From Jinkx Monsoon making herstory as the first-ever “Queen of All Queens” to a sapphic forbidden affair between a vampire and demon hunter, as well as a muscular, gimp mask-donning beast hunting gays in New York City (fun!), there’s been no shortage of diverse queer narratives on television this year. Here, we list our 20 best LGBTQ+ shows of 2022 including returning fan-favourites and new dramas, horrors and comedies that have infiltrated popular culture – hello, Heartstopper! (Or as Nick and Charlie would say, “…hi”.)
American Horror Story: NYC (season 11)
Cast: Russell Tovey, Joe Mantello, Billie Lourd, Denis O’Hare, Charlie Carver, Leslie Grossman, Sandra Bernhard, Isaac Powell, Zachary Quinto, Patti LuPone
After the disastrous 10th season of American Horror Story – the less said the better – the horror anthology series returned to excellent form this year with the Russell Tovey and Joy Mantello-led NYC. Taking place in the 1980s, the season chronicles a series of murders plaguing the gay community as New York City approaches the height of the AIDS epidemic (that’s not all, of course, it’s Ryan goddamn Murphy). Although this is a series that has been well-established as one of the queerest in TV history – Jessica Lange’s performance of The Name Game is directly responsible for this – American Horror Story has never been this [limp wrist]. Patti LuPone sings Fever in a bathhouse, Sarah Bernhard stars as the de-factor leader of a lesbian clique demanding more awareness for queer women and the primary antagonist is a half-naked muscle man in leather gear and a gimp mask who goes by the name ‘Big Daddy’ – need we say more?
Big Boys (season 1)
Cast: Dylan Llewellyn, Jon Pointing, Katy Wix, Camille Coduri, Izuka Hoyle, Olisa Odele
One of the 2022’s most heartfelt British comedies, Big Boys stars Dylan Llewellyn and Jon Pointing as Jack and Danny, respectively, first-year university students who live together in a disused shed on campus. Set in 2013, the six–part comedy explores issues such as sexuality and death with Jack (based on creator and writer Jack Rooke), a closeted journalism student coming to terms with the loss of his father, while Danny’s poignant mental health arc resulted in some of the most touching moments of the year. The beauty of Big Boys is how mismatched these two are; Jack is shy and introverted while Danny is your confident “lad” type who tries to drag his roommate out of his comfort zone. Representation for gay and straight male friendships is still scarce on-screen, particularly British television, and witnessing Jack and Danny form an unshakeable bond without any sexual elements was incredibly refreshing. Big Boys will – drum roll release – return for a second season next year.
Dead End: Paranormal Park (seasons 1 & 2)
Cast: Zach Barack, Kody Kavitha, Alex Brightman, Emily Osment, Clinton Leupp, Kenny Tran, Kathreen Khavari, Tucker Chandler
Animation is slowly becoming one of the most inclusive genres for LGBTQ+ stories, with Big Mouth, She-Ra and the Princesses of Power and Q-Force (the latter of which has been cancelled) recently flying the queer flag. Dead End: Paranormal Park continued to make strides for queer representation with the inclusion of a trans male lead character, Barney Guttman (Zach Barack), and multiple supporting characters who also identify under the LGBTQ+ umbrella including Norma Khan (Kody Kavitha), Logan “Logs” Nguyen (Kenny Tran) and Badyah “Deathslide” Hassan (Kathreen Khavari). The series was also commended for its depiction of neurodiversity with Khan. Besides its progressive line-up of heroes, Dead End is an absolute riot. Focusing on a group of employees who work on a theme park slash haunted house that just-so happens to be a portal to hell – riot, see! – the series is spooky, hilarious and brimming with heart. Netflix better renew this for a third season.
Drag Race Espana (season 2)
Cast: Supremme de Luxe, Ana Locking, Javier Ambrossi, Javier Calvo, Sharonne, Estrella Extravaganza, Venedita Von Däsh, Marina, Juriji Der Klee, Drag Sethlas, Diamante Merybrown, Onyx, Jota Carajota, Samantha Ballentines, Ariel Rec, Marisa Prisa
Drag Race Espana cemented its status as one of, if not the, best international version in the Emmy-winning franchise with its jaw-dropping second season. After the plethora of talent shows across all series, Spain’s display of charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent – featuring lip-syncs, opera, ventriloquism, burlesque, live singing and more – made history as the highest-rated episode of the entire franchise on IMDB. Deserved! It felt like this season had everything we could ever want from Drag Race: laughter (sumo-wrestling needs to be a series staple); heart (when Supremme cries, we cry); and drama (in Juriji’s name we stan). Also, thank the heavens above we’re alive at the same time as Sharonne. What! A! Talent! To those who complain about there being “too much Drag Race” or that they’re unable to watch international versions because they don’t want to “read subtitles”: pull it together, re-start your mothertucking engines and watch Drag Race Espana season two immediately. We’re looking out for you, honestly.
Élite (seasons 5 & 6)
Cast: Itzan Escamilla, Omar Ayuso, Claudia Salas, Georgina Amorós, Carla Díaz, Martina Cariddi, Manu Ríos, Diego Martín, Pol Granch, Andrés Velencoso, Valentina Zenere, André Lamoglia, Carloto Cotta, Adam Nourou, Guillermo Campra, Marc Bonnin, Ignacio Carrascal, Carmen Arrufat, Álex Pastrana, Álvaro de Juana, Ander Puig, Ana Bokesa, Nadia Al Saidi
Netflix’s beloved Spanish teen drama Élite returned for two more juicy seasons this year with [insert ridiculous number here] attractive teens in more saucy scenarios such as group sex, mutual masturbation and boat-banging. Love! Of course, there was more bloodshed with a ‘whodunit’ at the centre of Samu’s (Itzan Escamilla) mysterious death and Ivan’s coma as a result of a hit-and-run. Love x 2! While it wasn’t ideal to see some fan-favourites depart the series, such as Élite mainstays Samu and Omar (Omar Ayuso), both seasons equipped fans with some of the most addictive moments on television all year. And as per, Élite yet again proved why it’s one of the most inclusive shows on air with a myriad of LGBTQ+ characters and narratives, with the sixth season introducing its first transgender character in Nico (Ander Puig). Exciting news alert: Ayuso will be reprising his role as Omar in the upcoming seventh season, which is slated to premiere in the first half of 2023.
Euphoria (season 2)
Cast: Zendaya, Maude Apatow, Angus Cloud, Eric Dane, Alexa Demie, Jacob Elordi, Barbie Ferreira, Nika King, Storm Reid, Hunter Schafer, Sydney Sweeney, Colman Domingo, Javon “Wanna” Walton, Austin Abrams, Dominic Fike
No other show on this list boasts a mixture of uncomfortable, anxiety-inducing scenes and timeless viral content quite like Euphoria. Ten months after the season two finale, it’s still common to see Cassie’s (Sydney Sweeney) “I HAVE NEVER BEEN HAPPIER” sermon and Maddy’s (Alexa Demie) “Bitch, you better be joking” make the rounds on social media, while publications/fans are still publishing think-pieces about the controversial portrayal of Rue’s (Zendaya) addiction and “the truth” (whatever that means) behind Nate’s (Jacob Elordi) sexuality. Despite its many controversies, Euphoria’s second season verified what we all know: that it features one of the best ensembles on television. Zendaya’s efficacious depiction of a teenager struggling with drug addiction showcases why she’s one of the world’s most talented – and in demand – actresses right now, Sweeney’s manic anti-hero garnered her numerous accolades including a Primetime Emmy nomination and Schafer’s Jules continues to be one of the most trailblazing trans characters of all time. Season three has been confirmed, so expect a January 2037 release date for this one.
First Kill (season 1)
Cast: Sarah Catherine Hook, Imani Lewis, Elizabeth Mitchell, Aubin Wise, Gracie Dzienny, Dominic Goodman, Phillip Mullings Jr., Jason R. Moore
Queer audiences lost their shit back in August when Netflix abruptly cancelled First Kill, a vampire series chronicling the complex relationship between teenage bloodsucker Juliette (Sarah Catherine Hook) and demon hunter Calliope (Imani Lewis). Based on Victoria Schwab’s beloved short story, the series focuses on the unlikely couple as Juliette needs to make her first kill to take her place amongst her powerful family of “Legacy” vampires, while Calliope grapples with whether or not to, well, drive a stake through her heart, basically. Heartstopper meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer = instant obsession. While the fantasy drama wasn’t wholly embraced by critics, with a measly 58% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, queer viewers rallied behind Juliette and Calliope’s forbidden romance due to the lack of visibility for queer females in the vampire genre. Yes, there has been… some, but when have they ever been at the centre of a story like this? It’s been months since Netflix axed the show, yet fans are still united in their efforts to get the series renewed or moved to a different streaming service. We’ll keep you posted…
Hacks (season 2)
Cast: Jean Smart, Hannah Einbinder, Carl Clemons-Hopkins, Mark Indelicato, Paul W. Downs, Christopher McDonald, Rose Abdoo, Megan Stalter, Poppy Liu, Kaitlin Olsen, Johnny Sibilly
Deborah Vance (Jean Smart) accidentally booking a gig on a lesbian cruise, her cringe-inducing, offensive ‘comedy’ set and shoe warfare marked one of 2022’s most unforgettable and hilarious hours. Emmy, now! Deborah’s further foray into wickedness aside, the same episode included a rather enlightening and nuanced conversation in the ways in which Deborah understands sexuality versus Ava’s (Hannah Einbinder) understanding, deepening our favourite comedy duo’s intricate relationship in the process. “Not every queer person feels like they arrive into existence with an attraction to a specific kind of person,” the Gen-Z writer tells her boss. “Your sexuality isn’t a choice, but where or not you examine it, I think, is.” The juxtaposition of Ava’s progressive approach to queerness versus Deborah’s more traditional mentality is one that many can identify with, whether that’s with a co-worker, friend or family member, and seeing it played out on-screen with such delicacy demonstrates why Hacks has become such an LGBTQ+ favourite. HBO Max renewed the series for a third season, which is expected to premiere next year.
Half Bad: The Bastard Son & The Devil Himself (season 1)
Cast: Jay Lycurgo, Nadia Parkes, Emilien Vekemans, Isobel Jesper Jones, Karen Connell, Paul Ready, David Gyasi, Kerry Fox, Fehinti Balogun, Misia Butler, Liz White, Róisín Murphy, Tim Plester, Priya Kansara
Ugh, this one is fresh. It hurts. We are in pain. Agony, even. While the first season of The Bastard Son & The Devil Himself received widespread critical acclaim, Netflix controversially axed the series two months after release. Justice for Nabriel/Ga-y-than(?)! Based on Sally Green’s young adult novel Half Bad, the fantasy drama follows the titular 16-year-old bastard Nathan Byrn (Jay Lycurgo), the illegitimate son of the world’s most feared witch whose rather unfortunate birthrights lands him smack dab in the middle of an ancient war within the witch community. With queer, three-dimensional leading characters and an abundance of guts, gore and utter carnage, Bastard Son amassed a dedicated fanbase with viewers passionately shipping the blossoming romance between Nathan and Gabriel (Emilien Vekemans). After the unhinged, action-packed season finale teased an even more exhilarating direction for season two, including the revelation of Nathan’s powers, we will miss this one.
Heartbreak High (season 1)
Cast: Ayesha Madon, James Majoos, Chloe Hayden, Asher Yasbincek, Thomas Weatherall, Will McDonald, Joshua Heuston, Gemma Chua-Tran, Bryn Chapman-Parish, Sherry-Lee Watson, Brodie Townsend, Chika Ikogwe, Scott Major, Rachel House
The Australian equivalent of Sex Education was a roaring success for Netflix with the hashtag #HeartbreakHigh raking in over 300 million views on TikTok. Take that in for a second: 300 million views. A reimagining of the classic Australian drama of the same name, Heartbreak High delivers an accurate portrayal of modern-day youth with its high schoolers representing various identities within the LGBTQ+ spectrum: queer and non-binary student Darren Rivers (James Majoos); perky lesbian Quinni Gallagher-Jones (Chloe Hayden); bisexual basketball player Malaki Mitchell (Thomas Weatherall); asexual eshay Douglas “Ca$h” Piggott; and bisexual musician Dusty Reid (Joshua Heuston). While the small-screen has started to become more progressive in regards to LGBTQ+ stories, there aren’t many that also explore the experiences of those living with neurodiversity. Like her fan-favourite character, Hayden has autism, allowing her to accurately depict the complexities that come with being a neurodivergent queer person. Although there’s an assortment of standout moments in season one, from Darren and Ca$h’s unlikely romance to the students protesting Jojo’s (Chika Ikogwe) dismissal, it’s ultimately Quinni’s quieter moments in which she empowers herself in the face of adversity that rank as the series’ most powerful. Good news alert: Heartbreak High will return for season two next year.
Heartstopper (season 1)
Cast: Kit Connor, Joe Locke, William Gao, Yasmin Finney, Corinna Brown, Kizzy Edgell, Tobie Donovan, Jenny Walser, Sebastian Croft, Cormac Hyde-Corrin, Rhea Norwood, Fisayo Akinade, Chetna Pandya, Stephen Fry, Olivia Colman
No other queer show has impacted pop culture this year like Heartstopper. Based on Alice Oseman’s webcomic of the same name, Netflix’s coming-of-age series – as if you somehow didn’t already know? – focuses on the romance between high schoolers Charlie Spring (Joe Locke) and Nick Nelson (Kit Connor). While the series doesn’t shy away from issues faced by LGBTQ+ teens, such as bullying and homophobia, Heartstopper’s depiction of young queer love, emphasis on joy and acceptance, as well as its normalisation of the trans experience with Yasmin Finney’s breakout character (Elle), marked a first for queer narratives on British television. Immediately renewed for two more seasons, Heartstopper has become an awards darling – winning five Children’s and Family Emmy Awards – and has catapulted its cast to worldwide superstardom: Locke is joining the MCU in Agatha: Coven of Chaos; Connor has been announced as the lead the live-action adaptation of A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow; and Finney will continue to break boundaries for trans rep as Doctor Who’s new companion.
High School (season 1)
Cast: Railey Gilliland, Seazynn Gilliland, Esther McGregor, Olivia Rouyre, Amanda Fix, Brianna Tju, Geena Meszaros, Cobie Smulders
TikTok-ers and television newcomers Railey and Seazynn Gilliland star as Tegan and Sara Quin in High School, a coming-of-age comedy that chronicles the Canadian indie-pop duo as they navigate their queer identities and music origins via a backdrop of 90s grunge and rave culture. Based on their 2019 memoir of the same name, the Clea Duvall-developed series is a nostalgic reflection on what it was like to grow up queer in the same decade as Xena: Warrior Princess, Britney Spears and Rose fobbing off her holiday romance for more room on a (very spacious!) door in the glacial waters of the Atlantic Ocean. (What a gorgeous time.) All queer viewers will undoubtedly resonate with the depiction of Tegan and Sara’s teenage angst, loneliness and search for belonging. Whether you were familiar with their music or not, you will – we repeat, will – come out of this series as a Tegan and Sara superfan. Stream their latest album Crybaby now!
A League of Their Own (season 1)
Cast: Abbi Jacobson, Chanté Adams, D’Arcy Carden, Gbemisola Ikumelo, Roberta Colindrez, Kelly McCormack, Priscilla Delgado, Molly Ephraim, Melanie Field, Kate Berlant
Prime Video’s reimagining of Penny Marshall’s cult classic comedy A League of Their Own provided us with all the queer-female-in-baseball energy we needed and deserved when it launched earlier this year. Starring Broad City alum Abbi Jacobson as Carson Shaw, an endearingly awkward yet talented baseball player who abandons her home and army husband to pursue a career with the Peaches, the dramedy offers an authentic depiction of the behind-the-scenes queerness of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League – something the Geena Davis original failed to achieve. There’s queer rep aplenty with Carson, Max (Chanté Adams), Greta (D’Arcy Carden), Jess (Kelly McCormack) and Bert (Lea Robinson), while the series also leans harder into the era’s racial constraints with Adams’ character coming to terms with, not only proving her skills in a cis, white and male-dominated field, but living at the intersection of Black and LGBTQ+. As well as being one of the funniest and best-acted shows on TV right now, A League of Their Own is one of the most important. If Prime doesn’t renew this for a second season, expect rage.
Legendary (season 3)
Cast: Dashaun Wesley, Leiomy Maldonado, Law Roach, Keke Palmer, Jameela Jamil
The live audience made a comeback for the third season of Legendary, assisted by new panellist Keke Palmer who stepped in as a replacement for Megan Thee Stallion, who won’t be returning for season four because it has been – bare with, our blood is boiling out of rage from constant use of the c word – cancelled. In the words of one fan, “Legendary getting cancelled before giving us an All Stars season is my villain origin story.” From playground-themes balls to incorporating martial arts into their routines and stomping down the runway as sensual sirens, Legendary went out on a high, at least, with its wealth of Black and Latinx LGBTQ+ talent, whose perspectives aren’t often heard on such a national stage. Throughout its run, Legendary received overwhelming critical acclaim for its celebration and glorification of ballroom culture and representation of marginalised communities, so its cancellation – there’s that fucking word again – left fans devastated.
RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 7
Cast: RuPaul, Michelle Visage, Carson Kressley, Ross Matthews, Jinkx Monsoon, Monét X Change, Trinity the Tuck, Shea Couleé, Raja, Jaida Essence Hall, The Vivienne, Yvie Oddly
The LGBTQ+ equivalent of Avengers: Endgame (facts), the first-ever winners season of RuPaul’s Drag Race provided viewers with some of the most iconic moments in, not just Drag Race’s herstory, but reality TV in general: Jinkx Monsoon’s side-splitting impersonation of Judy Garland; Monét X Change’s breathtaking opera number; Shea Couleé’s fierce Janet Jackson-inspired anthem and routine; Raja’s innovative runways; Winter Green’s long-awaited return (!) and so much more. While All Stars 7 wasn’t without its share of controversies – namely the three-star twist and finale lip-sync smackdowns – the sheer amount of charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent on display, celebration of drag and camaraderie between the contestants resulted in one of the most unforgettable seasons of television this year. Jinkx Monsoon may have won the season, but viewers won, full stop.
The Sandman (season 1)
Cast: Tom Sturridge, Boyd Holdbrook, Vivienne Acheampong, Patton Oswalt, Jenna Coleman, Joely Richardson, Nina Wadia, Souad Faress, Dinita Gohil, Asim Chaudhry, David Thewlis, Gwendoline Christie, Mason Alexander Park, Kyo Ra, Cassie Clare, John Cameron Mitchell, Stephen Fry
Neil Gaiman’s comic book is already queer as hell, but admittedly, we didn’t have much faith in the LGBTQ+ narratives being carried over to live-action. We were wrong! Woo! Following the adventures of Dream/Morpheus (Tom Sturridge) who sets out to restore order to his realm after being held captive for 106 years (brutal), The Sandman was celebrated for its unabashed queerness with prominent LGBTQ+ characters such as the Corinthian (Boyd Holbrook), Johanna Constantine (Jenna Coleman), Hal Carter (John Cameron Mitchell), Rose Walker (Kyo Ra) and Desire (Mason Alexander Park). Refreshingly, the fantasy drama presents a world where queerness isn’t an issue; none of the characters are bullied, discriminated against or killed as a result of their sexuality and/or gender identity. As well as erasing anti-LGBTQ+ attitudes form the narrative, The Sandman smashes stereotypes of the queer villain. The Corinthian fails to conform to long-running tropes such as the “Sissy Villain” and the “Depraved Homosexual”, where evil characters are defined by their flamboyance and femininity. With a second season confirmed, we can’t wait to see how Netflix continues to break new ground with their LGBTQ+ characters – and for Desire to receive more screentime!
The Sex Lives of College Girls (season 2)
Cast: Pauline Chalamet, Amrit Kaur, Reneé Rapp, Alyah Chanelle Scott, Christopher Meyer, Ilia Isorelýs Paulino, Lauren “Lolo” Spencer, Midori Francis, Mekki Leeper, Mitchell Slaggert
“You know who I’ve always thought has BDE [Big Dick Energy]? Aladdin,” Pauline Chalamet’s character Kimberly tells the remaining and rather unenthused members of our favourite college quartet in the second season of The Sex Lives of College Girls. It’s not worth expanding upon, really, it’s just forever ingrained in our minds because: one, hilarious; two, true?! The Mindy Kaling and Justin Noble-created comedy returned with an even more outrageous and inclusive second instalment with an out-and-proud Leighton (played brilliantly by Reneé Rapp, stream Too Well now!) living her best queer life as she romps around campus – to hilarious and disastrous results. Whitney (Alyah Chanelle Scott) tries to prove that she’s more than just a nepo baby (very timely!), Bela (Amrit Kaur) made some – how do we put this? – very sensible and extremely relatable decisions and Kimberly went from boinking one hunk (Gavin Leatherwood, who bowed out after season) to another (Mitchell Slaggert). Character development! Season two premiered in the U.S. this year and is expected to drop on BBC iPlayer at the end of January.
The Umbrella Academy (season 3)
Cast: Elliot Page, Tom Hopper, David Castañeda, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Robert Sheehan, Aidan Gallagher, Colm Feore, Ritu Arya, Yusuf Gatewood, Genesis Rodriguez, Britne Oldford
Admittedly, the third season of The Umbrella Academy wasn’t as strong as its predecessors (how could they ruin Allison like that?). However, Elliot Page’s character Number Seven/Viktor Hargreeves coming out as a trans man to match their own gender identity marked a revolutionary moment for the trans experience on television and the fantasy genre, with the delicate execution of their transition resonating with queer youth around the world. “I am [Viktor], it’s who I’ve always been. Is that an issue for anyone?” says the hero, which is met with nothing but acceptance and love from his siblings, which is exactly how it should be. While stories centering on homophobia and issues faced by the LGBTQ+ community are arguably still important – take It’s A Sin as an example – it’s more vital than ever to have narratives in which queer people are, not just accepted, but championed by those around them. The Umbrella Academy will return for a shortened fourth and final season next year.
Wreck (season 1)
Cast: Oscar Kennedy, Thaddea Graham, Jack Rowan, Anthony Rickman, Louis Boyer, Alice Nokes, Peter Claffey, Miya Ocego, Jodie Tyack
Self-aware queer characters in British horror? What! A! Concept! Although queerness and horror have always been intertwined, explicit LGBTQ+ narratives have historically been devoid. BBC Three’s acclaimed new slasher comedy Wreck shatters all genre conventions with leading LGBTQ+ characters in Jamie (Oscar Kennedy), a gay 20-something who infiltrates a cruise ship to find his missing sister, and Vivian (Thaddea Graham), a hard-as-nails lesbian fleeing from her family. Having queer leading characters in horror is groundbreaking enough, but it’s another to have a queer supporting cast: there’s Rosie (Miya Ocego), a Cher impersonator who just-so happens to be trans, Jamie and Vivian’s love interests Olly (Anthony Rickman) and Lily (Ramanique Ahluwalia), as well as Sacracmentum entertainer Hamish (James Phoon) and Irish drag queen Dr Panti Bliss-Cabrera. Yes, queers can fall at the hands of a serial killer too! On the subject of that: a serial killer galavanting around a cruise ship in a ducking (autocorrect not needed) duck costume (see)? Ridiculous. Genius. Quack! Bring on season two.
Young Royals (season 2)
Cast: Edvin Ryding, Omar Rudberg, Malte Gårdinger, Frida Argento, Nikita Uggla
From Wilmon’s reunion to Simon’s Song and the future King of Sweden (maybe, maybe not) wielding a shotgun, season two of Young Royals was more confident, sexier and fiester than its predecessor. Following the dramatic events of season one, Wilhelm (Edvin Ryding) and Simon (Omar Rudberg) return to Hillerska and deal with the aftermath of their leaked sex tape, as well as the former’s resistance to ascending the Swedish throne. Wilhelm takes no prisoners this season, particularly with the press and his former best friend/cousin turned enemy August (Malte Gårdinger), while Simon shatters the hearts of Wilmon shippers with his (temporary) new love interest Marcus (Tommy Wättring). After six episodes, however, we finally arrived at “Wilmon endgame” as the central duo finally confess their love and, more importantly, resolve their controversial issue with curtains. (The amount of joyful tears we shed…) Netflix announced a third and final season of Young Royals earlier this month, so expect the series to bow out with Wilmon on top form.