We all love a good binge-watch of the latest TV series, but sometimes it can be frustrating to see so few LGBT characters represented on our screens, particularly gay women.
Clearly, the television gods have been listening to our grumbles, because the past few years have seen a burgeoning of amazing and varied lesbian TV shows, ones that avoid stereotypes, limited storylines or patronizing approaches.
Here we’ve got a list that includes superhero and comic-book shows, period drama romps, modern teenage stories, and musicals – so whatever your tastes, you know that next time you snuggle up under a blanket to watch an episode or 4, you’re going to see queer women in all their multifaceted glory.
Wondering where to watch? It depends on where you live in the world and which streaming services you have. We link to the streaming service we watch on in each case - be it Netflix, Amazon Prime, Apply TV+, or elsewhere.
You can get one month free of Amazon Pride (or a 6-month trial for students) of Amazon Prime and also get immediate access to FREE Two Day shipping, Amazon Video, and Music. While you won't be charged for your free trial, you'll be upgraded to a paid membership plan automatically at the end of the trial period - though if you have already binged all these, you could just cancel before the trial ends.
Apple TV+ also has a one-week trial, and Hulu has a one-month trial (which can be bundled with Disney!). Another option might be using a VPN to access Netflix titles locked to other regions. Netflix is now available in more than 190 countries worldwide and each country has a different library and availability. US Netflix is (understandably) one of the best.
While we wish everything could just be in one place - for now, it seems these are the best streaming platforms to watch on.
In this article we will cover...
- Gentleman Jack (2019)
- Orange Is The New Black (2013 – 2019)
- Sex Education (2019 – present)
- Trinkets (2019 – 2020)
- The L Word (2004 – 2009)
- Master of None (2015 & 2017)
- Twenties (2020 – 2021)
- Wynonna Earp (2016 – 2018)
- Glee (2009 – 2015)
- Feel Good (2020 – 2021)
- Killing Eve (2018 – 2020)
- Euphoria (2019 – present)
- Black Lightning (2018 – present)
- Sense8 (2015 – 2018)
- Vida (2018 – 2020)
Hold on to your hats, this is the lesbian period drama romance that you’ve been waiting for. If you haven’t been waiting for this, who even are you?!
We joke, and reassure you that this amazing BBC interpretation of a true story is ideal even if you’re not a fan of British historical drama. Anne Lister was a wealthy landowner who lived in the 18th century, a woman whose determination, confidence, and passion meant she lived her life on her own terms – including who she loved. Resisting familial attempts to marry her well, she falls in love with the beautiful Ann Walker and the resulting story is captivating.
It’s almost cheating to have this on our list of top lesbian TV shows, as unless you’ve been in outer space for 6 years, chances are you’ve heard of Orange is the New Black, a prison-based drama with a truly diverse cast including plenty of queer characters.
Piper Chapman goes to prison after being convicted of a crime that occurred 10 years previously, a crime that she committed for an ex-girlfriend. Upon arriving in Litchfield prison, she encounters a group of women who are by turns kind, violent, complex and funny.
These include trans women, queer women and bisexual women navigating the horrors and heartache of life behind bars.
Here is another British comedy-drama series on Netflix, this one created by screenwriter and playwright Laurie Nunn. The show follows the lives of an ensemble of characters at the (fictional) Moordale Secondary School – students, staff, and parents – as they live out personal dramas, many of them tied to issues stemming from sexual intimacy.
The series has been the recipient of widespread critical acclaim and was streamed by over 40 million viewers during its first season alone.
Student Otis Milburne is the main character, or at least the closest thing the show has to a main character, whose mother is a sex therapist who carries out a series of meaningless physical relationships with various men. Other characters include Adam Groff, a bully who is secretly coming to terms with his own identity, and Lily, a young lesbian student on a mission to lose her virginity.
Despite its central focus on the sex lives of its characters, the show has been praised for its mature treatment of the subject matter rather than just using it for cheap titillation. Also, it can be difficult for a show to handle a large cast while giving each character nuance and dynamism, but Sex Education manages to pull it off somehow with its fantastic writing and astute perceptions into the personalities of its characters.
The show has run for three seasons at this point, and Netflix has already given the green light for the fourth, for which we are all thankful.
Though it sadly will not be coming back for a third season, Trinkets was a show that definitely left its mark on all who have been lucky enough to see it (and if you aren’t among them, we can’t suggest enough that you fix that asap!). It’s about three teen girls from wildly different backgrounds who form a connection while shoplifting together. As the show’s tagline says, “Good girls are bad girls who don’t get caught.”
Tabitha is the popular girl, and is played by the non-binary Quintessa Swindell, while the aloof introvert Elodie is played by queer actor Brianna Hildebrand. Rounding out the trio is Moe Truax (played by Kiana Madeira), the punk character who carries out a secret – and seemingly unlikely – relationship with soccer jock Noah.
The show’s exploration of the girls’ growing bond was a real treat, as was the fleshing out of the girls’ disparate personalities. While Netflix has officially pulled the plug on a third season, you can still stream the show’s 20 episodes right now.
Think of it as Sex and the City for queer women – watching it now, it’s intensely problematic, but at the same time you’ve got to remember that this was one of the first TV shows with more than one queer character so it gets props for that. And despite its many problems, it’s a hell of a fun show!
December 2019 then saw a ‘Generation Q’ season released set 10 years after the original.
Are we allowed to put a TV series on a list of best lesbian TV shows merely because of one superb episode? We’re going to do it, anyway. To be fair, Master of None also gets points for featuring out lesbian Lena Waithe as main character Dev’s best friend, another friend casually talking about her sex life without it being a big deal at all.
Then there’s the famous ‘Thanksgiving’ episode, which Waithe co-wrote and rightly won an Emmy for, focusing on Denise’s coming out story. It’s an episode that spans about 25 years, set entirely in her family home, and is realistic, touching and full of authentic, fully-formed characters.
Twenties is a comedy series on BET created by actress, screenwriter and producer Lena Waithe (who also created another comedy series for BET, Boomerang. Waithe has received the honors of being named one of the 100 Most Influential People of 2018 by Time Magazine as well as Fast Company’s (an American business magazine) Queer 50 list. As an actress, Waithe is most notable for her role in the Netflix series Master of None.
Shot in single-camera fashion, the show is about a queer woman of color named Hattie and her hetero friends living in Los Angeles. Hattie, played by freshman actor and comedian Jonica T. Gibbs (who also is openly gay), is the show’s protagonist – a struggling TV writer. The role is clearly autobiographical in part, and loosely based on Waithe’s own experiences in the industry.
The show has run for two seasons, and at the time of this writing the prospect of a third season remains up in the air. Whether or not we will see more of Hattie’s’ exploits and adventures in love, life and the professional world, the show is well worth getting caught up on right now at 18 episodes.
One of the things we love most about recent lesbian TV shows is the huge range of genres they showcase. From sitcom to period drama to graphic novel adaptation, in the case of Wynonna Earp. The title character returns to her hometown, Purgatory, to become a demon protector in the Wild West.
Yup, it’s as awesome as it sounds, made even better by the blossoming relationship between Wynonna’s sister Waverly and female police officer Nichole, a romance that might be one of our favorite lesbian TV pairings of all time.
Look, we’ve got the same issues with Glee that everyone else seems to, but there’s no denying that it packed a powerful punch when it came to showing queer relationships as every bit as meaningful as hetero ones, here in the context of teen love. Case in point: Brittana.
Glee managed to tell the story of Santana’s coming out in a way that beat the tropes of the ‘teen-lesbian-coming-out’ plotline while providing lesbian fangirls with an authentic couple to root for. It also helped that we found an understated bisexual character in Brittany, who loved who she loved without being played for titillation.
Feel Good is a British romantic comedy-drama in which co-creator, actor and screenwriter Mae Martin stars as none other than themselves. It goes without saying that the material is semi-autobiographical in nature, and the show follows the relationship between Mae and their girlfriend George (played by English actress and singer/songwriter Charlotte Ritchie). Also joining the cast is the legendary Friends actress Lisa Kudrow, who plays Mae’s mother. The show saw its Netflix streaming premiere in March of 2020.
The budding relationship between the two hits some major snags as George must learn to contend with the ever-present specter of Mae’s former drug addiction. And there is further conflict between the couple as George is reluctant to come out and reveal the relationship to friends and family. Feel Good has seen two seasons thus far with 6 episodes each. Netflix has not yet revealed whether the show will continue for a third season.
While we anxiously wait, now would be the perfect time to get caught up. The show is well-reviewed on Rotten Tomatoes, and its semi-autobiographical nature provides insight that not many shows manage to pull off, try as they might.
Despite accusations of queerbaiting, we’re still going to call Killing Eve a lesbian TV show. OK, maybe we’re just trying to get you to watch it – but seriously, you should watch it, it’s incredible. Especially the first series, written by Fleabag creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge, which is dark, funny, violent and sexy all at once.
Sandra Oh plays an MI6 investigator on the tail of Jodie Cromer’s highly-skilled and possibly psychopathic assassin, who becomes obsessed with her in turn. Is it love? Is it a comparison? Who knows, but we’re here for it. The cherry on top of the cake is the co-star turn by amazing (and out) Fiona Shaw.
When HBO’s new show came out, a lot of us seemed to think it would be a kind of updated OC-style teen drama so the explicit nature of the series might have come as a bit of a surprise – but not in a bad way! Plus, to be honest, what else can we expect of HBO?!
Euphoria stars Zendaya as a 17-year-old just out of rehab, it explores her blossoming relationship with transgender girl Jules. It’s so unusual to see teen sexuality represented in this diverse way, without creepiness and showing the complexities of emotions.
Honestly, how could we not feature the show with the first black lesbian superhero on TV? It also yet again proves that nowadays lesbian TV shows can come in all genres!
We love a bit of sci-fi at the best of times, and especially one that features queer relationships with a woman who can make herself stronger through her breathing and create powerful shockwaves. It’s what makes Black Lightning so immediately lovable as fighting increasing crime rates and institutional racism, Anissa Pierce/Thunder works with her father Jefferson.
This out-of-the-box show met with mixed reviews for its first season, but by the time it was canceled after the second, the internet was basically fully in love with it. It’s probably safe to say that if it’s your kind of thing, you’ll love Sens8 forever.
A group of 8 strangers find themselves able to connect telepathically after shared visions and get together to try and find out what’s going on. Basically, every character is pansexual and there’s a lesbian relationship that will warm the cockles of your heart (even as you find yourself wondering what on earth is going on with this plot!).
Mexican-American actress, playwright, screenwriter and dramaturge Tanya Selene Saracho was inspired by a short story titled “Pour Vida” when she created this show. Vida ran for three seasons on the Starz network from 2018 to 2020, each of which has a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
When their mother dies, two estranged sisters of Hispanic heritage, Lyn and Emma, played by Melissa Barrera and Mishel Prada respectively, reunite. It is not an altogether happy occasion, however, as the two are polar opposites. Much of the strife between them stems from the fact that Emma is a queer woman who makes no bones about her sexual orientation.
The show explores the sister’s relationship as it evolves and the two struggle to find common ground as each is confronted with the past. All of this occurs against the backdrop of the fate of the bar which Lyn and Emma’s mother left to them, with supporting character Nelson Herrera trying to pressure the sisters into selling the bar.
All of this leads to a rather shocking revelation about the Lyn and Emma’s mother, which we won’t spoil for you here. Suffice it to say that while the show sadly did not get picked up for a fourth season, it is more than worth bingeing on over the course of a weekend with three seasons and 22 episodes in total.