Pride Month, which commemorates the anniversary of the June 1969 Stonewall Riots, is here, and while there are plenty of activities to attend around the country (and particularly in New York this year, given the fact that it is the 50th anniversary of Stonewall), there is celebration to be had on our television screens as well.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, out LGBTQ characters made their way to mainstream television audiences. There was Queer as Folk, My So-Called Life (which many will remember for introducing audiences to the angsty relationship between Angela Chase and Jordan Catalano, but let’s not forget how it also introduced a bisexual, gender nonconforming teen named Ricky Vasquez to American audiences), Will & Grace, and Ellen DeGeneres’s eponymous sitcom (which also served as a vehicle for her own coming out). Years later, some progress has been made in terms of representing queer culture as it should be represented—not just homogenous, white, and cisgender, but inclusive of all sorts of gender variant people and sexualities. In the past year, there’s been a major push for content created by and for LGBTQ people—from old television shows that are in the midst of a revival, to serialized retellings of historic events, to fresh and original sitcoms. Here, we have gathered a collection of relevant, boundary-pushing shows available to be streamed this Pride Month.
Tales of the City
Amistead Maupin’s Tales of the City is a groundbreaking series of nine novels that follow a young woman named Mary Ann Singleton who moves from Ohio to San Francisco and finds herself at an apartment complex known as 28 Barbary Lane. It turns out to be a colorful cornucopia of queer life, which initially shocks Mary Ann, until she learns to find her place in the community. It has spawned into multiple miniseries, starring Laura Linney and Olympia Dukakis, and was recently revived for the digital age with many of the original actors reprising their roles for the classic tale. Some newcomers have joined the story too: Ellen Page, Zosia Mamet, Bob the Drag Queen, and Charlie Barnett, to name a few.
Where to watch: Netflix
Pose (Season 1)
If you have not seen Pose yet, there is still time to catch up before the second season premiere on June 11. FX’s Pose is a project that features the largest cast of transgender actors ever, with Ryan Murphy, Janet Mock, and Steven Canals at the helm, and starring Indya Moore, Ryan Jamaal Swain, Mj Rodriguez, Billy Porter, and more. Inspired by the seminal documentary Paris Is Burning, and the history of the real people featured in the film, season one of Pose chronicles New York’s queer ballroom culture scene in 1987. It’s flashy and fun, but it is also fiercely educational (with an impeccable soundtrack, too). There’s never been anything like Pose on TV before, and there really isn’t anything else out there right now that rivals it.
Where to watch: Netflix
Based on the true story of Anne Lister, an historic lesbian British landowner from the 19th century, Gentleman Jack is an HBO-BBC period drama starring Suranne Jones. Much of the source material comes from Lister’s diaries, who wrote about her lesbian relationships for years in secret code. With only eight episodes, you could binge this one in a singular weekend.
Where to watch: HBO
The L Word (Seasons 1-6)
When Showtime aired The L Word from 2004-2009, it was groundbreaking for its representation of lesbian life in Los Angeles, and gained a cult following, rightfully so. Today, we might look back and cringe at some of the ways The L Word handled (or mishandled) some characters’ storylines, or the ways in which it was sometimes dismissive of the B and the T in LGBTQ, but there is a revival coming later this year called The L Word: Generation Q, and the sequel plans to rectify some of those mistakes by representing a queer Los Angeles that is multicultural and inclusive of all sexualities. Original cast members like Kate Moennig, Jennifer Beals, and Leisha Hailey will return, and some yet-to-be-announced newcomers will join the reboot too. Catch up on all six seasons before the sequel drops this fall on Showtime.
Where to watch: Netflix
The Other Two
Comedy Central’s The Other Two will fill the Broad City sized hole left in your heart. It follows two hapless siblings named Brooke (Helene Yorke) and Cary (Drew Tarver), as they grapple with their tween brother’s suddenly meteoric rise to viral super-fame. Watch The Other Two if you want a cheeky perspective on what it takes to convince your publicist to secure you a coveted spot as the bartender on Watch What Happens Live, or a darkly comedic take on Internet fame in general. Series co-creator Chris Kelly tweeted the link to watch for free without a cable login, so you really have no excuse to leave this one off your list.
Where to watch: Comedy Central