The Television Critics Press Tour is underway and there are some unexpectedly great upcoming shows with LGBTQ characters would should all be excited about. The Los Angeles Blade’s Susan Hornik spoke to reporters about their thoughts.
TV Critic/Executive Director, GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics
Frankly, to me, TV’s still having a tough time putting up shows that I call “Beyond LGBTQ” — i.e. shows that don’t just feature characters in the rainbow, but actually resonate deeply as grippingly human or richly funny because the humor’s incredibly universal in some way.
I, of course, applaud shows that trumpet gay, lesbian, bi, trans and gender-fluid characters, but too often—even when the show’s creators are in the LGBTQ neighborhood themselves—the characters and themes come off to me as self-congratulatory, overly earnest, somehow self-conscious, still stereotypical and just not truly special.
I feel the same about all characters in TV and even movies in general. I’m not THAT cranky—I’d just settle for genuinely entertaining, but even then . . . Anyway, I wanna first complement “The Walking Dead” and Ross Marquand for making us forget heroic, one-armed Aaron on that zombie drama is gay. He cares, loves, freaks out over zombies and bitches about other people just like all the other characters on the show. The writing’s pretty sharp this season in general, so I’d put this long-running hit’s new batch of episodes on the top of my LGBTQ winter/spring TV shows to DVR list.
While I remain devastated that Comedy Central cancelled the sublimely ridiculous “Idiotsitter,” “The Other Two,” a just-premiered comedy with a random premise, is helping me nurse my wounds. Drew Tarver is perfectly dry as a sadsack New York actor with a sweet adolescent brother who’s suddenly a huge pop star. That music biz plot is incidental really to Tarver’s personal issues, which includes crushing out on his superhot roomie, a straight “bro” who is totally fine masturbating in front of him. The show’s balance of satire and “Girls-esque” angst was a little wobbly in the first episode, but the show’s already worked out its tonal kinks to become a uniquely sweet-hearted addiction. No wonder it’s been renewed for another season.
Another highlight is “Killing Eve” season two! Sandra Oh as a spy and Jodie Comer as the psychopathic assassin she’s after and is attracted to . . . that’s a serious draw, especially after Oh’s character stabbed Eve in season one’s finale. I also like “The Red Line,” where Noah Wyle plays a man who’s cop-husband is shot dead. Thats the starting point of this groundbreaking network drama, produced by “Selma” director Ava DuVernay and Greg Berlanti. CBS, you’re looking more interesting!
Hulu’s adorable new comedy, “Shrill” lets “SNL” star Aidy Bryant’s good heart and self-effacing Mary Richards-esque humor shine in this comedy about a journalist at an alternative weekly newspaper. Bonus: Hedwig himself, John Cameron Mitchell, plays her jaded boss.
When it comes to shows in general, I’m especially keen on catching “Pennyworth,” EPIX’s “Gotham” prequel that shows a young Alfred Pennyworth (dreaaaamboat Brit star Jack Bannon) working security for Bruce Wayne’s billionaire dad Thomas in groovy ‘60s London. Brit retro-pop star, Paloma Faith absolutely kills it as his nemesis, a totally new villainess named Bet Sykes. Mark my word, she’ll soon be your favorite new bad girl.
I am also excited about PBS’s miniseries version of Victor Hugo’s “Les Miserables,” with Dominic West as poverty-stricken, bread-stealing Jean Valjean and David Oyelowo as vile police guard turned inspector Javert. Also, DC’s “Doom Patrol” is the most interesting, entertaining, satisfying superheroes show to come along in a long while.
Senior Editor, TVGuide.com
Two shows that stand out most are Showtime’s “Black Monday” and “Boomerang” on BET. On the first, although a character is revealed to be gay, I’m most interested in seeing Andrew Rannells, who’s openly gay, play a character who’s straight.
And on “Boomerang,” one of the male supporting characters is a masculine,bi/sexually fluid guy. He puts a new face on fluidity for black men that I felt was surprising and has the potential to open up the audience to see faces it hasn’t before on the network.
It’s been great to have “Will & Grace” back on network television, and I even considered watching “Grey’s Anatomy” again thanks to the very cute (and out) Jake Borelli (I settled for YouTube clips instead!) Many of my most recent queer discoveries have come from Netflix. I absolutely loved “Ander and Omar” on the Spanish show “Elite” (which also included a murderously sexy throuple) as well as the recent hit “Sex Education” with the fantastic Ncuti Gatwa as gay teen Eric. Both of those shows will be getting second seasons.
After watching “Sex Education,” Netflix suggested I watch “Degrassi: Next Class,” which I quickly binged thanks to several delightfully queer characters. Too bad the show is still in limbo without a renewal in sight. But my favorite LGBTQ characters are on two recent Dorian Award-winning shows. The entire cast of “Pose” is perfection, and I absolutely can’t get enough of both David and Patrick on “Schitt’s Creek.”
Of the new shows, I’m most intrigued by “Batwoman.” I have a soft spot for Greg Berlanti and the CW and love that David Nutter is directing the pilot. I also have high expectations for Ruby Rose in the iconic role.
Some shows I am particularly excited about: The return of “Vida,” which is a cast of Latinx queer women/nonbinary people and run by out EP Tanya Saracho. I love “The Other Two” on Comedy Central — unapologetic gay content. Obviously thrilled about the return of “The L Word” as that will provide several queer women in one single show in relation to each other — something that we rarely get to see.
“Broad City” stars two queer women in a very grounded but hilarious universe full of LGBTQs and POCs. “Pose” is incredible — the performances, the stories, the people in front of and behind the camera. It’s a true community-based show. Lena Waithe continues to infuse queerness and blackness into her work in a way that has never really been allowed before, because networks are trusting creatives like her to dictate their own narratives and it’s paying off. Can’t wait for her TBS pilot, “Twenties.”
I look forward to seeing how “Abby’s” does, with bisexual lead, Natalie Morales. There are things to look for and forward to, but the majority of programming today is still very cis straight and white, with maybe a pop of color or queerness every once in a while to fill a quota. The change is happening but it’s still slow — mostly because the programming reflects an audience based on the cis white straight guys in charge of networks.