Autostraddle’s Favorite and Least Favorite Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans TV Characters of 2021

A graphic that reads End Of Year Lists 2021

Every year, our TV Team complies a list of our favorite and least favorite TV characters. (See: 2020, 2019201820172016.) I say this every year, and it’s important, but no one ever reads these dang intros, so please allow me to bold it: This is not a list of the categorically BEST and WORST LGBTQ+ TV characters. It’s a list of the favorites and least favorites of each individual member of our TV Team. And that’s a good thing! There’s so much gay TV now that we can all watch things that best suit our interests! And we can all form our own opinions about the characters based on our own lived experiences, the other stories we’ve consumed in our lives, and our personal preferences. I never thought this would happen in my lifetime, but look at us. (Look at us!)

As always, we’d love to hear your faves and least faves in the comments!


OUR FAVORITES

Natalie

Elektra Abundance Evangelista Wintour, Pose

Early in Pose‘s third season, Blanca has dinner with her boyfriend, Christopher, and his parents and recounts the entire tortuous night for Elektra and Angel as they prepare for the ball. When Blanca tells Elektra she wasn’t clocked at dinner, her Mother stares at her in disbelief and asks, “Were they elderly? Their vision compromised?” It’s a sharp barb that, out of anyone else’s mouth, may have made a lasting impression. It’s the kind of sharp barb that Pose fans have come to expect from Elektra; from the moment the series began, the quick, often caustic (and sometimes necessary) wit has been an indelible part of her character. Some of the show’s most memorable moments are from an Elektra Abundance Evangelista Wintour read.

But the third season of Pose gave us an Elektra who was more than just a witty retort. The show added depth to her character this season by giving a glimpse into her world before she became the Elektra we knew. Suddenly, everything we’d ever known about Elektra made more sense. We understood why wore her caustic humor as armor and why she’d occasionally direct it at the people that she loved most. But, ultimately, we saw a woman — desperate to give her children the mother that she never had — who offers her children, her full-throated support.

After she tosses the barb at Blanca in the aforementioned episode, she pivots to restore her daughter’s shaken confidence. She tells Blanca: “You listen to me right now. You were given nothing and made everything. If they were giving away college degrees for truly living, you would have a doctorate. You are my daughter. You are every fucking thing.”

Oh, Elektra…you are every. fucking. thing.

Ryan Wilder, Batwoman

Until last year, I’d never bought a comic book before, at least not for myself. But then came Batgirl #50 and the introduction of Ryan Wilder, officially, into DC Universe.. .and I bought my first comic book. Weeks before Javicia Leslie’s debut as Ryan Wilder on my screen, I was invested and had a small sliver of this forthcoming reality to call my own. A black woman was going to wear the cowl one day and I wanted some tangible representation of it.

Ryan’s introduction in the comic is brief — a tense interaction outside her van with an old “friend,” Barbara Gordon — but the Ryan Wilder we’d later come to know is on full display: strong, defiant and taking special care of her plant. The thing that struck me more, both then and now, about #50 was a piece of Barbara’s internal monolog. She thinks, “The death of an era is an opportunity to get rid of the old and usher in something new. Something better. Take the time to reexamine our heroes. And maybe find new ones…” Batwoman found its “something new” in 2020 and in its third season, it has truly become “something better.”

Batwoman is truly firing on all cylinders this season: Renee Montoya joining the Bat Team in their hunt for Batman’s trophies. Montoya blackmailing Ryan/Batwoman into working with Alice. The fleshing out of Ryan Wilder’s backstory through the introduction of Jada Jet and her son, Marcus. They’ve found a way to build a world around Ryan Wilder while giving all her supporting characters more juicy stuff to tackle: Luke gets to come into his own as Batwing, Mary steps into villainy as Poision Ivy and Sophie is Gotham’s most eligible bachelorette and one-half of the juiciest slow burn queer love story on television. AND WE HAVEN’T EVEN GOTTEN TO ROSE BRIDGET REGAN APPEARING ON-SCREEN YET.

Ryan Wilder is shaping something new and something better… and if you’re not watching, you’re missing out.

Elora and Willie Jack, Reservation Dogs

Reservation Dogs is a very funny show. Bear’s spirit guide, The Unknown Warrior, William Knifeman. Cheese’s ride along. Officer Big’s recounting of his encounter with Deer Lady. The perpetually high, Uncle Brownie. Mose and Mekko cruising through town on their bikes, spitting freestyles as they go. Punkin’ Lusty’s catchy (and hilarious) song, “Greasy Frybread”. The beaded microphone necklace Bear tries to buy for his father… which ends up looking like a penis. Reservation Dogs is a very funny show… and if that was all there was to the show, it’d still be worth watching.

“We’re Indian women,” Bear’s mom laments to Elora, after his father fails to show up again. “We have to deal with reality when they go off and play. And at the end of the day, we’re the ones who have to make it work.”

For most of Reservation Dogs‘ first season, the boys get to have fun. They get to go off and play. They get the light stories which only graze the grief that envelops the community following Daniel’s death. But Elora and Willie Jack aren’t afforded that luxury: they have to deal with the reality, they have to make it work. Both characters are forced to confront their grief in painful and real ways (in “California Dreamin'” and “Hunting,” respectively)… and in doing so, transform a good show into a great one.


Heather Hogan

Ryan Wilder, Batwoman

I have written extensively on this website about how much and why I love Ryan Wilder, and Natalie said it all so well above that no additional words are needed. So I will say this one thing: When you write about TV for a living, TV becomes a job. And because there are just so many different queer shows and movies these days, it’s actually kind of impossible for our team to have much overlap in what we’re viewing and reviewing.

But Batwoman is the exception. It’s one of those rare shows that nearly all my friends and co-workers on the TV Team watch, and love, and wait for with giddy anticipation, and discuss at length! Before the episodes, as soon as promos or behind-the-scnes IGs are posted, during commercials (which we actually sit through to watch it live), and after episodes for the whole week until the new one airs. There’s not so much of that anymore. Hardly anyone even watches TV live anymore. But Batwoman’s got us in its grasp the way so many of our classic beloved shows and characters did when we stumbled across queers on TV for the first time.

Ryan Wilder is a gift for a zillion reasons, and making me feel like a little kid again is one of them.

Emily Dickinson, Dickinson

I loved every second of Hailee Steinfeld’s portrayal of Emily Dickinson, and this show is the first one I’ve been really sad about ending in a very long time. First of all, Steinfeld has done more to reclaim Emily Dickinson’s passionate, overwrought, sapphic weirdness than anyone besides Sue Gilbert’s own daughter (who tried to counter the narrative of Dickinson as a dour, solitary spinster, but wasn’t able to get the literary elite to listen to her). And even if this Emily Dickinson wasn’t true to life (I personally think she is as close as we’ve gotten!), Steinfeld’s take on the character brought me endless joy. She’s funny and lusty and full of life and ambition, and she’s dramatic as all heck, which the real life Dickinson undoubtedly was. I’m gonna miss this series something fierce, but this version of one of America’s most posthumously panned poets is gonna live forever.

Luz, The Owl House

Luz is my all-time favorite fictional baby gay. If she’d been around when I was a kid, I would have not only realized I’m a lesbian sooner, I would also have embraced my weirdness with a quickness! And both of those things would have made me so much happier so much earlier in my life. Luz loves magic! And then she finds out magic is real, and learns magic! And along the way, she gets her own bizarro found family; finds the courage to pursue her crush on cool, over-achieving witch Amity; and never stops striving to be the the best friend, and daughter, and student she can be. She’s full of great ideas and truly terrible ideas, and no matter what, she bounces back and is ready for the next adventure. If I’m being honest, she’s just as much of a role model to me as an adult as she would have been to me as a kid. Plus every episode of this show makes me laugh until my guts hurt. HOOTY-HOO!

Gloria McManus, Girls5Eva

I probably wouldn’t have watched Girls5Eva if I didn’t need to write about it, because I’m pretty burned out on Tina fey’s whole deal — but man, I am glad I did. It’s one of those shows you have to watch multiple times to catch all the jokes, like each line of dialogue is a hidden treasure if you’re willing to invest in the payoff. The fact that Paula Pell, a real life middle age gay, plays a fictional middle age gay makes it even better. There’s hardly any 50-year-old women doing leading roles in comedies, and even fewer lesbians, and as a 40-year-old lesbian myself, it matters to me! Gloria McManus struggles with normal aging things, and is terrible at love, and is kind of awkward, and the flashbacks of her pretending to be straight hit so close to home it wounds me. (But in my funny bone.) Pell isn’t the star of the show just like Gloria isn’t the star of Girls5Eva, but she’s an important part of the ensemble and her lust for Gillian Anderson is universal.

Che Diaz, And Just Like That

You know that gif of Saoirse Ronan as Jo March from Little Women where she’s just sort of hysterically gesticulating and saying WOMEN… ? You know what I’m talking about? Sara Ramirez makes me feel like that, like I’m standing on a freezing cold hillside close to sobbing my eyeballs out and just like all I can say is SARA RAMIREZ. (Who is not a woman, but that emotion is the one I’m trying to convey. The helpless hopeful giddiness of it.) I’ve only seen the first four episodes of the Sex and the City sequel, but they are easily the highlight of the whole thing, just charm and magnetism and charisma for days. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a queer TV character just as fucking cool as Che Diaz (including even original Bette Porter). They’re so confident and steady and smart and hilarious and everyone who meets them is both drawn to and slightly terrified of them. For a show that failed in nearly every way with POC and queer rep in its first incarnation, having a “non-binary Mexican-Irish diva” joining essentially the main cast, and in a way that is already so developed, I honestly can’t get enough. I can’t wait to see what they do next. I can’t wait to see how deeply in love with them I am actually able to fall!


Carmen Phillips

Che Diaz, And Just Like That

Sara Ramirez as Che Diaz

At the time of my writing, Sara Ramirez’s Che Diaz has only been in two episodes of the Sex and the City sequel series, And Just Like That, and both of those episodes aired just a mere days ago! So it almost feels like a cheat to include them. But then, mid-way through my (and I am not kidding here) fourth rewatch of Che in the funeral scene in And Just Like That’s second episode, I knew that I was kidding myself.

In less than 15 minutes total, Che looks drop dead gorgeous in that black suit (and if there was a better dressed queer character this year than Che standing tall, slightly leaned back with confidence almost bordering on cocky, with their hands in their pockets, I don’t know them); makes a joke about being a bouncer at a dyke bike bar in their past life; takes a handkerchief out of their pocket (swoon) to help an elderly woman’s tears; gets Brady Hoobes high and withstands Miranda’s Papa Bear protection; and then calls Miranda A DADDY to make her blush. Why lie? They made me blush too.

And listen, there might be a little bit of a “most recent glow” memory here — I can admit to that. Maybe I’m going to regret this early inclusion. But I’ve been waiting for Sara Ramirez’s debut as Che since they were fist announced in the role back in March. That is 10 months of heady anticipation, and in this one scene they already knocked every one of my lofty hopes and dreams out of the park. Sara Ramirez, easily one of the most beloved queer actors of the last 15 years, hasn’t let me down yet. So I’m going to bet on them again, just one more time.

Sophie Moore, Batwoman

I have a theory about Sophie Moore. I believe that if you squint just right, her story has actually been the bedrock of Batwoman all along. Some of that is due to the casting change of the title role between Seasons Two and Three, where what was once meant to be Kate’s story instead became Ryan’s (and thankfully! Javicia Leslie is the greatest gift to Batwoman’s production in every way), but because of that Sophie is actually the lesbian character on the show we have known the longest — right from the beginning.

If we can briefly take a time machine back to the pilot (stay with me), it’s Sophie choosing to stay in the closet at Point Rock, rather than risk exclusion and everything her family has sacrificed for, that’s the catalyst for everything that comes after. It’s Sophie who is Alice’s first victim, when she’s kidnapped. It’s Sophie’s supposedly straight world that we watch get turned upside down with Kate’s return and Sophie who we watch gain the bravery to come out to her mother. When her worst nightmares — the reason she stayed in the closet for so long! — become true and her own mother turns her back on her, it’s Sophie who we watch still leave her husband anyway to tentatively start to date women.

When in the second season Ryan Wilder becomes yet another caped crusader who turns everything Sophie thought she knew to be true upside down, this time about her role as a member of a privatized police force and the ways in which police units like The Crows commit state sanctioned violence and murder of Black people, it’s Sophie who we once again watch dig deep and find the courage to change herself for the better by walking away from the organization she had dedicated her life to.

Now in it’s third season, Batwoman has asked: What happens with Sophie when everything we once knew about her has been stripped away? Well, the answer is she’s going to toss a bunch of women against walls and make out with them, for one. But she’s also going to grapple with real emotional vulnerability. The most polished and buttoned up woman in Gotham is going to get messy. She’s going to take down her own walls so that she might finally get the love of her life that she never knew she wanted.

It’s rare that a television show takes the time of peeling back layers and really tackle what compulsory heterosexuality looks like — the lies we tell ourselves to force boxes that never fit. But also how coming into yourself and your queerness, it’s not fear — it’s freedom. It’s revelatory and it touches every part of you, not just who’s in your bed at night. Meagan Tandy has recently taken to joking about Sophie being “The Love Interest” online, but in truth she’s always been so much more. She’s always been the star.

Ryan Wilder, Batwoman

Javicia Leslie as Ryan Wilder

I don’t know when it happened, when Batwoman became a chore I kept up with for my job in its first season, to a pleasant background show after the casting change in its season season, to my overall obsession and the main interest in my life became convincing every I know to watch it IMMEDIATELY. But I do know know why it happened: Javicia Leslie’s work as Ryan Wilder.

Javicia (and Ryan) already had the honor of a clean sweep at this year’s Gay Emmys, so I’ve written about her before as an actor — the infectious energy that she’s brought into this role, her skill for fight choreography and nailing the perfect one liners. The responsibility that’s been thrust onto her shoulders. This time I want to specifically talk about Ryan as a character.

In it’s third season Batwoman has found its stride (and starting running with it!) as a show that’s kooky campy dark in the way of Pretty Little Liars, with fanfic slow burn  tropes lovingly come to life, more authentic Black humor and dialogue, all taking a stroll down the lane of one of the most iconic comic properties of all time — seriously you don’t have to ever seen a Bat Time or Bat Channel to know who Poison Ivy or the Joker are — and Ryan’s the circus ringmaster through which all those seemingly discordant themes flow. She’s fierce in her batsuit, a positively swoon worthy and chivalrous romantic lead, she’s loyal and soft and fights for good but also has a temper that’s best not to mess with. In flannels or skin tight gowns, her swag is unparalleled.

And OK! I know I said I wouldn’t make this about Javicia, but it makes a difference when you cast queer actors in queer role. They already know how to build a romance with women; they simply play the flirtation onscreen instead of waving a big technicolored “Look I’m Playing Gay” flag that you can see from space. And the slight octave drop in Javicia’s voice when Ryan smirked at Sophie, “woman you are hard to please” after a death defying stunt in Batmobile? It’s been living rent free in my head since October. That’s that on that.

Pippa Pascal, The L Word: Generation Q

Vanessa Williams as Pippa Pascal

When I found out that thee Black Hollywood icon Vanessa Williams had been cast in this season of Gen Q, even sight unseen I immediately knew that she was not only going to be Bette’s love interest, but that Bette was going to be in over her head. And I was right on both counts.

To be honest, Pippa was thinly written (something we’ve discussed before) so I was surprised when I looked back over the year and she kept rising back to the top of my lists. But that’s the power of Vanessa Williams. At one point Bette reached out for Pippa’s hand during a “business dinner” and Pippa said, “don’t touch me like that, unless you’re planning to come home with me” and from that moment on — it was a wrap.

She also loves boundaries! Pippa told Bette that her relationship with Tina was unhealthy, something that I’ve been waiting for Alice or Shane (not that either one of them would know healthy) to say for over a decade now. And anyway, do you know who could use boundaries? Literally ever character in the expanded The L Word universe, that’s who.

IF Bette chooses Tina after all of this, I’m flinging myself directly in to the sun. Pippa Hive, we’re rising!

Ida B., Twenties

Sophina Brown as Ida B. in Twenties

Usually when I compile these types of year end lists, I try to think reasonably about what I considered “The Best” and why. I try to write blurbs that are worthy of the caliber of performances that we’ve received that year. And do not get me wrong, as Ida B. Sophina Brown gave one of the most richly nuanced performances and unexpected of the year.

Sophina’s found that underneath Ida’s icy cold mean femme armor is, well, a barbwire fence and attack dog, but underneath that is a lonely closeted woman in her late 40s who is scared to allow herself joy out loud and absolutely terrified that if she chose that joy she would lose everything she’s spent her life working for. Heavy stuff for a half hour comedy! But Sophina’s comedic timer has never been sharper than this season. She knows how to ride the tension between her and Jonica Gibbs (Twenties lead, Hattie) and expertly play it like a string instrument, choosing when the notes should be playful or charged at her whim. Ida’s withering stare, her pout, the way that she speaks so softly over a game of Uno or a Jodeci duet in her bedroom, the way she turns stoic because simply saying “I’m scared” would be too much — every element has been nothing short of perfection.

But also yeah, and I really just cannot emphasize this enough, IDA STEP ON ME PLEASEEEE.

Yessika Castillo, Gentefied

Gentefied Season Two Review: Julisssa Calderon as Yessika

After breaking up with her first and only girlfriend since childhood, Yessika Castillo found herself standing on her own two feet and in the process walked away with Gentefied’s entire second season. That alone is deserving of her spot on this list.

In Gentefied’s first season, Yessika was not given the respect that she rightfully deserved, ultimately being turned into a two-dimensional stereotype of an angry Black woman. In the second season the Gentefied writers’ room not only apologized for these story decisions, having Yessika return to call out the anti-Blackness of the Morales family directly, but went to the necessary further step of finally fleshing out Yessika to become her own character — with friends that weren’t her ex girlfriend’s family, with a job she’s in charge of that serves her community, and ultimately when Ana reaches out to rekindle what they once had, with Yessika holding firm that she’s deserving of more than what’s she has been offered in the past. Despite their best intentions, returning to Ana will always mean becoming consumed by Ana’s family and for once — just for once! — Yessika wants to see what it means to be for herself instead.

Through it all Julissa Calderón shines like a megawatt bulb of charisma, effortlessly capturing attention and not stealing scenes, but owning them outright. In Yessika’s quiet moments with Ana, lines that are almost whispers, sizzle underneath your skin from her delivery. When Yessika gets a standalone episode of her own, Calderón steps into the spotlight like she was made for it all along. And that’s because, well, she was.


Shelli Nicole

Golnar “Gigi” Ghorbani, The L Word: Generation Q

DESERVES THE WORLD. Communicates, looks banging in awful shirts, wears copious amounts of gold necklaces, autonomous and direct — all the things you le$beans be saying you want but when you get it you don’t act right or get scared. She’s an incredible mum who teaches her children to be proud of their heritage, has a fantastic apartment, and is also damn good at her job. Also, she was part of the best sex scene that has ever happened on The L Word — OG and reboot. She is the absolute best.


Riese

Golnar “Gigi” Ghorbani, The L Word: Generation Q

After playing third fiddle to Nat and Alice in Season One of Generation Q, Gigi and her gorgeous locks and heavy gold jewelry stepped into the light as a fully-realized character with more emotional wherewithal than the rest of the cast combined: perceptive, empathetic, communicative and HOT AS HELL. She was also believably flawed, prone to teasing and sometimes craving approval for her ego instead of her heart. She was the breakout performance of Season Two and honestly she brought Dani right along with her.

Mae, Feel Good

Portrayals of addiction and recovery on television are trope-ridden and one note and reductive, but Feel Good is a whole-ass symphony. Beneath Mae’s predictably irresistible boyish presentation and its inevitable allure was a well of want, trauma, and compulsion; always relatable, often sad, and usually also quite funny. Because what is the point of suffering if it doesn’t earn us a great bit, you know?


Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya

Golnar “Gigi” Ghorbani, The L Word: Generation Q

Okay, so HOW MANY of us are going to write about Gigi? But also, she deserves it. She also deserves a love interest who is actually willing to talk to her about their feelings. And WE deserve a million more sex scenes from her, because she delivers every time. The Great Top Off Of 2021 between Gigi and Bette is one of the best scenes of television of all time in my horny opinion!

Taissa Turner, Yellowjackets

Both teen Taissa (Jasmin Savoy Brown) and adult Taissa (Tawny Cypress) are extremely compelling characters in an ensemble full of compelling characters. The psychological horror of adult Taissa’s storyline, the young queer love story of teen Taissa — I love these arcs and look forward to watching them unfold as Yellowjackets season one continues into the new year. The eyeball sequence from the third episode — featuring THREE Taissas — is one of the most legitimately terrifying horror scenes the show has done so far.


Drew

Chip, Search Party

While Clarice may have tried to reclaim the trans woman killer trope, it was Search Party that succeeded. No it didn’t provide a polite foil to our transsexual killer — it just made that killer human… and hilarious. Cole Escola is a comic genius and their transfeminine psychopath is a joy to watch. They’re genuinely frightening while making me laugh harder than anyone else on TV this year. Search Party is a weird show that’s gotten weirder with every passing season. This season was its best and that’s largely due to Escola. The goal is not to get rid of queer villains — the goal is to get queer villains this fabulous.

Idina, Twenties

During the season one finale, Idina’s monologue felt like a relief in a gay show where the only queer characters were closeted (Ida, Chuck) or into closeted partners (Hattie). Part of why season two has been so much better has been Idina’s increased role! I desperately think she deserves better than Hattie but I’ve also wasted time on hot people I shouldn’t have so who am I to judge? It feels really true to me the way that Idina can both identify her problem — that she gives too much without it being reciprocated — and speak up for herself — like when Hattie asks her on a date — and yet STILL finds herself repeating those same patterns. Shylo Shaner is so natural and lovable on screen and while I’m certain Hattie and Idina are not going to work out, I hope that doesn’t mean Idina is going to be written off. Lesbians love to stay friends with their exes! That’s our whole thing! Make Idina a major character separate from Hattie!


Valerie Anne

The Women of Batwoman, Batwoman

OKAY yes I’m already cheating but L I S T E N how could I choose ONE of these women?? My first instinct was choosing Ryan, who is funny and strong and not great at letting people help her but getting better every day. She’s a plant-lover and too forgiving of her exes and not forgiving enough of herself. She does her best to keep her heart guarded, but oh what a good heart it is. But then as I was thinking of Ryan, of course I thought of Sophie. Who is a tough-as-nails woman who is overcoming a lot of fears. It’s been a pleasure to watch her figure out who she is and what she stands for and then stand for it with both feet planted firmly on the ground. And don’t even get me STARTED on the Wildmoore slow burn. I live for it!  And that’s not nearly the end of the list of the dynamic and complex and fascinating women on this show. Mary, Alice, Renee Montoya, I love them all and what they bring. They add so much excitement and hilarity and badassery (and attractiveness) to Batwoman that somehow gets better and better every episode.


Emily Dickinson, Dickinson

Hailee Steinfeld’s Emily Dickinson is one of the most fun characters to ever grace my television screen. She’s the perfect combination of hilarious and chaotic and dramatic and just so, so gay. I’ll never forget the first time I watched the first season of this show and in the first scene, Emily dropped a casual, “This is such bullshit,” and I knew this show was going to be different than any other “period piece” I’d ever seen. Or any show, for that matter. And it continues to be wonderfully unique. And, in case I didn’t mention it yet, GAY. I’m absolutely devastated that this is the last year I’ll be able to include this wacky prolific poet on my list of favorites, but I have a feeling I’ll be rewatching this show for years to come.


Alex Danvers, Supergirl

Across the six seasons of Supergirl, Alex Danvers had one of the best arcs of any queer character I’ve ever seen. She started off a closed-off, over-protective big sister, came out as an adult, had her first love, her first heartbreak, she slept with the only other queer woman at a friend’s wedding, found the love of her life, suited up and fought alongside her, adopted a child with and got married to her. It’s the dream arc that a lot of characters don’t get to have, usually because they’re an afterthought or because of cancellations. And Supergirl was an imperfect show, and it sidelined Alex’s love life more than it should have at times, but Chyler Leigh fought hard for Alex, and when Azie Tesfai joined the team, she fought for Kelly right alongside her, and the series finale centered around Alex and Kelly, Sentinel and Guardian, and their beautiful gay love story coming to a fairytale happily ever after.


OUR LEAST FAVORITES

Shelli Nicole

Bette Porter, The L Word: Generation Q

Get Over Yourself Mama. Look, I know y’all love her but we are way past her being messy. She needs quite a bit of help. How has she never had a conversation (that we know of) with her Black child about how her mother had zero interest in having a Black child? Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why our angel Angie is having a lot of the identity issues she is going through. If you can talk to your child about their queerness, you can talk to them about race. She also didn’t want to help BIPOC artists by scamming the shit out of the fancy art company she works at AND she’s about to play the shit out of Pippa. She’s kind of a bad person bro — and I hate most of her pantsuits.


Natalie

Eva Rhodes, The Bold Type

In the grand scheme of things, no one cares about Eva Rhodes. Eva would be a footnote, a character who people only recall when Alex Paxton-Beesley (whom I’m sure is a lovely person) shows up on something else you’re watching and you remember that time she played Kat’s Republican girlfriend. For most fans of The Bold Type — and, particularly, for queer fans of The Bold Type — seeing Kat Edison reunite with Adina El-Amin and achieve unprecedented professional success was enough and that would be how they remembered the show. But I’ll remember the god awfulness that was Eva Rhodes and I hope others will too.

Not because the character was pivotal to Kat’s story — because, again, she wasn’t — but because of what a character like Eva represents: the co-opting of representation to further harmful ideals. After The Bold Type‘s series premiere, we didn’t see Eva again, but we’ll see versions of her for years to come. We’ll see queer, sharp-dressed, cute women like Eva whose charm masks their offensive politics. We’ll see a white recurring character who will come to matter more (to the writers) than a show’s black series regular. There will be more Eva Rhodes. This time, we caught it — it may have been the only thing TBT fans were unanimous about in the show’s entire run — but we should guard against it, always.


Heather

Kate Kane, Batwoman

If you’d told younger me that I’d be adding Kate Kane to a WORST list like this, I never would have believed you. During Batwoman’s original solo comic run, I used to drive to the comic book shop first thing in the morning on release day, and wait for it to open, just to get my hands on the newest issue as fast as I could. She meant so much to me. But nostalgia is never, ever, ever a good reason to make excuses, and allowing a fondness for a character who shaped you long ago to cause harm in the present can be a violence. (Yeah, I said it.) Ryan Wilder is Batwoman. She inhabits the role the way she owns that cape and cowl. It fits her. And it does so because this is the moment we need her, and heroes always arrive at exactly the right time. Javicia Leslie as Ryan Wilder has changed everything about Batwoman (the character) and Batwoman (the show) for the better.

Keeping Kate Kane alive, having her give the title of Batwoman to Ryan, it not only undermines the character in the story, while leaning hard into a whole lot of hackneyed narrative racism; it also empowers racist fans to abuse a bisexual Black actor in real life (even more than just the daily racism she already faces), and leaves the door open for DC to continue touting Kate Kane as Batwoman in other properties. Which we saw play out just exactly as we knew it would in DC’s Pride Anthology this year. It doesn’t help that the person playing Kate Kane, Wallis Day, perpetuated racist attacks against her co-stars in an effort to further her own career and screentime. This whole thing was just all-around gross and every Black actor, writer, crew member, and fan on and of this show deserves better.


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The TV Team

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!

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  1. I love reading these lists because of the glimpses into everyone’s tastes and loves. I haven’t actually watched any of the shows listed (I know, don’t @me, I just haven’t gotten around to it yet) but I love reading about tv and I love the AS tv team

  2. Me while writing this list: Everyone already knows Waverly Earp is my favorite, I’ll write about other characters instead.

    Me reading this list: I SHOULD HAVE INCLUDED WAVERLY EARP.

    I love reading everyone’s faves and hope no one else has the regrets and guilt about who they left off the list like I do. :)

  3. God I love these lists, and I DIED at how often Gigi shows up on here! Justice for Gigi, and agreed with Kayla that in Season Three (if we get one), may she finally get a partner who likes to communicate as much as she does! Maybe they can cross-over with Twenties and she can date Idina?

  4. Yes Gigi for me is rare to see. Like they have the Persian character playing Persian(ahem Carmen) & it feel authentic too? Hell yeah in the queer Persian’s book! Plus, her conversing with Dani in Farsi was cute.

    Elketra is just pure power. She has a commanding presence that I want to have.

  5. Disappointed that Moiraine from Wheel of Time didn’t make this list (and hasn’t gotten any substantive AS coverage at all as far as I know? Would love to be wrong!). Rosamund Pike is giving the absolute performance of a lifetime (…and someone else did too in a recent episode, but I don’t want to spoil anything)

  6. I love LOVE this list. Javicia Leslie as Ryan Wilder is definitely bae she brings so much to Batwoman. I watched the first season of Batwoman in it’s entirety and it was boring that I almost didn’t give the second season a try. When I found out about a Black Batwoman I jumped on it quick to see someone like me playing the hell out of this role. It took awhile but this season has been awesome that I keep rewatching all the episodes and the chemistry between Ryan and Sophie is electric. I hate a slowburn but I’ll take it because their interactions together are always worth seeing. Great job on the list!

  7. If your goal was to have me start watching Batwoman you’ve succeeded!! My only question is, based off of the reviews, can I start at season 2? Or do I need to claw my way through the beginning?

    • I think that was the whole idea. GQ clearly wanted the attention away from the OG and the leader of that crew is Bette. I agree she belongs on this list, but it really is unfortunate that they destroyed the icon. Should have just let OG go and start from new stalk of actress. There are many fine actresses that could make GQ amazing.

  8. least favourite was Kelly Olsen. You give her way too much credit for Chyler’s success and ranking as one of the best. The character was unnecessary and that whole relationship left people cold. people tolerated it not to be called out as haters (or worse) but for real that was a weak point of the last few seasons of Supergirl, and Chyler deserves an Emmy (and more) for carrying that show on her back for so long.

    • People tolerated Kelly Olsen? I loved Kelly Olsen from the moment she was introduced. It’s one thing to not click with a character but to call her one of the weak spots of the last few seasons. We are talking about SUPERGIRL right? The entire show was weak for most of the seasons. You all live in your uncultured closeted online hive bubbles and think your opinions represent the majority. They don’t.

  9. And Just Like That is the worst show ever..by far.
    The Gigi’s hype is unbearable, the character is weak and vulgar.
    Vanessa Williams is the worst ever lesbian on screen, imho , she needs a coach for kissing!
    Last time on your site..

  10. Pippa in the favourites an bette the worst? She is not even a character. We don’t know nothing about her backstory, her work. AND why the 10 years hiding artist in just a couple of episodes is on a red carpet? She’s so poorly written.
    And about Bette Porter as the worst? girls you really have to stop to search the perfect politically correct representation. It’s so frustrating. Why talking about character as they were real or blame them for how they were written 20 years ago? This is so stupid. I hope they will cancel season 3 of Gen Q.

  11. I’m a little surprised to see Motherland: Fort Salem left out of…everything.

    Queer creator, queer main characters/relationship on a trajectory for a happy ending AND they’re X-men-style witches?

    This show consistently rips on patriarchy, satirizes or knocks out old queer tropes, has wonderful characters and…nothing?

    Ok

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