The 2010s might someday become known as the “Battle of the Binge,” less for expanding waist sizes than for good serialized drama. In the era of streaming, is it even fair to call some of these shows TV? After all, viewers have come to prefer their serials in binge form–taken all at once, with minimal breaks, or parsed out at a time of their choosing, not a network.
In any case, these ten shows have earned a fair amount of praise as some of the best series representing LGBTQ characters and themes, delving into queer subject matters once considered not safe for TV.
Have a look-see, and prepare to settle into the couch to rest up before or after pride events.
1. Banana (2015) – 100%
Russell Davies created this British show as a follow-up to the similarly themed Cucumber. An odd anthology of stories revolving around queer characters, the show ran only one season despite critical raves, and remains little-seen here in the states.
Streams on Hulu.
2. The Fosters – 97%
Jennifer Lopez produced this sitcom co-created by actor Peter Page of Queer as Folk fame. The Fosters revolves around a lesbian couple raising their multi-racial kids in San Diego, and the drama and comedy of their everyday lives. Throughout its run, The Fosters won much praise for its depiction of a mixed family, though the series also became the subject of a boycott by the One Million Moms organization (which doesn’t actually have anywhere near million members, incidentally) for its corrupt gay influences. Disney, which funded the show, stood behind it for a full five seasons. That alone gives us reason to watch.
Streams on Freeform, YouTube, Amazon Prime and iTunes.
3. Queer Eye – 96%
The acclaimed Netflix reboot of the landmark reality show has already nabbed a second season renewal, along with wide praise for improving the original series’ premise. Now, instead of giving makeovers to big city schlubs, the Fab Five venture all over the country, lending their skills to men, women, teens and even public landmarks. Unlike the original series, you will need Kleenex for this one.
Streams on Netflix.
4. Pose – 96%
Ryan Murphy strikes again, this time with a soap set against the backdrop of the New York Drag Ball scene. Featuring a cast of cisgender and transgender actors, Pose has only aired for the past few weeks but has already attracted critical praise and hordes of fans.
Airs on FX.
5. Orange is the New Black – 91%
The Netflix show that made Laverne Cox a star, Orange is the New Black blends quirky comedy with hardcore drama–exactly the kind of tone a show set in a women’s prison needs to work. Taylor Schilling may get the star billing but the show belongs to the supporting cast: Cox, Natasha Lyonne, Kate Mulgrew and two time Emmy winner Uzo Abduba.
Streams on Netflix.
6. Cucumber – 91%
Though it ran only one season by design, Cucumber attracted heaps of critical notice for its depiction of contemporary gay life in the UK. Created by Russell Davies, who also caused a storm with the original UK version of Queer as Folk, the show doesn’t come off nearly as sexually charged as his earlier work. That said, Cucumber feels more real, perhaps because it focuses more on the emotional than the erotic.
Streams on Amazon Prime, Hulu, YouTube, iTunes and Vudu.
7. Looking – 90%
Speaking of erotic, HBO made its true successor to Sex in the City (take that, Entourage) with Looking. As created by Michael Lannan and directed (mostly) by Andrew Haigh, Looking started strong before a steep crash in ratings doomed the show to two seasons and a wrap-up movie.
Streams on HBO GO, Amazon Prime, YouTube, Vudu & iTunes.
8. Will & Grace – 86%
You knew it was coming. NBC’s unexpected revival of the iconic series proved unexpectedly hysterical. Already renewed for another season, and in production (we’re excited), Will & Grace follows the misadventures of the titular characters and their friends as they navigate the pitfalls of the Trump era.
Streams on Hulu, Vudu, iTunes and Amazon Prime.
9. The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story (2018) – 86%
The Ryan Murphy anthology series returned this season, reimaging one of the most shocking murders in American history. Though the show features a cast that includes Oscar winner Penelope Cruz, Ricky Martin, Edgar Ramirez, and Judith Light, the series belongs to Darren Criss as spree killer Andrew Cunanan. Criss captures the imbalance of the character, making him all the more despicable. While the series in no way absolves Cunanan of his crimes, it also has a preoccupation with the rampant homophobia of the time, ranging from Donatella Versace’s disgust with her brother’s lover, to the FBI claiming Cunanan had evaded escape by posing as a woman (yes, it really happened). This opera of a show plays just as infuriating as it does tragic.
Available on FX NOW, Amazon, Vudu and iTunes.
10. Sense8 – 86%
Sci-fi luminaries The Wachowskis and J. Michael Straczynski created this lavish saga for the internet age. Eight strangers begin to sense each other around the world and develop the power to communicate telepathically and absorb one another’s skills. Featuring the most diverse and pro-LGBTQ cast on record, Sense8 also features some of the most graphic sex scenes to ever hit the small screen.
Come for the story, stay for the sexiness.
Streams on Netflix.