As 2017 seems set to regress us back to a time before we had things like a “President Obama” and “abortion” and “same-sex marriage," the entertainment we consume, is, surprisingly, becoming more diverse - even as right-wing elements try to shut the whole intersectionality project down. While Hollywood is by no means perfect when it comes representing people from all genders, races, religions and sexualities, television seems to be moving in a promising direction.
Despite GLADD reporting that in the 2016/17 TV season there were more LGBTQ characters represented on screen than ever before, that number was a paltry 4.8 percent. Meanwhile, 25 queer female characters were killed off in the 2016 television season in pursuance of a straight character’s storyline. So we’re not quite there, and I add hopefully: yet. What we can do is keep urging Hollywood to make shows with better representation for the LGBTQ community. We can do that by supporting some of the better LGBTQ focused TV, like the five shows listed below.
Transparent is nothing short of beautiful. Jill Solloway’s meditation on sexuality includes the journey of a father transitioning to a woman, and his children, who are on their own journeys of self-discovery through love and sexuality. Told through the lens of a hedonistic L.A. lifestyle, the obtuseness of self-absorption smacks you in the face, but it also brings a mundanity to the experience of watching Transparent, one that reminds you that gender and sexuality are still confusing, emotionally poignant, and challenging concepts for even the most privileged.
Tig Notaro is, on no uncertain terms, blunt and hilarious. Her Amazon comedy series, One Mississippi, produced by Louis CK, tells the semi-autobiographical story of her returning to her small town after her mother dies. It also includes the end of her relationship following a cancer diagnosis. So, despite being a comedy, it’s got Notaro’s signature moroseness. Starring Notaro herself--an openly lesbian comic--the show rejects the heteronormative paradigms we’re used to.
Take My Wife
Take My Wife stars Cameron Esposito and Rhea Butcher, a real-life couple of real-life comics. The show chronicles their romance and professional careers, with a buddy-comedy feel. The show approaches what you’re very used to seeing in a sitcom--the inner workings of a couple’s everyday world--but replaces the man-woman dynamic with two women instead, and does so without flogging the point.
Not a “queer” show per-se, but bear with me. With Jamal Lyon, one of the show’s main characters, being an openly gay man, Empire can throw it’s hat in the ring for offering a positive representation for the gay community in television. Jamal has massive screen time, dynamic stories, and the show doesn’t shy away from gay sex scenes. Meanwhile, his homophobic father is villainous in his disdain for Jamal’s sexuality, which, by the way, is fluid. The show also goes to pains to advocate for LGBTQ rights, and features other sexually fluid characters like Tiana, Mimi Whiteman and Camilla, as though their sexual orientation ain’t no thang.
Orange Is The New Black
OITNB caters to a wide variety of female experience, from queer to trans, and has been touted for its intersectional approach to casting. Indeed, the (mostly) straight, white main character, Piper, is insufferable. It’s the cast of multi-racial, LGBTQ women orbiting around her that have the most dynamic, interesting stories and personalities on the show. OITNB has also cast a trans woman to play a trans woman--which is still a rarity.