My Top 10 Television Shows: Ro White, Who Loves Scary Women

In My Top 10 Favorite Television Shows, various members of Autostraddle’s TV Team will be telling you about the TV shows nearest and dearest to our hearts, EVEN the ones that don’t have lesbian / bisexual / queer woman characters.

Today, Ro White shares their feelings!

When the Autostraddle TV team requested “Top 10″ TV lists, I balked. I don’t watch much TV, and I lack the language to write about it. My Netflix history looks less like a well-curated selection of quality entertainment and more like a jumble of jokes, werewolves and lesbians (which honestly sounds like a cool party, but I digress).

If you’re reading this, you must want to know me, and in that case, you’re in luck. You can scroll through my top ten shows and know exactly who I am and who I’ve been — a consistently queer, formerly goth, recovering musical theater nerd with a penchant for dry humor and scary women. Sharing this list is like showing you my diary if all my love poems were about Sandra Oh. Readers, this is a big step for us. Let the vulnerability parade begin:

10. The Secret World Of Alex Mack

A preteen white girl in a backwards baseball cap looks at a beaker filled with green liquid

With her giant flannels and backwards hats, Alex Mack was the quietly queer icon I needed while coming of age in the Midwest. Alex is a typical preteen girl, but after coming into contact with a top secret chemical, she develops superpowers, including telekinesis and the ability to morph into a silver puddle. She can’t control these changes, and sometimes they’re embarrassing. I’m sure this Nickelodeon series was meant to be a metaphor about puberty, but for me, it was all about gay stuff.

9. Sense8

A Black woman with purple and magenta hair holds the hand of blonde, white woman in striped shirt.
I’ve been a fan of the Wachowskis since I saw The Matrix as a kid. Discovering Bound at an Indiana Blockbuster Video solidified their place in my heart. This Wachowski-made Netflix series has everything I adore — science fiction, suspense, small women beating up large men, strap-on sex and a surprise group sing-a-long that was ultimately a strange but endearing artistic choice.

8. Saturday Night Live

Two white women in curly hair and red western shirts sit at a news desk.
Ok, they don’t always nail it, but after spending seven years doing a weekly live show myself, I have a deep appreciation for creating hilarity under a deadline. The weirder the premise, the harder I’ll howl. Kate McKinnon as Justin Bieber never fails to make me scream-laugh.

7. Are You Afraid Of The Dark?

Six teens scream at the camera
Some of my earliest memories involve hiding behind the couch while the Are You Afraid Of The Dark? intro music played. I could handle the episodes themselves — each formulaic story led to a somewhat happy ending — but that intro music still fucks me up. I would wait until the Midnight Society announced the day’s story before peering out from my hiding place. Some episodes that are permanently seared into my brain include “The Tale of the Lonely Ghost,” “The Tale of the Dead Man’s Float” and “The Tale of the Super Specs.”

6. The Haunting Of Hill House

A white woman with long, brown hair sits at a bar in a black dress and black, elbow-length gloves
I adore supernatural horror, and allegorical horror about human grief (a la The Babadook and Hereditary) is my favorite flavor. I came across The Haunting Of Hill House when I had the flu and smashed through the whole series in two days. I was of course drawn to Theo, Hill House’s resident lesbian psychic who can feel other peoples’ trauma through touch. Could there be a more Sapphic supernatural power? I feel attacked.

5. Shrill

A woman with long brown hair wears a bright pink dress and pink glasses and holds a microphone
The cast of this show is a parade of comedy’s weirdest weirdos. Shrill features Aidy Bryant as Annie, a young journalist learning how to stand up for herself, in a star-studded cast including John Cameron Mitchell, Julia Sweeney, Jo Firestone and more. Lolly Adefope plays Annie’s queer roommate with incredible charm. I’m particularly obsessed with comedian Patti Harrison as Ruthie, Annie’s unhinged coworker who steals the show with one-liners like, “Scaring people makes me horny.”

4. Killing Eve

Actress Jodie Comer holds actress Sandra Oh
The ferocious hype around Killing Eve deterred me at first, but while quarantined and unemployed, I finally gave in. This series includes all of my favorite things: gore, deceit, the eroticism of female rivalry and admiration and also Sandra-motherfucking-Oh. Killing Eve’s bizarre, dark humor is often hard to grasp. I find myself laughing and I don’t know why. I love that.

3. Buffy The Vampire Slayer

A white woman with long brown hair leans close to a white woman with mid-length red hair
My Buffy geekdom runs deep. Buffy got me through junior high. Buffy got me through high school. Instead of going to senior prom, I stayed home and rewatched my favorite episodes because I was 18, deep in my feelings and barely surviving the Hellmouth of Indiana. This is the show I return to when I’m sick or sad. The aesthetic yanks me back to my preteen goth roots and the stories remind me that friendship conquers all. Willow and Tara were the first queer female couple I ever saw on TV, and (SPOILER!) Willow avenging Tara’s death in season 6 is the epitome of my Aries Dyke Energy.

2. Work In Progress

A masculine presenting woman stands between two gender-nonconforming people
Produced by Lilly Wachowski and filmed in my home city of Chicago, Work In Progress chronicles the life of Abby, a middle-aged, self-identified “fat, queer dyke” who falls in love with a much younger transgender man. I should disclose that a bunch of my friends are on this show, but that’s not why I love it. Work In Progress offers three things I rarely see on TV — an intergenerational queer relationship, education that doesn’t feel pedantic and an actual butch character who’s not a cop or a person in prison.

1. Dead To Me

Actresses Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini look through a doorway
Dead To Me is part thriller, part female buddy dramedy rolled up into one exquisite take on human grief. I’d hate to spoil the plot, so I’ll leave you with this: actors Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini lean into the romance and depth of female friendship with unfiltered honesty and the best comedic timing I’ve ever seen. Watching their characters unravel is a masterclass in acting. I cannot wait for season 3.

Honorable mentions: Wishbone, Herstory, The Babysitter’s Club, Vida, All That

Where to stream gay TV:
89 Queer TV Shows to Stream on Netflix

32 Lesbian, Queer & Bisexual (LGBTQ+) TV Shows Streaming Free on Amazon Prime

62 TV Shows On Hulu with LGBTQ+ Characters

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Ro White

Ro White is a Chicago-based writer and sex educator. Follow Ro on Twitter.

Ro has written 105 articles for us.


  1. I just looked up the cast of “The Secret World of Alex Mack”. Despite the fact that the internet refuses to admit it, I know that Meredith Bishop (Annie Mack)

    is the mother of Olivia Nikkanen (Young Alex Danvers).

  2. I love all of these. I’m never not thinking about Theo OR Alex Mack. I’ve actually rewatched a few Are You Afraid of the Dark eps throughout the pandemic…but why can’t I find “Tale of the Dangerous Soup”????

  3. I’m afraid I just can’t process a Top 10 Television Shows list that doesn’t have “Xena: Warrior Princess” on it (preferably at #1, but that’s negotiable. I know it’s before many of you youngsters’ time).

    Y’know, even if Xena and Gabrielle hadn’t been the iconic female/female couple of all time, how many female anti-heroes seeking redemption—mostly—shows were there before this? How many after? [Arguably “Lost Girl”, and that should maybe be on this list too] It IS the Show of Shows.

    Oh well.

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