Autostraddle’s Favorite Lesbian, Bisexual, and Queer TV Couples of 2023

Every year the TV Team lists our favorite queer TV couples and every year we reveal a little about ourselves. Because to announce what fictional love we’re shipping says as much about each of us as it does the state of queer TV. Some of us swoon over an “enemies to lovers,” some of us crave a fleeting one-night stand, and some of us long for the exuberance of young love.

This list has all that and more! And, yes, by more, I mean the four-person polycule from Riverdale.

Simone and Bernie, Daisy Jones and the Six

An overhead shot of two Black women kissing in bed.

This almost feels like a cheat. Daisy Jones and the Six, adapted from the bestselling book of the same name, was a one-off series that’s spawned its own fandom despite mixed-reviews from critics. Within an already limited miniseries, Simone and Bernie’s love story largely takes place in a single standalone episode. Can one hour of television really hold its own against couples that have years to build nuances of their intimacy?

When Simone (Nabiyah Be), a closeted singer trying to break into the music industry in the early 1970s, first meets Bernie (Ayesha Harris) at a party in Los Angeles, she blushes. Bernie flirts, “did I read you wrong?” Simone inhales, surprised to have been seen so clearly in her desire. The space between them is charged, cackling with unspoken heat that doesn’t have an outlet. Bernie hands Simone a card, an address and phone number in New York. A club scene, an entire country away, that is more accepting of people like them.

What happens when Simone finds her way to New York is wrapped up in Black queer histories of disco and dance floors that remains one of my favorite parts from this television year. An ephemeral, perfect bubble — so delicate that breathing the wrong way might risk it to pop or float away — of Black love and afros and soft lighting cascading across uptown apartments. I loved watching Simone become a fictional queer Donna Summer of her own making, I loved watching Bernie lead the crowd from her turntables as if they were the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.

To me, they were the story. — Carmen

Cynthia and Lydia, Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies

A butch in a white shirt and femme in a teal robe look at each other in a school music room.

I know I’ve talked a big game about liking mature, long-standing romances but the teenage dream trope is so prevalent for a reason; it’s a good one! Plus, I’m a sucker for a musical, and specifically was obsessed with Grease at arguably far too young an age, this show felt like someone was pandering directly to me and I loved it. Cynthia went from wanting to be one of the T-Birds to finding her place in the Pink Ladies and realizing that she didn’t have to change who she was to fit into either group. As she settled into realizing who she was she also realized she was head over heels for bratty thespian Lydia. Ice Queen Melts is another one of my favorite tropes, and watching these two find (and sing to) each other was a showstopper to me. I am hopelessly devoted to these musical teens. (Also, bonus, both Ari Notartomaso and Niamh Wilson are queer IRL!) — Valerie Anne

Frankly, I’m shocked “Merely Players” didn’t make the top of my Spotify Wrapped, because I listened to it A LOT this year. Maybe it’s because I mostly listened while watching the clip itself on YouTube, unable to miss out on the choreography, the outfits, and Ari Notartomaso and Niamh Wilson’s chemistry. In a show filled with stellar musical numbers, this was one of its best. And there must be something about musicals because I hadn’t shipped a couple this hard since Brittana. I love the way Cynthia and Lydia evoke butch/femme dynamics of the 50’s while still bringing their unique experiences of sexuality, gender, and presentation to each other. I also think the show does a great job honoring the reality of the time period without getting tropey or losing its joy. I’m so sad we didn’t get several more seasons of these two!! — Drew

Shira and Hannah, Harlan Corben’s Shelter

Missy Pyle and Constance Zimmer sit next to each other on a roof.

I didn’t realize how badly I was craving adult queer new romances until I watched this show. We see so many teen new romances and so many adult established romances but it’s been a long time since I’ve seen two adults start up something so… charming. The L Word: Gen Q showed plenty of older women being sexy as hell, but there was a… sweetness and realism to Shira and Hannah that the Gen Q babes didn’t quite nail for me. And don’t get me wrong, I loved Ema’s baby gay storyline, but something about Shira and Hannah really did it for me. The miscommunication of their high school fling, the rekindling of their very much still alive chemistry, the general humor and heart Constance Zimmer and Missy Pyle brought to their scenes… I’m normally team Love is a Lie but something about watching these two 50-year-old women flirt and make out like teenagers set my heart aflutter. They gave me a little kernel of hope I didn’t know I was looking for. — Valerie Anne

Harley and Ivy, Harley Quinn

Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy hold hands in a booth at dinner.

So often in shows, we see the flirting and lead up and finally, finally, our favorite couple gets together. But far too often either they immediately die, their show gets cancelled, or they run into relationship-threatening drama and we don’t actually get to enjoy them as a couple. But not Harley and Ivy! Their drama isn’t about them fighting with each other, it’s about two booked and busy ladies trying to balance their high-power jobs and also their relationship at the same time. Especially in the context of a comic book show where things are quite literally blowing up left and right, it’s nice to see two women who love each other just being girlfriends amidst the chaos. — Valerie Anne

Anne Bonny & Mary Read, Our Flag Means Death

Two female pirates stand next to each other and look in the same direction.

I did not have “Minnie Fucking Driver” as Anne Bonny on my 2023 TV bingo card, and honestly, I’m glad I didn’t because what an incredible surprise when she and Rachel House appeared as Anne Bonny and her gal pal Mary Read. These two oozed chaotic energy, selling antiques by day and engaging in some light poisoning of each other by night. They’ve been together for a long time and when you’re used to a life at sea, retiring to the ‘burbs can get mundane; so naturally they stab each other for funsies sometimes. And somehow, in spite of (or maybe because of) their chaos, they managed to help Stede and Ed begin to repair their own relationship. Anne and Mary are IRL pirate royalty and — besides even more screen time — their portrayal was everything I could have asked for. — Nic

Luz & Amity, The Owl House

Two cartoon characters of different shades of purple hold hands and lean their heads together as they admire a serpentine staff.

Not to be all “back in my day”, but sometimes I wonder if my coming out journey would have been different if I had seen couples like Luz and Amity in the cartoons I watched growing up. Or if I had a show like The Owl House that never hid its queerness and instead thrust it front and center. Throughout the show’s run, we got to see an actual fleshed out enemies-to-lovers relationship between two main animated characters; and it was sweet and innocent and perfectly captured the uncertain feelings of a crush. I miss those two crazy kids so much! — Nic

Betty and Veronica and Archie and Jughead, Riverdale

The four main characters of Riverdale cheers milkshakes in the booth of a diner.

Whomst among us could have ever predicted the core four characters of television’s most unruly show Riverdale would end up in a four-way relationship with each other at series’ end? Certainly not I, and I consider myself one of the world’s preeminent Riverdale scholars. Much like Betty Cooper was one of my favorite television characters this year, this quad managed to thwart my expectations and delight me in the most wondrous ways, a thing Riverdale accomplished intermittently throughout its chaotic run. Why make specific hetero pairings endgame when you can just make everyone date each other all at once? — Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya

Abbi and Roman, Sex Education

A transmasc in a purple jacket stands next to a trans girl in a light pastel jacket. They're both smiling and half colorful makeup.

Throughout its four season run, Sex Education was always pushing the boundaries of how sex was discussed and what sex we saw on-screen. It’s fitting that the final sex scene on the show was between a transmasc/transfemme couple. But Abbi and Roman were more than a late-series addition for inclusivity. While they start out as the popular perfect couple at the progressive new school, their complexities are revealed through the season. I love that they’re framed as sweet and aspirational while still having the imperfections of any teen couple. At a time when trans youth are under attack, seeing a teen t4t couple handled with such a casual touch was a gift. I’m really going to miss this show and I’m so happy it expanded its cast to include these two complicated trans characters. — Drew

Carina DeLuca and Maya Bishop, Station 19

Two white women kiss in a shower.

I’ve always loved Carina and Maya. I loved them when they first met in Joe’s Bar, back when Carina was still a recurring guest star on Station 19, still looking to find her footing post-break up with Shondaland gay legend Dr. Arizona Robbins and Maya and Station 19 were looking to find their footing at all. That was nearly four years ago. I couldn’t have known how time would fly.

As Carina DeLuca and Maya Bishop, Stefania Spampinato and Danielle Savre have never lacked for chemistry. I once joked that their early relationship could be defined as “a lot of sex, and lasagna.” Equally impressive, Spampinato and Savre are natural screen partners, and in their hands the dramatic moments of Maya and Carina’s relationship have soared. There have been times when I’ve admittedly worried about the writing behind Maya and Carina’s ups-and-downs, but I’ve never doubted the actors at the helm of their portrayal. That faith was deeply rewarded in Station 19’s seventh season, which saw Maya and Carina through depths of darkness that I never expected and through to the other side, finding their light once again in each other.

Maya has always strived for perfection, a drive that leads to a mental break that felt both impossible to watch and look away from. After begging her wife to get help, Carina ultimately has to protect Maya from herself, something that risked ripping them both apart for good. But instead, we watched as they sewed themselves back together — each individually at first, and then as once again as wives. It’s sticky, messy, and real. It’s far from a classic soap opera fairy tale, full of swooping kisses and swelling music. But doesn’t that make it all worthwhile?

(Plus, as the shower scene can attest, they eventually find their way back to that very Hot Sex.) — Carmen

Kit & Jade, Willow

Two girls, one with short hair, one with longer curly hair, stand facing each other in the woods.

A knight and her princess! A KNIGHT AND HER PRINCESS. And what’s more, a princess who wants to be a knight! Sword-fighting, adventuring, stolen kisses in the night! Willow as a show is everything I love about fantasy, and Princess Kit and Jade are the kind of story I want to see play out over and over and over. We’ve got best friends to lovers, we’ve got (sort of) forbidden romance, we’ve got adventuring party, and protection and gosh I just wish we got to see more of their story, but instead I’ll just have to imagine their happily ever after. (Bonus: Ruby Cruz is queer and Erin Kellyman is a lesbian; I don’t need my queer characters played by queer actors but it sure is extra nice.) — Valerie Anne

There are few things I love more than a pair of queer sword-wielding dummies who refuse to see that they’re in love with each other. Especially when Such is the case with Kit and Jade. They are stubborn in their own ways, both choosing to focus on their respective missions rather than address the very large feelings in the room. The whole thing screamed “fan fiction.” I mean, Boorman literally says, “you two have the hots for each other!” and they couldn’t deny the accusation fast enough. So when they (okay, let’s be real, Kit) finally admit their feelings for each other, both Kit and Jade feel a massive weight lifted. They saved themselves, they saved each other, they saved the kingdom, and they even smooched in between sword fights. — Nic

Taissa and Van (Teen and Adult), Yellowjackets

Side by side images of older Taissa and Van sitting next to each other and younger Taissa and Van sitting next to each other.

I could have listed Teen Taissa, Teen Van, Adult Taissa, and Adult Van as four separate characters in our list of best characters of the year, but instead I decided to smoosh them all together, because while I do love both characters as portrayed by all four actors, the truth is that I love Taissa and Van together. Whether they’re teen gal pals finding love in a hopeless place, going on dates with wolves and foregoing romantic dinners for a dash of cannibalism, or two adults who have drifted away from each other over time but collide again when the past they were running away from catches up to them. I love the dynamics of both pairings; I say both because even though they’re the same people, they’re also really not. Time and tragedy changed them, for better or worse, but what’s really fun is that when Adult Tai and Adult Van finally reconnect after a long separation, you can feel the comfort under the layer of awkwardness. You can tell Taissa is more comfortable with Van than she is in most other parts of her life, and you can watch in real time as they both start to devolve into their teen selves, down to the mannerisms. It’s a wonder to behold. Also I don’t care how ill-advised it is and I am sorry to Taissa’s wife but I still ship them, and hope those crazy kids work it out in the end. — Valerie Anne

Obviously my good sis Adult Tai and her perfect curls were going through it during this last season of Yellowjackets. The attempted vehicular manslaughter of HER OWN WIFE was barely scratching the surface of her drama. And while I won’t forget Yellowjackets for leaving Simone on an ICU bed with no updates on her whereabouts (or who is watching Simone and Tai’s son, Sammy? Was this explained? Have I just forgotten it in the fog of the last year?) — it is hard to deny the heat of Tai and Van, even all of these years later.

I cannot tell you why I loved them. On paper, I am a Tai and Simone type of woman. I love power dykes in power suits and Black love and raising an adorable sweet Black child. In fact it was a GIF of Simone and Tai that got me to watch Yellowjackets in the first place! And I hope against hope that Tai gets the help she’s clearly begging for and is able to make it work out with Simone in her future. But for now? Tai needs Van. She needed her when they were sixteen and alone in the woods. The part of her that is still sixteen, that is still lost in those same woods, she needs her now. I keep trying to intellectualize it, to rationalize something that is probably just feral at its core. But when Tai walked into Van’s video store, my heart skipped a beat. And it hasn’t come back down yet. — Carmen

Who were your favorite queer couples on TV in 2023?

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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 Burnett Gregory, and Nic. Follow them on Twitter!

The TV has written 232 articles for us.


  1. Kit & Jade, we hardly knew ye. I was so amazed when I found out we had a sapphic couple in ‘Willow’ and the show blew me away, sad it’s not only been cancelled but basically scrubbed from the internet unless you want to sail the seven seas.

    Luz & Amity were also hard to say goodbye to but as you noted, simply having such characters on an cartoon show is incredible, and I choose to be glad it happened rather than sad it’s over.

    I’m really sad we didn’t get to see Mac & KJ on ‘Paper Girls’ become a thing, I really liked the show but alas everything remotely sapphic gets cancelled.

  2. I just finished Sex Education last week and I thought Abbi and Roman were so lovely! One little production detail I loved is that you can see patches of the same fabric Abbi made her coat/ dress out of on Romans jeans. Such a sweet little touch!

  3. Feeling the Willow angst hard, especially as we’re roughly at the one year anniversary and it’s impossible to rewatch the show anywhere official. (I’d absolutely pay for a digital or DVD copy of one was available.) Kit and Jade were so awesome as individuals and as a couple. They’ll always have a special place in my heart as the first ship where my kid was shippiright along with me. We definitely watched the almost-kiss-jump-scare scene many times over.

  4. Maya & Carina are probably the truest representation of a lesbian relationship on our screens, perhaps ever. In a world where Callie and Arizona couldn’t find their way back to each other (at least until some last minute bone throwing occured in Arizona’s final episode) it was heartbreaking to sit on the edge of my seat, terrified that the same fate would befall Maya and Carina. I cursed Maya! I cried for Carina. And when they managed to find themselves and each other? I bawled harder than I did when -SPOILER- Ruth died in Fried Green Tomatoes.

    It was an honour to bear witness to their relationship and I cannot wait to see what coming seasons holds for them. Provided they find a way to keep moving forward together, it’s going to be quite the gift to witness.

  5. Maya and Carina are the perfect representation of a wlw marriage (with its natural ups and downs), but unfortunately they want to cancel the show after season 7. Fans of Marina and Station 19 are campaigning to save the show with the hashtag #SaveStation19 on X. And a petition has been created on Change (currently has 34k+ signatures gathered in 4 days). Could you write an article to give more visibility to this petition to uncancel the house of this wonderful couple? All members of the community would greatly appreciate it.

  6. Amy Silva and Kirsten Longacre from BBC’s Vigil. Series 1 had shown what the relationship both personal and professional was like, giving us an insight to their love. Series 2 has them in a stable, established relationship together with a baby boy on the way and showing them parenting a teenager while working together on a case

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