By Isabel Corp
It’s awards season, and although LGBTQ+ representation in media still has a long way to go, more LGBTQ+ stories are being told now than ever. In an effort to support and lift up the voices of LGBTQ+ writers and directors—and support authentic LGBTQ+ storylines— we’re taking a look at some of this season’s best LGBTQ+ content.
(P.S. Spoilers ahead!)
Featuring LGBTQ-headed Families
- Grace and Frankie
Now in its sixth season, the Netflix original Grace and Frankie continues to explore the antics and absurdities that come with getting older. At the crux of the show is the unlikely friendship between Grace and Frankie (played by the legendary Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin), which is forged after their ex-husbands Robert and Sol (played by Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston) come out later in life as lovers. The result? One big, sorta happy, mostly complicated LGBTQ+ family navigating new roles, new friendships, and a whole lot of love.
- The L Word: Generation Q
“The L Word: Generation Q”—Showtime’s long-awaited sequel to the groundbreaking LGBTQ+ drama “The L Word”—brings LGBTQ+ parenting to the forefront of this LA crew. Alice (Leisha Hailey) finds herself adjusting to a new role as step-mom in a polyamorous relationship, Bette (Jennifer Beals) and her daughter Angie must navigate a mother-daughter relationship at the height of Bette’s political campaign and the complicated world of adolescence, and Shane (Katherine Moennig) has to decide whether to join her ex-wife Quiara on her new journey towards parenthood. The reboot of the LGBTQ+ classic was brought to life by an all-female writing team made up of mostly queer women, and brought to life by a cast of queer and trans actors.
This shift from old “L Word” to new makes sense. Not only are showrunners and co-executive producers Marja-Lewis Ryan and Illene Chaiken both moms, but our studies show that 63% of millennials (i.e. “Generation Q”!) are considering starting or growing their families.
- Everything is Going to Be Okay
After five years of Freeform’s “The Fosters” putting a spotlight on a two-mom family, they’re at it again! “Everything Is Going to Be Okay” follows Nicholas (Josh Thomas) as he raises his two half-sisters (Kayla Cromer and Maeve Press) after their father’s (spoilers!) untimely death. There’s no better way for him to start his relationship with Alex (Adam Faison) than by roping him along on his adventures caring for two adolescents! The show also explores themes of grief, autism, peer pressure, and more.
For the Littles
- The Bravest Knight
Based on Daniel Errico’s book, The Bravest Knight Who Ever Lived, Hulu’s newest animated children’s series follows former pumpkin farmer Sir Cedric and his husband Andrew as they raise 10-year-old adopted daughter, Nia. Nia’s in training to become a brave knight, no doubt learning values like honor and compassion along the way, while her father, Sir Cedric, shares his story of transforming from farmer to knight (and meeting his prince charming).
- Andi Mack
Airing on Disney Channel from 2017 to 2019, Andi Mack tells the story of 13-year-old Andi (Peyton Elizabeth Lee) and her best friends, Cyrus (Joshua Rush) and Buffy (Sofia Wylie). The live-action tween series begins on the night of her 13th birthday, when she learns that her older sister is actually her mother. The revelation sends her on a journey of self-discovery, and along the way her friend Cyrus comes out as gay, becoming the LGBTQ+ first character on Disney Channel.
- Steven Universe
Beloved by fans of all ages, “Steven Universe” is a coming-of-age story about a young half-human/half-human-like alien or “gem” named Steven Universe (voiced by Zach Callison) who lives with friends of his mother, Garnet (Estelle), Amethyst (Michaela Dietz) and Pearl (Deedee Magno Hall), called the Crystal Gems. Love and family sit at the center of this show, and LGBTQ+ themes become more prominent every season, with (spoilers!) Steven turning into the intersex “Stevonnie” and a kiss between two of his female-presenting Gem caretakers.
For When the Littles Go to Bed
- One Day at a Time
The beloved comedy-drama, previously on Netflix but now airing on Pop TV, about a Cuban-American family living in Echo Park, Los Angeles has won three Golden Globes and two Primetime Emmys. While it is worth watching for Rita Moreno’s dramatic antics alone, Isabella Gomez’s portrayal of sixteen-year-old queer teenager Elena sits at the heart of the show. Elena’s coming out is handled with care and detail, and the show writers do an excellent job of maintaining a balance between her struggle to navigate the world as a queer young woman of color, but also celebrating those parts of her identity as well. Plus, Elena’s romantic relationship with her non-binary partner Syd, is another massive highlight for trans and gender-nonconforming representation.
The show also highlights the experiences of an intergenerational family living under one roof, the joys and challenges of being a single mother, and topics like addiction and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Ryan Murphy’s latest show, “Pose” chronicles the late ‘80s and ‘90s ballroom scene in New York and is unlike any other we have ever seen before. It highlights the stories of more than five trans women of color, all played by trans folks. The show also explores important themes such as racism in the LGBTQ+ community, transphobia, AIDS activism, and chosen family. Now more than ever, the trans community needs to see their lives reflected in pop culture, which is why the world needs more shows like “Pose.”
- Schitt’s Creek
Solidifying Catharine O’Hara’s status as a gay icon (the show is worth watching just for her wigs alone), and a plotline that challenges heteronormative gender and sexual stereotypes, there’s a reason why Schitt’s Creek has won numerous awards. The beloved sitcom about a wealthy family who loses their fortune and has to move to a motel in the country has writing and impeccable comedic timing. Dan Levy plays a pansexual, gender non-conforming adult who falls in love with a business partner.
While the HBO teen melodrama might be mostly known for its glittery fashion statements and wild sex and drug-fueled plotlines, the heart of the show is the pairing of Rue and Jules—beautifully portrayed by Zendaya and Hunter Schafer—and their friendship-turned-relationship. This relationship is an unconventional breath of fresh air that doesn’t face the typical roadblocks that an LGBTQ+ viewer would expect, such as having to come out as lesbian or trans, nor does the show feel the need to put a label on their relationship. As Michael Cuby wrote in a column for them., “what would it look like to live in a world unbound by predetermined notions of what’s ‘acceptable’ romance? Euphoria offers this as an answer — a place where people fall in love with those who make them feel safe, comfortable, and cared for, regardless of gender.”
- Sex Education
Sex Education tackles universal adolescent development from what it’s like to be an angsty teenage boy with an overbearing mother who works in sex therapy, to navigating life as a black gay teenager with conservative traditional parents. The show breaks the taboo on topics that young people desperately need to see explored on television, such as the normalization of open communication about sex, and what sex looks like for different people of a variety of sexual orientations and gender identities.
The fight for LGBTQ+ acceptance relies on seeing our stories reflected on the big and small screens—our narratives as LGBTQ+ folks and families not only help provoke dialogue but also allow young LGBTQ+ kids to feel confident in their identities when they see their lives reflected on screen.
Plus, they’re fun to watch. So, queue up Netflix (or Hulu, or Showtime, or Disney+, or…) and get the popcorn popping!