For the past decade, representation for LGBTQIA+ community has vastly improved on the big and little screen. It wasn’t that long ago when the topic was considered controversial, risky, even enough to tank a career. But with shows like “The L Word”, “Will & Grace” and more, boundaries have been broken and more TV shows have confidently brought new stories and characters that have captured the audience’s attention. These shows in this list don’t reply on stereotypes like “the gay best friend” and allows complex development for the LGBTQIA+ community.
Let’s have a look at some of our favourite depictions on TV if we didn’t mention yours, leave us a comment and let us know who we missed out!
1 – Villanelle – Killing Eve
On Killing Eve, Villanelle (Jodie Comer) enjoys a range of activities. Fashion, artful murder, and seduction, and it doesn’t matter who with. Men and women, but mainly with her primary target and obsession, Eve Polastri (Sandra Oh). Villanelle and Eve’s relationship is that of a Russian assassin being tracked down by an agent, but as the show progresses, the hunt turns into an obsession. As both women search for each other, feelings of lust and love grow between them. Funny enough, it draws a lot of similarities between the serial killer and agent relationship with Hannibal Lecter and Will Graham from Hannibal.
Villanelle is the bisexual assassin who seduces anyone she pleases, even accepting a knife to the abdomen cursory of Eve: “She did it to show me how much she cares about me,”. Villanelle becomes immediately drawn to Eve on their first encounter, with her telling Eve she should wear her hair down, and then seeks out another curly-haired older women to satisfy her sexual urges until she can have Eve. Villanelle is a very classic fashion villain, loving the high life of couture, sex, champagne and ending the lives slowly of her targets. She is highly unpredictable, hysterical, and enthralling to watch. Initially with the show, there were some concerns from the LGBTQIA+ community that the show was falling into queerbaiting tropes, with both Eve and Villanelle showing clear attraction to one another, but nothing was coming from it. However, complaints turned into applause in season 3, when the two characters were reunited and stole kisses off each other in the back of a bus. Finally!
2 – Marceline The Vampire Queen and Princess Bubblegum of Ooo – Adventure Time
On its surface, Adventure Time is a colourful, hilarious and imaginative fantasy children’s show, with a vast collection of crazy characters and vivid stories. Among its main duo Finn the Human and Jake Dog, Princess Bubblegum of Ooo (Hynden Walch) and Marceline the Vampire Queen (Olivia Olson) became fan favourites instantly. With one decked out in pink and the other in black, the two females showed a lot of confrontation on the show, both literally with their opposite colour schemes, and with their clashing personalities. But their relationship was growing throughout the show’s 10 seasons.
In an intense battle scene during the show’s final season, Marceline and Bubblegum ended the fight with a vulnerable exchange of emotions and a hug. With the two confessing how much they cared for each other, they leaned in and kissed. Fans exploded with happiness and rainbows, with the couple’s love finally cemented. LGBTQIA representation is important to be seen in an array of media, and for Adventure Time to showcase the growing romance within a children’s tv show, is a huge step forward for the community, as it shows diverse romance to a young audience, normalising queer love.
3 – Oberyn Martell and Ellaria Sand – Game of Thrones
Game of Thrones is not the place you would expect to see progressive sexuality, but low and behold, meet Oberyn Martell (Pedro Pascal) and Ellaria Sand (Indira Varma). When this couple was introduced in season 4, they captivated audiences instantly, with their gold and sun covered clothing, their striking appearances, and their confidence to challenge Cersei and Tywin Lannister without hesitation. Oberyn and Ellaria didn’t shy away from their fluid sexuality, they laughed at the idea of monogamy and gender preferences and engaging with each other and others regardless of gender without any guilt or shame. Despite their promiscuity, they both genuinely loved and cared for one another, and saw each other as equals. They also were very family-oriented, showing devotion to their relationship, and their many children, even the children that were Obery n’s and not Ellaria’s, they always loved them all. While their sexuality is not very explicit in the books, and with the show’s depiction, they are definitely under the bi-umbrella.
4 – David and Patrick – Schitt’s Creek
The love story between David Rose (Dan Levy) and Patrick Brewer (Noah Reid) from the Canadian sitcom Schitt’s Creek is one of the most adorable, funny, entertaining couples on TV. The show (spoilers!) ending its 6th season with the two tying the knot, and the build-up to this moment has been an enjoyable journey to watch. David is very insecure, with a “general distaste for other people”. He is highly phobic, with fear of bugs, germs, nature, disorganisation and heights. It’s revealed that he suffers from hypochondriasis, and this, along with his anxiety does hinder his socialising skills. David is also pansexual, this is revealed during a conversation with his friend Stevie Budd (Emily Hampshire) where she asks him if he drinks red wine (meaning men) or white wine (meaning women). David unveils that he “likes the wine, not the label”.
Patrick, on the other hand, is the complete opposite of David, he is confident, kind, open and warm. He is more business-oriented and enjoys simple pleasures whereas David is creative and likes to indulge himself Though Patrick has his vulnerable moments in the show, especially when confessing to David that he is the first man he’s been with and is the first time he has ever fallen in love. Together the two balance each other out nicely, but their contrasting personalities lead them into many comical situations. The two grow to adore and constantly mock each other, and their down to earth romance leaves audiences feeling warm and giddy. Schitt’s Creek was even nominated for a GLAAD Award for its representation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) characters.
5 – Ian and Mickey – Shameless US
The best part of the US version of Shameless (just my personal opinion!) is the relationship between Ian (Cameron Monaghan) and Mickey (Noel Fisher). In a show with so many characters acting, for the lack of a better world … shameless … in almost every scene, the love story between the two boys is a stand out example of great representation. Ian and Mickey very easily avoid falling into stereotypes often found with a gay TV relationship. The two are not effeminate, they swear in every conversation, they’re hot-tempered, occasionally pretty violent, they’re not even aware of the LGBTQIA community. Starting out with pure hatred for each other, this is a classic example of enemies to lovers done in a very exciting, satisfying way. With audiences seeing their relationship coming a mile away but seeing it bloom is all the more satisfying. They both come from incredibly broken, abusive homes and found each other among the chaos. While Mickey does struggle with his sexuality, coming from a violent, gang background with a very homophobic father, Ian comes out in the very first episode and is accepted by his family before the hour is up. With other difficulties coming in the way of this couple, such as financial struggles, violence, drug and criminal history and mental disorders, this show provides many different storylines, not often seen with a gay relationship that makes this one stand out on the small screen.
6 – Captain Jack Harkness – Doctor Who/Torchwood
Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) is a huge fan favourite in the Doctor Who fandom with his charm, witty and flirty remarks, and overall brave heroic status. First introduced back in 2005 with the 9th Doctor (Christopher Eccleston), and his companion Rose Tyler (Billie Piper), Jack Harkness was the first character on the show to be something else other than heterosexual. His sexuality has never been officially confirmed on the show, with the Doctor explaining to Rose that Jack is from the 51st century and is “more flexible when it comes to dancing”, Jack does display the characteristics of being pansexual. He flirts with anyone who attracts his eye, regardless of gender and species. With his spin-off show Torchwood, Jack’s sexuality is explored in more, with his relationship with the Torchwood team’s personal assistant Ianto Jones becoming a big storyline for the character. With Jack making an unexpected appearance in the latest 12th season of Doctor Who, alongside the 13th Doctor (Jodie Whittaker), let’s hope the show continues to explore Jack’s sexuality.
7 – Todd Chavez – Bojack Horseman
Todd Chavez (Aaron Paul) is notoriously lazy, a slacker, who lives on Bojack Horseman’s sofa. While his life is in pieces, seemingly going nowhere, he is always very positive and looks to the bright side. He is shown to have a short attention span and a very wild, vivid imagination, and while his ideas and actions seem outlandish, pointless and ridiculous, they frequently end up working in his favour and for his friends too. Questions were risen about Todd’s sexuality, with Bojack thinking he’s gay, and Todd’s on-and-off-girlfriend Emily confused why Todd doesn’t want to be intimate with her. In season 3, Todd comes out to her as “might be nothing” (not gay, but not exactly straight either), and later in the 4th season he confirms that he is asexual during an emotional coming out scene with Bojack. Todd’s progress through the show to accepting his sexuality is a big part of his storyline, he breaks down myths about asexuality and informs the other characters and the audience on what it feels to be asexual. Asexuality is not often explored within tv or film, and Todd embracing it and finding love is a beautiful storyline within the show.
8 – Izzy Richardson – Little Fires Everywhere
Little Fires Everywhere is a short mini-drama series focused on the intertwined fates of the faultless (least on the surface) Richardson family and the single mother and daughter family, the Warrens. This show tackles a lot of heavy issues including race, privilege, classicism, and motherhood. Among these, sexuality, identity and tradition are also explored, particularly with the Richardson family’s youngest member, Izzy Richardson (Megan Scott).
Izzy begins in the show as a rebellious difficult child, who regularly argues with her mother. However as the show progresses, we see that Izzy is struggling with the high pressure and controlling nature her conservative mother pushes onto her. Izzy is forced to always dress very girly, her hair must be like her older sister’s, she’s pushed into several situations she is very clearly uncomfortable with but her mother dismisses her objections.
It’s discovered Izzy is queer, having a secret girlfriend who becomes her biggest bully in school, and soon finds solace in art, and with the free-spirited Mia Warren (Kerry Washington). Mia, who is also queer, helps Izzy discover herself and comforts her in her time of need. Izzy is very relatable as the black sheep of the family, who wants her family to accept her and acts out with rage and attention-seeking stunts for her family to notice her. She is also a great example of how parents’ severe expectations on children can be very damaging to their confidence and can lead to further problems. Izzy is shown to be a talented artist, sweet and intelligent, but her family only notice her bad qualities and don’t let her shine until it’s too late.
9 – Ben Marks (formally known as Sadie Marks) – Good Girls
NBC’s Good Girls follows Beth, Ruby and Annie as they fight to get by in their day-to-day lives, while secretly being money-laundering criminals. While the three mothers do struggle to be good parents, Annie has a particular heartwarming moment when her teenage child comes out as trans. Known as Sadie through seasons 1 and 2, and then Ben in season 3, (Isaiah Stannard) the young teen always showed gender nonconforming, with his short cut hair, his fondness for masculine clothing and knowledge of GQ suit styles. While parts of Ben’s storyline does focus around his gender identity, with it being revealed he is bullied at school for kids “not knowing what she is”, it’s never been more than just that. Ben displays a lot of maturities, often being the more level headed when it comes to his mother’s childish behaviour. With his father and step-mother also accepting his identity, Ben remains a very kind, intelligent transgender boy. His identity doesn’t lead his story, instead it adds to who he is as a human being.