot more to push the conversation forward than just put a handful of lesbian characters front-and-center.
California’s vibrant lesbian community has continued to grow and make noise since The L Word went off the air, maintaining a certain fantasy-land lure within the queer community. In 2010, a reality show spinoff about lesbians in LA, The Real L Word, took off at Showtime, running for three seasons until 2012. Meanwhile, popular YouTube vloggers and Instagram influencers in LA’s queer scene like Ari Fitz (AKA Tomboyish), Hannah Hart (My Drunk Kitchen), and Amber (from Amber’s Closet) have built massive followings of queer people around the country eager to live vicariously through their lifestyle. There’s still no word on when The L Word will drop this year, but—for as groundbreaking as the original might have been—here’s to hoping we see a new kind of queer LA reflected on screen when it does.
Sign up for our newsletter to get the best of VICE delivered to your inbox daily.