Romantic and sexual relationships are obviously a huge part of Generation Q’s storytelling, and they make for compelling conflict and character arcs. But queerness is about so much more than sex and dating, and Generation Q makes space for that. It looks at queer friendships and how queerness might function in the workplace or in domestic life. “Lobsters, Too” features plotlines centered on sex and dating, but its strongest moments touch relationships and situations beyond that. Namely, one of the central storylines concerning Bette, Tina, Carrie, and Angie features a wealth of dynamics and emotions, making for a very entertaining, layered narrative.
The intergenerational nature of the series means that we get stories about people figuring out themselves as teens, as young adults in their twenties and thirties, and as middle-aged folks who are deeper into their careers and personal lives. Angie is a queer youth butting up against her parents’ perceptions of her and attempting to claim some agency there. Bette and Tina have a long-established and messy history together. Carrie is trying to figure out how she fits into this family. It’s a wonderful web of familial chaos. We get a fiance-fiance relationship (Tina/Carrie), a relationship between ex-wives and co-parents (Bette/Tina), a relationship between mothers and their daughter (Bette/Tina/Angie), and a relationship between someone and their fiance’s ex-wife (Bette/Carrie). Those are all interesting and distinct dynamics, and “Lobsters, Too” considers the feelings of everyone involved. Families are complicated—to say the least. And Generation Q explores that deftly in this storyline.
Angie successfully gets Bette, Tina, and Carrie to agree to a family therapy session where she tells them her donor is dying and needs a kidney transplant. She asks for permission to see if she might be a match, and all hell breaks loose. Jordan Hull gives another fantastic performance, Angie’s anxiety palpable throughout the scenes. Close-ups of her fidgeting hands and wounded face convey just how high-stakes this feels for her.
Everyone comes to this session with specific viewpoints and motivations. Carrie and Tina share a moment before the meeting where they’re playful with each other, underscoring how in love they are but also touching on some of the conflict that boils over after the session. Carrie’s nervous to do the session with Bette. She wants to support Angie, but she finds Bette difficult. Indeed, her hesitations are well founded. Bette spirals as soon as Angie brings up the transplant. Her heart’s in the right place: She’s worried about the health and safety of her daughter. But she lashes out, speaking over everyone and making Angie feel powerless, which is exactly the thing Angie seems to be struggling with. She wants control. She wants to have a say in her life and the choices she makes.
On top of that, Angie also feels connected to Kayla and her donor because of her Blackness. She talks openly in the session about how her experiences are different than Bette’s, because Bette can sometimes be white passing. Angie’s wish to know her donor and to help out is rooted in a lot more than just curiosity. She has been connecting with Kayla on a deep level because of their experiences as Black girls. She wants to know about her donor’s experiences moving through life as a Black man. This feels high-stakes for her, because it is high-stakes. She’s searching for meaning and connection. Just like last week’s episode reaches back into the past to flesh out stakes in the present, that happens here, too, with Angie bringing up Bette’s sister Kit, who did look more like her but who isn’t around for her anymore since she died. It’s a single line, but it hits hard—for viewers of the original who know Kit well but also just in the implication that Angie has already lost someone who she felt connected to about her identity. She doesn’t want to lose someone else.
By shutting her down, Bette is again failing to listen and really understand. Angie’s young, but she’s not a little kid. And parenting a teen requires a push and pull of being the adult but also realizing teens have autonomy and their own lives and selves outside of who they might be in the home. This episode’s portrayal of queer parenting is complex and specific, allowing this family to be as complicated as any other television family while also touching on aspects that are distinctly queer, like Bette feeling defensive toward Carrie when Carrie tries to speak about her experiences as an adoptee. Bette doesn’t like the implication that Angie is adopted, but in her outburst, Bette also casts her own unfair judgement on adoptees by suggesting the way she and Tina had Angie is somehow more legitimate. It makes sense that Bette feels defensive of her family given the way the heteronormative nuclear family is the default assumption in society, but she once again bulldozes over someone who is just trying to help and who is ultimately on her side. It’s the same way she treated Gigi during their fight a couple episodes ago.
When Angie walks out of the session, Tina follows. Their scene together is a little stilted, because Laurel Holloman’s dramatic acting can be a little hit or miss. But the scenes do highlight the fact that Angie has very different relationships with each of her moms. Meanwhile, back in Micah’s office, Bette and Carrie fight. Micah tries to be neutral here, letting them both say what they need to say. Just because Carrie found healing from eventually meeting her biological mother doesn’t mean the same thing should be applied to everyone. This opens the door for Bette to share about her own relationships with her parents. Everyone’s bringing their own baggage to the table here, their perspectives clearly shaped by their own relationships with their parents. But the problem with everyone bringing their own individual baggage to the table is that everyone ends up sort of talking over one another and not really allowing room for the baggage of others. It makes for genuine drama, the conflict strongly rooted in character and backstory. It’s also just how family tends to function.
Bette’s not being fair to Carrie, to be sure. She doesn’t realize her feelings toward Carrie affect others. Angie confides in Jordi—who is a little too consumed with prom court to really listen—that she feels like Bette’s hatred of Carrie makes it so she doesn’t really care about anything else. Angie relates to Carrie it seems; both aren’t really being listened to. At the same time, Carrie’s not being entirely fair to Bette, who is Angie’s mother after all. She and Tina fight after the session when Carrie takes her own dislike of Bette too far by saying she doesn’t know how Tina was ever married to her. This kicks up what is apparently an ongoing argument for them about Carrie feeling like she comes third in Tina’s life, Bette always taking a higher precedence. Here’s where that multiplicity of relationship dynamics is really effective. Carrie’s right to feel hurt that Tina chooses Bette over her. But it’s also not that simple; Tina and Bette aren’t just ex-wives, they’re also co-parents to Angie, and it means they are important parts of each other’s lives. But also, Tina tends to make excuses for Bette, who really was awful to Carrie in that session (to be fair, Tina didn’t witness that brutal scallops moments though). No one is completely in the right here, and these tensions have much more to do than just the immediate question of how to deal with Angie and her donor.
Sure, it’s narratively convenient that their therapist is a character they and we already know, but it also actually makes for a fun scenario, because usually TV therapists are just devices who don’t get to be real people on their own. It adds a layer to things that we get to watch Micah deal with the aftermath of that chaotic session. He specifically deals with it by reaching out to Maribel to tell her he had a shitty day at work and came home needing her. Maybe seeing Angie advocate for herself helped him realize he needs to be more direct with saying what he wants, too. The two finally act on their attraction to one another, resulting in a groundbreaking scene in terms of sex and disability representation. But beyond that, it’s also just great payoff for the buildup between them. Friends-to-lovers is a trope this show tends to excel at.
On that note, Tess and Shane also seem to be dancing around potential more-than-friends feelings for one another, complicated by the fact that they kissed last episode and Tess has a new girlfriend. Speaking of tapping into the past to inform the present...that new girlfriend turns out to be Cherie Jaffe, a minor but recurring character from the original series that fans tend to have a lot of opinions about. Shane doles out some exposition to Tess to fill in gaps for anyone who might be unfamiliar with the saga that was Shane and Cherie. Cherie had a husband and was a hairdressing client of Shane’s, and the two had a very destructive affair that did not really end well for either of them. Now? Cherie’s very out of the closet and also still apparently smitten with younger women. But she’s also still seemingly turned on by the illicit nature of an affair, openly flirting and playing footsy with Shane even though Tess is right there. Bringing back Cherie does feel like a little bit of goofy fanservice, but it does manage to provide some meaning outside of just being a stunt, too. Shane is clearly trying to prove she has grown up. She doesn’t want to be the impulsive and destructive person she was when she and Cherie were having an affair.
Confusingly, Tess expresses to Finley that people rarely change, which is the exact opposite of what she said during the poker scene in episode two this season. Sometimes, it seems like Tess is talking about something totally different than whatever another character is talking about, and so far it’s unclear if that’s just an intentional character trait or if the writers still haven’t fully grasped who Tess is and what she wants. But Tess’ advice to Finley about Sophie is a little haphazard. The fraught energy between her and Shane obviously stems from Cherie’s presence and the kiss, but it’s similarly hard to grasp exactly what it is that Tess wants or thinks here.
I’m not totally sold on how the crime drama regarding Dani’s dad really fits into the narrative. Sometimes it feels like television shows just stuff in a crime plot for no reason, and as of now, that’s the vibe here. Dani’s dad apparently tricked her into becoming the CEO of his company, and he’s also claiming he’s innocent of the crimes he’s accused of, and I’m willing to see this plotline through, but for now it feels a little tedious. What’s much more interesting is the growing connection between Gigi and Dani, especially since there’s a clear contrast between their dynamic and Gigi and Bette’s dynamic.
Gigi is one of the few characters on this show who seems to genuinely enjoy talking about her feelings and processing things, and yet she’s currently tangled up with two women who most definitely do not want to do that. Watching Gigi and Bette interact is getting painfully awkward in the best way, because it feels very real. Bette shuts down any possibility of processing and only really lights up with Gigi when she’s talking about work. Dani’s not exactly known for talking about her feelings. In fact, that was one of her major issues in her relationship with Sophie. Yet whereas Bette hasn’t budged, Dani does respond a bit to Gigi’s nudge to talk through her emotions more. She’s showing a vulnerable side, and it’s unlocking some depths to Dani we haven’t seen as much before. The sexual tension between these characters scintillates, and even the characters are becoming aware of it, Dani asking Gigi if she’s hitting on her while they sip chai in Dani’s new apartment. Gigi says she wasn’t but that she’ll let her know if she changes her mind. In the middle of all this, she also gets a text from Bette asking her to come over, the implication being that Bette is once again using her, wanting to hook up with Gigi to forget about her bad day. It’s a clear contrast to the way Micah reached out to Maribel about his bad day. He wanted her, because he truly wanted her. But Bette has made it clear she’s only interested in sex with Gigi, not in anything deeper. All the varied relationship dynamics in this episode really anchor the drama, providing clear and discernible stakes.
Some characters, like Micah and Mirabel, are perfectly in sync with one another. Dani and Gigi have an easy friendship chemistry. Alice and Tom bring enticing chemistry to the episode, too, their work relationship officially transitioning into a more personal one now that the book is done. Alice grapples with the end up her relationship with Nat, inviting Tom over for the fancy dinner she planned to surprise Nat with, and the two end up on a strange and enjoyable adventure on the beach to release some lobsters. Donald Faison and Leisha Hailey give great comedic performances throughout while still landing some of the more emotional parts, like when Alice thanks him for cracking her open about the Dana chapter. Sophie also finally pitches her segment, which is about real queer people rather than queer celebrities, leading to a scene that evokes the warmth, candor, and humanity of the When Harry Met Sally interview interstitials. Generation Q injects just enough sweetness amid all the tension and drama.
But while there are moments of genuine and moving connection between some characters, “Lobsters, Too” is largely defined by the disconnect between characters, by the relationships where people are very much not in sync. And the discordance is richly developed, convincing narrative conflict. As Shane puts it plainly to Tess: “I think people are complicated. I think timing is complicated. I think life can be complicated.” The Bette/Tina/Carrie/Angie plotline is full of complicated people making life complicated. Jordi and Angie struggle to be present with one another.
And as far as complicated timing goes, Sophie and Finley are a rather stark example. They keep missing their moment. The episode opens on Finley reckoning with a drinking bender. Sophie comes clean to her about Ojai, but the trust is still broken. And when Sophie calls Finley a good friend, Finley’s face falls. Yes, Generation Q excels at the friends-to-lovers romance trope, but it specifically excels because it doesn’t always overly romanticize the situation. The fact that Finley and Sophie started as friends means they do understand each other in certain ways, but it also means they sometimes operate based on the old relationship instead of whatever it is they’re trying to build now. Sophie doesn’t mean it to be hurtful when she calls Finley a friend. They are friends. But Finley has made it pretty abundantly clear she wants more. And Sophie hasn’t shut that down. They’re caught in a strange limbo. Finley decides to move on and does so swiftly, but meanwhile Sophie’s moved by the couple she interviews to pursue something more with Finley. Their timing is off. Their timing has truly never been good.
The intergenerational nature of the series’ narrative really does shine in “Lobsters, Too.” These characters are all in very different stages of life—from Angie and Jordi’s high school drama to the couple Sophie interviews who have been together for decades. The original characters are reckoning with choices they made in the past, like Shane trying to be a different person than she was with Cherie this time around. Bette and Tina, meanwhile, fall into old patterns. And some of the characters who have lived more life offer perspective to some of the younger folks, like Gigi telling Dani there’s more people in life than Sophie and not-Sophie. Dani’s an adult, but her life has so far been so defined by her relationship with Sophie, and Sophie similarly doesn’t know exactly where to go from here. Regardless of age, everyone here is searching for themselves and what they really want.
- I do find it funny that Tess and Shane treat Finley as an annoying little sibling...most of the time. Sometimes, they seem a little TOO mean?
- Now that Lenore and Cherie have both made reappearances, it seems like pretty much any original series character could resurface at any time, and I love that.
- The scallops line!!!!
- I love when authors are name checked on television, so shoutout to the Ta-Nehisi Coates moment.