New plot details have revealed what would have happened in Generation season 2. The show, which is stylized as Genera+ion, premiered on HBO Max on March 11, 2021. It starred Chloe East, Nava Mau, Lukita Maxwell, Haley Sanchez, Uly Schlesinger, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, Chase Sui Wonders, Justice Smith, and Martha Plimpton. Although Generation ran for 16 episodes through July 8, HBO Max announced yesterday that they were canceling the series after one season.
Generation followed a group of high school students who experiment with their sexuality in a conservative area of Orange County, California. There were many characters and plot lines to juggle on the show, and unfortunately, not every story was wrapped up neatly before the show was canceled. The first season ended on a cliffhanger where an emotionally distraught Chester (Smith) smiles as he meets an unknown person on the roof of a signboard.
Speaking with EW, Generation co-creator, Zelda Barnz, answered the most frequently asked questions following the cancellation of the show. In addition to a coy answer regarding the rooftop situation, Barnz discusses if Riley (Chase Sui Wonders) would have ended up moving and if Mark (Sam Trammell) ended up as the third in a polyamorous relationship. Barnz spilled the beans about the decision-making process behind the scenes of the HBO Max series as well. Check out Barnz’s answers below:
Was Mark Patrick and Joe’s third?
No, we (the writers) never intended for this to be the implication, but we always indulged the possibility that Mark (Sam Trammell) was bi-curious, and had simply never had the chance to explore. We discussed many ideas regarding how to move forward with the Stewart family post-finale, and we didn’t settle on anything final, but many of us loved the idea of Mark becoming a more present and open-minded dad, even if he didn’t get the chance to explore his sexuality more within the context of our show.
Would Delilah, Naomi, and Arianna have been okay?
Eventually, yes. We see the slightest glimpse of this when Arianna (Nathanya Alexander) and Delilah (Lukita Maxwell) reconnect at the end of the finale, and of course the rift between these two and Naomi (Chloe East) is much more extreme, but I think these are three girls who couldn’t help but come back to each other.
Would Riley have gone to Reno with her dad?
No. We could never have gotten rid of Riley (Chase Sui Wonders), we love her (and Chase) way too much. Who knows? Maybe Ana (Nava Mau) would’ve adopted her.
And Riley and Greta’s relationship?
We really wanted to explore the implications of a relationship between one sexual and one asexual person, when they each experience such strong romantic feelings for one another. I don’t think there is enough asexual representation in television to begin with, but it’s also a question of the kind of asexual representation. I happen to know several ace people who have had romantic relationships, so why is that so hard to find in the media? So yes, there was definitely a future for Greta (Haley Sanchez) and Riley (but they both need to learn some communication skills). I’ll admit I’m disappointed that we didn’t get to continue this representation of Greta’s experience with her identity — I think it had potential to be a valuable character arc for a lot of ace or questioning kids. I’ll also admit I’m sad we couldn’t give Riley her happy ending.
And then there is the unresolved mystery…
Who did Chester see on the rooftop?
I wish I had a straight answer, and I’m sorry I don’t have any certainty on the matter, but I think I can answer this question in another way. Here is the concluding scene of Genera+ion, as it is written:
“THE SAME – LATER
We don’t know how much time has passed exactly, but we see light in the sky. Feeling restless, Chester climbs a bit more. leans out. It feels a bit reckless, a bit dangerous.
Then he hears a NOISE from the roof below. He looks down, and is very surprised to see someone. but he smiles, because whoever this is makes him so incredibly happy.
POP TO BLACK.
END OF SEASON ONE”
The cast and crew and writers and producers of Generation all had many conversations about this scene, about who should be the “you” in question. There was also a lot of speculation from fans. Some thought it should be Riley, some thought Nathan (Uly Schlesinger) after their tumultuous finale arc. Or Bo (Marwan Salama), who genuinely loves Chester (Justice Smith), and wants so much to figure it out.
Some people thought it should be Sam (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett), because of the phone call, and because Sam has received a photo of this location before (via email, in the pilot). Justice once said it could be Chester’s missing father. One producer thought the entirety of the GSA should show up, in a scene emphasizing the concept of chosen family. A fan once asked me if it was the ghost of Chester’s mother.
Personally, I always thought it should be J (Sydney Mae Diaz). Partially for logistical reasons, because no other character had actually been to that spot before. But also because, in my opinion, no other character was quite as intuitive. J witnessed Chester’s breakdown over the course of the night, and he knows how Chester’s mind works when he’s upset. I don’t think any other character could both pinpoint exactly where Chester would go, and then follow him there. I think J showing up would’ve been really cool.
I’m not going to argue academic-essay style why J makes the most sense to me. Instead, I want to say something about this scene.
I’m very proud to end this show with a moment of joy. Unexplained joy, maybe, but does joy ever require justification? I don’t think it does. I don’t think it should. What matters about this scene is not who shows up (the unresolved mystery is a bit of theater, the “click next” moment that all streaming services ask their writers to provide), but that someone shows up. Someone shows up for this unapologetically queer boy in a moment of vulnerability. Someone shows up for him when he needs them, and he’s able to smile, and he’s able to say “it’s you.” And we know he’s not alone on that rooftop.
So really, there is no mystery. Maybe it’s Sam or Riley or J or maybe it’s a hallucination or maybe it’s a character we haven’t met yet, but it doesn’t really matter in the end. It’s whoever Chester needed most in that moment. There is closure in knowing that person found their way to him, whoever they may be.
To any queer person reading this, whether you watched Generation or not, if your someone hasn’t found you yet, give them time. They’re finding their way.
Though Barnz was forthcoming with answers to most of those questions, the way the Chester question is lightly sidestepped is certainly intriguing. Although Barnz does admit a preference, the implication is that there wasn’t an official decision beforehand, which feels the slightest bit fishy. Either the showrunners genuinely didn’t plan who was going to arrive at Chester’s side, or they’re holding off on confirming that in case Generation gets picked up at another studio, which is still possible considering how fresh this cancellation is and how many cult favorite series do get picked up elsewhere.
Especially considering how much the show means to its legion of LGBTQ+ fans, a smaller platform may see potential in resuscitating a show that has such good representation at a comparatively low budget. However, for now, fans of Generation can at least be satisfied with such open honesty from one of the creators. Some shows that end on cliffhangers never get any sense of closure at all, and Zelda Barnz has been especially generous with providing answers here.
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