Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Generation Q revels in discomfort and intimacy

Illustration for article titled Generation Q revels in discomfort and intimacy
Image: The L Word: Generation Q (Showtime)

“Loose Ends” is the first episode of Generation Q to not feature a sex scene, which wouldn’t necessarily be significant on another show, but the original was known for its many sexual encounters, and the sequel series has been carrying that torch proudly. “Loose Ends” might not get it on, but it does zero in on relationships of all kinds. It’s an episode full of emotional processing and introspection, and it has excellent character work throughout. And intimacy is at the heart of it.


Generation Q does discomfort very well. It needles into the awkwardness of intimacy, the anxiety of attraction, the reckless feelings that come from being in love. Laurel Holloman makes a surprise appearance as Tina Kenard, bringing some of the show’s past to the surface by reaching back into her relationship with Bette—which was a huge part of the original—and contextualizing the shifts in their relationship between the two series. Much of what Tina says is very much backed up by the events of the original: She tells Bette that she always put Bette’s career and feelings ahead of her own. These scenes between them are deeply lived-in, and Holloman and Jennifer Beals have such easy chemistry together even if the conversations their characters have are definitively uneasy.

The tension is palpable, and both characters have complicated, sometimes contradictory feelings. We learned a couple episodes ago that Tina left Bette for someone else, and we see the pain in Bette’s eyes here when Tina gets a call from that someone else. The way Tina talks to the voiceless person on the other end conveys an easy chemistry that Bette and Tina no longer have. They might exchange I love yous at episode’s end, but their relationship is so messy—somewhere between family and exes, or some amalgamation of them. It’s a complex space to be in, and Generation Q navigates it very well. There’s discomfort and empathy all at once.

It’s also interesting to see the contrast in Angie’s relationships with each of her moms. It’s unsurprising, given Bette’s more controlling tendencies, that Angie has an easier dynamic with Tina. She confides in Tina about kissing Jordi, and it’s apparent that she won’t be confiding in Bette the same way. The way the episode explores co-parenting with an ex is also compelling. There’s a bit of an inconsistency to the way that Angie is written though; at times, she’s wildly mature, like when she just accepts Tina’s lengthy explanation for why she can’t be around more, and at others, she exhibits more believably teenaged behavior, like when it comes to her anxiety and romanticism about her situation with Jordi.

It is a very bold move to tell one’s best friend that they not only like them but love them, but Angie goes for it after a pep talk from Quiara and Uncle Shane. It’s a beautiful moment, one that shows queer kids in the same mushy crush space that straight teens so often get to occupy on television. We don’t get caught up in a coming out arc for either character. Instead, it’s just easy, familiar, normalized. I’m cynical enough to have watched the whole scene practically hiding behind my hand, sure that Jordi would reject her and say she’s straight. I’m so glad—and it’s a much more distinct narrative choice—that it goes the other way and Jordi loves her back. The way Shane and Quiara tell the story of first meeting each other—interrupting each other and correcting each other and each remembering some bits better than others—also conveys an easy intimacy, one that ultimately makes it convincing for Shane to change her mind about the whole kids thing so quickly.

Also trying to navigate a space that smears together exes and family: Alice, Nat, and Gigi. Here, Generation Q writes into discomfort to comedic effect. Their storyline together continues to be one of the best on the show, perfectly straddling the campier side of the show as well as the more serious drama. Nat’s position in this triangle is no doubt the most fraught: She sums it up well to Alice when she explains that she has all of the feelings for Gigi, the good and the bad. She loves her, but she still feels betrayed by her. And they also bicker and get on each other’s nerves like, well, wives. Their intimacy is at a different stage than Nat and Alice’s, which isn’t necessarily glowy honeymoon phase but still is fresher than what Gigi and Nat have. I’m not sure I totally buy how chill Alice is about all of it, but I might be basing that too much on Alice in the original series, and Generation Q Alice does seem a bit different, possibly changed by fame. For her, it seems like she gets something from Gigi that she doesn’t get from Nat and also knows that she doesn’t deliver as well in the parenting department as Gigi. Alice and Gigi are pretty comfortable in their situation. It’s Nat that is having trouble, and Stephanie Allyne plays all the pinging emotions that this character deals with very well.


The most uncomfortable part of “Loose Ends” comes when Tess and Finley wake up together, limbs askew, clothes half-peeled, surrounded by the ruins of the emptied glasses. Both characters are in very different headspaces. Finley wakes up to it all like this is just the usual for her. She stretches, dresses, makes mimosas in martini glasses to nurse the hangover. Her movements are casual, unbothered. She doesn’t even realize that right next to her, Tess is internally spiraling, putting together the fuzzy pieces of this wreckage. She broke her sobriety. Watching her pull her dress back on is far from casual. She is disturbed, and it’s disturbing. A missed text from her sponsor pushes into the bruise. And the story doesn’t stop there; Tess assures Finley later that they’re good, that they’re friends and this won’t ever happen again. But she’s still secretly drinking. Tess is, in some ways, a more captivating character than some of the main characters.

Because unfortunately, Generation Q still struggles to grasp Dani and who she really is. She spends most of this episode representing more of an idea than a real person: She’s what convinces Bette to stay in the race, encouraging her to give a speech about her real reasons for running. Dani says Bette can change people because she changed her, but that change happens so quickly in the pilot that it doesn’t feel like the big compelling moment that this episode wants it to be. Bette’s speech is a strong part of the episode, but the path toward it is wobbly, especially since it hinges so much on us believing in what Dani is saying, which is hard to do when Dani’s characterization is all over the place.


Sophie does finally confront Dani about shutting her out in another uncomfortable scene. Like much of the episode, it’s convincing and visceral in its discomfort though. Whereas a lot of the writing around Dani has felt inorganic, this fight of theirs does play out naturally, much more so than the bathtub conversation from a couple episodes ago.

As far as what’s next for Dani and Sophie, Generation Q sure is priming the wheels for a Sophie/Finley trainwreck. While the fun chemistry between Jacqueline Toboni and Rosanny Zayas is one of the most delightful dynamics on the show and this episode does technically spend a lot of time on the two characters together, the way their friendship is written in “Loose Ends” is sloppy. All of a sudden, Sophie is a huge enabler for Finley. Her solution to Finley wondering if she’s broken is to have a “bro night” where the two get wasted together. Alcohol is a big part of all the problems that Finley laments. We’ve never seen this kind of behavior from Sophie. In fact, she has been shown previously as the friend who seems to understand her friends better than they understand themselves. Sure, she’s upset about her own relationship issues, but that still doesn’t seem like enough to push her into being someone who pours fuel on the flames of Finley’s self-destruction. The dynamic just doesn’t track with previous episodes and nor does the overt foreshadowing of a potential affair between them. Intimacy is messy, and the parts of the episode that confront that in a cogent and uncomfortable way stand out. Other parts, like this Dani and Finley mess, are just that: mess.


Stray observations

  • Zayas’ delivery is so good when it comes to Sophie’s little asides like “yeah, she a little stupid.”
  • Sophie wonders if Dani is cheating with Bette, which would make about as much sense as Sophie cheating with Finley, so I guess it’s on the table!
  • Shane and Quiara’s pep talk with Angie is really so sweet.
  • An episode chock full of emotional processing is very true to lesbian life, in my experience...