Need a new TV series to watch? Gay Times has you covered.
Representation for LGBTQ people in television has never been better. In fact, a recent report from GLAAD found that the amount of queer characters on our screens has increased by over 100 to a new record.
In celebration, we’ve rounded up 34 must-watch LGBTQ-inclusive shows that you can watch right now on UK Netflix, from the horror stylings of American Horror Story, to the gritty reboot of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and the acclaimed prison dramedy Orange is the New Black.
American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace (2018)
Cast: Darren Criss, Penelope Cruz, Édgar Ramirez, Ricky Martin, Joanna P. Adler, Joe Adler, Annaleigh Ashford
The second season of anthology drama American Crime Story focused on the death of legendary gay fashion designer Gianni Versace (Ramirez), who was murdered by Andrew Cunanan (Criss) on the steps of his home in 1997. Lead star Darren Criss received praise for his performance, winning an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie and a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Miniseries, or Television Film.
American Horror Story (2011 – present)
Cast: Jessica Lange, Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, Angela Bassett, Emma Roberts, Lady Gaga, Billy Eichner, Lily Rabe, Taissa Farmiga, Denis O’Hare, Frances Conroy, Kathy Bates, Cheyenne Jackson, Billie Lourd, Adina Porter, Leslie Grossman
Ryan Murphy’s horror anthology series has received universal acclaim since its premiere seven years ago, with particular praise for the performances of Lange, Paulson, Peters, Bates, Conroy and Bassett. Each season has focused on a different sub-section of horror, such as an asylum, a haunted house, a coven of witches, a cult and the impending apocalypse. There are numerous LGBTQ characters in the series, most notably Paulson’s two lead characters: Lana Winters and Ally Mayfair-Richards.
Black Lightning (2018 – present)
Cast: Cress Williams, China Anne McClain, Nafessa Williams, Christine Adams, Marvin “Krondon” Jones III, Damon Gupton, James Remar, Jordan Colloway
Black Lightning follows the title character – Jefferson Pierce (played by Cress Williams) – a retired superhero with the ability to harness electricity, who becomes the headmaster at a high school. He returns to fighting crime when a local gang – The One Hundred – threatens citizens in the community. American actress Nafessa Williams plays Pierce’s daughter Anissa, a lesbian medical student and part-time teacher who is able to manipulate her body’s density at will. Since its debut, the show has received acclaim for its maturity, and portrayal of race and sexuality, and has been renewed for a second season.
Bonding (2019 – present)
Cast: Zoe Levin, Brendan Scannell, Micah Stock, Matthew Wilkas
Loosely based on the experience of creator Rightor Doyle, Bonding follows psychiatry student slash dominatrix Tiff (Levin) who enlists her gay best friend from high school, Peter (Scannell) to be her assistant. Throughout the course of the series, Peter comes to terms with his sexuality and his newfound venture into sadomasochism, while Tiff attempts her balance her career with her… clients.
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (2018 – present)
Cast: Kiernan Shipka, Ross Lynch, Lucy Davis, Miranda Otto, Jaz Sinclair, Tati Gabrielle, Adeline Rudolph, Richard Coyle
Netflix’s gritty reboot of Sabrina the Teenage Witch stars American actress Kiernan Shipka as the titular character, who is forced to juggle her supernatural abilities with her mortal life. There are quite a few queer moments throughout the series, such as the relationship between pansexual warlock Ambrose Spellman and Luke Chalfont, Susie Putnam’s non-binary storyline, and that steamy orgy scene. It returned for a second instalment in April 2019.
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (2015-2019)
Cast: Rachel Bloom, Vincent Rodriguez III, Donna Lynne Champlin, Pete Gardner, Vella Lovell, Gabrielle Luiz, David Hull, Scott Michael Foster
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend follows the overachieving Rebecca Bunch (Bloom), a real estate lawyer from Harvard who leaves her job in New York City to win back her ex-boyfriend. The series has received widespread praise since its debut for its portrayal of mental health, female sexuality and parenting, with Bloom receiving a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in 2016. One of the most prominent storylines in the series includes Darryl (Gardner) and Josh’s (Hull) relationship, and Josh’s reluctance to start a family. In later seasons, Rebecca’s close friend Valencia also embarks on a lesbian relationship with a woman called Beth, and it’s one of the most healthiest relationships of the series.
Daybreak (2019 – present)
Cast: Colin Ford, Alyvia Alyn Lind, Sophie Simnett, Austin Crute, Cody Kearsley, Jeanté Godlock, Gregory Kasyan, Krysta Rodriguez, Matthew Broderick
The latest addition to Netflix’s burgeoning Originals lineup is a brilliant blend of Mad Max, Zombieland and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (it even stars Matthew Broderick as a cannibalistic headteacher) loosely based on Brian Ralph’s celebrated graphic novel of the same name, with enough pop culture references to warrant several viewings. The show focuses on high schooler Josh Wheeler (Ford) as he searches for his missing girlfriend in the city of Glendale, California. Like many great franchises, it’s the supporting cast that really make the world pop, especially Wesley Fists (Crute), a bad-ass, sword-wielding hero; but what makes Wesley truly great is that he’s gay. It challenges the old stereotypes that being queer means being weak or a victim.
Dear White People (2017 – present)
Cast: Logan Browning, Brandon P. Bell, DeRon Horton, Antoinette Robertson, John Patrick Amedori, Marque Richardson, Ashley Blaine Featherson, Giancarlo Esposito
Based on the 2014 film of the same name, Dear White People tells the story of several black college students at Winchester University, an Ivy League institution, and often touches upon issues surrounding modern American race relations. Horton’s character, Lionel Higgins, is coming to terms with his sexuality and often struggles with being a black man in the queer community, as well as a queer man in the black community. The third season will premiere later this year.
Elite (2018 – present)
Cast: María Pedraza, Itzan Escamilla, Miguel Bernardeau, Mina El Hammani, Miguel Herrán, Jaime Lorente, Álvaro Rico
Spanish teen drama Elite follows three working class friends Samuel (Escamilla), Nadia (Hammani) and Christian (Herrán), who are sent to an elite boarding school after their previous school was destroyed. Since its debut, fans have ‘shipped’ the couple #Omander. Netflix had the best response to homophobic viewers who condemned their love, posting hundreds of rainbow emojis and the comeback: “Sorry couldn’t read your comment while surrounded by all these beautiful rainbows.” The second season will premiere on Netflix later this year.
Glee (2009 – 2015)
Cast: Lea Michele, Dianna Agron, Chris Colfer, Jane Lynch, Matthew Morrison, Darren Criss, Harry Shum Jr, Chord Overstreet, Jacob Artist, Jayma Mays, Kevin McHale, Amber Riley, Naya Rivera, Heather Morris, Jenna Ushkowitz, Corey Monteith
Ryan Murphy’s musical teen drama focuses on several students in the fictitious William McKinley High School glee club, as they navigate issues such as sexuality, race, gender identity, bulimia, pregnancy and school violence. In the first season, Kurt (Colfer) struggles with his sexuality and his feelings for Finn (Monteith) and in later years, becomes romantically involved with Blaine (Criss). They were later named “one of the most beloved TV couples of the millennium”. Rivera also received widespread praise for her portrayal as Santana, a popular, hard-as-nails cheerleader at McKinley who embarks on a friends-with-benefits-esque relationship with fellow cheerleader, Brittany (Morris). Glee was nominated for 19 Emmy Awards.
Grace and Frankie (2015 – present)
Cast: Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Martin Sheen, Sam Waterson, June Diane Raphael, Brooklyn Decker
Icons Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin star as two unlikely friends who bond after their husbands leave them… for each other. It’s received glowing reviews since the premiere, and the cast – especially Fonda and Tomlin – have been lauded for their performances, receiving multiple nominations at the Primetime Emmy Awards and Golden Globe Awards. We see so much representation for LGBTQ youth on our TV screens, so Grace and Frankie is a breath of fresh air.
The Haunting of Hill House (2018 – present)
Cast: Michael Huisman, Carla Gugino, Henry Thomas, Elizabeth Reaser, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Kate Siegel, Victoria Pedretti
The Haunting of Hill House is, honestly, fucking terrifying. Based on the 1959 novel of the same name by Shirley Jackson, the series recalls the paranormal events witnessed by the Crain family in 1992, and the aftermath 26 years later. The Telegraph said it’s “the most complex and complete horror series of its time”. Theodora Crain (Siegel), the primary queer character of Hill House, is often at the forefront of many LGBTQ scenes, such as her relationship with Trish and her coming out to her family.
How to Get Away with Murder (2014 – present)
Cast: Viola Davis, Billy Brown, Alfred Enoch, Jack Falahee, Katie Findlay, Aja Naomi King, Matt McGorry, Karla Souza, Charlie Webber, Liza Weil, Conrad Ricamora
Academy Award winner Viola Davis stars as Annalise Keating, a law professor who becomes entangled in a murder plot with five of her students – one of which is playboy Connor Walsh (Falahee), who embarks on a relationship with computer programmer Oliver Hampton (Ricamor). The two are – without a doubt – the power couple of the series, and one of their storylines (we won’t spoil it) revolves around a pretty heavy topic, one that’s not often addressed in a show this mainstream.
Jane the Virgin (2015 – 2019)
Cast: Gina Rodriguez, Andrea Navedo, Justin Baldoni, Yael Grobglas, Ivonne Coll, Brett Dier, Jaime Camil, Yara Martinez, Rosario Dawson
Jane the Virgin stars Gina Rodriguez as the title character, who becomes pregnant via artificial insemination after a checkup at her gynaecologist. Yes – straight out of a telenovela! The series follows her journey as she balances two love interests, Michael (Dier) and Rafael, the father of her child (Baldoni). As the series progresses, Jane’s nemesis, Petra (Groblas), explores her sexuality and becomes involved with ‘Lawyer Jane’, portrayed by Rosario Dawson.
Jessica Jones (2015 – 2019)
Cast: Krysten Ritter, Mike Colter, Rachael Taylor, Wil Traval, Erin Moriarty, Carrie Anne-Moss, Eka Darville, David Tennant, Janet McTeer
Netflix’s second in a series of shows set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Jessica Jones follows the titular character (played so brilliantly by Ritter), a former superhero with her own detective agency. The first season was universally acclaimed by critics for its approach to sexuality, and depiction of darker topics such as rape, assault and PTSD. The Matrix’s very own Carrie Anne-Moss stars as Jeri Hogarth, Jessica’s lesbian attorney and ally. The series’ last season also features Marvel Studios’ first major trans character.
The OA (2016 – 2019)
Cast: Brit Marling, Emory Cohen, Scott Wilson, Phyllis Smith, Alice Krige, Patrick Gibson, Brendan Meyer, Brandon Perea, Ian Alexander, Jason Isaacs, Will Brill, Sharon Van Etten, Paz Vega, Chloe Levine, Kingsley Ben-Adir
Created and produced by Brit Marling, The OA follows Prairie Johnson (also Marling), a young woman who returns to her hometown after having been missing for seven years. Before her disappearance, Prairie was blind, but she can now see – which she claims is down to a supernatural force. Over the course of two seasons, Prairie and her friends (one of which includes a young trans boy) discover things they never would have thought possible; portals into other dimensions and realities.
Orange is the New Black (2013 – 2019)
Cast: Taylor Schilling, Laura Prepon, Kate Mulgrew, Laverne Cox, Uzo Aduba, Natasha Lyonne, Taryn Manning, Samira Wiley, Danielle Brooks, Jackie Cruz, Selenis Leyva, Dascha Polanco, Nick Sandow, Yael Stone
Orange is the New Black has become Netflix’s most watched original series since its debut. The critically-acclaimed drama follows several characters in a woman’s prison, and is based on Piper Kerman’s memoir of the same name. Lead character Piper (Schilling) and Alex’s (Prepon) relationship is at the forefront of several storylines, and the show has many other supporting queer characters, most notably Laverne Cox’s portrayal of trans inmate Sophia Bursett. Her performance led to the American actress being nominated for an Emmy, making her the first transgender person to be nominated for such an award.
One Day at a Time (2017 – 2019)
Cast: Justina Machado, Rita Moreno, Isabella Gomez, Marcel Ruiz, Todd Grinnell, Stephen Tobolowsky
One Day at a Time follows the story of Cuban-American mother and former Army veteran who suffers from PTSD, and her relationship with her family. This year, the show was cancelled by Netflix which subsequently caused a massive uproar from fans on social media. It became known for tackling issues such as homophobia, racism and depression, topics that aren’t usually dealt with in the sitcom genre. It may not be returning for a fourth run, but it’s still worth a rewatch, and who knows, if it’s streamed enough, they may reconsider their decision.
The Politician (2019 – present)
Cast: Ben Platt, Jessica Lange, Gwyneth Paltrow, Zoey Deutch, Lucy Boynton, David Corenswet, Julia Schlaepfer, Laura Dreyfuss, Theo Germaine, Rahne Jones, Bette Midler, Judith Light
Ryan Murphy’s satirical comedy follows Platt’s character Payton Hobart, a wealthy student from California who is determined to become the President of the United States. First, he has to navigate “the most treacherous political landscape of all: Saint Sebastian High School”. It’s stylish, it’s camp, and it features the most iconic quote of the year courtesy of Lange: “That’s what gays do: munch butts and celebrate Halloween.”
Queer Eye (2018 – present)
Cast: Karamo Brown, Tan France, Bobby Berk, Antoni Porowski, Jonathan Van Ness
The reboot of Bravo’s iconic series, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, follows a new Fab Five: Antoni Porowski, food and wine expert; Tan France, fashion expert; Karamo Brown, culture expert; Bobby Berk, design expert; and Jonathan Van Ness, grooming expert. The series follows the stars as they travel around the United States and transform the lives of people – straight and LGBTQ – who are in dire need of lifestyle makeovers. Make sure you have tissues by your side…
Riverdale (2017 – present)
Cast: KJ Apa, Lili Reinhart, Camila Mendes, Cole Sprouse, Marisol Nichols, Madelaine Petsch, Ashleigh Murray, Luke Perry, Casey Cott, Skeet Ulrich, Charles Melton
Riverdale, which is based on characters from the iconic Archie Comics, is known for providing plenty of adorable couples for viewers to obsess over, but none gets us more excited than Cheryl Blossom (Petsch) and Toni Topaz. Known affectionately as Choni, the two women got together towards the end of the show’s second season when Toni helped Cheryl come to terms with her bisexuality and later saved her from a gay conversion ‘therapy’ camp. Throughout its run, the teen drama has received highly positive reviews for its portrayal of LGBTQ characters, with its depiction of a gay romance in its first season, and the coming out of a major character in the second.
RuPaul’s Drag Race (2009 – present)
Cast: RuPaul, Michelle Visage, Santino Rice, Merle Ginsberg, Ross Matthews, Carson Kressley
RuPaul’s Drag Race documents RuPaul’s search for America’s Next Drag Superstar – think America’s Next Top Model meets drag queens. The show has spawned 11 seasons to date, as well as four edition of All Stars (which are unfortunately not available on Netflix), and has launched the careers of several sickening drag performers such as Bianca Del Rio, Adore Delano, Courtney Act, Jinkx Monsoon, Bob the Drag Queen, Trixie Mattel, Katya and Shangela. Although it’s often said that “drag will never be mainstream”, the series became the first to win Emmy Awards for Outstanding Host and Outstanding Reality Competition in the same year. If you want to live a better life, watch Drag Race.
Cast: Aml Ameen, Doona Bae, Jamie Clayton, Tina Desai, Tuppence Middleton, Max Riemelt, Miguel Angel Silvestre, Brian J. Smith, Freema Agyeman, Terrence Mann, Anupam Kher, Naveen Andrews, Daryl Hannah, Toby Onwumere
Sense8 tells the story of eight unique individuals born on the same day who can connect with one another’s thoughts and actions, as they embark on a journey together to find out why they can do what they do. It’s mind-boggling at times, but it’s also one of the most diverse and queer-friendly TV shows ever made. The series is also known for its explicit sex scenes and no-holds-barred orgies, which regularly bring the whole cast together for some intense on-screen love-making…
Sex Education (2019 – present)
Cast: Asa Butterfield, Gillian Anderson, Emma Mackey, Ncuti Gatwa, Aimee-Lou Wood, Connor Swindells, Kedar Williams-Sterling, Tanya Reynolds, Patricia Allison
Netflix original coming-of-age dramedy Sex Education follows a sexually awkward teenager living with his sex therapist mother, and his friendship with gay character Eric. It received high acclaim from fans and critics for the cast’s performances, for tackling sensitive subjects and its diverse representation of the LGBTQ community. The streaming service later announced that the series received over 40 million streams within its first month of release, becoming one of Netflix’s most successful shows in history.
Schitt’s Creek (2015 – present)
Cast: Catherine O’Hara, Eugene Levy, Dan Levy, Annie Murphy, Emily Hampshire, Jennifer Robertson, Chris Elliot, Tim Rozon, Sarah Levy, Dustin Milligan, Noah Reid
The criminally underrated Schitt’s Creek stars Emmy Award winner Catherine O’Hara, Eugene Levy and his son Dan Levy, and Annie Murphy as the Rose family, who lose their fortune and have to take refuge in a town they bought as a joke, Schitt’s Creek. The series is one of the funniest comedies currently on television, and features pansexual character David, played ever so brilliantly by Dan Levy. He embarks on relationships with both men and women, and it’s never presented as an issue, it’s simply accepted by every character. All four seasons are available to view now on Netflix UK. You won’t regret it. Catherine O’Hara’s Moira Rose is possibly the greatest comedy character on TV right now. Bold? Whatever, we went there.
Special (2019 – present)
Cast: Ryan O’Connell, Jessica Hecht, Punam Patel, Marla Mindelle, Augustus Prew, Patrick Fabian
Special is a brand new eight-part comedy based on series creator and star Ryan’s part-memoir, part-manifesto I’m Special: And Other Lies We Tell Ourselves. The Jim Parsons-produced series premiered on Netflix on 12 April, and follows a gay man living with mild cerebral palsy who decides to rewrite his identity as an accident victim and finally go after the life he wants.
Star Trek: Discovery (2017 – present)
Cast: Soneque Martin-Green, Doug Jones, Shazad Latif, Anthony Rapp, Mary Wiseman, Jason Isaacs, Wilson Cruz, Anson Moun
Star Trek: Discovery made headlines last year by boldly going where no men (on the show) have gone before, by featuring the franchise’s first ever gay couple. Lt. Paul Stamets (Rapp) and Dr Hugh Culber (Cruz) locked lips on the USS Discovery during the mid-season finale, becoming the first ever gay kiss in the Star Trek universe. The series – which stars Sonequa Martin-Green in the lead role – is set 10 years before we see Captain Kirk and Spock embark on their adventures on the USS Enterprise.
Stranger Things (2016 – present)
Cast: Winona Ryder, Millie Bobby Brown, Finn Wolfhard, David Harbour, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Natalia Dyer, Charlie Heaton, Cara Buono, Noah Schnapp, Matthew Modine, Sadie Sink, Joe Keery, Dacre Montgomery, Maya Hawke
Set in the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana, the first season of Stranger Things – set in 1983 – focuses on the investigation into the disappearance of Will Byers and the supernatural events occurring in the town. Over the course of the series, we’re introduced to a girl with psychokinetic abilities, demonic hell dimensions and government conspiracies. Originally, the series didn’t include any openly queer characters, but that all changed with the debut of Hawke’s character, Robin, in the third season.
Tales of the City (2019 – present)
Cast: Laura Linney, Ellen Page, Paul Gross, Murray Bartlett, Barbara Garrick, Charlie Barnett
Netflix’s 10-episode revival of the iconic queer series follows Mary Ann (Linney) as she returns home to San Francisco, where she’s reunited with her daughter and ex-husband Brian 20 years after leaving them for her career. Recurring cast members include Bob the Drag Queen (RuPaul’s Drag Race) as burlesque club manager Ida Best; Jen Richards (Her Story) as a young Anna Madrigal; and Daniela Vega (A Fantastic Woman) as trans woman Ysela, who plays a pivotal role in Anna’s life.
Trinkets (2019 – present)
Cast: Brianna Hildebrand, Kiana Madeira, Quintessa Swindell, Brandon Butler, Odiseas Georgiadis, Larry Sullivan, Dana Green
Inspired by the teen novel of the same name, Netflix’s new dramedy Trinkets centres on three teenage girls from the same school who become best friends after bonding over their shoplifting habit. Deadpool star Brianna Hildebrand (Megasonic Teenage Warhead) is gay and it’s not a big deal, which makes her character so remarkable. No one gives a crap, it’s not a major part of her storyline, and she’s accepted by her friends, family and her peers.
The Umbrella Academy (2019 – present)
Cast: Ellen Page, Tom Hopper, David Castañeda, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Robert Sheehan, Aidan Gallagher, Mary J. Blige, Kate Walsh, Cameron Britton, John Magaro
The fantasy drama – which premiered earlier this year – is an adaptation of the comic book series of the same name, which was created by My Chemical Romance star Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá, and follows a dysfunctional family of superpowered beings who unite after their father’s mysterious death. Upon release, the series received praise from fans and critics for the cast’s performances and visual effects. It also received positive reviews for its inclusion of a queer character portrayed by Robert Sheehan.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (2015 – 2019)
Cast: Ellie Kemper, Tituss Burgess, Carol Kane, Jane Krakowski, Sarah Chase, Lauren Adams, Sol Miranda
Netflix’s critically-acclaimed sitcom follows Kimmy Schmidt (Kemper), an enthusiastic 29-year-old trying to adjust to life in NYC after being kept in a bunker for 15 years by a deranged doomsday cult leader. Kimmy’s bff, the melodramatic and self-absorbed Titus Andromedon, is the breakout star of the show and has garnered Burgess four consecutive Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actor.
What / If (2019 – present)
Cast: Jane Levy, Blake Jenner, Renee Zellweger, Keith Powers, Samantha Marie Ware, Juan Castano, Dave Annable, Saamer Usmani, Daniella Pineda, John Clarence Stewart, Louis Herthum, Derek Smith
Academy Award-winning actress Renee Zellweger stars as Anne Montgomery, a vindictive and duplicitous businesswoman who explores mortality and temptation by meddling in the lives of various strangers. Stewart and Castano star as gay couple Lionel and Marcos, while Smith plays a go-go dancer who they’ve been intimate with. It may have received mostly negative reviews from critics, but whatever, it’s addictive.
You Me Her (2016 – present)
Cast: Rachel Blanchard, Greg Poehler, Priscilla Faia, Melanie Papalia, Jarod Joseph
When married couple Jack (Poehler) and Emma Trakarsky (Blanchard) realise they need to amp up their sex life, they invite 25-year-old college student and part-time escort Izzy Silva (Faira) into their marriage to form a thruple. The series follows the three as they navigate various social norms and prejudices and their own feelings of insecurity.
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Author: Sam Damshenas