The 12 Best LGBTQ+ Shows on Netflix
Over the years, there has not bee nearly enough LGBTQ+ representation in TV and film. Though things are slowly improving, even today, some countries will ban films such as Eternals or Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness for merely featuring LGBTQ+ characters or actors. However, there are many platforms working to keep the LGBTQ+ presence strong.
Netflix, especially, has been growing their selection of inclusive films and TV shows. In fact, they’ve even added the genre LGBTQ to their platform. This means you can easily filter shows and movies to specifically find Netflix’s array of LGBTQ+ content. The majority of Netflix’s LGBTQ+ shows are Netflix originals. Additionally, many of them are high quality and have received glowing reviews from critics. These shows are thoughtful, inclusive, and represent the LGBTQ+ community well.
Here are the 12 best Netflix LGBTQ+ series to enjoy.
Queer Eye premiered on Netflix in 2018 and has run for six seasons so far. The series is a reboot of the highly popular 2003 series, Queer Eye For The Straight Guy, which was canceled in 2007. Netflix’s Queer Eye follows a new Fab Five—a group of queer experts in the fields of design, fashion, culture, grooming, and food—who utilize their skills to help various individuals improve their lifestyles. Sometimes, these individuals are very different from the Fab Five and have different beliefs and perspectives, which fosters interesting social commentary.
Queer Eye has been positively received and garnered a number of Primetime Emmy Awards. The show has been especially praised for its representation of the LGBTQ+ community, as well as other less represented communities. Meanwhile, the episodes are often emotional and heartwarming, as the individuals that the Fab Five help are usually ordinary people struggling with very real problems. Queer Eye truly shows how much just a little bit of openness, acceptance, and spontaneity can change one’s life.
Heartstopper is a coming-of-age comedy that follows two teenagers, Charlie (Joe Locke) and Nick (Kit Connor), whose friendship may evolve into something else as the two navigate young love. In the series, Locke is a teenager, in a secret relationship, who begins to harbor a crush on Charlie, a popular rugby player who sits next to him in class. Heartstopper is adapted from the webcomic and graphic novel of the same name by Alice Oseman, and intriguingly incorporates animations adapted from the source material.
Heartstopper quickly received critical acclaim following its release in April of 2022. The series is charming, sweet, emotional, and provides a sensitive and representative look into romance. Heartstopper doesn’t go into dark territory, but it does still manage to capture the dangers of homophobia. Meanwhile, the storyline, acting, animation, and music all work together to frame a romance that is simply adorable.
Young Royals is a Swedish TV series that premiered on Netflix on July 1, 2021. The series boasts a perfect 100% on Rotten Tomatoes and has run for two seasons so far. Like Heartstopper, the show follows the love story between two schoolboys. However, the setting is quite different as the main protagonist is the fictional Prince Wilhelm (Edvin Ryding) of Sweden who falls for his classmate, Simon (Omar Rudberg), at one of the most prestigious boarding schools in the country. The chemistry between Wilhelm and Simon is palpable, and the sweet love story is further elevated by the numerous themes in the series. While it is representative of the LGBTQ+ community, the show also seeks to explore how race and social class impact the experiences of young individuals exploring their sexualities. It is dramatic and charming and tells a meaningful story to viewers.
I Am Not Okay With This
While this one may break your heart because it was canceled after one season, it is still one of the best LGBTQ+ shows on Netflix. I Am Not Okay With This is a dark comedy that follows Sydney Novak (Sophia Lillis), a teenage girl navigating grief, sexuality, and superpowers. In the series, Novak has a secret crush on her best friend, Dina (Sofia Bryant). However, when her friend begins dating another guy, Novak finds her anger manifesting in surprising ways.
The series is extremely fast-paced and ends on a cliffhanger that will make your jaw drop. Meanwhile, I Am Not Okay With This is one of the few series that poignantly captures the frustration and adolescent rage that many young people harbor inside. It is also simply a great combination of LGBTQ+ representation, humor, the trials of adolescence, the impact of grief, and supernatural elements. Also, a great reminder that we need way more LGBTQ+ characters with superpowers.
Sex Education is a dramedy that premiered on Netflix on January 11th, 2019. The series follows Otis Milburn (Asa Butterfield) a socially awkward teenager who begins passing along sex education to his peers after learning about all aspects of sexuality from his sex therapist mother, Jean (Gillian Anderson). The show has proven to be extremely LGBTQ+ inclusive and explores deep themes of acceptance, homophobia, and violence.
In the series, Eric (Ncuti Gatwa), is Otis’ best friend and is also gay. Sex Education shies away from stereotypes as the show explores his journey. Eric is funny, multi-faceted, and has his own values and approach to faith. He’s not just some stereotypical gay character who is designated as the comic relief. Meanwhile, the show follows both the ups and downs of his life as a gay man. Sex Education encompasses the progression of inclusivity and the work that still needs to be done.
Special is an American comedy-drama starring Ryan O’Connell as Ryan Hayes. The series is a semi-autographical account of O’Connell’s navigation of life as a gay man with cerebral palsy—exploring Hayes’ desire to write his own identity and live life according to his desires, rather than others’ expectations. Special ran for two seasons before its conclusion and was the recipient of several Emmy nominations.
Special is, like its name denotes, a pretty special and unique LGBTQ+ show. The fact that it is based off of O’Connell’s life gives it a realism and poignancy that is difficult to find in other shows. Meanwhile, the series is a much-needed triumph for marginalized groups in society—portraying a character whose disability does not define him. Special is equal parts humor and heartwarming, with a deep and compelling premise.
Elite is a Spanish thriller drama that premiered on Netflix on October 5th, 2018. The series follows three working class students who get offered scholarships to the most exclusive, elite private school in Spain after their school collapses. However, tension between the upper and working class students escalates to the point it becomes fatal.
Like several shows on this list, Elite wasn’t created specifically for LGBTQ+ audiences, but it does feature multiple strong storylines featuring queer characters. Additionally, the series boasts a breakneck pace and intense melodrama that will effectively hook viewers.
Schitt’s Creek is a Canadian sitcom, available to stream on Netflix, that ran from 2015 to 2020. The series follows the wealthy Rose family who experience a huge setback in their standard of living when they lose their fortune to a fraudulent business manager. The only asset they have left is a small remote town in Ontario named Schitt’s Creek. Hence, the family relocates to Schitt’s Creek and must adjust to the local lifestyle.
Schitt’s Creek is hilarious, as well as an intriguing take on the difference between the rich and the working class and the fragility of materialism. Additionally, Schitt’s Creek is one of the shows on this list that does the absolute best at normalizing the LGBTQ+ community. When the Rose’s son, David (Dan Levy), who is pansexual, begins dating Patrick (Noah Reid), the family fully accepts it and there are no signs of homophobia. The series depicts exactly how any relationship between any two people should be accepted—wholly and simply.
Atypical premiered on Netflix in 2017 and ran for four seasons before its 2021 conclusion. The series follows Sam (Keir Gilchrist), a teenager on the autism spectrum who has decided that he is ready for romance and independence. Accompanying him on his journey is his less-than-perfect family who, although they are tentative about Sam’s journey, come to realize they’re all looking for the same things as he is—love and self-discovery.
Atypical is a heartwarming series, despite a shaky start. While season 1 was criticized for not including autistic cast members or crew, Atypical learned from its mistakes. Season 2 featured autistic actors and writers and more accurately depicted the autism spectrum. Additionally, the show also began following Casey’s (Brigette Lundy-Paine) exploration of her sexuality and attraction to a female friend. Atypical isn’t perfect, but it does perfectly encompass how even an imperfect family can love and accept one another.
One Day at a Time
One Day at a Time is an American sitcom that premiered on Netflix in 2017 and ran for three seasons. Following its Netflix cancellation, a TV network, Pop, revived the show for an additional 4th season. One Day at a Time is inspired by the sitcom of the same name that aired in 1975. The series follows a newly single Army veteran, Penelope (Justina Machado), who is navigating life while raising her two strong-willed children.
In One Day at a Time, Penelope’s daughter, Elena (Isabella Gomez), discovers she is a lesbian and comes out to her family. Despite her father’s disapproval, she continues exploring her sexuality and even starts a Gay-Straight Alliance club at her Catholic school. Elena is a very strong depiction of the LGBTQ+ community as she is unapologetically herself and a fierce advocate for others. Additionally, Penelope’s story arc is similarly powerful as it explores her struggles with PTSD after serving in the Army. With powerful representation and a celebration of a family’s bond through the good and bad times, One Day at a Time is funny, heartfelt, and captivating.
Black Lightning is a CW superhero drama that ran from 2018 to 2021 and is available to stream on Netflix. The series follows Jefferson Pierce (Cress Williams) a retired vigilante who believes he has left his superhero days behind him. That is until his daughters are kidnapped. Pierce feels he has no choice but to don the Black Lightning suit again to protect his family.
Black Lightning effectively blends together the elements of humor, action, and social commentary. The series flawlessly entwines black culture and LGBTQ+ culture into its storyline in a way that is natural and normalized. The Pierce family explores the challenges and dynamics of being a Black family in America. Meanwhile, Pierce’s daughter, Anissa/Thunder (Nafessa Williams), is openly a lesbian. The series gives much presence to the progressing relationship between Thunder and Grace Choi (Chantal Thuy). In doing so, it gives viewers their first black lesbian TV superhero. Black Lightning breaks down barriers, is filled with representation, and is a very fun and engaging superhero series.
The Most Beautiful Flower
The Most Beautiful Flower premiered on Netflix on December 7, 2022. The Spanish-language series is set in Xochimilco, Mexico, and is loosely based on the teenage years of Mexican actress and comedian, Michelle “Mich” Rodríguez. The Most Beautiful Flower follows Mich (Esmeralda Soto), a young woman seeking to topple the popularity hierarchy at her school and balance her journey with the traditions of her family and heritage. One of the major plot points of the series is Mich’s love life. She is caught in what she calls a love octagon. The show is very much an exploration of her sexuality as she begins to realize she likes both girls and boys. While her family struggles with the idea at first, most of her family comes to accept it. Some even express surprise that her liking a girl would be a point of contention at all. The Most Beautiful Flower is a poignant exploration of young love and acceptance of all kinds of love.
(featured image: Netflix)
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