Do not read this interview if you haven’t watched “Loose Ends,” the January 12 episode of Showtime’s The L Word: Generation Q!
Jennifer Beals is very relieved.
She can finally (finally!) talk about a major plot point in The L Word: Generation Q.
The series is the continuing story of Bette (Jennifer Beals), Shane (Katherine Moening),and Alice (Leisha Hailey)—as well as introducing new characters—and has followed Bette as she runs for mayor of Los Angeles. But someone has been missing. Bette’s wife Tina, played by Laurel Holloman, was only talked about or unseen on the other end of a phone call. Viewers learned that in the ensuing years between the original series and Generation Q, Bette and Tina had gotten divorced and their now adolescent daughter Angie (Jordan Hull) lives with Bette. Holloman was never mentioned as a returning cast member and it was generally assumed she wouldn’t be part of this revival. Talk about your well-kept secrets!
In “Loose Ends,” after Bette’s mayoral campaign takes a decided turn for the worse, she opens the door to find Tina (Laurel Holloman) at her doorsteps and one of the show’s most iconic couples is reunited.
Now that Beals can chat freely, she gave Paste a call to talk about this major plot twist.
Paste: It must have been so hard not to talk about this.
Beals: You have no idea! Because, as an actor, it’s in my mind all the time. The things that I’m living that are propelling me are [my sister] Kit’s death and this divorce and my love for my daughter and those are the three things that are really at play for me the most during the season. And having thought about Tina so much and not have her present was really hard, and then not being able to talk about her in interviews was really challenging. It’s fun to keep it a surprise for everybody because you want to hear the collective scream when Bette opens the door. And opening the door is just so much fun. It’s just surreal. You open the door and Tina is there and she looks so beautiful and she’s backlit and she looks like this angel who is coming to rescue me.
Paste: So tell me a little bit about the decision of when and how to bring Tina back.
Beals: The fact is that Laurel Holloman has a very prolific, important, international career as a painter and painter’s timeline is very different from an actor’s time line. Like I could get a call today from my agent saying, “You’ve been offered this part. It shoots in Paris in 48 hours you need to tell me in six hours whether you want to get on the plane.” With a painter you get a show a year out perhaps and you have to paint 25 canvases or whatever the number of canvases are so it wasn’t possible to have Laurel in from the get go. So you’re trying to figure out her schedule and when you can have Tina in the flesh on the screen, and figuring out how do we create the relationship when she’s not there and make sure that she has a presence so that when she arrives it’s not completely out of the blue.
Paste: What was the first day back on the set with Laurel like?
Beals: Oh it was fantastic. Let’s start with the table read. The table read was epic. It was a table read like no other that I’ve been through. Watching Laurel with Jordan, we just couldn’t stop crying. I was sitting next to Leisha and we didn’t have Kleenex and we were just using each other’s hoodies and everybody around the table can’t stop crying because finally the family is back together. The L Word family is back together.
To have Laurel Holloman as a scene partner is really a dream. We work so well together. We have each other’s backs. We know the characters so well and so much, we just don’t even have to talk about it. It’s just there in the air between us so it’s great. I’m so excited for the fans to be able to experience it.
Paste: So how did you break the story of Tina’s return?
Beals: Early drafts came out and Laurel and I sat down with [executive producers] Ilene Chaiken and Marja-Lewis Ryan and the four of us just worked it out from our various view points.
Paste: The episode ends with Bette saying, “Please don’t go.” Will we be seeing more of Tina?
Beals: You will be seeing more of Tina. You will be seeing as much of Tina as Laurel’s schedule will allow.
Paste: The other big reveal in this episode was the reason Bette is running for mayor and it’s because Kit was prescribed opioids at the hospital after her car accident.
Beals: Right, it’s not what you think. When Bette said that her sister died of a heroin overdose you immediately think of a drug addict who is just going to the streets and going to score heroin. You don’t think that could happen in another way and it’s happening in the country right now with the way people prescribe opioids in hospitals.
Paste: Will we learn more about that time in Bette’s life?
Beals: You get a little bit of it by the end of the season. You know my fantasy is you get more of it and you have flashback and you could visually see things rather than just have people talk about them but we have a lot of stories to tell. We have a lot of new characters who need a lot of nurturing and they need real estate so they can grow. With Bette and Alice and Shane there’s the history already there so people know those characters and understand those characters. But for the new characters you want to give them time, you want to give them enough going on so people can understand who they are so those characters can get more rooted and you only have less than an hour every episode. You can’t do everything. You can only do as much as time will allow.
Paste: How did you decide that this would be Kit’s fate?
Beals: We talked about it because you know Pam [Grier, who played Kit] is very, very busy. If Kit is not there, how do you explain that, and Bette also needed a compelling reason to run [for Mayor]. And I don’t think she’s the type of person who would run for egoic reasons, and generally speaking that’s what drives politicians. It’s either ego or a personal wrong that they are trying to right.
Paste: How far will we get in Bette’s mayoral campaign this season? Will we see the actual election?
Beals: That I can’t tell you. That I’m not allowed to tell you.
Paste: Okay on to an easier question. This episode also featured Bette and Tina’s daughter Angie (Jordan Hull) having her first kiss with Jordi (Sophie Giannamore). I loved that the show is showing love and relationships for three distinct generations.
Beals: Representation is crucial. For every generation to understand that they have the freedom to express their love in the manner in which they chose is important, and I love that whole sequence with Shane and Quiara (Lex Scott Davis) in the car watching them. Jordan and Sophie are magic together. I could watch a whole show just about those two—that could be a whole spin-off right there.
Paste: Now that the show has premiered and we are about midway through the season, what have you been hearing from fans?
Beals: I’m a little bit of a hermit honestly. I hear mostly through the journalist that I speak with and I see some of it online. It’s really interesting to watch people experience the new characters. It makes me really happy when they fall in love with a new character. I get excited about that. There’s a whole large group of people who have been open to these new stories and that’s very gratifying.
The L Word: Generation Q airs Sundays on Showtime.
Amy Amatangelo, the TV Gal®, is a Boston-based freelance writer, a member of the Television Critics Association and the Assistant TV Editor for Paste. She wasn’t allowed to watch much TV as a child and now her parents have to live with this as her career. You can follow her on Twitter (@AmyTVGal).
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