We’ve listed our favorite characters of 2022! We’ve listed our favorite couples! And now we’re here to tell you about our favorite lesbian and bisexual TV episodes of 2022! One again, I remind you that this is not a list of BEST episodes; it is a list of our TV Team’s own personal favorites. Check them out below and then share yours with us in the comments!
A League Of Their Own Episode 101: “Batter Up”
Heather Hogan: Like so many of my colleagues below, I really wrestled with which episode of A League of Their Own to pick. I honestly could have chosen the whole season and justified that decision. What really jumps out for me about the first episode is just how much the show deftly accomplished. It leaned into the nostalgia, of course; very necessary. But it also introduced an entirely new cast of characters who bore little resemblance to our original Peaches. Carson, of course, we got to know in big ways. Greta and Jo a little bit more. But we also got glimpses of what was coming with Lupe, with Jess, with our dear Sarge.
More even than that, though, was the way the series brought Max and Clance into the world of the Peaches while also committing to giving them their own world too. Their friendship was the best part of the pilot to me, even more than Carson’s haircut and I LOVE HAIRPLAY. It felt as real and lived in as a beloved baseball mitt. Until I saw it, I had a hard time believing the hype that the show was going to somehow find a way to center stories of Black ball players. Also, frankly, I though the Carson/Greta thing was just going to be a tease, so when it paid off in that kiss? Well, I was as stunned as Max, accidentally hiding in the pantry.
A League Of Their Own Episode 102: “Find the Gap“
Valerie Anne: It was exceedingly hard to choose only one episode of A League of Their Own. 106 was my first choice, but then when I thought harder about it, I realized I had to choose 102. I chose it because it has a little bit of everything I love about the season, setting the groundwork for all of these things to grow as the season goes on. It has tension between Greta and Carson, it has some great and fun baseball playing, it has adorable Peaches bonding when they stood up for Jess, a taste of the beginnings of a Max/Carson friendship, some epic Max/Clance shenanigans, and a moment of genuine emotional conversation between Greta and Carson. Plus, when I watched this with my friends, one thing made me throw my hands up in the air and make a very relevant sports exclamation: When Max kisses Mrs. Turner and confirms that she, too, is queer, I yelled, “TOUCHDOWN!” We just. keep. winning.
A League of Their Own Episode 105: “Back Footed“
Carmen Phillips: I wanted to write about this episode, but really I just want to write about that scene. You know the one. Max, sitting in the sunny yellow kitchen of her Uncle Bert and Aunt Gracie. Three Black queer people, across two generations, creating a new family other their own, and doing so by rooting themselves in one of our oldest traditions: the kitchen hair salon.
Bertie asks if Max is sure about this. Max inhales and licks her bottom lip before letting her teeth graze across it. She’s sure.
Gracie promises that Bertie’s going to make sure she looks real good, Bertie walks behind Max to put a towel on her shoulders.
Bertie starts to hum as she opens and closes the scissors. Max lets out a stuttered breath. The camera comes in close on Chanté Adams’ face. Her shoulders are still tense — but her eyes flutter open, her brain trying to place where she’s heard that song before.
“Mama always sings that.” Her mother, Miss Toni is pretty much the last person that Max wants to think about right now.
“Well, maybe you came here to find a piece of home.”
So often, when we talk about queer television, we think about romance (and in fact, my other selection for my favorite queer episode of the year centers on a Black lesbian romance). And that makes sense, of course. Queer love stories are still rare, the kind that make your heart fill and knock and pour out.
But what made A League of Their Own’s fifth episode so special is the reminder, romance is not the only kind of love story.
It’s been months, summer into fall and now winter, and I feel like I’ve been replaying this scene in my mind. The care for Black queerness, taken by this show. The care of we as Black queer people had, even back then. We somehow always found each other, loved on each other, even back then.
A League of Their Own Episode 106: “Stealing Home“
Shelli Nicole: I will admit that I was very worried about how ALOTO would depict Black Queer Love. I binged this show swiftly like everyone else, but I was so happy to be able to see myself in a historical show and not in some sad light. This episode I fell in love with Gracie. I think I fell in love with her because I feel like I will be her. A thick, dark-skinned, sexy femme who moves through this world in the way she wants too. This episode we got to see her and Bertie’s relationship and OMG I loved it. Them having a night out, cocktails and bowling, being loved on by her partner, and telling Max she refuses to let the world’s fear of who she is stop her from having a good time in it and gotdammit that’s how I feel. It just felt like a beautiful episode that was showing us what was to come with them and I was just loving every minute.
Drew Burnett Gregory: A League of Their Own is great television. It’s great television in the purest sense, in a way that has become all too rare in the age of streaming. Each episode works as a self-contained episode that then functions as an important part of the whole season. And, Amazon Gods willing, the season will function as one part of the whole show.
It makes it easy to single out this show when discussing episodes — and it helps that episode six, “Stealing Home,” is a goddamn masterpiece.
This is the episode where the Peaches go to the gay speakeasy and Max goes to Bertie’s party. It’s the show at its deepest and its most fun. It’s a masterclass in how to ground queer period storytelling in the harsh realities of the time without being maudlin or exploitative. It’s also when the complementary storylines on the show work best. The writers wisely contrast the raid on the speakeasy with Max thriving at Bertie’s party to soften the pain. This feels noteworthy at a time when some queer audiences seem allergic to any sort of conflict. It’s great to see a show that isn’t afraid to be real that still is thoughtful about the experience for queer viewers.
Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya: Like folks have already written, the penultimate episode of A League Of Their Own’s first season (HOPEFULLY FIRST OF MANY; RENEW IT YOU COWARDS) is a masterpiece. Everything that the series does well is exemplified in this episode, which is real about the dangers of homophobia in the time it’s set but also allows some room for joy and fantasy. Even down to the most tiny of subplots, the episode is full of detail, nuance, and emotional depth. The writing and performances work together to craft just an exquisite episode of television and queer storytelling. It sounds corny, but it really is one of those pieces of art that so easily inspires laughter and tears.
Riese Bernard: This episode is also at the top of my list but everything I want to say about it has already been said!
Batwoman Episode 311: “Broken Toys“
Carmen Phillips: There are times when it is worth it to be deep and analytical when writing about television. For example, I could talk about how Batwoman 311 “Broken Toys” is the longest sex scene between two Black women on network television, and the breakthrough that is for queer storytelling (and it is!). I could talk about the importance of showcasing Black queer women’s emotional intimacy and vulnerability (that, too!). Or I could just say: This scene is really f*cking hot.
But part of what makes “Broken Toys” one of the greatest sex scenes I’ve ever seen on television (I said what I said) isn’t the sex at all. It’s the laughter. The laughter when Sophie breaks Ryan’s lamp in a rush to get their clothes off. The teasing smirk when Ryan’s unable to undue Sophie’s belt. Ryan’s face nearly breaking into two as she gives up and Sophie flips them over instead (a top simply must do what a top must do).
Their first time starts in the dark of an empty club, both of them lit in blue, Ryan holding Sophie by the neck and reaching down for their kiss. But it ends with them together, awash in warm amber, laughing in bed. It’s hot because they know each other, it’s hot because they are still, underneath everything else, each other’s safest place and best friend.
And now I’ll go back to the part where I talk about how rare and groundbreaking it is to see two Black women together on television, how weighty this moment actually is. Because when you watch it, it’s comfortable, so joyful, and yes — so f*cking hot — that damn, it’s easy to forget.
Gentleman Jack Episode 202: “Two Jacks Don’t Suit“
Heather Hogan: Tib is one of my favorite recurring characters in Anne Lister’s actual diaries, so when she popped up on Gentleman Jack in Paris with her boisterous laugh and naughty jokes and constant winking at Anne about her raging homosexuality (“the vast, rich tapestry of your fruity past”), I fell in love with her immediately. Tib is too much. That was always Anne’s problem with her, which is hilarious because Anne Lister is also way too much. I think that’s part of what Tib means when she tells her ex that “two Jacks don’t suit.”
She means two butches like them don’t make for good bedfellows, and also that multiple ladies in top hats together is always going to cause a scene. But she also means the full force of who they are. They can’t orbit the same spaces. Tib was one of Anne’s longest, dearest, truest friends — and that comes through too. It was frankly thrilling to see so many 1800s gays hanging out together, and to laugh about how much things haven’t changed when it comes to bringing new lovers into established friend groups. Ann Walker and Tib both knew Anne Lister very well, but they also knew her in different ways. Watching them navigate that dissonance as they tried to find harmony for Anne’s sake was simply wonderful.
RuPaul’s Drag Race: Untucked 1407: “The Daytona Wind”
Drew Burnett Gregory: During the early seasons of Untucked, it really was true that if you didn’t watch then you were only getting half the story. That’s proved less true in recent years as all the queens are very aware that they are crafting a brand. Even when drama does happen, it usually feels a tad forced like moments are being made in order to make moments.
It’s fitting then that the most notable episode of Untucked last season wasn’t due to drama but love. This is the episode when about half the remaining cast revealed themselves to be trans. I already used my entire recap to focus on this episode, but in the months that have passed its importance in the landscape of trans people on reality television has only solidified.
Drag Race may have a complicated history with trans queens but after this season it feels like there’s no going back. The trans-est show on TV has finally come out of the closet.
Reservation Dogs, Episode 210: “I Still Believe”
Natalie: In Reservation Dogs‘ season finale, Elora, Bear, Cheese, and Willie Jack are finally doing it; they’re finally going to California. They’d lost each other — the crew, the Rez Dogs — in their grief and now, spurned by a final wish from their fallen friend, they’re going. They’ll see the “those weird trees with spikes,” look upon the ocean for the first time and cast Daniel’s letter out into the “big-ass lake that doesn’t end.” They’ll do it all, for Daniel.
But, of course, the trip isn’t as easy as they imagine. When they ultimately find their way to a California beach, the Rez Dogs have lost their car, their money and, most importantly, Daniel’s letter. When it’s finally time for the crew to dip their toes into the sand, it’s clear that Elora also lost her nerve. They’ve come all this way to give Daniel the goodbye he would’ve wanted but now she just can’t do it…she can’t let him go.
“Hey. Hey, Elora, we’re not,” Bear assures her. “It’s…it’s the pain. That’s what we’re letting go. It’s got us stuck.”
The words resonate so deeply with me — a kid still clinging to the pain of losing her father years ago — that I start crying almost immediately. It took a long time for me to realize that my refusal to let go of that pain had kept me stuck. The memory of my father felt so connected to the pain of losing him, I didn’t think I could have the former without the latter. It’s surreal to see those thoughts, those moments, that pain immortalized on television by these four teenage kids from the rez.
There are shows on television that are easier to watch that Reservation Dogs…shows whose beats are familiar, whose characters walk down paths that you’ve been on yourself. There will be moments that you don’t fully understand, expressions that you don’t get, customs no one taught you and this weird fascination with catfish (“We’re by the ocean, they got to have catfish, right?” Willie Jack asks). But then there are moments like those on that California beach where Reservation Dogs reminds you that whatever our differences, our humanity is shared.
The Owl House Episode 103: “Thanks to Them”
Ms. Marvel, Episode 105: “Time and Again”
Natalie: “I pluck my ancestors eyes from their faces & fasten them to mine,” Fatimah Asghar writes in “Partition,” part of her 2018 collection of poems, If They Come For Us. Now, four years later, with the Marvel universe behind her, Asghar plucks her ancestors’ eyes from their faces, fastens them to her own, and offers us a glimpse of what they saw with “Time and Again.” What they saw was neighbor killing neighbor, fueling a genocide that often goes unacknowledged. What they saw was a refugee crisis that eclipses anything we’ve seen in modern times. What they saw was Partition. What they saw was “the war no one calls war.”
It might seem odd to interject the story of Partition into Kamala Khan’s story, especially since much of “Time and Again” happens without the show’s heroine on-screen. But this is her history — it is the thing that makes Kamala who she is, what ultimately makes Ms. Marvel into who she is — and Kamala has to understand it to realize her full potential. It is a powerful reminder about how history shapes us, even if we try hard not to remember. Only armed with that knowledge, as her great-grandmother Aisha tells her as she lays dying, does Kamala have everything that she needs. To save her family, to save herself and to become Ms. Marvel.
P-Valley Episode 204: “Demetherius”
Natalie: When Mercedes climbs the pole at the condo, she is strong and unafraid. She’s in full control of her sexuality. She is creating art. Farrah looks on, in open-mouthed awe, and sees Mercedes for who she is, for who Farrah’s been afraid of being. See, Farrah’s given it all up: she sacrificed her identity — her sexuality, her strength, her art — to maintain this veneer of respectability on the arm of her philandering football coach husband. While Mercedes defies gravity, Farrah fears the fall, eschewing who she is and what she is for the safety of respectability. She loves Mercedes a little bit for boldly being the things that she isn’t and she hates her a little bit for that too.
Farrah’s been good about keeping her dalliances a secret over the years (she likes pussy just as much as her husband, she’ll proclaim later) but, try as she might, she can’t this time…the pull to Mercedes’ light is just too strong. So Farrah interjects herself into her husband’s sponsorship — first with him, then without him — in hopes that the closer she draws to Mercedes, the less afraid she’ll be of the fall. Maybe she’ll fly. Maybe we will too.
And while Mercedes and Farrah’s story connects, “Demetherius” excels because it endeavors to tell so many stories that resonate and skillfully weave them together. The episode offers the full spectrum of black life — from love and lust to pain and hurt — and every bit of the reflection feels familiar. It is my story in the most unlikely of places.
Paper Girls 106: “Matinee”
Valerie Anne: I can’t talk about how mad I am that Paper Girls was canceled, but I CAN talk about how absolutely perfect this show captured the emotions of a wee closeted queer girl. Not all of us had the ability to time travel and literally SEE ourselves being cute and gay with our girlfriends, or get advice from our future partners, but almost all of us have IMAGINED it. I definitely did. And my 13-year-old self definitely had that fetal-in-the-bathroom, heart-racing, breath-catching panic when I forced myself to face the possibility that I was gay. That technically happened in episode 105, “A New Period,” but the reason I chose the following episode is because in it, after following her future gay self and her future gay girlfriend to the movies, KJ got something I didn’t: reassurance that it would be okay. That it might take time, and it won’t always be easy, but that it’s worth it to embrace it. She had proof that she could be gay AND older, gay AND loved, gay AND happy. And it healed my inner child a bit. It’s an episode and a conversation I won’t soon forget.
The L Word: Generation Q Episode 304: “Last To Know“
Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya: I feel like I’ve been waiting my entire life for a Halloween-themed episode of The L Word, and I had impossibly high expectations…and yet they were exceeded!!!!!!! Not only do we get fun shenanigans related to my favorite holiday but we also get some jokey horror movie moments via Alice and Taylor. And then the cherry on top is the excellent guest appearance by Daniel Sea. Instead of ignoring the show’s history of mistreating Max, the writers acknowledged it and moved forward, making Max feel fully realized and adding depth to his arc in specific and nuanced strokes. No tricks, all treats!
Riese: The way Max returned to this franchise and the care they took with his story was among Generation Q‘s most heartwarming and triumphant moment yet. It’s all the more impactful because the episode had a non-binary writer (Nova Cypress Black) and a non-binary director (Em Weinstein). And Alice’s minor spooking was a delight to witness.
Willow Episode 101: “The Gales”
Heather Hogan: Let me tell you what I love more than anything on this earth: queer women, with swords, going on quests to save the day. Luckily that particular sub-genre has really picked up steam in publishing, but it’s still not very common on TV. It’s especially rare on legacy properties. So you could have knocked me over with an actual feather when Disney+’s Willow series gave us not one, but two queer sword-wielding women, who happen to be completely smitten with each other — to a LIP SMOOCHING DEGREE — setting out with Willow himself to turn back the darkness that’s threatening to engulf the world. I would be watching this show anyway. It is, as Nic said in her review, like a TV show D&D campaign. Plus I’m a nerd child of the 80s; it’s like catnip to me. I’ve been waiting my whole life for it. And the fact that Kit and Jade are gay from the word go? Gay and so very different, with such complementary and conflicting loyalties, and such distinct personalities, and such built-in conflict? I am camped out in front of my TV waiting for more.
Yellowjackets 109: “Doomcoming“
Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya: I suppose I have a trend of really enjoying penultimate episodes of first seasons of queer TV series! It’s nearly impossible for me to pick a favorite episode of Yellowjackets, but fortunately for me, the vast majority of them aired in 2021, making it slightly easier to narrow down a top pick for 2022. “Doomcoming” is a thrilling, often uncomfortable episode of television that comes the closest to replicating the nightmarish cannibalism fever dream that is the series’ pilot. We finally get a glimpse into the extent of the horrors that the characters will soon experience in the woods, their starvation and delirium quickly turning a bacchanal into something far more disturbing and psychosexual. Daisy von Scherler Mayer’s direction is fantastic here.
Reboot Episode 104: “Girlfriends”
Heather Hogan: Reboot’s fourth episode reveals that basically every woman in the main cast is gay. Hannah’s a lesbian. Timberly’s queer. And Bree? Well, she was also gay last night. The episode opens with Hannah fretting that she’s never come out to her dad and reverting to a kind of teenage worry about it. Timberly and Bree sleep together, which leads to such a silly morning-after scene. Bree frantically Googles “does one time make you gay?” and “coming out later and life” and “oscar-winning lesbians” before Timberly wakes up and tells her to chill. They were just having a good fun time, which they both did, and there’s no need to get weird about. But of course Bree makes it as bananas and self-absorbed as possible, following Hannah’s moving coming out speech by reaching for Timberly’s hand to announce herself as “a sexual fluid.” It’s so funny. The funniest coming out(s) episode I’ve ever seen. I’m giggling out loud right now just remembering it.
Queer As Folk Episode 106: “Bleep”
Riese: “Bleep” flashes back between present day New Orleans, where the fractured, grieving group of queer friends at the show’s heart is celebrating Mardi Gras; and past-day Brodie (Devin Way) and Ruthie (Jessie James Keitel)’s senior year of high school. In the flashbacks, Brodie and Ruthie are secretly dating and Ruthie is figuring out that she’s not the wry and effeminate gay boy Brodie and her classmates pegged her as, but in fact is a trans woman. Co-written by producer Jaclyn Moore and directed by Ingrid Jungermann, it’s a testament to the power of having queer and trans voices behind and in front of the camera when telling our most intimate stories. It’s in this episode that the central conflict between Ruthie and Brodie is given texture and history, and we begin to understand why this connection often seems to be at odds with Ruthie’s relationship with her partner, Char. Sadly the show was cancelled before it got a chance to really breathe.