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
Premieres tonight on NBC
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
Premieres Wednesday on ABC
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
Premieres Tuesday on MTV
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