May 23, 2024


Don't Mess With Baby

“Sucked Me Dry”: Parenting in The L Word: Generation Q, S3E3

5 min read
“Sucked Me Dry”: Parenting in The L Word: Generation Q, S3E3

Parenting can be challenging. And parents can be challenging. Both struggles were highlighted in the third episode of this season’s LW:GQ, featuring Actual Queer Parent™ Kehlani. Let’s explore—and look at some real-life resources.

Photo credit: Nicole Wilder/SHOWTIME
Photo credit: Nicole Wilder/SHOWTIME

Spoilers ahead.

New character Ivy (played by Kehlani), who does makeup for Alice’s show, is after Shane. She tells Shane that thinks dating apps are “terrifying,” and that she’s been out of the game for two years because she had a kid. “You don’t seem like the type that wants to see pictures so I’m not gonna show you,” she tells Shane.

Shane responds, “I’d see it if you’d like to show it to me. I’m not against it.” There’s a clear double entendre there, but the line also speaks, I think, to Shane’s feelings about kids.

True, Shane wasn’t feeling the parenting vibe with her ex Quiara in the first season. This season, her current partner Tess says to her at one point, “I know we don’t want to do the whole marriage/kids thing.” Shane isn’t the marriage and parenting type, and seems to have found someone of similar mind.

Yet back during the time of the original L Word series, Shane’s parental-type relationship with her half brother Shay was voted by Mombian readers as the most interesting parenting storyline. Shane has always had an easy resonance with kids, as in LW:GQ’s first season, when she helps out with Nat and Gigi’s kids and explains to Alice, “Kids are people.” Bette and Tina’s daughter Angie calls her “Uncle Shane.” The point here, I think, is that not everyone wants to be or should be a parent, and that’s fine—but sometimes they can still play important roles as chosen family and a valuable part of the village that it takes for others to raise a child. Shane isn’t against kids, even if she doesn’t want any of her own.

In explaining to Shane why she hasn’t dated for a while, Ivy says of her kid, “She is everything and she has also sucked me dry. I just don’t feel like myself all the way, you know?”

We know. As much as we love them, kids can do that. All the more reason for us to find support from others in our community, and make time for ourselves as individuals and (if applicable) for spouses/partners. Having a kid means reprioritizing and making some adjustments, but shouldn’t mean sacrificing all of ourselves. That way lies resentment—and also means being a poorer role model for our kids, who should learn how to balance different areas of their lives.

Real-life resource: 100 Diverse Voices on Parenthood, a great new anthology that explores many of the ups and downs of parenthood.

A second parenting storyline this past week involved exes and co-parents Nat and Gigi. Gigi, now dating Dani, has been in a car accident, but tells Nat that just before impact, when her life flashed before her eyes, “I saw you and the kids. My family.”

Photo credit: Nicole Wilder/SHOWTIME
Photo credit: Nicole Wilder/SHOWTIME

Gigi perhaps unwisely also tells Dani. The story seems to be setting Gigi and Nat up for a reunification (or at least raising this possibility in viewers’ eyes), but it seems to me that even if Gigi and Dani had the most secure relationship in the world, Gigi’s thoughts might very well have gone to her children in a moment of crisis, and by extension, to the person with whom she is parenting them. It doesn’t necessarily mean that her relationship with Dani is shaky; just that the bond we have with the person (or people) who helped us create and/or raise our children may always hold a special place. Of course, this is LW:GQ, which seems to shuffle relationships weekly, so this does seem to be the end for Gigi and Dani. In the real world, I’m not sure things are always so clear cut.

Real-life resource: LGBTQ Divorce and Relationship Dissolution: Psychological and Legal Perspectives and Implications for Practice, ed. Abbie E Goldberg and Adam P. Romero

Finally, in a third parenting storyline, Tess is caring for her mother Patty who has dementia. There’s a moment when Patty thinks Tess is Patty’s sister, and Tess gently corrects her. Then, as Carly Simon’s “You Belong to Me” starts playing on the radio, her mom asserts, “This is my song.” Tess explains to the caregiver, “She used to blast this song in the car when she would drive me to school. Like, lean out the window smoking cigarettes. It would piss all the other moms off so much.”

Photo credit: Nicole Wilder/SHOWTIME
Photo credit: Nicole Wilder/SHOWTIME

Her mom shares, “Carly Simon once bummed a cigarette from me.”

“You never told me that. That is so cool!” Tess responds, to which her mom coyly says, “There’s certain things a mother should never tell her daughter.” The fact that she’s telling her now, though, hints at how our relationships with our parents (and our kids’ relationships with us) may evolve over the years. As the parent of a now-adult child, I feel this deeply.

Tess and her mom share a dance to the song. It’s a sweet moment, even as it underscores how rare such moments are, given Patty’s dementia. Tess is clearly struggling to balance caring for her mom, running a business, and being in a relationship, and the strain is starting to show.

Real-life resources:

I am in no way an expert on caring for parents with dementia, but will direct readers to the Family Caregiver Alliance, which has a lot of information and resources on its website.

Tess’ mom isn’t queer, as far as we know, but let’s also take a little jump to look at LGBTQ elders and dementia.  A 2018 study found that LGBTQ people were 29 percent more likely to report memory loss, confusion and other symptoms than their straight, cisgender counterparts. They were also nearly 60 percent more likely to live alone and 59 percent more likely to not have a caregiver, and reported more problems with daily activities like cooking and cleaning. Another study found that minority stress in LGBTQ elders was associated with accelerated brain aging and cognitive decline. As with all elders, LGBTQ elders without children to help care for them may have an even harder time of it, but even those with children may struggle, and their children may face extra burdens because of anti-LGBTQ bias in care. Organizations like SAGE are doing important work advocating for culturally competent resources and care for LGBTQ elders, but there’s clearly much more to be done.

Will Gigi and Nat reunite, the second mom couple to do so this season? The first, of course, was Bette and Tina, whose renewed relationship caused (grown) daughter Angie to remark this week, “My moms are, like, getting back together, which is, like, a whole thing.” No matter what happens, I’ll be here to comment on that thing.

Catch up on my other parenting explorations of this season’s LW:GQ:

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