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180 Essential LGBTQ+ TV Shows  

TV has been instrumental in the LGBTQ+ rights movement and in changing attitudes towards the community. It has also, perhaps most importantly, been a platform to tell stories that have made gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, queer, intersex, and more people feel less alone in the world – to know there is a big and varied community to which they belong. One pioneering show at a time, groundbreaking character by groundbreaking character, TV and streaming series have given the world an insight into the LGBTQ+ experience, and provided LGBTQ+ people with reflections of their own lives – stories to laugh along with, to cry with, and to identify with. In this list of LGBTQ+ TV shows, we highlight 180 shows that have broken ground, enlightened, and entertained.

We’ve arranged the list into four categories: shows that were big TV firsts, or featured TV firsts; shows that center on LGTBQ characters or experiences; shows that feature LGBTQ+ characters and stories, but where that isn’t necessarily the primary focus or thrust of the series; and reality shows and docuseries. As with all lists like this, there will be titles we’ve missed, and you may disagree with some of our categorizations; we encourage you share your thoughts and add your favorites in the comments, so when we do an update, we can have even more great LGBTQ+ titles to consider. 

Favorite LGBTQ+ TV Shows
Groundbreakers and Big Firsts | Shows That Center on the LGBTQ+ Experience
Shows With LGBTQ+ Characters and Storylines | Reality Shows and Docuseries


In many ways, nearly all of the series on this list could be called “trailblazers,” “pioneers,” and recognized for their contribution to furthering fuller LGBTQ+ representation on TV and in streaming. But the titles in this first section stand out for breaking boundaries and crossing major milestones. They did so by being the first network superhero TV show with an LGBTQ+ lead (actress and character), as is the case of the CW’s Batwoman, or featuring some of the earliest recurring gay characters on American TV, like Vincent Schiavelli’s Peter Panama on the short-lived The Corner Bar, or Billy Crystal’s Jodie Dallas on Soap. In this section you’ll also find the first Disney Channel show to feature a gay main character (Andi Mack), the first animated show to feature a same-sex marriage proposal (Steven Universe), and Pose, which broke ground with its diverse, largely transgender cast, and for being the series on which Janet Mock became the first transgender woman of color to direct and write an episode of television.

Andi Mack (2017)

Synopsis: Life goes from routine to a roller-coaster ride overnight for artistic teenager Andi Mack. It all happens on the eve... [More]

Batwoman: Season 1 (2019)

Adjusted Score: 83837%
Critics Consensus: Though it needs more time to develop its own identity to truly soar, Batwoman's fun and stylish first season is a step in the right direction for representation and superhero shows alike.

Boy Meets Girl (2009)

Synopsis: A DIY man wakes up one day and finds himself trapped in the body of a thirty-something woman.... [More]

The Corner Bar (1972)

Synopsis: Following the lives of the patrons of Grants Toomb.... [More]

Ellen (1994)

Synopsis: Ellen works in a Los Angeles bookstore called Buy the Book and hangs around with her friends discussing lovers, work... [More]

Hot L Baltimore (1975)

Synopsis: The lives and loves of residents of a seedy Baltimore hotel.... [More]

The L Word (2004)

Synopsis: This long-running Showtime series features intertwined stories about the lives and loves of a group of lesbians and bisexuals in... [More]
Directed By: Ilene Chaiken

Modern Family (2009)

Synopsis: Told from the perspective of an unseen documentary filmmaker, the series offers an honest, often-hilarious perspective of family life. Parents... [More]

Noah's Arc (2005)

Synopsis: This drama series follows the lives and relationships of four gay men in Los Angeles. Noah is a struggling screenwriter... [More]

Synopsis: Piper Chapman is a public relations executive with a career and a fiance when her past suddenly catches up to... [More]

The Owl House (2020)

Synopsis: Self-assured teenager Luz stumbles upon a portal to a magical realm where she befriends a rebellious witch, Eda, and a... [More]
Directed By: Dana Terrace, Spencer Wan

Pose (2018)

Synopsis: "Pose" is a drama spotlighting the legends, icons and ferocious house mothers of New York's underground ball culture, a movement... [More]

Queer as Folk (1999)

Synopsis: The lives of three gay men living in Manchester, England.... [More]
Directed By: Russell T. Davies

Queer as Folk (2000)

Synopsis: Set in working-class Pittsburgh, the drama revolves around a group of gay friends and their relationships, careers, loves and ambitions.... [More]
Directed By: Daniel Lipman, Ron Cowen

Sense8 (2015)

Synopsis: Eight strangers around the globe find themselves connected -- first by a violent vision, then by their shared ability to... [More]

Soap (1977)

Synopsis: This classic comedy series is a satire on all the daytime soaps out there. The stories revolve around a rich... [More]

Special (2019)

Synopsis: Actor-writer Ryan O'Connell stars in this semi-autobiographical series based on his memoir. He plays Ryan, a gay man with cerebral... [More]

Steven Universe (2013)

Synopsis: The Crystal Gems are a team of magical beings who are the self-appointed guardians of the universe. Half-human, half-Gem hero... [More]

Synopsis: Upon returning to San Francisco, Mary Ann is reunited with her daughter, Shawna, and ex-husband Brian 20 years after leaving... [More]

Transparent (2014)

Synopsis: Mort has a secret that he really wants to tell his three adult children, who are so self-absorbed they don't... [More]
Directed By: Joey Soloway

Will & Grace (1998)

Synopsis: In the original eight-season run of this groundbreaking sitcom, best friends Will, a meticulous corporate lawyer, and Grace, a neurotic... [More]

AJ and the Queen (2020)

Synopsis: Robert, a down-on-his-luck drag queen who performs as Ruby Red, prepares for a new adventure, heading out on a journey... [More]

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