As someone who doesn’t personally identify as LGBTQIA+, I think it’s vitally important to actively seek out content by and about people who have different life experiences than I do. This not only includes sexuality and gender, but also race, socioeconomics, worldview, religious beliefs, and those with disabilities. And it’s equally as important to make sure that those shows are rooted in authenticity and proper representation of those communities.
June is Pride Month and while we should always be watching the amazing work out there by and about the LGBTQIA+ community, I have the great opportunity this month to highlight four fantastic shows that I love. Some of these have LGBTQIA+ storylines and characters front and center, while others have those stories interwoven into the tapestry of the show, but all of them are worth a binge-watch on your next day off.
FEEL GOOD, NETFLIX
Not only does comedian Mae Martin star in this dark comedy series, but she also co-wrote and produced FEEL GOOD.
Available on Netflix with two full seasons, it’s a semi-autobiographical look at Mae’s experience as a recovering addict navigating gender and sexuality. It’s both touching and heartbreaking while also being extremely funny.
Indiewire writer Jude Dry said that FEEL GOOD is “fiercely — sometimes frighteningly — brave, complex, and painful, but always damn funny. Heralding the arrival of a truly singular creative force, it’s one of the best queer shows of the year,” and I absolutely agree.
VIDA is a series on Starz and is also available to view on Amazon Prime Video through their Starz channel. This is a show that should have been renewed for many, many more seasons.
While highlighting the Latinx community, Vida raises a variety of important topical issues including gentrification and cultural identity, while showcasing incredible LGBTQIA+ and female-identifying characters.
As IMDB states, VIDA is about “Two sisters, who could not be more different or distanced from each other… forced to move back to their childhood neighborhood, after the death of their mother, only to discover her past and the shocking truth about her identity.”
This is just where the story begins, giving way to a beautiful cultural landscape that is so rarely seen on television.
GENERATION, HBO MAX
It’s rare to see teenage characters written so accurately that you feel like you have an invisibility cloak on, and you are privy to conversations that you shouldn’t be hearing. This is what HBO’s GENERATION is like. It’ll have you addicted and wanting to dive into their world.
This show is most likely so authentic because it’s created and showrun by 19-year-old Zelda Barnz and her dads Ben and Daniel Barnz.
As writer Marcus Jones states in Entertainment Weekly, the show “came about from a conversation she’d had with her dads…about sexuality, race, and gender after coming out to them as bisexual at age 15,” and is about “a group of queer kids finding each other in their conservative community and searching for connectedness in that community.”
While all the storylines are fantastic and the end of the first season is a tearjerker, my favorite thing about the whole show is the character, Chester. Chester is written so dynamically and fully realized – and acted flawlessly by Justice Smith – that I feel like I know them intimately.
This TV miniseries on Netflix about “a group of aspiring actors and filmmakers in post-World War II Hollywood try[ing] to make it big – no matter the cost” (IMDB), is an amazing gem of a show from the always prolific Ryan Murphy.
I’m not usually a huge fan of shows about Hollywood, especially when I’m always surrounded by it in real life, so it took me a while to press play on this one but I’m so glad I did.
The Hollywood Reporter did a piece on the show in April of 2020 with the headline, “Ryan Murphy’s (Kinda) True ‘Hollywood’ Story: 1940s Meets Gay Stars, Interracial Romance and (Gasp!) a Female Studio Chief”, and I’ve got to say that sums it up pretty darn well.
So, the next time that you decide to turn on the TV and aren’t sure what to watch, check out one of these great series. You’ll be very happy you did.
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Helenna Santos is an actor, writer, and producer with Mighty Pharaoh Films. She is the author of the poetry book “A Long Dark Summer” (2021) and was the founder/editor-in-chief of the entertainment website Ms. In The Biz for its seven year run (2013 – 2020). Her work as a contributing writer has been featured in MovieMaker Magazine, Film Inquiry, Backstage Magazine, Women and Hollywood, WeScreenplay, and BUST Magazine. As an actor she has appeared in many network and streaming TV shows as well as independent and studio feature films. She also works as a voice actor narrating audio books, animated characters, and commercial campaigns. Helenna is a mix of Filipino/Russian/German heritage and a US and Canadian dual citizen. She resides in Vancouver, BC Canada with her husband and their Bernedoodle pup. Connect with her on Instagram and Twitter!