Marja-Lewis Ryan landed a dream job. The 34-year-old serves as writer/showrunner of Showtime’s fall sequel to its 2004-09 lesbian drama, The L Word. The revival, which shoots this summer in Los Angeles, will feature the return of original characters Bette (Jennifer Beals), Alice (Leisha Hailey), and Shane (Katherine Moennig). Says Ryan, “Getting the chance to write where their lives would be in 10 years, there’s this element of fan fiction that I got to fulfill — and the other writers in the room did, too.” Expectations are high, both inside the writers’ room and out, but Ryan feels supported by the returning cast members and original creator Ilene Chaiken, all of whom are executive producers. Plus, she senses the revival’s greater need. “Not to get super dark, but any time I see a news story about a kid like you or me who kills themselves, the idea that this show is not on the air is, I think, harmful,” admits Ryan. “I just think about the little Marjas, watching themselves, seeing themselves, and being okay. So it’s bigger than me. It’s bigger than my ego.”
EW has an exclusive look at a script page for The L Word: Generation Q, annotated by Ryan, which introduces new faces in friendly exes Dani and Micah. “My pitch was ‘Take what the show was and make it a lot more inclusive,’ so Dani is cis, Micah is trans,” says Ryan. And while she’s mum on plot details, she does reveal the new series will now primarily take place on the east side of Los Angeles instead of West Hollywood, and reflect the modern LGBTQ world. In terms of the original characters, Ryan will only offer some vague clues. Teases the showrunner, “You know, Bette and Tina (Laurel Holloman) had a kid, who would be like 16 now. So, that’s really fun.” And could we see the return of Alice’s famous chart? “Let’s see if I can say it without saying anything: I think it’s important to stay true to the characters and I did my best to show the evolution of what that might look like in 10 years,” says Ryan.
Meanwhile, fans of another beloved series, Friday Night Lights, will also notice Ryan’s deliberate homage in the scene above. She explains: “I’m a huge fan. All I’ve ever wanted to do is make Friday Night Lights. Now I get to make, like, the queer version. No football. It’s, like, gay sex instead of football.” Touchdown.