It’s no secret that we’re living in a golden era of television. Critics and think pieces have been telling us this for the past five years, as have all our friends each time they recommend a new series. An exciting result of this is that finally, the queer community is getting a diverse selection of LGBT TV shows for those cozy Netflix nights in.
Now, we don’t just mean that there are more token gay characters in these TV shows – hell, no! We mean that the storylines, characters, themes, and styles of so many programmes are gaining a depth and an inclusivity that we simply haven’t seen before (certainly not to this extent).
It isn’t only happening in one genre of TV show either. Whether you love comedy, drama, fantasy, or a mixture of everything, you’re sure to find LGBT-friendly options out there. It could mean that there are (finally!) main characters that are gay, but we also mean that the topics and themes are all-inclusive. Basically, the distinction between ‘gay’ and ‘straight’ TV shows is becoming increasingly blurred – exactly as it should be!
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.
So, what’s next on your binge-watch list? How about checking out some of these fabulous LGBT TV show options? Everyone – gay, straight, or unicorn – is bound to love them!
In this article we will cover...
- 1. Special
- 2. Orange Is The New Black
- 3. American Gods
- 4. Pose
- 5. Now Apocalypse
- 6. Grace & Frankie
- 7. Gaycation
- 8. The Handmaid’s Tale
- 9. Schitt’s Creek
- 10. Sex Education
- 11. Wynonna Earp
- 12. One Day At A Time
- 13. Tales of the City
- 14. Bonding
- 15. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
- 16. Euphoria
- 17. Killing Eve
- 18. The L Word
- 19. One Mississippi
- 20. Steven Universe
- 21. Will and Grace
- 22. Noah’s Arc
- 23. Gentleman Jack
- 24. Eastsiders
- 25. Love, Victor
- 26. RuPaul’s Drag Race
- 27. Super Drags
- 28. Bojack Horseman
- 29. Glee
- 30. Q-Force
With rave reviews, this honest and funny comedy produced and starred in by Ryan O’Connell is one of the best things you haven’t watched yet (unless you have watched it – in which case, we’re sure you’re nodding along now). It’s semi-autobiographical, based on his memoir, and tracks the journey of a gay man with cerebral palsy who decides to change his life.
It’s a great show on so many levels set in present-day Los Angeles. The main character is deliciously sarcastic, flawed yet so relatable; it’s hilarious, but it’s also often very moving. Anyone who feels like they don’t fit in or those of us constantly navigating our own mistakes – this one is for you! It’s also important to have something like Special on our screens because, as O’Connell himself says, “when you don’t see yourself being reflected back at you, you’re implicitly told that you don’t matter.”
By the end of your 8-part binge-watch, you won’t know if your tears are of inspiration or laughter. This is what we want from our shows!
Thankfully season 2 of Special is also out now – and is arguably even better than the first!
It’s hard to know what to say about Orange Is The New Black that hasn’t already been said but, if for some reason, you haven’t checked out this wonderful show filled to the brim with queer and LGBTQ+ themes, then you should do so as soon as possible.
The lead character Piper (played by Taylor Schilling) is a privileged white woman thrown into a prison of all-female inmates, and, through this experience, the show explores a number of themes having to do with queer issues and female sexuality at large.
The sheer number of multi-dimensional queer characters in Orange Is The New Black makes it worth watching. Whether it’s Sophia (Laverne Cox), Poussey (Samira Wiley), Suzanne (Uzo Aduba), or Nicky (Natasha Lyonne), one of the women on this show is sure to resonate with any queer viewer in some way.
Orange Is the New Black is one of the first series ever made exclusively for streaming, so if you haven’t binged it yet, it’s all available on Netflix now.
From the absolutely epic opening credits of American Gods, the recent adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s book of the same name, you know you’re in for a treat. Neon lights and pulsing music merge with the symbols of religion in a trippy intro to a wild ride of a show.
The story follows ex-convict Shadow Moon as he gets caught up in a war between the Old Gods, an ancient group who have fallen on hard times, and the New Gods like Media and Technology. The cast is stellar (we could watch Ian McShane for hours) and the story is fascinating.
It’s the aesthetics of this fantasy-horror that really help it take its place in the canon of LGBT shows. The showrunner Bryan Fuller has always been interested in bringing the stories of those who feel ‘different to the fore; American Gods offers him the perfect way to do this because all these gods are hiding. It also includes one of the most honest and electrifying gay sex scenes ever seen on TV – it’s tender, erotic, and entirely without fanfare, except for many to ask why it’s taken so long to see this realistic depiction.
Whether you’re a fan of the book, fantasy, Bryan Fuller, or none of the above, you’ll love this original show. Season 2 has struggled with reviews, true, but season 1 is practically perfect.
We seriously hope you’re already watching Pose because if you’re not, you need to cancel all other plans and get on it NOW.
Ryan Murphy, famous for Glee and American Horror Story, made history with this show because it features the largest number of transgender cast members in US TV history. But it wasn’t a token gesture – the show also tells a well-rounded and rich story of life and culture in 1980s New York, including the glamorous ballroom scene.
The depth of humanity on offer in Pose is enormously affecting. The plot covers the devastation of the AIDs crisis, the challenges faced by transgender people of color, the staggering wealth and privilege of the time (and how many people were shut out of it). While it treats these topics with respect, there’s a good helping of humor, fun, and some downright fabulous costumes.
Huge amounts of commitment have gone into making the set and props as authentic to the New York period as possible.
If you only watch one of the LGBT TV Shows on this list, make sure Pose is it…
This eclectic, smutty, funny show is a thriller, a romance, and sci-fi all at the same time. A diverse group of 20-somethings in LA are brought together by hedonistic Ulysses. His friends and their romantic intertwinings live classic 20-somethings lives until Uly becomes convinced the apocalypse is coming.
Whether he’s actually having premonitions or simply drug-fuelled delusions is difficult to tell.
Creator Gregg Araki brought his colorful, exuberant style to Now Apocalypse to create something that’s part music video, part acid trip, and all 100% inclusive. Despite the otherworldly feel to some of it, it’s an empathetic piece of work that makes even the raunchy material glow like magic.
This Netflix comedy brings the diversity both in LGBT characters and in age set in San Diego’s La Jolla area. So often TV programmes focus on young people, so seeing older people navigate emotions, relationships and crises is a breath of fresh air for all of us! Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin star as Grace and Frankie, arch-rivals who learn that their husbands have fallen in love with each other.
When the women are left, they learn how to live together.
The show started out a bit shaky but has only gotten better with time. Sure, it can be a little sappy, but sometimes we all like having our heartstrings tugged a little. The humour has become bolder and the characters have become better-developed. RuPaul also joined the cast in season 5 as a nemesis for the pair, adding to the fun!
Stop the press, this is an LGBT travel show. Aka, our dream show.
Ellen Page and her best friend Ian Daniel spend each episode in a different country learning about the LGBT community in these locations. We cannot stress enough how fascinating this show is, particularly if you’re a member of the LGBT community who likes to travel. Some of the notable stops include Jamaica, notorious for homophobia, and Tokyo and Osaka, with quirky gay bars but a somewhat ambiguous stance on homosexuality.
The Gaycation hosts aren’t afraid of asking difficult questions and listen to the stories they hear with empathy. A special episode they did after the tragic shooting in Orlando brings the compassion to the fore. It’s a force for learning and change that we hope comes back soon (the last episode aired in 2017).
You would have to have been living under a rock to not have heard of The Handmaid’s Tale, an eerily prescient adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s 1980s classic that gained even more depth as it landed at the dawn of Trump’s presidency.
The series is set in Gilead, a fundamentalist state that treats women as property and uses fertile women as ‘handmaids’ to bear children for the ruling classes. It’s incredibly dark and incredibly gripping, with universal themes and messages.
While there are LGBT characters, such as June’s best friend from before Gilead took over and her shopping partner Ofglen, these are not token ‘gay characters’ but so much more than their sexual identity. The show highlights what can happen (and what has happened) to people who are marginalised in society.
It shows us a brutality that we have to always remember to stand against. Amidst the horror, there are moments of light, reminding us how resilient humanity can be. Even though it’s not always an easy watch, it is a must-watch.
We’re not going to lie, initially we let the title of this Canadian sitcom put us off what might be one of the funniest TV shows around at the moment. A wealthy family are defrauded and lose all their money, forcing them to move to a motel in small town Schitt’s Creek. It’s somewhat absurd but always hilarious as they get to know the straightforward residents. Beneath the capers, there’s a warm heart and you’ll end up falling in love with the whole cast of characters.
What makes it qualified to be on our list of LGBT TV Shows? Well, there’s a pansexual character (the adult son in the family) whose sexuality is never judged, questioned or even highlighted. Not even in a ‘these are my struggles but I’ve overcome them’ way. He is who he is, and the other characters accept him 100%. You’ll be amazed at how refreshing this is to see.
Sex Education is one of the single most refreshing TV shows around. We wish it had existed when we were teens, to show us that a full range of sexuality and sexual experiences are possible and totally normal. Awkward teen Otis finds it difficult to get in touch with his sexuality as his sex therapist mother tries to talk about everything; he someone ends up as the school’s sex therapist.
Set in Wales but with an oddly American high school aesthetic, the characters are extremely well developed and the storylines explore sensitive subjects with levity and tenderness. Otis’s gay best friend is one of ours (and everyone else’s) favourite characters for his openness, courage and fabulous sense of style.
Based on a comic book series of this same name, this supernatural horror series speaks to our love of sci-fi and of inclusive characters. Wynonna Earp fights the dead with a weapon inherited from her great-great-grandfather. There’s a wild-West feel to this Wynonna Earp and the main character is witty, tough and complex.
Family loyalty is a huge theme, as is destiny. Seeing so many kickass female characters in one show is unusual, let’s be honest, so we fully appreciated it. Wynonna’s sister Waverly goes on her own journey of discovery as she falls in love with the new police officer in town – their blossoming relationship gives us all the feels.
This ensemble comedy series is a reimagining of a sitcom from the 1970s and 80s, depicting a Cuban-American family. At the family’s core is the mother, a veteran with PTSD raising her two children alone, with the help of her mother and the landlord of their building. All of the characters have their own journeys and the show deals with issues like racism, depression, alcoholism, and homophobia with warmth and understanding, all while not compromising on the laughs.
Season one’s coming-out story involving the teenage daughter is a particularly strong point and a reason we had to include it on our list of LGBT TV Shows. It’s realistic, hopeful, and doesn’t lapse into cliché. We love that this show takes a mainstream format and uses it to send important messages.
This was originally an iconic queer book series, now brought to TV for the second time in this 2019 drama. Starring Laura Linney, it follows her character as she returns to San Francisco after 20 years to reconnect with her daughter, ex, and various friends.
The diverse mix of characters, including a transwoman, a transgender man, and a drag queen played by RuPaul, celebrates the openness and inclusivity of San Francisco, all while keeping the drama fresh and compelling.
The bite-sized episodes of this fun and sexually frank show are perfect for binging. They actually only last 15 minutes each, so you could (theoretically) watch all 7 in 2 hours! It’s light and enjoyable, but also carries an important message about the value of being braver in all areas of your life.
Grad student Tiff moonlights as a dominatrix and brings in her high school best friend, Pete, a young gay man, to be her assistant.
As the two of them navigate life and the kinks of Tiff’s clients, their forays into the world of BDSM, harnesses, and pup play help them reflect on their friendship and life choices. It’s not the meatiest show we’ve ever watched, let’s be honest, but it’s a short and sweet LGBT TV show, which is sometimes exactly what you need.
Created, written, and directed by actor, singer, and comedian Rachel Bloom, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has been a certified hit among a number of communities for a long time now, including among theater circles and queer folk. The show pushes the boundaries of network TV in a number of ways, both in form and content, and through its four seasons consistently received low ratings, the show’s incredible exploration of depression, trauma, reproductive health, and more has garnered it an ardent and passionate fan base of critically thinking fans.
One area in which the series shines is in its depiction of sexuality. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend often explores heavier topics with a tongue-in-cheek musical number, and when it came to an episode focused on bisexuality, it was no different.
The song “Gettin’ Bi” sees Darryl (Pete Gardner) overshare about his newfound bisexuality. “Bi’s legit; whether you’re a he or a she we might be a perfect fit,” he sings. It might sound like an easy joke, but Crazy Ex-Girlfriend rarely goes for the low-hanging fruit. All the characters in the series, especially the queer ones, are multilayered and three-dimensional, and the series is worth watching for that alone.
HBO Max’s immensely popular Euphoria is one of the most successful and visible queer television series of recent years, and for good reason too. Starring Zendaya and Hunter Schafer, among others, the series is a raw and real exploration into the lives of modern young adults and teenagers, and its intense, heavy themes are so believable and relatable that it can almost be overwhelming or overstimulating at times.
The show isn’t necessarily an uplifting one, and its themes of abuse, addiction, and more are hard to swallow. However, Euphoria is genuine, for better and for worse. It captures what it’s like to be an LGBTQ+ youth better than almost any other television program out there, and, while it’s rarely positive, instead swinging wildly between depressive and euphoric, it’s intensely relatable, and anyone, queer or not, is sure to find some piece of themselves in the show.
Killing Eve is not as explicitly queer as some of the other shows on this list, but make no mistake — the series, which stars Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer, is one of the most captivating and gripping queer-coded series to release this decade.
After intelligence analyst Eve (Oh) becomes obsessed with the assassin known as Villanelle, a cat-and-mouse game full of queer themes and events unfolds. The two women’s relationship is complex and multifaceted; it’s not quite romance but not quite hatred. The women grow obsessed with one another after time passes, and this relationship that starts strained only grows more so.
To hear showrunner Phoebe Waller-Bridge say it, the characters “give each other life in a way that’s more complex than a romantic relationship. It’s sexual; it’s intellectual, it’s aspirational.”
When The L Word premiered, there was nothing else like it on television. Created by Ilene Chaiken with help from Michele Abbot and Kathy Greenberg, The L Word is a drama that aired on Showtime from 2004 to 2009, and its depiction of lesbian and bisexual women was groundbreaking at the time and is still relevant today.
The show, which depicted these women going through their dating lives and more in West Hollywood, developed a cult following of queer and gender non-conforming viewers, and, according to Rolling Stone at least, it wasn’t uncommon for fans of the series to gather together and watch the series live together, gossiping and theorizing about where the story may go next.
The series has since been rebooted/continued in the form of The L Word: Generation Q, but, for any fan of queer TV, the original should not go unwatched.
A quieter, calmer, easy-to-binge show, One Mississippi follows a fictionalized version of Tig Notaro (one of our favorite lesbian comedians) as she returns to her hometown in the American South and attempts to come to terms with her own sexuality.
The protagonist deals with a whole host of issues, like sexual misconduct (based on the actions of at-the-time executive producer Louis C.K.) and what it’s like to have a crush on a straight woman when you’re gay. The series, which premiered in 2015 and is available now on Amazon Prime, has only two seasons available, and once you start watching, you’ll likely find it pretty hard to stop.
This series definitely flew under the radar of most, but it is absolutely worth checking out if you’re a fan of slower-paced dramas with real-life queer issues at the center.
Along with Adventure Time, She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, and a whole host of other series released in the last ten years or so, Steven Universe represents a major shift in the animation industry towards an inclusivity of queer stories and characters.
The series, which aired on Cartoon Network, is a fantastic watch for all ages, and its inclusion of a number of queer relationships and characters makes it worth watching for just about anyone.
Steven Universe is never heavy-handed, but it never dances around certain issues either. Its themes are thinly veiled metaphors for queer and trans issues, but the series strikes the perfect balance between queer entertainment and queer education.
Like Orange is the New Black, it’s hard to find something to say about Steven Universe and its queer themes that hasn’t already been said online somewhere, but we will say this — watch it now if you haven’t.
An odd choice, we know, but hear us out. Understanding the history of queer television and entertainment is just as important as any other show on the list, and it’s absolutely impossible to talk about LGBTQ+ TV without talking about Will and Grace.
Like The L Word a few years later, Will and Grace made a huge splash when it debuted in 1998, as it was the first network show to feature openly gay male characters as leads. Not every episode of Will and Grace is worth watching, of course; like most long-running sitcoms, some episodes are notably better than others. But there is a charm to going back and watching the series from today’s point of view.
For many folks who came of age in the late 90s, Will and Grace is a queer touchstone of their adolescence, and, if you haven’t before, we definitely recommend seeking out a few choice episodes.
And if you are a super-fan, you will already know that 3 additional seasons were produced in 2017-2020, which while clearly not as edgy as the original – provide a fascinating watch at how much the world has changed in just 15 years.
Following Noah Nicholson (Darryl Stephens), Noah’s Arc is a lesser-known queer series that ran on the LOGO network from 2005 to 2006. Featuring themes about gay romance, HIV, and more, Noah’s Arc was absolutely and completely ahead of its time, and nearly every episode has a perfect balance between comedy and drama to make binging the two short seasons a breeze.
Noah’s Arc is still one of the only television shows out there to feature and center on gay, black men but, after watching it, you’ll find yourself asking why there aren’t so many more. The series definitely has a cult following online and beyond, and we recommend adding yourself to that group as soon as possible.
Gentleman Jack is a historical drama on HBO Max created by Sally Wainwright. Following the life of landowner and industrialist Anne Lister, and based on Lister’s own diaries and journals, Gentleman Jack stars Suranne Jones and tells the story of a queer woman’s life at a time where such a thing was unheard of.
Lister’s string of lesbian relationships is exciting and saucy to watch unfold, and Wainwright’s script is tight and incredibly well-researched. A joy to watch from start to finish, Gentleman Jack is a great show that features queer stories from a time period where such things were regularly erased.
EastSiders, which began as a $2,000 self-financed web project and has since turned into a four-season Netflix series with thousands of dedicated fans, is another great queer TV show you should check out ASAP.
Telling the story of a gay couple and their friends living in Silverlake in Los Angeles, the underrated series is a quaint, slice-of-life drama that packs a real punch at times. The dialogue and the filmmaking make the series feel unbelievably realistic, and all four seasons are sharp, charming, and right on the mark.
The show is light, fluffy teenage-angst-ridden fare that you’ve seen a hundred times on The Disney Channel, but we still think it’s notable and worth checking due to its queer angle. The episodes are digestible, charming, and reminiscent of high school movie tropes that we’ve been dealing with for 40 years now, but they’re still worth checking out.
Love, Victor is comfortable and little else; it doesn’t push boundaries, but if it seems like the kind of show you’d like, then add it to your list of queer TV shows to watch now!
A show that likely needs no introduction if you’ve made it to this point in this particular list, RuPaul’s Drag Race is to many in the queer community what sporting events are to straight men — a spectacle to be watched every week and talked about with your friends every weekend.
The reality television show, which first began running in 2009, has since created dozens of spin-offs programs and seasons in its more than a decade on the air, and that’s not even mentioning the celebrities the show has made of a number of queens in its time.
Drag Race, in no small part, brought the world of drag into mainstream pop culture, but the show is so much more than that, and if you somehow have not yet been dragged into the Drag Race world, just know that it’s likely a matter of time. Queer culture, for better or for worse, is being made in part on Drag Race and its surrounding zeitgeist, and no list of queer shows is complete without it one there.
Created for Netflix by Anderson Mahanski, Fernando Mendonça and Paulo Lescaut, Super Drags is a Brazilian animated show where the queer themes and characters are in no way subtle or not explicit. In fact, the three friends at the center of the show, Donizete, Patrick, and Ralph (who have alter egos as drag queen superheroes: Scarlet Carmesim, Lemon Chiffon, and Safira Cyan) have only one mission on their mind— protecting the LGBTQ+ community.
Super Drags is audacious and over-the-top in all the best ways, and seeing a show that is this unafraid to be a champion for the queer community is definitely something special.
The show was unfortunately canceled after a short five-episode season, but if you’re looking for a way to maximize the amount of Super Drags content in your life here’s a recommendation: watch the original Brazilian version with subtitles first, and then re-watch the English language dub. On the first watch, you can enjoy the show as the creators intended it (something all the more important when watching and enjoying art by queer artists).
And then, on the second watch, you can enjoy hearing the voices of Ru Paul’s drag race stars like Trixie Mattel, Ginger Minj, Willam, and Shangela.
This animated comedy created for Netflix that features an anthropomorphic talking horse who lives his life as a washed-up TV star makes this list for one reason and one reason alone: its thoughtful, tactful and, unfortunately, novel exploration of asexuality.
Asexuality, of course, falls under the queer banner, and not one but two characters in Bojack Horseman identify with this sexuality. Asexual fans of the show have applauded the writers handling of the issue, and it’s a good thing they do, because if Bojack had gotten it wrong, it’s likely that no show would’ve gotten it right. That’s because a 2019 study (taken in the year that Todd, one of the most prominent supporting characters on Bojack, came out as asexual) found that Bojack Horseman was the only show on TV that year that featured an asexual character or plotline.
That means that, like many queer media examples, the asexual themes on Bojack serve the dual roles of representation and education. For some viewers, it’s likely that Bojack was the first introduction they had to the asexual part of the sexuality spectrum, so we’re just glad that they did it with nuance.
While some fans will say, rightfully so, that Glee has aged about as well as milk, it’s hard to understate just how big of a cultural moment the show had as it was airing, so it’s here on this list if for no other reason than that. Centered around the lives of a high school glee club, Glee features a number of queer characters and storylines, with many of the episodes being focused on the gay and lesbian relationships at work within the high school.
Lots — and we mean lots — of the material is out of date when viewed through today’s lens, but if you can put that aside and realize how impactful Glee was for so many young queer youth, lots of the cringe-worthy lines can be quietly overlooked.
Released in September of 2021, Q-Force is an adult animated comedy created for Netflix by Gabe Liedman (whose previous work includes Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Inside Amy Schumer, and PEN15).
The series is centered on the titular Q-Force, a group of secret agents reminiscent of James Bond’s M16. The star of the show, a superspy named Sam Merriweather, is also familiar to 007, albeit with a few distinct changes. See, the Q-Force is made up entirely of gay and queer folk, a fact that unfortunately, in their line of work, keeps them from being as powerful as they could be.
To prove their worth to their higher-ups, the Q-Force takes a straight man onto the team, and from here that a lot of the show’s comedy derives. The show has its heart in the right place, even though some of its jokes don’t land, and that makes it worth a spot on this list in our book. Additionally, even though the show was written and produced by actual queer people (something that still is all too uncommon when it comes to queer stories in major media), Q-Force bases a lot of its jokes on aspects of the gay community that would be considered low-hanging-fruit at best and insensitive stereotypes at worst.
All that being said, if Q-Force sounds like a show you might enjoy (short on nuance but easy and enjoyable to watch) then it almost certainly will be a show you’ll enjoy.