With the wild popularity of shows like RuPaul’s Drag Race and Orange Is the New Black, plus the inclusion of gay, trans and non-binary characters on Billions, Queen Sugar and The OA, among others, it’s fair to say the past several years have ushered in a queer zeitgeist in mainstream television. This fall, the trend isn’t slowing down one bit, as network, cable and streaming channels alike are offering new and returning shows that prominently feature LGBT characters and a queer POV. In anticipation of the season ahead, we gathered a few notable series worthy of a spot in your queue.
If Shakespearean drama seems like an odd choice for a sexy TV series, then you aren’t all that familiar with the Bard. TNT’s new period drama eschews the drab atmosphere that drags down most historical series in favor of a punk-rock aesthetic, which suits the source material just fine. The audiences at the Globe are a wash of bright color and thick eyeliner, and The Clash and The White Stripes make appearances on the soundtrack as the camera pans across onstage bacchanals that are anything but stuffy. The show plays rather fast and loose with history, that’s to be sure, and the tension between Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe quickly turns outright flirtatious. Thanks to a fabulous take on Will’s infamous rival by Jamie Campbell Bower, you may find yourself wishing the show was titled Marlowe.
Will is available to stream on tnt.com.
“Good evening! Hello! I have cancer! How are you?” While she wasn’t exactly hiding, the blunt opening to Tig Notaro’s August 2012 stand-up set at the Largo in LA is what put her on our collective radar. In the face of personal tragedy that included (but wasn’t limited to) a cancer diagnosis, a breakup and the death of her mother, she let it all hang out in a raw onstage moment that has continued to inform her career to this day. From that material, she put together the semi-autobiographical show One Mississippi, which weaves her deadpan one-liners and clever comedic writing with a character-driven plot that, in a Sliding Doors-esque setup, posits what might have taken place had she moved back home after her mother’s death. As with any personal drama, the show devotes time to Tig’s romantic relationships, and the Southern setting provides ample fodder, since people living in New York City and LA don’t often get asked to “pray the gay away.” The follow-up to One Mississippi’s highly praised first season premiered on Amazon Prime in September, perfect and ready for a weekend binge.
One Mississippi is available to stream on Amazon Prime.
Transparent is not new to the scene — it’s gotten so much award recognition that the cast and crew might be getting annoyed with the clutter of trophies littering their residences — but its fourth season introduces major change to the series. After Maura makes an abrupt discovery when presenting at a conference, the Pfeffermans convene in Israel to seek out more information about the family’s history. Amidst touristic moments like visiting the Western Wall and taking camel rides, the family members fumble their way toward further self-discovery, this time divorced from the LA bubble that has served as the series’ setting up to this point. Creator Jill Soloway has also confirmed that the new season will be more explicitly political — which is unsurprising and wholly welcome in the current climate.
Transparent is available to stream on Amazon Prime.
Star Trek: Discovery
Star Trek has served as a backdrop for social commentary going back to Kirk and Uhura locking lips in the original series — which also launched the career of gay actor, author and activist George Takei in the role of USS Enterprise helmsman Sulu — so it’s fitting that the latest foray into the Federation includes a queer crewmate. However, the reinvention of an original character generated a fair amount of controversy — some called out an all-too-brief shot of John Cho’s Sulu with a same-sex partner in Star Trek: Beyond, and Takei took to Facebook to voice his own issues, stating that he wished El Paso-born creator Gene Roddenberry’s “original characters and their backgrounds would be respected. How exciting it would be instead if a new hero might be created … rather than reinvented. To me, this would have been even more impactful.” Beyond the Sulu drama, actor Anthony Rapp has confirmed that his character (an intense lieutenant whose mycological research ties into the show’s Klingon conflict) will reunite onscreen with fellow Rent-alum Wilson Cruz as his crewmate and long-term partner. Between this, the on-set pictures showcasing revamped Klingon designs and the stellar cast (including Sonequa Martin-Green, Michelle Yeoh, Jason Isaacs, and fan favorite “man in the suit” Doug Jones), the newest Trek installment warrants watching.
Star Trek: Discovery is available to stream on CBS All Access.
Will & Grace
Admit it: More than a few of us have well-worn DVD box sets bedecking our bookshelves that prominently feature that recognizable ampersand. It was exciting enough when a 10-minute mini-episode of Will & Grace appeared online as part of last fall’s election push, but the series revival that came out of it eases a bit of the sting of the regrettable results. Plus, not only do Eric McCormack, Debra Messing, Sean Hayes and Megan Mullally reprise their iconic roles, but creators Max Mutchnick and David Kohan have also returned along with director James Burrows, who was behind the camera for every episode of the show’s original run. In a trailer teasing the show’s return, the gang promises that it will be “as if we never said goodbye.”
Will & Grace Season 9 airs at 8 p.m. Thursdays on NBC.
The Trixie and Katya Show
Drop everything and press play on that trumpet fanfare, because RuPaul’s Drag Race fan favorites Trixie Mattel and Katya Zamolodchikova are making a triumphant return to the small screen. According to Vulture, the two queens will host a talk show on Viceland that’s a “hilarious hybrid of late-night, daytime, and advice shows,” and if their YouTube series UNHhhh is anything to go by, it’ll be a smorgasbord of their delightful off-the-cuff wit, personal anecdotes and a healthy dose of TMI. Not much information about the show itself has trickled out, but between their chemistry on UNHhhh and their breakout performances on the seventh season of RPDR (and, in Katya’s case, the second season of RPDR All Stars), it’ll undoubtedly be a hit.
The Trixie and Katya Show premieres November 15 on Viceland.