The much-rumored return of The L Word, which ran from 2004 to 2009, is officially in development at Showtime, sources tell BuzzFeed News.
If the new version moves forward, it will feature a new ensemble cast, but the three key original cast members (fight me!) — Jennifer Beals, Kate Moennig, and Leisha Hailey — will serve as executive producers as well as appearing as Bette, Shane, and Alice, respectively, tying the old show to the new one. There is also potential for other past cast members from the original L Word to return.
The L Word creator Ilene Chaiken will serve as the potential sequel's executive producer. But because she's busy as the showrunner for Empire on Fox, a new writer would run a continuation of The L Word.
(Update: On Nov. 20, Showtime announced that the new showrunner will be Marja-Lewis Ryan. The project is still in development, and has not yet been picked up to series.)
When asked in April about the rumors of an L Word reboot, Chaiken told BuzzFeed News, "I hear from fans all the time that I should reboot the show," and that she would "love to do it."
In May, Chaiken, Beals, Moennig, Hailey, and others reunited for Entertainment Weekly's LGBT issue. At the time, Chaiken said of a reboot: "There’s certainly a chance. We talk about it all the time. When we went off the air in 2009, I think a lot of people thought, 'Okay, the baton is passed now, and there will be lots of shows that portray lesbian life.' There’s really nothing. It feels like maybe it should come back."
When The L Word originally premiered in 2004, it was part of the seismic shift in LGBT representation in popular culture that arguably paved the way for the legalization of same-sex marriage. Rather than portraying lesbians as sinister beings, The L Word's characters, inhabitants of West Hollywood, had glamorous jobs, families, and lots of sex. It was a fun soap opera, despite not always making sense — especially in its eight-episode final season, which revolved around a controversial who-killed-Jenny (Mia Kirshner) murder mystery that was never resolved.
But perhaps Chaiken was ahead of her time in more ways than her representation of LGBT life — she seems to have foreseen reboot madness as well.
In an interview in 2009 with the Los Angeles Times, Chaiken told me that she didn't see The L Word as being over. "I don't believe it, I don't see it in that way — I don't know what I'm talking about when I say this," she said. "I hope we'll do an L Word movie — there's no plan to do an L Word movie. But I would love to do that. I just believe that in some way, the show will live on."
Chaiken's belief may have been right.
This story has been updated with the announcement that Marja-Lewis Ryan will be the new showrunner.