There’s nothing we love more than snuggling up on the sofa to binge-watch some TV, whether it’s a quirky comedy, reality TV or some drama. Ideally, a bit of everything (not that we’re demanding or anything).
And luckily for us, we’re living not only in a golden age of television, but a golden age of queer television. There are tons of gay TV shows with actual well-rounded characters (no ‘token gays’ here), proud promotion of LGBT issues and a hell of a lot of joy and fun.
Of course, not all of our fave gay TV shows are brand-new; some are old classics (Ab Fab, anyone?!), some have been running for seasons and others are reboots. But they’re all fabulous, and if you haven’t seen them yet then it’s time to get binging!
If you haven’t watched Ru Paul’s Drag Race yet then seriously, where have you been? This joyful , colourful reality TV show where the most fabulous drag queens battle it out for the crown is over 10 seasons in and shows no signs of stopping – thank goodness, as we wouldn’t be able to handle TV without it.
It’s one of the most sickening gay TV shows out there and even if you’re not that into glitz and glamour, you’ll be hooked on this. You’ve also got to admire how it’s revolutionized drag culture around the world and brought some superb lip-syncing, outfits and sashaying to our binge-watching-fests.
If you manage to get through all of the original, there are also two wonderful ‘All Stars’ seasons to watch as well!
We love this modern TV show following the New York-based lives of Alex, a 20-something single gay man, and his friends. It’s based on a blog that ran between 2005 and 2008 called ‘The Great Cock Hunt’ and when none of the networks were interested, creator Jon Marcus developed it as a web series.
This more independent way of releasing the show meant it could be that bit racier than a television network might have allowed and there’s a lot to relish in Alex’s unashamed enjoyment of sex. It’s original, it’s funny and it’s alternative enough to name-drop and look cool!
Taking things to the West Coast, this San-Francisco-based show started in 2014 and quickly became one of our faves – unfortunately, as it didn’t get picked up for a third season so we were left bereft! Unlucky-in-love video game designer Patrick navigates relationships with handsome barbers and sexy bosses alongside his friends.
Starring the fabulous Jonathan Groff and British Russel Tovy, in a way it was so revolutionary because it portrayed gay life as totally ordinary. The writing was clever and fun and the movie-length finale had us shedding tears.
For sheer, unabashed joy, you can’t do better than Queer Eye. We loved the original, of course, but the revival is what has us laughing, crying and whooping with happiness every episode. From the emotional makeover of shy Tom in the first episode, to the important conversations with a Trump-supporting policeman, to helping someone come out to their stepmother, this show champions the importance of being who you are.
Now more than ever we need to connect with people as humans, not as labels; that’s exactly what the Fab Five do. We can never decide who we like most – Jonathan with his ceaseless enthusiasm, cute Anthony or wise Karamo – but then we realise that it doesn’t matter; they’re all wonderful!
Although it was originally a British show, it’s the US version of Queer As Folk that we always nostalgically turn back to when we need a dose of (melo)drama. A talking point of the early 2000s, this Pittsburgh-set show was one of the first hour-long dramas to fully focus on the lives of gay characters in their own right, not just as walk-on parts.
It’s a giant among gay TV shows not just for its ground-breaking scenes (it was the first simulated sex scene between men shown on TV in America) but for tackling many ‘big issue’ topics facing the gay community. Aside from this aspect, there are also plenty of tumultuous relationships to get emotionally involved in over the five seasons.
This Netflix show is one that will make many of us very happy – a sci-fi show with well-developed LGBT characters. Alas, it was cancelled after 2 seasons, but there’s still plenty to enjoy in those two (warning: you might need to make notes to follow the plot).
The story centres around 8 strangers who somehow become psychically linked. One is a transgender woman with a warm relationship with her partner and another is a gay movie star who comes out at the end of the first season – these two share one of the most powerful scenes when they discuss the importance of being who you are. It’s raw; it’s heartbreaking; it’s necessary.
This show is a bit of a mixed bag and if you’re not used to British sitcoms it might take a while to get used to. However, we love the nostalgic 1970s feel and the fact that Ian McKellen stars (of course!). The plot centres on Freddie and Stuart, who have been together almost 50 years, live in a flat in Covent Garden and regularly entertain guests.
They’ve got a bit of a love/hate relationship going on – as you would, after 50 years! – but the underlying premise is warm and funny. Pus there’s Iwan Rheon as their upstairs neighbour for some eye candy!
You might disagree with us, but we think no one does quirky humour like the Australians. This alternative take on a ‘millennial’ comedy takes this expertise a step further by managing to mix in a dose of tragedy for a nuanced and fascinating show about a self-deprecating gay teenager and his dysfunctional social network.
While many of the scenarios that play out in the Gay Melbourne are ones that many of us have encountered, this is part of the magic. Each situation is treated with a sensitivity and humour that quickly made it one of our favourite gay TV shows. There are four seasons with no plans to make anymore, so perhaps try to hold back on binging this one to make it last longer!
I mean, it’s all in the name, isn’t it? Absolutely Fabulous, or ‘Ab Fab’ as many know it, is a British 90s classic that has never gone out of style. Its main characters Edna and Patsy – hilariously played by Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley – are consistently chaotic, drunk and fabulous in London, with ambitions to be stylish and sophisticated always getting lost in a bottle of champers.
If you don’t like cringe humour, you might find this a bit too embarrassing to watch, but we would really recommend it. Let’s be honest, these are the kind of friends we all wished we had – you’d never know where a night out could end up and you’d get some brilliant leopard-print fashion inspo!
We remember this being released (yes, we’re that old) and how utterly ground-breaking it was at the time; and even now, re-watching old episodes you can see why this is a show that awakened many teens’ dormant queerness. The sophisticated lesbians in this soap opera of a show offered a fascinating take on gay life in LA.
Of course, we’re not sure how realistic the complicated love triangles, affairs and impossibly beautiful people were; but we still love it. The first two seasons are witty, intriguing and incredibly addictive. It’s a must-watch for anyone into a bit of nostalgia. In fact, this and Queer As Folk are two of the most prominent gay ensemble dramas, a genre that doesn’t really exist anymore.
Unlike many of the shows on this list, Shameless is no comedy. It’s a pretty gritty Chicago-based drama following the complex lives of alcoholic Frank Gallagher and his many children as they navigate poverty, crime and relationships. What’s kept us hooked is the growing bond between the repressed ‘tough guy’ and the sensitive son of the family.
It’s been carefully developed with enough tenderness to melt even the hardest of hearts and has blossomed since season 1. Watching two young men come to terms with their feelings has been done before, of course, but the backdrop of working-class societal expectations and complex notions of masculinity in this show is what makes it so compelling and original.
Netflix’s hit comedy about a woman who escapes a 15-year imprisonment by a cult and moves to New York doesn’t sound like it should be a comedy at all, but it’s actually one of the happiest shows on TV. It’s also one of the gayest, not only for its cute aesthetic but also for the truly fabulous Titus Andromedon, Kimmy’s flatmate.
Melodramatic, flamboyant, lots and lots of fun, Titus looks after Kimmy but also subverts the trope of the ‘gay best friend’ by actually getting, y’know, storylines. Plus, he does a version of Beyoncé’s lemonade that we’ll never forget (and always hope to imitate).