Television has a fickle nature. A show can become a smash hit in its first season, only to peter out into obscurity with the next (see also: Twin Peaks, Felicity). On the other hand, what started as a ratings loser can also go on to legendary status (Cheers, Seinfeld). Still, others just seem to go on forever (The Simpsons), or come back from the dead more than once (Futurama).
Where queer shows are concerned, we, the devoted audience, have had to sit through some dreadful stinkers. We’ve also seen a few axed a bit too soon, depriving a devoted audience of their beloved stories and representation. These queer series deserved to go on longer, but hit the chopping block instead. Here’s hoping somebody, someday might give them the full-on resurrection treatment. (Hey, it worked for Twin Peaks!)
The Ellen DeGeneres Show
What can we say? All toxic behavior aside, nobody does interviews or comedy quite like Ellen DeGeneres, and seeing an open, married lesbian on TV every afternoon helped acclimate middle America to queer acceptance. We’ll miss her talk show, for sure… not to mention her montage of scaring the crap out of celebrities.
Airs on NBC.
The Wachowskis gifted us this Netflix show about a cluster of strangers telepathically connected around the world. Sense8 might well rank as the Queerest Show of All Time. Canceled after two seasons, Netflix had the good sense to allow Lana Wachowski to return for a wrap-up movie. That consolation aside, we could still see the Sense8 gang return for another adventure… not to mention another one of their notorious orgy scenes.
Streams on Netflix.
Love it or hate it, Looking featured a stellar cast and portrayed modern gay dating with rare frankness and honesty. HBO canceled the show after just two seasons, and despite a wrap-up movie, we’ve never felt satisfied. Given the recent Republican onslaught against LGBTQ rights and the fact that gay life does not end with marriage, or at age 40, Looking could provide fertile ground for a revival about queer life in middle-age.
Streams on HBO.
Brit Marling and gay director Zal Batmanglij’s weird sci-fi series about dimension-hopping, parallel universes, and magic Tai-Chi also hit the Netflix chopping block after Season 2. We’ve never recovered. The series that introduced the world to Ian Alexander and that also featured Kingsley Ben-Adir, Zendaya, Jason Isaacs, Paz Vega and Riz Ahmed in recurring roles deserved a movie-wrap up to help us decipher its brand of weirdness. Failing that, how about a comic book conclusion?
Streams on Netflix.
Most of you won’t even remember Wayland Flowers, the hilarious stand-up comic and ventriloquist whose signature character–the boozy faded starlet Madame–kept audiences entertained throughout the 1970s. Flowers tried to get in on the sitcom game with Madame’s Place back in 1982, but the show only lasted one season. Imagine what Madame would have had to say about mid-80s Reaganomics or the rise of MTV.
Streams on YouTube.
This Netflix series fell victim to the COVID-19 pandemic. While it wasn’t exactly Battlestar Galactica, The Society–and its story of a group of high schoolers that ended up in a deserted copy of their hometown–had a strange and captivating quality to it. That could have something to do with the relationship between Grizz and Sam (Jack Mulhern and Sean Berdy), a former football player and a thoughtful, hard-of-hearing teen. Could the two at least get their own spinoff?
Streams on Netflix.
Looking never really stood a chance- people were ripping it to spreads before it aired. All I heard was that it wasn’t diverse enough… 3 main character- 2 white, 1 Latino, 2 had boyfriend’s- 1 black and 1 Latino. Apparently, that wasn’t diverse enough. I enjoyed it.
This is so true. I remember I was really looking forward to seeing the show and reading the vitriol coming from (some of) the gays for their perceived injustice in casting. 2 whites, 2 latinos and 1 black apparently wasn’t diverse enough.
A similar thing happened the next year in 2015 with the Stonewall movie and people screaming for a boycott. Apparently because they claimed a black drag queen started the riot and didn’t feature heavily in the trailer except, she was never there when it started.
My main issue with “Looking” was the problems with the script and portrayal. Groff’s character would have been played right if he was a 23 year old who just moved to SF, but as it was, he was playing somebody who had been out of the closet in SF for a decade and yet acted like a little giggling wide eyed child who was shocked at everything, which was weird. They provided no context as to why they would have been friends with Augustin, who was not just sullen but downright mean to everybody who were supposed to be his friends, and was cruel to his boyfriend….how were they friends with this guy? What reason would anybody stay friends with the guy?
I was happy to have the show on air, so I watched it, but things like that kept throwing me. The sad thing is, the final movie was really good, and I thought “Well damn, this is what the entire series could have been”.
It wasn’t the lack of diversity in Looking, but the presence of inanity in Looking that killed it.
The show should have been called “Lacking” instead: lacking plot, tension, stories, direction, point, sense, interest, acting, and so on. Three uninteresting characters (one you wanted to drown in the bay) wandering around SF lost … repeatedly.
I remember the first episode being some kind of weird Muni fetish video. I felt like I was actually on a Muni bus for an hour that I waited an hour for to arrive. And the episodes made SF look like Pittsburgh.
Good “don’t move here” advertizing.
Ellen gone too soon? Not hardly.
The Accidental Polemicist
It’s been on 19 years!
Fahid, please stop with the hate and enemies list. Ellen broke ground that you’ll never understand. Being gay was once illegal and prosecuted with abandon; have some appreciation for the people who took great personal risk to give you a relatively safe world.
Fahid and his league of hateful kids do NOT represent the greater LGBTQ community. They are our hateful version of Mean Girls who have no appreciation for the hard work and suffering that brought us this far.
Except for the fact that Ellen’s ratings tanked after her abuse and hateful conduct was exposed. So nice try.
Cam, Ellen may not be perfect person. Do you think putting her on your enemies list helps? It’s as if you are working for the right-wing to smear a foundational gay icon.
Amen, brother. Bye Shaniqua!
Season 2 of OA ruined the chances for any further seasons. It was terrible.
The first season of The OA was perfection.
Ellen show ends fall of 2022..forgot to mention that. She loves playing sadistic games with audience members and making her guest look like fools..I haven’t watched her in a couple years. I could see her interviews were pushy and guest were uncomfortable.
You know I think they will replace it with another talk show. I heard Tiffany Haddish will get her spot
Where is Noah’s Arc? It was a popular series on Logo yet was canceled despite its good audience numbers.
Why am i not surprised that Noah’s Arc was excluded
have to agree with the Noah’s Arc fans above- good show.
Check out “A Place to Call Home” on Acorn. An Australian family drama with a very serious exploration of being gay in the 1950s, Very addictive!
Glad you brought this show up. In fact, we have found that the numerous British dramas tend to include gay characters more often than not, including Vera, Foyle’s War, Midsumer Murders, Brokenwood, etc. And the characters just blend in with the show’s plot, like they are normal people, imagine that. In spite of how far some shows in America have come, in general American television is light years behind the Brits when it comes to normalizing different populations in these shows – just our experience.
A lot of lgbt shows don’t last because people cry for representation but don’t support them when they’re on like Love Simon, which is being canceled after 3 seasons. Truth is, they want representation but only on a straight show. How are we ever gonna get a gay superhero blockbuster firm when we can’t even support a network show? One of my favorite queer shows was Here and Now with Daniel Zovatto from Don’t Breathe that debuted 3 years and only had 1 season.
The problem isn’t limited to LGBTQ. Minorities scream for up-front representation but forget the vast majority of TV watchers aren’t minorities and have no interest in watching shows centered on LGBTQ, African-Americans, or Latinos. And there aren’t enough of us watching to warrant keeping these shows going.
It’s the same reason why, when people scream about trans characters not being played by trans actors all it does is guarantee that movie/show will NEVER be made, because no studio is going to invest 10s of millions into an LGBTQ+ production with an unknown actor that will have 0 appeal to the masses.
Uh, Bromancer, you seem to forget that viewership varies by region, etc. and that Black and Latinx viewers watch TV at higher rates per capita than White people, so your comments come off as a bit dismissive and offensive. Also, you sound racist in assuming that White viewers will not watch films or shows with predominantly Black or Latino casts, but the truth is that no everyone has such a narrow view of people’s races and ethnicities and their relation to what they watch. Look at the national and global success of Black Panther, which Hollywood for years was incapable of even envisioning. Some of the highest earning Real Housewives shows for Bravo, to give one example, are the ones with predominantly Black casts: Real Housewives of Atlanta and Real Housewives of Potomac. The new Real Housewives of Salt Lake City/Utah, which has a diverse cast, was also a hit and moneymaker.
“Minorities scream for up-front representation but forget the vast majority of TV watchers aren’t minorities and have no interest in watching shows centered on LGBTQ, African-Americans, or Latinos.”
Have you heard of the Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air? The Cosby Show? Will And Grace? There are minority-centric shows that have been huge in the past. Industry-leading even. The real problem is that a lot of these new minority-centric shows just aren’t very good, or are so hyper-specific that even the demographic they’re supposed to represent don’t really identify with the show.
@hamoboy And all three of those sitcoms you mentioned were heavily white/straight-washed. Will was gay in name-only. Jack was a horrible caricature. The Cosbys and The Banks were upper-class African-Americans who were hardly average Black households — purposefully done in order to appeal to white people. And both shows were driven largely by the popularity of their stars, who were both well-known prior to their respective series.
This is why some shows like Black-ish succeed while others like One Day At A Time fail — when in doubt look at how minority-focused a show actually is. You’ll find the successful ones, while full of minority casting, don’t actually provide accurate portrayals of the minorities they feature. Because when they do, they fail. Another good indicator is to see how much of a show’s viewership is the minority they portray. In the case of Black-Ish, 79% of the viewers are non-Black. So then you have to ask yourself, if this show is such a good representation of African-American experiences why aren’t African-Americans actually watching it?
White audiences are far more likely to watch minority-focused shows when these shows are heavily white-washed. This isn’t speculation, it’s simple fact. If you look at the demographics for successful minority shows they all have a very low % of minority viewers. Of course then when you dive deeper to see why that might be it becomes pretty clear that it’s because these shows do not offer authentic minority portrayals, making them palatable to white audiences.
In the case of Real Housewives of Atlanta, the majority of viewers are actually Black, and this is undeniably due to it being a reality TV show that doesn’t attempt to white-wash the participants. But because it is indeed a reality TV show the financial bar for success is a lot lower than it is for scripted TV shows.
Black Panther is a bit of an outlier, but the numbers still tell an interesting story — 37% of ticket-goers were African-American, which is far higher than average, and far higher than the 12% of the population African-Americans occupy in the US. It’s a unique property that appealed both to African-Americans and Marvel-loving white people who were going to see it no matter what. But it’s certainly not the norm. Would it have done so well if it didn’t have a decade of Marvel movies behind it? Hard to say. The only other reference we have is Blade from 1998. It was a huge hit and featured an African-American lead Marvel character, but it’s a very white film in contrast to Black Panther. Literally the only thing black about Blade in those films is the color of his skin.
It’s even more grim when it comes to gay portrayals on TV, with gay characters either being completely sexless or an over-the-top stereotype, again, to appeal to straight audiences who have no interest in seeing accurate portrayals of gay people.
@Bromancer, small point: as of 2022 the African American/Black population is now nearly 15% (14.6%+) of the US total, but could even be higher given the gross Census undercount of 2020. IJS
A neighbor and I watched the ‘Looking’ series together, and found it wonderful. Every episode evoked a long conversation over libations. When the film came out we watched that together too. A very satisfying gay comedy/drama.
I am proud to admit that I am old enough to remember Madame, and watching her always left me in a pool of tears from laughing so hard. Wayland Flowers’ quick wit and bitchy dialogue was just perfect.
One of my favorite lines from the series was when a hottie came into Madam’s gloriously over-the-top boudoir to deliver her breakfast in bed, and she said “I was hoping for a ham & swiss on rye, but a hunk on the sly will do just fine!” LOL
Where’s Shadowhunters? It had many LGBTQ characters, a diverse cast, won a GLAAD award, and had the best gay romance ever on screen between Alec and Magnus, a gay man and bisexual man. It deserves more recognition from the LGBTQ press.
I think they only were looking at shows that weren’t renewed. Shadowhunters ended as intended, it was the completion of the story they wanted to tell.
I’m a big fan of the books. I even sat through the movie which wasn’t horrible, but I couldn’t watch the TV show. It was beyond bad.
Shadowhunters was definitely canceled unexpectedly. The fans and cast were crushed. There was a huge campaign to try and save it. The books are OK, the movie was horrendous, but the TV show was beautiful and improved each season. Best LGBTQ characters and a sweet, fun show.
Ellen should not be on this list. Looking was boring. I kept waiting for something interesting to happen. It wasn’t well developed and just didn’t progress as most shows do. Kinda like the New Normal which was arguably better but not by much. I wish Sense8 would have been given the time to really invest in the story. The ending was very rushed due to the cancellation. Loved The OA and sad I’m not going to see how this very or
For all where Ellen, the individual, started and where she has ended up would indicate that it isn’t too soon for them to not renew her show. Yes she is a trailblazer. However, she is just as human and as fallible as the rest of us and being a trailblazer doesn’t mean she gets a free pass. Her behavior has brought her to this point and that is all on her.
To be honest, nothing ever drew me to Sense8, Looking, or The OA so I really couldn’t hazard an opinion on them. My friends though loved the shit out of Sense8 and The OA. And, I think all the ones who sang their praises, they were extremely disappointed with them not being renewed. I don’t think I actually know anyone who watched Looking. So take that as you will.
I vaguely remember Madam’s Place. So I can’t tell you if I was very disappointed ending the way it did.
I did catch The Society. I enjoyed it’s vague dystopian feel and of how the Teens and younger children attempt to form their own society. It was a nice little mystery that never got solved.
From the sympathetic tone of the articles here I could tell somebody at Queerty was shilling for DeGeneres.
She used her platform to rehab the image of anti-LGBTQ bigots, she abused her staff and the show ran for nearly two decades. Just because somebody isn’t straight, doesn’t mean they are good for the community.
It also would have been nice, instead of Ellen, to mention some actual LGBTQ network shows that aren’t just streaming, Pose, The Real O’Neils, and if we’re going streaming, Atypical.
Cam, when do get paid for smearing gay icons? How big is the check from the Republican party?
If being a nasty hateful person sets you off, don’t look in the mirror.
Too many friends that worked for Ellen, I’ve heard stories about what a bit*ch she is for YEARS. Bye Felicia!
Your friends sound lovely, they’ve known for years she was mean to her staff but said and did nothing to stop it?
Sorry, this reeks of malicious, opportunistic, after the fact, gossip garbage to me.
Immediately thought of Noah’s Arc when I saw what the topic/category was – and was shocked, but not surprised that it didn’t make this list. While LGBTQ individuals endure enough ostracism and hate speech from others, it is a sad but true fact that a great deal of the behaviors that target and berate Black gays, lesbians and trans people come from other Black people. It’s hard enough to be hated or despised by so-called “outsiders”, but the hurt goes even deeper when that hurt comes from those who should most recognize the struggles that minority groups suffer from others. Getting down off the soapbox now, it was partly through watching Noah’s Arc that I came to face and understand things about myself that I didn’t see – or at least chose not to see. I was a real life “Wade” and Noah’s Arc helped me “come out” to myself – and develop the confidence and comfort to then come out to friends and family. It should definitely be on next – or amended – list.
I was disappointed that Brother’s wasn’t on the list, I subscribed to Showtime just to watch the show circa 1985 or so.
Another gay series I wish had run longer was James Bland’s Giants, which initially appeared for 2 seasons on Issa Rae’s YouTube channel, received a range of awards (Daytime Emmys, etc.) and was then acquired by BET+. It was a refreshing, up-to-date exploration of its characters’ lives and each of the actors, but especially Bland, Sean Samuels and Terrence Terrell, gave superb performances. J. August Richards, who’s been featured on here, was a writer for it, I believe. I could easily watched another 2-3 seasons of this show.
Gandalf The Grey
Looking, without a doubt, was the best show prematurely cancelled. I loved that show so much. Yes we got a closure movie… but two seasons was just too little. I’m glad I got the complete set on blu-ray because each episode had actor commentaries on them and that added a lot. But my opinion of HBO is definitely lowered for coming out with this brave new show and then chickening out on it.