Remember when LGBTQ+ characters were the sidekick? The stereotypical white gay who popped up in a recurring capacity for comedic effect? Or if they were the central character, their sexuality would be downplayed and scenes of intimacy would be non-existent? Yeah, we’ll admit: we don’t really miss those days. No shade to some of these characters of course, because a lot of them paved the way for the positive queer representation we see today. As of 2021, however, representation for the LGBTQ+ community in television has never been better. In fact, a recent report from GLAAD discovered that the amount of queer characters on our screens has increased by over 100 to a new record. It’s impossible to deny the role Netflix has had in this. Over the past few years, the streamer has built a reputation as one of the most inclusive sources for content, whether it’s originals such as Orange is the New Black, Dear White People or Hollywood, to network classics like American Horror Story, Pose or RuPaul’s Drag Race. Netflix boasts a plethora of incredible LGBTQ+ comedies, dramas and thrillers, so we’ve rounded up some of the best that you can stream right now.
Atypical (2017 – 2021)
Cast: Jennifer Jason Leigh, Keir Gilchrist, Brigette Lundy-Paine, Amy Okunda, Michael Rapaport
Focusing on the life of 18-year-old Sam Gardner, who has autism spectrum disorder, Atypical won rave reviews throughout its four-season run for Keir Gilchrist’s leading performance and the romance between Casey (Brigette Lundy-Paine) and Izzie (Fivel Stewart). Despite the acclaim, the series was criticised for its lack of autistic talent – in front and behind the camera – but continued to hire autistic writers and actors from the second season until its season four conclusion, to better reflect the experiences of the community.
AJ and the Queen (2020)
Cast: RuPaul, Izzy G., Michael-Leon Wooley, Josh Segarra, Katerina Tannenbaum, Tia Carrere, Matthew Wilkas
In 2020, RuPaul made her Netflix Original debut on AJ and the Queen as Ruby Red, a “bigger-than-life but down-on-her-luck drag queen” who travels across America in a rundown RV from the 90s; accompanied by a wise-cracking 10-year-old orphan called AJ. Each episode, Ruby visits a drag club and performs a killer musical number, where she is joined by some of the most legendary contestants from Drag Race HERstory such as Bianca Del Rio, Latrice Royale, Katya, Jinkx Monsoon and Monique Heart. The Emmy-winner wrote and executive produced the show alongside Michael Patrick King, who is best known for directing, writing and producing iconic HBO comedy Sex and the City, as well as Lisa Kudrow’s lauded satirical drama, The Comeback. Sadly, the show was cancelled after just one season.
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 Ryan Murphy’s anthology drama American Crime Story focuses on the death of legendary gay fashion designer Gianni Versace (Edgar Ramirez), who was murdered by Andrew Cunanan (Darren Criss) on the steps of his home in 1997. Criss received praise for his performance, winning a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie and a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Miniseries, or Television Film. Penelope Cruz and Ricky Martin also won rave reviews for channelling Donatella Versace and Gianni’s lover, Antonio D’Amico, respectively.
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 been one of the world’s most popular dramas since its premiere 11 years ago, with praise directed at the performances of Jessica Lange, Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, Kathy Bates, Frances Conroy and Angela Bassett. Each season features a different sub-section of horror, such as an asylum, a haunted house, a coven of witches, a cult and an apocalypse. There are numerous LGBTQ+ characters in the series, most notably Paulson’s two lead characters: Lana Winters and Ally Mayfair-Richards. The series has been renewed for three more seasons, meaning American Horror Story will be on our screens until at least 2023.
Black Lightning (2018 – 2021)
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 (Cress Williams) – a headmaster at a school and retired superhero with the ability to harness electricity. He returns to fighting crime when a local gang – The One Hundred – threatens the lives of citizens in the community. 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. She made history as the first queer superhero of colour on television. The show has been commended for its maturity, and portrayal of race and sexuality. The fourth and final season aired in 2021.
Bonding (2019 – present)
Cast: Zoe Levin, Brendan Scannell, Micah Stock, Matthew Wilkas
Loosely based on the experience of creator Rightor Doyle, Bonding follows Tiff (Zoe Levin), a psychiatry student slash dominatrix, who enlists her gay best friend from high school, Peter (Brendan 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. Following a break, the show returned to even more critical acclaim in 2021.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine (2013 – present)
Cast: Andy Samberg, Stephanie Beatriz, Terry Crews, Melissa Fumero, Joe Lo Truglio, Chelsea Peretti, Andre Braugher, Dirk Blocker, Joel McKinnon Miller
Procedural comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine follows a team of detectives in the fictional 99th Precinct of the New York City Police Department in Brooklyn. The series has been applauded throughout its run, particularly for its portrayal of LGBTQ+ characters Rosa Diaz (Stephanie Beatriz) and Captain Raymond Holt (Andre Braugher), winning the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Comedy Series. The eighth and final season premiered in mid-2021.
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (2018 – 2021)
Cast: Kiernan Shipka, Ross Lynch, Lucy Davis, Miranda Otto, Jaz Sinclair, Tati Gabrielle, Adeline Rudolph, Richard Coyle, Chance Perdomo, Darren Mann
Netflix’s gritty reboot of Sabrina the Teenage Witch stars Mad Men’s Kiernan Shipka as the titular spellbinding character, who is forced to juggle her supernatural abilities with her mortal life. There are a plethora of queer moments throughout the series, such as the relationship between pansexual warlock Ambrose Spellman (Chance Perdomo) and Luke Chalfont (Darren Mann), Susie Putnam (Lachlan Watson) coming out as trans and of course that steamy orgy scene. Sadly, the series was cancelled after just four seasons (or ‘parts’, whatever).
Cast: Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Jonathan Bailey, Julie Dray, Louise Ford, Damien Molony, Adrian Scarborough, Amit Shah, Lockie Chapman, Susan Wokoma, Kathy Burke
Written, created and starring Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Killing Eve, Fleabag), this short-lived British dramedy depicts the lives of six 20-somethings living together as property guards in a disused hospital in exchange for low rent. The series boasts a wonderful same-sex romance, kinda, between Sam (Jonathan Bailey), the sex-obsessed wild card of the group, and Fred (Amit Shah), a quiet and awkward man struggling with diabetes. Representation for the latter, a South Asian queer man, was commended.
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 (Rachel Bloom), a real estate lawyer from Harvard who leaves her job in New York City to win back her ex-boyfriend. The series was notable 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 – SPOILER ALERT! – Darryl (Pete Gardner) and Josh’s (David Hull) relationship, and the latter’s reluctance to start a family, as well as Valencia (Gabrielle Luiz) discovering her bisexuality.
Dancing Queen (2018)
Cast: Alyssa Edwards, Shangela, Laganja Estranja
Dancing Queen is an eight-part docu-series filmed in Mesquite, Texas, the hometown of Justin Johnson aka Alyssa Edwards, the drag superstar who rose to fame on the fifth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race and the second season of the franchise’s All Stars spin-off. The series, which has only spawned one season so far, focuses on Alyssa as she attempts to juggle her careers as a dance coach and a world-famous drag queen, as well as finding time for her family and love life.
Cast: Colin Ford, Alyvia Alyn Lind, Sophie Simnett, Austin Crute, Cody Kearsley, Jeanté Godlock, Gregory Kasyan, Krysta Rodriguez, Matthew Broderick
A brilliant blend of Mad Max, Zombieland and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (it even stars Matthew Broderick as a cannibalistic headteacher). Daybreak is 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 (Colin 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 (Austin 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. Despite receiving positive reviews, the series was cancelled after just one season.
Dear White People (2017 – 2021)
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. DeRon 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 fourth and final season premiered in 2021.
Eastsiders (2012 – 2019)
Cast: Van Hansis, Kit Williamson, John Halbach, Constance Wu, Matthew McKelligon, Stephen Guarino, Brianna Brown, Willam
Set in Silver Lake, Los Angeles, Eastsiders follows on-and-off couple Thom (Van Hansis) and Cal (Kit Williamson) as they struggle to come to terms with their infidelity and substance abuse. The series also stars legendary RuPaul’s Drag Race star Willam as Douglas/Gomorrah Ray, a drag queen and door lady who falls in love with Stephen Guarino’s character Quincy. Hustlers and Crazy Rich Asians actress Constance Wu co-stars as Kathy, Cal’s best friend. The show has received numerous accolades, including a Daytime Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Digital Daytime Drama Series for Willam – the first time a drag queen has been nominated for an Emmy in an acting category.
Elite (2018 – present)
Cast: María Pedraza, Itzan Escamilla, Miguel Bernardeau, Mina El Hammani, Miguel Herrán, Jaime Lorente, Álvaro Rico, Arón Piper, Omar Ayuso
Spanish teen drama Elite follows three working class friends Samuel (Itzan Escamilla), Nadia (Mina El Hammani) and Christian (Miguel Herrán), who are sent to an elite boarding school after their previous school was destroyed. Since its debut, Omar (Omar Ayuso) and Ander’s (Arón Piper) relationship has been championed with fans even coining ‘Omander’ as their couple name. Netflix has renewed the series for a fourth and fifth season.
Feel Good (2020 – 2021)
Cast: Mae Martin, Charlotte Ritchie, Lisa Kudrow, Adrian Lukis, Phil Burgers, Pippa Haywood, Ophelia Lovibond
Mae Martin created, wrote and starred in Feel Good as a fictionalised version of themselves, a comedian and addict whose behaviours and intense romanticism dominate every single part of their life. The show also stars Charlotte Ritchie as their partner, George, and follows Mae as they juggle relationships with their parents, fellow addicts and colleague as their local stand-up comedy club. Lisa Kudrow co-stars as Mae’s iron-fisted mother and Adrian Lukis as their father. Martin received a nomination for the BAFTA TV Award for Best Female Comedy Performance (before coming out as non-binary) for their work on the series.
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 (Chris Colfer) struggles with his sexuality and his feelings for Finn (Corey Monteith) and in later years, becomes romantically involved with Blaine (Darren Criss). They were later named “one of the most beloved TV couples of the millennium”. The late Naya 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 (Heather Morris). Glee was nominated for 19 Emmy Awards throughout its run.
Grace and Frankie (2015 – present)
Cast: Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Martin Sheen, Sam Waterson, June Diane Raphael, Brooklyn Decker
Hollywood 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 series was renewed for a seventh and final season consisting of 16 episodes, making it the longest-running Netflix production in history.
Grand Army (2020)
Cast: Odessa A’zion, Odley Jean, Amir Bageria, Maliq Johnson, Amalia Yoo, Alphonso Romero Jones II, Thelonius Serrell-Freed, Anthony Ippolito, Brian Altemus
Set at Grand Army High School, a public high school in Brooklyn, New York, this teen drama – which is loosely based on Cappiello’s Slut: The Play – follows the lives of several teenagers as they struggle with racism, sexual identity, violence, bullying and rape culture. The diverse cast includes rising stars Amir Bageria as Siddhartha “Sid” Pakam, a closeted Indian-American senior, and Alphonso Romero Jones II as John Ellis, his love interest.
Cast: Ewan McGregor, Rory Culkin, Rebecca Davan, Sullivan Jones, David Pittu, Krysta Rodriguez, Gianfranco Rogriguez, Bill Pullman, Kelly Bishop, Vera Farmiga, Maxim Swinton
The fourth in a string of releases from Ryan Murphy for Netflix, Halston stars Ewan McGregor as the iconic gay designer of the same name who rose to international fame in the 1970s. Roy Halston Frowick’s influence and business strategies redefined American fashion. In 1990, he passed away at age 57 due to AIDS-related cancer. The series chronicles Halston as he leverages his single, invented name into a worldwide fashion empire that became synonymous with luxury, sex, status and fame in 1970s and 1980s New York. A hostile opponent forces the queer icon to battle for control over his most precious asset, “the name Halston itself”.
The Haunting of Bly Manor (2020)
Cast: Victoria Pedretti, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, T’Nia Miller, Amelia Eve, Rahul Kohli, Tahirah Sharif, Amelie Bea Smith, Benjamin Evan Ainsworth, Henry Thomas
The follow-up to the critically-acclaimed horror series The Haunting of Hill House, Bly Manor tells the story of Dani (Victoria Pedretti), a young au-pair who is hired to look after two children in an eerie country house. Upon her arrival, she begins to see hostile apparitions that proceed to haunt the premises. Unlike its spine-chillingly scary predecessor, Bly Manor was, as its core, a love story. The relationship between Dani and Jamie (Amelia Eve) was met with praise from critics, who applauded the show’s refreshing representation of LGBTQ+ women. You’ll never listen to Sheryl Crow’s I Shall Believe the same way again.
Cast: Patti LuPone, David Corenswet, Darren Criss, Jeremy Pope, Laura Harrier, Samara Weaving, Jake Picking, Holland Taylor, Dylan McDermott, Maude Apatow
The seven-episode limited series, which Ryan Murphy (gasp!) co-created with Ian Brennan (Glee, Scream Queens, The Politician), follows a group of young aspiring actors and filmmakers as they try to catch their big break in a post-World War II world. Each character offers their own glimpse into Hollywood’s Golden Age, while the series itself highlights the racism, sexism, homophobia and decades-old power dynamics that are still prevalent in the entertainment industry today. While the show may have garnered a mixed response from critics, it’s received plenty of praise from viewers who loved getting the chance to see a more diverse depiction of Hollywood where everyone (who deserves it) gets a happy ending.
How to Get Away with Murder (2014 – 2020)
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 delivers one of her finest performances as Annalise Keating, a law professor who finds herself entangled in a murder plot with five of her students – one of which is playboy Connor Walsh (Jack Falahee), who embarks on a relationship with computer programmer Oliver Hampton (Conrad Ricamora). The two are – without question – the main 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. The series came to an end with its sixth season last year.
I Am Not Okay With This (2020)
Cast: Sophia Lillis, Wyatt Oleff, Sofia Bryant, Kathleen Rose Perkins, Aidan Wojtak-Hissong, Richard Ellis
Based on Charles Forsman’s graphic novel of the same name, I Am Not Okay With This chronicles a teenager called Sydney – played by IT star Sophia Lillis – who struggles to come to terms with her sexuality and newfound superpowers. It consists of seven 20-30 minute episodes and can be binged watched in an entire afternoon – and trust us, you will. Although the coming-of-drama was “quietly picked up for a second season,” it was cancelled at Netflix “due to circumstances created by COVID.”
Modern Family (2009 – 2020)
Cast: Ed O’Neill, Sofia Vergara, Julie Bowen, Ty Burrell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Eric Stonestreet, Sarah Hyland, Ariel Winter, Nolan Gould, Rico Rodriguez, Aubrey Anderson-Emmons, Jeremy Maguire
One of the most popular comedies of all time, mockumentary sitcom Modern Family follows the lives of Jay Pritchett (Ed O’Neill) and his extended family, all of whom live in the suburbs of Los Angeles. Eric Stonestreet and Jesse Tyler Ferguson received universal acclaim for their portrayal as gay couple Cameron Tucker and Mitchell Pritchett, both receiving Primetime Emmy Awards. It was on the air for over 11 years, spanning 250 episodes, making it ABC’s longest-running sitcom ever.
Next in Fashion (2020)
Cast: Tan France, Alexa Chung
Netflix’s style series Next In Fashion sees 18 talented designers compete across 10 episodes for a huge cash prize of $250,000 and the opportunity to debut their own collection on Net-a-Porter. It’s hosted by Queer Eye’s resident style guru Tan France and British presenter, model and designer Alexa Chung, who bring plenty of fun to the high drama of the workroom. Get ready to binge your way through 10 episodes of workroom drama and stunning runway looks on a whole other scale.
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
One of Netflix’s most watched streamed dramas of all time, Orange is the New Black is based on Piper Kerman’s memoir of the same name, in which she detailed her confinement in a women’s prison. Lead character Piper (Taylor Schilling) and Alex’s (Laura 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 resulted in the actress being nominated for an Emmy, making her the first transgender person to be nominated for an Emmy in any acting category.
One Day at a Time (2017 – 2020)
Cast: Justina Machado, Rita Moreno, Isabella Gomez, Marcel Ruiz, Todd Grinnell, Stephen Tobolowsky
Based on the 1975 series of the same name, One Day at a Time revolves around a Cuban-American mother and former Army veteran who suffers from PTSD. The series was known for tackling issues such as homophobia, racism and depression – topics that aren’t usually depicted within the sitcom genre – which led to three nominations at the GLAAD Media Awards for Outstanding Comedy Series. Following the show’s controversial cancellation, Pop revived the series – making One Day at a Time the first original series cancelled by Netflix to be revived on another network. In 2020, however, it was cancelled for a second time.
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 sees Ben Platt star as 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 2019 courtesy of Jessica Lange: “I don’t understand why calling that gay man a butt-munch was such a scandal. That’s what gays do: munch butts and celebrate Halloween.” In a recent interview, Murphy said he would like to “do three seasons total” and have the third season pick up a few years after the season two finale, to have “Ben Platt get a little bit older for his final race.”
Pose (2018 – 2021)
Cast: Mj Rodriguez, Indya Moore, Dominique Jackson, Billy Porter, Ryan Jamaal Swain, Hailee Sahar, Angel Bismark Curiel, Dyllon Burnside, Jeremy McClain and Jason A. Rodriguez.
Created by Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Stephen Canals, Pose focuses on the queer African-American and Latino communities of the ballroom scene in 1980s New York City, and features the largest amount of trans actors in regular roles of any scripted television series in history. Since the series premiered in 2018, it has received universal acclaim from fans and critics. Last year, Billy Porter – who plays Pray Tell, the show’s resident emcee in the Ball scene – made history by becoming the first openly gay black actor to win the Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series. Not only that, Mj Rodriguez, the star behind series lead Blanca Evangelista, became the first transgender woman to earn an Emmy nomination in a major acting category. The groundbreaking series came to an end with its third season in 2021.
Q-Force (2021 – present)
Cast: Sean Hayes, Wanda Sykes, Patti Harrison, Matt Rogers, David Harbour, Laurie Metcalf, Gary Cole, Fortune Feimster, Gabe Liedman, Alie Liebegott, Stephanie Beatriz
Created by stand-up comedian and writer Gabe Liedman, Q-Force stars Sean Hayes as Agent Maryweather, a gay spy who is relocated and stationed in West Hollywood after being discriminated against by his agency. There, he tries to hold his unlikely team of LGBTQ+ ass-kicking misfits together – including mechanic and driver Deb (Wanda Sykes), disguise artist Twink (Matt Rogers) and expert hacker Stat (Patti Harrison) – before embarking on explosive missions that could save the world, while proving that LGBTQ+ agents are just as effective as their heterosexual counterparts in the process. It’s slay or be slayed, basically. With an ensemble supporting cast including Gary Cole, David Harbour, Laurie Metcalf and Stephanie Beatriz, Q-Force is the queer animated comedy subverting classic spy tropes that we’ve all been waiting for.
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. There’s been five seasons so far – with a sixth on the way – and one special miniseries set in Japan.
Ratched (2020 – present)
Cast: Sarah Paulson, Cynthia Nixon, Judy Davis, Sharon Stone, Jon Jon Briones, Finn Wittrock, Charlie Carver, Alice Englert, Amanda Plummer, Corey Stoll, Sophie Okonedo, Vincent D’Onofrio, Harriet Sansom Harris, Brandon Flynn, Hunter Parish
A prequel to classic movie One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Ratched stars American Horror Story veteran Sarah Paulson as the infamous nurse and heartless title character who uses her authority to torture her patients. Set in 1947, the thriller follows Mildred as she arrives in Northern Carolina to seek employment at a leading psychiatric hospital, where new and unsettling experiments have begun on the human mind. Mildred, a psychopath, presents herself as the perfect image of what a dedicated nurse should be. Michael Douglas, who served as producer on the original film, returns as executive producer alongside Aleen Keshishian, Margaret Riley and Jacob Epstein of Lighthouse Management & Media. Writer and creator, Evan Romansky, co-executive produces with Paulson. Although Ratched has received polarizing reviews, it became a massive hit for Netflix, debuting in the number one spot in over 50 countries. It has received a two-season order, so expect the sophomore season to debut sometime in the next year.
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, Vanessa Morgan
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 (Madelaine Petsch) and Toni Topaz (Vanessa Morgan). 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, and… reviews for its bonkers storylines.
RuPaul’s Drag Race (2009 – present), RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars (2012 – present), RuPaul’s Secret Celebrity Drag Race (2020) and RuPaul’s Drag Race Untucked (2010 – 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 13 seasons to date, as well as six editions of All Stars (the first three seasons 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 Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Host and Outstanding Reality Competition in the same year.
Sense8 (2015 – 2018)
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. The series was cancelled after just two seasons, sparking uproar from fans online. The backlash led to the streaming service commissioning a two and a half hour series finale, which aired in June 2018.
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 (Asa Butterfield) living with his sex therapist mother (Gillian Anderson), and his friendship with openly gay character Eric (Ncuti Gatwa). 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 – 2020)
Cast: Catherine O’Hara, Eugene Levy, Dan Levy, Annie Murphy, Emily Hampshire, Jennifer Robertson, Chris Elliot, Tim Rozon, Sarah Levy, Dustin Milligan, Noah Reid
Schitt’s Creek made history last year as Catherine O’Hara, Eugene Levy, Dan Levy and Annie Murphy swept all four major categories at the Primetime Emmy Awards – the first time ever for a comedy or drama. Created by the Levy’s, the series stars the aforementioned as the Rose family: wealthy socialities who lose their fortune and have to take refuge in the motel of a town they purchased as a joke. As well as receiving acclaim for its humour, Schitt’s Creek became a huge hit with viewers and critics for its depiction of the LGBTQ+ community – particularly Dan Levy’s sardonic pansexual character David. Throughout the six-season series, David embarks on relationships with both men and women, and it’s never presented as an issue. It’s simply accepted by every character. We all remember the wine bottle scene, don’t we? Iconic.
Shadowhunters (2016 – 2019)
Cast: Katherine McNamara, Dominic Sherwood, Alberto Rosende, Matthew Daddario, Emeraude Toubia, Isaiah Mustafa, Harry Shum Jr., Alisha Wainwright, Alan van Sprang, Maxim Roy
The second adaptation of the beloved series of novels, following the 2013 film The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, the series sees 18-year-old Clary Fray (Katherine McNamara) discover that she comes from a long line of Shadowhunters – human-angel hybrids who hunt down demons. The show received mixed reviews, although the relationship between Alec (Matthew Daddario) and Magnus (Harry Shum Jr.) became one of the most championed TV relationships in recent memory, spawning thousands of (mostly erotic) fan fiction. The show was cancelled in 2018, breaking the hearts of millions of fans who ‘ship’ the couple, which was described as one of the most natural and realistic LGBTQ+ romances on air.
Special (2019 – present)
Cast: Ryan O’Connell, Jessica Hecht, Punam Patel, Marla Mindelle, Augustus Prew, Patrick Fabian
Based on Ryan O’Connell’s part-memoir, part-manifesto I’m Special: And Other Lies We Tell Ourselves, this Jim Parsons-produced series follows a gay man living with mild cerebral palsy who decided to decides to rewrite his identity as an accident victim and finally go after the life he wants. Following two well-received eight-episode seasons, Special came to an end in 2021. It received four nominations at the Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards, one for Outstanding Short Form Comedy or Drama Series, and three for the performances of O’Connell, Jessica Hecht and Punam Patel.
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 by boldly going where no men (on the show) have gone before, by introducing the franchise’s first ever gay couple. Lt. Paul Stamets (Anthony Rapp) and Dr Hugh Culber (Wilson Cruz) locked lips on the USS Discovery during the first 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.
Someone Has to Die (2020)
Cast: Carmen Maura, Cecilia Suárez, Ernesto Alterio, Alejandro Speitzer, Isaac Hernández, Ester Expósito, Carlos Cuevas, Mariola Fuentes, Pilar Castro, Eduardo Casanova, Manuel Morón
Set in 1950s Mexico, Someone Has to Die tells the story of the conservative and traditional Falcón family whose lives are thrown into turmoil when Gabino (Alejandro Speitzer) – their only son – arrives home after a 10-year absence with Lazaro (Isaac Hernández), a male ballet dancer. Created by Manolo Caro (The House of Flowers), the Spanish-Mexican thriller received positive reviews for its commentary on homophobia during the Franco regime, as well as the cast’s performances.
Tales of the City (2019)
Cast: Laura Linney, Elliot Page, Paul Gross, Murray Bartlett, Barbara Garrick, Charlie Barnett
Netflix’s 10-episode revival of the iconic queer series depicts 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.
Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness (2020)
Cast: Joe Exotic, Carole Baskin, Jeff Lowe, Bhagavan Antle, John Finlay, Rick Kirkham, John Reinke, Saft Saffery, Howard Baskin, Travis Maldonado, Dillon Passage, Tim Stark
Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness chronicles the life of Joseph Maldonado-Passage, aka Joe Exotic, and his disturbing feuds with fellow “big cat” conservationists such as Big Cat Rescue owner Carole Baskin. The show is… wild. There’s a murder plot, a Nxivm-esque sex cult, political campaigns, a hell of a lot of country music and an emphasis on animal rights. Exotic also leaves the fashion world shaking with his various groundbreaking ensembles. Due to the global coronavirus pandemic forcing people to quarantine inside their homes, the true crime documentary has become one of the most popular and critically-acclaimed Netflix series of all time.
Tiny Pretty Things (2020 – present)
Cast: Brennan Clost, Barton Cowperthwaite, Bayardo DeMurguia, Damon J. Gillespie, Kylie Jefferson, Casimere Jollett, Anne Maiche, Daniela Norman, Michael Hsu Rosen
Although the first season of Tiny Pretty Things received mixed reviews upon release, it attained a devoted fanbase in the community for featuring two primary gay characters. Brennan Clost leads the cast as Shane McRae, an openly gay dancer who is secretly sleeping with his roommate Oren Lennox (Barton Cowperthwaite), a fellow dancer struggling with an eating disorder. The first season, consisting of ten episodes, premiered on the streaming service last year. It’s unknown whether the series will be picked up for a second run, but if for some reason it isn’t, we can see a change.org petition making the rounds on social media.
Trinkets (2019 – 2020)
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 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: Elliot Page, Tom Hopper, David Castañeda, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Robert Sheehan, Aidan Gallagher, Mary J. Blige, Kate Walsh, Cameron Britton, John Magaro
An adaptation of the comic book series of the same name, which was created by My Chemical Romance star Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá, The Umbrella Academy follows a dysfunctional family of superpowered beings who reunite after their father’s mysterious death. Upon release, the series received praise from fans and critics for the cast’s performances and visual effects. The second season was met with further acclaim for exploring topics such as racism, sexism and homophobia.
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 (Ellie 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, garnered Tituss Burgess four consecutive Primetime 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. John Clarence Stewart and Juan Castano star as gay couple Lionel and Marcos, while Derek Smith plays a go-go dancer who they invite into the bedroom. It may have received mostly negative reviews from critics, but whatever, it’s addictive.
Wynonna Earp (2016 – present?)
Cast: Melanie Scrofano, Shamier Anderson, Tim Rozon, Dominique Provost-Chalkley, Katherine Barrell
On her 27th birthday, Wynonna Earp (Melanie Scrofano) – the descendant of legendary lawman Wyatt Earp – inherits the special ability to return revenants, the reincarnated outlaws that Wyatt vanquished, all the way back to Hell. With the help of her ancestor’s magic gun, Peacemaker, Wynonna makes it her mission to break her family’s curse by sending demons and other forces of darkness back to where they belong. The series boasts a leading bisexual character in Wynonna’s younger half-sister Waverley (Dominique Provost-Chalkley). Earlier this year, Syfy announced that the fourth season would be its last, which was met with uproar from the fanbase. However, it has been reported that the production company is “in discussions with American broadcasters” in hopes of keeping the show running. Stay tuned.
Young Royals (2021 – present)
Cast: Edvin Ryding, Omar Rudberg, Malte Gårdinger, Frida Argento, Pernilla August
Swedish teen drama television series, Young Royals has taken the internet and LGBTQ+ community by storm. Set in the fictional elite boarding school Hillerska, the show follows Prince Wilhelm of Sweden (Edvin Ryding) as he finally gets an opportunity to explore his true self and find out what kind of life he really wants. Wilhelm starts dreaming of a future filled with freedom and unconditional love after a budding romance with a fellow student, Simon Eriksson (Omar Rudberg), that is far away from his royal obligations. But when he unexpectedly becomes next in line for the throne, his dilemma is heightened as he has to make a choice between love and duty. Season one of the Swedish language drama is available now on Netflix.
You Me Her (2016 – 2020)
Cast: Rachel Blanchard, Greg Poehler, Priscilla Faia, Melanie Papalia, Jarod Joseph
When married couple Jack (Greg Poehler) and Emma Trakarsky (Rachel Blanchard) realise they need to amp up their sex life, they invite 25-year-old college student and part-time escort Izzy Silva (Priscilla Faira) into their marriage to form a thruple. The series follows the three misfits as they navigate various social norms and prejudices and their own feelings of insecurity. You Me Her came to an end with its fifth season in 2020.