There's no shortage of scripted dramas and comedies, movies, specials, and documentaries in winter 2020. In order to help LGBTQ audience members navigate the sprawling worlds of network, premium, and streaming services, The Advocate's editors have compiled some of our favorites. See below for the best queer TV to keep you riveted this season.
In its final season, Schitt's Creek has so many questions to answer about how life will pan out for the beloved Rose family. Where will David and Patrick honeymoon? Will Alexis make it to the Galapagos? Will the Crows movie ever get released? Could it even be a hit? Will Johnny become a famous hotelier? Will Stevie leave Schitt's Creek for the call of something more?
Premiered January 7 on Pop TV.
RuPaul returns to scripted content (and drag performances!) as Ruby Red in Netflix's AJ and the Queen. Created by Michael Patrick King, the series begins when Ruby's dreams of opening a drag club are dashed after she is swindled by a con man and lover (Josh Segarra) and his eyepatch-wearing accomplice, Lady Danger (Tia Carrere). Back to square one, the performer embarks on a road trip, only to find herself in the additional role of a caregiver after 10-year-old AJ (Izzy G.) sneaks into her RV.
Premiered January 10 on Netflix.
There aren’t many greater joys than watching Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin play off of one another, which is why it’s no surprise that Grace and Frankie is now in its sixth season. The season takes on shenanigans and issues around Fonda’s Grace, newly married to the dashing Nick (Peter Gallagher), and Frankie’s ex, Saul (Sam Waterston), about to undergo surgery. If that weren’t enough, the late-in-life entrepreneurs who famously engineered sex toys designed for Baby Boomers are back with a new invention they’ll pitch to Shark Tank.
Premiered January 15 on Netflix.
The denizens of The Coterie have returned to tackle even more social issues, from queer identity and body positivity to police brutality and workplace sexual harassment. Anchored by a diverse, talented cast, the series is one of the most prescient and important while also remaining ultimately upbeat with truly hilarious moments.
Premiered January 15 on Freeform.
Josh Thomas, of Please Like Me fame, created Everything’s Gonna Be Okay, a Freeform comedy in which he stars as Nicholas, a 20-something Australian tasked with being the guardian of his teenage half-siblings (Kayla Cromer, Maeve Press) in Los Angeles after their father dies of cancer. The show also features Adam Faison as Alex, Nicholas's boyfriend, who helps him navigate this difficult time.
Premiered January 16 on Freeform.
The tabloids have had a field day with Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez, a Netflix docuseries tracing how NFL player Aaron Hernandez became a convicted murderer. One theory, drawn from interviews with his alleged ex-lover Dennis SanSoucie and gay former Patriots player Ryan O’Callaghan, is how the closet negatively impacts mental health and causes trauma.
Premiered January 17 on Netflix.
More than a few queer people have found refuge, support, and a platform for excellence on the cheer team at Navarro College, where legendary coach Monica Aldama has led a formerly obscure junior college in Texas to a string of national victories. Watch their stories on the new Netflix docuseries.
Premiered January 17 on Netflix.
Sex Education’s freshman season took a frank look at actually discussing teen sexuality. That real talk was anchored by Gillian Anderson as lead character Otis’s (Asa Butterfield) sex therapist mother, renowned for her creative use of vegetables in her demonstrations. The show also featured a refreshing take on the gay best friend trope in the character of Eric (Ncuti Gatwa). But season 2 leans way into queer visibility with pan and bisexual representation and several queer couples to ship.
Premiered January 17 on Netflix.
Little America is the best offering yet from Apple Plus TV, an anthology series from The Big Sick’s Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon about immigrants to the United States. Adapted from interviews by Epic Magazine, Little America features a can't-miss episode with "The Son," which follows Rafiq (Haaz Sleiman), a gay Syrian applying for asylum. The episode has been banned in at least 11 countries, making its story about queer lives and found family even more vital for viewing.
Premiered January 17 on Apple TV Plus.
Comedian Fortune Feimster has appeared on Chelsea Lately, The Mindy Project, and most recently on The L Word: Generation Q. Now the North Carolina native has her own Netflix special that was shot right near her hometown in Charlotte. What's even better is that Feimster's mom introduces her daughter's comedy set to the crowd. Feimster’s sweet spot is regaling her audience with anecdotes about her childhood that included Girl Scouts, a stint on the swim team, coming out in college, and frequent trips to Hooters, where she once spent a pivotal birthday.
Premiered January 21 on Netflix.
Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens features Awkwafina — fresh from her Golden Globe win for The Farewell — back in her comedic roots. She plays a "20-something woman in Queens who strives for a larger-than-life existence." Don't we all?
Premiered January 22 on Comedy Central.
Jean-Luc Picard (and Patrick Stewart!) return to television in Star Trek: Picard. In the CBS: All Access series, the famous Starfleet captain also comes out of retirement from the French countryside in order to investigate events linked to the death of his beloved Commander Data. Bestie Ian McKellen was so excited for his friend that he kissed Stewart at the premiere. Intriguingly, Wonder Boys novelist Michael Chabon has signed on as a creator and an executive producer.
Premiered January 23 on CBS: All Access.
The women of Scarlet have returned for a super-sized 18-episode season 4. The season kicks off with the magazine in upheaval after Jacqueline OK'd publishing a more inclusive issue loaded with people of various sexual and gender identities, races, and body types. As the face of Scarlet changes, where will Jane, Kat, and Sutton fit in?
Premiered January 23 on Freeform.
Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell) is not only the rare bi character to be a lead on a network TV show; she is also tasked with saving the afterlife and the universe with fellow souls Chidi (William Jackson Harper), Tahani (Jameela Jamil), and Jason (Manny Jacinto) — with a little help from the demonic architect Michael (Ted Danson) and a "not a girl" guide named Janet (D'Arcy Carden). See how The Good Place ends in a special extended finale.
Airs January 30 on NBC.
Pretty Little Liars alumna Lucy Hale stars as the titular character on the CW’s aspirational Riverdale spin-off Katy Keene from creator-showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa. In it, Katy is a hopeful fashion designer who places her career ambitions and friendships with her squad (which includes two queer characters), above romance. But Katy Keene breaks new ground with the character of Jorge (Johnny Beauchamp), an aspiring drag queen named Ginger who also happens to be Katy’s roomie.
Premieres February 6 on the CW.
Nurse Jackie and Sopranos star Edie Falco breaks ground as the lead of the CBS’s new cop drama Tommy, in which she plays the first woman to become chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, who is also a lesbian. She also happens to be a native New Yorker, which could offer its own kind of controversy.
At the Television Critics Association winter event in Los Angeles in January, Falco addressed why her character’s sexuality matters.
“It’s important that every single person — large, small, different colors — gets represented in our television,” Falco said. “I think everybody in the world wants to look at television and be able to find themselves somewhere. And I think we’ve been leaving huge swaths of the population out of that experience. I could always find myself on television as a kid. You know, the world is changing. We’ve got to change with it.”
Premieres February 6 on CBS.
The Academy Awards are back for the second year without a host. While the nominees once again skew straight, white, and male (not a single woman director was nominated despite a strong showing for films helmed by women). However, there are a few LGBTQ or adjacent nominees to watch, including nominations for films including Rocketman, Bombshell, Little Women, and Pain and Glory. Also, Elton John and Bernie Taupin are up for the Oscar in the Best Song category with "(I'm Gonna) Love Me Again" from Rocketman.
Airs February 9 on ABC.
It was almost goners for Brooklyn Nine-Nine after Fox announced it would not be renewing the cop comedy starring Andy Samberg in 2018. Thankfully, NBC saved Brooklyn, which received a GLAAD Media Award last year for its stellar LGBTQ representation, including the gay Captain Raymond Holt (Andre Braugher) and the bi Detective Rosa Diaz (Stephanie Beatriz, also bi!).
Premieres February 13 on NBC.
Television wasn't always so flush with LGBTQ representation. In fact, not too long ago, these characters (and people) were few, far between, and facing challenges to receive airtime. A five-part documentary series from Apple TV Plus features interviews with Ellen DeGeneres, Oprah Winfrey, Anderson Cooper, Billy Porter, Rachel Maddow, Don Lemon, Sara Ramirez, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, and more about the televised march of progress.
Premieres February 14 on Apple TV Plus.
For any queer person who’s ever felt excluded from holiday love stories, Freeform is about to change that with The Thing About Harry, a gay-themed Valentine’s Day romance directed by Good Trouble and The Fosters creator Peter Paige. The rom-com stars Grey’s Anatomy’s out star Jake Borelli as Sam, a gay man who embarks on a road trip from Chicago to attend an engagement party in his small hometown in Missouri, where he faced bullying for bravely coming out during high school. The twist is that his companion on the road is Harry (newcomer Niko Terho), the jock who bullied Sam in high school. But it turns out Harry has evolved since high school and the sparks fly between them. Queer Eye's Karamo Brown and GLOW's Britt Baron costar.
Premieres February 15 on Freeform.
Nick Hornby’s beloved novel that became a hit '90s flick about opinionated slacker men working in a record store gets a queer update with Zooey Kravitz in the lead role that John Cusack inhabited in the movie.
Kravitz plays the owner of a Brooklyn-based record store who analyzes her “top five most memorable heartbreaks,” which include men and women.
Da’Vine Joy Randolph, David H. Holmes, Jake Lacy, and Kingsley Ben-Adir costar.
Premieres February 14 on Hulu.
NBC has come up with an extraordinary new dramedy, Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist, which begins when shy coder Zoey Clarke (Jane Levy) magically begins hearing the thoughts of others to the tune of musical hits. The show's ensemble cast — Skylar Astin, Alex Newell, John Clarence Stewart, Peter Gallagher, and Mary Steenburgen — help sing an uplifting message about the power of music to heal and unite.
Premieres February 16 on NBC.
Lena Waithe has created her most personal production yet in Twenties, a BET series about Hattie (Jonica "Jojo" T. Gibbs), a queer Black woman navigating her career, relationships, and yes, her 20s, in Los Angeles.
Premieres March 4 on BET. Waithe's other BET series, Boomerang, which also includes LGBTQ representation, debuts March 11.
Hillary Clinton’s documentary series about her life, aptly titled Hillary, just made a splash at Sundance with its subject on hand there to discuss the film. The film, from The Kid Stays in the Picture's director, Nanette Burstein, hasn’t even been released, but cherry-picked quotes from the doc, shot about 18 months ago, have already become fodder for the media. In the four-part series, she discusses her childhood, the potshots she took as a first lady unwilling to “bake cookies,” Donald Trump, and more.
Premieres March 6 on Hulu.
Saturday Night Live’s Aidy Bryant is back as Annie, a Portland-based writer in a series 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.
Adapting Celeste Ng’s smash novel, Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington executive-produce and costar in the series that excavates issues around race, class, and motherhood. Witherspoon’s Elena is a wealthy woman who rents out part of her home to Washington’s Mia, a homeless artist and a mom on the run from her past.
Rosemarie DeWitt, Joshua Jackson, Jade Pettyjohn, Jordan Elsass, Gavin Lewis, Megan Stott, and Lexi Underwood costar.
Premieres March 18 on Hulu.
Witches will save the planet from a shadowy terrorist group in Freeform’s sci-fi series Motherland: Fort Salem. The series follows young witch recruits as they train for battle at what is essentially witch boot camp. And never fear: Where there are witches, there are queer characters! Like all of Freeform’s fare, Motherland promises to offer plenty of queer representation.
Premieres March 18 on Freeform.
An entrepreneur ahead of her time, Sarah Breedlove, better known as Madam C.J. Walker, marketed a line of cosmetics and hair-care products for black women beginning around the turn of the 20th century. Oscar-winner Octavia Spencer plays Walker, who was considered to be the wealthiest black woman in America at the time of her death in 1919.
The limited series, based on the biography On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C. J. Walker by Walker’s great-great-granddaughter A’Lelia Bundles, demonstrates that Walker was also an activist who overcame racial and gender biases to become a self-made woman. Additionally, she was an ardent philanthropist who donated to the YMCA, Tuskegee Institute, and NAACP.
Blair Underwood, Tiffany Haddish, Carmen Ejogo, Garrett Morris, and Kevin Carroll costar in the series directed by DeMane Davis and Harriet helmer Kasi Lemmons.
Premieres March 20 on Netflix.
After One Day at a Time was unceremoniously cut from Netflix's lineup, leading to passionate fan outcry, Schitt's Creek network Pop TV saved the beloved reboot of the '70s series about the challenges of being a divorced, single mom raising kids in the city. In the series that updates the show with a Latinx family, Justina Machado stars as Penelope, the single mom raising son Alex (Marcel Ruiz) and daughter Elena (Isabella Gomez), who came out as a lesbian in the show's first season. 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.
Funny and heartfelt, the series has done a deep dive into intersectionality and highlighted various sexualities and genders at a teen level, including giving Elena a nonbinary partner.
Premieres March 24 on Pop TV.