It wouldn't be a new season of The L Word without problems. Just ask Kate Moennig and Leisha Hailey, a.k.a. Shane McCutcheon and Alice Pieszecki.
Season 2 of The L Word: Generation Q, the highly anticipated reboot of Showtime's groundbreaking early-2000s lesbian drama, premieres this Friday (August 6). The road to this point had one major obstacle: the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which delayed production and kept fans on the edge of their seats after last season's cliffhanger finale even longer than planned. But the cast and crew bubbled up to film in late 2020, and shooting occurred without a hitch, according to Moennig and Hailey.
Ahead of Friday's premiere, NewNowNext caught up with Moennig and Hailey to chat about all things Gen Q, including what their beloved characters are up to this season — and if Hailey thinks Alice should have been put in charge of COVID-19 contract tracing after all. Read our full chat below.
Thanks for chatting with me today, you two! First things first, can you talk a bit about what your respective characters are up to at the start of Season 2?
Leisha Hailey: In a nutshell, Sam, Alice writes a book and so through that process, she realizes she hasn't dealt with a lot of things in life. I think she likes to just keep moving forward and having fun and experimenting with things, but sometimes you have to deal with some hard things. So through the writing of the book, she realizes a lot of things she needs to think about.
Kate Moennig: Well, as you see in the first episode, Shane is dealing with the aftereffects of whatever happened in the finale. So she's in the midst of trying to find her way again. And I think this beautiful friendship is starting to form that is unexpected, and this new venture that is going to lead in different directions is unfolding.
I love Shane's budding relationship with Tess (played by Jamie Clayton).
Moennig: I do too! It's honestly — and I mean this from the original [L Word] and the current show — I think it's one of my top two favorite relationships Shane has ever had. It just feels so authentic and real, and I just love working with someone I have synergy with.
Hailey: Jamie Clayton is probably the greatest person to work with.
Moennig: I know. I kind of got to sit back this season while everyone else was having their scene partners cast, and I got to blow on my nails and say, "Not my problem!"
Hailey: I lucked out too. I have a great scene partner.
Which storylines with the new Gen Q cohort are you each most excited about?
Hailey: I work with Sophie, so we have a lot of great scenes together, and that work relationship kind of develops into more a friendship this season, which is nice to see. It kind of blurs the lines of boss/employee/friend — I start inviting Sophie to some events.
Moennig: There are moments that Shane doles out some advice [to the younger cohort], but the only time she doles out advice is when it's at a Level 10. Like, Shane cannot tolerate this any longer. But she's not really a character to stick her nose in other people's business, so unless you come to her and ask, she's not gonna bother. And let's face it, Shane has her own problems.
I mean, it wouldn't be The L Word without problems.
Moennig: [Laughs] I know.
Season 2 was filmed during the pandemic. What was that like?
Moennig: You know, we were so—
Hailey: —scared [laughs].
Moennig: No. I was gonna say elated. We were so elated to go back to work because we were delayed. I remember the first day, waking up and having to be on set in the morning, it felt like Christmas Day as a child. Finally, there was something to do, and purpose.
Hailey: It felt normal for a minute. We had a billion Zoom meetings before with the line producers and Showtime about keeping us safe, so we felt okay about it, to go there.
Moennig: And we executed it without any trouble.
You're both executive producers on Gen Q along with Jennifer Beals (Bette Porter). What is that behind-the-scenes creative process like?
Hailey: It's a lot to do with having a role in bringing the show back. But when it comes to creative decisions outside of our characters, because we have a lot of say in that, the vision really is Marja's [Lewis-Ryan, the showrunner]. We weigh in when we feel like maybe there's a big reason to, but mostly we just protect our characters.
Moennig: We stick to our authenticity as well. Like, if you read something for a character and it's not there yet when we do a pass on it, mercifully we're given that allowance. But it doesn't seem appropriate — you know, you can take on that EP role any way you like, but it feels inappropriate to stick your nose into some other character's story. It seems sort of counterproductive.
Hailey: But it does allow you to play around if you have interests outside of acting, like directing, which is an interest of mine.
Oh. Have you directed an episode of Gen Q yet?
Hailey: No, it's on my wishlist.
How does it feel to be bringing The L Word to a new generation of viewers?
Hailey: Well, one really fun thing that happens is because the original show aired in 2004, people are discovering it for the first time. Like, they're people who would have been born when we shot the pilot. So to have them come up to you and say—
Moennig: —"I love you, I love the show. I started watching The L Word DVDs." God, I'm old.
Hailey: Right. Or they're finding it on a streaming platform. So many things about it are dated stylistically but not thematically. A lot of it can still ring true to someone and have a profound effect, or it can just be really fun to watch. And this new iteration is really about us and Marja keeping up with representation, with where the [LGBTQ+] community is today. It's more about that. The first show was groundbreaking; we were doing something for the first time. And that's not happening anymore because the world is totally different.
I was curious, how do you think Shane and Alice would fare during a COVID-19 lockdown? I imagine they'd go a little stir-crazy.
Hailey: Oh my god, that's so funny!
Moennig: Well, Shane has a really nice house, so I don't know if she'd feel the need to get out. But, I take that back because she is such crawler and likes to be a part of the action. I think she'd be bored, but at least she'd have a nice house to spend time in.
Hailey: I think Alice would be preoccupied with something she accidentally got herself into and couldn't find a way out of.
Moennig: Shane drinks a lot of scotch, so I think she might've developed a dependency issue.
Hailey: I bet Alice would've come up with something digitally successful.
Leisha, I have to ask, did you see those jokes that were going around last year about how Alice should be doing the COVID-19 contact tracing?
Hailey: [Laughs] I did, with the chart! That was funny. Someone sent me that.
Do you agree?
Hailey: I do. She would've solved the whole problem. Maybe we would've been out of this nightmare earlier.
Moennig: You and that whiteboard.
The L Word: Generation Q airs Sundays on Showtime, with new episodes dropping Fridays on streaming.