If you’re enjoying some time off from work during this holiday season, here are some of SFGN’s favorite LGBT-themed television shows in 2016, all ready for a binge-watching session:
Based on a Norwegian series, this rebooted thriller tells the story of two teens who witness a gruesome murder while on a romantic tryst in an upstate New York hunting cabin. The 10-episode series is more than a little bit melodramatic and predictable, but the coming out story is compelling and relatable, especially set within a depressed, strikingly monotone community (thanks to cinematographer David Greene) struggling with economic decline and opioid addiction.
“Difficult People” (Hulu)
Web series often fly under the radar—we ironically discovered this one on the complimentary TV programming offered on a Southwest Airlines flight. This millennial makeover of “Will and Grace,” about two cynical, acid-tongued aspiring comics, Julie (Julie Klausner) and Billy (Billy Eichner), is a smart, campy examination of gay privilege and First World problems. You’ll need a stiff drink—or a dose of something stronger—to appreciate the full impact of this edgy, MA show.
“The Real O’Neals” (ABC)
“Not everything is about you being gay, Kenny!” Well, in this sitcom, yes, everything is pretty much about the teenaged Kenny (Noah Galvin) and his journey to complete gaydom. We wish our experience could have been so cool and campy, but times have changed and this funny series will continue to break down barriers for other LGBT youth who must deal with eccentric families. Dad Pat (Jay R. Ferguson) is easy on the eyes and we’ve always loved Martha Plimpton (Eileen).
“The Fosters” (Freeform)
We actually stumbled across “The Fosters” on Netflix. This Freeform (formerly ABC Family) series has been around for a while, the addicting saga (yes, saga) of a lesbian couple (Teri Polo and Sherri Saum) who collect foster children faster than cats. Together, they challenge addiction issues, the foster care system, bullying and more. While watching the latest season, we discovered a number of progressive, LGBT-friendly series on the network, shaping—or “indoctrinating,” as the Family Research Council warns—an entire generation of viewers. Sounds good to us.
“The Crown” (Netflix)
There isn’t any really explicit LGBT content or characters in Netflix’s latest critical darling, but the gays do love tiaras and gowns, and there are plenty! Peter Morgan’s well-written and beautifully acted series appeals to our highest gay sensibilities and should make a dazzling showing at the Emmys. At least six seasons—each covering roughly a decade in the life of Queen Elizabeth II (Claire Foy)—are planned and we can’t wait.
And our least favorite LGBT-themed series of 2016 was:
Ellen Page and her friend, Ian Daniel, take viewers to Jamaica, India, Ukraine, Georgia and, yes, even Orlando just after the Pulse shooting, in this bleak travelogue on the cable channel devoted to millennial angst, Vice. The purpose of this show seems to be to point out how good the gays have it in the good old U.S.A. — at least compared to “unenlightened” nations where LGBT people are openly persecuted, imprisoned and/or subject to the death penalty. Of course, next year, the series may be focused more on home, thanks to the homophobic, hostile administration being installed by Donald Trump.
J.W. Arnold is SFGN’s arts & entertainment editor and a member of the Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association.