Hannah Berman
star-svg
175
2
Comment

Midsummer is here, and it’s HOT, but you know what’s even hotter? These totally bingeworthy television series featuring LGBTIA+ characters. This year’s Pride month may be over, but that doesn’t mean we have to stop celebrating queer identities (should we ever stop? Let's never stop!), so you should feel great about curling up with a popsicle and tearing through one of these shows at a velocity that’s quite honestly worrisome. 

30 LGBTQIA+ TV shows

1. The L Word (2004–2009)

Streaming: Showtime, Netlfix, Amazon Prime, Hulu

This show about a friend group of lesbians and bisexuals living in West Hollywood is a longtime favorite. While the series was groundbreaking in many ways, it also struggled with things like trans representation; however, it was recently announced that the show will receive a reboot in 2019, where (hopefully) issues like biphobia will be addressed instead of propagated. 

2. Grace and Frankie (2005–)

Streaming: Netflix

In this show which promises to be a hoot and a half, two middle-aged women whose husbands have left them for each other overcome their rivalry to become close friends. Grace and Frankie is most notable for prominently featuring aged queer characters, which isn’t something you see every day on television (or ever, really). 

3. One Day at a Time (2017–2019)

Streaming: Netflix

This hilarious Netflix original series focuses on Penelope, Cuban-American mother of two, who is working as a nurse while also trying to navigate the dating scene. And if the concept isn't compelling enough on its own, Penelope's daughter Elena is a lesbian, so bingers looking for important discussions will be glad to know that this comedy creates more serious moments to honestly portray how Latinx families treat homosexuality

4. POSE (2018–)

Streaming: FOX, Netflix

Steeped in glitter and side eye, POSE is a series about life for LGBTQIA+ youth in New York City in the 1980s. A trans woman of color, Blanca, plays the main role, forming a “house” for others who have been forced out of their family homes and must choose new families. The show deals with heavy topics like the AIDS crisis while delivering stunning visuals, and is absolutely addictive. 

5. RuPaul’s Drag Race (2009–)

Streaming: VH1

This show, hosted by RuPaul, pits drag queens against one another in a competition for the title of “America’s Next Drag Superstar” and a cold hard cash prize. Drag Race is more than a fun, frisky show about costume decoration and lip syncing to the death—it’s a queer cultural touchstone.  

6. Stranger Things (2016–)

Streaming: Netflix 

Stranger Things was already thoroughly bingeable before they introduced Robin’s character in the third season. Now, with the knowledge that Robin is lesbian, you’re going to want to absolutely plow through the third season to see some queer representation in this beloved show.

7. Steven Universe (2013–)

Streaming: Cartoon Network

Rebecca Sugar, a nonbinary cartoonist, is at the helm of Steven Universe, Cartoon Network’s first ever show created by a woman. Her eponymous character is a sweet, bumbling half-human, half-Gem who is struggling to master the powers that come from his bellybutton whilst surrounded by cartoon characters that are all decidedly queer. Plus, the show features a lesbian wedding. All good things. 

8. Wynonna Earp (2016–)

Streaming: Netflix

Based on the character from the graphic novel series, Wynonna Earp is a dashing heroine whose destiny is to act as a protector for her hometown, Purgatory, and destroy the Revenants that threaten it. Positive LGBTQIA+ representation is so important to the creators of this show that they regularly host discussions about it at the Wynonna Earp-themed convention EarpExpo, and they’re succeeding in this goal for representation.

9. Queer Eye (2018–)

Streaming: Netflix

Originally an adaptation of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, a TV show from 2003 to 2007, Queer Eye has recently rebranded as a cultural phenomenon. This time around, the show fixes up more than just “the straight guy.” Antoni, Bobby, Karamo, Tan and Jonathan became instant celebrities last February when the show aired, and since then they’ve worked tirelessly to continue improving people’s lives.  

10. American Horror Story (2011–)

Streaming: Netflix, Hulu

This show delivers on its title, scarring its audience with images of demonic creatures, witches, cults, murderers, the apocalypse—if it makes you shiver, it’s probably featured in this anthology series. Also featured in the series are queer people. A lot of them—32 to be exact, though that count will likely grow as the show continues. 

11. The Fosters (2013–2018)

Streaming: Netflix

This drama about a lesbian couple who care for several foster children is at turns heartwrenching and tender. Stef and Lena are wonderfully dimensional in their roles as mothers. Notably, their foster child Jude is also gay, and shares the youngest ever same-sex kiss featured on television with his close friend (and romantic prospect) Connor. 

12. Sex Education (2019–)

Streaming: Netflix

This isn’t the gayest of the shows on this list, but it has earned a spot due to its exciting and fresh sex positivity. The series centers on Otis, an awkward teen with a sex therapist for a mother, as he is asked to provide sex education to the sexually maturing teen community around him. He’s probably not queer, but his best friend Eric is—and Eric's character is played beautifully, despite being shunted aside to make room for a heterosexual romance between Otis and Maeve. 

13. The Bisexual (2018–)

Streaming: Hulu

Leila’s realization of her bisexuality is a difficult one, because it means ending a ten year relationship—with her business partner!—to be able to fully explore herself. There are only six episodes of this show so far, but they’re thrilling, so this binge can be easily accomplished in a single afternoon.

14. Orange is the New Black (2013–)

Streaming: Netflix

Almost every woman in prison in this Netflix original engages in some lesbian action. The main character, Piper, has a long and storied last with a woman who becomes a fellow inmate named Alex; Big Boo is so hardcore butch that she uses a stolen screwdriver to masturbate; and Nicky and Morello play a crafty lesbian icon and a delusional closeted lesbian in a titillating romance. On this show, heterosexual sex is a thankfully rare sighting. 

15. Will & Grace (1998–)

Streaming: NBC, Hulu

This show originally received criticism for its stereotypical portrayal of Will, the gay lawyer who plays Grace's best friend. However, over the course of its first run (which ended in 2006), public opinion was eventually swayed by a character that was increasingly complex, and Will ended up being incredibly influential—items used on the Will&Grace set were actually entered into a Smithsonian collection on LGBT history. The show returned for a 10-minute special urging citizens to vote in the 2016 Presidential election, and the public’s response practically the network to give us another season. 

16. Transparent (2014–)

Streaming: Amazon Prime

When father of three Mort begins transitioning to be a woman named Maura, it rocks his family’s dynamic to its core. This show follows their path to acceptance of their new situation, focusing on all the bumps in the road. Trans people have historically been painted as villains or victims on television, so a show which centers around a trans woman who is neither of those things is incredibly refreshing. On an uglier note, it is worth mentioning that Maura was played by Jeffrey Tambor, who was fired due to sexual misconduct allegations. Maura will be killed off in the next season. 

17. Are You the One? (2014–)

Streaming: MTV

This scandalous reality TV show drops singles off on a Hawaiian island with the task of finding (and romancing) someone in the group who has been “scientifically determined” to be their “perfect match.” For the first seven seasons, the show was a heterosexual nightmare, with 22 characters and gendered drama. Skip those seasons and head to Season 8. Every cast member of this season is sexually fluid, or interested in all genders. This delicious romp will have you biting your nails, sobbing your eyes out, and screaming at the television in the hopes that these real, vulnerable people will hear you and figure themselves out. 

18. The Umbrella Academy (2019–)

Streaming: Netflix

In this adaptation of a comic book, seven babies born with supernatural powers on the same day are adopted and raised by an alien disguised as an entrepreneur to fight evil. One of the seven babies, Klaus, is gay—he falls in love with and loses a man over the course of the show. Though some fans found this queer representation shallow, the moments shared between Klaus and his love interest are decidedly beautiful. 

19. American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace (2018)

Streaming: Netflix

This stunning series dissects the life of Andrew Cunanan, the gay man who killed Gianni Versace. Though the show does paint Cunanan as a villain, there are also positive representations of gay men throughout, such David Madsen and Jeff Trail, two former friends / partners of Cunanan. Plus, the show is convincingly sympathetic to Cunanan, delving deep into his backstory to attempt to humanize this killer.

20. Élite (2018–)

Streaming: Netflix

Three blue collar students win scholarships to attend the most elite institution in all of Spain, and Élite follows their journey through the complicated social relationships that result from this major shift. The representation of different kinds of love in this show is stunning—from complex (lesbian) cheating to polyamory, this show fills its eight episodes with as much drama as is physically possible. 

21. Queer as Folk (2000–2005)

Streaming: Showtime

Though the show is now pretty dated, Queer as Folk is an interesting watch from a historical standpoint. This was the first ever hour-long television show featuring LGBTQIA+ characters. The main characters include five gay men and a lesbian couple, and the series spends a few years exploring the complex romantic dynamics of the gay scene in Pittsburgh. 

22. Glee (2009–2015)

Streaming: Netflix

Glee’s soaring popularity and cult following allowed it to make some pretty bold choices for its time, and it took this freedom with the weight of responsibility. As a result, the screenwriters tried to offers as much diverse representation as possible. Glee features two iconic homosexual couples—Kurt & Blake and Santana & Brittany. (The show gets dramatically worse and less interesting after Season 3, but some of the best Santana content occurs after she relocates to New York City. It's a difficult tradeoff.) 

23. Jane the Virgin (2014–)

Streaming: The CW, Netflix

In its first season, Jane the Virgin skips into sketchy territory with its queer representation—the only queer characters are Luisa, who is (as you find out in the very first episode) entirely unhinged, and her stepmother Rose, with whom she is having a torrid affair that seems a little too close to a teen boy’s wet dream for comfort. Later in the series, the show makes up for this shoddy work by introducing two bisexual characters (one of whom is pivotal to the story), and staging important conversations about bisexuality that are rarely if ever acknowledged onscreen. 

24. Shameless (2011–)

Streaming: Netflix, Showtime

Shameless tells the story of an impoverished white family, consisting of a father who struggles with alcoholism and his six children. This dramedy is the longest running series on Showtime, and it has earned that crown for a reason—it’s really, really interesting. Part of what makes this show so great is its holistic representation of LGBTQIA+ individuals, with emphasis on the Q as the show explores different queer couplings that have never been given visibility on the big screen before. 

25. Skins (2007–2013)

Streaming: Netflix

This British series about young people who love sex was bound to get a little queer at some point, and when it did, it did not disappoint. Skins gives visibility to many sexual orientations  without making it into a whole discussion about labels. Sometimes media which doesn’t engage with societal biases against members of the LGBTQIA+ community can come off as naive, but if you’re down to ignore the world’s problems for a little and watch some young people exploring their sexuality organically, this is a great watch. 

26. A Very English Scandal (2018)

Streaming: Amazon Prime

This miniseries, based on real events that took place in England in the 1960s, gives us a new gay hero in the form of Jeremy Thorpe, who must deal with the duties of his political position while also managing demands made by Norman, the now-desperate man with whom he had a love-letter affair in earlier years. Over the course of three one-hour episodes, it’s impossible not to get sucked into this fascinating true story.

27. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (2015–2019)

Streaming: The CW, Netflix

Yet another show that got a dose of plot-twist bisexuality mid-run is Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, which hit the ground running and is now host to several queer characters. Darryl Whitefeather (Pete Gardner) plays a charming father of two who finds his first gay romance in White Josh (David Hull), and later the two explore the intricacies of platonic friendship. And who could forget Valencia (Gabriella Ruiz), whose bisexual awakening has led her to engagement with a woman? 

28. Pretty Little Liars (2010–2017)

Streaming: Netflix

Despite spoiler-filled problems with the character that has hidden their identity behind the signature “A” that has haunted the girls for years, PLL is still chock full of LGBTQIA+ characters. Notable standouts include Emily, a main character who is lesbian and a woman of color, and Allison, the girl whose disappearance the show centers on, who is bisexual.

29. Master of None (2015–2017)

Streaming: Netflix

Aziz Ansari aside, this show features a phenomenal performance from a phenomenal actress promoting phenomenal representation. Lena Waithe as Denise is hilarious—her dry humor is entirely refreshing after years of different iterations of the same sassy, gay best friend trope. Make sure to check out Season 2 Episode 8, “Thanksgiving,” which Waithe won an Emmy for writing.

30. Sense8 (2015–2018)

Streaming: Netflix

Eight strangers, all living in different cities, are mysteriously joined together as “sensates” who each experience things that another is feeling or doing. These joined souls are doomed to be hunted for their capabilities, but can access one another’s knowledge to help fight their way out. It’s a fascinating concept made even more interesting by the inclusion of so, so many queer characters. 

There’s something incredibly powerful about discovering a series with characters to whom you can relate. For many LGBTQIA+ individuals, this experience has always been limited by overwhelming heteronormativity, especially on television, where queer characters have often been considered too risky to include. Now that the television industry has finally begun to open its arms to representation, there are more opportunities than ever for LGBTQIA+ individuals to see someone on the screen and feel seen themselves; maybe one or two shows on this list will make you feel that way, too. 

Don’t miss out on articles like these. Sign up! 

2
Comment