Are These the 8 Best LGBT Shows on Television?

PinkNews has published its list of “8 of the Best LGBT Shows on Television Today.”

Let me begin by saying that I realize it’s what PinkNews considers “8 of the best,” not “the 8 best” LGBT shows on TV. But, let’s be real: everyone knows that the point of “best of” lists like this is for fans to argue about it online! No shade, PinkNews. It’s just business.

So, fellow fans, before you start typing your angry comment below, let me give my own personal reaction of PinkNews’ list…

 

1. Class

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Right off the bat, I’m confused. So I fire up Wikipedia and learn that Class is a Dr Who spinoff about high school students who, and I quote, “deal with the stresses of everyday life, including friends, parents, school work, sex, and sorrow, but also the horrors that come from time travel.” Yawn. I also learn that the show premiered October 22, 2016. Yeah, you read that right. The show premiered two weeks ago.

I’m sorry, PinkNews, I know you’re a British publication and that The Doctor is basically your Uncle Sam, but this show literally only has three episodes out. And I know the show introduces a gay relationship early on and deals with important themes like family rejection. But there are only three episodes. I can’t approve. Come at me, Whovians.

 

2. Orange Is The New Black

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Alright, here we go. It’s no secret that we’re huge Orange Is The New Black fans here at Give A Damn. I mean, have you seen our “About” page? Laverne Cox is our girl.

The thing I love about this show is the massive cast of characters. And it’s the supporting characters I’m most interested in. To be honest, Piper bores me. PinkNews nails it when they say, “The show also gives a strong voice to its array [of] LGBT characters – including trans inmate Sophia Burset (Laverne Cox), “butch dyke” Boo (Lea DeLaria) and the loveable Suzanne ‘Crazy Eyes’ Warren (Uzo Aduba).” Orange Is The New Black is groundbreaking because it doesn’t treat diversity like a box to be checked off. It features complex characters with layers of identity. It doesn’t tokenize.

 

3. Transparent

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This one is interesting. On one hand, PinkNews nails it, saying, “…creator Jill Soloway’s unique ability to authentically explore each of the character’s relationships with sexuality, spirituality, gender identity and mental health that makes Transparent one the best television shows ever written.” It’s wonderful that a show about being trans is having such success. It’s not just a good show… it’s an important show.

On the other hand, it’s really difficult to excuse the fact that Maura, a transgender woman and the show’s main character, is played by a cisgender man. This isn’t a dig at Jeffrey Tambor. He’s fantastic, plays the role with grace, and has been very transparent (pun intended) about his own thoughts regarding the matter. It doesn’t matter how woke the actor is, cisgender people playing transgender characters is dangerous. When folks see Jeffrey Tambor playing Maura, they’re literally seeing a man in a dress pretending to be a women. This is the exact opposite message we need to be sending people about trans identities. The truth is: transgender women are women. They should be played by transgender women. But shout-out to Our Lady J, who is trans and writes for the show!

 

4. Empire

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Empire is significant in that it features a gay black man coming to terms with his sexuality within the world of hip hop – a culture that hasn’t always shown LGBT folks love. Now, I’m a huge rap fan, so I’m a bit ashamed to say that I’ve never seen Empire, but I totally get the appeal.

While it’s true that there are some truly homophobic rap lyrics out there, I don’t think it’s at all fair to call hip hop a “homophobic” culture or genre. Historically speaking, rock and roll, punk, and metal have all placed enormous value on the idea of traditional masculinity… the idea that real men are tough guys who should like certain things – especially women. Hip hop isn’t more or less homophobic than any other culture. It simply reflects our patriarchal tradition in America. Empire fills an important space, by showing that, yes, gay men exist within hip hop just as they exist everywhere.

 

5. American Horror Story

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Oh, this show… This show… Where to even begin? American Horror Story is a big deal for a couple reasons. First off, it’s an anthology. It’s one of the first shows I remember that switches up its storyline each season. Shows like True Detective and Fargo use a similar format, but feature a different cast for each season. American Horror Story uses the same cast (for the most part). Secondly, it’s gory as hell. It can take a bit getting used to just how twisted it is. But just as you think it can’t get any worse, the show takes it to another level. Props to that.

However, the best thing about American Horror Story is that it features such memorable LGBT characters throughout its different seasons. PinkNews mentions Asylum’s Lana Winters (Sarah Paulson), Hotel’s The Countess (Lady Gaga), and Freak Show’s strongman Dell Toledo (Michael Chiklis). In addition to LGBT characters, the show has a slew of unforgettable LGBT moments, like the legendary exchange between Constance and Chad in Murder House. When Constance refers to homosexuality as an “abomination,” Chad replies, “So is that hairdo, but I figure that’s your business.” Or in Coven when Kyle says “Toto is amazeballs” – which is probably the gayest thing ever uttered. Or Myrtle’s last words in Coven before being burned at the stake.

 

6. The Real O’Neals

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Another new show! Loosely based on the life of Dan Savage, this ABC show premiered in March 2016. I give this one a bit more slack than Class, since it has 14 episodes out, as opposed to just three. The show follows the life of 16 year-old Kenny who, after coming out to his family as gay, inspires his family members to each reveal their own secrets to one another. The show deals with themes of love and divorce, eating disorders, faith, and more. We’re all about intersectionality here at Give A Damn, so I feel like I need to check this show out.

 

7. Modern Family

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It’s crazy to think this show has been on for eight seasons. I haven’t watched it in a minute, but damn, this show has really done it all. From featuring one of the most touching and honest gay relationships to appear on screen, to interracial relationships, to adoption, to now casting its first transgender child actor, this show has always broken barriers in order to depict a truly modern family. If you’ve never seen this show, please check it out. I may have to get back into it myself…

 

8. Sense8

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We love the Wachowskis. Not only does Sense8 boast an equal male to female ratio in lead actors, but creator Lana Wachowski describes every main character on the show as being pansexual – in other words, they’re attracted to people regardless of gender. I won’t get too in-depth about the premise, but the show follows a group of eight gifted individuals from across the world who experience a sort of psychic connection with one another – which allows for some really interesting themes about identity.

PinkNews also points out that, by featuring openly trans actress Jamie Clayton, the show has “openly trans writers penning a trans role for an openly trans actress.” And that’s pretty damn awesome.

 

All in all, this list was pretty good! Despite the few complaints I have, the list left me wanting to check out new shows and rewatch some old favorites. What do you think? Unleash your opinion in the comments below!

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Nick is the Program & Communications Officer at the True Colors Fund, and the main guy behind Give A Damn.