26 Must-See TV Shows for LGBTQ Viewers in Winter/Spring 2019
Must-See TV for LGBTQ Viewers in 2019
There's an embarrassment of riches on television for LGBTQ viewers. The "golden age of TV" has also brought with it a variety of queer representation -- from the creepy cat-and-mouse flirtation of Killing Eve, to gay seniors in Grace & Frankie, to the star-crossed lovers of Star Trek: Discovery. Here's just a few of the shows (and special events) The Advocate editors will be tracking in the first half of 2019.
Freeform's "grown-ish," the spin-off of the hit comedy "black-ish" follows Zoey (Yara Shahidi), the eldest daughter of the Johnson family as she navigates college life at Cal-U. The witty, socially-conscious series shines a light on issues around race, gender, and LGBTQ people and it's sophomore year only promises to dig deeper with the show's signature humor and heart. Among Zoey's tight circle of friends is Emily Arlook's Nomi, a bisexual woman still coming to terms with her identity in light of the fact that she's not out to her parents. There was already plenty to love on "grown-ish," but just this week, Freeform announced Katherine Moennig, who played the lovable lothario Shane on The L Word, is set for a guest spot as a lesbian gender studies professor Nomi turns to as a mentor.
"Grown-ish's" second season is currently air Freeform.
Freeform's benchmark 2013-18 series The Fosters centered around biracial lesbian moms (Stef and Lena Adams Foster) raising biological, adopted, and foster kids. At its core, the show was about found family and unconditional love. Its spin-off, Good Trouble, which premiered in early January, fast-forwards to the post-college life of the Adams Foster sisters, Mariana (Cierra Ramirez) and Callie (Maia Mitchell).
This fast-paced, edgier heir to The Fosters, with its jumbled chronology and flashback storytelling, amps up the notion of extended family. Where Stef and Lena brought family into their home, on Good Trouble, their daughters seek out a new family as they navigate the various personalities of the denizens of the Coterie, a funky downtown Los Angeles communal living space where they land. It's there that they meet Alice (Sherry Cola), a codependent lesbian who bows to the will of her ex-girlfriend, and Gael (Tommy Martinez), a bisexual artist Callie falls for, become part of a larger surrogate family for Callie and Mariana.
The series from out executive producers Joanna Johnson, Peter Paige, and Bradley Bredeweg introduces more queer characters throughout the series and also tackles hot-button topics including racially motivated police violence, body positivity, and bro culture in the tech world.
Good Trouble airs on Tuesdays on Freeform.
This delightful British import stars Asa Butterfield as Otis, who lives with his sex guru mom Jean, played by the ever-watchable Gillian Anderson. Otis soon teams up with his school's bad girl Maeve (Emma Mackey) to run an underground sex therapy clinic where he doles out advice, gleaned from his mom's business, to horny and awkward teens. Ncuti Gatwa plays Otis's wonderfully over-the-top gay best friend Eric while Connor Swindells plays the school bully. The show also features a queer female couple that seeks out advice from Otis.
Sex Education is currently on Netflix.
Schitt's Creek is a bright spot on the comedy landscape. Created by Eugene Levy (Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show, A Mighty Wind) and his son Daniel Levy, who is gay, Schitt's Creek brims with absurdist humor that's (mostly) sadly missing from pop culture these days. The series, about a wealthy family that loses it all and is forced to rebuild in the podunk town they happen to own, stars Eugene Levy as the patriarch of the family opposite his frequent on-screen partner Catherine O'Hara, who plays his kooky, over-the-top wife Moira. Daniel Levy plays the family's pansexual son David while the wonderful Annie Murphy stars as their bizarrely worldly daughter Alexis. Over the seasons, David has engaged in relationships with men and women on the show, including the town's motel's owner Stevie, played by out actress Emily Hampshire. Loaded with camp and a queer sensibility, Schitt's Creek continues to be a panacea for the daily news cycle and the show's fifth season promises to be loaded with even more humor and heart.
Schitt's Creek season 5 premieres on Pop TV on January 16.
Star Trek: Discovery
Star Trek: Discovery made history last year when it introduced the first gay characters -- partners Lt. Stamets (Anthony Rapp) and Dr. Hugh Culber (Wilson Cruz) -- to the Star Trek universe. Many were upset by Culber's untimely demise in season one, with many saying it fed into the dangerous "kill your gays" trope. However, interviews from stars and producers promise that viewers haven't seen the last of Culber or the star-crossed couple. The new season will also focus on the origin story of Spock -- arguably, the show's OG queer character.
Premieres January 17 on CBS: All Access in the U.S. or Netflix internationally.
Grace & Frankie
You're "never too old to not give a f*ck." That's the tagline for the new season of Grace & Frankie, the Netflix series starring Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin who form an unlikely friendship after their husbands come out as gay and leave them -- for each other. This season, Grace and Frankie must figure out how to begin the next chapter of their lives after their beach home is sold and they find themselves unmoored. The new trailer promises that edibles, a nude man, and RuPaul will be a part of this journey.
Premieres January 18 on Netflix.
The Other Two
Fame can strike pretty quickly in the Internet age -- and at very young ages. Aspiring actor Cary and his sister Brooke face this reality after their teenage brother, "ChaseDream," launches into pop stardom. With struggling careers of their own, "the other two" latch onto their younger siblings' fame, as does their stage mother, portrayed by the great Molly Shannon. Created by gay Other People filmmaker Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider -- the former head writers of Saturday Night Live -- the series promises to be a fascinating look at fame in 2019 through a queer lens.
Premieres January 24 on Comedy Central.
The fifth and final season of the buddy-girl comedy Broad City premieres January 24 on Comedy Central. It's only been five years since the sexually-fluid weed enthusiasts known as Abbi and Ilana burst onto the national scene (actors/writers Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer launched Broad City as a web-series back in 2010). Jacobson and Glazer -- now successful stars with several film and TV appearances under their belts -- said this felt like the right time to end the show, since it captures a very specific time and place (the lives of struggling twentysomethings in New York). Expect a bittersweet final season, with Abbi exploring relationships with women, and no plenty of "yas queens."
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Netflix's most successful half-hour comedy, is coming to close with its fourth and final season. The show still follows Kimmy (Ellie Kemper), a woman who escapes captivity in a male-led doomsday cult and is determined to live life with a positive outlook in New York City. Debuting in 2015, the show preceded the #MeToo movement and the Trump administration -- and its sunny outlook in the face of depressing realities will be sorely missed, as will the show's breakout star, Tituss Burgess. Watch Burgess sing "Magic Boy" below.
Premieres January 25 on Netflix.
Fans of Rent or "Rent-heads" as they're known, are measuring this year so far waiting for Fox's Rent Live to drop at the end of January. The beloved 1995 musical Rent, with it's myriad queer characters and a storyline that focuses heavily on living with HIV/AIDS, stars out actress Kiersey Clemons (Hearts Beat Loud) as Joanne, Vanessa Hudgens as Maureen, Brandon Victor Dixon (Jesus Christ Superstar, Hamilton) as Tom Collins, RuPaul's Drag Race star Valentina as Angel, Brennin Hunt (Nashville) as Roger, Tinashe as Mimi, and Jordan Fisher as Mark. The Greatest Showman's Keala Settle will also appear.
The Rent Live musical event brings to life Jonathan Larson's timeless LGBTQ-themed musical on Jan. 27th on Fox.
One Day at a Time
Netflix's One Day at a Time takes the beloved '70s sitcom about a divorced mom raising teen daughters and gives it a fresh focus by reimagining the premise with a Latinx family. Justina Machado (Six Feet Under) stars as Penelope, the single mom raising her son Alex (Marcel Ruiz) and her daughter Elena (Isabella Gomez), who comes out as a lesbian in season one. Of course, the legendary Rita Moreno plays Penelope's over-the-top mother Lydia, who lends a classic air of camp to the entire show.
With humor and a whole lot of heart, One Day at a Time's excellent season two focused on a newly out and deeply political Elena who joined protests and fought for LGBTQ rights at her school even as she navigated dating. The series did a deep dive into intersectionality and highlighted various sexualities and genders at a teen level eventually giving Elena a girlfriend, Syd, who is nonbinary.
The show's third season promises to explore more of Elena's identity and her relationship with Syd.
Premieres February 8 on Netflix.
With the departure of Kevin Hart after his homophobit tweets resurfaced, it looks like the Academy Awards won't have a host this year. The last time there was no single host, just presenters, was 1989, the year of the infamous dance number featuring Rob Lowe and Snow White. No less than Oscar-winner Helen Mirren has said a hostless ceremony could be "interesting," which one hopes doesn't mean ridiculous, like the 1989 show. But this year's Oscars will likely offer a plethora of nominees from LGBTQ-inclusive films, like The Favourite and Bohemian Rhapsody, and lots of tight races to generate activity in betting pools -- Lady Gaga versus Glenn Close in the Best Actress category, for instance. Nominations will be announced January 22, and the show will air February 24 at 5 p.m. Pacific on ABC.
For fans of reality singing competitions, The Voice is a must-see for its diverse lineup of powerhouse vocalists. The show, which never shies away from highlighting its LGBTQ contestants returns this winter with divas Jennifer Hudson and Kelly Clarkson back as coaches where they'll spar with veterans Blake Shelton and Adam Levine.
Premieres February 25 on NBC.
Judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan, Lionel Richie, and host Ryan Seacrest, are returning for season 17 of American Idol -- the second season of its revival on ABC. Last season caught our attention -- not only for Perry's boy-crazy antics -- but also for contestant Ada Vox, who made history by becoming the first drag performer to advance to the reality competition's Top 10, as well as the out lesbian contestant Jurnee. Hopefully, this season includes even more LGBTQ representation!
Saturday Night Live's Aidy Bryant stars as Annie, a young Portland-based writer based on Lindy West's memoir Shrill in which she recounts her painful experience with online trolls once her signature voice, much of which is about body positivity, took off. Lolly Adefope plays Annie's lesbian best friend and roomie Fran while queer icon John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig and the Angry Inch) plays her narcissistic gay editor Gabe. The low-key series with executive producers Lorne Michaels and Elizabeth Banks digs deep into issues of online misogyny and body positivity.
Premieres March 15 on Hulu.
Revenge is on the ticket for season 4 of Billions, the Showtime series that pits U.S. attorney Chuck Rhoades (Paul Giamatti) against a corrupt hedge fund manager, Bobby Axelrod (Damian Lewis). But what will excite LGBTQ viewers most is the return of nonbinary actor Asia Kate Dillon as Taylor Amber Mason, a chief investment officer who is also the first nonbinary character on North American television.
Premieres March 17 on Showtime.
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
After a spooky first season last fall on Netflix, everyone's favorite teenage witch is coming back! Kiernan Shipka will return to her role as the spunky and occasional-worshipper of Satan, Sabrina Spellman, in season 2 of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. Created by the gay mastermind behind Riverdale and Love, Simon, Greg Berlanti, it's safe to assume that the camp and representation of season 1 will stick around for "part two" as Sabrina continues to navigate teenage boys and witchcraft. The show also features two prominent queer characters: Ambrose Spellman played by heartthrob Chance Perdomo and Susie Putnam played by Lachlan Watson.
Premieres April 5 on Netflix.
Killing Eve's story is a far cry from its creator Phoebe Waller-Bridges's dark comedy Fleabag, but she manages to infuse the new series' spy-thriller narrative with plenty of her signature bon mots. Golden Globe winner Sandra Oh finally gets a role worthy of her immense talent as Eve Polastri, a sardonic MI6 investigator who discovers the existence of a new female assassin wreaking havoc around the world. British TV veteran Jodie Comer plays Villanelle, the gorgeous bisexual polyglot of an assassin who becomes obsessed with Eve. The series is delicious, dark-humored fun bolstered by a solid cat-and-mouse plot. If that weren't enough, the inimitable out actress Fiona Shaw costars.
Killing Eve's second season premieres April 7 on BBC America.
Game of Thrones
Since its 2011 debut, Game of Thrones -- based on the novels by George R.R. Martin -- has captivated LGBTQ and straight fans alike with its host of heroes, power-hungry villains, and fantastical creatures. The HBO series may be guilty of the "bury your gays" trope, as many queer folks met brutal and untimely ends during its run. However, many queer and gender-nonconforming characters, including Daenerys Targaryen, Brienne of Tarth, and Yara Greyjoy, remain, which gives us plenty to root for in this epic show's final season.
Premieres April 14 on HBO.
NBC had a massive hit with Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert last year. Now, the out dream producing team of Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, are giving the counter-culture classic Hair the live treatment. The show, from queer creators James Rado and Gerome Ragni, will be directed by legendary helmer Diane Paulus (Broadway revivals of Hair, Porgy and Bess and Pippin) and Alex Rudzinzki, who is currently directing Rent Live for Fox. The original show included bisexual characters, but there's no telling at this point if NBC will lean into the characters' sexual orientation.
The cast for Hair Live! has not been announced but fans are looking forward to seeing who will deliver classics like "Aquarius," "Let the Sunshine In," "Good Morning Starshine," and "Easy to Be Hard."
Premieres May 19 on NBC.
Watch a clip for Paulus's Broadway revival.
The Good Fight
The Good Fight is more than just a spinoff. The CBS: All Access series, which began with The Good Wife's Diane Lockhart as she joins a historically African-American law firm, was the first major television series to embody the spirit of The Resistance against the Trump administration. Cush Jumbo, Audra McDonald, and Rose Leslie, who portrays the lesbian character Maia Rindell, round out the central cast of strong women who try to bring law and order to a world filled with chaos. Also, last season they found the pee tape! Who knows what Michelle and Robert King, the creators of The Good Wife, will come up with to take on the Trump administration this season.
The third season premiere date has not been set but it looks as though it will be early spring on CBS: All Access.
The Bold Type
In its first season, Freeform's The Bold Type, about 20-something best friends, Kat (Aisha Dee), Sutton (Meghann Fahy), and Jane (Katie Stevens), traversing career, love, and the current state of politics in and around a socially conscious women's magazine, had already established itself as breakout television.
That first season saw Kat come out as bisexual as she fell hard for Adena, a lesbian Muslim (TV's first) photographer played by Nikohl Boosheri.
When Kat and Adena returned for season two they were a full-on couple, but the truth soon came out that Kat had yet to go down on Adena, a sticking point in the relationship. With humor and heart, a frank, thoughtful conversation about sex between women ensued -- the likes of which had rarely, if ever, been addressed for queer women in TV or film. And there it was happening on the network that once was home to the religious show The 700 Club!
This season the friends return to Scarlet magazine from fashion week in Paris with Sutton engaged to her one true love Richard, Jane caught between choosing between two guys, the show's central queer couple of Kat and Adena on the rocks, and the magazine's editor-in-chief Jacqueline (Melora Hardin) facing possible age discrimination.
In 2010, queer women went wild for the British TV movie The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister, about a wealthy 18th-century British landowner who's been dubbed the "first modern lesbian." Now, Anne Lister's story is getting the prestige TV treatment with an eight-episode series created and directed by Happy Valley's Sally Wainwright and commissioned by BBC One and HBO. The series stars Doctor Foster's Suranne Jones as Anne and Sophie Rundle as the object of her affection Ann Walker. Gemma Whelan (Game of Thrones), Timothy West (Last Tango in Halifax) and Gemma Jones (Bridget Jones's Diary), and Jodhi May (Sister My Sister, Tipping the Velvet) costar.
Premieres this spring on HBO.
Michelle Williams and Sam Rockwell headline Fosse/Verdon, a limited FX series that portrays the decades-long romance and creative collaboration between famed choreographer Bob Fosse and actress/dancer Gwen Verdon. Based on the book Fosse by Sam Wasson, the biographical show also stars Margaret Qualley as Ann Reinking and Norbert Leo Butz as Paddy Chayefsky.
Premieres "soon," or in a snap.
The Handmaid's Tale
The critically-acclaimed Hulu series based on Margaret Atwood's dystopian novel The Handmaid's Tale managed to amp up the terror in its second season. And it was already as scary as hell in terms of how close to reality it truly is. The show that stars Elisabeth Moss as June, a woman trying to survive a near-future in which women are valued merely for the viability of their reproductive organs, told poignant stories about queer women in its freshmen season, introducing Samira Wiley's Moira and Alexis Bledel's Emily. But an episode in The Handmaid's Tale's second season that flashed back to the lead-up to the conservative uprising that led to the women's imprisonment telegraphed how easily hard-won rights could be snatched away under an authoritarian government.
The season ended with Emily on the run and likely headed toward the resistance while June stayed behind in Gilead, presumably because she refused to leave her daughter from the time before behind.
Premieres date is set for some time in April on Hulu.