Queer representation in TV is finally on the rise. According to GLAAD’s annual reports LGBTQ+ representation in mainstream US broadcasts has risen from 3.3% (2013) to 10.2% (2019) of all characters.

We’re seeing LGBTQ+ characters in mainstream shows with legitimate storylines, no longer confined to portray a ‘comedic stereotype’. This is great news for the community as we move towards a more accepting world. Young people are finally be able to relate to characters in mainstream media and not be made to fee an outcast by the TV they watch.

It has to be mentioned that Netflix are proving to be a powerhouse when it comes to LGBTQ+ representation. You can catch 4 out of the 5 shows listed below on Netflix in the UK. They even have a Twitter account dedicated to LGBTQ+ content (@Most on Twitter).

Here we take a look at just 5 of the shows representing queer storylines.

1 – Schitt’s Creek

Schitt's creek
Photo via Pop

After the sudden loss of all of their money, the Rose family are forced to move to Schitt’s Creek, a town they once purchased ‘as a joke’. They move into a motel and embark on a heartwarming journey of character development as they embrace their new life in the country.

The Canadian hit comedy is written and directed by Dan Levy and his father Eugene Levy. The two also feature as main characters with the father/son duo of Johnny and David Rose. We also are blessed with icon Catherine O’Hara as the mother and wig-loving ex-sitcom actress Moira Rose. Rounding off the family, we have Annie Murphy who plays the former spoilt socialite Alexis Rose, who went viral for her catchphrase ‘Ew, David!’.

Alexis Rose 'Ew David'
Alexis Rose (Annie Murphy)

This show features a pansexual lead – David Rose with one of the most fantastic analogies for his sexuality:

“I do drink red wine, but I also drink white wine, and I’ve been known to sample the occasional rosé, and a couple summers back I tried a Merlot that used to be a Chardonnay, I like the wine and not the label.”

David Rose’s Wine Analogy

As with most characters in the show, David’s storyline following his love life will most likely make you emotional, but it’s certainly worth it (not to give any spoilers).

Dan Levy told The Star how important the show was to him and LGBTQ+ representation

“As a gay person to tell these stories and to have no questions asked and no notes from network and to feel completely uninhibited in saying, ‘This is a gay couple on TV; they’re going to kiss like any straight couple would’ — it’s amazing.”

Dan Levy to The Star

All 6 seasons of Schitt’s Creek are currently available to stream on Netflix in the UK.


2 – Pose

Pose highlights African American and Latino LGBTQ+ ball culture in the late 80’s and 90’s New York. The show created by Glee writer Ryan Murphy follows Blanca Rodriguez’s (MJ Rodriguez) newly formed ‘House of Evangelista’ – a self selected family supporting young LGBTQ+ individuals who have endured rejection from their own families.

“What made me feel comfortable, what made me feel solidified and it was the fact that Ryan [Murphy] saw all of us and he saw that we wanted to truly tell our stories the way we knew how we lived them.”

MJ Rodriguez speaking to GQ

Pose does not shy away from tackling key issues. There is so much to take away from this show in every aspect of LGBTQ+ culture. The show covers, gay relationships, sex, HIV/AIDS, homelessness, sex work and racism both within and outside of the LGBTQ+ community. The list is truly endless, with an accurate representation of LGBTQ+ history.

The show is a trailblazer for trans representation. Pose made history being the first show to have 5 openly trans actors as recurring characters. These include lead actress MJ Rodriguez as well as Indya Moore, Hailie Sahar, Dominique Jackson and Angelica Ross.

“I hope that when they see it, that they will have an understanding of our human experiences and that we bleed and that we hurt just like any other person, and that they fight for us. Not because, not to fight for us just because of our trans life. Fighting for us because we have human rights. That we deserve to exist just like anyone else.”

MJ Rodriguez speaking to GQ

3 – Black Mirror – San Junipero

Yorkie and Kelly
Yorkie & Kelly in San Junipero

Black Mirror is a dystopian anthology showcasing the darker side of technology. The show created by Charlie Brooker features a unique story each episode in various different potential realities.

One episode which is arguably wholesome is the San Junipero episode in season 3. San Junipero is a stunning coastal party town filled with unique locals and tourists but not is all as it seems. The episode mainly follows two characters. Yorkie (Mackenzie Davis) and Kelly (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) meet in a nightclub to kick off a love story like no other.

“It’s really about human beings being human beings in love. And I think that, hopefully, we’re at that place now. Things don’t have to be an ‘issue.’ You know, it’s nice to see people just being who they are.”

Gugu Mbatha-Raw to Vanity Fair

If you want a hit in the feels, to watch stunning cinematography or to belt out 80’s banger ‘Heaven is a Place on Earth‘ then this episode is for you. San Junipero is available to stream in season 3 of Black Mirror on Netflix.


4 – Years & Years

Vivienne Rook

Whilst we are on the theme of dystopian futures, Years & Years is a BBC drama alarmingly similar to the real world. Russel T Davis‘s creation features a world with failing banks, concentration camps, refugees and so much more.

The show follows a Manchester family living in a world with far-right extremist politician Vivenne Rook (Emma Thompson) at the helm as the UK Prime Minister. The show explores several storylines for each member of the family. One of which, is son Daniel Lyons (Russel Tovey) who’s friendship with Viktor Goraya (Maxim Baldry), a Ukrainian refugee, leads to an intimate affair. Their story tells the tragic tale of asylum seekers in a well-written and heartbreaking way. There isn’t much more that can be added without spoiling the plot, but this is certainly worth a watch.

Daniel and Viktor

There’s more opportunity to show there are billions of different straight people – so why is there only one way to portray gay people? There’s so much opportunity now”

Russel Tovey speaking to Metro

You can watch all 6 episodes on BBC iPlayer


5 – Elite

Last but not least we have Elite, a spanish drama featuring three students who’s former school has collapsed in an earthquake. The three students, Samuel (Itzan Escamilla), Nadia (Mina El Hammani), and Christian (Miguel Herrán), are admitted to elite private school Las Encina. Coming from working-class backgrounds, the three take a while to adapt to their new school. Eventually they are accepted by their fellow students, only to endure an intense bundle of drama.

It may be a somewhat ‘trashy’ mash of cliché high school drama’s from crimes to relationship issues but Elite makes this work by the sheer amount of genuine heartfelt emotion between the characters. There is a touching storyline showcasing different cultures having different approaches to coming out. As well as this, Elite does not shy away from gay sex scenes for fear of backlash.

Netflix also did not shy away from responding to ignorant homophobic comments on the promotion for the show. One person commented on their photo “Get the fuck off my instagram. Not ever(y) person on the planet is gay. You are trying to(o) hard.” to which they responded “sorry couldn’t read your comment while surrounded by all these beautiful rainbows” with as many rainbow emoji’s as they could fit in a comment.

You can stream all 3 seasons of Elite on Netflix


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