Storytelling is a very important thing. In fact, it is a responsibility. It is through stories that the world gets to know about various things — from the depths of human emotions to the issues that plague society. Hence, it becomes an even more important task to tell the stories of the minority sectors of society. Keep them at the center of a story and show the world a glimpse of what their real lives can be like. This is why diversity is important, not just in the hiring of actors, but also in the sketching of the characters. The LGBTQ+ community rarely gets to see someone like them at the center of a show; quite often, they have to be content as a sidekick. But times are changing now, and more and more LGBTQ characters are becoming parts of all kinds of stories. With that said, here’s the list of really good LGBTQ shows on Netflix that are available to stream right now:
20. The Fosters (2013 – 2018)
‘The Fosters’ follows the story of a couple who struggle to raise their children — biological, adopted, and foster kids. Stef and Lena are at the center of it. Stef is a cop, and Lena is a school vice-principal. Together, they raise a bunch of kids with mixed ethnicities and face the challenges that come at every turn. The story starts with two foster kids arriving at their home. Meanwhile, their relationship with Stef’s biological son and the twins they had adopted also drives the plot of the story. Speaking in terms of representation, ‘The Fosters’ proves itself to be a very inclusive show and tries to show the world from everyone’s perspective.
19. London Spy (2015)
Out of the countless things that have been stereotyped by the world is the character of a spy. In every film or TV show that you watch, a good spy is either a suave, chick-magnet who can seduce any woman in his vicinity or a Black Widow-ish woman, whose charms are as deadly as her strength to kill you with her thighs! While these characters are appealing to the audience, the question arises: are only straight people tailored for this job? Why can’t an LGBT person pull this off? If you’re wondering about this, then ‘London Spy’ is the show you must watch. If you’re not, then you can still watch it; it’s pretty great. It stars Ben Whishaw as Daniel, a man who discovers that his boyfriend was a spy. In order to find the truth about his death, Daniel embarks on a mission that will pit him against some of the deadliest people in the business.
18. Wynonna Earp (2016 – present)
Talk about badass sidekicks, and the name of Waverly Earp comes to mind. She is the lead character, Wynonna’s half-sister, and an expert on the history of their family name. Actually, she is an expert at almost anything! The show follows the story of the Earp sisters, primarily Wynonna, as they try to let what’s dead be dead. Embracing their legacy as the savior of the world from the supernatural dangers, the Earp sisters unite with a black-ops division of the government to fulfill their duties. Waverly and Nicole, the deputy sheriff of the town, hit off with sizzling chemistry in their first encounter and eventually become a couple that the whole fandom had been shipping.
17. The Haunting of Bly Manor (2020)
The 2nd entry in ‘The Haunting’ series, ‘The Haunting of Bly Manor’ is a slow-burn horror that gradually develops through a disturbing atmosphere and unsettling circumstances. However, as one of the characters points out in the final episode, the series is ultimately a love story. American governess Danielle “Dani” Clayton (Victoria Pedretti) arrives at the Bly Manor to look after the recently-orphaned niece and nephew of Lord Henry Wingrave (Henry Thomas). There, she meets the property’s gardener Jaime (Amelia Eve), with whose help she finally frees herself from her tragic past.
The romance between Dani and Jamie adds an important level of complexity to the series. Showrunner Mike Flanagan (‘Gerald’s Game’) used Henry James’ 1898 classic novella ‘The Turn of the Screw’ as the blueprint and then wrote a screenplay that not only modernizes the original story but also improves it in certain aspects.
16. Dear White People (2017–)
Series creator Justin Simien developed ‘Dear White People’ from his own 2014 film of the same name. Proudly controversial and self-conscious, the show deals with issues like racism, classism, gender identity, and sexuality with an unconventional flamboyance. ‘Dear White People’ is a pioneering work in terms of the representation of the black LGBTQ+ community. As it demonstrates the wide spectrum of black queerness, it directly contradicts the stereotype that Hollywood has helped developed on the subject.
15. Elite (2018 –)
Despite the obvious oversaturation of Netflix teen-dramas, the Spanish series ‘Elite’ has managed to stand out with its bold approach to portraying sexuality and willingness to show the other side of what is conventional. The series has a big ensemble cast. It initially concentrates on three teenagers from blue-collar families, Samuel (Itzan Escamilla), Nadia (Mina El Hammani), and Christian (Miguel Herrán), and their experience after they start attending a prestigious boarding school. One of the show’s most popular romances is between Omar (Omar Ayuso) and Ander (Arón Piper). The two characters embark on an incredible journey together that eventually leads to complete acceptance of their sexuality.
14. Trinkets (2019-2020)
The web adaptation of the 2013 namesake novel by Kirsten Smith, ‘Trinkets’ is about three vastly different young girls, Elodie (Brianna Hildebrand), Moe (Mackenzie Lenton), and Tabitha (Quintessa Swindell), who have one thing in common: they are all kleptomaniacs. They become acquainted at a Shoplifters Anonymous meeting and subsequently agree to maintain an amount of secrecy around their friendship. Among the main three characters, Elodie is queer. Her relationship with a singer named Sabine (Katrina Cunningham) is a major plot point in the series.
While ‘Trinkets’ is definitely not one of the top-rated teen dramas that Netflix has released in recent years, it is still a well-made, relatively short-lived show with a compelling storyline and complex characters. It deals with a variety of social issues without being too preachy. ‘Trinkets’ is actually helped by the absence of any major star in its cast, as all three protagonists get separate chances to shine. Hildebrand is the most well-known member of that cast. She portrayed Negasonic Teenage Warhead in the ‘Deadpool’ films.
13. Grace and Frankie (2015-)
Set in San Diego, ‘Grace and Frankie’ tells the story of two women who are quite different from each other. Grace (Jane Fonda) is a cosmetics baron who has clawed her way to the very top of her industry. She is pragmatic, possesses an arid sense of humor, and can be extremely ruthless. On the other hand, Frankie (Lily Tomlin) is an artist with a humble and kind personality. These two women get the shock of their lives when their husbands, Robert (Martin Sheen) and Sol (Sam Waterston), announce that they have fallen in love with each other. As their erstwhile spouses find happiness together, Grace and Frankie discover that they have no choice but to live with one another. As the series progresses and their friendship deepens, Grace and Frankie start to relearn all the joys of life.
12. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (2015-2019)
The collaboration between comedy legends Tina Fey and Robert Carlock previously produced a gem like ‘30 Rock’, a satirical sitcom about the inner workings of network television. That unique brand of humor almost seamlessly found its way into their next project, the Netflix sitcom ‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.’ It tells the story of Kimmy Schmidt (Ellie Kemper), who was taken from her family when she was in the 8th grade by the leader of a doomsday cult, Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne (Jon Hamm), and kept at an underground bunker for 15 years with three other women. When they are ultimately freed, Kimmy decides to make New York City her home.
Her roommate, Titus Andromedon (Tituss Burgess), is egotistical and delightfully over-the-top. A struggling actor, Titus ran away from his home on his wedding day to his childhood friend Vonda Jeanne Brooks (Pernell Walker). After arriving in New York, he officially came out of the closet and embraced who he truly is. ‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’ deftly balances the comedy with deeper, dramatic moments, much of which can be considered as the upshot of Burgess’ remarkable performance.
11. Ratched (2020-)
Created by Evan Romansky and Ryan Murphy, ‘Ratched’ provides the backstory to one of the most iconic villains of world cinema, Nurse Ratched. Ken Kesey created the character for his 1962 novel ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.’ In 1975, Czech-American filmmaker Miloš Forman adapted the book for a film of the same name, in which Louise Fletcher delivered an Oscar-winning performance as Nurse Mildred Ratched. Murphy and Romansky set their version in the late 1940s and developed a psychological thriller drama series that is as different as it could have been from the source material. Like a typical Ryan Murphy fare, it’s filled to the brim with shock-inducing scenes, self-awareness, and utter insanity.
The love story between Ratched (Sarah Paulson) and Gwendolyn Briggs (Cynthia Nixon), the press secretary to the governor of California, is placed at the heart of the series. The audience is well aware of what the future likely holds for these characters, and part of the show’s tragedy derives directly from that. ‘Ratched’ doesn’t necessarily address the issues that the contemporary members of the LGBTQ+ community were facing. Instead, it builds a near-utopian world around its protagonist and her love interest and offers them a temporary happy ending at the end of season 1.
10. House of Cards (2013 – 2018)
Netflix’s ‘House of Cards’ started on a very good note. It was even one of its most popular shows. But then, the Kevin Spacey scandal emerged, and things soon went downhill for the show as well. If you can separate it from its controversies, ‘House of Cards’ is still a very enjoyable show. It is mostly about politics and minorly takes a detour in other directions. The show was bold about a lot of things, one of which included Frank Underwood’s characterization as a bisexual man. Since the story didn’t build much on that prospect, this show might not be so ideal. Still, it is only one of the handfuls that place an LGBTQ+ character in the lead role.
9. Super Drags (2018)
‘Super Drags’ is a Brazilian adult-animated comedy that follows the story of three drag queens who are superheroes, out in the world with only one mission — protecting LGBT people. The main villain is an evil queen who hatches all sorts of malignant plans to push the superheroes to accept defeat. But through each other’s help and support, the Super Drags always manage to defeat her. The show uses its fantastic setting to poke at society’s attitude towards the LGBT community and how people have to channel the superhero within them to handle the mistreatment that society throws at them every day.
8. Gypsy (2017)
‘Gypsy’ stars Naomi Watts as a psychiatrist named Jean Holloway. She is married and has a child, but she wants to break free from the mundane cycle her life has been caught up in and wants to do something exciting. Her patients become the source of great stories for her and she decides to take her job one step further. She begins to indulge herself in their lives under an alias. Her life becomes a bit too exciting when she falls for one of her patients’ ex-girlfriend.
7. Everything Sucks! (2018)
If the title of this show is the tagline of your life’s story, then you should head over to the comedy section of Netflix. There are some great sitcoms that’ll make your day, and ‘Everything Sucks!’ is one of them. Boring is a small town in Oregon and this is where the story of this show is set. At the center of it are two social outcasts who try to do something radical — making a film about the school. This becomes the premise for further struggles in love and personal lives. One of the boys falls in love with the principal’s daughter, Kate. She is a great character because, through her, we see someone exploring their sexuality and checking out all options, making sure they know who they are, before settling on anything.
6. Sense8 (2015 – 2018)
‘Sense8’ follows the story of a group of people who discover that they are mentally and emotionally linked to each other. Through this connection, they can share all that they know. However, they don’t know the reason behind this ability. The show is praised for using all of its main characters to add some diversity to its cast. By setting them in different parts of the world, it uses their storylines to highlight the problems in different sections and communities of the world. One of the eight “sensates”, as they grow to call themselves, is Nomi Marks. Nomi is a transgender person who is a hacktivist living in San Francisco. She is shown as a strong and determined character and will easily become your favorite of all.
5. Eastsiders (2012 -)
Set in Los Angeles, ‘Eastsiders’ follows the story of a gay couple who tries to set right the dynamics of their relationship. Cal and Thom have been together for four years, but it becomes difficult to keep it running when Cal discovers that Thom has been cheating on him with someone else. Furious and heartbroken, he decides not to break-up with Thom because he loves him too much for that, but agrees with himself that payback is in order. Thus, a series of infidel affairs and the unhampered use of drugs leads them down a very difficult path. Apart from them, Kathy, Cal’s best friend, also comes to the limelight, from time to time.
4. Sex Education (2019 -)
‘Sex Education’ is a romantic comedy that premiered this year on Netflix and became a popular watch. While most of its focus lies on the sex lives of the teenagers, there is the representation of the LGBTQ+ community that it handles very well, brutally well, in fact. Otis’s best friend, Eric, is portrayed as a black gay teen, coming from a religious family. Throughout the whole season, Eric goes through a very difficult time and struggles with accepting his identity. His character goes through a major developmental arc and, glad to say, the season ends on a very high note for him. Eric is a great character, perhaps even the best in the show, and everyone can learn a thing or two from him, no matter what their sexuality.
3. Queer Eye (2018 – )
Everyone needs a break from life, every now and then. And a make-over is a great way to implement something new, stir things up a bit and keep it exciting. However, most people don’t get the time to channel that side of theirs and end up leading morose lives. The Fab Five were brought back for this very reason, for helping people change their life. In every episode, a person is nominated. This person could need help with anything, to prepare themselves for a first date or needing a confidence boost for their upcoming interviews. When the Fab Five are done with you, you’ll not be the same person again.
Read More: Best Supernatural Shows on Netflix
2. One Day at a Time (2017-2019)
One of Netflix’s most acclaimed and popular comedies, which was surprisingly canceled this year, ‘One Day at a Time’ follows the day-to-day struggles of a Cuban-American family. At the center of the story is Penelope. A war veteran, she works as a nurse and tries to raise her children with the help of her mother after separating from her husband. While there are a lot of themes that this show assimilates into its storyline, one of the most prominent ones is homosexuality. Elena is Penelope’s teenage daughter who discovers that she is a lesbian. It is through her story that the struggles of LGBTQ+ people in getting acceptance from society are shown.
Read More: Best Hunting Shows on Netflix
1. Orange Is the New Black (2013 – 2019)
Based on the memoirs of Piper Kerman, ‘Orange Is the New Black’ is one of the most acclaimed shows on Netflix. The series will end its run this year, so it’ll be great for you to finish all the seasons before the final one premieres. The lead of this story is Piper Chapman, a woman who is convicted for the smuggling of drugs, something she had done almost ten years ago. Removed from her life of peace and tranquility with her family and fiancée, Piper is sent to a minimum-security prison where she reflects on her life decisions while developing new relationships with other inmates.
Read More: Best Western Shows on Netflix