Winter 2017 TV Preview: All The Lesbian, Bisexual, Trans and Queer Women To Get Excited About

It’s a terrible time to be alive, but luckily we have our stories. You know, our shows! Our programs, our stories on the teevee. This year is chock-full of brand new and returning LGBTQ ladies (and one non-binary person!) to feast your eyes, hearts, and fanatically over-invested minds on. However, lesbian representation on network television is down from 33% of regular and recurring LGBTQ characters in 2015-2016 to 17% in the 2016-2017 season, although bisexual female and transgender representation on network TV is slightly up. “While much improvement has been made and TV remains incredibly far ahead of film in terms of LGBTQ representation,” says the GLAAD 2016-2017 Where We Are On TV Report, “It must be made clear that television – and broadcast series more specifically – failed queer women this year as character after character was killed.”

Let’s get started because the season already has, you know what I mean?


NEW! Star – ABC, January 4th

Lee Daniels’ new project has opened to relatively tepid reviews, but there are two trans female characters — Cotton Brown, the daughter of Queen Latifah’s character Carlota Brown, and Miss Bruce, another employee of Carlota’s beauty shop.


Portlandia – IFC, Thursday January 5th

Abbi Jacobson, who we all know is Carrie Brownstein’s secret girlfriend, is one of many guest stars this season — we can also look forward to guest turns from Maria Bamford, Rachel Dratch, Laurie Metcaf and Natasha Lyonne.


Nashville – CMT, Thursday January 5th

Transgender actress Jen Richards has been cast in a recurring role as Allyson, a physical therapist helping a lead character through a serious injury.


NEW! – One Day at a Time – Netflix, Friday January 6th

We’ve told you to watch this show with the most enthusiasm possible, because it’s really funny, really cute, and one of the main characters is a Latina lesbian feminist who comes out over the course of Season One. Also, Episode 11 features an Autostraddle name-drop. Go marathon this now! It’s the best! We promise!


Rosewood – Fox – Friday, January 6th

Pippy and TMI are still broken up — but they’re also still in love. Their relationship has gotten more screentime since the breakup and hopefully that trend will continue until they get back together, right?


Supergirl – The CW – Monday, January 23rd

Lesbian characters Alex Danvers and Maggie Sawyer will be back on your TV fighting the good fight very soon. I can’t tell you anything else about this show because I just started watching Season One and am afraid of spoilers.


Jane The Virgin – The CW – Monday, January 23rd

Elizabeth Rohm (who played a surprise lesbian in Law & Order) has signed on for a major recurring role in Season Three as a soft-spoken guru who starts dating Luisa.


Grey’s Anatomy – ABC – Thursday, January 26th

Jessica Capshaw will return as lesbian doctor Arizona for the second half of Season 13, which will see her character heading to a maximum security prison to see a patient who is too dangerous to be taken into the hospital.


How To Get Away With Murder – ABC – Thursday, January 26th

Season Three will continue to “fill in the rest of the blanks” in the life of bisexual professor Annalise Keating.


Black Sails – Starz – Sunday, January 29th

Eleanor is the bisexual female lead of this show about pirates that I have never seen, but I bet Season Four is gonna be a real plank-walker.


The Fosters – Freeform – Tuesday, January 31st

After Season 4A ended with a thousand drama bombs and a hospital cliffhanger, we return to deal with the fallout. Despite rumors about Stef and Lena getting divorced, the pair made it through the rain intact and will continue to deal with the inevitable challenges of love, marriage, and family. Also Brandon is still on the show for some reason.


The 100 – The CW – Wednesday, February 1st

Clarke will probably be wearing her RIP Lexa pin all season long.


NEW! Imposters – Bravo – Tuesday, February 7th

This show about a con artist who marries people and then scams them stars Marianne Rendón as Jules, an artist devastated by her wife Cece’s sudden decision to leave her. She soon figures out that her perfect marriage wasn’t all that it seemed. Inka Malovic plays the elusive bisexual protagonist.


The Mindy Project – Hulu – Tuesday, February 14th

Fortune Feimster’s character might even go on a date with another lady this season. My toes are already crossed for her.


You Me Her – AT&T/DirectTV – Tuesday, February 14th


The AT&T/DirectTV “polyromantic comedy” returns for a second season in February, telling the story of a polyamorous married couple in Portland who start a relationship with another woman.


NEW! Doubt – CBS – Wednesday, February 15th

Laverne Cox will become broadcast TV’s first transgender actress playing a transgender main character when this soapy legal procedural debuts. Her character, Cameron Wirth, is billed as “a lawyer who wants to help the underdog.”


Billions – Showtime – Sunday, February 19th

Damian Lewis as Bobby “Axe” Axelrod and Asia Kate Dillon as Taylor Mason in BILLIONS (Season 2, Episode 2). – Photo: Jeff Neumann/SHOWTIME

Another show making queer history this season is Billions, which features Asia Kate Dillon as Taylor, an intern at hedge fund Axe Capital immediately noticed by the higher-ups as a brilliant and talented asset. Dillion identifies as non-binary, and so does Taylor. “As someone who is non-binary gender identifying, I feel a particular responsibility to portray members of my community on stage and on screen,” they told The Huffington Post, “Not only as fully fleshed-out characters who are integral to the plot, but as characters whose gender identity is just one of many parts that make up the whole person.”


NEW! The Good Fight – CBS – Sunday, February 19th

A spin-off of The Good Wife finds Christine Baranski’s Diane heading into retirement when she learns her retirement account is empty due to a Ponzi scheme led by her trusted friend Henry Rindell. Henry was a mentor to Maia, a young lawyer and Diane’s goddaughter and a main character, it appears, a lady-loving lady. Her partner, Amy, is also heavily featured in the show’s initial trailers.


NEW! When We Rise – ABC – Monday, February 27th

Finally the gay rights movement gets our very own well-produced star-studded miniseries! Written by Dustin Lance Black and starring actors including Whoopi Goldberg, Rosie O’Donnell, Mary-Louise Parker, Rachel Griffiths, Michael K. Williams, who played Omar from The Wire, and transgender actress Ivory Aquino as transgender activist Cecilia Chung; the series will tell the story of the LGBT rights movement from Stonewall to the modern era through the personal and political struggles of a diverse group of LGBTQ people who shaped and lead that movement. Dee Rees, the black lesbian director and writer of Pariah, directs parts two and three.


Empire – Fox – Wednesday, March 22nd

Bisexual singer Tiana Brown has rekindled her romance with Hakeem and Freda Gatz is out of jail and Jamal is in rehab and Andre wants to kill his father. Andre’s father is a terrible person, so.


NEW! Harlots – Hulu – Wednesday, March 29th

Samantha Morton will play Margaret Wells, an 18th-century single mom in London who runs a very successful brothel. There’s no reports yet of there being a queer female character, but if there isn’t, we will be yelling about it loudly on twitter because COME ON it’s about an 18th-century brothel. There were lesbians and bisexuals there I GUARANTEE IT.


Call the Midwife – PBS – Sunday, April 2nd

Patsy will be getting some distressing news about her father from Hong Kong in the premiere of Season 6, which we fear could mean a temporary departure from the main story.


Pretty Little Liars – Freeform – Tuesday, April 18th

The final season of Pretty Little Liars promises to watch the Paige-Ali-Emily love triangle play out.


NEW! The Handmaid’s Tale – Hulu – Thursday, April 26th

This particular debut has auspicious timing, eh? The much-anticipated adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s seminal dystopian feminist novel stars Alexis Bledel as a “subversive lesbian” and GLAAD has reported that Samira Wiley’s character on the show is also a lesbian character. This is the #1 thing I’m looking forward to in life right now.


Sense8 – Netflix – Friday, May 5th

The first episode of Season Two is already on Netflix, but you’ll have to wait ’til May for the rest. If the world still exists in May!

Riese is the 37-year-old CEO, CFO and Editor-in-Chief of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker, low-key Jewish power lesbian and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and then headed West. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," 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. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 2728 articles for us.

100 Comments

  1. There was some Riverdale drama because one of the actresses said that she is a total ally omg, but Betty and Veronica are only friends because they don’t want to get into “that fanfiction stuff.” The show is literally fanfiction of the comics, but okay.

    • UGHHHHH. Wait though I read Barb from Stranger Things is going to play Ethel and “will find herself in a romantic relationship with someone very different.” That’s entertainment reporting for “gf digs chicks” right??

    • Ahh that bummed me out when I saw it. The actress who plays Betty said: “They’re soulmates in a friends’ way. Our show is not meant to be fan fiction. We give them a taste of it when they kiss, but that’s all it is,’ she said. ‘People love Beronica and they want to see them together, but that’s just not our show.” I’ll probably still watch it to see Ashleigh Murray as Josie (a fav movie from my childhood), but my bi self will be very grumpy about it.

      • “That’s just not our show”. What does that even mean? I won’t be waisting any time supporting this show. I am vehemently opposed to queerbaiting and lesbophobia and I wish more would giving these types of shows their views on the off chance that two of the female characters MIGHT become a real couple of seasons of teasing and fanservice. It’s 2017 and I’m too old for this shit. I’m just not doing it anymore.

          • Yeah, with the inappropriate student/teacher relationship and now the queerbaiting, I already hate this show. The trailers are laughable, too. Everything has a damn blue filter and the tone seems like like a mashup of The Vampire Diaries and the first drafts of Dawson’s Creek scripts.

    • Cheryl is bisexual, and Betty and Veronica are lesbians, and they’re all in an open relationship together. And they can pry that from my cold, dead hands if they don’t want all that fan fiction stuff. These are just straight facts. (or not so straight…)(btw shoutout for autostraddle commenters for being so passionate about archie comics, I’ve never felt so understood)

  2. Ooh! I got some good ideas about what to watch from this list, thank you!

    Has anyone on the writing team thought about doing a writeup of Sweet/Vicious, the new MTV show about college vigilantes who beat up rapists on campus? One of the two main characters has been confirmed by the actress and showrunner to be bi, and the other main character (in my extremely gaydar-savvy opinion) is OBVIOUSLY gay, but there has only been subtext so far on the show. However, the subject matter seems like something that would be of interest to a lot of AS readers!

  3. In the weeks since Supergirl went on hiatus, I have been literally DROWNING myself in Supergirl fanfiction. Over the holidays, I forced my sister, my mom, and my best friend to all start watching it. My best friend and I bingewatched the whole first season (which I had already seen!) over the course of three days, and now she’s watching the first half of the second season and texting me updates as she watches.

    Which is just a long way of saying OH MY GOD I NEED SUPERGIRL TO COME BACK NOWWWWWWWWW. I CAN’T SURVIVE A DONALD TRUMP PRESIDENCY WITHOUT IT.

  4. One Day At A Time is spectacular! I’m not usually a fan of canned laughter sitcoms but you totally forget it’s there it’s so engrossing.

    Also really looking forward to When We Rise and the return of You Me Her. And Elizabeth Rohm playing Luisa’s love interest on Jane The Virgin sounds awesome.

  5. as bummed as i am by the writing out of Patsy on this series of CtM… I am glad that I will only have to be subjected to so much of THAT WIG.

    (it’s so bad i can’t handle how bad it is why why why)

    it looks like Delia will be getting more character development as she joins the Nonnatuns, so as long as no one dies tragically, I’ll manage.

    • Just watched the first two episodes and as heartbroken as I am about Patsy’s departure (I hope she’ll come back at some point, though), it was quite beautifully done. With the necessary emotional weight, and they even included a recitation one of my favourite poems by Federico García Lorca.

      Fortunately both episodes – especially the second one – were filled with several Patsy&Dalia- centric moments. And like you said, with Dalia remaining at Nonnatus, there will at least be the chance of seeing more of her this season. And both are still alive! XD

    • Oh and radiotimes reported the following: “Don’t worry, he have it on good authority that you haven’t seen the last of Patsy Mount.

      Emerald Fennell should return at some point in the not too distant future so, just like her beloved Delia, we’ll simply have to wait it out.”

  6. I’m watching Supergirl now because of Sanvers and I haven’t even finished season one yet but it’s nice and cute even if it’s so boring sometimes? But superhero movies/TV shows are in general just boring for me.

    I was looking forward to The Handmaid’s Tale because Elizabeth Moss plays main character (I loved her so much on Mad Men!) but I didn’t know about Alexis Bledel (I loved her on Mad Men too)? HOW AWESOME.

    I can’t wait for Riverdale! It looks so cool. And even if they said that Betty and Veronica aren’t gonna be a thing I’m gonna ship them anyway, okay.

    Also, I wonder if I can watch The Good Fight without watching The Good Wife first? I have this show in my plans but I don’t have time much time now.

    • I think you can watch The Good Fight without watching The Good Wife first (even though you should totally watch that when you have time cause it’s really good). I mean, the protagonist, Diane, was one of the main characters on TGW but I think they are going to introduce her again for new watchers (apart from her in TGF there’s Lucca – who was only in TGW final season – and a few less important characters). You may miss some references (I bet the Kings will put some in for sure) but nothing too big I think.

  7. Hey just wanted to thank you guys for the work you do, it’s been nice to have a solid inclusive place to check up on all things lgbt media (mostly geared towards women) and I really appreciate it. Lists like these, strange as it sounds, give me a sense of stability and community. X

  8. this romance for luisa better turn out to be something cute and not just more stupid mind games. if jane the virgin does wrong by her again, so help me… *shakes fist* i love that show, but seriously.

    also, CAN’T WAIT for more supergirl. i need that weekly dose of cute and feminist and uplifting. hope you’re enjoying it, riese!

  9. I don’t know, outside of Supergirl, Orphan Black and The Foster’s there’s not a ton that excites me. I’m definitely interested I Laverne getting a role on broadcast but I have a lot of worries. PLL would have been huge for me but I don’t trust them anymore. I don’t care about Grey’s now. Empire can fuck right off. So what does that leave? I’m sorry but I’m not jumping for joy that there are lesbians and queer women in these depressing shows of sexual subjugation and abuse? And yes, I include Black Sails in that category.

  10. Look, look, I’m just going to keep saying this to anyone who will listen: Black Sails is one of the best things on TV right now, hands down, period. The storytelling, the cast, the costumes, the setting, the so many queer and PoC characters, etc.

    Also FYI Eleanor is not the only queer lady on the show – Max (next to her in the picture) is very much queer, as is Anne (they are also both bad ass characters). And the main male character is also queer. SO QUEER YOU GUYS I LOVE THIS SHOW SO MUCH.

  11. I am so fucking excited for the Handmaid’s Tale. I finally read the book for the first time last year (literally right after the election) and so far this adaption looks really promising. Samira Wiley is absolutely perfect for Moira, and I love Elisabeth Moss in everything she does. Did Alexis Bledel just confirm her involvement or something? The rest of the cast were all announced ages ago! Also Ofglen’s sexual orientation was not mentioned in the book, so her being a lesbian in addition to Moira is an interesting development!

  12. Hmm, does Legends of Tomorrow count?
    Also, wow, The Handmaid’s Tale is super well timed.
    I’m wondering what’s next..1984-The new Netflix Original?
    Fahrenheit 451-Now Mondays on CBS?
    Or I guess CNN is now the go to channel for dystopian serial narrative.
    Sorry, where was I?

  13. Black Sails — pretty much all the women on that show are bi and the male lead is gay(watching the male fandom completely loose their minds over that reveal was absolutely hilarious at the time). Can’t wait to see how the triangle resolves itself. I’m rooting for Anne.

    Rosewood—Are Pippy and TMI really still broken up though? I mean, REALLY? People need to go watch the end of last week’s episode.

    Empire–I can’t NOT recommend highly enough. It has become utter offensive shit when it comes to it’s LGBT storylines.

  14. S3 of Degrassi on Netflix just came out and Zoe is still gay and has a Syrian refugee love interest! Yes, you read that right–gay Syrian refugees, because, Canada. Seriously. Degrassi: still going there.

    • Was just coming to add this! I’m actually very impressed with this season. Much more nuanced, interesting relationship developments, beautiful cinematography, and Zasha is hands-down, even though we’ve only seen a snip of them, my favourite same-sex Degrassi couple. They actually managed to top my beloved Fimogen. I love Rasha’s positivity and spunk (plus it’s nice to see a more androgynous lesbian character on the show for once), and how she’s brought out Zoe’s soft, sweet side. Agh, I just love them so! Every time they’re on-screen together, I can’t help but smile.

    • YES! And they are face-meltingly adorable together. Degrassi is the best. What other show would tackle queer polyamory, enthusiastic consent, the Quran, and free-bleeding with such aplomb?

  15. Conviction on ABC came back last week and has a bisexual, female lead! I started off hate-watching it, but I find myself pretty unironically into it now. It’s got some important things to say, even if it may not be the best at saying them.

    • I started watching Conviction because of Hayley Atwell and found myself loving the rest of the cast (Merrin Dungey from Alias!!). The show itself is kinda terrible but I’m giving it the rest of the season to improve because I like the premise and I miss Agent Carter. That said, I find the way they introduced Hayes Morrison’s bisexuality to be tropey and gross. She and her ex-girlfriend both dated the same man, the one that Hayes is actually in love with and attempts to use her former girlfriend to hurt him. I guess it’s all very soapy, but with such abysmal bi representation on television I would prefer they find a less plot-driven way to flesh out Hayes’ character and bisexuality.

  16. Star: I don’t trust Lee Daniels to do this justice.
    The Fosters: was also recently renewed for another season so YAY!
    Greys Anatomy: Arizona going to prison is only the 1st episode back from hiatus, hopefully she’ll be heavily involved in the story about the power struggle between Eliza and Webber since Webber is her wingman and Eliza is crushing on her.
    Supergirl:A-how could you not have been watching from the beginning and B-how do you run this site and not know season 2 spoilers?
    You Me Her: may be set in Portland but it’s Canadian all the way so you know they will do it right.
    Billions: and Asia Kate Dillon she played one of the white power girls on OITNB last season and more likely will come back this upcoming season (and possibly with the political climate as it is the characters will be more front and center).
    When We Rise: I am very interested in watching this but I think a show like this would be more suited for HBO or something. I just think being on ABC it will be watered down and censored a lot.
    Pretty Little Liars: Why is Alison still on Emily’s radar, I will never understand it. And yes I am a Paily shipper but being without Paige for like 2 seasons I accepted that maybe Paily wasn’t endgame but I still don’t want Emily to end up with Alison.

    Hey where is Wynonna Earp? that’s supposed to come back in April.
    American Housewife is still on the air and is not as bad as when ti was first written about.

  17. I’ll suppress the urge to comment on all of these…because then I’ll just end up regretful in the amount of television I watch…

    Can’t wait for the return of my favorites, Supergirl and Jane the Virgin (really, you should watch them together…they’re both awesome).

    And, of course, I’m looking forward to the return of the Shonday shows…unfortunately, because we’re already feeling the awful effects of the Orange Menace’s presidency, ABC has pushed the returns of Grey’s, Scandal (!!) and HTGAWM back a week.

    Star: I love diverse television but I just can’t with Lee Daniels anymore. And Chuck Pratt is the showrunner..the man who almost singlehandedly ruined daytime television? No ma’am.

    Queen Latifah deserves so much better than that mess.

    Nashville: I promised myself that after last season, I wouldn’t be back in Nashville, but then they went and cast one of my favorite singers ever, Rhiannon Giddens, and Jen Richards, so I had to tune in. But based on what we’ve seen so far…Giddens is Nashville‘s newest magic negro (the first was played by Mykelti Williamson)…and I’m not sure I can stand to see Giddens wasted in the role for much longer.

    You Me Her: I gave this show a shot last season and gave up after a few episodes. I don’t know if it’s my lack of familiarity with the dynamics of a polyamorous relationship or if the show was just bad but I suspect it was the latter.

    I still love Priscilla Faia, though.

    Doubt: Woosah.

    I’m going to try really hard with this show. It’s a groundbreaking role for Laverne Cox and I want to support her in whatever way I can.

    And, I’m firmly committed to loving Charlie Young…eh…Burton Guster…I mean…Dule Hill until the end of time…so I’m definitely excited to see him in something new.

    But, Katie Heigl…

    Woosah

    Doubt‘s just lucky that I love Laverne and Dule more than I loathe Katherine Heigl.

    The Handmaid’s Tale: I’d probably be looking forward to this more if I’d seen any evidence at all that Alexis Bledel was a capable actress.

    • I think you may want to give You Me Her another shot, Granted there’s still some flaws that they’ve yet to work out but I felt like the last few episodes of the season were stronger than the first few.

  18. I know it’s already midway through the season, but NCIS New Orleans features an FBI Agent who falls somewhere on the queer spectrum (a label has not been given so I don’t want to assume) – it has been mentioned she previously was married to a man, but then they also had an episode where she interacted with her exGF. I was lukewarm on Agent Gregorio before this, but now magically I’ve become all about her 🙂

  19. Black Sails actually has three wlw characters! There’s basically three main women in the show at this point, and two of them run along the lines of bisexual, and one is a lesbian. They’re all beautiful and amazing. Also SPOILERS the main male lead is bisexual and his entire arc is based on revenge against England for persecuting him and his male partner. This show is a gift from heaven, good bye

  20. Does anyone know anything about how well the trans character on the new show Emerald City is treated?

    I’ve heard some criticism that did not make much sense to me without having seen the show (I think because of fantasy/magical elements). I would love to hear more from an actual trans perspective before I decide whether to give the show a try or not.

  21. That Imposters show sounds TERRIBLE–one big negative bi stereotype as the actual premise for a show. Seriously, it makes me cringe. (Also I hope the polyamory show is better, because goddess knows we need some good poly representation, but there are some major warning signs there too.)

    And that’s the problem with the statistics you quote at the start of this column; who cares if the numbers of bi women are up if the representation is so awful and predicated on bisexual untrustworthiness and other stereotypes? And that’s putting aside that many of the characters who get labeled bisexual in industry analysis don’t actual label themselves as such, which often means their relationships with women are denigrated.

    I will check out Star, though, because actually having two black trans women characters on a show is so noteworthy and opens the door to them having an actual relationship/friendship with each other, which is promising.

  22. Don’t forget about Wynonna Earp on Syfy. Waverly and Officer Haught. Their relationship is going to have more screen time this upcoming second season.

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