Describe an Iconic Gay TV Show You’ve Never Seen

I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that there are probably not seven other people on earth who have watched as much gay TV as our TV Team. And the shows we, as individuals, haven’t watched, we all know about, at least a little bit, because when we’re not watching TV — we’re talking about TV. All day (and sometimes all night), every day (and night).

Say “Erica Hahn and the Parking Lot of No Return” in our TV Team Slack channel and everyone knows what you’re talking about. Mention a showrunner who has angered any one of us at any point over the last 20 years and watch the knife emoji fly on behalf of each other’s hurt feelings. Say you want to make a list about anything — lesbians on bikes, bisexuals in leather jackets, queer couples who should have broken up, best gay dance scenes — and it will be filled out within an hour as everyone stops their days to weigh in with their deep knowledge of the homosexual televisual arts.

With that in mind, I (Heather) decided to ask everyone on our time to write a confident summary of a show they’ve never seen, but only know about from just hanging around with each other. Here are our answers.


American Horror Story

Heather Hogan

American Horror Story is a horror sketch-comedy mini-series created and written by Ryan Murphy and starring Sarah Paulson as every main character. The point of the series is that Sarah Paulson is a timeless witch, which is proven by setting each season in a different time period so she can crush fits from every era. Each season also features guest stars who qualify for their roles by: 1) being gay icons, and 2) being capable of radiating the energy of a late-night Cher tweet. So far the guest stars have included Jessica Lange, Angela Bassett, Freddie Mercury, Judy Garland, Liza Minnelli, Diana Ross, Madonna, Barbra Streisand, Elizabeth Taylor, Janet Jackson, Bette Midler, Marlene Dietrich, Donna Summer, Cyndi Lauper, and Prince.

The most popular seasons of American Horror Story are: Asylum, which is the one where Sarah Paulson plays a Lois Lane/Peggy Olson hybrid who goes into Arkham Asylum to interview Batman’s main archnemeses and becomes one herself. Coven, which is the one about that month Fleetwood Mac spent on a coacaine-fueled bender inside one single house constantly having sex and breaking up with each other and writing Rumours. Freak Show, which is about a circus that appears and disappears on the mortal plane in the dead of night by the light of the blood moon. Hotel, which is, I think, just The Shining. And Cult, which is a bunch of people in Ohio sitting around watching Fox News.

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(Oh also, surely Darren Criss is somehow involved in this project.)

The number of American Horror Story seasons is infinity; it has always been happening and always will be happening, a cleansing of the doors of our own perception so that we might see further than the narrow chinks of our own sterile caverns. Every season Sarah Paulson does axe murders, is herself axe murdered, and is then reborn.


Steven Universe

Riese

Stephen Universe is a cartoon show about a little boy with a large mouth who wears flip-flops regardless of weather or situation. Rebecca Sugar made the show and they are non-binary and bisexual. Stephen has imaginary friends who live in a big jewelry emporium in outer space famous for its ability to fuse different types of gemstones and rocks into each other. When two gemstones join together, they become gay and fused together like lesbians who never go anywhere without the other person and if one of them is sick on the night of your birthday party, they’ll be like, “we’re sick.” But nobody uses the word gay or any sexuality labels, they just combine their names like they are a ‘ship and the world is a queer soap.

They also combine their heads, which are encircled by giant sheets of colored glass. There’s also an alternate universe, like maybe higher up in the clouds, where Stephen is actually Stevonnie, a character who is non-binary and doesn’t wear flip-flops or any shoes at all usually. Once, two of the girl characters kissed, and another time, there was a lesbian wedding. Back on earth, Stefan has a real family that you never get to see, and they are like, why are you always playing weird games with your bucket of rocks???!!! Because a bucket of rocks is his only toy!!! That’s why he wants to escape to Kay Jewelers in the Sky. When a character gets sad, it hails. Steven Universe is how kids know that gay people exist and like to kiss briefly on the mouth, and then fuse together. It’s romantic.


Pretty Little Liars

Drew

emily fields

Pretty Little Liars is not Gossip Girl nor a spinoff of Gossip Girl but I used to think it was based on the title and the poster. When my first serious girlfriend and I were long distance and about to break up she started watching Pretty Little Liars on my Netflix account. We wouldn’t talk for a week because she was “busy” but then I’d see she watched hours of Pretty Little Liars and feel sad. Then she kept watching it on my Netflix account after she broke up with me! This is to say my only experience of Pretty Little Liars is when Pretty Little Liars was the other woman and I know nothing about its plot beyond the random things I’ve overheard from people. So here’s what I think it’s about.

Pretty Little Liars is about a group of girls who are friends/frenemies. They are teenagers — played by 20somethings —and go to the same high school. They are popular and everyone hates them but they have power because they are hot. One of the girls is named CeCe and another girl is played by Shay Mitchell. Then one day OH NO one of them is murdered. The murderer leaves a note that’s like lol I killed her because she’s a bitch and you’ll never guess who I am because you’d never suspect me haha. Chaos ensues.

The group of girls begin to suspect each other of the murder and stop being friends. They each branch off into different cliques at their school. Now there are hot people doing the school plays and in band and on mathletes and that works for a while but then WHAT they start to receive more notes from the killer that one of them is going to be killed next. Wow. A twist.

They decide to team up to catch the killer — still suspicious that it’s one of them. Alliances form. They gossip. They lie. And at some point — this part is very important — two of them make out. One of the newly gay ones is the character played by Shay Mitchell and that is important because she is hot and we like hot people.

More people die. More notes are received. I’m sure some straight people have sex too. And finally after seven seasons we learn the killer is CeCe which probably stands for like Chuck Cockhaver because it turns out that CeCe is trans. She had to murder all her friends because if we’ve learned one thing from media it’s that sometimes trans women just have to murder cis people. It’s sort of a cultural thing for trans women like how so many of us listen to electronic music and like anime.

Anyway the series ends with CeCe being like yes I killed all those people but at least I didn’t keep using my ex’s Netflix account for months after breaking her heart. Shay Mitchell agrees and then they make out.


Star Trek

Valerie Anne

Star Trek is a whole universe, with a really old series, then Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, then Star Trek: Battlestar Galactica, then most recently Star Trek: Intrepid.

The older version of Star Trek had a scary man with a bumpy head, LaVar Burton wearing a headband over his eyes like that one X-Man, Captain Kirk, Spock and Data. Sara and Ava played Captain Kirk and Spock in an episode of Star Trek so obviously they were in love. They flew through space on the Enterprise and sent pew pew lasers at evil aliens, spoke Klingon, and said things like “Beam me up, Scotty” and “Go forth and prosper” and did that thing with their hands where you separate your fingers in the middle. They wore cute little uniforms that are all primary colors with those little Vs on their chest, and they never set foot on land since all the planets have been exploded because of global warming. Usually their goal was to destroy enemy ships, but sometimes the sabotage was coming from inside the house ship.

Battlestar Galactica featured almost exclusively actors who were extras on The L Word, and at one point had some female-presenting aliens with cheetah marks at their hairlines that were in love, but also their souls may not have both been female. There’s also an AI or clone or something who is gay, and her name is Seven of Nine. Maybe all nine of them were gay, who’s to say.

In the newest iteration of Star Trek, Kat Barrell and Tig Notaro are notable queer guest stars, but the plot is the same: save the cheerleader, save the world. Wait no, sorry: kill the aliens, save the world. This franchise has been on since TVs were invented and will continue for the rest of time so I’m sure it will be really funny when in a few generations we’re legitimately living in space and the youths of the time laugh about how wrong we got this whole “next frontier” thing.


Steven Universe

Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya

(Sorry I am repeating Riese’s show, but I really struggled to come up with a Gay Show™ that I had seen NONE of, and this was the only one I could think of!)

Steven Universe is a show where everyone is rocks. More specifically, everyone is gay rocks. Some are femmey rocks like rubies and emeralds (are gemstones technically rocks? I am not a geologist) and some are butch rocks like granite and opal. But everyone is a rock and everyone is gay—that’s important. The rocks go on adventures probably? But I do not think there are any villains on this show. It is a happy show and people like to watch it because it makes them feel good. Any conflict is interpersonal and non-life-threatening like for example maybe one rock forgot to take out the trash and its roommate rock didn’t say anything about it but then had an outburst and then everyone talked about their feelings and used Gay Tools™ like open communication, healthy emotional processing, and analysis of astrological charts to resolve the issue. I just realized they are also probably in space? Space rocks? I think there was also a gay wedding, which sounds cute and nice. I should probably watch this cute and nice show instead of rewatching Sharp Objects again.


 Warehouse 13

Carmen

Warehouse 13 is about two brunette lesbian wives who wear trench coats, travel through time, and solve murder mysteries and/or protect national treasures from space thieves. Potentially at the same time!

I do think one of these wives has a brother, because there’s definitely some generic sack of potatoes looking cis het dude in some of the pictures I just googled for the completion of this roundtable. But let’s not worry about him at the moment! So the wives, they travel through space. But it’s different than how Dr. Who travels through space, because that requires a blue closet/phone booth situation in the middle of a London street. (Also, I’m almost 100% sure that Dr. Who is trans? Because it was a really huge deal when she publicly came out as a woman in the later seasons? Not the point right now!) I believe that these wives, only known by their collective name Bering & Wells and have no individual names of their own, run around getting into adventures like lesbian and less racist Indiana Jones! They run and jump and get into such dastardly trouble — only to be saved by the whips of their own smarts at the last minute! WHEW! They definitely end every episode in an embrace and batting their eyelashes, sometimes they even smile at each other. But check this out, they don’t get to kiss — despite being literal wives! — because network television execs are big ol’ meanies.

If I know anything about gay television, its that one of these wives is messy and plucky and a little butch-y but in that “aw shucks” puppy way. The other wife is more femme, loves wine, and is probably very good at following rules. They’re opposites! They attract! And that’s what makes them magical. Plus all the time traveling, that too.

Last thing! I know that there is No Last Season of Warehouse 13. It just plain never happened! Were you looking for some kind of satisfying conclusion to their years long saga? Whoops! Not gonna get it, buddy! Instead imagine Bering & Wells, the greatest and bravest and smartest brunette time-traveling crime-solving wives of our time, relaxing at home by a fireside in their trench coats sipping hot cocoa.

I believe they also have a cute dimpled baby. (This is what the fan art tells me.)

One of these wives is Jamie Murray. I like to think she’s the butch puppy dog one.


Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Natalie

Frankly, it’s a miracle I’m even allowed to write for this website without having seen Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In my defense, though, BTVS falls into a particular genre of TV shows that’s never held much appeal to me. Vampires, ghouls, goblins, demons, anything supernatural…no thank you, that is just not for me. The fact that I made it through one season of the Charmed reboot is kind of a miracle.

That said, I am not totally oblivious to all things Buffy…I was, after all, a child of the 90s and thus compelled by my love of Luke Perry (RIP) to see the movie version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer in theatres. Granted the TV series seemed to take a darker turn but surely there’s some overlap, right? Let’s see…

BTVS is the story of Buffy Summers who’s told by her Watcher that she’s one of the chosen ones, a destiny that she begrudgingly accepts. She trains to be a slayer and is aided in the fight by her friends, Willow and Xander. Neither of them are corollaries for Luke Perry’s Pike in the movie…which is a shame because Willow and Buffy riding off into the sunset together in the end would’ve been awesome. Together, Buffy, Xander and Willow form the Scooby Gang and they work together to kick ass and take names.

At some point, Bianca Lawson shows up in Sunnyvale as Kendra. She fights with Buffy at first and was probably, like, “It ain’t over, bitch” and then Buffy said, “I don’t even know why it started, bitch.” Somehow, though, they figured out a way to work together and vanquish all the vampires. Kendra is able to kill the vampires easily because they realize that she literally never ages and, therefore, assume she must be one of them. Eventually, though, they wise up and kill her — you know black people never survive on these shows — so she can be resurrected in Rosewood, Pennsylvania to seduce a closeted Emily Fields.

After Kendra dies, Eliza Dushku shows up which is not a bad trade. I am unsure how she’s not gay in this though? Or maybe she’s secretly gay and that’s why Faith is so mad and angry all the time. That makes sense.

Somehow, the Scooby Gang survive and make it to college. While at UC Sunnydale — cause, I guess, not being in the town with an unending supply of the undead wasn’t an option — Willow really embraces her inner Velma when she meets Tara. I don’t know much about the particulars of their relationship but I know two things: 1. Willow and Tara remain one of the most meaningful lesbian relationships ever featured on television and 2. Tara’s death remains one of the most grievous depictions of the “Bury Your Gays” trope in history. Whatever he’s done since, whatever he’ll do in the future…Tara’s death should be on Joss Whedon’s epitaph.

After Tara dies, Willow’s life is never the same: first, with Kennedy, then with Jim from American Pie and most recently with Marshall on How I Met Your Mother. What a loss.

Related:

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

The TV has written 144 articles for us.

25 Comments

  1. Well this was truly a delight on a Friday! As a gay who basically only watches gay tv and YET has never actually watched any of these shows (how is there so much gay tv now?!) I can say that these are all 100% accurate.

  2. “Sara and Ava played Captain Kirk and Spock in an episode of Star Trek so obviously they were in love.” Never having seen Star Trek this is how I am going to describe it from now on.

    I love this concept but have only watched Pretty Little Liars (which has one episode in a later season which is just s whole episode recap, and I feel like I should have just watched that and not wasted hours of my life).

    Anyway I would love it if you some of the shows I have seen were described by people who haven’t seen them. In particular Wynonna Earp because it barely makes sense to me as someone who actually watches it.

  3. this was delightful

    the one i am always very confused about is Person of Interest, which, I presume, is a show in which Fred from Angel and Carmen from The L Word live inside a computer system either doing or fighting crimes and also kissing.

  4. The Real L Word for me. One of the cast members of the show was like a DJ at like every queer event for a hot moment & the even page would always advertise it as come see Whitney from the Real L Word DJ.

  5. Steven Universe is a happy show with no life-threatening conflicts.
    Me: *laughs nervously in intercalactic war and cross generational trauma*

    Really a funny read this article as I’ve only seen steven universe and star trek out of these. Though in a more serious note, it makes me sad that only Seven of Nine is a widely known queer(ish) character when Dax and Kira exist. I think it was even the first lesbian kiss in tv that jadzia dax and her ex-wife share in the Deep Space Nine season 4 episode 5

    • You could set up a Go Fund Me for more exclamation points.

      I’ll donate some of mine for sure because I think this year is going out with a bang and we’re all going to throw our exclamation points around Autostraddle as a shield to save it while everything else gets pew pew lasered by the Bad Guy.

      I wouldn’t want you to miss out on this and also the wild party we’re going to have afterwards.

  6. Omg we were DYING over these over on the LezWatch Slack. So hilariously funny.

    I want to do one!

    Game of Thrones

    Game of Thrones is the one show my wife had to watch live with NO interruptions. It has dragons, incest and much concern over the approach of Winter.

    Each episode consists of one person meeting another person and taking 10 minutes to describe their family names. Then the other person takes 10 minutes to do the same. At the end of each episode there is a bloody fight scene where almost everyone dies.

    People who are attracted to men were really into Jon Snow. He died and came back to life and everyone was happy. I wish they do that for all our beloved dead queer characters.

    My wife made me watch a scene she thought was gay between the blonde character with the dragons and Gentleman Jack’s sister. I paid attention, but completely missed it. Maybe they held eye contact for a second? I dunno.

    Everyone was sad when the show ended, but they didn’t like the ending and if you didn’t have a super HD TV it was too dark to see anyway. The show did leave us with the gift of the “Shame!” Lady to Photoshop many memes for years to come.

  7. The only one of these I’ve seen is PLL, and this plot description is funny because it makes like infinite more sense than what the plot actually is, except for where this description is merely pretty accurate.

  8. To answer Kayla – commonly gemstones are classed as minerals, but with plenty of exceptions – like Lapis Lazuli – which are rocks. As is oft true in nature the binary terms are merely the end points betwixt which lies a shimmering spectra of variance.

    /geonerd

    Also, love this article!

  9. I have also never watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer due to my religious upbringing (no “occult” media, hence why I didn’t read Harry Potter until college), so I loved Natalie’s recap! Despite my ignorance I know the hot angry girl who was also in Bring It On should’ve been canonically gay.

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