The L Word

The cast of Showtime's landmark series, The L Word


Glee's Darren Criss and Chris Colfer

orange is the new black

The cast of Netflix's Orange Is the New Black

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The stars of Netflix's Queer Eye

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June 03, 2024
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11 Essential Shows to Watch During Pride Month

From Queer Eye to The L Word, add these must-see series to your watchlist.

Television has long been a home for complex storytelling that captures the compelling nuance of LGBTQ+ life.

Whether it's learning about queer subcultures on shows like Pose or RuPaul's Drag Race, or just being able to watch queer people fall in love and find themselves on The L Word and Queer as Folk, TV has granted LGBTQ+ people a place to be represented, while offering those outside the community a chance to see queer and trans people as fully human. Many excellent shows put LGBTQ+ characters front and center and are worth diving into year round, but especially during LGBTQ+ Pride Month.

Below, in alphabetical order, are 11 shows worth adding to your watchlist.

Glee (Fox, 2009-15)

Fox's Emmy-winning musical series smashed boundaries not only for authentic LGBTQ representation but also for what television can do with the musical format.

Glee told the story of a found family of high-school teens and their faculty as they used song and dance to help push through a challenging world while making room for their unique voices and personalities within it. The series, created by Ryan Murphy, is notable for its cast of queer and trans characters, many of whom felt like misfits but ultimately found a path for themselves and their lives outside the glee club’s doors.

The L Word (Showtime, 2004-09)

Featuring a cast of bisexual and lesbian women, The L Word broke new ground not only for its depiction of queer women living in West Hollywood, but also for queer female sexuality as the series regularly featured Sapphic sex that was not filmed for the male gaze.

The Showtime series also proved to be revolutionary behind the camera, as it was one the first TV series primarily written and directed by queer women. Its critical success helped spawn a franchise that included both a reality show and a 2019 reboot.

Legendary (Max, 2020-22)

Reality TV is a place to explore dynamic queer narratives, and that is especially true for this Max series. The popular show explores the world of ball culture, as dance troupes from all around the world compete for cash prizes. Voguing teams, called "Houses," showcase their considerable dancing talents in a fantastic display of both skill and determination. Legendary provides pure entertainment and timely LGBTQ representation with a deep roster of queer and trans talent that use their bodies to show off their art form at the highest level.

Orange Is the New Black (Netflix, 2013-19)

Netflix's prison dramedy devoted whole episodes to mine the backstories of individual characters (many of whom are LGBTQ) at Litchfield Penitentiary, portraying them as nuanced people despite their incarcerated status. Orange Is the New Black also made history when cast member Laverne Cox became the first out trans actor to garner an Emmy nomination.

Pose (FX, 2018-21)

With its three-season run, the Ryan Murphy–produced Pose offers a fictional (and historic) look into the New York City ball community featured previously in films like Paris Is Burning. Not only did it honor and respect the rich lives of its trans and queer characters, Pose also boasted queer and trans talent behind the camera, including Janet Mock and Our Lady J.

Queer as Folk (Showtime, 2000-05)

An Americanized version of the same-named British series, this engaging drama broke ground in many ways, including by having the first depiction of male-on-male gay sex ever featured on American television in the show's pilot. Queer as Folk follows the ins and outs of seven friends — five gay men and a lesbian couple — navigating life in Pittsburgh and the challenge they face when dealing with such relevant topics as anti-gay hate crimes, HIV and drug addiction.

Queer Eye (Netflix, 2018-present)

A reboot of Bravo's 2003 landmark reality series Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, Netflix moved the show from its New York City roots and put the "Fab Five" on a road trip of sorts, in which they help a range of gender identities and sexual orientations remodel their personal spaces while also offering ways to foster their emotional and physical well-being. Whereas the original often punctuated its makeover tales with comedic quips, Queer Eye has kept viewers engaged for eight seasons (and counting) due to its heartfelt approach to episodes featuring queer people navigating small-town life.

RuPaul's Drag Race (Logo TV, VH1, MTV, 2009-present)

Headlined by drag icon RuPaul, this landmark reality competition spawned an entire micro-industry of influential queens who have made strides for queer visibility not only on TV, but in the fashion, music and beauty industries.

Six Feet Under (HBO, 2001-05)

While Gen Z has recently discovered HBO's juggernauts The Sopranos and Sex and the City, many Six Feet Under fans know that attention must be paid to this Emmy-winning dramedy.

Set at and around a family-owned funeral home, gay creator and showrunner Alan Ball (American Beauty) examines death through the lens of those who make it their livelihood. The main cast is full of eccentric but endearing personalities forced to deal with a variety of family issues and come to terms with their own mortality while living with a morgue in their basement. But the show is arguably at its most resonant when spending time with the central gay relationship between police officer Keith (Mathew St. Patrick) and closeted mortician David (Michael C. Hall). Their complicated romance offers an enduring image of a gay couple struggling to navigate life together in the early 2000s.

Veneno (Max, 2020)

This critically acclaimed Spanish-language series centers on the life of Spanish trans icon Cristina Ortiz Rodríguez, also known as La Veneno. This engaging series garnered international acclaim in 2020 when it first aired on a stateside streaming service. Veneno chronicles life for La Veneno starting in the 1960s and offers a frank depiction of trans survival — as well as the glitz and pitfalls of public life.

Will & Grace (NBC, 1998-2006)

The hit sitcom Will & Grace ushered in a quiet revolution regarding gay representation on network television. Its characters espoused the virtues of a found family, even if it was a hilariously dysfunctional one. Will & Grace was also the rare primetime series anchored by a cast of LGBTQ characters that also went on to win multiple Emmys during its run. The sitcom, which had a 2017 reboot on NBC, pulled off the delicate balance of dropping acerbic barbs while also not being afraid to tug on the heartstrings.

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