What do you think first of, when you hear the word representation?


Recently I had two inciting incidents, which inspired me to think about this topic. The first one lies a few months back. I was watching the latest installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, and in the final scene, Legolas reunites with his wife, Elizabeth. It was a lovely scene. Unfortunately, next to them was standing their son, holding hands with his girlfriend. At first glance, this is nothing out of the ordinary. Yet, I got angry and disappointed. Not just mad at the writers but everyone who was involved. Why? Because the two couples looked precisely the same.

All four of them are straight, white, slim, attractive, tall, fit, the heroes of the story and so on. In comics, there is a technique called “the silhouette test.” As the title suggests, you take the silhouette of each character within a comic and place them side by side. Without any details or colors added, just the outlines, you should be able to distinguish them from one another. The scene from Pirates of the Caribbean would miserably fail at that test.

Why do we see two straight white couples? I know it would be weird if the son of Elizabeth and Legolas would be African American, but why this particular girlfriend? Be at least a little creative. I mean, there are a couple of options you can choose from. Why not cast a Latin or Asian woman, an Inuit or a native American? A black woman? For god’s sake, make him gay. Anything. But don’t just copy and paste that which you created before. Think outside the box. And don’t tell me it is because there can’t be a gay main character in the franchise. Their lead is Jack Sparrow.

Promo picture of Into the Badlands

Anyway, let us talk about my second inciting incident. I was looking for a new series to watch and somehow ended up with Into the Badlands. The premise was intriguing, and it had some hot guys in it, fighting each other with highly stylised martial arts, which is always a win. Needless to say: I was sold.

The first season developed well. Interesting characters, Marton Csokas from The Equalizer was the bad guy here as well, cool locations, etc. Just an overall positive experience – almost.

The best part was, that our young lead character was something in the line of a chosen one, with special abilities and skills. So M.K. became the apprentice of Sunny. He is the right hand of the bad guy and a future rebel. Since M.K. became an apprentice, he had to live with all the other apprentices in some kind of training camp. This training camp is an all-boys club. I could write another whole article just about the fact, why this bothered me, but let’s stay on topic. As stereotypical as the all-boys training camp was, it got my hopes up that we might see some man-on-man-action (the fun kind) or at least a cute love story between two boys. At times it was even hinted at, that our protagonist might fall in love with another recruit.

Maybe I’m just naive, but of course, the creative team disappointed me, and the chosen one ended up with a girl. So there was another straight couple. Another frustrating experience. Another bitter viewer.

The legend herself: RuPaul

Thus, here we are. I can’t put the finger on why those particular watching experiences stuck in my mind, but they did. At first, I wanted to write an article about how wrong it is, and just rant about everything. However, the world is full of negativity, blaming the wrong people, and more BS. So I decided to give you instead of that, a list of my favorite LGTBQ+ themed TV shows. Some may be more on the rainbow side of life than others, but they all made me smile, cry, excited, think and much more.

The following list is utterly subjective and not ranked in any way. Also, I focus on shows I have watched and enjoyed, (and I’m sure I forgot a few). Without further ado, here is the list:

  • The Fosters
    Within minutes I fell in love with the whole cast, their characters and everything they are going through in their turbulent lives. It has everything you want out of a family drama series, and as soon as I finish season 4, I am continuing the journey with the spin-off.
  • Queer as Folk (US)
    I think this was the first LGTBQ+ series I watched obsessively. I saved my allowance to buy the season boxes and watched them time and again. So perfect, honest, and provocative. So sexy.
  • Please Like Me
    Please like Me is an Australian TV show, created, written, starring, directed and I don’t know what else, by Josh Thomas and his dog John. At times it can be ridiculously funny and then hits you with depth, you might not expect. I watch it for the second time now, and it just keeps getting better.
Just a few of the awesome people starring in Please Like Me
  • RuPaul’s Drag Race
    Is there anything else to say about RuPaul’s DragRace than: Watch it! Now!
  • Skins (UK) Seasons 1-2
    I honestly don’t remember much from the first two seasons – I watched them a long time ago. However, two things are still stuck in my head: a beautifully shot dance sequence, performed by one of the main characters, and that this show got me into Yoga.
  • Modern Family
    Funny, quirky, weird, unique, honest, and so much more.
  • Gotham
    There are some openly gay characters in this over-the-top show, but what might have surprised me the most, was the attraction between Ed and Oswald. Though nothing happened so far, and the coming season (might be) its last, I have not given up on them.
  • Teen Wolf
    Dark and gritty, with a lot of different mythologies mixed together, a diverse cast of characters, some drama, well-done horror elements, and a sex-positive attitude. Great stuff.
Six reasons why you should watch Teen Wolf
  • Star Trek: Discovery
    This newest installment of the Star Trek franchise does not just have a black woman as its lead character, but also a gay couple among the highest ranking officers on the ship. I love when they don’t make a fuss about diversity. It is just there. Perfect.
  • How to get away with murder
    One of my favorite thriller/crime shows as of late. Viola Davis delivers her best performances to date – actually, the entire cast is impressive – and though it gets pretty dark sometimes, the stories and character developments keep me glued to the screen.
  • Supergirl
    Cara’s sister Alex and her (now ex-) girlfriend Maggie were my favorite couple of the last TV season. They had so many heartbreaking, honest to heart conversations and moments, grew stronger together, and could rely on each other. It made me happy just watching them being together. Kudos to the writers and actors.
  • Riverdale
    I don’t know about you, but I can’t take this show seriously. It all fell apart when a couple of testosterone dripping teenagers stood half-naked in front of a camera, with red masks on, stating “we are legion” to a brutal serial killer. Be that as it may, the ridiculousness is just so over-the-top it’s actually entertaining.
  • Will & Grace
    Another classic that does not need any further explanation.
As colorful as always: Will & Grace

Last but not least, I want to point out two single episodes. The first one is from That 70s Show and the second one from the latest season of Roseanne (again, I am not getting into any other discussions here, just this episodes):

  • That 70s Show Season 1 Episode 11: Eric’s Buddy
    A young Joseph Gordon Levitt portraying a gay character in a show like this? Yes, please. Unfortunately, he appeared just for this one episode.
Joseph Gordon Levitt in That 70s Show
  • Roseanne Season 10 Episode 2: Dress to Impress
    Just watch this one episode and be positively surprised. I sure was.

As I said, I am sure I forgot a couple of shows, but those listed here always make me smile. They have a special place in my heart.

Thanks for reading!

(Featured Image by Jason Leung on Unsplash)

Christoph Staffl

One thought on “Not A Rant About Representation: Best LGBTQ+ Themed TV Shows”

Leave a Reply