The 18 Best LGBTQ Shows You Can Watch Right Now

editor@purewow.com (PureWow)
·8-min read

Each year, GLAAD releases its Where We Are on TV report, which analyzes the overall diversity of primetime scripted series regulars on broadcast networks and looks at the number of LGBTQ characters on cable networks and streaming services. The organization’s 2019-2020 report marked the highest number of LGBTQ characters on broadcast television in the 24 years GLAAD has been tracking the information. Even though there’s certainly still work to be done, it’s great news that can be largely attributed to shows like the following, which are helping to make the characters we see on TV look more like the people we see in real life.

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1. ‘Sex Education’ (2019-)

Otis (Asa Butterfield) is an awkward British high schooler who sets up a bootleg sex-therapy practice at school inspired by the work of his mother, Jean (Gillian Anderson). The show is honest and modern in its dealing with sex and sexuality, specifically as it relates to Otis’ best friend Eric (Ncuti Gatwa), who gradually becomes more comfortable in how he feels about himself and how he presents himself to the world as a gay man.

Watch on Netflix

2. ‘Special’ (2019-)

Ryan O’Connell writes, executive produces and stars in this series based on his 2015 memoir I'm Special: And Other Lies We Tell Ourselves. O’Connell plays Ryan, a young gay man with mild cerebral palsy who decides to finally go after the life he wants. It’s sweet, funny and super easy to binge (the first season is made up of eight episodes clocking in at around 15 minutes each).

Watch on Netflix

3. ‘Schitt’s Creek’ (2015-2020)

Fresh off its history-making run at the 2020 Emmys, Schitt’s Creek has never been more popular—for good reason. The Canadian series, co-created by Eugene Levy and his son, Dan, is—in addition to being hilarious—a refreshingly uncomplicated portrayal of queer love. You’ll root for David (Dan Levy) and Patrick (Noah Reid) from the moment they meet. (Also, Catherine O’Hara as Moira Rose is an instant queer icon.)

Watch on Netflix

4. ‘Euphoria’ (2019-)

HBO’s groundbreaking teen drama (which recently earned Zendaya an Emmy) is about Rue (Zendaya), a high schooler who’s in recovery after an overdose. We also meet her friend, and obsession, Jules (Hunter Schafer), who is trans and spends her evenings on hookup apps to have anonymous sex with closeted older (often married) men. Though their relationship is occasionally toxic, it’s a frank portrayal of Gen Z’s sexual fluidity.

Watch on HBO

5. ‘The Bisexual’ (2018)

Leila is a thirtysomething Iranian American woman living in London who has identified as a lesbian for most of her life. Now, though, she’s realizing that her sexuality may be a bit more complicated. Desiree Akhavan, who co-wrote, directed and stars in the show, gives viewers an honest portrayal of bisexuality and tensions within the LGBTQ+ community.

Watch on Hulu

6. ‘Killing Eve’ (2018-)

Murder, amazing clothes and a will-they-won’t-they relationship that occasionally veers into queerbaiting territory (but it’s OK, the show is incredible). Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer star as Eve Polastri, a British intelligence agent and Villanelle, a glamorous international assassin with whom Eve becomes obsessed.

Watch seasons 1-2 on Hulu and season 3 (and beyond) on AMC

7. ‘Billions’ (2016-)

This seemingly straight white male series tells the story of hedge fund manager Bobby Axelrod (Damian Lewis), the ambitious head of a hedge fund whose frequently illegal tactics are tracked by United States Attorney Chuck Rhoades (Paul Giamatti). But the show’s huge—and sometimes hard to keep up with—supporting cast includes Taylor, a brilliant financial analyst who’s also the first non-binary character to be a series regular on an American TV show. They’re played by non-binary actor Asia Kate Dillon, who we know from experience has helped middle-aged straight parents understand the concept of they/them pronouns.

Watch on Showtime

8. ‘Dear White People’ (2017-)

Adapted from director Justin Simien’s film of the same name, this fictional comedy-drama series follows students of color as they navigate life at an Ivy League school that deems itself “post-racial” but is really anything but. The series explores themes of race, gender and sexuality by skewering just about everyone for hypocrisy and double standards.

Watch on Netflix

9. ‘Feel Good’ (2020-)

Co-created by and starring comedian Mae Martin, Feel Good follows Mae, a Canadian comedian (a version of Martin's own persona), as she lives and works in London. At the club where she performs, she meets George, a repressed middle-class English woman, and the pair begin dating.

Watch on Netflix

10. ‘Vida’ (2018-2020)

In this half-hour drama, a pair of estranged sisters reunite to run their mother’s East L.A. bar after she dies. When they get there, they’re shocked to discover that their mother—who was seemingly homophobic—had a wife. It’s heartfelt take on what it’s like to be queer and brown in America

Watch on Starz

11. ‘Orange Is the New Black’ (2013-2019)

Featuring an enormous cast of women across races, genders, classes and backgrounds, Netflix’s groundbreaking original series portrays queerness in tons of different ways, from the relationship between the bisexual Piper (Taylor Schilling) and Alex (Laura Prepon) to trans prison hairdresser Sophia (national treasure Laverne Cox).

Watch on Netflix

12. ‘Bojack Horseman’ (2014-2020)

This strange but wonderful series tells the story of an anthropomorphic horse named BoJack Horseman (Will Arnett), a washed-up star of a 1990s sitcom. Despite the cute animation and hilarious jokes, the show deals with serious themes of depression, addiction, trauma and more. It also features the only asexual main character we can think of, BoJack’s roommate and friend Tod (Aaron Paul).

Watch on Netflix

13. ‘Gentleman Jack’ (2019-)

Anne Lister was an English landowner and diarist who lived from 1791 to 1840. Throughout her life, she kept diaries that chronicled the details of her daily life, including her lesbian relationships, her financial concerns and her work. Gentleman Jack is based on her collected diaries, which contain more than 4 million words and are written largely in secret code.

Watch on HBO

14. ‘Wynnona Earp’ (2016-)

Based on the comic book series by Beau Smith, Wynonna Earp is a supernatural Western horror series. Melanie Scrofano plays the titular character, the great-great-granddaughter of legendary lawman Wyatt Earp. Wynonna returns to her hometown of Purgatory, near the Canadian Rockies, where she battles the reincarnated outlaws that Wyatt killed. The relationship between Wynonna’s younger sister, Waverly, and Nicole, the town’s new police officer, is widely celebrated because it doesn’t rely on traditional tropes about queer couples.

Watch seasons 1-3 on Netflix and season 4 (and beyond) on SYFY

15. ‘Pose’ (2018-)

Arguably the most diverse show on television—in front of and behind the camera—Pose is a deep dive into the ballroom culture in New York City during the rise of the AIDS pandemic. With a mostly queer, Black and Latinx cast, learn about ball culture and LGBTQIA+ stories by stars like Mj Rodriguez, Indya Moore and Billy Porter.

Watch on Netflix

16. ‘High Fidelity’ (2020)

In this reboot of the Nick Hornby novel and the 2000 John Cusack movie, Zoë Kravitz plays Rob, a queer New York City music store owner devastated by a recent breakup with her live-in boyfriend. Refreshingly, Rob doesn’t label her own sexuality, and her queerness is accepted by everyone around her—a welcome, if a touch idealistic, update from the very heterosexual film.

Watch on Hulu

17. ‘Tales of the City’ (1993 & 2019)

Based on Armistead Maupin’s nine-book series, Tales of the City opens on the arrival in San Francisco of Mary Ann, a young woman from Cleveland who’s visiting the city. She impulsively decides to stay, finding an apartment at 28 Barbary Lane, where her landlady is the eccentric, marijuana-growing Anna. The books were first adapted for TV in 1993, with a cast featuring Laura Linney and Olympia Dukakis as Mary Ann and Anna, respectively. Last year, Netflix revived the series with Linney, Dukakis and many other original cast members (plus Ellen Page, Zosia Mamet, Victor Garber and more) reuniting on Barbary Lane for Anna’s 90th birthday. The show has won the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Limited Series a whopping three times, so yeah, it’s worth watch.

Watch the 1993 and 2019 series on Netflix

18. ‘One Day at a Time’ (2017-)

Based on the 1975’s sitcom of the same name, this delightful series follows the Alvarez family as they tackle issues like mental illness, racism and immigration. The show’s first season charted the journey of Elena (Isabella Gomez), a Latinx teen coming to the realization that she’s gay, and then figuring out how to tell her very Catholic family about it.

Watch seasons 1-3 on Netflix and season 4 (and beyond) on CBS

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