It’s refreshing to see LGBTQ+ characters living their best lives on TV. And, more lately, there has been a plethora of series showcasing LGBT characters that do not rely on stereotypes.
Romantic and/or sexual relationships between women remain unfruitful, as do programs featuring lesbian, bisexual, and pansexual characters, although this list is far more extensive than it was even a few years ago.
1. Everything Sucks
Set in a high school in Boring, Oregon, this series follows the life of the students that go there as they try to figure out who they are and where they fit in.
Luke is freshmen at Boring and has a small group of friends that are not exactly ‘cool’.
Luke develops a crush on a sophomore called Kate who is the principal’s daughter. However, Kate is unable to reciprocate Luke’s feelings because she has eyes for Emaline – a girl in Kate’s drama class.
However, Kate begins seeing Luke as rumors of her being gay spread across the campus.
When the performance is canceled due to the inadvertent damage of the sets, Luke and his pals propose that the AV Club and Drama Club collaborate to produce a movie that would be presented to the whole school.
Meanwhile, Luke is dealing with the discovery of VHS videos that his father recorded before abandoning him and his mother.
Following a discussion regarding Luke in the principal’s office, Luke’s mother, Sherry, grows close to Ken, Kate’s father and the principal of Boring.
Essentially if you are looking for coming of age TV show that features a lesbian as one of the main characters then you will enjoy ‘Everything Sucks’.
Where to watch: Netflix.
The plot of ‘Twenties’ is semi-biographical and follows a woman in her twenties called Hattie who is navigating life in Los Angeles as someone who is queer and black.
The two other main characters of this show are Hattie’s two best friends, Nia and Marie.
These three women spend a lot of time together and you will not help but laugh at the things they talk about and get up to.
However, as fun as this show is, it also confronts a lot of subjects and experiences that queer women, especially queer black women come across in their life.
This encapsulates everything from love life, friendships, professional life, and more.
Where to watch: Prime Video, Apple TV, Roku Channel, VUDU, BET Plus.
3. Feel Good
Mae Martin stars in this British comedy-drama series. It is also created by Mae Martin and is inspired by events that have happened to her in real life.
Mae is a recovering addict and works as a comedian, living with her girlfriend George who she meets whilst doing a show at a comedy club in Manchester.
Mae and George share a very romantic relationship which takes forefront in the plot; however, it is put at risk when Mae struggles with balancing her addiction.
That is just in the first season though, as even deeper issues are addressed in the second season, spoilers! – It delves further into pain while keeping one of TV’s loveliest romance arcs.
There is an effort at a reset at the end of season one, when Mae spiralled, returned to old habits, and collapsed their relationship with George.
Where to watch: Netflix, All 4, Prime Video.
Elodie starts at a new school and is soon peer pressured into shoplifting in order to fit in with the cool kids.
Unfortunately for Elodie though, she is caught in the act and sent by her father to a Shoplifters Anonymous meeting.
It is at the meeting where Elodie meets fellow shoplifters, Tabitha, Moe, and Luka.
These characters start to really bond however when they bump into each other at the same store and then challenge each other to steal the most valuable thing.
Some of these bonds within the group go a bit deeper than platonic though and lesbian relationships are featured as these young girls grapple with their shoplifting addiction and their feelings for one another.
Where to watch: Netflix.
5. The L Word
This TV show is a little bit older than the previous ones on this list as it first aired in 2004.
But this proves how well is stands even after all of these years and is still seen as a classic as it’s inclusion and portrayal of lesbian and queer relationships where so progressive at the time.
The plot of the series follows a group of gay women living in Los Angeles.
These women have formed a close-knit sort of second family with one another which gives them the much-needed support to stand up to members of their biological families who struggle to accept them due to their sexuality.
This show was so popular that it even has a spin off show called ‘The L Word: Generation Q’.
It is set 10 years after the original show and still features some of the original cast as you are taken along for the ride as they experience love as well as heartbreak.
Where to watch: Showtime, Hulu, Prime Video, Netflix.
6. Sex Education
‘Sex Education’ includes all sorts of queer characters and their journey through high school, but they are young and are need of some guidance when it comes to practicing safe sex and better understanding sexuality.
However, the sex education class that the school provides only talks about cisgender, heterosexual sex and relationships that goes no deeper than surface level.
This is where the main character comes in, he is called Otis and starts a sex education group where he and his friends help queer teenagers figure things out.
It is a very funny show but also tackles a lot of things that teenagers go through when it comes to discovering sex and what it means for them.
Where to watch: Netflix.
This series is based on the story of Emily Dickinson and stars Hailee Steinfeld who plays Emily Dickinson.
It does a great job at showing how society was piled up against Emily in terms of expressing her sexuality and being more than what people expected her to be in terms of career and relationships.
Emily fights against these constraints though and is set on becoming the greatest poet that the world has ever seen.
Her rebellious spirit is not easily squashed, and she finds the courage to start an affair with her sister-in-law which was definitely unheard of in the 19th century in which this is based.
Where to watch: Apple TV+.
‘Sense8’ has a great lesbian relationship that takes center stage in a lot of the episodes.
What makes this relationship so special is that one of the women is transgender and therefore gives viewers a peek into how the dynamics of lesbian relationships remain the same whether one or both women are transgender or cis.
There are also other queer characters and relationships throughout the episodes, but this is just a part of what makes this show so rich and entertaining – there is a big plot with plenty of twists and turns which will keep you hooked throughout.
Where to watch: Netflix.
9. The Haunting Of Bly Manor
If you are looking for something a bit spooky and scary with some lesbian representation, then you should watch ‘The Haunting of Bly Manor’.
It is a miniseries starring Victoria Pedretti who plays a woman called Dani. Dani is an au pair, hired by a man to take care of his nephew and niece in their large country house.
Things start off normal, but Dani starts to see and hear terrifying things, giving the impression that the manor is haunted.
Whilst Dani is trying to keep things together for the young children in her care, she gets acquainted with the gardener Jamie and together they get to the bottom of what is haunting Bly manor.
Where to watch: Netflix.
10. Orange Is The New Black
If you haven’t heard of ‘Orange is the New Black’ then you are in for a treat. There is no shortage of lesbian characters and relationships in this show as it is based in an all-female prison.
It revolves around the main character Piper who has turned herself in after transporting drug money across the border for her girlfriend Alex at the time.
Even though Piper is engaged to be married to a man outside of the prison, things start to get a bit more complicated when we find out that Alex is at the same prison that Piper is sentenced to.
The show follows the rockiness of their relationship as well as each woman’s individual story around them.
Be prepared though as this show may have its comedic parts, it can be pretty brutal and true to how women are treated in prisons.
Where to watch: Prime Video, Netflix,
11. The 100
This show mixes things up a bit as it is a post-apocalyptic science fiction series which despite all of the hardships and drama going on, there still manages to be a lesbian relationship which will warm your heart.
You will find yourself rooting for these relationships that are blooming amongst the chaos around it.
As you may have guessed as well, the plot is anything but slow and if the lesbian relationship is not enough to keep you hooked, then the frequents challenges and obstacles that are put in the character’s way will.
It begins 97 years after a nuclear apocalypse has wiped out all living beings on earth which has left the remaining humans no choice but to live on a space station called the Ark that orbits Earth.
When the life support machines on the Ark start to fail, 100 people are sent down to Earth to check if it is still unsuitable for human life. This is where stark discoveries are made, putting the remaining survivors to the test.
Where to watch: Netflix, Prime Video.
12. Gentleman Jack
This show is set in the 1830s in Yorkshire, England. It is based off of the diary entries made by Anne Lister who is known today as the ‘first modern lesbian’.
She wrote over four million words which document many years of lesbian relationships that she was part of.
‘Gentleman Jack’ follows Anne Lister as she leaves Hastings heartbroken and travels to Yorkshire, England to repair her uncle’s estate, which he has passed onto her.
While repairing the estate, she comes across a coal mine on the estate, which is being robbed by two brothers.
This strange lady landowner embarks on a very risky affair with a woman, which she chronicles in a cryptic journal.
Where to watch: Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Sky, HBO, Prime Video.
13. Killing Eve
‘Killing Eve’ has been a very popular show recently and part of this is due to the unique dynamic of the lesbian relationship.
It is a spy thriller that stars Jodie Comer as an assassin called Villanelle who grows an obsession with the MI6 agent who is tracking her down called Eve.
They encounter one another more and more regularly and their lives soon to interlink much more than what Eve’s job description mentions.
With this mutual fascination with one another, lines begin to blur and as dysfunctional as it seems, they begin to see each other as more than cat and mouse.
Where to watch: Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Disney +, Prime Video.
14. Grey’s Anatomy
This is another show which you must have heard of at some point in your life, even if it was only in passing. It was first aired in 2005 and is now on its 19th season, demonstrating how monumental this show is.
This program has left a lasting impression on its queer female audience over its run. Grey’s Anatomy has featured three LGBT women as regulars: Callie, Arizona, and Leah for two seasons in the middle.
The program also included four recurring queer women characters: Penny, Eliza, Carina, and Erica. ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ also features the longest running LGBT character in network television history.
Where to watch: Hulu, Netflix, Disney +, ABC, Prime Video.
The Importance Of LGBTQIA+ Representation
Proper portrayal aids in the fight against stereotypes and ignorance. And this isn’t simply a hypothesis.
According to a 2015 research, when straight people are exposed to homosexual characters on television, they become more supportive of LGBT equality.
This works for one simple reason: seeing LGBT characters on film normalizes the reality of queerness. When these individuals have intriguing inner lives and genuine problems, LGBT living becomes less stigmatized.
While this isn’t a panacea for all sexuality and gender-based prejudice, it’s a terrific place to start, especially for the older generation.
It’s also critical that LGBT individuals see themselves portrayed. Seeing appropriate representation validates their experiences and supports their presence by letting them realize they are not alone in their problems.
Furthermore, a lack of representation frequently fosters hostile circumstances that are extremely unpleasant for LGBT people.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is The Best Streaming Service For Lesbian TV Shows?
In terms of lesbian content, Netflix has a big selection that you can choose from. It also has a specified LGBTQIA+ category which will have everything you could possibly want.
This streaming service has a great collection of both original titles and exclusive series, and films with lesbian characters and relationships.
These lesbian shows also have various different themes from comedy, reality, to horror. If you are looking for foreign lesbian content, then Netflix will also have you covered in that area.
Finally, another great thing about Netflix is that you can make an account with them wherever you are in the world and can even make a family account which will allow more people to enjoy what it has to offer.
What Does WLW Mean?
WLW stands for ‘woman-loving-woman’. It is essentially another term for lesbian but is usually used for filtering through content.
It is a more inclusive term than lesbian and is an umbrella term for a woman having a relationship with another woman and does is not limited to them being pansexual or bisexual.
It also includes those who present as women even if they were not assigned female at birth.
Are Lesbian TV Shows Banned In Some Countries?
Sadly, there are still 69 countries including Syria, Bangladesh, Kenya, Egypt, and Barbados where you cannot be queer as it is against the law.
Since being part of the LGBTQIA+ community is so taboo in these countries, content/media that features queer characters, themes, or relationships are banned.
You can even get in trouble if you are caught watching such content.
What Is The Most Popular Lesbian Ship?
If you are not aware, a ‘ship’ is the term given to a couple who may or may not be in a relationship but the fans of the show root for and love the idea of them being together.
The most popular lesbian ship is Callie and Arizona from ‘Grey’s Anatomy’.
They are given this title as they have been around for the longest and have amassed a passionate fanbase that loves to see their relationships stand the test of time.
What makes this ship so special though is that it showed lesbian viewers that they can also have a long, happy, healthy relationship with another woman, and it does not have to end in disaster or heartbreak every time (which is a popular trope in queer media).
What Was The First Lesbian TV Show?
While homosexual characters in television programs have gone a long way in the previous several decades, the process has been excruciatingly slow.
In 1988, the first regular lesbian character appeared on a television show. ‘Heartbeat’, a short-lived medical series, starred a lesbian nurse who lived with her boyfriend.
It wasn’t until 1991 that the first lesbian kiss appeared on television. On ‘L.A. Law’, Amanda Donohoe portrayed C.J., a bisexual lawyer who kissed a female coworker on the lips.
As you can think, religious and right-wing groups were outraged and made sure everyone knew it.
The next kiss between the two ladies took another two years.
‘Picket Fences’, a drama that offered an honest look at homophobia and adolescence, included a kiss between two girls in 1993, making it even more contentious because it involved teens.
Rosanne Barr kissed Mariel Hemingway in her sitcom ‘Rosanne’ a year later, in 1994. ‘Rosanne’, a homosexual rights activist, battled Network officials who sought to cancel the show.
‘Friends’ watchers witnessed the first broadcast lesbian wedding in January 1996, when Ross’ ex-wife Carol married her girlfriend, Susan.
Ross feels conflicted about losing his wife to a woman, but when Carol’s parents refuse to attend, Ross takes her down the aisle.
As you can see, there are lots of TV shows out there that have lesbian characters and relationships.
They also vary in category so if you are looking for some light, coming of age comedies then there are lots of shows to choose from that will fit the bill such as ‘Sex Education’ and ‘Everything Sucks’.
However, if you are wanting something darker and more serious, you will be very happy with ‘The Haunting of Bly Manor’ or ‘The 100’.