Nearly 25 years into the golden age of television, we’re finally ready to create a definitive list of the greatest queer television of all time. Not before, and series picks that are both fully embodied in their weirdness and first-rate artistically would have been a bit scarce. Luckily for those of us who prefer a more substantial canon, the slim fit is over. It’s time to celebrate the wonderful and vast world of queer television that has exploded over the last quarter century.
With so many options to consider, we decided to open this list with a bang: just the classics. After years of scouring weekday teases and low-budget soaps, it’s both exhilarating and overwhelming to be able to pick from a huge array of excellent queer programming. This list recognizes the pioneering classics who paved the way, as well as the game-changers forging ahead into our bright and shining future. Some, like “RuPaul’s Drag Race” are cultural phenomena that live in our veins. While something like Michaela Coel’s “I May Destroy You” might not read overwhelmingly, the bold dark comedy about sexual trauma features a queer storyline so powerful it deserves inclusion. And let’s all wonder how brilliantly Rebecca Sugar’s “Steven Universe” uses bizarre animation to blow genre boundaries out of this world.
While beloved omissions are inevitable, these titles have been judged on their consistent quality over many seasons, as well as their staying power and impact on broader queer culture. There are so many wonderful recent entries that are just getting started and we can’t wait to see how they evolve over time. With a recent spate of teen dramas (thanks, Greg Berlanti) and offbeat comedies filling their colorful worlds with an eclectic mix of queer characters, it was important to highlight shows that felt fully — even unarguably — queer. That’s why we’ve chosen to highlight shows with at least one queer character in the main cast. You know, shows where you don’t have to squint to find representation.
Let’s rest our eyes and feed our souls, honeys.
Check out IndieWire’s streaming guides for…
- The best LGBTQ TV shows and movies on Netflix
- The best LGBTQ TV shows and movies on Hulu
- The best LGBTQ TV shows and movies on Prime Video
- The best LGBTQ TV shows and movies on Peacock
- The best LGBTQ TV shows on HBO Max