The Best and Worst LGBT TV Characters of 2015

2015 was a revolutionary year for queer women on television. While we still have a long way to go, we made huge strides toward equality in pop culture this year. In fact, in September, GLAAD announced that this year’s annual Network Responsibility Index would be its last because they plan to shift their attention toward the quality of queer representation on TV, as opposed to the quantity of queer characters. GLAAD also acknowledged that streaming platforms like Amazon, Hulu, and Netflix have changed the game so drastically over the last two years, cable and broadcast networks have no choice but to leap forward if they want to keep up. For Riese and Heather, 2015 was the year they acknowledged they will soon be unable to maintain the the physical and mental spreadsheets they’ve been using to tally every queer woman on TV throughout history. There are now simply too many to track.

One of the most exciting things about TV in 2015 was how many of the best queer storylines featured women of color, particularly black women. While people of color only make up 30 percent of total LGBT representation on TV, our Best Of list this year is made up of 60 percent women of color. From Annalise revealing that she’s bisexual on How to Get Away with Murder to deeper character development from our favorites Suzanne Warren and Sophia Burset on Orange Is the New Black to the animated canonically queer women on Steven Universe (all the Gems are voiced by women of color), it was a revolutionary year black and brown women on TV.

One of the most discouraging things about TV this year was the continued perpetuation of damaging stereotypes about trans women and the violence trans women suffered on screen. Rather than lumping those characters into the worst column, Mey and Heather are going to explore the full year in trans TV in a standalone piece later this week.

Below you will find our list of best and worst queer women on TV in 2015, as chosen by our Autostraddle TV writers. We look forward to your dissenting opinions; we’ve finally arrived at a place where we have enough queer characters on TV to fight about them. What a time to be alive!


Rachel Kincaid, Managing Editor

Lexa, The 100


I’m also a fan of Clarke, with whom Lexa enjoys an extraordinarily brief romance, but for me, Lexa is the kind of queer lady representation I’d like to see more of. She reminds our community that we, too, can be ruthless warrior queens with a single-minded focus on protecting our families from colonial devastation and very avant-garde eyeliner. Seriously though, it really resonates with me that Lexa isn’t just a queer character, she’s a leader of great power and the show makes it clear that she’s absolutely earned it. Dystopian narratives are always fundamentally about survival, and it feels honest to me to have a queer woman character who’s committed to making sure that she and those she’s loyal to survive, no matter what.

Stella Gibson, The Fall


HA if you thought that Gillian Anderson playing a canonically queer character wasn’t gonna make my list, you were kidding yourself. Not to make this a Gillian Anderson thinkpiece but her characters of late have really been monuments to misandry, and Stella is perhaps the best example. I love that there’s no reason you need to have queer women in this show, and yet they’re here. There are (happily) several examples of shows that I feel like you could point to for this right now, but procedurals/serial killer dramas are my bread and butter of television; I would watch one in a house, with a mouse, in a boat, with a goat, basically no matter what — and so would a lot of other people. They don’t “need” queer characters to draw in viewers or to work; and yet here’s Stella, being everything I never knew I needed.

Heather Hogan, Senior Editor

Suzanne, Orange Is the New Black


Uzo Aduba has taken Suzanne to places I never imagined she’d go when we first met her, and thank the heavens one of those places in season three was a respite from the heartache of Vee. I mean, look, it’s an honor to watch Aduba play it all and she does it with a fierce grace I have scarcely seen on my TV, but this show is pretty bleak a lot of the time, and the laughs I got from her foray into fan fiction this season (and the swoons I got from her first brush with reciprocal love) were the highlights of my Netflix viewing experience in 2015. “It’s two people connecting, with four other people — and aliens.” I really do want to read the Time Hump Chronicles.

Sapphire/Ruby, Steven Universe


Every time Mey Rude tells me to read a thing or watch a thing, I do it, and it always makes my life better. So it was with Steven Universe, which I glanced at when Rebecca Sugar left Adventure Time to make it, but stupidly dismissed. As Mey has pointed out multiple these last two years, we are finally getting to a place where all-ages stories are unafraid to explore same-sex relationships, and Steven Universe is the first U.S.-based cartoon series to do it explicitly. This season we found out that Garnet is actually made up of a fusion between Sapphire and Ruby, two Gems who are married, basically, and stay fused together almost always. They’re fire and ice, opposites in so many ways, and truly soul mates. (Special shout out to Pearl being into Garnet, Peridot being into Amethyst, and Steven just being the gosh dang best.)

Stef and Lena, The Fosters


The Fosters is such a funny grab bag of a show. On the one hand you’ve got all these teenagers losing their mind about Brandon and Callie (gross, no, stop!), and on the other hand you’ve got all these adult queer women who just want the entire show to revolve around all of Stef and Lena’s hijinks. Obviously, I am that second thing. This year was weird for my beloved married moms. Monty kissed Lena and it took Lena like a whole half season to finally confess it to Stef, and Lena had postpartum depression, and Stef had PTSD from Jesus getting recast smashed into pieces in that car accident, and then a cancer scare to boot. It was a lot. And, you know, Monty was a really great character. Super adorable and totally believable, but she’s gotta keep them paws off Lena. I hope this show lasts until all the kids go off to college (and Brandon hurls himself into the sea) and it’s just Stef and Lena and their wine.

Annalise Keating, How to Get Away With Murder


It’s Viola Motherfucking Davis playing a bisexual character on primetime network television and winning an Emmy for it, okay? It honestly doesn’t get any better than that. I’m just going to transcribe her speech here because it’s better than anything I have to say:

“In my mind, I see a line. And over that line, I see green fields and lovely flowers and beautiful white women with their arms stretched out to me, over that line. But I can’t seem to get there no how. I can’t seem to get over that line.” That was Harriet Tubman in the 1800s. And let me tell you something: The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity.

You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there. So here’s to all the writers, the awesome people that are Ben Sherwood, Paul Lee, Peter Nowalk, Shonda Rhimes, people who have redefined what it means to be beautiful, to be sexy, to be a leading woman, to be black. And to the Taraji P. Hensons, the Kerry Washingtons, the Halle Berrys, the Nicole Beharies, the Meagan Goods, to Gabrielle Union: Thank you for taking us over that line. Thank you to the Television Academy. Thank you.

Best. Absolute best of 2015. Best, best, best.

Cosima, Orphan Black


I was really worried about this season of Orphan Black because of the Castor clones, but even when this show is uneven, it’s still one of the best things on TV. Cosima is alive! She’s been dying since day one, but she’s still hanging in there, and solving the mysteries of the genetic mutations that are killing her, and making out with all the Canadian women from other sci-fi shows, and being an exemplary sestra. I look forward to the misandrist murder spree she will embark upon when she finds out her beloved Delphine was shot in the guts at the end of last season.

Marceline, Adventure Time


I have always loved Marceline the Vampire Queen, but after watching Adventure Time’s first mini-series, Stakes, this month, I feel seen by Marceline the Vampire Queen. She was just a messed up little kid, all alone and trying to save the world. She made some hard decisions to survive, internalized a lot of shame and guilt, and resisted being a part of a chosen family for a long long time. But then she realized that fighting your demons is doing something good and brave, even if you don’t always win, and that you can rely on the people who love you and that they want to help you. Also, Stakes was finally when Adventure Time gave itself over to showing how deeply, forever-ly in love Marceline and Princess Bubblegum really are. I fully expect a wedding by season nine.

Root and Shaw, Person of Interest


With the exception of Glee — a show that begrudgingly allowed Brittany and Santana to explore their relationship on screen, with each new step forward being pried from the frustrated hands of the writers by a fandom they seemed to loathe — Person of Interest is the first show in TV history to go there with two female characters who were not originally written as lesbian or bisexual. The battle cry of queer fandom since Xena has been, “If these two characters, with this kind of deep relationship and sizzling on-screen chemistry, were opposite-sex, you’d go all in on them in a heartbeat!” Rizzoli and Isles, Emma and Regina, Myka and Helena (lord, Myka and Helena!), and on and on. Person of Interest (which airs on CBS, please remember, the most conservative broadcast TV network in the country) moved forward with Root and Shaw without arguments and without looking over their shoulder, and they plan to dig even deeper with these two women in the coming season. Root and Shaw feel like a sneak peek into the future to me. And I welcome it!

Denise, Master of None


When you add Denise to Freda Gatz from Empire, you get two masculine of center black women on TV this year, which, while still not enough (not enough at all), is so far beyond where we were 12 months ago I don’t even know what to do about it. Master of None was my favorite non-female-fronted TV show this year, and Denise was the best part of it. She’s got smarts and style for days, she elevates every scene she’s in, and she’s played by real life queer writer-comedian Lena Waithe. I have a feeling she’s going to be around even more in season two.

Riese Bernard, Editor-in-Chief

The Pefferman Women, Transparent

Screen Shot 2015-12-13 at 5.30.57 PM

Don’t get me wrong: these people are not “wonderful people.” I don’t really want to “hang out” with them. But as characters they are a fascinating bunch — especially this season when literally every single female family member had either already come out or was questioning their sexuality in some way. I mean, even their ancestors got involved! In season two, Maura’s “coming out” process is safely part of the past, and instead we get to see the daughters as well as Maura’s ex-wife being inclusive and normal with her, as each family member explores various queer subcultures and struggles to come into their own. Allie’s narrative was particularly compelling, and I loved the various tertiary queers brought into the story vis a vis these ladies.

M-Chuck, Survivor’s Remorse


I feel like the name of this show doesn’t really vibe with the vibe of this show — and the show is really, really great! Are you watching it? YOU SHOULD WATCH IT! It’s about family, first and foremost, and the dynamics of this particular family never cease to compel and entertain. I like this show so much that I did my mother the favor of subscribing her to Starz so I could catch up on season two. M-Chuck, the lesbian sister, really won television and lesbianism this year, though, when her family decides to “learn more about Georgia” with a ladies field trip to a plantation and M-Chuck refuses to accept the narrative. I won’t tell you what happens there, though, ’cause you’ve gotta check it for yourself. I bet your Mom secretly wants Starz, too.

Soso, Orange is the New Black


Still holding my breath for this character to finally get her flashback episode, but Soso finally got a little bit fleshed out this year — and ended the season holding hands in the water with my Forever Girlfriend Poussey Washington. The one brief flashback we did get, though, was intensely revelatory regarding her overall life course. Last season she was that annoying girl who thought she understood suffering because of her willingness to engage in liberal political protests, this season she got sad, and she got real, and she asked questions and said things nobody else wanted to ask or say. Plus I always have a soft spot for girls who aren’t afraid to admit that they need a friend.

Mey Rude, Trans Editor

Garnet, Steven Universe


When the first Steven Bomb (a week where there was a new episode of the children’s cartoon every day) came to pass, I think we all knew something big was coming our way on Friday, but what I don’t think we were expecting was for one of the main characters, Garnet, to actually be two tiny space rock lesbians who are so in love that they prefer to be constantly fused than to ever be apart. Ruby and Sapphire, the two tiny space lesbians, even got to kiss, multiple times. Steven Universe’s portrayal of a lesbian couple is more explicit and radical than on many shows for adults. It’s amazing. This is a kids show! And the most celebrated romantic relationship on it is a lesbian one! How terrific is that?

The Other Gay Space Rocks and Assorted Queers, Steven Universe


Steven Universe didn’t stop with Ruby and Sapphire, though! It showed that Pearl was totally gay for Rose Quartz! It showed that Peridot was gay for Amethyst who was probably gay for her too! There was that lesbian couple cheering on Steven when he wore a skirt, heels and makeup and sang a song! And that wasn’t even his first time queering gender norms! He had already fused with Connie into the androgynous Stevonnie, a fairly feminine coded brown person who was flirted with by both boys and girls. This show gives me more hope for young queer kids than just about anything else.

Jill, How to Get Away With Murder


In my lifetime I’ve watched what seems like a hundred Very Special Trans Episodes, half of them on different versions of Law & Order, but I’ve never seen one like this. It was wonderfully absent of all the hallmarks of a Trans Episode that I’ve come to expect. There was no shocking reveal, no discussion by the show’s main characters on whether or not they should respect her identity, no tragic end, no tragic beginning. Instead, Jill was treated with respect by all the characters that mattered. The only people who were transphobic jerks were portrayed as transphobic jerks, Jill wasn’t murdered and the show talked about real trans issues like transmisogyny in the police and court system and the way men who sleep with trans women often mistreat the women they’re sleeping with. Alexandra Billings, who has been the guest star in a few other Very Special Trans Episodes, was great and had one of my favorite guest appearances on any show this year.

Sophia Burset, Orange Is the New Black


She’s still the Queen of Trans Characters on TV. I really, really, really wanted to see her role expanded more than it was, I think she’s one of the most compelling characters on the show but they never seem to use her to her full potential. I was thinking about saying how I didn’t like that she was kind of mean and weird this season, but no, I like that she became more complicated. Orange is the New Black is filled with complicated women filled with flaws, and this year we saw some of Sophias. She was jealous, a little bitter, sometimes a bad parent to her son and had a hard time letting go of a grudge. This season also brought to light a very real and serious issue that many trans women in prison face. After Sophia was attacked by some of her fellow inmates, she was placed in isolation, a terrible place that should be considered torture, but also a place that many trans inmates end up for huge parts of their sentence, or even the entire thing.

Maura, Davina and Shea, Transparent


We’re seeing a deep, true friendship between trans women! I feel like this is the kind of trans TV we’ve been waiting for. It’s finally here. From going dancing together, making lasagna, to teaching Maura all about Yaaas Queen and getting cunt, these three showed trans women just being themselves among themselves. And Davina, oh, Davina. There’s this thing she says to Maura in Episode 7 that’s my favorite line in the entire show since “My whole life I’ve been pretending I was a woman.” Davina, you have my whole heart. Ah, and Shea! She’s so wonderful and there’s a really wonderful conversation she has with Maura in Episode 8 that made me just want to hug her. I’m just so in love with these characters and their relationships with each other.

Nicol, Transparent


Brittani Nichols! She was in my opinion, one of the best dressed people on the show, right alongside Syd. More Nicol in Season 3!

Gittel, Transparent


Oh my gosh, every time she was on screen my ears just perked up. I waited desperately each episode for the flashback when we’d get to see Hari in Berlin. She was so strong and so beautiful. This is the way I want to see trans history shown on the screen. Gittel represents an important and vital part of trans and queer history that cannot be forgotten. I feel lucky that that part of history was represented by Hari Nef and Transparent, they really honored the trans and queer people who came before us with this character and her story. I have so many feelings and emotions about this character and Hari Nef’s performance but I don’t want to spoil an season that’s only been out for a few days. Gittel, I love you, I’m proud to count you as a part of my history.

Lauren, Faking It


Okay, so honestly, I haven’t seen a single episode of this season. But I love Lauren to pieces, and from what I read in Riese’s recaps, she seems like she’s even more awesome than she was last season. If there’s only one intersex character on TV (which: seriously, we need more), I’m glad that it’s her.

KaeLyn Rich, Staff Writer

Suzanne Warren, Orange Is the New Black


Suzanne (who I refuse to call by her nickname) had a rough go of it last year in Season Two, where she got really vulnerable and really lost and made us all want to reach out and hug her with both arms. She’s come an awful long way from her first season as a comic relief character in Season One. My mom always said, “KaeLyn is always rooting for the underdogs,” and maybe that’s why I love her so much. I love Suzanne for being this genuinely kind, surprisingly wise, and constantly beautiful underdog.

In Season Three, Suzanne brought Litchfield the sexual release it so desperately needed with her story series, the Time Hump Chronicles, starring Admiral Rodcocker. She and Poussey make up and she even gets a true love interest in Maureen, who gives her a kiss on the cheek and says she’ll wait in the broom closet for her. Suzanne can’t quite muster the courage to go, but in the last episode, she and Maureen are holding hands. I’m really hoping Suzanne gets a romantic story in Season 4 and we get to see a whole other side of her. She goddamn deserves it!

Stef and Lena Foster-Adams, The Fosters


I just love these two. I love them so much. They had a lot of shit to get through this season, when Stef finally confronted Lena about Monte. They ultimately came out on top. I relate to Stef and Lena more than the kids on the Foster. What I appreciate most is the way they show how a long-term relationship looks after many years and many ups and downs. It’s not a Bette and Tina (L Word) kind of domestic life. The messiness of Stef and Lena’s relationship feels more authentic than that. The love these two have for each other is not burning hot, it’s gently simmering and constant and reliable and safe. I love that. I want that (and have it, really). It’s like coming home to a crockpot of warm chili every day.

Laura M, Staff Writer

Tiana, Empire


Tiana’s dance moves on Empire made my heart beat fast (before they randomly dropped her story), but my favorite character this year, hands down, was Jessica Jones. No, she wasn’t queer, but she’s one of the best feminist characters in TV history. I love how prickly and miserable they let her be. She was “good,” but that wasn’t the main point, and she was many other fucked up things besides. You don’t see that very often in TV (anti?)heroines.

Carolyn Wysinger, Writer/QTPOC Speakeasy

Freda Gatz, Empire


If you have been reading my Empire recaps, you know that I love Freda Gatz. She is the most talented musician on the show (yes, that includes Jussie Smollet) and I believe she is the future of female rappers. That enough makes her the best queer character of 2015. The fact that she is appears to be masculine of center makes her even more awesome. Well, if they allow her to stay MOC and don’t have triflin-ass Luscious try and change her image. She was robbed in the rap battle with Hakeem ’cause the patriarchy is a mutha even in a fictional world. I do have some hopes for her like getting rid of that terrible haircut and that they will let her wear something besides sports bras and overalls. Otherwise, she is the brightest spot of the show and if I was not committed to giving Heather a recap every week, I would only watch Empire when I KNEW she was going to be on.

Rose, Scandal


In early 2015, Olivia Pope was kidnapped. When her kidnappers took her to the apartment of her elderly next door neighbor, Lois, we were all shocked when they shot her in cold blood. On the next episode, were excited to see her friend Rose (played brilliantly by Marla Gibbs of The Jeffersons) show up asking, “Where is the black lady?” I don’t think any of us were prepared to find out that Rose was Lois’ longtime partner. My Facebook timeline was immediately flooded with, “They got elder black lesbians on ABC!” Folks cheered. Others cried. Elder black lesbians are so invisible in our community.

I have met 20 year olds who have never met a lesbian over 50. I have been blessed to be in a community with so many elders. One of the major components of events like the Black Lesbians United Retreat and the NIA Collective Gathering is creating an intergenerational space that allows us to both learn from elders and hear their concerns. One of the things I hear so much from elders is that they don’t feel heard, seen or valued in the community when they become too old to frequent clubs. Many of them live in isolation, having lost their families when they came out decades before (and have maybe even lost children). So when Rose attends Lois’ memorial and says over her coffin, “You left me here all alone” it was the most heartbreaking thing I have ever heard. I have heard these words from elders. Rose not only represented a person that we never get to see she represented a story that is never told. She was the real MVP of 2015.

Sadie, TV Intern

Amanita & Nomi, Sense8


I am such a fan of Sense8. Like, a huge fan. I love the high concept science fiction aspect, I love that the cast comes from so many different cultures, but the best part for me was getting to see these two on screen. This kind of thing almost never happens. We’ve got a lesbian couple in which one of the women is trans and the other a woman of color (two of the most under served demos when it comes to lady loving ladies on television) on a show created, in part, by a trans woman. It’s free of the typical tropes and excels at incorporating some very real and even terrifying aspects being trans that can really only come from actors and show runners with real, lived experience. On top of that you wouldn’t believe the number of trans lesbians and their partners who have told me just how important seeing this kind of exposure is. And to see a couple so dedicated to each other, it warms the soul of even the loneliest of hearts like me. In an age where I still get dating site messages that read “I just don’t understand how a trans woman could be a lesbian” the more characters like these two out in the world, the better. I can’t wait to see what season two has in store.

Clarke, The 100


There are two types of people who saw this show: The first type were those who never saw it coming. Those who, like me, needing to fill a sci-fi void in their life gave this weird little show a shot. Expecting nothing we actually manage to get a pretty bad ass bisexual main character in return for trudging through one and a half seasons of some pretty scientifically suspect descents from an oddly spacious space station. The second type of people are those that heard us first typers go on and on about something which, in the end, turns out to be about 45 seconds of actual screen time and a lot of sexual tension surrounding it. On behalf of the first group, we apologize.

Karly, TV Intern

Delphine Cormier, Orphan Black


Let’s hear it for beautiful women who make us question our morality! Very few characters have made a complete 180 like Delphine Cormier. This season Delphine took on the responsibility of the Leda Project and immediately resolved to protect Cosima and her sisters, even if that meant denying herself happiness. She was fueled by ambition and a broken heart, and the new job looked so GOOD on her. We knew Delphine was pragmatic, but we didn’t realize just how pragmatic she was. She would do anything to protect Cosima, even if Cosima lied to her at every turn. But by the end of the season, Sarah, Alison, and Cosima felt they could trust her and invited her to the family dinner. I take it as personal injury that Delphine never got to sit at that table. I’m definitely hoping Delphine returns in season 4. Repeat after me: ‘Twas just a flesh wound.


Heather Hogan

Sara Harvey, Pretty Little Liars


Season 6A of Pretty Little Liars was pretty disappointing. After fans started rioting because they were tired of getting faked out by Big A reveals, the show made a beeline toward the finish line, promising to answer every question they’d ever asked and to wallop viewers in the face with the MOST SHOCKING REVEAL EVER. It did not go well. One of the most bizarre creative choices was to introduce Sara Harvey as the inexplicable and unsatisfying answer to a thousand questions. Who was Red Coat? Sara Harvey. Who was Black Widow? Sara Harvey. Who was sometimes A? Sara Harvey. But who the fuck is Sara Harvey? She’s no one. She means nothing to us. She crawled out of a bunker, engaged in a paint-by-numbers romantic relationship with Emily, and then BAM! She was The Bad Guy. You just can’t bring a character in during the eleventh hour of a mystery and have her be the crux to so many complicated plots; it goes against all the rules of compelling storytelling, no matter the medium.

Her presence also robbed queer viewers of getting to see Emily engage in the kind of emotionally resonant romantic storyline with a seasons-long love interest that the other Liars did. The few really excellent Sara-free episodes at the beginning of 6A made the last half of the season even more of a bummer. The only good thing to come from her presence was that it made Paige/Emily and Ali/Emily shippers stop murdering each other for a second; it was the only thing she didn’t ruin like the professional ruiner she is. I can’t believe she’s surviving the time jump. (I can’t believe Emily went swimming with her.)

What I came to believe about PLL this season was that the three main male love interests on this show, the same ol’ white dude characters who are indistinguishable from every other set of teenage white dude characters on ABC Family and The CW, are untouchable (by the choice of either the network or the studio or the writers or some combination of those forces) and so are their relationships with Hanna, Aria, and Spencer; therefore, the only way to force consequences into the narrative is to do it with Alison, Emily, or new characters. I hope they prove me wrong in 6B; I have loved this show more than I could ever even love my own child.

Barbara Kean, Gotham


Gotham finally pushed me to do a thing I never thought I would do: Stop watching every TV show that boasts a queer female character. I know I’ve said it a million times, but I’m going to say it once more, with extra feeling: Gotham took Latina lesbian Rene Montoya, one of the greatest and most beloved comic book characters ever, and tossed her in the garbage because of the entitled backlash it created when she became a viable romantic rival for the Great White Fanboy Hope, Jim Gordon. And once she was dismissed without explanation or reason, the writers morphed Barbara Kean into every horrible bisexuality trope you’ve ever heard of and paired her up with an equally cliched character, and claimed was the same thing as exploring a story with a complex, fully realized queer woman of color. Thank God it’s not 2004 anymore and our options for TV consumption aren’t limited to these begrudgingly offered scraps.

Mey Rude

Ryan Murphy


THE WORST FOREVER. When he made Finn into a hero for outing Santana (in an episode that makes me cry for at least 20 minutes every time I watch it) I thought that he had reached his low. But then, in the much touted Glee series finale, where we would fast forward and see how our favorite characters’ futures fared, he completely left Santana (who was in more episodes than any cast member outside of the five who were in every episode) and Brittany out. Matt had more screentime and more lines in the two hour finale than Santana and Brittany combined. Matt!

Then, Murphy came out with American Horror Story: Hotel and cast a cisgender man as a transgender woman and had her study with drag queens instead of, you know, actual trans women, to prepare for the role. This, and the way everyone at the show talked about the character led most people to assume she was a crossdresser, but nope, they revealed that she was a trans woman in a very patronizing episode where she needs the help of a cis woman, played by Lady Gaga, to become the woman she really is. Then, Murphy continued to treat her like shit. Trans women almost never get to find love in fiction, and so we shouldn’t have been surprised when Murphy had Liz find true love only to have her lover murdered right in front of her. Ryan Murphy truly is the worst LGBTQ TV character of the year, decade, century and millennium.

KaeLyn Rich

Mulan, Once Upon a Time


It’s not that I don’t like Mulan. I like Mulan a lot. I was thrilled to learn we’d have her back this year. However, she wasn’t really “back” this season. She showed up in part of one episode and made google eyes at Ruby and then disappeared forever after. It’s not her fault and it’s not Chung’s fault. It is the way this character’s new love interest was hyped and the way the OUAT writers touted their renewed interest in queer storylines this year. It’s queer baiting and it’s bullshit. I’d rather have no queer characters than one lesbian character who is barely in the show and given nothing to do. Thanks.

Laura Mandanas

Kalinda, The Good Wife


I was so sad about the ending that Kalinda got on Good Wife! Kalinda and Alicia had such an interesting friendship at the beginning of that show, and I really wanted to see them get back together again — or at least process their issues rather than do what they did, you know? The story felt incomplete to me.

Riese, Editor-in-Chief

Mimi Whiteman, Empire


This character was supposed to be a huge exciting deal for all of us with a personal stake in Lyon Dynasty or Empire, but literally nothing she said or did was cool or exciting. The icing on the sad cake of Mimi remains, however, her behavior towards the girl her and Lucious brought to their room for a threesome. Nope! And, even in her awfulness, she remained a poorly-constructed character overall. If you’re gonna be awful, at least be consistently awful.

Aja Aguirre, Beauty Editor

Penny, Grey’s Anatomy


Haven’t we all known a Penelope Blake? Soft, bland, slowly blinking succubi to whom we lose dear and vibrant friends and friendships?

There’s no there there. When we talk about Penny, Grey Sloan Memorial’s newest surgical resident, the most interesting thing about her is the fact that she was in college before she ever tried macaroni and cheese.

When you think about the wild, unbridled potential of her character — a young redheaded lesbian surgical resident who helped kill one of the world’s foremost neurosurgeons while he was still working for the President of the United States of America — you don’t think simpering wimp or shrinking violet. You think about the tenacity of putting one foot in front of the other even when your hospital closes, even when his ghost haunts you mercilessly, even when the sound of his wife’s words mothering you the night he died makes the air so thick with shame you can hardly move. How inept you were even after the little girl told you he was a surgeon, too. He was a surgeon, he was a surgeon, he was a surgeon. And what are you? A fraud, an imposter, a killer? Or how arrogant and sadomasochistic you’d have to be in order to walk over his grave and wordlessly lay claim to every square inch of his life, to feel entitled to shadow the light of his memory and life’s work and loved ones with your presence, however unwelcome, because none of that is more important than realizing your potential as a surgeon; a great one, one who doesn’t allow her judgment to be clouded or her work to be rushed, presumably one who doesn’t take nearly two hours to show up to an ER when she’s on-call. Someone who fucked up that bad and keeps going, publicly and with human lives literally in her hands, cannot merely be meek or plaintive. She has to be a contradiction of selfishness and selflessness.

But Penelope Blake is about as riveting as a sad xeroxed copy of a discount mattress sale flier lying in the gutter after a torrential downpour after it’s been run over 84,000 times during rush hour.

Penny, girl, when no mother of yours nor the sturdiness of medicine can make your roots stick, you can’t just go stealing someone else’s. You can’t simply affix yourself to the beautifully thick and wending roots of a Callie, who has earned and nurtures hers, or tremble at the foot of Meredith’s mercy like a dog. You cannot pretend that your frightened, remorseful tears do anything but weaken the soil of everyone around you. You have to make your own.

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

Join AF+!

the team

auto has written 724 articles for us.


  1. Holy shit, Aja. I almost want Penny to stay on the show just so I can read more of your words about her.

    And Mey, your inclusion of Ryan Murphy as the worst queer character on TV in 2015 is so spot on. LITERALLY THE WORST.

    In other news, ROOT AND SHAW 4EVAAAAAAAAAA! Is it January yet!?

    • I really hate to be the bearer of such terrible news, but POI isn’t on CBS’s winter line up :'( It’s most likely slated for the summer, but maybe for later on in the spring if another show gets cancelled. I have been crying actual tears about this for the past two weeks because it is the worst thing.

      • Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo *Michael Scott gif*

      • No. Just. NO. I refuse to believe this. They’ve been saying for MONTHS, at Comicon, at NYCC, that it would premiere in January!

        On the other hand, moving it to the spring or summer might give season 5 the boost it needs to be renewed for season 6. Maybe it’ll get a different audience that the usual CBS procedural crowd that watches fall/winter shows. The audiences who watch spring/summer shows are younger and more progressive, and the shows that run in the spring/summer are the ones doing the most interesting and innovative things. Maybe this is CBS’ way of finally acknowledging that PoI is NOT a procedural, and that season 5 is going to be the most serialized of any season thus far, and they’re moving it to a time slot that would be more suited to that new iteration of the show!? That could almost be a good things! I’d be willing to wait until summer for season 5 if it meant a better likelihood of there being a season 6!

    • Man, Aja writes Grey’s like no one I have ever read before. She’s a gift.

      Ryan Murphy is the FOREVER WORST.

    • I mean like this :
      “But Penelope Blake is about as riveting as a sad xeroxed copy of a discount mattress sale flier lying in the gutter after a torrential downpour after it’s been run over 84,000 times during rush hour.”

      … needs to be framed (and sent to Shonda).

  2. In an article entitled “The Best and Worst LGBT TV Characters of 2015”, you can’t toss Kalinda (Good Wife) into the worst pile just because she got a poor write off. Her character kept the show together for the best part! I’m also not sure her friendship with Alicia was the best way to praise her queerness.

    • Well, but all of these characters are being judged by the way they were written, and the way Kalinda was written over the course of the last two seasons — especially after such compelling and nuanced storytelling in the first years of the show — was terrible. Just terrible. The totality of her arc was one of the most disappointing things I’ve ever seen on TV, and in large part because her relationship with Alicia (while not queer) was one of the best parts of the show, and for whatever reasons, they just abandoned it. Seeing such an important bisexual character of color be written off in such a cheap, unsatisfying way definitely makes her a good candidate for this list.

    • Oh, I totally agree with you that her character kept the show together for the best part! And then it was an abysmal downward spiral. This last season was super disappointing to me. :(

      Also, I didn’t have any issues with how they presented her queerness. But I think there are many other ways to screw up queer character’s stories aside from showing negative stereotypes (or what have you), and I really feel like that’s what they did to Kalinda. They screwed up her story.

  3. Gittel for queer of the year

    I just couldn’t get over her character and the casting choice and all the amazing scenes and for finally getting to see a trans person that looked like me on screen. Ahh, too good.

    • All I’ve seen of Gittel is the still in this list, if she’s dressed années folles-like all the time I need to see moar of her.

  4. I know this is an extremely unpopular opinion, but I did not mind the Emily/Sara storyline on PLL. To me that storyline allowed Emily to do something that the other 3 girls were allowed to that she was never allowed to: fully breakdown. Emily has been through so much crap, but the show never took time to examine that until season 6; episode 2 in particular. That scene where she breaks down at the shooting range, but still keeps shooting was one of this shows most disturbing scenes yet(which is saying a lot). The girl was literally crying and on the verge of an anxiety attack, but she just kept shooting. The only reason she stopped was because she ran out of bullets. She felt so out of control after the dollhouse, and by her own admission was afraid of turning into monster: enter Sara.

    In probably one of the most META scenes ever Emily told Sara in episode 603 that when she first saw her she reminded her of a sad puppy. We all know Emily has an insane Savior complex, and that she prefers to bury her problems by trying to help other people – in another ridiculously META scene later in the season Emily actually admits this to Nicole. Those two things added in with Emily’s fear of becoming a monster, which she used Sara’s trust and dependency on her to help alleviate, makes that entire storyline make perfect sense to me. Emily feverishly latching on to the first wounded girl she sees in order to try heal her own wounds is literally the most Emily Fields thing ever.

    But Heather I do 100% agree that the writers making a newbie character like Sara, who literally no one cared about, red coat and black widow was just awful, and I think that point you made about the three bfs and their relationships being untouchable to the point that only Emily, Ali and other (usually female) characters have to deal with consequences is so unfortunately true and infuriating. The best example of this is basically all of Paily’s storyline from season 4 forward. On the one hand I like how realistic that couple is, but it doesn’t really feel fair when the straight couples never have to deal with crap like that. It’s very obvious what section of this fan base the writers value the most. Spoiler alert: it isn’t us.

    • You make some really good points, Bridget! I honestly hadn’t though of Emily’s savior complex manifesting itself with Sara, and I think it’s because Emily’s savior complex, to me, came out that season after Ali came back from the dead and Emily kept threatening to like murder Hanna if she made her leave town again. And then they had sexual intercourse. (Emily and Ali, I mean. Not Emily and Hanna … yet.)

      You know, Spencer and Aria went through total meltdowns also (Spencer, especially), but now that I’m thinking about it, both of those had to do with being betrayed by their boyfriends as opposed to dealing with the PTSD of all the shit they’ve been put through over the years. But then Hanna did break down, when she had that realization that Mona turned her into Ali maybe, remember that? And she and Caleb just sat in Uncle-Dad Jaime’s cabin all day, drinking Wild Turkey? That was about what she’d been through, I think; and not about her boyfriend.

      However, everything you said in that second paragraph does make me think about things in a new way. I think the end I suspected was coming made me too annoyed to think about it beyond that frustration.

    • Bridget, those are some mighty excellent points! It definitely just made me think about Sara Harvey in completely new ways.

      Question that I’m sure a serious watcher of PLL can help me with: Is there any chance at Sara Harvey being Bethany Young? I have to believe that there is another twist to her character…

    • “It’s very obvious what section of this fan base the writers value the most. Spoiler alert: it isn’t us.”

      This makes me want to weep. All I want for Christmas is for PLL to redeem itself – my partner is so disgusted by it that she’s threatening not to watch 6B – and Bridget you have hit the nail on the head. It isn’t us they value.

      It makes me so sad. I too have loved this show more than I could love my own child, and I really don’t want it to move out and make disappointing choices!!

  5. And anyone who wants to know how to write a compelling story with queer characters that is NOT solely about their sexuality needs to watch this Annalise/Eve storyline on HTGAWM. It is so freaking good. I mean Viola Davis playing a queer character is amazing asis, but the fact the character she’s playing is the amazing Annalise Keating and her love interest is played by Famke Jenssen? Yeah, it doesn’t get much better than that.

  6. This is a really great feature – my favorites are probably Suzanne from OITNB and Lauren from Faking It, myself. What a joy to have so many queer characters when I grew up with basically none.

    I just wanted to make a comment because lately this website has been making me feel kinda unwelcome with the frequent celebrations of misandry. When I was younger, and I identified as purely lesbian, this website was perfect for me. As I grew older, I came to understand myself as a bi/pan genderqueer person. Owning my masculine gender aspects has been amazing for my mental health. I have loved “the boys/the girls/the others” (to quote the stellar trans artist Athens Boys Choir). I’ve had bad boyfriends and bad girlfriends and I’m currently with a cis guy who treats me like the smart, awesome, worthy weirdo I am.

    I just wanted to be a voice here that doesn’t love that “misandry” is worked into pretty much every article. (In this case, it’s a small reference, in relation to Gillian Anderson’s character, and is noted, in my opinion, in a way that speaks favorably of the concept). It just feels weird that a website that made me feel safe and worthy makes me feel shit about being a sort-of guy, about loving a guy. Why can’t queers like me exist in this space, too? I just find the focus on misandry kind of childish, and brings me back to when my parents thought I had a girlfriend because I was sick of dudes. No, I had a girlfriend because I loved her, and I have a boyfriend because I love him. Do we really have to make everything into an issue of name-calling, of generalizations?

    I know I might get comments implying I’m an MRA or something, and I’m really not. I’m a huge feminist and every day of my life as a queer gender non-conforming person who society tends to read/perceive as female. I just really honestly don’t get why we have to misandrist to love women, especially when there are genderqueer and bisexual people here. Are we honestly not welcome? Are we genuinely less worthy because aspects of our gender/sexuality we can’t change?

    • I’ve noticed too that the notion of misandry has gotten more popular in recent years here and in other queer/feminist spaces; I see it as a tongue in cheek response to MRAs earnestly accusing us of misandry. As MRAs have started crying misandry all the time we’ve kind of appropriated it as a joke. I find it amusing because for years I have bristled at men and straight women who don’t know me asking me if I hate men even though I am a fairly friendly person with everyone, men included.
      I am sorry to hear that it brings you discomfort and makes you question the bi/queer inclusivity of this site. These jokes may amuse me but I have zero tolerance for the shaming or exclusion of people who are attracted to men. Of course you are no less worthy. Of course you belong here. This isn’t afterellen, biphobia has no place here.

      • Yes. This. I can’t say it any better. I feel that those who are often called misandrists (for being queer, for being feminists, for being women or perceived as women) have a right to re-appropriate the word and use in in our own way. I don’t believe anyone who works/writes for Autostraddle actually hates men. I feel like many of the articles and essays and comics on this site have instances of genderqueer and bi inclusion. As a queer genderqueer, you are so welcome here! <3

      • I’ve been on the fence about all the misandry jokes (and there’s even an AS T-shirt referncing it, I think,) and reading this thread tipped me firmly into “no.” I’m having trouble articulating why but it boils down to wanting to be sure trans/ genderqueer members feel this is a safe space for them too.

        Our right to reappropriate it into a joke gets dicey when you bring that in. I know similar conversations have been had regarding “queer” and older AS members, and there’s no simple solution. I will say I see it so much in the actual articles/store that it feels like AS both stands behind that joke and is actively spreading it to their community.

        HOWEVER, bevause this is AS I am 100% confident that the writers have nothing but good intentions and will handle this feedback respectfully to make sure this site stays a utopic island in the internet ocean. We are all welcome here.

        • It’s the fact that these comments are seemingly endorsed by the editors that bothers me. We all say things out of frustration or anger that aren’t perfect, and that’s totally OK. I vent about men too – there are enough creepy/abusive/misogynst etc. guys out there that anger and frustration are totally legitimate reactions. I’m not interested in policing the spontaneous expresions of fear or anger by those who’ve suffered at the hands of men, or any other group.

          But to me, edited, published, writing is a different story. When you choose to publish something you’re making a statement, and I’d personally prefer that statment to be one of acceptance without regard to gender.

    • THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS COMMENT! I’m a cis female myself, but you have articulated everything I’ve been feeling about the misandrist jokes that have been flying around lately, and I’m so glad I’m not the only one who feels this way. I don’t think it’s okay. I love the Autostraddle community, and I feel comfortable considering others’ POV but also respectfully disagreeing with some of the hurtful opinions voiced on here.

    • You are not alone in your dislike the the misandry comments. I’ve mentioned it before and the response has basically been that it’s a joke. Honestly though, it feels pretty real sometimes. If a man told me he was looking forward to a misogynst killing spree on TV I’d be creeped out (joke or not), and it just doesn’t seem that different when a woman makes a similar comment. Women may have less power than men in our society, but we have an equal capacity for hatred and judgement.

      Not only do the misandry comments bother me as a woman with male friends and family members that I love, but I worry about the trans men in our community, especially those who are just begining to explore their gender identity – I know if I were struggling to come out as male, it would definitely hurt feeling like even one of the most accepting communities out there hated me.

      I love Autostraddle, more than I ever thought I could love a website. It means a lot to me, and the constant misandry comments seem totally at odds with the ethos of love and acceptance that I’ve come to expect from this site. I know I’m in the minority here, and maybe I just have a poor sense of humor, but I just don’t think hate is something to celebrate – even in jest.

    • I can understand the frustration you feel and somewhat sympathize with it, but I tend to think of misandry jokes as a defense mechanism and throw away comments. It’s like when people of color say “ugh white people”. It’s generally not said with hatred or even malice towards white people. It’s more an expression of annoyance and the inability to escape them. That being said, for some people keeping a distance from men and making them uncomfortable is part of their identity. In a world where men are everywhere constantly inserting themselves, I don’t have an issue with that.

  7. Heather, I think Callie and Erica on Grey’s was a perfect example of characters put together because of their chemistry, even though they weren’t planned as queer. Unfortunately that chemistry was not rewarded, except by the parking lot of no return.

    • Actually, and this is what makes the Erica Hahn thing so bonkers, they brought her back onto the show — remember she was a foil for Burke, at first, and then she just went away — specifically to be in a relationship with Callie to make Callie bisexual because Shonda felt weird that out of all those doctors, not a single one was queer. And then they wrote her off because the execs at ABC thought that she didn’t have *enough* chemistry with Callie. Man, I will never ever forget when we found out Erica was leaving. Brooke Smith gave these heartbroken interviews about how Shonda’s hands were tied and the network was forcing her out, and I mean, this happened like one week after Prop. 8 passed in California in the 2008 election. There were hardly ANY queer women on TV. Glee hadn’t even premiered! Dark days. Dark dark days. I hope we never go back to those days.

      • I know it’s a very unpopular opinion, but I still prefer Callie and Erica to Calzona. I thought that Sara Ramirez and Brooke Smith had such a spark together!! I loved how Erica was just as scared as Callie, but forged ahead bravely for the both of them. I loved that Erica looked at Callie like she was magic sent just to melt her heart. I loved that Callie saw a softness in Erica that no one else did. And I wanted to see them explore the tension between Callie’s bisexuality and Erica Hahn’s lesbianism. I mean, Calzona was great at its peak- don’t get me wrong! I don’t want to excommunicated from the fandom, lol. But Callie and Erica, I could write a thousand love letters about the two of them.

        When I look back over the long history of Shondaland and all of the super heroic deeds that Shonda Rhimes accomplished for representation on television, Erica Hahn walking into the parking lot of no return will always be the lowest of the lows.

        • Fortunately for us all, I think that signified the very end of her taking mandates from the network — and look at the blessings we have thus received!

          • Well, when you put it that way…. Erica Hahn’s sacrifice might just make her a Patron Saint of Shondaland, so that all of the rest of our queer dreams could live!

        • REALLY!? C.P., I feel like we usually agree when it comes to Grey’s, but man, I really didn’t like Erica at ALL. Her relationship with Callie, from the very beginning of their friendship, always felt super forced and tacked-on (because it was), and there seemed to be such a strange disconnect between who Erica was with Callie and who she was with everyone else, which never made any sense to me. And I didn’t think they had any chemistry at all – they always felt awkward to me – like the actresses were awkward with each other, not the characters. Them getting together finally was cute, but (unpopular opinion alert) I was actually really glad they kicked Erica off the show and brought in Arizona as her lesbian replacement.

          • Oh, Alison, no! Hahn had an abrasive personality, but there was nothing forced about her chemistry with Callie, not from where I was sitting. That was the thing about Erica, she had gone through life putting up walls, putting her work first because her connections with other people were just kinda whatever…and here comes this person who makes her want to connect, and she gets to see what a genuine connection feels like, and she realizes how intoxicating that can be. After Erica Hahn, honestly, Arizona felt like a lightweight to me. She didn’t seem like quite as much of a grown woman, or something I can’t quite articulate. I never saw the chemistry in Calzona, to be honest.

            But then, I’m a Grey’s classicist who loved it back in the day but hasn’t watched it for years, so…

          • It’s funny that you highlight their mutual awkwardness, because I always read it as a strength between them. I definitely read it as a specific acting/ writing choice though. I felt like, coming out is awkward. Discovering you have feelings for another woman when you hadn’t previously considered that part of yourself is awkward. And on most shows, that specific process of moving from straight to queer is not given space to be weird or uncomfortable- it’s made to be linear. I willingly admit that I might be biased because that plot on Greys aired around the time of my own coming out process. But, I always appreciated that Greys gave it the opportunity to be weird and strange and embarrassingly awkward.

            I know I’m in the minority about Sara Ramirez and Brooke Smith’s chemistry together, it’s ok. I think they are both attractive women and when they looked at each other with those small, shy smiles, my heart still grows 2 sizes (even in repeats).

            I enjoy our points of divergence on this, though! And I will say, Arizona kissing Callie in the bathroom definitely made up for whatever burned feelings I had about Erica’s parking lot escape.

          • To be fair, Callie came out at least a year or two before I did, so maybe I wasn’t as invested in her and Erica as I would have been if that storyline had happened a few years later. Also, it’s not Erica’s fault that her relationship with Callie happened during the absolute worst years of GA.

            Queer Girl, I see where your coming from, but I think a lot of what you said about Erica Hahn sounds like it came from fanfiction – NONE of that is well-articulate in the show itself, or in Brooke Smith’s portrayal of Erica.

            And C.P., you’re absolutly right about not enough shows accurately depict the awkwardness of moving from straight to queer – Buffy did it well, but no others that I can think of. My problem was that the awkwardness wasn’t in the characters, it was in the actresses, and it took me out of the story.

            Anyway, I too enjoy that we can have differing opinions on this (and anything else!) And I will say, I would take Erica back %10,000 over Penny Dreadful (perfect name, btw!) any day!

        • The fact that we’re still talking about Erica Hahn — who I truly believe was the first martyr in the lessbian/bi TV revolution we’re in right now — makes me REALLY happy.

      • Well now I can’t find wherever I thought I read that the chemistry just happened. I totally agree with CP, Erica is exactly the kind of character I love and to me Grey’s have still not really made up for her leaving.

  8. YES YES YES this list is beautiful and amazing!

    Quality shows that have queer characters! I am so grateful that 90% of the awesome shows that I watch now have a queer character and I no longer have to watch terrible shows to get my fix of ladylovin’ TV, which often turned out to be queerbaiting or just shitty writing (RYAN FUCKING MURPHY, YOU SUCK).

    Not saying that it’s all rainbows and unicorns now, but damn, I’m so hopeful and excited for the future.

    Speaking of which, Root and Shaw <3 <3 <3! They better not fuck that up! If only POI was a Netflix show that had no fear of cancellation :(

  9. Seriously though, did a gang of queer women beat up Ryan Murphy as a small child? That’s the only reason I can think of for why he keeps pulling this shit.

    • He reminds me of one of the gay guys in an LGBT group I used to be apart of. They both had half baked ideas that started off well but turned to shit rather quickly and they were more than willing to offer up feminine guys and women in turn for respect from Cis men.

  10. “Person of Interest is the first show in TV history to go there with two female characters who were not originally written as lesbian or bisexual.”

    EXCUSE ME BUT WHAT ABOUT KORRASAMI? They came out (pun intended) at pretty much the exact same minute!

    • I mean, I feel you, but Korrasami was ~implied~ and they walked right off the screen into the end of the show. Root and Shaw smooched on the mouth, which is not up for interpretation, and the writers say they’re going deeper (ahem) next season. I loce Korrasami, and they are very very important, but POI is a different thing, I think! :)

      • Oh definitely, I agree they go deeper ? I just think korrasami technically applied to that categorization is all. Anytime a show goes from subtext to canon (like all four of them) makes me faint from euphoria.

  11. “While people of color only make up 30 percent of total LGBT representation on TV, our Best Of list this year is made up of 60 percent women of color. ”

    Autostraddle, at the very core, this is why I love you. Your unwavering commitment to making sure that all queer women, however underrepresented, queer women of color, queer trans women, have a seat at your table. I will never be able to write enough thank yous. But I will keep trying.

    That out of the way, Let’s do a personal Best/Worst List:


    -ANALISE KEATING BISEXUAL!!! The first woman to ever make me pledge allegiance to Slytherin. Analise is so deliciously wrong, and it feels wrong in all the right ways.

    -M CHUCK!!! M CHUCK!!! M CHUCK!!! The Plantation scenes will live on in infamy. Hey readers out there, are you not watching Survivor’s Remorse? Do you like to laugh??? Then you should be watching Suvivor’s Remorse!

    – Rose from Scandal- I completely had forgotten about Rose! Man, “Where is the black lady” made me cry for a full hour the night it aired. Carolyn is right, she’s the real MVP.

    – I will always put Callie Torres on my best list. Because, Sara Ramirez. She could have spent the year reading a phone book and it wouldn’t had even mattered.

    -Stef and Lena Foster! Their reunion at the end of the season made me honestly cry- and then I felt ridiculous for crying at a teen family show, but alas- they have taken my deepest, quietest dreams of what I want for my queer future and laid it bare on tv. I feel like it’s a privilege to watch their family gather round the table each week. It encourages me to be that much braver as I go about finding love and building a family of my own. (I know, I know, I’m a sap).

    -Maura, Davina and Shea from Transparent- I really love their sisterhood. And I wish that Amazon would build a spin off just around them. I’m still lukewarm about Transparent as a whole, but Tracee Lysette and Alexandra Billings are so freaking talented. I love watching them. (Special shout out to Alexandra Billings’ character on HTGAWM as well. I want more Alexandra Billings on my TV in 2016!)


    – Penny Dreadful from Grey’s Anatomy! Aja, I have no words. That was all perfect. Just perfect.

    – Ryan Murphy FOREVER!! (Though I will say, I made peace with Brittana not being in the season finale. Heather once wrote something about Brittana a long time ago that stayed with me, she said that Brittana always belonged to the fans first. And the writers never truly knew what to do with them. So, in a way, it was better that the writers didn’t get the final word on what happened to them.)

    Peace out 2015! Thanks for all the good times.

    • I will always believe that about Brittana. I will always believe they belonged to the fans first, and forever.

  12. As far as the Best of List goes, I’m ridiculously happy that Steven Universe exists and that other lesbians share my enthusiasm for the awesome queer representation.

    RE: the Worst of List, I’m not surprised to see Sarah Harvey on there, because we ALL wanted to slap her just like Emily. But how did Cece/Charlotte not make the list?!

  13. From the TV shows I watch, I totally agree with this.

    Currently (and rightfully so due to the recent release) on a Transparent high (also thanks to Mey’s behind the scenes story yesterday).
    Ali Pfefferman (clearly does so much wrong but) can do no wrong according to me and my heart-eyed crush on her *swoon* ?


  14. oh man, i would have loved to know what you guys thought of jeri hogarth, pam, and wendy in january jones. i’m so excited to see where they take jeri in season two

  15. I’m here for Root, Shaw and Lexa. Grrrrlpower all the way!
    And rarely have I ever wanted to spit onto someone’s shoes, like Adam Horowitz'(Once Upon a Time).
    Not just for Mulan.
    After being absolutely floored by several shows this year, like Jane the Virgin, River, Jessica Jones and POI, for example, I refuse to believe that it is that impossible to develop your characters and tell a friggin story right..on a show about fairytales!
    I am personally offended by the sheer laziness, the hubris and the ignorance that led to one of my favorite shows featuring some of my most adored strong female characters being driven so far and solidly into the ground, that all the reviews in the lands, gay and straight alike, have united into a common opinion of “WTF?!?”.
    Queerbaiting? Who needs it when we have such an embarrassement of riches elsewheres?
    That being said, I’m putting Steven Universe on my list right now.

  16. Just as a note:

    “Person of Interest is the first show in TV history to go there with two female characters who were not originally written as lesbian or bisexual.”

    Degrassi did before them: Paige and Alex. Both were originally written and presented as heterosexual.

    • They’re both terrible,but not the worst which is why they aren’t on either list.
      Also didn’t really grown that much as characters or anything really compared to Suzanne.

      Not bashing, just being a honest fan.
      One who may or may have not being sketching out a “Like A Vause” jewelery set. The letter “A” as necklace with “Like” as a brass knuckle set for the right hand and “Vause” as for the left.


  17. One of the things about Sense8 that made me giddy like a child was the fact the 2 established-established couples were both queer. Yanno the already in love, really in love couple that we the audience are suppose to root for and hope nothing tears them apart. Like Catelyn and Ned Stark I guess…

    Nomi being a badass pixie woman, not manic pixie dream girl too. She had whimsy without being made a whimsical object, in my opinion anyway.

    But Of Course:
    All hail her majesty ANALISE KEATING BISEXUAL and the sublime human Viola Davis who plays her.

    And: Fellow Ravenclaw and Slytherin types does Lexa give you confused feelings too? Like you wonder if you like her so much because you see yourself in her, or is your crush hero worship ect.

  18. It’s my understanding that Mulan, Ruby, and the LGBT storyline were always slated for 5B. Then again, that may be TPTB stringing us along.

  19. Sorry to divert from all the discussion of queer representation on tv, but I’ve just been sitting here for five full minutes trying to conceptualize what life would be like if I hadn’t tried mac and cheese until college.

    Like, what? HOW???


    If it’s taken you 20 years to try something, maybe it’s not an accident. Maybe you’re avoiding it. Maybe because you know you’ll like it TOO much. And that once you give in and try it you’ll never go back.

    Omg wait maybe this discussion has EVERYTHING to do with being gay.

  20. Woah!!!! Aja, I gotta call you out here, cuz it’s getting on my nerves here. The show is doing it too.

    Go rewatch Grey’s Anatomy Season 11 Episode 21 again. I know in Season 12 the show keeps going on like Penny personally killed Derek, but watch it again.. I know he got shitty care, but Penny gave him about the best of the bad care he did get in that hospital and she wasn’t the neuro who was 2 hours late when on call, she complained to said Neuro about that.

    • I had to go double check, because I’ve never heard Aja directly blame Penny for Derek’s death. And to quote directly:

      Penny- “a young redheaded lesbian surgical resident who HELPED kill one of the world’s foremost neurosurgeons while he was still working for the President of the United States of America”

      All Aja is noting here is that Penny played a role in Derek’s death, not that she was the cause of the whole thing. That is factually true.

      I agree with you Diana that the characters on the show keep placing on the blame on Penny’s shoulders. And that a good chunk of the show’s fans keep doing the same as well. But the general Autostraddle consensus so far this season seems to be that Penny’s biggest crime is that she’s more boring than watching paint dry.

      Which, so far, she is.

  21. I’m going to add Brenna Carver :) Her school GSA discussions about bisexuality read like the comments section of every article ever written about bisexual women, but those people were clearly wrong and all the important people in her life were supportive.

  22. I’m still upset over how Gail and Holly from Rookie Blue ended. They had the makings to be my favorite ship ever but that was shot to hell. *weeps in the corner*

    I like to pretend Lost Girl ended at season 3. Well pretend seasons 4 & 5 never happened.

    Ryan Murphy can just stop writing all together…for any and everyone.

    In unrelated news: I saw Carol 3 times in a day, a few days ago. I don’t think I have anymore tears.

  23. Who the hell is Sadie? Actually i don’t care, am sending a VTOL to retieve her, once the my world domination plan (currently stuck at the point where i have an armchair, a wall screen, futuristic/pseudomilitaristic attire and an overweight cat on my lap – but no army yet) is nearing completion. Because the sane woman has to be rescued at some point.

  24. A couple to add for me, though I agree with so much up above. Awesome roundup!

    Rebecca on Strange Empire, which was strange, but often wonderful, and we were all probably shipping all the other women together as much as the one queer relationship, because it’s always exciting when there are that many women interacting with each other. Rebecca was problematic but I’m very grateful for her and Shaw and Root and Suzanne because they show me bits of myself on screen that I don’t get to see much,

    Bo and Lauren and Tamzin on Lost Girl, because yes the plot often left a lot to be desired, and it was decidedly lightweight, and sometimes it hit stereotypes in bad ways but it was a show that unashamedly did what it said it would do: had a bisexual, polyamorous lead who was all kinds of awesome, and we sure haven’t got enough of those to be forgetting it. Five seasons! Yay for Canadian TV!

    Disclaimer: I still haven’t watched the final episode, I just watched the penultimate one, and yeah, plot, Hades, light, dark, something, something, but I’m still so glad this show existed, because it shows we can have these things.

  25. I was at a party last week and over heard people raving about some show, I asked what they were talking about, it was AHS Hotel. My probably over loud response was “Fuck I’m so over Ryan Murphy”.

    1000% Sarah GD Harvey as Semi Deus Ex MachinA is such bull. I was all trust no bitch equally from the minute she rocked up on the Fields’ doorstep. My most hated character of the year for sure.
    I thought the Emily saviour complex was obvious TBH, she’s such a typical Gryffindor. Why the hell is Sarah and her dreadful Tippi tattoo in B but Paige is no where to be seen? Huh? Huh?

  26. Please consider that “queer” isn’t universally accepted and that filling this article chock full with the term is cringworthy at best and actually damaging at worst. I mean, really, “Gay Space Rocks and Assorted Queers”? Assorted Queers sounds like something my 80 year old grandfather would say while watching Fox News. It’s still a slur to many, many people.

    • I’m sympathetic to this, especially since I’m familar with those cringeworthy moments that can really distract from otherwise excellent articles (I have no issue with the word “queer”, but there are various other things that get to me sometimes). I want autostraddle to be a place that’s comfortable for everyone, including older people who paved the way for the rest of us and may have bad memories of the word queer being used against them.

      I’m 27, so queer was already an accepted term in both academia and activist circles by the time I was old enough to develop a sexual identity. I like it because it’s an umbrella term that covers many different types of LGBTQAI people and allows one to acknowledge that someone isn’t a cisgender heterosexual without making assumptions about exactly how that person identifies. Saying something like “member of the LGBTQAI community” works OK in formal writing but is a bit clunky when writing/speaking more casually. I try to avoid using terminology that has the potential to be hurtful, but queer is a tough one to avoid when discussing LGBTQAI issues.

      However, I don’t have any desire to force my own prefered labels onto anyone that doesn’t feel comfortable with them. I’m curious as to what terminology you’d prefer? How do you get around the constant use of clunky acronyms?

  27. I completely agree with you Aja, about Penelope on Grey’s… I watched the first few episodes of this season, but she made the whole show aggravating for me to watch. And I am saying this as someone who sat through the “ghost sex” storyline.

    • Holy crap I must have blocked the memory of that story line out of my mind because that’s the only thing I can rationalise for forgetting that particular batshittery.

    • Yes. It seems like they really didn’t have much of a choice if you believe the stories about how troublesome the original actor was becoming. Most sources say he was fired. He says he quit.

  28. Annalise & Eve (HTGAWM): Remember this scene from season five of Grey’s Anatomy?


    For years, that’s what my LGBT pop culture experience has been like..everyone around me had found their glasses and I was just standing there, like Callie, having enjoyed what happened, but perplexed that I wasn’t sharing in the epiphany. I told myself that I was fine…that the green blobs I was seeing just meant that I was more concerned with good storytelling than shipping characters. With the notable exception of Pretty Little Liars, I squelched the instinct to run and just tried to appreciate the stories for what they were.

    But then came Annalise and Eve and all of a sudden, I get it. I’d found my glasses. Now, I see the leaves.

    And, admittedly, part of it is just that it’s Viola Davis…that Shondaland imagined a “sexualized, messy, mysterious woman” on primetime television who is a 50-year-old dark-skinned African-American actress. And then, when the character was at the height of her popularity…when the actress was at the pinnacle of her career..they said: Let’s. Make. Her. Queer.

    And then, on top of that…there’s the storyline…which is perfect…where I see a piece of myself in a way I never have before. I love it.

    I’ve found my glasses. I finally see the leaves.

    Gretchen Polk (Complications): When it comes to delivering full-throated depictions of queer women, television is still in its infancy…as a result, we’re still getting depictions–many of them listed here–that feel truly groundbreaking. To be sure, Jessica Szohr’s Gretchen Polk on the now cancelled USA show, Complications, isn’t that. What made the character a bit of a revelation to me, though, is that she felt like a next generation queer character. You could trace her lineage back to some of those groundbreaking queer women–to quote Heather, “She is like if Lisbeth Salander and Kate Kane had an angry little baby”–but she still existed as her own rich character.

    I’m disappointed that Complications won’t get a second season (damn your jinx, Jason Mara) because I felt like there was so much that could be done with this character.

    • The use of one Shondaland show to explain the experience of watching another is just…. Perfect!

      Give this beautiful human a comment award! They earned it.

    • PECOLA! I was literally just thinking about you this week and wondering where you’d gone in the world and sending love into the universe for you, and here you are. I kinda want to cry. Will you email me? I want to thank you for something you said to me years ago that changed my life.

  29. Really Denise as a positive character? How can you not realize she is totally a token character written by an Asian dude for the Asian community. Black women are the new token character and the fact she’s a lesbian makes her just a bit edgier. Plus, in that whole race argument she was in, about representation, she just said two famous people and then stopped. She didn’t even mention the fact that news are always showing her community in a negative light, or the fact that Oprah and Al Sharpton have their problems too. Or the fact we don’t even really get to see her really do lesbian stuff other than just talk about. No hand holding, no kissing. Nothing, which shows her character was written in a way to be acceptable by the Asian community and not in a way that says no fucks given.

    I am really tired of Autostraddle applauding the token bare minimum. Fuck!

    • This is a weird criticism. Denise was a supporting character in a show, and got a good amount of screen time. Her character was treated similarly to the protagonist’s other friends. The race argument wasn’t about representation per se, it was about famous spokespeople.

      Queer representation doesn’t have to happen in couple format, just the fact that her sexuality and sex life was talked about in detail and respectfully is good representation.

      I really don’t get how her character is tokenistic, tokenism is about paying lip service to diversity while not engaging beyond surface level with a person’s identity. Obviously there’s only so much you can do in a short series with half hour episodes, but I didn’t feel this from Denise.

      • Yes to all of this! Plus, that character was initially a straight white woman, but casting goddess Allison Jones (seriously, read the New Yorker profile on her sometime; she’s amazing) suggested Lena, & everything changed. YAY. More casting like this, please!

        Also, I don’t understand the original poster’s references to “the Asian community”. Or, I guess, insofar as I think I understand it, I’m deeply uncomfortable.

  30. Lauren! Yessss! She’s really grown on me in the short time that Faking It’s been on. I’m smitten and I hope she gets all of the best stories in the future.

    Also, I’m binging my way onto the last episode of season 1 of The 100, and I have to say…I’m not a super huge fan of Clarke. Am I the only one? She’s kind of boring and (so far) hasn’t really displayed any traits that I’m drawn to in a protagonist. I’m a way bigger fan of Octavia ATM and wish there was more of her! Looking forward to meeting Lexa next season, though. Eeeeee!

    • I hate to say it but I’m kind of with you on that. I’m only about 5 episodes into The 100 so my opinions are likely to change but so far I find myself far more invested in what’s going on with Raven and Octavia. Clarke is alright so far but I feel like the show does more telling me how I’m supposed to root for her to the leader of this group then actually showing me she is any more qualified than anyone else on the show. And I don’t give a flying fuck about any of the male characters so far, especially Bellamy. He is the type of male character I can’t stand on any show. He reminds me of Damon Salvatore and I loathe Damon with a passion. That new trailer for S3 is chock full of him so I don’t know long I’m realistically going to stay invested in this show if the actual queer storyline is only going to be around for a few episodes at most.

  31. While I get that she’s only implied to be Bi, I still thought that I would mention Clara Oswald, and her making out with Jane Austen.

    • I really wish they had done more with that besides telling us a few times and not showing us. Especially knowing it was Jenna’s last season. It seemed like it was meant to a running joke more than anything. That said she did run off to have adventures with Ashildr, whom she seemed to have quite a bit of chemistry with, so maybe we haven’t seen the last of them quite yet.

  32. Happy to see so much love for Stef and Lena. I fucking love that show.
    But I must agree with Carolyn, Rose from Scandal is the 2015 MVP

  33. Seriously though, did a gang of queer women beat up Ryan Murphy as a small child? That’s the only reason I can think of for why he keeps pulling this shit.

  34. It’s my understanding that Mulan, Ruby, and the LGBT storyline were always slated for 5B. Then again, that may be TPTB stringing us along.

Comments are closed.