19 Shows LGBT Viewers Can't Miss This Fall
If you're like us, you've been jonesing for new TV shows or waiting for your old favorites to return from summer hiatus. From new shows breaking ground by being the first to feature LGBTIQ characters in their genre on the small screen to longtime favorites and everything between, The Advocate staff picks our most anticipated inclusive shows that make up fall 2014’s must-see LGBTIQ TV.
Premiered Wednesday on Fox
Narrated from the perspective of a boy identified only as "Charlie" or sometimes as "Coma Boy," Red Band Society promises to tug on all your heartstrings this fall as the dramady invites viewers into the children's wing of the fictional Ocean Park Hospital in Los Angeles. The titular "Red Band," we learn in the first episode, is a reference to the hospital bracelets each teenager receives before undergoing a major surgery.
Aside from the inevitable comparisons to this summer's blockbuster tearjerker The Fault in Our Stars, the pilot for Red Band Society offers a promising glimpse into the lives of a group of young people battling life-threatening illnesses with all the wit, grace, awkwardness, and snark one might expect from a group of teenagers. Gay actor and GLAAD spokesman Wilson Cruz provides some sass as an out nurse on the floor housing the group of unlikely friends, brought together by their extended stays in the hospital.
Earlier this month, Deadline reported that one of the characters — hospital newcomer and seemingly archetypal mean girl and cheerleader Kara Sounders — will reveal that she has two moms, one of whom will be played by Andrea Parker. It should be a comfortable role for Parker, who played the mother of missing mean girl Alison Dilaurentis on ABC Family's gay-inclusive Pretty Little Liars. (If you missed the Red Band Society season premiere last week, you can still catch the first episode online at Fox.com. — Sunnivie Brydum
Premiered Sunday on CBS
Here's a secret: The Good Wife is one of the gayest shows on broadcast television. It's also one of the most exciting and fun procedural-ish shows around.
Julianna Margulies's Alicia Florrick is stunning and brilliant and funny and sexy. You want to hate her for being so perfect, but then she wins your case for you and drinks like a (classy) sailor. What's not to love? There's Alan Cumming and Nathan Lane, who are series regulars, and they're both so incredibly watchable. And then of course Hillary Clinton's fictional BFF Diane Lockhart is played by Christine Baranski like a boss.
While this show of love triangles and ripped-from-the-headlines legal entanglements is set in Chicago, it's shot in New York, which means theater stars galore: Stockard Channing, Jonathan Groff, Anika Noni Rose, Kristen Chenoweth, John Benjamin Hickey, Dallas Roberts, Ana Gasteyer, Bebe Neuwirth, and T.R. Knight, to name just a few. I'm surprised they haven't had the ghost of Jerry Orbach yet.
And then there's Kalinda. What will she wear? Who will she make out with? (Maybe Cary? Maybe some beautiful government agent?) Who knows? But I'm sure it will involve leather. — Michelle Garcia
Premieres tonight on Fox
Viewers of Gotham — the new TV series from Fox based on the world of Batman long before he donned the cape and cowl — won’t need the Dark Knight's detective skills to find LGBT visibility or racial diversity. In this reimagining, women of color are depicted in positions of power on both sides of the law, and strong LGBT characters are an essential part of the story from the first episode. Gotham centers on James Gordon (played by Ben McKenzie) during his early days as a rookie detective in the Gotham City Police Department, but it’s the rich cast of characters that breathes new life into this rendering of the famous fictional city. The inclusion of characters such as the Latina lesbian detective Renee Montoya (played by Victoria Cartagena), GCPD Homicide Squad Capt. Sarah Essen (played by Zabryna Guevara), mob boss Fish Mooney (played by Jada Pinkett Smith), and a surprise reveal of a bisexual character in the pilot episode set a new standard for diversity in a prime-time series based on a mainstream superhero.
“Growing up, I rarely saw people of color or gay people depicted in a positive light, and I know when you don’t see yourself reflected in the world around you, it does things to your self-esteem,” Cartagena says of the importance of a visible lesbian of color in Gotham. “I know if I had seen a character like Renee on TV when I was younger — a Latina who is smart, powerful, and strong — it would’ve encouraged me to dream bigger. So I know what she means to people, and if watching me means that I can help someone else feel included, than that makes me very happy.” — Jase Peeples
Back when reality singing competitions were better known for closeted contestants than out ones, The Voice was playing it cool, as if it were no big deal that a musician was gay or lesbian.
In its fourth season, Michelle Chamuel finished as runner-up, and along the way to the top she sang a moving version of "True Colors." Chamuel (who is now dating Mary Lambert) was a standout, but it would truly be hard to count the number of times someone has mentioned in passing that they have a same-sex significant other, and it's no big deal.
It makes sense for a show whose premise is that only singing talent should matter. — Lucas Grindley
This show wins loads of Emmys. But I watch because it's fun (and still rare) to see two gay dads — and their unnaturally witty daughter, Lily, with her deadpan delivery. In one of my favorite tiny moments, which are the best part of Modern Family, Cam is getting ready for a big day, heads to the bathroom, and orders Lily to pump the volume on the dance music. I look forward to trying that out with my own daughters. For more inspiration on how to be a hilarious gay parent, watch the new season beginning Wednesday at 9/8 Central. — Lucas Grindley
It’s a tale as old as time — girl meets girl, they become besties, then pretend to be a lesbian couple to appear more interesting at their hyperliberal high school, one friend falls for the other, and then they nearly engage in a ménage à trois with the other friend’s hot boy crush. No, that’s not the plot of Disney’s next female-fronted animated blockbuster. That’s out showrunner Carter Covington’s controversial Faking It on MTV.
Slings and arrows were squarely aimed at Faking It even before its premiere last April, and with good reason. At a time when viewers can tune in to fully realized queer women on shows as varied as Orange Is the New Black, Pretty Little Liars, and Grey’s Anatomy, a series about best friends feigning lesbianism seems wildly regressive. At the time, Covington defended the series to detractors, advising that they try a wait-and-see approach. And it arguably worked.
The denouement of the pilot has friends Karma (Katie Stevens) and Amy (Rita Volk) locked in a staged, celebratory make-out session as the student body has just elected them homecoming queens. It’s an aha moment for Amy when she realizes not only does she like kissing her best friend, but she might also be a little in love with her. The authenticity of the moment works in large part due to Volk’s palpable elation, confusion, and vulnerability.
As things progress, Karma could not be more clueless about Amy’s affection, pretending to be Amy’s girlfriend while pining for the school hottie Liam (Gregg Sulkin). Once realizing her same-sex attraction, Amy enlists the help of her GBF, Shane (Michael J. Willett, out star of the movie G.B.F. ), to help her navigate her newfound feelings.
Throughout the first season, Amy, who engages in more than one tryst with a boy even while crushing on Karma, evades easy identification. And it’s the eschewing of labels and a fixed identity that makes Amy’s character so fascinating. Many lesbians were furious with what the writers had in store for Amy for the season finale, but it all seems to be part of Amy’s journey — one we’re happy to take with her.
If the show’s central plot isn’t enough to lure viewers, the second season promises groundbreaking storylines as the series introduces series regular and main mean girl Lauren (Bailey De Young) as one of the first intersex characters ever on television. — Tracy E. Gilchrist
Premieres Thursday on ABC
Before someone really original and snarky heads straight to the comments section to query, “This show is still on?” the answer is yes, and it actually continues to be a satisfying hit with a whole lot of heart as it heads into its 11th season. The first mega-hit in the Shonda Rhimes TV empire, in the beginning Grey’s featured plenty of heterosexual action with doctors and interns hooking up in on-call rooms and disseminating the finer points of their relationships over various gaping wounds.
But toward the end of the show’s fourth season sexy orthopedic surgeon Dr. Callie Torres (Tony winner Sara Ramirez), who’d had plenty of her own stints in the on-call room, found herself attracted to heart surgeon Dr. Erica Hahn (Brooke Smith).
The two engaged in a brief affair that had Erica proclaiming her gayness while Callie struggled with her identity. Hahn exited the show but the producers kept with Callie’s storyline and introduced Dr. Arizona Robbins (an out lesbian) as her love interest the following season. Since they first fell in love in season 5, Callie and Arizona have survived Arizona’s move to Africa, a baby, car crashes, plane crashes, lost limbs, breakups, marriage, infidelity, and a musical episode.
Callie came out as bisexual years before the most recent, very welcomed spate of queer characters on TV, and the adorable docs may well be television’s longest-running same-sex couple. And here’s the even better rub — they are actual sexual beings who have sex that gets depicted on the show. ABC is network, so don't expect any Blue Is the Warmest Color on-call room moments, but the point is that they are a long-term, vibrant, and well-rounded couple.
If the Callie and Arizona storyline isn’t enough to entice queer viewers, Grey’s continues to explore various aspects of LGBT lives with the patients' stories. On any given episode a viewer is likely to encounter thoughtful, heartrending gay male, lesbian, and trans storylines. — Tracy E. Gilchrist
On the surface, Scandal is a soapy, over-the-top D.C. drama, where the name of the show is truly the driving force of every little thing that happens.
Kerry Washington's coat-wearing, stiletto-pounding Olivia Pope is simultaneously flawed, fragile, and at the top of her game. And I want to be her. I know that is absolutely ridiculous. Olivia Pope's family life? Messed up. She can't be with the one man who really is her equal (you know, the freaking president). Her team? A bunch of loonies. But she can seemingly handle any crisis, her wardrobe is amazing, and she survives on my dream diet: wine, popcorn, and Gettysburgers.
But beyond that, this show is similar to the other Shondaland series, in which people of color, women, and LGBT characters are just humans, who are allowed to be complex and flawed and interesting. Cyrus Beene is an openly gay Republican, and this season will likely open on him (spoiler alert) still mourning the death of his husband, James Novak, and pushing on to raise their daughter, Ella. Was their relationship perfect? No way— hell, it was nearly as bonkers as Olivia and Fitz's (or Fitz and Mellie's. Or Huck and Quinn's). But it felt pretty real.
While I would even be excited to watch the cast of Scandal paint a fence, I'm counting down the minutes until this show is back, for an additional reason: Apparently, Portia de Rossi will be making an appearance as a political operative of some sort. Um, can you see her going toe-to-toe with Olivia? Is there smoke coming out of your ears yet?! — Michelle Garcia
Scandal maker Shonda Rhimes’s newest drama debuts this fall season, and it looks to be one of the spiciest yet.
How to Get Away With Murder stars Viola Davis as a law school professor who teaches a class of the same name. She’s a tough prof who pits her students against one another for the opportunity to assist her in her real-world court cases.
The competition leads her protégés to go above and beyond — in one case, a male student seduces another man in order to solicit information, and their steamy, sexy scene, which will be featured in the pilot, was teased in the promotional trailer. And Davis’s character, Annalise Keating, isn't locked away in an ivory tower either. The series is unafraid to show its lead female character as a sexual being as well, evidenced when her student Wes (Alfred Enoch) walks in on her with a muscle-bound man who is not her husband. — Daniel Reynolds
Amazon’s new original series starring Jeffrey Tambor as a newly out transgender woman with self-absorbed grown children promises to be a complex family drama that will advance the conversation on trans issues while providing high-quality entertainment. Its pilot was one of several Amazon posted online, asking viewers to vote on which should be developed into series, and the public embraced Transparent with a passion.
The reaction was “beyond my wildest dreams,” creator Jill Soloway told The Advocate recently. All the episodes will be available beginning Friday. “My hope is that the show is going to be so emotionally, spiritually, sexually revolutionary that you won’t just watch it once,” Soloway said. “I want people to be laughing, I want them to be crying, and I want them to be turned on. I want them to have all three of those happening simultaneously. Maybe the show can do something that hasn’t been done before.” — Trudy Ring
Premieres Sunday on Fox
Report for duty with Brooklyn Nine-Nine when the snarky, relatable, Golden Globe-winning cop comedy returns to Fox at 8:30 p.m. Sunday.
Last season, the sleeper hit won us over not only with lead Andy Samberg's talented-but-goofy detective Jake Peralta, but also with veteran actor Andre Braugher's stoic, no-nonsense Capt. Ray Holt. Oh did we mention that the formidable Holt happens to be an out, married officer, who started the department's first gay and lesbian officers' alliance, and refuses to suffer homophobic fools?
The show's nonchalant inclusion of a gay lead character who happens to be a successful man of color put the Nine-Nine on our radar last season, and the show's sophomore season promises to keep us laughing with Peralta-Holt high jinks, along with the hilarious ensemble cast. Nine-Nine also got bumped up to a prime-time slot, bringing some live action into Fox's popular animated lineup on Sunday nights. But if you're not up on the show yet, discover the meaning of R.I.C.O. and catch up on the entire first season on HuluPlus. — Sunnivie Brydum
Premieres October 7 on the CW
Spinning out of the CW’s Arrow, The Flash follows the adventures of DC Comics’ fastest man alive and promises to serve enough LGBT points of interest to get the hearts of gay geeks racing. Staring Grant Gustin (best known for playing gay Warbler Sebastian on Glee) as Barry Allen/the Flash, the superhero series will feature two gay characters before its first season crosses the finish line. One of them will be the Flash villain known as Pied Piper, who was one of the first characters to come out of the closet in the pages of a DC comic. The other will be David Singh (played by Patrick Sabongui), another gay DC Comics character who makes his appearance in the show’s first episode. Their appearances will mark the first time gay male characters have been included in a mainstream superhero TV series.
“It’s fantastic,” says Gustin of the show’s inclusion of gay characters. “Because it hasn’t really been done with this genre before. So it’s going to [bring gay visibility] to a broader spectrum than Glee could bring and I’m happy to be a part of it.”
Out actor Wentworth Miller has also been tapped to play the part of fan-favorite Flash villain Captain Cold.
In addition to the show’s gay inclusion, fans can look forward to the crossover event between The Flash and Arrow during the eighth episodes of each show. And as both series exist in the same universe, the creative minds behind the shows promise the crossover is only the first of many epic team-ups to come. — Jase Peeples
Premieres October 8 on FX
From the gay couple Chad (Zachary Quinto) and Patrick (Teddy Sears) in season 1 to lesbian journalist Lana Winters (Sarah Paulson) in season two, American Horror Story has always included LGBT characters. Although the third season of the franchise didn’t have a queer main character, out actor Leslie Jordan and gay icon Stevie Nicks made appearances, and the story included several nods to LGBT culture.
In the last three seasons, the shows creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk integrated LGBT characters into the storylines. But will the fourth season (American Horror Story: Freak Show) follow suit? Our guess is yes. Gay actors Neil Patrick Harris and Matt Bomer are slated to make appearances, and I hope their characters are G, B, or T. In an interview with The Backlot, Ryan Murphy said, “I never think about [whether] I’m trying to do a straight story or a gay story. I’m just trying to do a story and trying to write characters that are interesting. I mean, I do feel an obligation to have gay, lesbian, transgender roles in the work.”
"The freakier, the better," Bomer told E! about his hopes for his character on AHS — and for the record, I hope his role is extra freaky. — Levi Chambers
Premieres October 8 on the CW
The CW’s small-screen adaptation of DC Comics’ emerald archer, Arrow, kicks off its third season October 8 and is on target to offer LGBT fans a number of reasons to tune in. Arrow pushed LGBT visibility in the superhero genre last season when the series introduced a version of DC Comics’ martial arts master Black Canary, a.k.a. Sara Lance, as a kick-ass bisexual who had been in relationships with both the hunky hero Oliver Queen (played by Stephen Amell) and the villainous Nyssa al Ghul. This officially crowned Sara Lance the first bisexual superhero to land in DC Entertainment’s TV universe.
“The thing that I liked most about that is that we didn’t make a bid deal of it. We didn’t say, ‘This is a special episode of Arrow.’ We didn’t put a parental advisory before it,” Amell says. “Sara and Nyssa have a relationship like Sara and I have a relationship, and that’s all it was. So I hope we get the opportunity to do more of that because we can and we should.”
Amell should get his wish this season. Both Nyssa and Sara are set to return as reccurring characters once again, as well the dark archer Malcolm Merlyn (played by gay actor John Barrowman.) And longtime DC fans should be pleased by the gang of guest stars from across the DC universe who will also be making their Arrow-vese debut this season, including Batman baddie Ra’s al Ghul, Captain Boomerang, and Ray Palmer — better known as the shrinking superhero the Atom — played by former Superman Brandon Routh. — Jase Peeples
A modern retelling of the biblical account of the virgin birth, Jane the Virgin features a young, devout Hispanic girl, Jane Villanueva (Gina Rodriguez), who, despite having never committed the deed, becomes pregnant through an accidental artificial insemination. There’s a gay friend — Luca (Pretty Little Liars’ Brian Dare) who works with Jane at a hotel owned by the unsuspecting (already married) father Rafael (Justin Baldoni), who also just happens to be Jane’s former crush. The premise oozes with camp and high drama, which is no surprise, considering the show is based on a Venezuelan telenovela — think Ugly Betty meets Junior. — Daniel Reynolds
Premieres October 30 on CBS
Writer and actor Brian Gallivan is perhaps best known for his viral YouTube series Sassy Gay Friend, in which he portrays, well, a sassy gay friend giving advice to doomed female characters from history and literature (“Look at your life, look at your choices, Juliet”).
This fall, Gallivan is at the helm of CBS’s The McCarthys, which he says is a semiautobiographical take on his life. The series features Tyler Ritter, a 29-year-old gay man and his close-knit working class family, among them two brothers (Jimmy Dunn and Joey McIntyre), a sister (Kelen Coleman), and his mother (Laurie Metcalf), who bonds with her gay son over episodes of The Good Wife. Ritter’s father (Jack McGee), a basketball coach, tries to hire his unathletic son as his assistant, and gay and Boston stereotypes ensue. Although I'm excited for a series created by a gay man about his life, I may change the channel if it gets too heavy on the gay jokes. — Daniel Reynolds
It's been almost a decade since The Comeback first aired on HBO, when Valerie Cherish (Lisa Kudrow) first titillated audiences as an aging it girl trying to revive her career through reality stardom. Created by Kudrow and Michael Patrick King (Sex and the City), the life of the critically acclaimed comedy and biting Hollywood satire was tragically cut short, and it was not initially renewed. But at long last, Cherish returns this November, and her attempts to maintain the limelight lampoon everything from social media to Real Housewives to dramas masquerading as comedies for awards consideration. Popular gay characters like publicist Billy (Dan Bucatinsky) and hairstylist Mickey (Robert Michael Morris) will return, and there will be guest appearances from Andy Cohen, Lisa Vanderpump, and RuPaul, guaranteeing The Comeback a spot as one of the gayest shows of the fall season. — Daniel Reynolds
With its looming Hamptons mansions, snippy garden parties, backstabbing, intrigue, hot women, even hotter men, and of course, Madeleine Stowe’s marvelously over-the-top Victoria Grayson, Revenge may well be the campiest prime-time soap to hit the networks since the golden age of Dynasty and Dallas. Except Alexis Carrington and J.R. Ewing never had to contend with the highly trained martial arts expert Emily Thorne, a woman bent on revenge a la The Count of Monte Cristo.
Former Brothers & Sisters darling Emily Van Camp embodies Thorne with a cool opacity that keeps the audience and her on-screen nemeses (there are many) guessing as to what her motives truly are. It’s worth tuning in to watch Emily face off with her former mother-in-law Victoria. While they’ve never fully taken to the lily pond Alexis and Krystle Carrington style, all of their interactions are laced with utter disdain and bitchiness.
If these two titans aren’t enough for Revenge to be lure LGBT viewers, there’s always Emily’s tech genius confidante and best friend Nolan Ross (Gabriel Mann), who is one of very few bisexual male characters on television (Kevin Spacey’s Frank Underwood on House of Cards is one that comes to mind). Over the course of Revenge’s three seasons Nolan has engaged in meaningful relationships with men and women. And the powers that be at ABC have not shied away from depicting sexual relationships with either sex. However, it is Revenge, so no relationship makes it out alive.
Lesbian fans would still love for Revenge to throw a real bone, but in the meantime, a triumphant smirk from a wonderfully vicious Victoria Grayson will suffice. — Tracy E. Gilchrist