The Seven Most Influential Queer Girl TV Shows Of The Last Seven Years

by Riese & Heather

It’s our seventh birthday today! If you would like to give us a birthday present, you should join Autostraddle Plus. It is a gift that keeps on giving to the staff who keeps on giving themselves to you!

In celebration of today’s occasion, we’re looking back on the seven most significant movies and TV shows with lesbian, bisexual or queer female characters of the last seven years. There are many shows that didn’t make this list that I’m sure there is a very good case to be made for why they should have made this list, which’s why I hope we’re still around to celebrate our 12th birthday.

Grey’s Anatomy (2005 ->)


Riese: Grey’s Anatomy was wildly popular when it debuted in 2005 — the show, and its soundtrack, and its stars. Back when queer women on television remained few and far between and we never got season-long character development really anywhere but Degrassi, Grey’s introduced Erica Hahn in 2006, who eventually helped Callie realize her bisexuality. Their storyline was handled really clumsily, though, and Hahn was hastily written off under pressure from ABC. That could’ve been the end of Callie’s lady-loving adventures… but it was not because then Arizona showed up in 2009.

Heather: While the first lesbian wedding on primetime TV happened in 1996 between Carol and Susan on Friends, Callie and Arizona’s 2011 wedding was special because it was the first primetime lesbian wedding between two leading characters. But what is particularly significant about their relationship is that it blossomed on the heels of Proposition 8, in front of an astronomical average of 14 million viewers.

Callie and Arizona may have fallen apart in later days (though I’m giving the show major kudos for continuing to allow them explore queer relationships with other people), but when the majority of Americans were making up their minds about marriage equality, Callie and Arizona were the most-watched lesbian couple on TV, and they were enjoying the same kind of emotionally dense and sexy relationship as all the straight couples at Seattle Grace. Arizona gave her now-famous “Good man in a storm” speech to Callie’s dad only five months after Autostraddle was born. Coincidence, or manifestation?

Skins (2008-2013)


Riese: In the end of August, Crystal (who lived in Australia then) emailed about this UK Show Skins that everybody was talking about. In September, she turned in her first recap of Skins season three — just the Naomi & Emily parts. I’d never seen the show but after editing her recaps I got curious, and got just as invested in the lesbian-free first cast as I did in the next. This show was so good and so different! For Season Four, Crystal and I recapped together — she’d do a first draft and then I would add more jokes and and feelings. It was a really fun collaboration.

Heather: There’s never been anything like Naomi and Emily’s season three relationship on Skins, and I honestly doubt I’ll ever see anything like it again in my lifetime. Because of the way the series is structured around individual character episodes, their story actually ends up feeling more like a movie than a TV show. In fact, episode 306, “Naomi” (written by Jack Thorne, who also co-wrote the new Harry Potter play with J.K. Rowling, just FYI), packs more heart-wrenching, soul-sustaining lesbian relationship storytelling into one hour than most shows with queer characters do in every episode of every season combined.

Riese: Skins remains in its very own league, for all its eventual tragic mistakes. It was willing to get ugly and dark with its inept, acne-scarred, sloppily drunk teenage characters and catastrophic parents in a violently honest way. It got queer straight away, and it was fascinating to see that play out with Naomi and Emily in the second cast. How would they be responsible to what we required from queer representation while also being responsible to the spirit of the show, which was that everybody fucks up everything eventually? They wouldn’t be, ultimately. Which was sometimes great, and sometimes not so much.

Heather: Skins season three is the first and only show I have never had to grade lesbian TV on a curve. We make exceptions and concessions for all shows with queer characters, whether we realize it or not. Maybe the acting’s not that good or the chemistry isn’t that great or the writing’s sloppy or directing’s weird or they only kiss with their mouths closed or with their hair in their faces or from wide angles with quick cutaways. season three didn’t need the cushion; everything about it was — and I don’t say this lightly — magical. I have never, ever, ever felt a story in my bones the way I did with Naomi and Emily’s.

Riese: Then… Skins USA happened. We broke the story that the US Skins reboot was turning the gay male character into a lesbian character, but we didn’t know what they were gonna do with her, which turned out to be literally THE WORST THING YOU COULD EVER DO WITH A LESBIAN CHARACTER.

Heather: The way I handled U.S. Skins is the biggest regret of my career, and something I will never forgive myself for. I thought, you know, a team that created Naomi and Emily, they had to pull it back and somehow transform it into something great. I was wrong. Very wrong.

Riese: After the US show got cancelled, the UK edition continued going strong. Season Five started out pretty good, they were doing something cool, interesting and different with Franky. But Season Six ret-conned her and the romance ended there.

Heather: Skins was always so great at creating characters. So, so good. And they were showing us characters that we’d never seen on TV before. Franky was one of freshest and most charged characters I’d met in my life. While the single-character episode format worked well for the show, it allowed it to mask the major flaw of its writing team: They absolutely had no idea how to grow their characters. Each writer could tell a single story exceptionally well, but as a whole, the show could not seem to think through and execute organic growth for anyone. That’s why the second series for each generation was always so much worse than the first. A thing like that is a glaring showrunning flaw.

I don’t want to ever talk about Skins Fire again. It is, in my opinion, the worst betrayal by any creative team in the history of storytelling.

Glee (2009 – 2015)


Riese: We started writing about this show when it premiered because we like singing and dancing and it felt like this really fun convergence of Broadway people and television people, and we had Broadway friends and there was just so! much! buzz! Then this innovative stuff was happening with Kurt, how they were handling his gay bullying storyline was just unprecedented. I wasn’t prepared for Santana to come out and for me to relate to her so hard, or for her story to continue on through every season, although never getting the screentime she deserved! I mean, the two popular cheerleaders got together and became girlfriends, I’m pretty sure that before Glee, that plot really only happened in porn.

Heather: For all the missteps Glee made, and lord there were so many, it’s the show that changed everything. I mean it. Everything. It was so popular in the beginning, and so unapologetically gay, that other shows started to emulate it (Parents Television Council be damned) because everyone wanted a piece of those ratings. It also caused GLAAD to really up its game when it came to pushing for LGBT TV characters because if Kurt Hummel could happen on Fox at 8pm, and then Brittany and Santana too, no one had an excuse anymore.

Riese: Glee’s most notable misstep was its clumsy and wildly offensive handling of Unique, the first trans woman of color recurring character on network television. Still, the show was ambitious and fresh and groundbreaking and it relentlessly released really well-arranged covers of popular songs we sometimes accidentally love more than the original. We’ve had a lot of Glee recappers over the years: Carly, Ashleigh, Alex, Kate and Lizz all took a turn, I recapped most of the episodes, and then Heather Hogan joined me for the end of the series this past year. Remember when we used to write an article literally every time anything happened relating to Glee? A lot of you didn’t like that very much.

Heather: Also, for all its missteps, at the end of the day, Brittany and Santana got married. They are one of the very, very, very few lesbian couples on TV to live happily ever after.

Pretty Little Liars (2009 ->)


Riese: The fact that Emily made it through an entire season without going back to men was a minor miracle at the time, deserving of an article entitled “Pretty Little Liars Successfully Maintains Lesbian Storyline For Entire Season and Probably Longer.” I liked the show a whole lot though! So I did recaps whenever gay stuff happened, and Lizz did fashion-caps and then eventually took over recapping when my plate got too full. Emily kept having girlfriends and stuff! I mean, it never got as much screen time as the hetero pairs, but still, her sexuality was eventually so incidental. Hansen took over when Lizz went to med school, and then we had a little gap in coverage until Heather Hogan showed up. I think honestly I was really excited about the show when it premiered and promised Alex that writing about it would be a good way to spend my time even though nobody else we knew was watching it and so I wanted to continue covering it as an ongoing reminder that I was right. FINGER ON THE PULSE.

Heather: The funny/sad thing about this list is how many shows stayed too long. That’s a problem with all shows, not just queer ones (and movies now, too): just not knowing when to pull the plug. PLL should have ended after season five; it had stretched even the believable elements of the show to their breaking point by then. Season six has been pretty universally terrible. Only three real standout episodes in the whole thing, and those are overshadowed by the terrible decision to make their ultimate villain a trans woman, and the fact that Emily hasn’t had an actual love interest in 24 episodes. (The longest any other Liars has gone without a love interest is three episodes.)

HOWEVER. For five glorious years, Pretty Little Liars was the queerest thing on TV. The lesbian/bi women total more than any other TV show besides The L Word and Orange Is the New Black. Emily, Maya, Paige, Samara, Ali, Jenna, Shana, Talia, Zoe, and a whole lesbian bar full of Pink Drink-ers at one point. And Emily’s gayness was such a non-issue. When she came out, Hanna said, “You were Emily when you were with Ben, and you’re Emily when you’re with Maya. No one cares who you’re with; we love Emily.” That statement was woven beautifully into the show’s ethos for so long. She dated like the other Liars, and casually joked about her lesbianism all the time. (No one ever directed a joke at her; the laughs all came as inside jokes from her.)

Emily is a leading character whose gayness was a huge part of her identity for 120 episodes. Callie and Arizona from Grey’s Anatomy are the only queer TV characters who can boast more screen time than her, in the whole entire history of television. She is the gayest character ever in a show aimed at teenagers.

Orange is the New Black (2013 ->)

Danielle Brooks as Tasha "Taystee" Jefferson, Taylor Shilling as Piper, Vicky Jeudy as Janae Watson and Samira Wiley as Poussey

Riese: Brittani put a trailer in the Video Party and that was the first we’d heard of it — did we need to write a whole post about it? Maybe Kate would like it? Then we were in Big Bear for our staff retreat when it came out and figured we’d seen Animal Odd Couples enough times, let’s give it a go. It’s not often that I actually get to watch shows with the humans I work with, but I’m so glad I was sitting there with Laneia, Rachel, Laura Wooley and Alex, as we got slack-jawed, one by one, as each episode passed — is this really happening? This show? How is a show this diverse and yet so chock-full of girls who want to kiss girls? We couldn’t even wait for the first recap (which we told Kate to rush), we had to tell you about it right away, and then later that day we had the first recap.

Heather: I don’t generally believe the hype about queer TV because I’ve just been doing this for so long and we’re so starved for representation that a hundred people will tell me to watch a thing, it’ll  the be best thing I’ve ever seen, so gay, and then it turns out it’s like six seasons of a thing for five seconds of two girls touching each other’s hands. It’s ridiculous to think about it now, but I didn’t actually believe Netflix could make a TV show. People were talking about House of Cards, but only insider TV people and they also couldn’t shut the heck up about Breaking Bad. I only watched the first episode of Orange Is the New Black because I was sick and confined to my bed; 13 sleepless hours later, I felt like I was on the other side of a revolution. (And I was!)

Riese: After Kate powered through the first 1.5 seasons, recaps of the show have been spotty, honestly, ’cause it’s SO MUCH to recap, so many scenes, so many characters, a full hour (network TV, unlike Netflix, only really makes 44 minute episodes, ’cause of commercials, and those extra 15 minutes add so much recapping time! Ditto for The L Word b/c Showtime.), issues, jokes, sad parts, happy parts… so much territory to cover, so many different tones and styles to adopt as you do it.

Heather: One of the hardest parts about recapping OITNB is that it’s not really a comedy, and there aren’t really a lot of things to clown on. The best jokes happen inside the show itself. And because it’s so self-aware and makes a concerted and conscious effort to tell women’s stories in a way that generally align with our values, there’s no need to really add social commentary. Again, the show does it better inside than we would do on the outside.

Riese: But also, we talk about it constantly, recaps or no, including two of our most popular posts ever: How Real Is Orange is the New Black? and And Now, Every Character From Orange is the New Black As They Appear on “Law and Order.” Lauren Morelli came to A-Camp, we’ve pretty much dedicated ourselves to being your #1 source of Samira Wiley related news, and have worked the show into every list we’ve ever made since. Including this one! Look, this show changed the game and it will continue to. It’s not perfect, but really, nothing is.

The Fosters (2013 ->)


Riese: In early 2013, ABC Family approached us about putting together an ad proposal for this new show J-Lo was making called The Fosters, and although we were ultimately rejected for the campaign because of our scandalous content, this show sounded so up our alley! Two women raising kids in prime-time television! This really had not been a thing before, had it? We got our very own Lesbian Den Mom, Vikki, to recap the show, but she had to drop it when her cable company dropped ABC Family. I wasn’t really watching it anymore either, mostly ’cause Brandon was so insufferable I wished I could go back in time and add him to this post of the 10 Most Insufferable Men on Television.

Heather: The Fosters is one of those shows that isn’t always perfect, but it gets it consistently more right than any non-streaming TV show. Even the theme song still makes me cry, every time. Coming out narratives are always going to be important, and they universally land with lesbian/bi audiences, but there are so many more stories to tell about gay women. Stef and Lena are the only lesbian characters who have ever reminded me of myself in my grown-up life (only with cats and dogs instead of children). I didn’t have anything in common with the women on The L Word, and while I love the grown-up queer women on Transparent, they are way too Slytherin to really resonate with me. Stef and Lena are actually the way I live and love, and they’re the only TV couple I’ve ever been able to say that about.

Transparent (2014 ->)


Riese: Much like Orange is the New Black, the pilot to Transparent shocked me because it wasn’t advertised as a show about lesbian and bisexual people specifically (e.g, The L Word, Lip Service, Exes and Ohs), it was a show about a family and the honest truth of that family was that a lot of them are a little queer. It just feels so risky, all the time, because straight people have generally made it abundantly clear that they can only handle so much gay in their television (see: Glee, Empire) before it becomes gay television and HOW IN THE WORLD CAN THEY RELATE TO STORIES ABOUT GAY PEOPLE. (The same way we’ve all related to your stories, weirdos!)

We’re only 5% of the population, are there enough of us to build a fanbase for shows like OITNB and Transparent, which refuse to sideline their gay storylines in favor of centering the straight ones, which Glee and Pretty Little Liars and even The Fosters have been guilty of. Then there’s the most game-changing element of all: the protagonist is a trans woman. The show and its production are far from perfect, but they do have more trans people working behind the scenes than any other show by a landslide. It succeeds, it gets SO MANY awards, it gets renewed… and it came back SO GAY in Season Two that I can hardly believe my eyes! And everybody loved it!

Heather: It took me a long time to watch the first season of Transparent because the backlash against it from so many trans women was so strong, but after talking to Mey Rude about it, I decided to give it a go, and I am SO HAPPY I did. We hardly ever get to see women acting like real humans on TV, real humans with complicated emotions who make sometimes dubious decisions, and also selfish ones too. The Golden Age of TV is all about men doing those things (Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Dexter, Game of Thrones). And to get to see that on a show where the main character is a trans woman, and so many of her dear friends are trans women played by trans women, and so many of the supporting characters are queer: It’s what I hope the future looks like.

Lost Girl


Heather: Lost Girl is another one of those shows that stayed too long, but in its heyday, it was revolutionary for so many reasons. It’s an action show with a female lead, which is remarkable enough. But also Bo Dennis is bisexual, and her relationship with Dr. Lauren Lewis was given as much screen time (and as many emotional beats and sex scenes) as her relationship with Dyson. It was a will-they/won’t-they in which either relationship seemed plausible. I couldn’t even believe it the first time Bo and Lauren had sex on the show. It was filmed and edited as passionately as the one with her male love interest, and they did it with the lights on. Even on The L Word, it was hard to get a sex scene with the lights on!

Lost Girl also started a really great trend of Canadian networks partnering with U.S. networks to get some money for production in exchange for sending the show across the border. It was the catalyst for both Bomb Girls and Rookie Blue (both of which featured engaging queer characters) making their way to us.

Orphan Black


Heather: I can’t believe, after three stellar seasons, Orphan Black hasn’t achieved more than “cult classic” status. In a world of remakes (and remakes of remakes) Orphan Black stands alone. There has never been a show like this on TV! It is a feminist masterwork, and it’s also a misandrist masterwork. (Men hardly ever talk to each other about anything besides women.) But what really sets Orphan Black apart is how it engaged with the “Born the Way” debate. Every TV show that has taken on the task of talking about biological gayness has gone to painstaking lengths to prove that its queer character is absolutely positively 100 percent no doubt born gay, and there’s no way they could have made a choice to be otherwise. Orphan Black — in which every woman is a clone, meaning they share the same exact DNA — is the first show to take look at the nature vs. nurture conversation and say, “Who cares?”

When Delphine finds herself falling for Cosima (notably the only gay clone), she says, “As a scientist I know that sexuality is a spectrum, but social biases codify sexual attraction, contrary to the biological facts.” Which is to say: Nature can place you anywhere along the spectrum, and no matter where that place is, we should have the freedom to choose which relationships to pursue. That’s a pretty hefty idea, and one that the gay community has rejected as a talking point for, well, forever, because black-and-white notions about sexuality make equality activism a lot simpler. Orphan Black is interested in a having a different kind of conversation, and modern and evolved one. And it’s doing it with a once-in-a-generation character actress in Tatiana Maslany.

Last season they killed Delphine (supposedly), but I’m not convinced she’s really dead. At least they also killed her male counterpart on the show, and introduced another queer character to romance Cosima. Still, though. Firmly in denial about Delphine’s fate until I see a body.

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Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of 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 3228 articles for us.


    • Yeah dude, that feature image popping up on Twitter made me gasp like an old Victorian woman. Lord in heaven.

    • SERIOUSLY. I would like to ask the Lesbian TV gods, can I PLEASE stop crying every time I see her perfect face? That would be great.

    • So, this is very true, but maybe the most important thing Skins did was convince me to go to After Ellen to read some of your recaps also. Inoculating me, in a sense, to the freak out I was gonna have finding you here!

    • BUT, DELPHINE IS A LIVE. We all just have to pretend to never have seen Skins Fire, right?

  1. Love this list! In terms of influential to my own life, I want to throw South of Nowhere onto the list.

  2. Strongly considering a petition for an independent study next fall where I write an exhaustive paper on the feminist ethos of Orphan Black. #cophine4ever

  3. I just noticed that I realized I was gay about three months after Autostraddle was born, so this list sort of reads to me as a timeline of my own gayness. Like, Erica Hahn realized she was gay before I did, and my own realization happened the same summer Glee premiered, and then PLL premiered a year after that, which was the same year as Gen 3 of Skins started, which is when I found After Ellen and started reading Heather’s Skins and PLL recaps, and then about a year after that I found Autostraddle, and then all these other incredible shows came out, and now BOOM, here we are. What a long, strange, wonderful, journey it’s been!

  4. I just want to add something about The Fosters. I think in addition to the authenticity of the moms as lesbian parents who are actually good parents, the show is one of the few places that has dealt with a wide array of (grand) parent issues in a way that feels real to me. The storylines with Stef’s homophobic dad, for example, were real and raw and complex in a way I had never seen before on TV. It shows that yeah maybe we all come out some time but it might take a hell of a long time for our folks to deal with it even if we are way past that point (even if we are old and have seventy-five children of our own and a wife who is an actual goddess).

    The scene when Stef has to tell her dad not to come to her wedding because he is the voice of the internalized homophobia in her head is a stand-out scene for me. It’s something I haven’t seen done on other shows.

  5. It’s been 9 episodes since Emily had a love interest, not 24. Which obviously indicates that I choose to count Sara, and Heather doesn’t.

    • Nah, I don’t count Sara. She’s a catch-all deus ex machina for the show’s many non-A mysteries who was wedged into Emily’s storyline — at the expense of Emily having any of the graduation romantic beats the other Liars got with their longterm love interests — to try to make the impact of her reveal carry emotional weight. Anyway, even if you do count Sara, nine episodes is three times longer than any other Liar has gone without a love interest.

  6. I still vividly remember how my jaw fell open during a very specific scene in Lost Girl, episode three.
    Bo was playing a security officer at some college and that was already hot as hell, but then, she started working her succubus magic on the female, middle aged dean, and, well, my jaw hit the floor.
    If I were a cartoon character, it literally would have.
    I had watched a lot of Lesbian Tv by that time, already, but I never saw something as unapologetically sexy.
    And then Glee.
    Glee made me so,so happy during its first two seasons.
    Like, in a general life improving manner.
    And while it was nice to have the hot cheerleader cheering for our team, it was Kurt’s storyline that touched me in my bones.
    That whole leotard “Single Ladies” situation made me gasp:
    Kurt’s journey was the best.

  7. Also the ending of Lost Girl was pretty revolutionary. I honestly never believed it would happen. Worth it being past it’s time, I think.

  8. I agree about Skins UK, they were never able to develop their characters well after the first season.

  9. Let’s be honest, US remakes of British TV shows are, 95% of the times, bad. My guess is that the little edge that most of British TV shows has gets lost on translation to call it somehow.

    Lost Girl was for me the end of subtext and looking for crumbs. After this show watching something because one character is or could be a lesbian and that’s it, was a big NO NO. I need more.

  10. I saw this post and in my head was like “Please let Grey’s be on this list!” and then it was the first thing on the list! One thing I liked about Grey’s is that even before Callie and Hahn got together, there were some LGBTI patient of the week storylines that were quite good. Anyone else remember the gay soldier that Meredith and Derek operated on? Or that time George got in a ton of trouble for telling that one young patient that she was intersex because her parents were being terrible? I watched Grey’s with my mom every week and it meant something that this show I was watching with my conservative mother was telling those stories.

  11. Riese! Concerning the first cheerleader-lesbians: what about 1999 queer classic But I’m a Cheerleader? Absolutely crucial for all queer ladies to know about that one.

    • And then we had Torrance and Missy from Bring It On. What do you mean it wasn’t canon?

    • i mean that is my fave lesbian flick of all time, but clea duvall’s character wasn’t a cheerleader! so it wasn’t about two cheerleaders getting together. :-)

  12. In retrospect Pretty Little Liars meant so much to me because it was one of the few (only?) tv shows at the time with an Asian lesbian character. Too bad the show went flying off the rails, but it was good while it lasted, PLL!

    Also, have we discovered what fountain of youth Bianca Lawson is drinking from yet?

  13. I know Lost Girl’s ending was revolutionary from the standpoint of girl choosing girl over boy and no-one dying (except poor Tamsin, one of TV’s most wasted characters), but it felt super-wrong to me.

    The point they’d hammered for multiple seasons was that Bo was different because she always found a way where she didn’t have to choose; between light and dark, or men or women, or whatever. It was in the title voiceover ffs! Therefore her choosing either one of Lauren or Dyson would never work narratively for me, it had to be both, or I guess neither. I think the only closing scene that would have worked for me would have been all three of them engaged in friendly argument at the bar over terms of their polyamory contract.

  14. I ended up hating Glee, but when that whole Santana thing happened I remember absolutely losing my shit. Bless.

  15. Grey’s Anatomy and Pretty Little Liars are two shows I wish I had watched when they were actually on TV…who knows how much sooner I might have realized I’m gay!

    Also now I want to watch Lost Girl and Orphan Black! I need something else to watch in between Grey’s Anatomy episodes because it’s making me cry too much right now.

  16. “Each writer could tell a single story exceptionally well, but as a whole, the show could not seem to think through and execute organic growth for anyone. That’s why the second series for each generation was always so much worse than the first.”

    Wow, yes! I didn’t think I agreed with the first sentence until I read the second.

    Also, does anyone else have to hate watch Transparent because they find the whole family insufferable? They don’t even seem to like one another, or at least don’t ever behave kindly toward one another at all. The show is basically the opposite of Sense8 in which I love them all and they all love each other.
    Disclaimer, I love many an “unlikeable” character in other things.


    I’m going to come back later (hopefully) with something more substantial to say, but for right now, can I just say how much I love this????

  18. This article kind of reads like a list of “all the TV shows I have watched specifically because I love reading the recaps of the gay bits”. Nowhere in real-world-conversation am I as well versed in entertainment discussions as I am in the Straddleverse.

  19. “and HOW IN THE WORLD CAN THEY RELATE TO STORIES ABOUT GAY PEOPLE. (The same way we’ve all related to your stories, weirdos!)”

    I love this. I think i stopped watching skins after season two im kicking myself right now.

  20. I love all of this. I have followed your writing since back when you first started writing Skins recaps, Heather, and I don’t blame you for wanting to give the writers a bit of credit. The third season was nigh on PERFECT and even though the fourth season had issues (some of which, like the truncated episode schedule, was out of the writers control) you had no idea the showrunners were going to betray their fans like they did in Skins US, Season 6 and 7 (UK).

    Skins fire is so diabolically bad I genuinely have no qualms pretending it doesn’t exist. There are so many weird plot holes (what, is Naomi’s mum dead? Why isn’t she visiting her? also Emily wouldn’t have noticed Naomi’s healthy disintegrating when they skyped?) Like it or not I could see what the writers were doing in season four, season six was like a completely different show. It felt like a particularly bad piece of fan fic (I think, since I have only watched it once). It also felt so unnecessarily mean and grim. So, whatever, Skins past season five to me doesn’t exist.

    Can I also add Person of Interest to my current examples of stellar queer ladies on tv? I mean, they were’t going to go there until they picked up on the chemistry and was like HELL YEAH. Plus, AMY ACKER PLAYS GAY. And Root is so gay. Shaw is clearly bi, but Root is the gayest little homicidal hacker vigilante in the world. SO much love GIVE ME SEASON FIVE ALREADY.

  21. I think you may have encouraged me to give Skins another try. I am from the UK – actually very near Bristol, and I have friends who went to the college the fictional Skins college is based on. I remember it being huge in the first two seasons,and at one point I went to an open audition! Aaaanyway, I was part of the cohort who LOVED the first generation, and therefore disliked the new one on principal. I think it was Skins that led to my friendship group calling all parties “raves”…they really weren’t. The Inbetweeners is much closer to my school experience unfortunately.

  22. Happy birthday, Autostraddle! This website was one of my first sources of information and support when I was first realizing I liked girls six years ago. And of course one of the first things I did after coming out was watch as many TV shows and movies with gay/bi women as possible. Thanks for all your coverage over the years.

  23. We’ll know that representation of Queer women on TV has arrived when we can finally stop talking about FUCKING Glee. Smug, crappo show. (Yes, yes, I know, I’m in a mood – people can like what they like and be nuanced about it, but that show, ugh).

  24. “I have never, ever, ever felt a story in my bones the way I did with Naomi and Emily’s.”

    This is so real for me, too. I was raised in an extremely christian conservative environment, and for most of my adolescence I accepted that being gay was a sin. I decided to watch season three with so much wariness, a fear of being brainwashed. I watched Naomi and Emily’s story with so much intensity, reminding myself the entire season that it was wrong. I remember the exact moment that changed–when Naomi kissed Emily against the lockers and said “I can’t stand it. I can’t.” That’s when I knew there was no way their love was wrong, that it was real, and that I related to it. That lead to me eventually understanding and accepting myself. I found community and acceptance through Skins. It will always mean the most to me.

  25. what about Sense8? now that’s a diverse and particularly queer show to talk about as well. it’s on Netflix.

  26. “overshadowed by the terrible decision to make their ultimate villain a trans woman”

    *** Keith is trans? I ask becos the only trans person I can think of on PLL is Charlotte, and she was a victim of her father’s transphobia, which caused her to act out in … unhealthy, let us say, ways. He, more than anyone, is the show’s ultimate villain.

    — Yes, I am male. But please, don’t hold it against me; it wasn’t my fault. —

    • Just because you see it that way doesn’t mean the rest of the world will. Most viewers will see Charlotte as the ultimate villain and that is representation that is damaging.

  27. This is a fantastic list! So many of these shows were influential for me, even though I was already out by the time most of them aired on TV.

    It wasn’t a particularly queer show, but the most important gay character for me was Willow from BTVS. Having the show decide to make Willow gay in season 4 (when she had only been interested in guys before that) was a huge light-bulb moment for me in terms of my own sexuality. And her relationship with Tara was just this beautiful bright spot on a show that often made me cry. Even when they broke up for a time, I never doubted they would get back together because they were just made for each other. Then Joss Whedon and a stay bullet destroyed everything. Tara was my first big loss when it comes to queer ladies on TV and her death is one of the few I’ve never really gotten over.

    Being bisexual, the other big influential shows for me were Grey’s Anatomy and Lost Girl. Callie’s coming out storyline was excellent and I LOVED Lost Girl for not only making their lead character bisexual but also treating it like it was no big deal. I’m still bummed at how terrible that show became, but the first three seasons were wonderful.

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