One of Showtime’s signature series is mounting a comeback. The premium cable network is developing a sequel to its influential 2004 drama series The L Word, which revolved around a group of lesbians in West Hollywood and their friends, family and lovers.
Three of the original series’ lead cast members, Jennifer Beals, who played Bette, Kate Moennig (Shane), who is a series regular on Showtime’s Ray Donovan, and Leisha Hailey (Alice), are expected to come on as executive producers on the sequel and, if the project moves forward, they would appear on the series, with their characters serving as a bridge between the original and the new show. They would be surrounded by a new ensemble of women, with the sequel following their lives, loves and tribulations. Additionally, other characters from the 2004 series may pop up in the new version.
The original series, created by Ilene Chaiken, ran for six seasons and spawned a reality spinoff, The Real L Word. Chaiken will serve as an executive producer on the sequel but won’t have hands-on involvement as she serves as executive producer/showrunner on Fox’s Empire and just signed a new overall deal with the studio behind the popular Fox drama series, 20th Century Fox TV. Search is underway for a new writer/executive producer/showrunner with ties to the lesbian community to helm the followup series, aimed to reflect how members of that community’s relationships, their lives, and experiences have evolved, what has changed (and what hasn’t) since the show’s inception.
The L Word was hailed as the first drama series to focus on lesbian characters who are complex and open about their sexuality. In 2008, Showtime did a pilot for a L Word spinoff, The Farm, set in women’s prison. It was to center on Hailey’s character Alice and revolve around another group of women, including several lesbians, who are behind bars. While the project, described as then-Showtime topper Bob Greenblatt as “female Oz” but not as dark, did not go to series, it was a precursor to Netflix’s Orange Is the New Black, often considered a spiritual successor to The L Word.
The news of a potential L Word sequel was applauded by GLAAD. “The past few years have seen lesbian and queer women characters in television killed off in shockingly high numbers,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD President and CEO. “It is refreshing and exciting to see GLAAD Media Award-winning The L Word returning to television where it can tell nuanced, entertaining, and beautiful stories of an largely underrepresented community.”