Entertainment

The 20 Best LGBTQ+ Shows Everyone Needs to Watch

Listen, it is 2021. And Hollywood seems to be working (albeit very slowly) to remedy the lack of diversity and representations on our screens. And that’s a great thing. The more onscreen personalities we have that represent human beings across genders and sexual orientations the better. Bonus points if the show or movie is really, exceptionally great. And these ones are. Here are the shows to watch if you want something that centers LGBTQ+ representation.

Gentleman Jack (2019 to present)

Based on the actual diaries of Anne Lister in which she documented her various lesbian relationships (often in code, since it was the early 1800s), this series follows Lister as she restores an estate she inherited from her uncle and embarks on a (taboo, for the time) relationship with another woman.

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Euphoria (2019 to present)

HBO’s dreamy teen drama is as incredible as the Romeo & Juliet-tinged romance it centers on. Zendaya stars as Rue, who is hopelessly smitten with Jules, a girl who exudes the kind of effortless cool that, well, makes a person easy to fall in love with.

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Dickinson (2019 to present)

Dickinson stars Hailee Steinfeld as a young Emily Dickinson, struggling to fit in as a person who is definitely ahead of her own time. Among Emily’s struggles? She’s in love with her best friend—and brother’s fiancée—Sue.

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The Bisexual (2018)

Bi erasure is a well-documented problem, both in art and in society at large. The Bisexual tackles that issue head-on through the perspective of Leila, a woman who has identified as a lesbian for most of her life, but starts to realize her sexuality is more nuanced after she splits from her partner of a decade, Sadie.

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Faking It (2014 to 2016)

MTV’s Faking It focused on two best friends who pretend to be in a same sex relationship to earn popularity points at their ultra-progressive high school—the only problem (other than the obvious ones): One of them wasn’t “faking it.” The show’s premise seemed a little eyebrow raise-y, but it actually dove deep into what it means to explore your sexuality and was actually the first television show to feature an intersex character.

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Pose (2018 to present)

This groundbreaking drama explores the world of New York 1980s ball culture and the LGBTQ+ community at the time. Although the show portrays the fun and glamorous parts of that era, it largely shows the brutal reality. Still, at the heart of the show is a story of love—among chosen family members, between lovers, and with friends.

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RuPaul’s Drag Race (2009 to present)

Mama Ru and her legendary children have changed the drag scene forever with their “charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent.” The reality television show, which has been running for more than a decade now—and already has a number of successful spin-off franchises—has turned into its own drag empire. And who wouldn’t love a Project Runway meets America’s Next Top Model crossover but for drag queens?

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Queer Eye (2018 to present)

The Fab Five (Bobby Berk, Antoni Porowski, Tan France, Karamo Brown, and Jonathan Van Ness) are forever immortalized in the LGBTQ+ hall of fame. Queer Eye, which is a remake of Bravo’s Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, isn’t just about giving men makeovers. It’s a show that has evolved from fighting for LGBTQ+ acceptance in conservative states to helping members of the community accept themselves and even helping people in another country (see: Queer Eye: We’re in Japan!) realize what it means to truly love and care for themselves.

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AJ and the Queen (2020)

This new Netflix original series is a comedy co-created by and starring RuPaul Charles himself. It follows the story of Ruby Red (Ru), a drag queen traveling across the country in a run-down RV who becomes friends with a tough 10-year-old orphan named AJ (Izzy G.). As the unlikely pair travels from city to city, they spread their message of love and acceptance.

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Tales of the City (2019)

This miniseries is a continuation of the original 1993 show based on Armistead Maupin’s original novels. While the first series was about a young woman named Mary Ann Singleton (Laura Linney) moving from Cleveland to liberated 1970s San Francisco, the 2019 revival shows Mary Ann returning to the city and reuniting with her chosen family after being away for 20 years—seeming to have chosen her career and a nice life in Connecticut over her daughter Shawna (Ellen Page) and ex-husband Brian (Paul Gross).

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EastSiders (2012 to 2019)

EastSiders is a dark comedy following the relationship between Cal (Kit Williamson) and Thom (Van Hansis) and their lives in Silver Lake, California—full of infidelity, drugs, and drama. The latest season features some of the RuPaul’s Drag Race girls, including Manila Luzon and Katya.

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Will and Grace (1998 to 2020)

This sitcom has been around for so long, but it still never gets old. The adventures of interior designer Grace (Debra Messing), her BFF and roommate Will (Eric McCormack), and their eccentric friends Karen (Megan Mullally) and Jack (Sean Hayes) are always a hoot to watch. And although some of the earlier seasons’ jokes may not have aged well, the new seasons are much more with it, without compromising on laughs.

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One Day at a Time (2017 to 2020)

This heartwarming and hilarious family show is largely about the day-to-day life of a Cuban immigrant family, with matriarchs Penelope (Justina Machado) and her mother, Lydia (Rita Moreno), at the forefront. But one of the most important subplots within the show is about young Elena’s (Isabella Gomez) realization about her sexuality and her coming-out experience.

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Orange Is the New Black (2013 to 2019)

Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling) has her entire world turned upside down when she gets sentenced to 15 months in Litchfield Penitentiary after being found guilty of involvement in a drug crime with Alex Vause (Laura Prepon). Inside the women’s prison, she reunites with her old flame and is forced to toughen up and change forever by the cruel conditions and different personalities within Litchfield’s walls.

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Steven Universe (2013 to 2019)

Steven Universe isn’t just a kids’ cartoon. It’s a colorful, goofy, and lighthearted science fiction adventure for all ages featuring a team of magical beings called The Crystal Gems, with young Steven and his magical belly button at the center of the story. The show features an LGBTQ+ couple and isn’t afraid to show the pair kiss onscreen. It also features a marriage proposal between the two queer characters.

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Vida (2018 to 2020)

Vida follows the story of two estranged sisters, Lyn (Melissa Barrera) and Emma (Mishel Prada). The two are forced to reunite and go back to their old neighborhood of Boyle Heights, Los Angeles. The series features a diverse, mainly Latinx cast and tackles issues like class, race, and sexuality.

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Schitt’s Creek (2015 to 2020)

This comedy is about the wealthy Rose family, who suddenly goes broke with only one asset left in their hands: a small town called Schitt’s Creek. All of them are forced to live together in an old motel and try to make do with drastically less than what they’re accustomed to. In their journey, they discover more about themselves, their capabilities, and the goodness within their hearts. Although Schitt’s Creek isn’t primarily an LGBTQ+ show, audiences get to see David’s (Daniel Levy) exploration of his sexuality.

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The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula (2016 to present)

Dragula is basically RuPaul’s Drag Race if it were a horror show. The series features challenges with morbid themes for the nine competing queens. The show ends with one being crowned the season’s “drag supermonster.”

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Glee (2009 to 2015)

Available on: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video

Glee began as a story about a group of high school misfits trying to come together in chorus. Every episode presented a different issue regarding the tough life of an American teenager living in suburban Ohio. One of the most meaningful character developments we get to witness is that of Kurt Hummel (Chris Colfer)—an openly gay student who confronts his naysayers, finds love, and blossoms into the star he was meant to be.

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