Happy Pride, y’all!
Before I was addicted to social media, I was addicted to television! Television, and it’s evolved progeny like Netflix and Hulu, are pervasive and powerful forms of visual storytelling. The drama and comedy we experience from television can shape our tastes, our ethics, and our future.
For Americans who are distant from other cultures or communities, TV can serve an instigator of new ideas. So LGBTQ representation in this medium is important, and supporting those vehicles/performers even more so. For those of you who have some room in your schedule this summer for new binge watching, I’m sharing some of my favorite shows featuring queer characters.
Dear White People
Watching Lionel (DeRon Horton) navigate Ivy League racism while dealing with complicated questions of sexuality and identity expression is just a tiny slice of the many mind-blowing moments on this amazing Netflix series. While both seasons feature plenty of LGBTQ plotlines, the relatability of Lionel’s puppy-love for dreamy roommate Troy is bittersweet to watch thanks to the incredible acting and razor-sharp writing. Horton captures the awkwardness and innocence of queer college discovery with understated grace, and his character is elegantly woven into almost every other storyline via his role as college journalist and all-around nice bae.
Showtime’s high-finance and high-drama series introduced Taylor, television’s first non-binary character, during its second season. Played by Asia Kate Dillion, Taylor ably matches wits with the hyper-masculine and testosterone-overdosed cast of New York powerbrokers.
As reported in previous blogs, Riverdale is my favorite show on television. HANDS DOWN! And in its second season, I’m pretty sure every character has had a bisexual moment. Thank you, CW! Leading the diversity charge in this modern and melodramatic interpretation of the beloved Archie Comics is the adorable Kevin Keller, played by Casey Cott, who has an in-character Instagram proving that the producers know a little bit about multimedia storytelling. For those gay GenXers in the audience, it’s great to see the “hot Riverdale Daddies” (Kevin’s words, not mine – but I agree.) trio of Luke Perry, Mark Conseulos, and Skeet Ulrich chew the scenery, along with legendary diva Robin Givens.
RuPauls Drag Race
This is the little gay engine that could, featuring more queer folk of color then any other TV show on the tube. Along with 10 seasons of Drag Race and three seasons of All-Stars, production company Worlds Of Wonder continues to masterfully expand their story with multiple online featurettes.
Legends Of Tomorrow / The Flash / Arrow / Supergirl
This calvacade of CW shows contains numerous LGBTQ characters including the bisexual White Canary, gay Ray and Captain Cold, and lesbian Agent Danvers. Driven by writer and producer Greg Berlanti (the proudly out director of 2018’s acclaimed romantic-comedy Love, Simon) , these shows balance typically cheesy comic book plotlines by showcasing the thespian talents of Broadway babies like Grant Gustin (West Side Story revival) and Melissa Benoist (Beautiful: The Carole King Story).
Although Freeform recently retired this long-running family drama, its still available on multiple platforms for summer savoring. And you should try this heartwarming and unflinching family drama about the beautifully multiracial family forged by two hardworking lesbians (Meet The Focker’s Teri Polo and Sunset Beach’s Sherri Shaum). If you grew up on shows like 7th Heaven or One Tree Hill, this is the new normal version of it for you and your Millennial brood. In our unsteady times, feel-good TV like this with a strong – and now diverse – family message is really chicken soup for the soul.
Based on the body of his work, Ryan Murphy loves an underdog, period pieces, a shade-throwing queen, 80s house music, good cheekbones, and Evan Peters. Although this FX series only has one episode available to judge, its premise features all that in a saucy soup that could be described as Harlem ballroom culture meets Glee. Throw in a coked-up James Van Der Beek as an executive in Donald Trump’s real estate empire for good measure.
Did I forget to mention that the show is about gay street youth and their trans women saviors trying to survive Reagan’s Manhattan? It’s a lot to unpack, but I’m cautiously optimistic it will be a vehicle to showcase some amazingly talented trans performers like Angelica Ross. That’s worth a watch, considering Hollywood tends to primarily feature cis-gender males in trans roles.
If you are not watching this Canadian import starring comedy legends Catherine O’Hara and Eugene Levy, you’re missing out on one of the greatest on-demand gems. Created by Levy and his queer son Daniel, it features some of the most side-splitting skewering of capitalism, consumer culture, and craven Millennial narcissism. Younger Levy plays David Rose, spoiled scion and pansexual playboy of a formerly fabulously wealthy family now thrown to the wrong side of the tracks. The first two seasons showcase David’s emotional trauma at his status loss, as he struggles to find culture and connection in the smallest of rural communities, with the reward hitting in season 3 with an endearingly awkward romance between down-to-earth Patrick and man-child-mess David.
So that’s my list.
Do you have an LGBTQ favorite? Did I miss a show your loving that shows another palette to our colorful community? Some people may appreciate book suggestions, but I’m a bit more shallow then that. Share your picks with me in the comments, and lets continue to build audiences for our LGBTQ stories and storytellers!