Despite rising representation, the media starves us LGBTQ TV shows to watch, especially in comparison to straight storylines. Some of these shows only have a supporting gay character or storyline, where others put LGBTQ people front and center. Regardless, we need and crave better representation.
2021 may have a dearth of LGBTQ entertainment, but the TV shows it gave and will give us steal the screen. From lesbians revamping period pieces to gay men living during the HIV/AIDS crisis, 2021 has a handful of gay powerhouse dramas. If you’re tired of writers asking fans to “just keep watching” to find out whether anyone in the show is gay or not (I’m looking at you, “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier”), here are our Top 10 recommendations for LGBTQ TV shows to watch in 2021. These are TV shows that don’t shy away from celebrating LGBTQ characters. Spoilers ahead!
Dickinson mixes a period piece with avant-garde poetry, lesbian drama and a dash of the Gen Z lifestyle. The show follows a young Emily Dickinson as she fights the constraints of femininity dictated by her family and society. Her poetry appears in surreal sequences as evanescent words run across the screen, and scenes flip between Emily scrawling at her desk and flirting with Death in a horse-drawn carriage. Never have anachronisms so earnestly portrayed what it’s like to be a teenager in the 19th century. Contemporary dialogue and wild dance breaks paired with period-accurate attire often lean toward absurdity, but that’s what makes “Dickinson” so vulnerable and fun to watch. 2021 aired Season 2, and queer womxn drooled over the clandestine romance between Emily and her best friend Sue.
Phoebe Waller-Bridge first brought us the lethal dynamic between MI6 agent Eve Polastri and spoiled, well-dressed assassin Villanelle in 2018. Since then, they have exchanged stab and bullet wounds in the romantic cities of Paris and Rome (they shared a violent kiss on a bus). “Killing Eve”’s Season 3 finale left us swooning over Eve and Villanelle’s mutually obsessive relationship. Where will they go from that night on Tower Bridge? Will the writers finally bless us with more than a brief kiss? Will Eve and Villanelle team up to bring down the Twelve? Hopefully Fiona Shaw will grace us with her presence and dry humor, although if there’s enough Villaneve it’s doubtful too many fans will complain.
Queer comedian Mae Martin is adorably awkward as she borrows from her own experience to bring us “Feel Good.” Her insecurities and humor showcase a side of the gay womxn experience not often talked about or seen on TV. What is it like to question your gender as a bisexual dating a “straight” woman? How do you build a healthy relationship off of a past of replacing drugs with serial monogamy? Season 2 will try to answer these questions.
“It’s A Sin”
If you’re tired of re-watching “Rent” for the 80s gay content, then check out “It’s A Sin,” a British drama serial about the HIV/AIDS crisis in the United Kingdom. The year is 1981 and a group of gay men move to London and become friends. They fight to live freely against the threat of HIV. Prepare yourself for fantastic writing and heavy, emotional scenes.
We’re all thankful for the supporting LGBTQ storylines. Who has the patience for the Otis and Maeve “will-they-won’t-they” montage? Ola and Lily explore queer womxn figuring out their sexuality while Eric and Adam try to find a healthy way to transform their toxic dynamic into a romantic relationship. Season 3, we’re ready for you. Warning: you will have cringey flashbacks to your sexual escapades as a teenager.
Another TV show that delves into the modern zeitgeist for queer teenagers, “Euphoria” tells the story of a group of teenagers grappling with drugs, sexuality, mental illness and more. Rue, a drug-addict with no intention of getting clean; Jules, a transgender girl seeking acceptance; Nate, a fragile jock; Chris, a star football player transitioning to college; Cassie, a popular girl weighed down by rumors of sexual promiscuity; and Kat, a self-conscious girl looking to explore her sexuality.
Suranne Jones seduces everyone wearing skirts in this BBC masterpiece that brings the true story of entrepreneur Anne Lister to the screen. The jaunty music and stunning costumes will draw you in, as will the relationship between fiery Anne Lister and timid Ann Walker. Watch Lister take shabby West Yorkshire, England by storm at the height of the Industrial Revolution.
Superheroes have a long history of straight romances. Thankfully, a gay Black woman will take over the role of Batwoman (AKA Ryan Wilder). Reportedly a “very different” Batwoman than Kate Kane, Wilder comes from a traumatic past and aspires to heroism. Lesbianism and superheroes make the perfect team.
The Spanish drama will return for a new season in 2021. Class wars set against a preppy private school recommence. As for the gay storylines, watch for the relationship between a preppy rich athlete dabbling with drugs and a Muslim drug dealer from a working class family.
“Ginny & Georgia”
Though it first appears a silly coming-of-age TV show focused on a biracial girl’s relationship with her chaotic but loving mother, “Ginny & Georgia” takes a darker turn once Georgia begins to reveal just how far she has gone to protect herself and her children. Ginny’s energetic best friend Maxine gives us a refreshing storyline about a lesbian who barely has to come out – a rising trend among enlightened Gen Z teens.
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