Gay TV Shows: which ones are worth watching?

Gay TV Shows: which ones are worth watching?


Design by Elsie McKendry

Now that we have discussed gay movies (check out our article), let’s talk about TV shows. There are many TV shows that lack representation, and those who claim they do often do it as a marketing trick to entice queer audiences. With hundreds upon hundreds of choices, it’s hard to decide what is worth watching, or if the show is simply queerbaiting and only features a queer couple for two seconds. This lists consists of TV shows that feature a queer couple or couples and will help you know what you are signing up for when committing to a show.

“Orange is the New Black” 7/10

“Orange is the New Black” is a comedy-drama based on the life of Piper Chapman, a bisexual woman who was taken from her privileged life and soon-to-be husband to serve time for criminal conspiracy and money laundering in Litchfield Prison. This show follows her experience through the prison system, including all the love, murder and corruption that ensues. “Orange is the New Black” is raw and disturbing at times, exposing the many flaws of correctional facilities and emphasizing the impact of systemic racism. The producers do a great job humanizing inmates, inspiring viewers to pity thieves and even sympathize with murderers. I also thought the show does a good job depicting the fluidity of sexuality, even referencing the Kinsey Scale in one episode. Not to mention, they tackle issues of transphobia by highlighting the discrimination character Sophia Burset faces as a transgender woman in an all-female prison. “Orange is the New Black” is quite the commitment with seven long seasons, but this piece of queer media is one worth watching.

“Sex Education” 10/10

Don’t be deterred by the title—this show is nothing like those boring health class documentaries! “Sex Education” is thoroughly impressive in its ability to bring entertainment to realistic, yet traditionally uncomfortable, issues. The show itself is sex-positive and tackles a wide range of topics relevant to modern teens like toxic masculinity, homophobia, sexual abuse, porn, STIs, adoption, disabilities, slut-shaming, masturbation, abortion and safe sex practices. My favorite part of “Sex Education” is its diversity. Characters are multifaceted, allowing their unique identities to influence rather than define them. For instance, the show represented gay, lesbian, bisexual, asexual, pansexual and gender-nonconforming characters across various races and socioeconomic statuses. This show is a safe space for teens of all identities to learn more about themselves and answer questions they are too afraid to ask their health teachers. Even better, “Sex Education” feels like entertainment—not education!

“Atypical” 8/10

This show follows the life of the Gardner family, specifically its complicated family dynamics. All characters have their own ways of being “atypical,” whether it is Casey’s sexuality, Sam’s autism, or their parents’ complicated marriage. The show focuses on struggles with identity, toxic households, anxiety and life on the spectrum. Although I would consider “Atypical” to be my comfort show, I found a number of the characters unlikeable. To be honest, when rewatching season one, I skipped all the scenes that didn’t include Casey or her love interest, Izzie. Watching their relationship was heartwarming, as they went from enemies to friends, to lovers. Although both characters have their own issues, they support each other through it all. Ultimately, Izzie and Casey’s relationship makes enduring the less interesting parts of the show worth your while.

“Young Royals” 8/10

“Young Royals” is a teen drama revolving around the life of Prince Wilhelm of Sweden and his experiences (specifically romantic ones) at an elite boarding school. When he first meets his love interest, Simon, the tension is obvious. After their fair share of admiring glances, subtle physical contact and internal turmoil, the two boys’ relationship blossoms, but not without its problems. Many queer teens face pressure and judgment from peers and parents when coming out, but as a prince, this scrutiny is amplified for Wilhelm. While it’s painful to see Wilhelm struggle with both external and internal homophobia plus its impacts on his relationship, it is heartwarming to see his sense of security around Simon. All in all, “Young Royals” is worth the watch!

“Grey’s Anatomy” 7/10

“Grey’s Anatomy” is a stereotypical, drama-filled medical show that has 20 romances going on at the same time. It focuses on a group of interns who just got jobs at a hospital, through their struggles to become surgeons. The romance we’re focusing on, though, begins in season five when Callie Torres, an orthopedic surgeon, meets the bubbly new pediatric surgeon, Arizona Robbins. Were Callie and Arizona thrown in there for diversity? Probably, but it is entertaining. This is not the typical romance filled with clouds and rainbows. The show’s writer, Shonda Rhimes, really dives into the messy part of the relationship. Although this is what made it so entertaining to watch, it was also the downfall of this romance. The small and tender moments between Arizona and Callie were overshadowed by the constant drama. Nevertheless, it is nice to see queer representation on such a popular show like “Grey’s Anatomy.” It’s not worth it just to watch the whole show for Callie and Arizona, but if you like “Grey’s Anatomy” as is, this is a great relationship to pay attention to.

“The 100” 9/10

Run, don’t walk, to see this show, especially seasons one through three. “The 100” is set in a post-apocalyptic world where people have had to escape to space. When they come back down to the Earth hundreds of years later, they expect to find nothing yet come face to face with the “Grounders,” people who remained on Earth. Although short lived, the romance between Clarke, the leader of the space crew, and Lexa, the leader of the Grounders, sparked a lot of positive feedback from the LGBTQ+ community. This unlikely pairing has immediate chemistry even in the midst of the literal end of the world. The show doesn’t focus on labels, the exact status of the relationship or even other people’s disapproving opinions; Clarke and Lexa represent pure love despite outside factors, making their relationship feel real and raw. This romance only lasts until season three, and after that the show goes a bit downhill. However, if you are looking to get attached to characters that will ultimately break your heart, this show is for you.

“Schitt’s Creek” 8/10

Schitt’s Creek is your typical family-style sitcom that you can watch over and over again and find yourself laughing each time. It is about a formerly extremely wealthy family, the Roses, who lose all their money and are forced to move into a small town called “Schitt’s Creek.” The romance between David Rose and Patrick Brewer, his business partner, starts in season three and is important for many reasons. Throughout the show, even before Patrick, David is openly pansexual which is unusual to see in this style of TV. Secondly, Partick is supposedly “straight” when we are first introduced to his character. The viewers are able to witness his growth and him coming to terms with his sexuality, and his story shines a light on the fact that not everyone knows how they identify until later in life. As for David and Patrick’s relationship, it’s incredibly sweet. It’s hard not to root for them in their tough moments and celebrate their wins since they seem so enamored with each other. “Schitt’s Creek” as a whole is worth your time if you want something relaxing to watch, and this relationship is just a bonus.