Presenting the Winners of the 2022 Autostraddle TV Awards!

Autostraddle’s annual celebration of the best of LGBTQ+ television had a major makeover this year as we rebranded from “the Gay Emmys” to the Autostraddle TV Awards. It might seem like a small, surface-level shift, but it’s significant to us. It signals an overall push for our annual awards to be taken seriously. We might not come with a fancy in-person ceremony or physical trophies, but as mainstream awards continue to overlook groundbreaking LGBTQ+ series, we vitally fill a gap in the television awards pomp and circumstance. We celebrate the shows and performers most important to queer, lesbian, bisexual, and trans viewers.

And perhaps the greatest difference between our approach and the Television Academy’s is not just that we specifically highlight LGBTQ+ achievements but that we involve you, the viewers and our readers, in the voting process. After the Autostraddle TV Team narrowed down each of our categories to six nominees, we opened up the floor to you to weigh in. For the 21 main categories, the TV Team’s votes weigh more than the fan votes — though there were multiple instances where fan choices swayed the vote. For the three special fan favorite categories, the winner was determined 100% by readers with no input from the TV Team.

Now, here are the winners of the 2022 Autostraddle TV Awards, accompanied by words from our seriously talented, smart, knowledgable, passionate TV Team.


Outstanding Drama Series

Yellowjackets (Showtime)

The cast of Yellowjackets

Runner-Up: Gentleman Jack (HBO Max)

Other Nominees: Station Eleven (HBO Max) // The L Word: Generation Q (Showtime) // Euphoria (HBO Max) // Killing Eve (AMC)

The last two decades have shown us that television holds endless possibilities. A 10-episode all-at-once binge! An 18-episode movie(?) sequel of an old show! A limited series that’s so popular it gets a second season! Personally, I love it all. And yet there’s something special — retro? 90s? — about a show with a killer pilot, self-contained episodes, a full-season arc, and questions left unanswered for years to come. There’s a reason Ashley Lyle and Bart Nickerson’s Yellowjackets has become an obsession for countless queers — in the purest sense, it’s just fucking great television.

Kind of like Lost meets Sarah DeLappe’s The Wolves meets lesbian night at the dive bar, Yellowjackets is as delicious to discuss as it is to watch. It’s a mystery show, a horror show, a trauma show, a teen drama. Each half — a high school soccer team stranded in the woods, their older selves reckoning with that past — holds its own puzzles, its own delights. The present storyline has career-best work from 90s faves Melanie Lynskey, Christina Ricci, and Juliette Lewis — along with equally stunning work from Tawny Cypress — and the 90s storyline has an exceptional, largely queer, young cast that holds their own alongside the legends. With these performers, a directing team that includes Karyn Kusama, Daisy von Sherler Mayer, and Deepa Mehta(!), and sharp, layered writing, this is a TV show that moves through its twists with total confidence.

The year is 2022. We’re still living through a pandemic. Our favorite queer show has as much horror as humor, as much trauma as nostalgia, as much pain as delight. And this first season is just the beginning. Here’s to Yellowjackets, a show that feels both classic and fresh. May it consume us completely for many years to come. Stingers up! — Drew

Outstanding Comedy Series

Hacks (HBO Max)

Deborah and Ava from Hacks walk beside each other on the deck of a cruise ship

Runner-Up: Dickinson (Apple TV)

Other Nominees: Sort Of (HBO Max) // We Are Lady Parts (Peacock) // A Black Lady Sketch Show (HBO Max) // Sex Education (Netflix) // Reservation Dogs (FX)

You know how they say “laughter is the best medicine”? Well, I am an American so even though unfortunately I don’t always have access to it, medicine is the best medicine — but laughter is a close second. The winner for best comedy this year is the incredibly funny and honest intergenerational comedy, Hacks. I’ve been in love with this show since it’s debut, screaming about it in Slack and waxing poetic about it with friends. Now, I’m no Christina Tucker, but I can still say that I love Jean Smart who plays Deborah Vance. She is a fucking comedic genius who has been part of some of my favorite now-forgotten series: The Oblongs, Samantha Who?, and of course cult queer classic series Designing Women. Then we have the irl bi-babe and high-key hilarious Hannah Einbinder playing Ava Daniels, and she kills it in her evolution from entitled millennial creative, to still-a-bit-entitled-but-more-aware and incredibly dope millennial creative.

Hacks does that thing that queers are always saying they want but never actually try for, and that’s have an intergenerational friendship — of sorts. Like, yes, it’s obviously boss and worker, but there is obvious friendship present — AND IT’S NOT ALL WHINY, SAPPY, AND AFTER SCHOOL SPECIAL! It’s mean, it’s raucous, it’s got real moments that cut pretty deep, and it’s FUCKING FUNNY. The writing is layered and witty, but the actors’ comedic timing and portrayals of these sometimes shitty people are what bring it home. So congrats to the show, the cast, and the writers and let’s all celebrate by going on a dykey day cruise! — Shelli Nicole

Outstanding Sci-Fi/Fantasy Series

Batwoman (CW)

Sophie, Ryan, and Renne look fierce while making an entrance in Batwoman

Runner-Up: The 4400 (CW)

Other Nominees: Naomi (CW) // Astrid & Lilly Save the World (SYFY) // Supergirl (CW) // Riverdale (CW)

Let me just count the ways Batwoman deserves this Autostraddle TV Award. Number one, just the sheer number of LGBTQ+ characters on-screen. There were at least six during this 2022 Autostraddle TV Awards time-frame, including heroes, villains, bisexuals in dresses, lesbians in suits, and whatever Dr. Pamela Lillian Isley was wearing. A green leotard? Number two, Black lesbian Batwoman  — the most famous LGBTQ+ superhero of all-time — played by bisexual star Javicia Leslie during one of the most sustained uprisings for Black lives in United States history. Number three, an epic slow-burn enemies-to-friends-to-lovers romance between two queer Black characters, which almost never happens on-screen. The swooniest queer romance I’ve seen on TV in many moons. Number four, the engaging storytelling which featured some of the most original, heartfelt, emotionally fraught, action-packed, successfully paid-off comic book stories in TV history. And, finally, number five, the image at the top of this blurb, which pretty much says it all. — Heather

Outstanding Lead Actor Playing an LGBTQ+ Character in a Drama Series

Jasmin Savoy Brown as Taissa Turner, Yellowjackets

Jasmin Savoy Brown as Taissa Turner on Yellowjackets

Runner-Up: Zendaya as Rue Bennett, Euphoria

Other Nominees: Tawny Cypress as Taissa Turner, Yellowjackets // Suranne Jones as Anne Lister, Gentleman Jack // Hunter Schafer as Jules Vaughn, Euphoria // Jodie Comer as Villanelle, Killing Eve // Sandra Oh as Eve Polastri, Killing Eve

Taissa Turner is the kind of girl I would have had a life-ruining crush on in high school. Jasmin Savoy Brown brings an effortless charm to her, while still showing flickerings of the teen anxieties under the confident facade as she’s pressure-tested, first during an intense soccer game, then while stranded in the wilderness. A character that easily could have been a basic jock archetype instead has nuance and layers in Jasmin’s hands.

I’m not surprised Yellowjackets — and specifically Jasmin/Taissa — won a few Autostraddle TV awards this year. There was something really authentic about the show, despite being a hyperreality of murder mysteries and cannibalism. It captured the “real people in unreal situations” vibe that a lot of shows aim for, but not all achieve. And I think a not-small part of that is because you can tell that ‘own stories’ were being told. Queer people were involved in the creation of the queer characters, and Jasmin Savoy Brown has talked about how she had a part in Taissa’s iconic hair cutting scene and making sure it was clear that Taissa still took care of and wrapped her hair up until that turning point. It all just adds to the fact that Taissa isn’t a broad-strokes character, and her queerness and her Blackness aren’t just boxes the show is checking off, they’re authentic and inextricable parts of her character. And clearly that resonated with viewers, especially queer viewers. — Valerie

Outstanding Supporting or Guest Actor Playing an LGBTQ+ Character in a Drama Series

Sepideh Moafi as Gigi Ghorbani, The L Word: Generation Q

Sepideh Moafi as Gigi Ghorbani on The L Word: Generation Q

Runners-Up, Tied: Jordan Hull as Angelica Porter-Kennard, The L Word: Generation Q // Maya Hawke as Robin Buckley, Stranger Things

Other Nominees: Liv Hewson as Van Palmer, Yellowjackets // Sherry Cola as Alice Kwan, Good Trouble // Julianna Margulies as Laura Peterson, The Morning Show

Part of being a star is making it look easy. A natural charm, a natural beauty. But in reality the industry is filled with charming, beautiful actors. Having it is different. Having it is a skill. Sepideh Moafi has it.

Moafi’s Gigi Ghorbani was one of the standouts of Gen Q’s first season. She had us all wondering how anyone could decide to downgrade from throuple to couple when she was the casualty. But unlike Alice and Nat, the Gen Q writers staff didn’t let Gigi go. And with the wise decision to bump Moafi up to series regular, she and Gigi were able to steal the show and our hearts and our, um — well let’s keep this PG — even more.

Of all the actors in the Gen Q ensemble, Moafi achieves the tone best. She can do the melodrama, she can do the comedy, she can do the sexy. She’s such a magnetic presence that she had the fanbase rooting against Bette Porter. Now THAT is an achievement in gay television. — Drew

Outstanding Lead Actor Playing an LGBTQ+ Character in a Comedy Series

Hailee Steinfeld as Emily Dickinson, Dickinson

Hailee Steinfeld as Emily Dickinson sits in a row boat

Runner-Up: Bilal Baig as Sabi Mehboob, Sort Of

Other Nominees: Mae Martin as Mae, Feel Good // Alia Shawkat as Dory Sief, Search Party // Jonica T. Gibbs as Hattie, Twenties // Hannah Marie Einbinder as Ava Daniels, Hacks

I will never be able to sum up how much Hailee Steinfeld’s Emily Dickinson means to me. It never would have occurred to me to think of Emily Dickinson as such a chaotic, energetic character, but I’m so glad that’s how Hailee played her. Hailee always brings a casual, relatable vibe to characters she plays, while still making each one unique. Like there are similarities between Emily Dickinson and Kate Bishop that never would have existed on paper because of the quippy and curious nature of Hailee Steinfeld’s acting style. But it works, especially in the case of Emily Dickinson; of course someone whose writing was so passionate and prolific would be larger than life. Especially in her youth, as she’s just experiencing love for the first time. And even if it’s nothing like the real Emily Dickinson’s life, it was a fun exploration of what it could have been. Seeing the world through Emily’s eyes, and through her imagination, including but not limited to her undying love, her all-consuming passion, her overwhelming desire for Sue. Hailee Steinfeld brought such humanity and fun to this character, and it was a joy to watch her, whether she was writing furiously about the love of her life, imagining meeting Sylvia Plath, or just being her brave, messy self. The show may be over, but I have a feeling we’ll be talking about Hailee’s performance for a while. Perhaps even forevermore. — Valerie

Outstanding Supporting or Guest Actor Playing an LGBTQ+ Character in a Comedy Series

Dua Saleh as Cal Bowman, Sex Education

Dua Saleh as Cal Bowman on Sex Education, character photo in front of a floral background

Runners-Up, Tied: Ashley Nicole Black as various, A Black Lady Sketch Show //
Ashly Burch as Rachel, Mythic Quest

Other Nominees: Sophina Brown as Ida B., Twenties // Ella Hunt as Sue Gilbert, Dickinson // Rebekah Murrell as Cam, In My Skin

Trans actors rarely get to just be actors. Even on the best cis-run sets — aka almost all sets — trans actors end up as consultants, teachers, even writers, while still being expected to do the emotional and intellectual work of any other actor. It’s a tough challenge for a seasoned pro, even tougher for a newcomer. That’s why musician Dua Saleh’s turn as Cal on Sex Education is so special. They managed to join an ensemble cast as a trans actor and not only fit in — but stand out.

Cal is not an outwardly emotional character. And Sex Education doesn’t traumatize them like weaker shows often do to trans characters. The conflicts Cal faces are severe but understated. Cal approaches them with a confident shrug and a hit from a joint. And yet Saleh manages to capture the feelings underneath. We feel Cal’s pain, the unfairness of their circumstances, even as Cal themself hides this vulnerability. It’s a nuanced, subtle performance from Saleh. Their charisma and sense of humor may be obvious, but they deserve just as much praise for adding the emotional layers that helped create one of the most three-dimensional trans characters on TV. — Drew

Outstanding Lead Actor Playing an LGBTQ+ Character in a Sci-Fi Series

Javicia Leslie as Ryan Wilder, Batwoman

Javicia Leslie as Ryan Wilder in Batwoman

Runners-Up, Tied: Kaci Walfall as Naomi McDuffie, Naomi // Chyler Leigh as Alex Danvers, Supergirl

Other Nominees: Danielle Brooks as Leota Adebayo, Peacemaker // Taylor Hickson as Raelle Collar, Motherland: Fort Salem // Jes Macallan as Ava Sharpe, Legends of Tomorrow

Much of Batwoman‘s second season was about a transition: the transfer of the cowl from Kate Kane to Ryan Wilder. A new addition to DC Comics lore, Ryan Wilder needed time to settle in, to build her backstory, to connect her to the existing canvas, to take the baton from the show’s legacy hero. But Batwoman‘s third season? It belonged to Ryan Wilder. It belonged to Javicia Leslie and it thrived because of her.

Batwoman‘s third season asked more of its star. Need a fight scene, in ankle deep water, against Poison Ivy? Javicia delivered. Need an emotional reaction to finding out the biological mom you thought was dead actually wasn’t? Javicia’s got that too. Need the honesty of a black woman, challenged to carry the weight of the world on her shoulders, to just admit that she’s tired? Javicia offered it with level of candor that resonates in the deepest part of your soul. And when she’s asked to shed the armor of the batsuit and just be vulnerable with the woman she’s slowly (and unexpectedly) come to love? Javicia conveys every heartfelt moment, turning us all into WildMoore shippers. The show asked for so much more and Javicia Leslie gave…and gave…and gave.

I am not sure we were ever deserving of any of it — she was the manifestation of a dream we had not dared to have — but I am so grateful that we got it. — Natalie

Outstanding Supporting or Guest Actor Playing an LGBTQ+ Character in a Sci-Fi Series

Meagan Tandy as Sophie Moore, Batwoman

Meagan Tandy as Sophie Moore in Batwoman

Runners-Up, Tied: Kausar Mohammed as Soraya Khoury, 4400 // Azie Tesfai as Kelly Olsen, Supergirl

Other Nominees: Victoria Cartagena as Renee Montoya, Batwoman // Tig Notaro as Commander Jett Reno, Star Trek: Discovery // Ireon Roach as Keisha Taylor, 4400

Comic books are littered with the girlfriends of superheroes, most of whom are damsels in distress who constantly need saving. The superhero rushes to their rescue and we fall in love with them even more for their heroics. And, for a while, it felt like Sophie Moore would be that for Batwoman: in season one, Kate returns to town because Sophie’s been taken. But slowly but surely, Sophie comes into her own power….as a hero and as a black woman and as a queer woman. By the end of Batwoman‘s run, it’s clear: Sophie Moore is no one’s damsel in distress. It’s Sophie’s evolution that, as Carmen once noted, is the true bedrock of the show…and it’s to Meagan Tandy’s credit that the audience feels every bit of that messy evolution.

I’ve watched Tandy in two shows before this — UnREAL and Survivor’s Remorse — and in both, she was a recurring love interest and the quintessential “girl next door.” It felt like Hollywood had decided what kind of box they wanted to put her in. But then came Batwoman and Tandy broke out of that box and demanded that the world see her as more. It wasn’t just Sophie Moore’s evolution that we were watching, it was Meagan Tandy’s. — Natalie

Outstanding Performance by a Straight Actress in a Straight Role

Sheryl Lee Ralph as Barbara Howard, Abbott Elementary

Sheryl Lee Ralph as Barbara Howard in Abbott Elementary

Runner-Up: Melanie Lynskey as Shauna Sadecki,Yellowjackets

Other Nominees: Danielle Deadwyler as Miranda Carroll, Station Eleven // Jean Smart as Deborah Vance, Hacks // Quinta Brunson as Janine Teagues, Abbott Elementary // Natasha Lyonne as Nadia Vulvokov, Russian Doll

There are these rare unifying moments in pop culture where — no matter who we are or where we’re from — that we’re all consuming the same thing. The same sporting event, the same movie, the same show. For this brief period, we’re sharing the same moment, experiencing this beautiful synchronicity and, suddenly, we don’t feel all that different from one another. But those moments are rare. What’s more common is the reminder that’s come with Sheryl Lee Ralph’s star turn as Barbara on Abbott Elementary: Most of the time, we live in very different pop culture ecosystems and, rarely, do we try and venture out.

You see, Sheryl Lee Ralph’s been an icon in my house for as long as I can remember. Denna Jones in the original Dreamgirls? Linda in To Sleep with Anger? Eddie Murphy’s sidekick in The Distinguished Gentleman? Moesha’s stepmama? Lauryn Hill’s disapproving mama in Sister Act 2? My dad even made me watch her first movie role, opposite Sidney Poitier. She was a fixture in my life and in the pop culture that I consumed…and you couldn’t tell me she wasn’t legendary. But we live in very different pop culture ecosystems and a 45-year career wasn’t enough to earn her the plaudits she deserved.

That is, until Abbott Elementary, when pop culture ecosystems aligned. Barbara Howard is a hardworking Philadelphia school teacher, grizzled by the years of a bureaucracy that continues to fail her and her kids. She’s serious about her work — and Ralph plays it so straight — that some of Abbott‘s most hilarious moments come when she leans into the funny. It’s been months and her delivery of “Sweet baby Jesus, and the grown one, too! My desks have been desked!” still makes me laugh so hard, I start crying.

I’m thrilled to see Autostraddle join the ranks of those finally giving Sheryl Lee Ralph her flowers. — Natalie

Outstanding Cis Male Character

Brett Goldstein as Roy Kent, Ted Lasso

Brett Goldstein as Roy Kent on Ted Lasso

Runners-Up, Tied: Himesh Patel as Jeevan Chaudhary, Station Eleven // Taika Waititi as Blackbeard, Our Flag Means Death

Other Nominees: Tyler James Williams as Gregory Eddie, Abbott Elementary // Jason Sudeikis as Ted Lasso, Ted Lasso // Steven Krueger as Ben Scott, Yellowjackets

In the opening episode of Ted Lasso‘s second season, Keeley and Roy find themselves on a double date, opposite Rebecca and some unassuming bloke. Rebecca liked him enough — they’d been out a few times — but after her divorce, she doesn’t fully trust her instincts anymore, so she invites her friends to join them and give their two cents. Keeley soft peddles her reaction, focusing on everything that’s appropriate about him, but Roy can’t hold back.

“He’s fine. That’s it,” Roy offers, in a way that let’s you know “fine” is definitely not a compliment. “…Why the fuck [do] you think he deserves you? You deserve someone who makes you feel like you’ve been struck by fuckin’ lightning. Don’t you dare settle for fine.”

It is, at once, something you’d never expect to hear from someone like Roy Kent — with his omnipresent scowl, intimidating appearance and foul mouth — and yet it’s everything we’ve come to expect from the character. He treats the women in his life like prizes: from his girlfriend to his boss, to his niece, Phoebe, to the group of older women with whom he does yoga. It is a beautiful thing to behold.

“He’s here! He’s there! He’s every-fuckin-where! Roy Kent! Roy Kent!”…and I can’t help but think that if there were Roy Kents, every-fuckin’-where, the world would be a much, much better place. — Natalie

Santana Lopez Legacy Award For Outstanding Queer Teen Character

Jasmin Savoy Brown as Taissa Turner, Yellowjackets

Jasmin Savoy Brown as Taissa Turner on Yellowjackets

Runner-Up: Jordan Hull as Angelica Porter-Kennard, The L Word: Generation Q

Other Nominees: Hailey Kilgore as Laverne “Jukebox” Ganner, Raising Kanan // Liv Hewson as Van Palmer, Yellowjackets // Alycia Pascual-Peña as Aisha Garcia, Saved By the Bell // Kaci Walfall as Naomi McDuffie, Naomi

As a Capricorn lesbian of teen soccer playing experience, I immediately fell for Taissa Turner. Even before our lovable band of possible cannibals crash in the woods, Taissa is brutally slide tackling her own teammate and breaking her leg. She’s determined, she’s confident, she thinks she’s always right, and, even better, she basically is always right.

Queer teens on TV have mostly fit into two categories: vicious caricatures and wholesome models. The namesake of this award, Santana Lopez, was one of the few on a long-running show to defy this binary. Santana was vicious and a model. She sometimes had a mean-spirited wit, but she still fit into Ryan Murphy’s vision of wholesome queerness. Taissa takes it a step further. As played by Jasmin Savoy Brown, she’s able to be vicious and caring, a complicated and grounded queer teen with just as much charm as she has bite. Sure, she was a little fucked up before the crash and she’s absolutely fucked up after. We know she’ll continue to be fucked up as an adult! And yet when she’s not blacking out and eating dirt in the middle of the night, she’s having a cute romance. When she’s not breaking the leg of her own teammate, she’s the only one another teammate can turn to about her pregnancy. And that’s not all! She leads the team to water. She leads them to the cabin that provides them shelter. She’s the reason they have a gun! As an adult she runs for state senate, but as a teen she was president of the woods. I know she’d have my vote. — Drew

Best Episode with LGBTQ+ Themes

Hacks Episode 204, “The Captain’s Wife”

Ava and Deborah sit in a lifeboat on Hacks

Runners-Up, Tied: Dickinson Episode 308, “This Was a Poet” // Batwoman Episode 311, “Broken Toys”

Other Nominees: The 4400 Episode 104, “Harlem’s Renaissance” // Sex Education Episode 306, “Episode 6” // Sort Of Episode 105, “Sort of a Party”

Hacks has this way of being equal parts hilarious, deep, and uncomfortable at any given moment and “The Captain’s Wife” is no exception. Deborah Vance thinks she’s going to perform on a gay men’s cruise and is thrilled because “the gays” love her. But then much to her horror and Ava’s delight, Margaret Cho informs them that it’s a lesbian cruise. And turns out those aren’t “the gays” Deborah was talking about. This episode has everything; the good, the bad, the ugly. More specifically, deep conversations about the nuance of sexuality and hot hookups, biphobic lesbians, and a truly tragic stand-up set. It has everything that makes Hacks great, from over-the-top goofs to serious topics, and it’s beautifully acted by Jean Smart and Hannah Einbinder. It also perfectly demonstrates how standup isn’t well-received by the communities you’re punching down on, no matter how many positive one-on-one interactions you have with people in that community. (People like to be included in jokes, not the butt of them! Go figure.)

Of course I couldn’t help but be reminded of The L Word‘s lesbian cruise episode, and honestly it made me think “lesbian cruise episode” should start being a standard trope TV shows lean on, like bottle episodes, road trip episodes, etc. — Valerie

Outstanding Performance by an Out LGBTQ+ Actor in a Comedy

Ashley Nicole Black as various, A Black Lady Sketch Show

Ashley Nicole Black on A Black Lady Sketch Show

Runners-Up, Tied: Megan Stalter as Kayla, Hacks // Devery Jacobs as Elora Danan, Reservation Dogs // Ella Hunt as Sue Gilbert, Dickinson

Other Nominees: Bilal Baig as Sabi Mehboob, Sort Of // Abby McEnany as Abby, Work in Progress

At this point, it feels like it’s less a question of will Ashley Nicole Black win a Gay Emmy and more a question of: for which of Ashley Nicole Black’s fifty-eleven jobs will she win a Gay Emmy? Writer/Producer on Ted Lasso? Actor/Writer/Producer on the forthcoming Apple TV+ show, Bad Monkey? Or whatever she yields from her development deal for Warner Bros. Television? Whatever role we’re celebrating Black for next, you can guarantee it’ll be thoughtful…and probably hilarious.

This season on A Black Lady Sketch Show, Black expands the repertoire of characters she plays: Chef Lourdes, one of the country’s best and brightest bullshitters; Harlan, one half of lesbian couple that’s just adopted a grown-ass woman three year old; Jamilah Clark, the girl who will make a deal with the devil to escape ridicule for her ashy feet; Fatima, the Door Dash awaiting security guard turned bomb tech; and Autumn, the college student whose coming out gets thwarted by some uninvited guests. It’s all another step in Black’s quest to bring the stories of the unseen to our screens.

“One of the characters I play on A Black Lady Sketch Show is The Invisible Spy,” Black told TVLine back in February. “My thing is just taking all of those people who have been invisible — the sassy best friend character or whatever — and turning the camera onto them, putting them at the center of the story.”

If those portrayals are even a fraction as funny as Black was during ABLSS‘s third season, we’re all in for a real treat. — Natalie

Outstanding Performance by an LGBTQ+ Actor in a Drama

E.R. Fightmaster as Dr. Kai Bartley, Grey’s Anatomy

E.R. Fightmaster as Dr. Kai Bartley on Grey’s Anatomy

Runner-Up: Jasmin Savoy Brown as Taissa Turner, Yellowjackets

Other Nominees: Hunter Schafer as Jules Vaughn, Euphoria // Rosanny Zayas as Sophie Suarez, The L Word: Generation Q // Sherry Cola as Alice Kwan, Good Trouble // Juani Feliz as Isabela Benitez-Santiago, Harlem

There is a lot to be said about a romantic lead. The ability to create a fire with just the flick of an eye towards your costar, the surgical precision with which to deploy the dimple tucked into your cheek, a well placed chuckle that riptides like an ocean. To pull it off well, it has to appear effortless, but it’s a study of skill as old as, well, filming people on screen.

In the realm of recent television, few romances have had the permanence of Grey’s Anatomy, and after 18 seasons in walked E.R. Fightmaster’s Dr. Kai Bartley, the first nonbinary doctor in the show’s history, cut directly out of the finest of Shondaland’s heartthrob cloth. Yes, as Dr. Bartley, Fightmaster has the perfect McDreamy hair and a smile so symmetrical you could graph it on a calculator (if you’ve ever watched the show, you know exactly what I mean) — but what makes the role stand out are the small queer details that only Fightmaster could put into it, the quiet sexiness of how they carry Kai’s mannerisms. They’ve taken the large stage of a primetime network romance, known best for its high stakes drama and twists, and instead turned it into a performance where its subtly makes it riveting.

In other hands, watching as Dr. Bartley and Amelia Shepherd figure out Bartley’s comfortability with Amelia’s motherhood and how a child would fit into their life would be a bore, but instead watching them navigate the heartbreak of adult expectations was appointment television. Kai swooping down to kiss Amelia in the rain was a moment instantly recognizable, every bit as swoon worthy as all the Grey’s greats — which given the pedigree, is no small feat. And it’s made all the better, because it’s ours. — Carmen

Outstanding LGBTQ+ Actor in a Sci-Fi/Fantasy Show

Javicia Leslie as Ryan Wilder, Batwoman

Javicia Leslie as Ryan Wilder on Batwoman

Runner-Up: Chyler Leigh as Alex Danvers, Supergirl

Other Nominees: Lili Reinhart as Betty Cooper, Riverdale // Nicole Maines as Nia Nal, Supergirl // Ireon Roach as Keisha Taylor, The 4400 // Kausar Mohammed as Soraya Khoury, The 4400

It’s a bittersweet feeling, seeing Batwoman win so many Autostraddle TV Awards this year. Because on one hand: fuck yes! They deserve it! But on the other, it’s a slap-in-the-face reminder that the show was taken from us too soon. It obviously resonated with queer viewers, but the powers that be don’t seem to think our queer eyeballs or dollars count. But I digress. We’re not here to complain about corporate bullshit, we’re here to celebrate Batwoman.

Javicia Leslie was a breath of fresh air in smog-filled Gotham; to us as an audience, but also to everyone else in Gotham, on and off screen. Ryan Wilder was a funny, sarcastic smartass, breaking the always-grumbling stereotype of most people who had worn a bat cowl before her. Her smile is contagious, and even if it took their characters a little longer to warm up to her, it was instantly clear the cast loved having her around; the vibe of the live-tweets was joyful. This most recent season of Batwoman was its best, with Ryan feeling comfortable in the cowl and behind the wheel of the Batmobile, literally and figuratively. The sexual tension between Ryan and Sophie was palpable and electric and a damn joy to watch. I’ll be forever bitter they took this show away from us, but grateful we can still celebrate Javicia’s amazing work here.

(And special shoutout to runner-up Chyler Leigh as Alex Danvers, just because it’s the last time I’ll be able to do that. *wipes tear*) — Valerie

Outstanding LGBTQ+ Director / Writer / Showrunner

Mae Martin, Feel Good

Mae Martin in front of an HBO background on the red carpet of the Hacks premiere

Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images

Runner-Up: B Nichols, Abbott Elementary

Other Nominees: Lena Waithe, Twenties // Abby McEnany, Work in Progress // Dana Terrace, The Owl House // Bilal Baig, Sort Of

The second season of Feel Good was a tremendous accomplishment across the board. Well written, well acted, and well directed, it just simply stuck the landing in so many arenas, yielding one of the best depictions of trauma and its reverberations I’ve ever seen on television. Mae Martin is a singular voice in television right now, and while season one of the series was already impressive, I just think season two is a near-perfect masterpiece. A little stranger, a little more ambitious, it takes what works in the first season and dials it up, evolving and shifting in the ways I wish more comedies did. The queer sex scenes on the show remain some of my favorite, and the writing of complicated relationships allows so much room for nuance and depth. Mae’s double duties as creator and star here are impressive, and Feel Good has such a distinct comedic and dramatic voice of its own, helmed skillfully.

I can’t wait to see what Mae does next. — KKU

Most Groundbreaking Representation (Show)

Sort Of (HBO Max)

Bilal Bai as Sabi Mehboob on Sort Of

Runners-Up, Tied: Reservation Dogs (FX) // We Are Lady Parts (Peacock)

Other Nominees: Heartstopper (Netflix) // The 4400 (CW) // In My Skin (BBC)

In her interview with Vogue announcing her retirement from the game of tennis, Serena Williams bumps against the word “transition.” She’s sensitive about using that word, recognizing that the word “means something very specific and important to a community of people,” and instead settles on “evolution” to describe the moment she’s in. Perhaps, if Williams had asked Bilal Baig, the nonbinary creator, writer and star of Sort Of, about her word choice, they would’ve advised Williams to embrace the word transition for herself. It was, after all, the word that convinced her to collaborate with Fab Filippo on the show.

“There was such a power in a cis person using the word transition, without any sort of taboo, stigma,” Baig told Complex last November. “There was also an understanding that, of course, our transitions are different…There was a real power in acknowledging that it’s a human experience to evolve. And we, the more we all embrace it, the better we all are.”

Yes, Sort Of is groundbreaking because Baig is the first queer South Asian Muslim actor to lead a Canadian primetime TV series, but if we reduce it to just that, we’re missing the point. Sort Of understands that we’re all “sort of” striving to be the person we’re meant to be. We’re all “sort of” transitioning and if we can accept that — even if your transition looks more like Paul’s than Sabi’s — perhaps we can build more empathy for trans and nonbinary folks. — Natalie

Outstanding Animated Series

The Owl House (Disney Channel)

Luz and Amity hold hands on The Owl House

Runner-Up: Arcane (Netflix)

Other Nominees: Pinecone & Pony (Apple TV) // Masters of the Universe: Revelation (Netflix) // Blue’s Clues (Nickelodeon) // Rugrats (Nickelodeon)

If my TikTok FYP is right, I spend a lot of time trying to heal my inner child. And The Owl House is one of my favorite ways to do it. It’s the kind of show I would have eaten up as a kid (Magic! Girl with purple hair! Adorable demon dog!) and it would have changed my entire life to see a young girl have a full-on girlfriend and having her found family and friends support her. It’s not even a thing, really. Just a cute side plot. And by the time we got to that point with Luz and Amity in the most recent season, it felt so earned. There was angst, there was growth, there was character development, and longing, and then there was girlfriends. And that’s not even the only queer thing about this show! Gender and sexuality seem like a non-issue in general in the Demon Realm, and everyone uses they/them pronouns for Eda’s ex Raine without any fuss or fanfare.

On top of being the cutest queer witch, Luz is also so fun to watch. She’s ambitious and curious and clever but not flawless; in fact, quite often she stumbles in her attempts to help and makes things worse. And has to face those consequences! Including but not limiting to not listening to her girlfriend and learning about boundaries and communication. Things aren’t just magically perfect all the time, and it’s just another added layer of greatness to this adorable show. — Valerie

Outstanding Hairstyling for an LGBTQ+ Character

E.R Fightmaster as Dr. Kai Bartley, Grey’s Anatomy

ER Fightmaster in "Grey's Anatomy"

Runner-Up: Vanessa Williams as Pippa Pascal, The L Word: Generation Q

Other Nominees: Sandra Oh as Eve Polastri, Killing Eve // Rosanny Zayas as Sophie Suarez, The L Word: Generation Q // Sepideh Moafi as Gigi Ghorbani, The L Word: Generation Q // Sara Ramirez as Che Diaz, And Just Like That…

It was an ordinary Tuesday when Heather slacked me to ask, “E.R. Fightmaster is Alex Vega’s doppleganger, right?” I was initially unclear on how Autostraddle co-founder Alex Vega could bear a resemblance to the short-haired actor I remembered (crushing on) from Shrill, but then I journeyed into E.R.’s Instagram and discovered myriad similarities between the two, such as “playing the drums” and “overall aura.” But mostly — it was the hair. And this paragraph is about the hair on the head of the character of Kai (E.R. Fightmaster) on Grey’s Anatomy, not Alex Vega, I do know that, but the reason I’m dwelling so extensively on Alex is because back when she worked at Autostraddle full-time we got a lot of questions about Alex’s hair. It was often suggested to us that we write an entire article on how, exactly, Alex did her hair, from how she pitched her cut to the hairdresser to how she styled it and with which products. This plea often came from self-identified “long-haired butches” (aka LHBs) seeking something new for themselves.

The look hit a sweet spot, you know? And now Kai on Grey’s Anatomy is really blowing up that sweet spot with their volume and style and shine. When they first entered the program, there was chatter regarding Link’s old haircut and its resemblance to Kai’s current haircut, but that was incorrect. Link could never. He didn’t have the volume. But it’s true that at least Amelia still has something to grab onto.

Kai masters (LOL) an elusive look, a way of styling and surrounding (often-longer-than) shoulder-length hair that, despite popular associations with that cut and length, is somehow “masc” or “androgynous.” Is it the flip? The far-side part that can create the illusion of a swooshed-over bang? Kai’s Alternative Lifestyle Haircut is somehow nonbinary all on its own, is an automatic entry to the Pantheon of Queer Hairstyles, so often dominated by super-short dos. Kai elevates the layered bob. I mean the cut is basically a Rachel, and yet it looks nothing like a Rachel at all. It looks like a short haircut, except somehow long. And when Kai and Amelia are in bed together, it’s so choppy and tousled and it glimmers almost honey-blonde beneath occasional wedges of light. 

E.R. Fightmaster is my current style icon, and every time I look at my own hair in the mirror I am thinking about their hair, and how to make mine look like that. I haven’t figured it out yet but in the meantime, I’m happy just to watch. — Riese

Outstanding Costume Design for a Show With LGBTQ+ Characters

Killing Eve (AMC)

Eve in a wig, trench coat and sunglasses; Villanalle dressed as Jesus.

Runner-Up: Yellowjackets (Showtime)

Other Nominees: The L Word: Generation Q (Showtime) // And Just Like That… (HBO Max) // We Are Lady Parts (Peacock) // A Black Lady Sketch Show (HBO Max)

The series finale of Killing Eve was controversial to say the least. The sudden — spoiler alert — death of Villanelle caused an uproar online with people decrying what they saw as another case of “Bury Your Gays.” (More than one post insisted that Villanelle was the first person some queer women were able to see themselves in!) At first this confused me, because there has been such a wide array of queer stories since that trope was first named and because Villanelle is literally a sociopathic assassin. But as I trudged through the online mayhem, I realized this response was a mark of the show’s success. Villanelle had seduced all of us just like she seduced Eve.

I’m here to discuss costumes, and the fact is Villanelle would not be Villanelle without her clothes. Killing Eve would not have succeeded so well in its seduction without its fashion. From Villanelle’s iconic pink dress in season one to her practical tank in her last moments, Villanelle was an ever-shifting delight of disguises and queer fashions. Season three and four costume designer, Sam Perry, built on the work of previous designers Phoebe De Gaye and Charlotte Mitchell, continuing to develop these characters through what they wore. Killing Eve was a spy show and while that genre may be known for its intrigue, gadgets, and, yes, fashion, the best work uses all that flash to serve a story that grapples with the darkness in government. For better or worse, that was the reminder of Killing Eve’s final moments — when the clothes come off, death is soon to follow. — Drew


Fan Favorite Categories

Fan Favorite Out LGBTQ+ Actor: E.R. Fightmaster as Dr. Kai, Grey’s Anatomy

ER Fightmaster on Grey's Anatomy
Runner-Up: Chyler Leigh as Alex Danvers, Supergirl

Fan Favorite LGBTQ+ Character: Maya Bishop, Station 19

Maya Bishop in her uniform in front of a fire truck on Station 19
Runner-Up: Carina DeLuca, Station 19

Fan Favorite Couple: Maya Bishop and Carina DeLuca, Station 19

Maya Bishop and Carina DeLuca get married on Station 19
Runner-Up: Raelle Collar and Scylla Ramshorn, Motherland: Fort Salem


Before you go! Did you like what you just read? We keep Autostraddle majority free-to-read, but it isn't free to create! And yet most readers don't support this indie queer site. Will you be one of the people who do? A+ membership starts at just $4/month or $30/year and they literally keep us from closing. Will you join? Cancel anytime.

Join A+

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!

The TV has written 211 articles for us.

20 Comments

  1. love all the Batwoman love, hate that it’s a flowers on the grave situation

    listen i knew that *i* was obsessed with hot dr. kai and their hair but i didn’t really expect them to win so many AS tv awards! is this the power of the flow?

  2. Would it be possible to have the networks/streamers listed for each of the winning shows/characters/nominees? It’s not consistent throughout and I’m sure I’m not the only one who is learning of shows I didn’t know existed (I’m sorry, Mae Martin).

  3. Where are shows like The Wilds, Atypical, and Harlem?

    Autostraddle’s coverage of shows like these are abysmal. It’s like y’all get tunnel vision and have huge focus on shows like ALOTO, YJ, or The L Word, but smaller shows that are struggling to stay alive are SOL. I use to be so excited to come to Autostraddle to read about my shows that I loved and how Autostraddle had interesting, in-depth pieces on them, but lately it feels like Autostraddle only caters to the big hits or go full force on shows they deem significant while the smaller shows only get one small forgettable piece, if that. I love ALOTO, YJ, and The L Word too and enjoy reading about them here, I just wish other women centric or wlw stories that are struggling to stay alive would get better attention as well. The small pieces these shows get don’t compare to the roll out carpeted affair that other more AS loved shows get.

    • I don’t know that Atypical counts as a ‘smaller show’, or that YJ is a ‘big hit’? So I’m not sure what metric you’re using to categorise these shows except for ‘shows that AS covers in depth’ and ‘shows that AS doesn’t cover in depth’, which — can you blame them? they’re a small team, there’s so much more queer tv than there used to be (yay!), they can’t do a deep dive on everything.

      • By “big hit” I mean by AS standards. The ones AS determine to focus so much of their time on. (And I would say YJ is a pretty big deal by real world standards too since they do have critical acclaim and Emmy nods) But for example, doing a quick search, ALOTO has about 29 articles since it came out, YJ has about 26, and well, I stopped counting after 30 for The L Word.

        I understand these shows are the popular shows in the wlw fandom and AS has a small staff that can only cover so much, but at the same time, it’d be great to see the love spread out a little more on the less popular ones. I feel like I’m explaining high school clicks, the popular kids vs the non-popular ones.

        Like, what determines which shows get individual recaps versus one single review piece? I use to think it was weekly released vs released all at once shows, but ALOTO was a binge watch show and received the weekly recap treatment. Or what shows get style thief or which character are you type pieces? Or segments on the actresses?

        I guess it just stings right now because so many wlw and women centric shows are being canceled left and right these days. These little shows that have a passionate fan base but receive crappy treatment from the network/streaming services just sucks. I hope ALOTO gets renewed and I don’t begrudge AS for loving on them so hard (I know it seems like I do but I don’t), I just wish a little more love and attention could be shown to some other struggling shows as well. I didn’t have high hopes for Paper Girls and I don’t have high hopes for Harlem being renewed, which is a shame because it may have been my favorite show from the last year. The Wilds sorta screwed themselves, but I’m still going to miss the girls and Shoni terribly. But all these cancellations are really starting to add up and hurt. Cancel your gays is the new thing. And coming to AS and seeing what shows get the most attention, well, it just feels a little skewed as well.

        • I will say, the biggest indicator of this was the entire “animated show” category, with absolutely zero anime nominees (as have previous “best fictional couple” polls). AS pretty openly gave up on anime and anime-influenced coverage, which has resulted in huge swaths of representation and queer culture left out of the conversation. I am very much not a part of the version of queer culture AS champions.
          There was nothing wrong with that kind of narrow focus before. It’s their website, the writers should cover what moves them. But if they’re trying to expand their credibility to be taken seriously, as the first paragraph says, then the extent of what(/who) is not being covered begins to matter more. For example, there are zero results on the site for a “Vtuber” search. How much of the new generations’ foundational queer influences, experiences, and cultural references are in the site’s blind spot?

Contribute to the conversation...

Yay! You've decided to leave a comment. That's fantastic. Please keep in mind that comments are moderated by the guidelines laid out in our comment policy. Let's have a personal and meaningful conversation and thanks for stopping by!