Kickass Butch Batwoman and Even More Lesbian Witches: Everything You Need to Know From 2019 Network TV Upfronts

Well, it’s that time of year again: the time when we find out which of our favorite shows will live to see another day, which will be unceremoniously axed, which will be mercifully concluded and which new shows will (and won’t) grace our screens this falls. It’s upfronts, the networks’ first opportunity to pitch their fall line-ups, including all their new projects, to prospective advertisers. Compared to last year — when networks cancelled 19 shows in 24 hours — the week preceding upfronts has been relatively calm. Though there have been a few surprises, it’s a far cry from the frenetic cancelled-then-not merry-go-round we were on last year.

But just in case you missed anything, here’s a wrap-up of all the latest happenings in television.


Bisexual or nah?: Cobie Smulders stars Dex Parios in ABC’s forthcoming Stumptown.

Last November, in advance of the Disney-Fox merger, Channing Dungey stepped down as president of ABC Entertainment. Her departure left the network, now led by Karey Burke and Dana Walden, with a slew of pilots developed under the previous regime which they weren’t at all eager to greenlight. While I’m hopeful that Burke’s experience at Freeform might lead to more inclusive programming at ABC, that’ll have to wait: it’s transition season at ABC Entertainment and their new fall line-up reflects that.

Among the queer characters returning to ABC’s primetime slate:

+ Annalise Keating and Tegan Price from How to Get Away With Murder

+ Maya Bishop of Station 19

+ Angela from American Housewife

+ Taryn “Hellmouth” Helm from Grey’s Anatomy

While earlier comments from Ellen Pompeo suggested that Grey’s 16th season might be its last, the network gave the show a two season renewal. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that after Grey’s can continue to find new ways to reinvigorate itself… like, perhaps, instead of just touting that you have a lesbian, a gay man and trans man among your intern class, you actually give them all storylines. JUST A THOUGHT, Krista Vernoff, just a thought.

ABC will be down one queer character this fall, though: we won’t get another season of For the People‘s Paris Gellar-esque federal prosecutor, Kate Littlejohn. It was a small miracle that the Shondaland property survived last year and none of the creative changes it made in its second season — which included sidelining queer actress Jasmin Savoy Brown — helped improve its mediocre ratings. Also? NBC’s renewal of Manifest ensures that Nicole won’t be coming back to the Fresh Off the Boat which was renewed for its sixth season, much to the chagrin of the show’s star, Constance Wu.

ABC’s fall slate will include three female driven shows:

+ mixed-ish, the second ABC spin-off of Kenya Barris’ black-ish, that focuses on Rainbow’s childhood

+ Emergence, the Allison Tolman-led thriller which was originally shopped at NBC

+ Stumptown, a private-eye drama based on the Greg Rucka graphic novel. It’s unclear, based on the trailer, if Cobie Smulders’ version of Dex Parios is bisexual, as she is in the source material


S.W.A.T.‘s bisexual badass Cris Alonso gets a new timeslot this fall.

Every year, before its upfront presentation, CBS used to host a breakfast event with reporters called “Lox with Les.” It was an annual tradition that allowed the network’s then-CEO, Leslie Moonves, to sit down with reporters and talk about the upcoming slate. This year, though, Moonves is gone: ousted over multiple allegations of sexual assault and CBS is still trying to deal with the fallout. How’s that going? Well, if you ask the new president of CBS Entertainment, Kelly Kahl, it’s going swimmingly… after all, just look at all the HR changes they’ve made. Plus, they have a swanky new hashtag that they’re using, #CBSSeesHer, to promote all their content for women and girls.

But also, Michael Weatherly still has a job, despite the fact that he didn’t tell his bosses about a $9.5 million settlement, because “he’s a dad, he’s a father.” So, you know, don’t go patting CBS on the back too much.

There are some bright spots for CBS, though, at least when it comes for more diverse programming: all three of the network’s queer female characters will return in the fall.

+ Kat Sandoval and Madam Secretary‘s sixth and final season will be just 10 episodes.

+ Cris Alonso and her team on S.W.A.T. will also return for their third season but CBS will move the show from Thursday to Wednesday nights.

+ Ali Finer returns to Sundays on God Friended Me… hopefully with more to do in the show’s second season.

In addition, the five shows slated to debut this fall, four of them feature women and/or people of color in lead roles. That said, there’s no indication from any of the trailers for CBS’ new fall shows or the midseason additions will add any new gays to their roster.


Listen, I know what you’re all here for — the official trailer for CW’s Batwoman:

Batwoman will join a bevy of other queer women returning to the network next season.

+ Jess Damon on In the Dark

+ Isobel Evans-Bracken on Roswell, New Mexico

+ Cheryl Blossom and Toni Topaz on Riverdale

+ Coop on All American

+ Alex Danvers, Kelly Olsen and Nia Nal on Supergirl

+ Mel Vera and Niko Hamada on Charmed

+ Nyssa on Arrow

+ Sara Lance and Ava Sharpe on Legends of Tomorrow

+ Anissa Pierce and Grace Choi on Black Lightning

+ Josie Saltzman on Legacies

+ Clarke Griffin on The 100

It’s like someone asked the CW if their network could get any gayer and they said, “YES. Yes, it absolutely can.” In fairness, though, the end of Jane the Virgin and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend did mean the loss of four prominent queer women so, really, the CW owed us this. Welcome to our screens, Batwoman.

Batwoman will serve as the lead-in for Supergirl as part of the CW’s Sunday night line-up. That moves sends Charmed to a new time: Fridays at 8PM. All American moves to Monday nights, joining Black Lightning, ceding its post-Riverdale slot to CW’s Nancy Drew reboot.

Funny thing about Nancy Drew: over the last three years, three separate networks have tried to bring it to the small screen: first, CBS tried it with Sarah Shahi in her first post-Person of Interest role but it wasn’t picked up. Then, NBC tried it: still with Sarah Shahi as the titular character but with a new supporting cast; still, no pick-up. Finally, the idea’s landed at the CW — though, sadly, without Sarah Shahi — and will be part of the network’s fall line-up. The CW’s take on Nancy Drew (trailer, first look) features a fresh out of high school Nancy (Kennedy McMann) who gets embroiled in a murder investigation during her gap year. The show also stars Leah Lewis who you should definitely get familiar with before her star turn in Alice Wu’s upcoming lesbian teen romcom for Netflix.

Also? Lucy Hale returns to the CW as the titular character of the Riverdale spin-off, Katy Keene (teaser). The show follows four Archie Comics characters, including Katy and Riverdale alum, Josie McCoy, as they chase their dreams in New York City. Katy Keene will join Roswell, New Mexico, In the Dark, Legends of Tomorrow and The 100 as part of the CW’s midseason slate.

The CW is also home to the biggest surprise of the pilot season: the failure to launch for Jane the Novela, the would-be spin-off of the network’s critically acclaimed show, Jane the Virgin, which ends its run this year. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the pilot didn’t impress network executives and they opted to pass. That said, CW President Mark Pedowitz told reporters that the network was still open to another potential Jane reboot and the ball was in Jennie Snyder Urman’s court. C’mon, Jennie, give us the Petra/JR spin-off we all want and deserve!


We’ll see more of these three on Season Four of The Bold Type!

Though a subsidiary of ABC, Freeform is its own network, doing its own thing, appealing to a very particular young adult audience and moving at its own speed. But while they’re eschewing all the traditional schedules, Freeform is creating a space for inclusive storytelling that is really unrivaled in broadcast or cable television. At this year’s upfronts, the network announced renewals for Siren and The Bold Type, both of which feature queer characters.

Freeform has three new shows expanding its roster of inclusive programming in the upcoming season: Everything’s Gonna Be Okay, the story of a 25 year old guy, Nicholas, played by the show’s creator/writer Josh Thomas, who becomes the legal guardian for his two half-sisters when their father dies. One of the sisters, Matilda (Kayla Cromer), has autism…and in a rarity on television, a character with autism will be played by an actress on the spectrum. Freeform will also debut their reboot of Party of Five, featuring a group of siblings left to fend for themselves when their parents are deported back to Mexico. Have your Kleenex ready.

But, just in case you were worried that Freeform would go a full season without debuting some queer women, think again…check out the trailer for Motherland: Fort Salem.

From the creator of Claws, Motherland: Fort Salem follows three young women from enlistment in a supernatural army to basic training in combat magic into early deployment. Thanks to a longstanding agreement with the government, witches are no longer persecuted, they’re relied on, to defend the country from all threats, foreign and domestic. It’s a discomfiting look at witchcraft which, historically, has been used to protect women from the excess of government (and patriarchy), rather than being used as an arm of the government… but, I guess we’ll see how this goes.

Missing from Freeform’s upcoming schedule? Unrelated the Kenya Barris produced comedy that Freeform announced at last year’s upfronts (though, back then it was called Besties). Reports from March have the show, starring Jordin Sparks and Gigi Zumbado, in production, but no word yet on when it’ll join the Freeform line-up.

Freeform is using the recent Disney/Fox merger to its advantage by bringing 30 seasons of The Simpsons to the network, beginning in September. The addition of television’s longest running animated series to its ranks, along with reruns of Family Guy, lays the groundwork for Freeform to launch two original animated series of their own: Betches and Woman World. Both projects are still in development but Betches will tell the stories three best friends and roommates as they navigate early adulthood in New York, while Woman World will bring Aminder Dhaliwal’s graphic novel — which Heather dubbed one of the best graphic novels of last year — to the small screen.


Bex Taylor-Klaus stars as Breanna Bishop on FOX’s forthcoming series Deputy.

The Disney-Fox merger also left FOX’s broadcast network arm, Fox Entertainment, in search of a new identity. This fall, the network’s betting its future on a line-up on a mix of live events, reality shows and competitions and a bevy of new scripted series. Among the fall slate:

+ Henrietta Wilson will return to Station 118 on 9-1-1

+ Tiana Brown will return for Empire‘s final season.

But FOX’s new identity will be forged without four of its queer characters: Star‘s Simone Davis and Cotton Brown and Proven Innocent‘s Madeline Scott and Wren Grant. While the latter’s cancellation was no surprise — the ratings for Proven Innocent were not great and the show just wasn’t very good — Star‘s cancellation came as a bit of a shock. Despite a downturn in ratings, Star was still performing better for Fox in the key advertising demographic than The Resident and The Orville, both of which were renewed. Star and Proven Innocent‘s cancellation does feed into a worrying trend at Fox of disprioritizing diversity. While the bulk of Fox’s cancellations feature African American leads, the new pick-ups are predominantly white and predominantly male driven.

Still, though, it’s worth looking out for Not Just Me, an adaptation of the Australian series, Sisters. Brittany Snow stars as the only child of famous fertility specialist who finds out that her father’s been using own sperm to conceive upward of a hundred children, including two new sisters (Megalyn Echikunwoke and Emily Osment). In the Australian version of this show (available on Netflix), Echikunwoke’s character was a married lawyer who ended up having an affair with a female attorney at her firm. Fingers crossed that they retain that aspect of the character.

While Deputy won’t show up on our screens until midseason, I’ll be keeping an eye out for
how Bex Taylor-Klaus queers up the show. Plus it stars Yara Martinez in her first post-Jane the Virgin series.


One of many of Tess Pearson’s gay firsts that we’ll get to witness on This Is Us.

One of the biggest surprises of last year’s upfronts was seeing Brooklyn 99 saved from cancellation. The pickup made sense for NBC, since the show was produced by its parent company (Universal) and the network wanted to maintain its relationship with creator Michael Schur. A season on NBC has yielded higher overall ratings for B99 and a 13 episode pick-up for the show’s seventh season. Also renewed? Schur’s other NBC mainstay comedy: The Good Place. Now all that’s left to do is MAKE IT GAY, YOU COWARDS. The fate of Schur’s other NBC show, Abby’s, is still TBD, but show’s ratings do not offer cause for optimism.

Returning with Rosa Diaz and Eleanor Shollstrop to queer up NBC’s fall offerings Tess Pearson, the tween lesbian on This Is Us, whose show was re-upped for an unprecedented three seasons. The long-term renewal operates a lot like Brooklyn 99‘s pick-up did: a way of NBC cementing its relationship with the show’s creator, Dan Fogelman. While it falls short of granting me my greatest Fogelman wish — that is, a Pitch revival — I’m looking forward to the possibility that we’ll get to witness so many of Tess Pearson’s gay firsts.

None of NBC’s new additions seem particularly gay based on trailers the network has released thus far — Bluff City Law, Perfect Harmony, and Sunnyside — but surely with two musicals in their line-up (Sunnyvale and the mid-season addition, Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist) there have to be some gays in there somewhere.


+ The Audience Network announced that the polyamorous romantic comedy, You Me Her would return for its fifth and final season.

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A black biracial, bisexual girl raised in the South, working hard to restore North Carolina's good name. Lover of sports, politics, good TV and Sonia Sotomayor. You can follow her latest rants on Twitter.

Natalie has written 396 articles for us.


  1. That Batwoman trailer has got me feeling some feelings, I’ll tell you what.

  2. Round of applause, Natalie. This was masterful! Thank you for your reporting.

    • Thank you for the news Natalie. A good one.

      You forgot to add Chicago Fire’s Emily Foster to your list. She is bisexual and she has kissed a girl on screen and has talked about various women she is seeing but just like the show typically is, they never really focus on the love lives of those outside the main three characters. But she is still bi though.

  3. Holy cow, the promo for Batwoman looks SO much better than when she was on the Elseworlds crossover. I’m genuinely excited for it now. And I didn’t even recognize Rachel Skarsten as the villain!

    Still not sure how I feel about this Riverdale-esque Nancy Drew. I just hope they don’t go too dark (both tonally and lighting, it was impossible to see some parts of the trailer).

    • Omg that was Rachel Skarsten!? I didn’t recognize her at all and was about to go look up who that actress is. I loved her on Lost Girl.

  4. I am EXCITED to flag that the Sunnyside cast includes my fabulous friend Poppy Liu, a queer actor who also starred in Mercy Mistress (a webseries about the life story of a queer API dominatrix that I believe got a quick mention in a past NSFW Sunday) and is ALSO a reproductive justice activist and a brand new board member of SisterSong AND y’all should maybe find time to talk with them because I bet Poppy has lots of things to share!!

  5. Well,well,well, color me genuinely surprised by the quality and by how much I liked the Batwoman trailer!
    Also, wow, I did not realize just how very much my heart craved an unapologetically gay and very much so super hero.
    And there I thought, all of these years, that shipping and innuendo would be enough..Ha!Ha!Hahaha!(In crazy joker voice)

  6. I am so here for everything about that Batwoman trailer. Also that witch army show looks… interesting? Maybe? I’m undecided but I’ll probably check it out anyway.

  7. First off, thank you for putting all of this together! I might have a couple new shows (and Batwoman!!!) to check out.
    Secondly, don’t forget that Nia Nal should also be included in Supergirl. She is TV’s first transgender superhero after all!

  8. I still don’t know how I feel about Batwoman, but it looked good and the army flashback got me. Without wanting to spoil anything who hasn’t read the comics, that part of the comics always makes me emotional.

  9. I liked most of that Batwoman trailer, though it was cringey in certain areas. I don’t know how I feel about them making Kate, Bruce Wayne’s cousin. I”m pretty sure they weren’t related in the comics. They do seem to be pulling at least some of her storylines from the comics though. Backstory seems similar, the main villain is the same, etc. No Renee or Maggie though, which is a bummer. I’m going to try to give it a chance.

    • Bruce and Kate re cousins in the comics. Bruce’s mom and Kate’s dad were siblings. It’s a pretty big plot point when Bruce brings together his bat family in DC Rebirth.

      • Ah, okay. I stopped reading I think about halfway through Batwoman’s first run with the change in writers when things got a bit too weird for my taste.

    • She’s canonically in the comics his maternal cousin, I know this from Jewish comic fans who love to throw it antisemitic faces. For you see Kate Kane is Jewish making Bruce Wayne also Jewish if not in practice but in ethnicity because his mother is Jewish.

  10. I really love Natalie Morales in Abby’s, and really the whole crew. to me, it feels like a 2019 cheers and honestly that is what I need right now. Don’t make me live in a world in which the Janitor from Scrubs doesn’t get to be Norm!

  11. Thank you for all this great information and all the links. I really appreciate the time you took to do this.

  12. Thank you for the news Natalie. A good one.

    You forgot to add Chicago Fire’s Emily Foster to your list. She is bisexual and she has kissed a girl on screen and has talked about various women she is seeing but just like the show typically is, they never really focus on the love lives of those outside the main three characters. But she is still bi though.

  13. I have many thoughts on this.


    I’m sad “For the People” got cancelled, but with them sidelining(imo) their queer character and their queer actor this season, the blow has been a bit expected, I mean they even mentioned Kate being queer again and we never got to find out what happened between her and the DEA Agent in the end.

    As for the other ABC news in the form of new show “Stumptown”, from the trailer may hopes are low that Cobie’s character will be bisexual and/or date women seeing as they chose to make a point of highlighting the sexual tension between her and the male detective.


    Cris’s storyline on “S.W.A.T.” has been not so good for me, because they hadn’t really gone into her polygamous relationship with two people who are getting married to each other and what that means for her, before muddying the waters by having her and Street have a thing.

    I had honestly forgotten that “God Friended Me” had a queer woman… and also that it still existed^^

    As for their new shows, I am a big Walton Goggins fan, so I will be watching “The Unicorn” and the trailer for “Tommy” looked interesting to me, even though it might not be queer.


    I gotta be honest the “Batwoman” trailer looked good, but I am not as blown away by it as other people seem to be. The prototype Batsuit looks really ugly in my opinion (and hopefully will never been seen again after the first 1-3 episodes) and I am unsure I like what they are doing with Alice.

    “Arrow”, “Black Lightning”, “Legacies” and, I’m guessing (because I am not caught up), “The 100” could do with giving their queer characters way more screen time and fleshed out storylines that also involve their queerness and not just being supporting pillars to other characters.

    “Nancy Drew” looks good but also pretty straight, both the show and the character, though my hopes for bi-/pansexual Nancy Drew exist even if they are not particularly high. It would be fun to be surprised though.
    Also, a minute of silence for not getting to see Sarah Shahi’s version of Nancy Drew.

    I have the lowest of expectations for “Katy Keene” to get me interested in it, because I am barely getting through watching “Riverdale” to be honest, the show is ridiculous and beyond believable.
    I did however see a very lesbian wink from Pepper in the teaser, so my willingness to watch this may change.


    “Everything’s Gonna Be Okay” and “Party Of Five” don’t look particularly queer, but do look like the kind of wholesome content I quite enjoy and is good for my mental health once in a while with the latter also having the opportunity to maybe tell a few important stories about contemporary America.

    I love what I saw of “Motherland: Fort Salem”, even though the trailer didn’t to a good job of showing the non-government witches as anything other than terrorists, which I am hoping will change in the actual show.


    It’s always a joy to see Bex Taylor-Klaus in anything and they look especially handsome here and the show could be could good, but also a complete gruff-male antihero cliche, only time will tell^^

    Cotton seemed to be little more than a side character as of late and the writers seemed to be done with Simone’s queerness, so I had no expectations that destroyed by this cancellation of “Star”.

    “Proven Innocent” might not have been the best show, but I personally enjoyed it, I am not surprised by it’s cancellation however, seeing as they didn’t seem to promote it at all as evident by the fact the show had no Promos for their episodes on Youtube.

    “Not Just Me” has already given us a bit more representation by having Edie be black, so I am hoping they continue that trend and not only have Edie have that affair with a female coworker, but also actually make her queer instead of muddying the waters as “Sisters” did.


    I want even more Rosa in the next season of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and have her win the next Halloween Heist with the help of her girlfriend, seeing as significant others are part of it now with the inclusion of Kevin last heist.

    For “The Good Place” I can only mirror Natalie’s sentiment.

    Also, this is probably my inner hopeful lesbian, but I saw the main character of “Bluff City Law” holding hands with another woman in the trailer and I’m gonna pretend that was definitely gay until it becomes reality.

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