From classic cult favourites to more recent hits, we’re shining a spotlight on some of our favourite LGBTQ+ shows to watch on Netflix this Pride Month.
The entertainment industry has certainly come a long way in terms of representing LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and everything else on the spectrum) individuals. We’re all for seeing more of their stories and experiences played out onscreen, and it’s about time for non-straight characters to take up more than a supporting role. Whether they make us laugh or cry, they instil complexity, strength and vulnerability into a show, making it all the more compelling and loveable. In celebration of Pride Month, we’ve spotlighted our favourite LGBTQ+ shows to binge on Netflix right now.
This drama series by Ryan Murphy (Glee, The Politician) takes us back to 1980s New York, at the height of drag ball culture. Centering on black and latino gay and trans contestants, the groundbreaking series sets a new bar for representation in television. The show also highlights the joys and hardships within this marginalised community, tackling issues including sex work, living with AIDS and chosen families.
Please Like Me
This Australian comedy-drama series, created and mostly written by Josh Thomas, explores sad and all-too-realistic issues with a humorous tone. Thomas also plays the main character, a 20-something-year-old who, after being dumped by his girlfriend, realises he is gay.
Hailed as one of the most refreshing and unabashed (not to mention bingeable) coming of age teen shows out there, Sex Education is very much about, well, sex, but also has much more to offer than advice on the subject. By the end of its second season, the British comedy got really interesting, with nearly half of the main characters having exhibited some form of queerness.
RuPaul’s Drag Race
With 12 seasons and a number of successful spin-offs under its belt, RuPaul’s Drag Race has become a beloved cult favourite. The reality competition show, that at the end of each season crowns America’s Next Drag Superstar, combines America’s Next Top Model, Lip Sync Battle, Project Runway and more. What’s not to love?
We loved the first Fab Five team from the original series, but I think we can all agree that Netflix’s reboot of Queer Eye has taken the series to a whole new level. Moving beyond just making over straight men, Johnathan, Tan, Karamo, Antoni and Bobby expand their specialised skills to better the lives of a diverse range of people in the communities they visit. Serving both comedic and tear-jerking moments, what really makes this show special is the heart the team put into what they do.
Never Have I Ever
Between trying to land a boyfriend, maintaining her top grades and coming to terms with the recent death of her father, 15-year-old Devi definitely has a lot of her plate in her sophomore year. So much so that she failed to notice that her best friend Fabiola was going through a major moment in her life. Upon realising she is gay, Fab struggles to come out to her family.
This dark and quirky comedy series follows Tiff, a psychology student by day and dominatrix by night, as she recruits her gay best friend from high school, Pete, to be her assistant. Their sexual high school history adds a layer of complexity to the relationship, ultimately offering more than the typical GBF trope ever did. Through their new business relationship, they form a more meaningful bond and, in the process, discover new things about themselves.
Tales of the City
This continuation of the 1993 miniseries of the same name (based on a series of novels by Armistead Maupin) follows the intersecting lives of several different queer San Franciscans. Set a couple of decades ahead of the original, the 2019 reboot drama touches on contemporary issues such as HIV prevention and treatment, and has a more inclusive cast, including actors of colour, trans and gender-nonconforming actors and actors with disabilities.
Special is just that. The show centres around a young gay man with cerebral palsy who decides to come out of the closet and finally go after the life he wants. The show is based on the memoir “I’m Special: And Other Lies We Tell Ourselves” by actor, director, comedian and LGBTQ activist Ryan O’Connell, who also stars, writes and is an executive producer of the series.
We love Phil’s dad jokes and Gloria’s thick Latina accent as much as the next person, but it’s the show’s gay couple that really stole our hearts. Between gaining acceptance from friends and family, adopting a child and eventually getting married, Cam and Mitch have gone through the works. After 11 seasons, the show has come to an end – but if any characters should get a spin off, we think it should be these two.
Grace and Frankie
Grace and Frankie’s lives are completely turned upside down when their husbands announce they are leaving their wives – for each other. The former rivals are then forced to live together and gradually grow closer as they come to grips with their new reality. The series, in which Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin playing the title roles, has become the longest-running Netflix original with seven seasons and 94 episodes.
Will & Grace
Though some of the jokes and stereotypes portrayed in the earlier episodes may not have aged well, the show, which first aired from 1998 to 2006, undoubtedly played a significant role in shifting Americans’ attitudes towards the LGBTQ community. Featuring gay leads Will and Jack, and bisexual Karen, the classic US sitcom has also been said to have helped moved the country towards marriage equality.
Aside from adopting the characters names, the Riverdale series hasn’t taken much from the Archie Comics it is based on. It was surprising for fans of the comic book series to see the high school romcom take a gritty turn into the world of drugs, sex and murder. Forget Bughead and Varchie – the couple we’re totally obsessed with is Choni. It’s true, Cheryl is prone to becoming slightly unhinged at times, but we were glad to see her find love with bisexual tough girl Toni.
As hard as Rachel tries to hog the spotlight, we would argue that Kurt is the star of the show (truth be told, the show’s creator Ryan Murphy created the role especially for Chris Colfer who plays the gay character). After having to endure several slushies to the face, we were so glad when Kurt’s love interest Blaine stepped into the picture. Glee does not shy away from positioning LGBTQ characters centerstage. Let’s not forget that Rachel had two gay dads, the rather unexpected romance between cheerleaders Brittany and Santana, the show’s transgender characters Unique and Coach Beiste.
All images courtesy of Netflix Hong Kong.