What the Gay TV Show You’re Rewatching Says About Your Mental Health

Grey’s Anatomy

arizona and calie crying

Listen, let’s be honest here — you do this all the time. This is not a casual rewatch, this is a calculated rewatch, this is That Old Chestnut and you are roasting yourself over an open fire. This marathon is the slippers you’re still wearing despite the small hole gathering in the heel. You may have a few lines memorized, you may have entire storylines you fast-forward through, you may have gotten into this mess because you were sick for three days, couldn’t get out of bed and well, why not check in with your friends at Grey-Sloan. You’ll be devoting about 25% of your overall attention to this rewatch. You might stop in the middle and you might start in the middle. You will end the rewatch when you feel like it. You are in a space where you need to be reminded that the logistics and technical elements of living can be accomplished with excellence even if the bigger, more emotional stuff feels impossible to tackle with such precision.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Congratulations, you’re emotionally stable! But you do have a bit of time on your hands and so, you’re here for a good time and a long time. (Also, you recently remembered a hoodie you had in the early aughts and you don’t know where it is now, or what happened to it, but you miss it.)

Killing Eve

killing eve knife to the chest

There are two possibilities — one is that you are actually completely fine and want to indulge in something confusing but beautiful and well-paced and full of action and clever asides. You know how it ended but you want to understand how it began a little better, or to see what you missed, how you might see things totally differently this time even though it wasn’t that long ago, and nobody really understood what was happening.

The other is that you are a broken person who is three impulsive decisions away from torching your own life. You are considering benders or other forms of wild self-destruction, liable to make rash decisions and beautiful mistakes, to do what feels right to your gut and heart but leave your brain in theditch. And why not? Who’s stopping you!!!!

The “San Junipero” episode of Black Mirror

Who hurt you


glee cheerleaders performing

Your vibe is “I hate adulting.” I don’t mean that you are upset because you hate adulting, literally, but that is a metaphor for your overall personality at this time — you are in the mood for a snack and a thematic arts and crafts project and you want someone else to decide what time you should go to bed. Again, not literally, but that is your vibe. You’re not thriving but you’re not failing either. You’re feeling a little goofy, sometimes. You would like to see your best friends perform your favorite songs and then say terrible things to each other. You want to make self-depreciating jokes about your mental health on a social media platform or in a group chat. You have recently made a joke that in retrospect was in bad taste. Or you just got home from the party, you are a little high and a little drunk and you like someone so much that you just wanna lock yourself in your room, turn on sad music, and cry.


You are over the age of 35 and you are nostalgic for a time when you did not have to decide what to watch every time you turned on the television, you would just flip through and land on something that was probably ok, if not good, and you were satisfied with that! You want to settle in for the long haul. You are not in a place to have to choose another TV show to binge at any point between Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day. You need one thing to be easy and I applaud this endeavor.

Orange is the New Black

piper and alex leaning against the wall crying

Is everything different the second time around? This question is being answered right now, by you. You want to be hurt. You want your lunch to look like a great lunch in comparison to the lunches they are eating on television. You have loved and lost and you are not sure if it was better than never having loved at all. You want to feel righteous anger, the type of anger that simmers quietly beneath you but explodes wildly when you make contact with others experiencing that same anger. You need to remind yourself that everybody is a little toxic underneath it all, including you, and that’s okay. You want to remember that life is long and people change and people get better, without forgetting that sometimes you lose the best thing you ever had, but if you’re lucky enough to keep going after that, you owe it to them and yourself to try.

Orphan Black

You’re doing well. You’re settled into the journey, not the destination. You like a solved mystery, a dynamic problem that can be taken apart and made sense of. You’ve got some laundry to fold, a group chat popping off in the distance. You like what you like! What’s wrong with that?

The L Word

the l word

I hate to say it but you are potentially deeply unwell at this time. You are seeking comfort but you are defining “comfort” broadly, like when you say “comfort” what you really mean is “familiarity.” People you love have disappointed you. Perhaps their personalities have radically changed overnight, perhaps they have disappeared forever. It started out so good, and it ended so poorly. Maybe you want to start over — maybe you want to avoid the future altogether. You want something that will remind you of who you used to be even though you don’t want to be that person anymore, you just want to look at her closely, like a rash in the mirror.

However — there are two scenarios in which rewatching The L Word is not a sign of unwellness: 1. You are doing so while listening to a hit podcast like To L and Back or Pants, 2. You are dating or otherwise close with someone who’s never seen it and are watching it with them. These are bold moves executed only by the deeply well. Congratulations and good luck.

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

Riese has written 3212 articles for us.


    • hmmm this is difficult because i have not seen willow, but because it was on so briefly and was then swiftly cancelled, i am going to say you are feeling nostalgic for times gone by and things that were so good but so fleeting….? Also it’s fantasy, so there’s some escapism there, or a journey into a story that feels authentic emotionally without having any hallmarks of the world around you, which is comforting and sort of joyful, i think

  1. San Junipero is what I rewatch the most, and yes that’s a fair comment.

    But Orphan Black is great. I binged Echoes this weekend and awaiting the Autostraddle review! I loved it!

  2. When you realize that your favorite queer character in your favorite series is also queer in the real world, it really gives you a wonderful feeling. I felt the same way when I found out that Taylor Schilling was like that.
    Unfortunately, most of the queer characters are still played by straight actors, while we currently have many queer actors who can play those roles.
    Of course, I am not saying that it is wrong for straight actors to play the role of queer characters. This is the main art of actors, playing someone they are not.
    But the problem is that when queer actors come out, they are not noticed as before and they rarely appear in the role of straight characters.
    While most of the queer characters are played by straight actors and many straight actors have been nominated and won Oscars for playing such characters.
    I think Hollywood should take action to compensate for this issue.
    For example, it is necessary to use at least one queer actor in every movie and series.
    Undoubtedly, such an action can have many positive effects for queers, the least of which is that queer actors can come out more easily.

    • When you realize that your favorite queer character in your favorite series is also queer in the real world and is in a queer romance, it really gives you a wonderful feeling….

  3. I’m watching Grey’s anatomy for the FIRST time. I finally caved after seeing it mentioned so much.

    But blimey, it’s addictive! Also, not at all gay yet (I’ve just started S3). How long will I have to keep watching before it gets gay? And is it worth it? There are sooooo many episodes!

    • the greys explanation is scarily accurate and all too real! felt myself getting weirded out because how did they get it this right?
      and it’s gets gay around s5, but like everything about greys it isn’t easy or quick. it’s definitely entertaining though. and depending on your tolerance for melodrama, one of the better romances on the show. It also helps pave the way for other gay storylines down the line that the show handles with its signature brand of mess and fun! Definitely a lot (maybe too many) episodes but it’s a good time!

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