The 40 Best LGBTQ+ TV Shows on HBO Max With Lesbian, Queer or Trans Characters

HBO was an early pioneer of LGBTQ content, and its streaming service HBO Max has a lot of television available for queer women with lesbian and bisexual characters. But, like many other networks in the years of our lord 2022 and 2023, HBO Max has dropped a lot of beloved queer shows from its roster. Let’s talk about the best of what’s left!


* indicates an HBO or Max original

Adventure Time (2010-2018)

Adventure Time is essential viewing for the queer all-ages animation aficionados, a bridge between the subtext of Legend of Korra and maintext of Steven Universe, a series long on-again off-again love story between Princess Bubblegum and Marceline the Vampire Queen. But it’s also just really delightful, really weird storytelling for nerds of all stripes. If you’ve joined the great Dungeons and Dragons Renaissance of the past several years, Adventure Time will speak to your geekery in very specific ways. Follow Jake the Dog and Finn the Human across the post-apocalyptic Land of Ooo as they challenge Death, make friends with psychedelic teddy bears, grow up, fall in love with princesses and unicorns, and confront the hardest thing of all: their own trauma and insecurities. If you stick around long enough, you’ll even meet Fionna and Cake, the gender-flipped protagonists! Stream Adventure Time on Max.

And Just Like That* (2021-)

When we begged the goddesses for a Sex and the City reboot with a bit more queer representation and they promised us Sara Ramirez as the charming non-binary comic/podcaster Che Diaz, we thought we’d really scored big. Unfortunately, Che turned out to be truly unbearable and Miranda’s big queer awakening has inspired a lot of lesbians to mostly just feel really bad for Steve. But it’s still kinda remarkable that it’s happening at all, and our myriad complaints have not stopped us from tuning in each week to see the outfits, the jumbled attempts at intergenerational dialogue and interesting takes on aging. Stream And Just Like That… on Max.

The Baby (2022)

This British horror limited series finds a middle-aged woman unexpectedly landed with a baby, thus forced to give up her life of impulsivity and adventure. But it’s not just any baby — this one is stinky, controlling, manipulative and in possession of violent powers. Her younger sister, Bobbi, is a lesbian who desperately wants a baby of her own. Mrs. Eaves/Nour is another queer character, a 72-year-ld “Enigma” who’s lived in her car for 50 years and once had a passionate affair with Helen, a married pregnant woman who tried to escape her marriage with Nour. Stream The Baby on Max.

Batwoman (2019-2022)

Batwoman is the most famous lesbian superhero in comic book history, and her first season pulled heavily from her most celebrated and GLAAD-Award winning “Elegy” arc with Ruby Rose playing the brooding, traumatized, Shane-esque Kate Kane with just the right amount of swagger and aloofness. There were almost too many queer women to count that first season, a gay bar and perpetual ex drama. Black bisexual actress Javica Leslie donned the cape and cowl starting in Season Two and the show has never been better, wowing us every week with what’s easily one of our favorite superhero shows of all time. (-Heather) Stream Batwoman on Max.

Betty* (2020-2022)

With naturalistic performances and dreamy cinematography, HBO’s Betty captures the NYC skater girl subculture in all its appeal and personality, Betty brims with life and centers gender non-conformity and queer characters including Kirt, a charmingly oblivious tomboy and Honeybear, a Black videographer from a conservative family who skates with abandon and dates with reservation. Stream Betty on Max.

The skater girls of "Betty" all hug each other. Young, hot, some are queer.

Betty (HBO)

A Black Lady Sketch Show* (2019-)

Carmen put it absolutely best in her review: “I’d put any part of A Black Lady Sketch Show against critics’ darlings like Donald Glover’s ATL or Julia Louis-Dreyfus on Veep, the best of SNL or anything from Mad TV and I wouldn’t break a sweat worrying about losing my lunch money. ABLSS is smart. It’s observational and absurdist. It’s the exact opposite of mindless humor; it requires the audience’s full attention…. I realize at this point it sounds like I’m basically saying “everything and the kitchen sink!” and it sort of becomes meaningless, but my point is the exact opposite: A Black Lady Sketch Show never chooses to limit itself; it sets a new bar and then rises to that challenge every single time.” Stream a Black Lady Sketch Show on Max.

The Deuce* (2016-2019)

Set during the 1970s and 1980s, The Deuce traces the Golden Age of the porn industry (and its adjacent economies) n New York City, centering on Eileen “Candy” Merrell (Maggie Gyllenhall), a street sex worker who eventually breaks into the filmmaking side of porn. A story that involves not one but TWO James Francos might not be at the top of your watch list, but Roberta Colindrez shows up in Season Two as Irene, a (gay) manager of the Show Land Sex Emporium. In Season Three, college student Abby, manager of the Hi-Hat bar, starts a relationship with a woman, and there’s also a sparingly represented lesbian couple of sex workers in the first Season. Stream The Deuce on Max.

Doctor Who (2005- )

Doctor Who has a complicated queer history. Its sister series, Torchwood, is probably the most egregious Bury Your Gays offender in sci-fi history, and Doctor Who itself is not without its missteps. The Doctor’s first and only lesbian companion, Bill Potts, ended the show as a sentient oil being! Lots of queer side characters have gotten murered over the years! But there’s still lots to love about the series. Madame Vastra and Jenny — the self-described lizard woman from the dawn of time, and her wife — are fan favorites and have made notable appearances in many of the show’s most pivotal episodes. Suranne “Gentleman Jack” Jones plays The TARDIS. And, of course, there’s bisexual heartthrob and Time Lord-y River Song, who is The Doctor’s loooooongtime love, an especially thrilling turn of events when Thirteen regenerated as a woman. (-Heather) Stream Doctor Who on Max.

Euphoria* (2019-)

Screwed-up, gorgeous, privileged, disillusioned, sarcastic teenagers on drugs: we know this song by heart. But Euphoria‘s heavily stylized trip into the trope feels somehow immediately fresh. Rue (Zendaya), fresh out of rehab at the ripe age of 16, returns home with no intentions to stay sober and quickly falls for Jules, the manic pixie dream trans girl (™ Drew Gregory), played by an actual trans actress, who she craves like the other habits she’s been encouraged to kick. Although Sam Levinson’s interpretation of sexual orientation and gender identity is blatantly incorrect at best and Season Two makes a brand new series of really bizarre choices, but we can’t tear ourselves away. Stream Euphoria on Max.

Gentleman Jack* (2019-2022)

The groundbreaking historical drama that Heather called “your sex-filled soft butch Historical Drama Dream Come True” follows legendary seductress Anne Lister, whose diaries from the early 19th century detail lesbian romantic consequences executed with remarkable boldness and fearlessness for the time period. This adaptation sees Surriane Jones display “a seductive, sensual, capable, robust soft butch energy that makes Shane McCutcheon look like a clumsy little baby goat.” Stream Gentleman Jack on Max.

Anne Lister kisses her girlfriend Anne on her hand in period costumes. Still from "Gentleman Jack" on HBO

Gentleman Jack (HBO)

Gossip Girl (2021-2022)

This hotly anticipated HBO Max reboot promised a much more diverse group of elite students but forgot to update the most inane elements of the original’s plot. Mean girl Monet de Haan is a lesbian, and trans model/actor Zion Moreno plays Luna La. While the first season didn’t use Monet de Haan to her full potential, that all changed in Season Two. “Rewriting Blair Waldorf as a Black lesbian who knows what it means to be sidelined, and who refuses to go back into the shadow?” wrote Carmen in her review. “It’s gold.” Stream Gossip Girl on Max.

Hacks* (2021-)

Ava, a bisexual comic who recently found herself cancelled and out of work gets hired to write jokes for an older, wildly wealthy, once-pioneering iconic comedienne now best known to millennials as a QVC salesperson. Ava moves to Las Vegas to work with Deborah Vance and self-discovery ensues! Season Two of this highly award-winning comedy was even better than the first, if you can believe it, and its lesbian cruise episode won an Autostraddle TV AwardStream Hacks on Max.

Ava and Deborah Vance on a lesbian cruise

Harley Quinn (2019-)

Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy have been fan favorites and queer icons from almost they bumped into each other during a heist in 1993 in Batman: The Animated Series. TWENTY YEARS LATER they kissed in Bombshells in 2015 and in the main universe in Harley Quinn #25 in 2017 — but it wasn’t until season two of the DC Universe animated series that they finally got the on-screen romance they deserve. In fact, the full second season is a slow-burn of Harley realizing she’s in love with Ivy, Ivy reciprocating Harley’s feelings, and a near-disastrous wedding finale that ends with explosions, para-demons, laser guns, flashing lights, blood and guts and chaos, and a confession of queer feelings that is animated as a throwback to Harley and Ivy’s original meeting in the early ’90s. It is honestly a perfect season of queer TV. And you don’t even have to know anything about Batman or comic books or Harley or Ivy to jump right in and enjoy it. Stream Harley Quinn on Max.

High Maintenance* (2016-)

Katja Blichfeld came out as a lesbian after producing the first season of this show with her then-husband Ben Sinclair, who also stars in the very New York series as friendly neighborhood pot dealer “The Guy.” “When High Maintenance is at its best there’s nothing better on television,” Drew wrote of the series. “When it’s at its worst it’s still really funny and weird and intriguing.” Smashing 2-3 brand new stories into every episode, the show above all truly loves people and queer folks have been baked (get it!?!?!) into its DNA from the jump. Stories have included a rare two-episode arc loosely based on Katja’s divorce and subsequent lesbian relationship, Margaret Cho and Hye Yun Park as queer kinksters experimenting with some risky new sexual paths, a neurotic lesbian couple afraid to kill a mouse, a non-binary person on a surprise date doing ketamine at a bowling alley, a group of neurotic feminist activists confront a pet snake gone wild. Stream High Maintenance on Max.

I Hate Suzie* (2020-2022)

Billie Piper stars as Suzie Pickles, an actress whose life is turned upside down when her phone is hacked and compromising photos are leaked, torching her relationship and her career. Leila Farzad is hilarious and simply delightful as Naomi, Suzie’s bisexual manager and best friend trying to support Suzie while also sorting through her own cadre of personal problems. Vogue writes, “In a show filled with great performances, Farzad’s is an especially compelling one, at once funny, smart, and rich with pathos.” Stream I Hate Suzie on Max.

Suzie and Naomi sitting in a park looking upset

“I Hate Suzie”

In Treatment (2023)

In Treatment debuted in 2008, starring Gabriel Byrne, and was rebooted in 2023, this time starring the always-incredible Uzo Aduba. The series follows several client stories through psychotherapy sessions from both sides — therapists and patients — and amongst those patients is Laila, a queer teen played by queer actor Quintessa Swindell.

Irma Vep* (2022)

To be honest, despite its near-universal critical acclaim, most of us here at Autostraddle did not enjoy Irma Vep, but it feels like a show we need to include on this list or else prepare ourselves for questions about why Irma Vep isn’t on this list. Mira, an American movie star who’s just had a breakup with her female assistant, goes to France to star as Irma Vep in a remake of the French silent film classic “Les Vampires.” She’s got a new assistant who’s also queer, and there’s a lesbian costume designer, but, as Drew wrote in her review, “there is nothing recognizably queer in these characters other than their obsession with chaos and heartbreak.” Stream Irma Vep on Max.

The Last of Us* (2023-)

Ellie is 14, queer and possibly the only human on earth immune to a brutal global pandemic that wiped out most of civilization, leaving survivors in a hellscape of a country ruled by a fascist government and groups of vigilantes. Based on a wildly popular video game, The Last Of Us follows Joel, a hardened and deeply traumatized smuggler tasked with escorting Ellie across a post-apocalyptic America to find the researchers who hope Ellie holds the key to creating a vaccine. What follows is a story of unspeakable cruelty and brutality and the patches of human connection and chosen-familial love that gathers in the absence of traditional structures of support. Stream The Last of Us on Max.

The Last of Us: Ellie and Riley are on a mall carousel, Ellie is looking wistfully up at Riley, who looks lost in thought.

“The Last of Us”

Mare of Easttown* (2021)

This limited series stars Kate Winslet as a sad detective in rural Pennsylvania trying to solve some murders and some disappearances that threaten to wear away the fibers of her community. She does so with a lot of flannel shirts, a Delco accent and a strong assist from Evan Peters. Her college-aged daughter, Siobhan, is a lesbian with an undercut who’s gotta be the steadying influence in an unraveling drama. Stream Mare of Easttown on Max.

Nancy Drew (2020-)

I know we always joke about The CW making “gritty remakes” of anything and everything for better or worse, but they really hit this nail right on the head. A modern take on a classic book series that is, in my opinion, the perfect balance of nods to the original canon and brand new elements. For example, queer gals! Including but not limited to a character from the books, Bess Marvin. Plus, of course, plenty of mystery, stellar performances from newcomer Kennedy McMann, and that quintessential teen drama you’d expect from a CW original. (-Valerie) Stream Nancy Drew on Max.

The O.C. (2003-2006)

Many elder millennials considered oft-postmodern teen soap The OC to be appointment television in the early aughts. It brought Christmukkah, Mischa Barton, Imogen Heap and Seth Cohen into our lives via a fish-out-of-water tale of roughian Ryan Atwood, adopted into a wealthy charismatic Orange County family and consequently their high-drama social lives. It also brought us one of the most memorable Sweeps Week Lesbian Storylines ever when lanky it-girl Marissa Cooper (Mischa Barton) fell for edgy alterna-teen Alex (Olivia Wilde) and in doing so, became one of the first bisexual lead teen characters on network television. Stream The O.C. on Max.

Our Flag Means Death* (2022 – 2023)

“Packed with brilliant leads and an incredible ensemble of sensitive men, strong women, and badass non-binary folks, the show is an absolute delight, dancing between serious and silly in equal measure,” writes Meg of this show about a charming naive guy who upends his life to run away and become a Gentleman Pirate, despite a total lack of experience in the matter. “There are so many queer relationships, so many exes and love triangles, so many beautiful stories playing out and interweaving in ways that feel familiar and fresh all at once.” Non-binary Latiné actor Vico Ortiz plays Jim, a beloved non-binary character. Stream Our Flag Means Death on Max.

Our Flag Means Death

Perry Mason* (2020-2023)

The legendary fictional criminal defense lawyer gets his third television show with this dark period drama set in the 1930s and focused on his origin story. Second billing after star Matthew Rhys (The Americans) is Juliet Rylance as Della Street, the loyal and driven (and homosexual) legal secretary of Mason’s frequent client, E.B. Jonathan (John Lithgow), who eventually starts working for Mason himself. She has a girlfriend and in Season Two, her love life gets even more complicated — and intriguing. Stream Perry Mason on Max.

Pretty Little Liars (2009-2017)

In Rosewood, Pennsylvania, a town filled with barnes and graveyards, there exists a state of adrenalized hyperreality that is accessible to the town’s most exceptional teen girls. Imbued with its power, they can fly airplanes, survive being buried alive, perform black ops level surveillance and black belt level ninja moves, and bend time and space and the affection of burgeoning lesbians to their will. Pretty Little Liars follows the hijinks of these agents of chaos, and the friend groups they leave behind when they fake their own deaths and plant a series of increasingly insane clues, in the form of dolls and masks and human teeth, to help their friends solve the mystery of their disappearance. Emily Fields is one of these left behind friends, and while her heart belongs to the one who accused her of liking Beyonce a little too much, she entertains a string of other lovers, from free spirit Maya to catastrophically intense Paige to dead girlfriend lookalike Samara to coffee shop homosexual Talia. The later seasons make some egregious missteps with a trans woman character, the show perpetually kills off its queer women of color, and there’s a predator who is celebrated as a hero throughout. There are also a few seasons of absolute bananapants delight. Act Normal, Bitch! Stream Pretty Little Liars on Max.

Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin (2022-)

This spinoff takes us to Milwood and into a new group of girls being terrorized by a murderer and suggestive text messages, including queer computer nerd Mouse, who has lesbian Moms and stars dating a trans guy mid-season. This time, the girls are doing penance for something their mothers did 20 years earlier. While the first season came to a disappointing conclusion, there were plenty of thrills and chills and slasher mystery in the meantime. Stream Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin on Max.

HBO Max lesbian streaming guide: Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin girls in the gym looking surprised

Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin

Peacemaker* (2022 – )

Danielle Brooks’ character, Leota Adebayo, inThe Suicide Squad spin-off Peacemaker is a lesbian with her partner Keeya played by queer actor Elizabeth Faith Ludlow. “While Peacemaker may not be breaking any new molds,” writes Carmen of the series, “it thrives at playing to Gunn’s strengths, now taken to the small screen. Peacemaker has a striking pummeled beating heart — with interrogations of loyalty, duty, and loneliness — underneath its dick jokes.” Stream Peacemaker on Max.

Rap Sh!t (2022-2023)

Issa Rae’s Rap Sh!t about two high school friends in Miami who reconnect in their twenties and aim for fame together stars queer actor Jonica Booth as Chastity, and her storyline is “absolutely the best thing about Rap Sh!t‘s sophomore effort,” writes Nic. “Chastity still delivers that swagger and she is nothing if not a hustler but this season also gives her the opportunity to be scared and vulnerable. That rounding of the character, plus the fact that Francois is an absolute jerk, makes it impossible to not cheer for her.” Stream Rap Shit on Max.

Search Party* (2016 – 2022)

Despite there being no actual lesbian activity for the first four seasons of Search Party, it’s undeniably queer — gay men are everywhere, of course, but this weird crime comedy starring queer actress Alia Shawkat as an aimless millennial whose attempt to track down a college acquaintance who’s gone missing sends her on a life path of murder, mayhem and possible sociopathy feels like it was produced by a gay hipster hivemind. Cole Escola shows up as a psychotic trans superfan starting in Season Three. In Season Five, girls start kissing girls and niche queer faves like Grace Kuhlenschmidt and Michelle Badillo join the cast. Stream Search Party on Max.

The Sex Lives of College Girls* (2021-)

Leighton, a legacy from the Upper East Side in Maje tweed and Gucci ankle boots, is the lesbian member of the four-girl set of roommates at the center of this comedy. Queer inclusion is effortlessly everywhere in The Sex Lives of College Girls — with every queer character played by a queer actor — from Whitney’s lesbian teammate on the Essex Soccer squad to her coach to appearances by our very own Vico Ortiz as Tova, a non-binary student Leighton meets at the Women’s Center where she’s forced to volunteer. But I was honestly just as much (if not moreso) invested in the stories of her roommates: horny aspiring comedy writer Bela (Amit Kaur), naive scholarship kid Kimberly (Pauline Chalamet) and star soccer player and Senator’s daughter Whitney (Alyah Chanelle Scott). All grapple with so much their first semester at school — sex, sure, but also sexism, class, and their sense of self in this shifting world. But most of all this show is fucking funny, consistently fresh, sharp in all the right places and a true joy to watch. Stream The Sex Lives of College Girls on Max.

HBO Max lesbian streaming guide: Leighton at a queer club meeting

The Staircase* (2022)

If you’ve not gotten enough of this story from the groundbreaking documentary by the same name, boy are you in luck! It stars Colin Firth as Michael Peterson, a (bisexual) writer convicted of murdering his wife, Kathleen Peterson (Toni Collette), who’s found dead at the bottom of a staircase in their gigantic house, and enlists a huge legal team and a camera crew to clear him of wrongdoing. One of his daughters, Martha Ratliff (Odessa Young), is a lesbian. Stream The Staircase on Max.

Sort Of* (2021-2023)

This big-hearted series follows fluid, sardonic and slightly codependent millennial Sabi Mehboob, the youngest child in a large Pakistani family. They work as a bartender at an LGBTQ bookstore/bar and as a nanny for a downtown hipster family and are trying to find themselves amid demands from all sides to be everything to everyone else. Ultimately the show reveals that, according to Himani’s review, “sometimes, our greatest journey, the one where we really find ourselves, is the journey we take when we stay and face the cracks in our relationships to uncover the self-truths we’ve been running away from the whole time.” Stream Sort Of on Max.

Sabi and Bessy lie side by side on Bessy's hospital bed under orange-toned lights. Sabi's wearing a tooth and fang crop top and toying with their necklace. Bessy dons a beanie and a loose, off-the-shoulder pink top. They're looking away from each other and smiling, as they reflect on relationships.

“Sort Of”

Station Eleven* (2021-22)

Although the ostensive protagonist of this show is queer, there’s no “queer female content” per se, nothing that would qualify it for inclusion on this list. But this show is simply so incredible that we will use any excuse in the book to tell you to watch it. Based on a 2014 novel, Station Eleven grapples with the aftermath of a flu that wipes out civilization entirely in 48 swift hours, weaving together stories of interconnected characters across time, flashing between the day the pandemic hit hardest and the ensuing few years and what remains 20 years later. It’s a sweeping feat of world-(re?)-building and careful character study, and what could be simply triggering instead becomes a type of catharsis. It is about the importance of fiction — of story, of art — in materially barren times, how we’re shaped by personal reactions to shared trauma, the nature of chosen family and so much more. Stream Station Eleven on Max.

Steven Universe (2013 – 2019) and Steven Universe Future (2019)

Steven Universe and its epilogue series, Steven Universe Future is probably the most beloved queer animated series of all time. Created and showrun by non-binary queer writer/artist/musician Rebecca Sugar, the show follow Steven and his family of Crystal Gems as they seek to save the planet and keep Steven safe as he grows up and learns what it means that he is the vessel for his mom’s gem. One of his Gem parents, Garnet, is actually a married lesbian fusion between Ruby and Sapphire! They even get married near the end of the series, becoming the first children’s series to ever feature a gay wedding! The show itself is also full of queer sensibility. It’s an anti-capitalist, anti-patriarchal, anti-colonization that centers and celebrates found family, refuses to shy away from the exploration of both trauma and mental illness just because it’s a “kids” show, and has as fluid a take on gender as any other series on TV, full stop. It’s sweet and silly and fun, and it’s also deep and nuanced and full of hope and healing. Stream Steven Universe & Steven Universe Future on Max.

True Blood* (2008-2014)

Allan Ball’s second dark, death-drenched ensemble drama for HBO (the first, Six Feet Under, is handily one of the best TV shows of all time), inspired by the Sookie Stackhouse Mysteries, finds a variety of pansexual vampires (and their friends) in New Orleans, at the dawn of the invention of synthetic blood that enables them to live without preying on humans. Parallels to queer community exist throughout, and seven regular and recurring female characters pursue same-sex endeavors of various degrees, including Evan Rachel Wood’s Sophie-Anne Leclerq, Rutina Wesley’s Tara Thornton and the legend Pam Swynford De Beuafort (Kristin Bauer van Straten). Stream True Blood on Max.

Tara and Pam in True Blood

“True Blood”

Veep* (2012-2019)

Julia Louis-Dreyfuss’s Selena Meyers and her crack team of savants and fools netted seventeen Primetime Emmys over its seven-season run. We had to wait a few seasons for her daughter to come out (and start dating a security detail played by Clea Duvall), but that was really the icing atop this cynical, sharp, politically incorrect political comedy and its knockout class. Stream Veep on Max.

Veneno* (2020)

Drew described this HBO series, based on Valeria Vegas’ book about Spanish trans icon Cristina La Veneno, as “probably the best trans show I’ve ever been fortunate enough to watch…. a complex, layered show that finds opportunity and expansive imagination in its flurry of stories.” Following Valeria Vegas (Lola Rodriguez) through her own transition as she meets Christina and writes and releases the book, it is interspersed with flashbacks to illustrate Cristina’s complicated, and often tragic, life as a sex worker, singer and media personality who was one of the first trans women widely known in Spain. Stream Veneno on Max.

Warrior* (2019-)

This martial arts crime drama series, rich in historical details, is based on an original treatment by Bruce Lee and captures the Chinese immigrant experience during the Tong Wars in late 1870s San Francisco. It follows a martial arts prodigy who emigrates from China to find his sister, only to find himself sold to a powerful tong in Chinatown. Olivia Cheng is Ah Toy, a bisexual madam who runs a brothel in Chinatown, known for amassing unprecedented levels of wealth for a landed immigrant. She has a romantic relationship with a wealthy white widow who provides asylum to Chinese migrants in Season Two. Paste, naming Warrior “the best show you’re not watching,” described its “colorful, complicated ecosystem of hatchet men, cops, laborers, brothel owners, corrupt politicians and long-suffering wives.” Warrior‘s first two seasons aired on Cinemax, and HBO Max picked it up after Cinemax dropped out of the original content game and is producing a Season Three. Stream Warrior on Max.

We Are Who We Are* (2020)

Chloë Sevigny and Alice Braga star as the lesbian Moms of a misfit teen who’ve just moved onto an American military base in Italy, where Sevigny serves as the base commander. There, her son makes an extraordinary connection with another teen undergoing a gender journey of their own. “What We Are Who We Are does most gracefully is to dunk you into the intense connection and limitless freedom the young people in this show seek together,” writes Kamala in her review of the series. Stream We Are Who We Are on Max.

we are who we are

The Wire* (2002-2008)

The intricate, slow-burn, novelistic storytelling David Simon employs in this modern masterpiece was far more unusual for its time than it would be today. Each stark, searing season focused on a different city institution and its relationship to law enforcement and the underground economies of low-income neighborhoods — the print news media, the seaport system, the city government and bureaucracy and public education. The Wire was one of several HBO programs to see a surge in viewership during quarantine as viewers settled in for a long haul story that humanized and centered the Black and brown characters usually given the short shift. Sonja Sohn played one of the first-ever Black lesbians on television as Detective Kima Greggs. Stream The Wire on Max.

White Lotus (2021-)

We were watching White Lotus despite the fact that it was not interested in representing our people (although it certainly came close) because Mike White’s sumptuous and satirical resort-set whodunit was just so very good. But in Season Two, White Lotus‘s Italian resort manager, the alternately meddling and anxious Valentina, turned out to be an actual lesbian who eventually had actual lesbian sex. Once again, we were tuning in anyhow: for bisexual queen Aubrey Plaza as the skeptical and standoffish wife of a newly rich tech millionaire Harper (who did report having partaken in a threesome during her halcyon days) but also for a delicious mystery set amid a perpetually unsatisfied group of wealthy couples and families vacationing against a gorgeous Sicilian sky. Stream White Lotus on Max.

Years and Years* (2019)

Queer as Folk’s Russel T Davies co-produced this nihilistic BBC/HBO production that sees one Manchester family, the Lyons, converge on one crucial night in 2019 and evolve over the ensuing 15 years as Britain — and the world  — undergoes great political, economic and technological instability. Amid the current pandemic, this show is frankly terrifying because it all feels entirely possible right now! As members of the family grow and change — including Edith, one of four Lyons siblings, a political activist who eventually begins dating Fran, a storyteller and activist — a few public figures remain constant as well, including specifically Trump-esque political celebrity Vivienne Rook (Emma Thompson). Stream Years and Years on Max.

Other shows on HBO Max with queer women as recurring or regular characters: Deadwood, Full Circle, Westworld, Industry, In Treatment, Katy Keene, Sex and the City, Sally4Ever, Rome, Run, Game of Thrones, Friends, Torchwood, Santa Inc, Snowpiercer, The Flight Attendant, True Detective: Night Country, Velma, Flight Attendant


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Riese

Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in nine books, magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. She's Jewish and has a cute dog named Carol. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3200 articles for us.

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.

46 Comments

  1. HBO Max’s Harley Quinn animated series gives the title character a chance to be the bicon she deserves to be (and a chance to be in her comics-canon-confirmed relationship with Poison Ivy).

  2. While the only lesbian so far is a minor character, HBO Max’s Doom Patrol has one gay lead and the greatest genderqueer character in any superhero adaptation. I would pair it with HBO Max’s Harley Quinn as two superhero shows that are so weird and yet sometimes surprisingly moving but also great shows even if superheroes aren’t your thing.

  3. “Trigonometry” is brilliant. The most underrated show of the year – and the hottest one, in my very humble opinion. (The chemistry between Labed, Teixeira and Carr is unbelievable). I don’t know what happened to the television critics in the UK; the series premiered at Berlinale, seemed to be quite high-profiled, and then went unnoticed. (I watched it only because Paapa Essiedu put it in his lockdown recommendations in the Guardian).

    Maybe the weird Greek art-house female artists were not a good catch. Maybe it was too cinematic. Or maybe it was the “Straight People” scheme all along.

    • I also LOVED “Trigonometry.” Such a good show– it almost felt like a movie. The acting and character development was incredible. It also left me with so much to think about in terms of polyamory, love, how to build a family, etc.

    • I watched it and also loved it! It was short and almost all of the episodes had happy endings. I am not a big TV watcher, so it worked well for me. I need more queer poly shows. I also like how there were multiple queer characters in the show, not just the triad. Though, as always, I would appreciate it if people actually said the word bisexual or pansexual out loud.

    • I stumbled across it a few weeks back and I was so into it. The chemistry is awesome between the three (not like in ‘You Me Her’ where the dude didn’t have any chemistry with either of the women)
      The actors were so awesome and I really was in it emotionally. It was so exhausting (in a good way!) to go into that rollercoaster.

      And I really hope that it gets a second season. But I doubt it as it obviously didn’t take off that well.

      But glad to hear that I’m not the only one who has seen and loved it!

  4. Deadwood is incredible. Also, Kim Dickens has been giving me “vibes” ever since…does anyone else lurk her social media like I do and just wonder? Oh! And Robin Weigert’s performance is unbelievable. Also played queer in Concussion.

  5. Also, Industry… The main character is a queer Black woman and the actor is too. It’s a great show, though a bit polarizing, as some love it and others not so much. It’s definitely a good binge and more people should be talking about it.

    • Yes!! I really loved that show. It resonated painfully hard with my workplace experiences. I think it did a far better job than most shows of realistically showing different types of workplace abuse and tension. Often shows that show workplace issues do so unrealistically (or at least not in a way that feels real to me) or they come across as in favor of or neutral towards bad behavior. I was so impressed by how this show illustrated the power differential and desperation of early career people, which people so rarely seem to understand. It seems to me like the sort of show that will of course be unfairly ignored, but I desperately hope there’s a second season, especially since the ending of the first was pretty challenging.

  6. I highly recommend Warrior. One of the main characters is queer. It is not a main part of her story until season 2. But what I like about show is that it gets into the anti-Asian sentiment post-civil war. The Chinese Exclusionary Act and how business sector used race to flame tensions between Irish, Blacks, and Chinese to keep labor wages low. I came for the martial arts and was not disappointed! Gotta love a woman with a sword.

    • THIS!!!

      Warrior is soooo good on so many levels! I’m Asian-American but didn’t start watching the show until I heard it had a major wlw character, which was recently. I was completely BLOWN AWAY and can’t wait for season 3 to continue their story! Historical drama, deep social commentary, martial arts, Asian representation with complex characters, beautiful interracial wlw relationship! I’ll admit that the racism and violence did feel a bit too much at times, considering the current environment. However, it’s still such an amazing show! I really hope Autostraddle can look into it and more people will discover it!

  7. In We Are Who We Are, the actor who played Caitlin/Harper is gender-fluid (https://gal-dem.com/we-are-who-we-ares-jordan-kristine-seamon-is-stepping-into-her-power/) and lists their pronouns as she/they on social media (https://www.instagram.com/jordanseamon/?hl=en), so it’s weird to me to see the show dismissed as a simple case of a cis actor playing a trans character—especially considering that, as Kamala’s review describes, Harper/Caitlin’s gender identity is pretty beautifully messy.

    I definitely think there are valid issues to be had with the show, many of which are mentioned in the review, but I thought Jordan Kristine Seamón’s portrayal of Harper/Caitlin was one of the show’s strengths.

    • Thank you for writing this! I didn’t know. But also, I’ve been feeling for a long time that we need a quite different language when we write about teenage/child performers in trans/nb roles. I remember reading about We Are Who We Are here, and feeling a bit of discomfort, that a 16-year old was put in the box with “a cis actress” on it. And “we hate to see that”. I don’t know. It’s complicated as hell, but I think we have to acknowledge a difference between the adult performers and younger actors. Give the kids and the people who work with them the benefit of the doubt without “come out or we will hate that you’re doing your work, young person”. I believe there is a lot to do in supporting trans/nb teenage performers – and it’s also a fascinating topic. Being a person who has nothing to do with the American show business, I’d be very excited to read about. But at the same time, putting young people into “the label box” feels wrong. But it’s also a broader issue – how we as adults write about much younger people…

      • So real. I think people should at least preface those complaints – even for adults honestly – with saying they do not “openly” identify that way. And especially for non-celebrities, focus the complaints on the people in power who chose to not go with someone openly of that identity, rather than on someone who may have really needed the job and/or chose to do it because they do inwardly identify with it on some level. It’s so uncomfortable to watch both on their behalf, and also because cultural tendency towards identity policing and placing people in boxes impacts everyone. It’s so weird to me that people are like “don’t assume everyone is cis” and then turn around and assume people are cis for the sake of criticizing them for not acting properly cis? It’s so fraught even trying to explore identity because of this. Can’t imagine being a kid in the public eye trying to figure it out.

  8. My favorites from this list are A Black Lady Sketch Show, Awkwafina is Nora from Queens, and Sort of. Also love Euphoria, but wouldn’t really recommend it to everyone just because of the TW.

    Not about lesbians, but Insecure is my all time favorite show on HBO Max.

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  10. I found The Baby very messy – tricky, even – but nevertheless it’s one of the most interesting queer shows this year. And while it ends up in a very adultist perspective, before that, the central metaphor changes and mutates and takes a lot of twists I didn’t expect – the premise seemed too simple to carry the show. And then every episode surprised me. There is something very meta in the way the show uses the genre, the whole “elevated horror” discourse; the show is in constant conversation with itself. There are so many perspectives on motherhood & queerness & body autonomy & desire to have children & desire to not have them within these eight episodes that I can only admire. Even when it seems to fail, it’s still raw and uncomfortable. Also Amber Grappy is a true discovery, although the whole cast is brilliant.

  11. Los Espookys! It’s my favorite show and I feel like I’m always evangelizing it. So queer, so wonderful. Written by two queers, Julio Torres and Ana Fabrega. And main character Úrsula is a lesbian.

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