15 TV Shows We Loved and Lost and Were Actually Sad About

News breaking last week that queer fan favorites One Day at a Time and Wynonna Earp were facing an uphill battle getting another season made has caused our TV team to: a) wail and gnash our teeth, and b) reflect on some of the shows we’ve actually mourned losing. There’ve been a lot of beloved LGBTQ series these last several years, but when most of them go we’re either satisfied that they’ve run their course (sometimes more than run their course) or apathetic because the shows never reached their full queer potential. There are a handful of shows, however, that we’ve been legitimately crushed to see end.

This list, you’ll notice, is overwhelmingly white, which speaks to how few shows really centered QPOC characters — and how few shows with QPOC characters were given a chance to find their footing — until recently. All the more reason to hit play on One Day at a Time immediately (more info on that below).


Bomb Girls

Riese

It wasn’t until I saw Betty McRae — one of the few masculine-of-center queers we’ve gotten on television — that I knew I’d never seen anything like her. Bomb Girls got me interested in learning about lesbian history — I was interested in the kind of lesbian culture that was able to thrive in wartime due to the absence of men and the ease with which women were permitted to enter the workforce. All the herstory you’ve read from me on this website, including the Herstory Issue we did in 2012 — that wouldn’t have happened without Bomb Girls.

But it’s not just lesbian representation that made Bomb Girls so special; it was its exemplary feminist leanings, its faithfulness to history and its full, rich, dynamic female characters I would’ve followed for years to come. They barely cracked the surface of this time period and the stories it contained, still had a ways to go with respect to diversity — and I think they would’ve gone that distance, given the chance.

Valerie Anne

I miss Bomb GIrls so much, so often. Betty McRae had that something about her that really wiggled its way into your heart and stuck there. Her pain was my pain, her wins were my wins. And I agree with Riese, it wasn’t even just the lesbian storylines that made the women of that show so compelling. It was the way they existed, survived and thrived in that time, it was their friendships and unique bonds in this unique time in their lives. And, I mean, the outfits!!

Heather

Bomb Girls will always be one of my favorite shows. The amount of time I’ve spent reading and writing about women’s labor during World War II is… vast. To see that history come to life in a drama that featured a half dozen fully realized women characters — one of whom was Betty Fuckin’ McRae — remains a miracle to my mind. Has anyone on-screen had that lesbian swagger like she did? I really can’t think of anyone! Bomb Girls had enough story to tell for ten seasons. I was brokenhearted when it got canned.


One Mississippi & I Love Dick

Riese

I talked about these shows in their very own post and also I talked about I Love Dick even more in this post so that’s all! I won’t talk about it again but just so you know, I have strong feelings.

Heather

So many shows on TV, you lose them and you can replace them with something else that’s basically the same thing. (Especially for straight white cis people who like fire fighters or detectives or hospitals.) But there has never been a show like One Mississippi and I’m not sure there will be again for a long time, or maybe ever. A dark comedy/love story centering a 47-year-old masculine-of-center lesbian from the south? That really does feel once-in-a-lifetime. And it’s not just that the series ticked some underrepresented minority boxes; it was just really smart and really funny and really sweet and really real storytelling. Gah, and such a refreshing love story! Lisa Franklin of My Two Lesbian Ants said it better than me.


Faking It

Riese

Recapping a show when you recap a show like I recap a show is a pretty time-intensive process, which means when that show gets cancelled I often feel relief that the task has been removed from my plate and that relief overshadows my sadness about the show — which I liked enough to recap! — being cancelled. I can now say that I miss it and wish we’d had more time for Amy to blossom and do her summer discovery tour with that lesbian band you know?


Lip Service

Riese

I will watch lesbians do anything! That being said I am nothing if not entirely predictable so of course I wanted more Frankie in my life and I felt very sad that she was written off before the end of what’d turn out to be its final season.

Natalie

So I mourned Lip Service’s end too but not because of Frankie — I’d seen a better version of Frankie with Kate Moennig’s Shane and she never interested me much — but because the show had finally started to center itself around the characters I did find interesting: Tess, Sadie, Lexy and Sam. I wish we’d gotten to see more of Tess’ unending search for love, Sadie’s unrepentant grifting and Sam being a hot cop.


Dracula

Valerie Anne

For reasons I can’t quite put my finger on (okay fine it had a lot to do with Katie McGrath and Jessica De Gouw) I loved the first season of Dracula. Watching Lucy realize she was in love with her best friend, and that there were girls in the world who kissed other girls, was quite the sight to behold. It did such a great job of depicting the intensity of female friendship, and how sometimes when you’re queer it can be hard to suss out whether you love someone as a friend or you want more… and if they other person is feeling the same kind of confusion. (I’m also a sucker for a good, heart-wrenching, unrequited love story.) And then at the end of Season One, Lucy got turned into a vampire, so we could have had the lesbian vampire of our dreams! Alas, the show was gone too soon.


The Playboy Club

Valerie Anne

I know Riese talked about this show in her article about cancelled shows, but I wanted to give it another shout-out here because I was really excited to explore the underground world of the LGBTQ+ community in the ’60s. Plus, someone got stabbed with a stiletto!


All My Children

Natalie

It feels weird to count All My Children among these other shows, many of whom never got the opportunity to tell the stories that their creators wanted to tell…after all, AMC had been a part of daytime television for 41 years before it was cancelled in 2011. But it’s precisely because it had been on for so long that soap fans like myself mourned its loss so intensely. We’d welcomed All My Children into our homes for an hour everyday and we got to know those characters intimately. When my life was at its craziest, I knew that everyday, I could count on a short escape to Pine Valley. It was my television comfort food for years and, then, suddenly it was gone. I mourn its loss, still (which you can tell by the fact that we can never get through one of these roundtables without me mentioning it).


Still Star-Crossed

Natalie

Based on the book by Melinda Traub, Still Star-Crossed was the short-lived series that picked up just after the deaths of Romeo and Juliet. It was everything you’d come to expect from a Shondaland product — an exquisitely cast group of diverse, beautiful, young actors — but it existed fully within the Shakespearean realm. It was an ambitious project, especially for network television; one that, admittedly, took me a little while to really get, but once I did, I loved it.

I loved Ebonee Noel’s Livia and Lashana Lynch’s Rosaline and, of course, Medalion Rahimi’s Princess Isabella most of all. A lesbian princess? Where else but in Shondaland?

But, of course, just as I started to get it and really love it, it was cancelled. It’s been almost two years since they cancelled it and I’m still mad about it. When Rahimi guest-starred on Scandal as a young Bashrani lesbian who — spoiler alert! — gets killed by Olivia Pope, I thought, “Why won’t the TV gods let her lesbian in peace?!”


Glee, Pretty Little Liars, The L Word

Carmen

I really struggled with coming up for a show for this roundtable! I’ve been lucky. I’ve never mourned the loss of a dearly departed gay show. In fact, most of the gay shows I’ve truly loved have been blessed with a long life. Perhaps, arguably, even too long of a life. I present to you: Glee, Pretty Little Liars, and the mothership closest to all of our hearts, The L Word. Each ran for six or seven years, when in all honesty four or five was probably closer to their sweet spot.

There’s a different kind of gut level pain that happens when you find yourself groaning at the DVR over a show that once made your life brighter and your heart flutter.You can’t quit it, no matter how hard you try. Because really, what is life without Santana Lopez? What is the sun if Bette Porter isn’t there to yell “fuck” at it? Do the days even really change if Emily Fields doesn’t have glass in her hair? So you stay, and you curse yourself for staying, but in your heart you know – there’s no other way. So, I can’t say that I’ve felt the agony of crying for a show that was cut down in its prime.

But reader, that does not mean that I haven’t felt pain.


Go On

Heather

In 2012, NBC aired a single season of a comedy called Go On about a support group for widowed spouses. The ensemble was a sitcom dream team: Laura Benanti, Matthew Perry, Suzy Nakamura, Brett Gelman, and Julie White, who played misanthropic lesbian Anne. It was a revolutionary show, not only because it landed well before the golden age of single-cam comedies rooted in trauma and depression and anxiety and grief, but also because it featured the first series regular lesbian on a broadcast TV sitcom since Ellen. There were no tired, cliched, tropey lesbian jokes; Go On wasn’t Friends. The writing for Anne refreshing and Julie White played her with such compassionate, deadpan hilarity I couldn’t get enough of it. Go On balanced laughs and pathos right out of the gate, something it took everyone’s favorite modern found family comedies — Parks and Rec, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, etc. — at least a full season to figure out.


Caprica

Heather

I do understand that I was the only person on the face of the earth watching this Battlestar Galactica prequel, probably because it went hard hard hard on the religious stuff everyone hated about the original series, but I still think it was one of the most compelling sci-fi shows I’ve ever seen. It was asking questions ten years ago that we’re just beginning to grapple with today, about our online footprints and the data collected about us from social media networks and mobile phone companies and internet service providers and even those little frequent shopper cards you use to collect points for gas at Kroger. Specifically it was asking the question: After you die, could all the data you left behind be used to recreate you? Okay and if it could, what if someone plugged that data into — oh, say — a Cylon? Forcing this issue was prep school headmistresses and straight up cult leader Sister Clarice Willow, a psychotic bisexual Mommi played with cold precision by Polly Walker. It only lasted a truncated season and I think that’s a damn shame!


Adventure Time

Heather

It feels a little bit silly to say I mourn a show that lasted 300 episodes and ten seasons, and one that came to a natural and very satisfying(ly gay) conclusion — but I feel about this show the way Natalie feels about All My Children: I would have watched ten thousand episodes. It never faltered, in my opinion; it only got deeper and weirder and more gratifying to watch. Heck, I would have even settled for a spin-off doing a deep dive into all the supporting characters. I loved the feeling of opening up the DVR menu and realizing five new episodes of Adventure Time had appeared like magic. It was my one of my favorite Saturday morning surprises. I’ll miss that small thrill and Marceline and PB too, for a very long time.


Valerie Anne wants you to know Wynonna Earp is more than just a TV show to her; it’s found family. You can keep up with the most up-to-date information about saving the show at fightforwynonna.com and tweet your support with the hashtags #WynonnaEarp and #FightForWynonna.

Carmen wants you to know that if you are not doing literally everything you can to help save sweet, sweet Elena Alvarez from the cancelled TV lesbian graveyard, she will cry into a thousand damp pillowcases. She will never, NOT EVER, forgive you. Watch it right this second on Netflix and tweet it: #ODAAT and #RenewODAAT.

What gay shows do you actually mourn?

The Autostraddle TV Team is made up of Riese Bernard, Carmen Phillips, Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya, Valerie Anne, Natalie, Drew Gregory, and Heather Hogan. Follow them on Twitter!

The TV has written 91 articles for us.

38 Comments

  1. I know why it ended, but I was really sad when Cosima and Delphine’s relationship no longer progressed on Orphan Black. I could have watched that show and that couple forever.

    I agree with the Lip Service reviews. It had potential and if it had been given time to mature, I would have watched it for many more seasons. I loved Frankie, but I was way more interested in Lexy and Sam.

  2. Let me be the first to mention Everything Sucks! One season was not enough of that wonderful show.

    I will also vehemently agree with everyone who mentioned Bomb Girls. That movie was not good/not enough. I want moooooaaaar!

  3. I’m still so mad about One Mississippi getting canceled. Not only did we get to see an older masc of center lesbian in the South, we got to see a nuanced take on grief, on what happens when you think you’re straight but are actually queer, interracial dating, sexual assault in the workplace, and so much more! It’s not the same, but Tig and her wife are writing a movie with Jennifer Aniston as the President and Tig as her wife which I’m excited about.

  4. Yeah, as I said the other day, I really miss Lip Service too. It was incredibly important and formative for me and I wish it had gotten five or six seasons.

    And it’s not a TV show, but there was going to be a miniseries comic about Cosima and Delphine after Orphan Black ended but it got cancelled after only one issue and I’m still really pissed about it.

  5. The killing of Cat on Lip Service was nearly as senseless and tasteless as the killing of Dana on The L Word. I know the actress left because eww lesbian stuff, but I kinda dug the character. I was over Frankie by the time she left and I wasn’t a huge fan of Sam, but there were at least two more seasons of Tess’ story in there to tell.

    Hard agree with Carmen about AMC, and also other soaps we’ve lost (Guiding Light and Otalia, One Life to Live and the amazing things they were doing with gay boy stories). I never recovered after the “un-abortion” of Erica Kane’s fetus, but I grew up on soaps with my mom and grandma and I miss them.

  6. Bomb Girls, Lip Service (Tess, Tess, Tess–where are you, Fiona Button?), Go On, Everything Sucks, and Caprica! I was the other person watching this show, HH, and it sent me on a Polly Walker binge fest after its untimely demise.

  7. I can’t believe that no one has mentioned Person of Interest (POI). I loved that show and I loved Root and Shaw and Shoot. Both were smartly written and both had amazing arcs.

    I watched Lip Service because I love women with Scottish accents namely Neve McIntosh. I didn’t care for the show itself but I liked Tess’ character and absolutely loved Sadie.

    Every other show on this list I’ve never actually seen.

    • I LOOOOVED Person of Interest. But the problem there I think wasn’t that it was canceled too early, it was that it didn’t end the way we all wanted it to.

      SPOILERS!

      Had it ended with Root and Shaw alive and together (which was a distinct possibility until about 2 episodes to the end) I would have been fine with it ending when it did. Root and Shaw riding off into the sunset together, with the Machine intact and Samaritan defeated, would have been a perfect ending. The one we got was…less perfect. But MORE of the show wouldn’t have corrected that.

    • I was just coming down here to mourn PoI!

      I think they could have told more of Root and Shaw’s story if the last season hadn’t been so hacked to bits and CBS hadn’t (as we all suspect) insisted on the goddamned procedural episodes that gave nothing to the main story arc. Not to mention that weird romance with Reese and the psychologist – which went absolutely nowhere.

      I was kind of OK with Root’s ending (actually, I would have preferred a spin-off where she and Shaw kicked the crap out of everything, but you know, if she *had* to die). Except:

      a) I could have done with more lighter scenes with her and Shaw towards the end. Yes, they had a badass last fight together, and the safehouse fight scene was fun, as was Root driving with her boot and shooting with that rifle, but come on. The show was over, who cares if they’d had more girl-on-girl stuff? (Sure, I wouldn’t want it turning into too much fluff myself, but a tiny bit more and some more kickass fights in that last season would have been nice.)

      That episode where Shaw escapes is in *everyone’s* top 5 for the show, in all seasons, no matter what their gender or sexuality. The one where she and Root find each other again is in everyone’s top 10 (and one of my top fives) – that scene where Root plays chicken with her gun, out-logics Shaw, is even more dramatic, and – most convincing of all, after all the simulations and lack of confidence with what is real – pisses Shaw *off*, is just masterful for both actors. (sigh)

      b) Why the hell was Root alone when she died? I know some people say “the Machine was with her” but we don’t even know if she regained consciousness. I would have actually appreciated a deathbed scene a la Shaw – with her able to (probably silently) say goodbye without the kind of over-the-top schmaltzy crap that most TV death scenes consist of. I think it would have been better for Shaw as well, since she was still struggling with what was “real” and what wasn’t.

      c) I would have also been better about Root’s death if there had been more build-up of her relationship with The Machine. Not that there was a 100% probability that she was going to die, but that it was more likely than not that neither she nor Reese nor Harold (!) would survive (Shaw – “nothing kills that cat”). Seeing more of the prep that Root was making, and perhaps, accepting the burden that she would probably not survive and her acceptance of it. Sure, her dialogue indicated that acceptance, but not the process leading to it. Especially since in her earlier, more fanatical days, she would have gladly and unquestionably martyred herself. But after being with Shaw, and having turned her back on The Machine for a while to find Shaw, that acceptance would have been a lot more of a struggle.

      d) Most irritatingly to me, Harold getting his HEA. I did not feel like it was “earned” in the slightest. No, his dithering and distrust brought about a lot of the chaos, and yet he gets to run off with Grace. How nice for him.

      I felt particularly invested in these characters because they were just awesome, there was no “coming out” drama, Root was a computer geek (me too), they were canonically kinky (how often do you see that played as not completely f*cked up? basically never), they were not stereotypically romantic with each other (but they *cared*), they did great cheesy jokes, and I think it was pretty implied they were not monogamous (me neither).

      Honestly, I’ve never seen characters, queer or otherwise, I’ve related to more. Other than the fact Amy Acker and Sarah Shahi are both completely gorgeous, and I am not complaining in the slightest about the high-quality eye-candy lightly glossing their amazing acting and characters.

      I’ve been reading a lot of PoI fanfic since I finished watching the show to get over these feels. If anyone wants some recs, I highly recommend anything by Winged_Mammal on AO3. If you have a stomach for lots of kink and explicit sex, AND great story-telling (between the sex), anything by bruisespristine and AliceInKinkland. Including their fix-it and AU fics.

      There are lots more great writers in the fandom – there is some stunning stuff there. And of course others who are not so great. I personally don’t like the AUs where they get married and have kids (except maybe fostering Gen a bit), but there are those as well.

      Ugh, apologies for all these feels. There are some good shows on at the moment, but those characters and the main story arc of PoI (I’m an SF fan in general, and I work in a branch of IT security) and nearly all the other “team” characters on the show were just so good. I know people feel this passionately about shows like Buffy, but I was a little too old (nearly 30) to relate to American high school students and the more campy plots when it came out. PoI was for grown-ups from the get-go, with plot centring around data and personal privacy and government intervention concerns that are actually real.

  8. I also miss All My Children. It was such a consistent part of my life for so long, even falling off watching it, and then being able to get right back into it. I should keep up with GH more while it’s still around.

  9. I’m going to weigh in with a big fat controversial opinion about Lip Service (which I loved). I was DELIGHTED when they killed off Cat. I couldn’t stand her or her gross affair with Frankie, but beyond that I thought their departure gave GREAT juicy drama to the remaining characters for the remainder of the series. Loved that creative decision a lot.

    Easily could’ve watched years more story for Tess and Sam. Sadly they don’t seem to have the reboot addiction in the UK that they do in the US.

  10. I was pretty bummed when they cancelled Popular and left us to wonder who exactly Nicole mowed down with her car. That show was zany. I read somewhere that they were planning to explore Sam’s sexuality in the third season which, unf Carly Pope.

    And yeah, One Mississippi hurt.

  11. Hi, Warehouse 13.
    There are a handful of shows that I can revisit when I’m feeling down or lonely, because they feel like family.
    Person of Interest would be another such example.
    I literally started watching Mr.Robot with Root‘s voice in my head, wishing it were the POI prequel we never got.

  12. Oh my god, Everything Sucks! Too soon :'(

    Also, did anyone else have a little mope when Heading Out was cancelled? That show featuring Sue Perkins from Bake-Off as a closeted vet, plus Nicola Walker was in it (who is reason enough to watch anything, tbh).

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