10 Lesbian TV Shows That Prove Representation Matters 

by Theo Alvarez 

Over the years, we’ve seen a much-needed growth spurt in lesbian-fronted TV shows. While we still have a long way to go regarding representation, the following 10 series prove it matters. Hopefully, they will pave the way for more lesbian content to take center stage. 

DISCLAIMER: This article contains spoilers for each title listed. Proceed with caution. 

A League of Their Own 

Carson Shaw and Greta Gill talk at a bar on A League of Their Own Season 1 Episode 1 "Batter Up."

A League of Their Own is the reimagining of the 1992 namesake film. This time, the writers tell the story of queer women, Black and Latina women and all the possible intersections between these two experiences. The best part is that the series doesn’t just have one lesbian couple. The lesbians are the protagonists, and they are diverse; we have many queer characters, eight in total, and at least five others with smaller roles.

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The series is a complete disruption of what we see currently, in which we only see a lesbian couple or character with no romance, where couples are always white people and lesbians are always femme. Of course, there are exceptions, but most follow this formula. 

Furthermore, the story is deeply about women, for women, and primarily by women. In a sexist world created for men—stories always made by men, with men receiving prestige—A League of Their Own is water in a desert.

The Haunting of Bly Manor 

The Haunting of Bly Manor queer horror shows

The Haunting of Bly Manor is a miniseries directed and written by Mike Flanagan. On the surface, the series tells the story of a mansion cursed by the Lady in the Lake, but it’s much more than that, with several parallel stories. Among them is the story of Dani (Victoria Pedretti) and Jamie (Amelia Eve). Dani is an American teacher who moves to England after her fiance dies in a car accident right in front of her. 

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She goes to work as an au pair at Bly Manor, where she has to take care of two orphaned children. Jamie is the mansion’s gardener. The two end up spending a lot of time together and falling in love in a beautiful and delicate story.

Dani and Jamie live a beautiful and loving life for many years until the power of the Lady in the Lake’s soul is stronger, and Dani returns to the lake at Bly Manor and goes to the bottom, thus dying. Yes, it is a sad ending; Jamie suffers for the rest of her life without her love. However, it is something quite well done, in which Dani’s death serves a powerful purpose, ending the curse and not dying because she is a lesbian, like the famous Bury Your Gays trope.

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The writers handle Dani and Jamie’s entire story with extreme care and sensitivity, and the characters’ sexuality is experienced naturally, never being something pejorative. In a genre that in the mainstream uses LGBTQ+ characters as a form of appropriation, that has stories with queer undertones but never openly, that uses gays as a plot device but never truly respects them, The Haunting of Bly Manor is innovative.

Yellowjackets 

Taissa and Van sit next to each other in Lottie's compound in Yellowjackets Season 2 Episode 8, "It Chooses."

Yellowjackets is a series about survivors of a plane crash. The series intercalates scenes between 1996, when they were trapped in the Canadian wilderness for 19 months, and 2021, 25 years later, showing us the lives of the survivors. Among the main characters are Taissa (Jasmin Savoy Brown/Tawny Cypress), a femme lesbian, and Van (Liv Hewson/Lauren Ambrose), a butch lesbian.

The two had a previous relationship before the plane crash, but it wasn’t anything serious. They stay together for as long as they are lost. We still don’t know why they break up. In the present, Taissa is married to another woman. Additionally, in the first season, we don’t know if Van survived, as she’s not among the four survivors in the present.

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However, Van appears in the second season. She and Taissa seem to have unresolved issues. We don’t know precisely what they are, but they still have a strong connection.

This series features two main characters who are lesbians in an interracial butchfemme relationship. They have their own stories separately and also as a couple. Both are complicated, complex characters with flaws. We are used to seeing one-dimensional lesbian characters in poorly developed stories. We’re used to crumbs, while Yellowjackets gives us the entire feast.

Grey’s Anatomy 

Arizona and Callie wear wedding dresses while smiling and standing at an altar on Grey's Anatomy.

I couldn’t exclude Callie (Sara Ramirez) and Arizona (Jessica Capshaw) from Grey’s Anatomy. Callie is a Latina woman who has been a recurring character since the second season, working as an orthopedist. However, in the fifth season, we see her sexuality blossom.

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At the beginning of Season 5, Callie becomes interested in a cardiologist named Erica from another hospital. Erica comes out as a lesbian. Callie, however, doesn’t feel the same way. She likes being with Erica, but she also likes being with men. Callie cheats on her new girlfriend with her best friend Mark to “test” if it would be different. But she continues to enjoy it, establishing herself as bisexual. 

Showrunner Shonda Rhimes had to fight a lot so she could insert a new lesbian character to partner with Callie. This is how Arizona came to life. Arizona is a pediatrician. She is sunshine personified. She and Callie soon become a couple and headline new stories onscreen. 

What I like most about Grey’s Anatomy‘s portrayal of the couple is the normality. They never receive different treatment because they are a sapphic couple. They’re not always happy, but no couple is. Additionally, they have a lot of screen time; they have intimate scenes and stories together and separately.

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Their story is not diminished because one is bisexual, and one is a lesbian. On the contrary, their sexuality is always a source of pride, and they talk about it a lot. Another thing I love is that Arizona always uses the word “lesbian,” unlike other series that seem to be afraid of this word and always use euphemisms or “gay” and “queer.” I understand these terms are not wrong, but they are umbrella terms. Gay is more specific to men, so lesbian is the more appropriate word.

La Casa de Las Flores/The House of Flowers 

The cast of La Casa de Las Flores/ The House of Flowers standing in front of a pink floral background.

La Casa de Las Flores is a satirical Mexican dramedy series on Netflix. It tells the story of the De La Mora family, a well-respected family who owns a floristry shop. The story begins when the mistress of Ernesto, the “father” of the family, commits suicide right at the family’s floriculture.

Shortly afterward, Ernesto goes to prison because of fraud she committed in his name. Despite keeping Ernesto’s arrest a secret, the family’s accounts are frozen, and their reputation is in ruins.

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Paulina (Cecilia Suárez), the oldest and a control freak, tries to take care of everything. Elena (Aislinn Derbez), the middle one, clumsily tries to keep her African-American fiancé, Dominique (Sawandi Wilson), away from the issue. The youngest, Julián (Dario Yazbek Bernal), decides it’s the perfect time to come out as bisexual. The family’s matriarch, Virginia (Verónica Castro), tries to keep all their dirty secrets away from the public but has no option but to cave as things go wrong. She asks Paulina to call her lawyer ex-husband, whom she divorced after coming out as a trans woman.

Everything indicates that Paulina’s “husband” coming out as trans was a scandal. At first, she’s mad at Maria José (Paco León) and distant, but their love rekindles, and they have a beautiful romance. Paulina, who cares so much about public appearance, finally lets go to be with the love of her life. They get married in the finale of Season 3.

Minx 

Bambi and Shelly sit in front of a typewriter while having a serious conversation on Minx.

Minx is a TV show set in the ’70s, during the rise of feminism. A journalist, Joyce Prigger (Ophelia Lovibond), wants to start a feminist magazine called The Matriarchy Awakens. She meets Doug (Jake Johnson), a pornographer who is interested in her idea but has a twist: make it an adult magazine with male models. 

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Although the main story is fascinating, I find the supporting storyline more intriguing. Shelly (Lennon Parham) is Joyce’s sister, a housewife who lives a “happy enough” life with her husband, Lenny (Rich Sommer). Bambi (Jessica Lowe) is one of the models for several of Doug’s magazines and ends up as the “centerfold coordinator” for Minx. They grow close while working together and become friends.

Within a few episodes, we learn Shelly’s husband has never given her an orgasm. Bambi offers to take erotic photos of Shelly so she can find the sexiness in herself that is missing in her marriage. During the shoot, Shelly acts on her attraction to Bambi and kisses her. Season 1 ends with Shelly leaving a note for Bambi in her apartment and disappearing after she spent the night.

In Season 2, Shelly and Lenny host swinger parties at their house. Shelly discovers a desire to be a dominatrix who goes by Bella LaRouche. Later, Shelly attends Joyce’s event at her old university and meets her sister’s old professor, a woman. They instantly hit it off, which leads to a night of great sex.

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This show is set in the ’70s when being homosexual was very much illegal. Minx, as a comedy, had a lot of opportunities to joke about being gay, to make the gays the punchline, but it never does. Instead, the show treats every gay character with respect. Shelly’s journey is nuanced, giving her time to explore and find herself. Even nowadays, it is rare to see lesbianism, especially late-in-life lesbianism, genuinely explored in a meaningful and positive way. 

The Fosters 

The Fosters family stands in their kitchen while posing for a photo and smiling.

Two mothers raise a multiethnic family that includes both foster and biological children. Stef Foster (Teri Polo), a committed police officer, and her partner, Lena Adams (Sherri Saum), a school vice principal, have created a close-knit, loving family that includes Stef’s biological son from a previous marriage, Brandon (David Lambert), and their adopted twins, Mariana (Cierra Ramirez) and Jesus (Noah Centineo). 

When Lena meets Callie (Maia Mitchell), a tough youngster who has spent her life in and out of foster homes, their lives are turned upside down. Lena and Stef welcome Callie and her brother, Jude (Hayden Byerly), into their house.

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The pilot episode of The Fosters establishes Lena and Stef’s successful and dedicated partnership. After the couple takes in Callie’s younger brother, Jude, a discussion about sexuality begins. Jude, who was only 12 at the time, was tormented because he had painted nails.

He and Lena discuss how he should not be ashamed of wanting to express himself. This topic delves deeper into the family’s acceptance and care. Later in the novel, Jude comes out as gay, and his entire family accepts him. His non-stereotypical portrayal of a gay character becomes critical when dealing with sensitive issues. Unlike many other teen dramas with gay characters, Jude’s sexuality is not the emphasis of his development.

Wynonna Earp 

Waverly and Nicole standing with their hands locked while Jeremy officiates their wedding on Wynonna Earp

Wynonna Earp has one of the best lesbian ships ever seen on TV. I’ll admit that the show and its plot can sometimes be ridiculous. Still, the lesbian romance between Waverly (Dom Provost-Chalkley) and Nicole (Katherine Barrell) is beautiful. It represents LGBTQ+ relationships so well.

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The story revolves around the main character, Wynonna Earp (Melanie Scrofano). She reluctantly returns to fulfill her destiny as the Earp heir. Her mission is to eliminate Revenants, the resurrected spirits of criminals killed by her great-grandfather, Wyatt Earp. She joins forces with her sister Waverly and Doc Holliday (Tim Rozon).

Waverly begins the series dating Champ but discovers she is tired of her immature boyfriend, whereas Nicole has always been openly gay. The Earp family curse has prevented the sisters from living a regular life, but Waverly’s romance with Nicole demonstrates that they find happiness and genuine love.

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Fans of Wynonna Earp have been rooting for Waverly and Nicole since they first met. Their wedding in the Season 4 finale is a heartfelt gesture from the show to its devoted audience, providing them with a long-awaited celebration.

Orphan Black

Still of Tatiana Maslany and Evelyne Brochu in Orphan Black

Orphan Black is a Canadian science-fiction thriller series that stars Tatiana Maslany. The series focuses on Sarah Manning, one of numerous genetically identical human clones. It also explores the moral and ethical aspects of human cloning and its impact on identity.

Talking specifically about the queer part, Season 1 of Orphan Black follows the sisters as they find and investigate the Dyad Institute and the so-called “monitors” who have been keeping an eye on them. This leads one of the sisters, Cosima, a talented scientist who becomes ill from a mystery autoimmune ailment, to Delphine (Evelyne Brochu), a fellow student who turns out to be her monitor.

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Unexpectedly, Cosima and Delphine fall in love. Delphine resolves to continue working for Dyad on behalf of Cosima and her sisters to discover a treatment for Cosima’s disease.

This was one of the first TV shows I’d seen in which a person’s sexuality was merely part of their complicated personality rather than the main focus. Delphine does not question her desire for Cosima, who already identifies as lesbian.

Orange Is the New Black 

A promotional photo of the cast from Netflix's Orange Is the New Black.

Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling), a public relations executive with a career and a fiancé, is suddenly confronted with her past. In her mid-30s, she is sentenced to a minimum-security women’s jail in Connecticut for her involvement with a drug runner 10 years prior. Forced to switch power suits for prison orange, Chapman navigates the correctional system. She adjusts to life behind bars, making friends with the many odd, unique and unexpected characters she encounters.

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The series shows an incredible amount of LGBTQ+ people. Apart from Piper and Alex Vause (Laura Prepon), it also has Brook Soso (Kimiko Glenn), who is pansexual; Big Boo (Lea DeLaria), a butch lesbian; Lorna Morello (Yael Stone), who has a friends-with-benefits relationship with Nicky Nichols (Natasha Lyonne), a sex-addict lesbian; Sophia Burset (Laverne Cox), a trans Black lesbian woman; Poussey Washington (Samira Wiley), a Black lesbian, Crazy Eyes (Uzo Aduba), another Black lesbian and Stella Carlin (Ruby Rose), a genderfluid lesbian.

I hate what they did to Poussey, killing her the way they did. It made me stop watching the show. However, I can’t dismiss the good things the series did for the LGBTQ+ community.

This article was originally published on 5/10/24. 

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