Netflix Original programmes have a remarkable consistency when it comes to introducing and representing queer characters from across the LGBT+ spectrum.
Unlike many major US Networks, they don’t rely on advertising revenue; they’re willing to explore more diverse issues and represent a wider scope of stories. They also happen to be the UK distributor of shows like Drag Race and Riverdale, as well as hosting favourites such as American Horror Story and How To Get Away With Murder.
We picked a few of our favourite LGBT+ characters/couples from Netflix original shows. Note: some spoilers ahead.
Robert and Sol, Grace and Frankie
Netflix’s offbeat comedy-drama features the inimitable Sam Waterston and Martin Sheen as Robert and Sol, successful divorce lawyers who announce to their wives that they are in love and have been having an affair for several decades. The fallout affects both families and forces the eponymous Grace and Frankie to move in together. One of few older, same-sex couples to feature in a TV series, Robert and Sol’s relationship is nuanced and complicated; their coming-out damaging but necessary.
Soso and Poussey, Orange Is The New Black
There are obviously many queer characters in Orange Is The New Black, a show that repeatedly explores the fluidity of sexuality and the challenges of gender (with the phenomenal Laverne Cox). Poussey and Soso’s relationship is one of the most heartwarming, though, perhaps in part due to its tragic ending. But Poussey’s backstory complicates her character, with homophobia having a huge influence on her development.
#Fbf #neverforget #morepostseveryday #lookout #imissinstagram A post shared by Samira Wiley (@whododatlikedat) on Apr 21, 2017 at 8:45am PDT
Nomi and Amanita/Lito and Hernando, Sense8
Sense8 was well-received by LGBT+ audiences when it was first released – and there was outrage from fans when it was prematurely cancelled. Of the eight main characters, one is gay – and has to negotiate stardom and being publicly closeted with his boyfriend – and another is trans. Their respective partners also become important characters and both relationships become focal points for the drama, explored sensitively and emotionally over the course of the two seasons.
Yorkie and Kelly, Black Mirror (San Junipero)
Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror – known for its dark, psychological and dystopian stories – was picked up by Netflix for its third season. San Junipero is perhaps the most optimistic of the episodes, telling the story of Yorkie and Kelly, who meet in the timeless a beach resort of San Junipero. Their romance is as frantic as it is intense – but ends on a happy note, which is rare for Brooker. The episode received critical acclaim and won two Primetime Emmys.
Denise, Master of None
Aziz Ansari’s comedy-drama only got stronger in its second season. Ansari plays the lead, Dev, whose close friend Denise (Lena Waithe) is gay. The episode Thanksgiving tells the decades-long story of her coming out and her mother’s struggle coming to terms with it (a masterful performance by Angela Bassett). Written by Ansari and Waithe, the episode won multiple awards, including an Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series.
Grateful. Styled by: @tiffthestylist Face beat by: @ashleyblaine Suit by: @albalegacy Hair styled by: @lovingyourhair Hair groomed by: @sekainaturalhairgallery Cut by: @ppacking Skincare: @leonabellaskin A post shared by Lena Waithe (@lenawaithe) on Sep 18, 2017 at 1:05am PDT
Lionel, Dear White People
Based on the 2014 film of the same name, Netflix’s satirical drama follows a number of black students over the course of several weeks at college. Lionel, a shy freshman with an interest in journalism, struggles with his sexuality and his attraction to his roommate, Troy, to whom he eventually open up. A refreshing take on the college drama, Dear White People deals with the complexities of identity politics with aplomb.
Titus Andromedon, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Titus Andromedon – played by the incomparable Titus Burgess – has to make this list. Sassy, tough, yet sensitive, he often steals the show. His relationship with Mikey, a closeted construction worker, is subtle yet hilarious, particularly his version of Beyoncé’s Lemonade when he thinks Mikey is cheating on him. And, of course, he gets many of the show’s best lines: “I envy you. I’ve never been able to meet me.”
Paul Stamets, Star Trek: Discovery
Anthony Rapp plays Paul Stamets in the newest Star Trek television series. A science offer specialised in astromycology (the study of space fungi), he is the first openly gay character in the franchise. The showrunners explained how they “wanted to roll out that character’s sexuality the way people would roll out their sexuality in life.” Rapp added, “we actually get to see me with my partner [medical officer Hugh Culbert] in conversation, in our living quarters, you get to see our relationship over time, treated as any other relationship would be treated.”