The Top 5 Lesbian Television Shows, Ever

A friend of mine who counsels youth recently told me she’s working with a 14-year-old, newly out lesbian who wanted a list of good lesbian television shows she could Netflix. Despite the fact that “good lesbian television” is sometimes an oxymoron, I jumped on the chance to compile such a list – a lesbian ten commandments, if you will. I felt a sudden surge of responsibility. I couldn’t let this poor girl sit through The O.C. or 90210. I could save her many, many hours of being tortured by badly written lesbians. I’m not ashamed to admit the simple request morphed into a days-long re-watching of some of my favorite shows. Call me dedicated, call me nerdy: the list was born.

The criteria: a credible, long-lasting (read: no sweeps dalliances) relationship between two women. Yup, that’s it. I’m easy. There is a preponderance of break-up-by-death on this list, but in all cases, the journey made up for a less-than-happy ending. Also, if I had been any more specific, I’d have no list.

1. Xena: Warrior Princess

I could literally write a dissertation on Xena (oh that’s right, I did that in college). The first time I saw it, I was on vacation with my family. It was the infamous kiss episode, “The Quest,” and I was so captivated (and so, so gay), I actually wanted my vacation to end so I could get home and watch more episodes. It was the first show that made me openly question my sexuality – thanks, Xena!

Xena was smart, tough, beautiful, vulnerable, and tantalizingly complex. Although the show is often viewed with the same campy lens as its sibling, Hercules, Xena was written with far more depth. The intimate relationship between Xena and her companion Gabrielle was undeniable, and the way it unfolded during Xena’s six seasons left little doubt that they were soulmates.

2. Buffy the Vampire Slayer

You know how with some shows that feature lesbian couples, the rest of the show is so boring, you find yourself YouTubing the relevant clips to spare yourself the chore of watching the whole show? Buffy was unfairly well-written, and Joss Whedon proved over and over again that someone, somewhere, could do a lesbian couple that didn’t inspire boredom, suicide, or bisexuality.

Willow and Tara were the kind of couple that everyone loves – straight people, gay people, witches, demons – you would want them at your dinner party. Their sexually charged spellcasting is the stuff of Sapphic legend.

One of my friends has a fire-proof safe in her apartment. The contents? Her passport, birth certificate, family photos, and her Buffy DVDs.

3. The L Word

I never thought I’d say this, but I miss The L Word. Showtime’s lesbian drama started off with a bang and seemed to roll steadily downhill after season two. There was the annoying theme song, the ridiculous storylines, and the bloated cast. But every Sunday night, one thing was certain: there would be an entire show about lesbians on television. Ilene Chaiken’s outsized ego and mangling of the series made it easy to forget how important and groundbreaking that was. Not to mention it gave us Jennifer Beals, in all her divine glory, playing a lesbian like she meant it. (continued on next page)

5 total comments on this postSubmit yours
  1. Avatar of usadoc36

    I like your list but there are a few more I’ve loved:

    1. Hospital Central Esther & Maca

    2. Bad Girls Helen & Nikki

    3. Las Aparicio Mariana & Julia

    4. Guiding Light Olivia & Natalia

    5. Queer as Folks Mel & Lindsey

    6. Degrassi Alex & Paige

    7. Verboten Liebe Carla & Stella

    8. Amar En Tiempos Revueltos Ana & Teresa

    9. Star Trek Voyager Janeway & Seven

    10. 099 Central Marisa & Sivina

    Ellen

    Grey’s Anatomy Callie & Erika

    Avatar of Danielle

    Danielle Reply:

    Excellent list! I haven’t seen Amar en Tiempos or 099 Central – I will have to check those out. You seem to be a connoiseur, and thus, a woman after my own heart.

    The only one I will disagree with you on is Melanie and Lindsay from QaF. I thought they were boring, baby-obsessed whiners. It was probably the only show ever where I’ve wanted to change the channel when the lesbians came on.

    Thanks for adding your thoughts!

    Avatar of usadoc36

    usadoc36 Reply:

    LOL, I agree with you completely about Mel & Lindsey but out of respect, they were the second longest lesbian couple on US TV I added them. I perfer Nikki and Nora a couple that only made it to the pilot stage over them. Or even Paula & Franzi of GZSZ. Now let’s talk movies. LOL

    Avatar of usadoc36

    usadoc36 Reply:

    For the love of subtext and all things fan fictions lets add Olivia and Alex from SVU

  2. Avatar of Roisin Boadle

    Good list, I don’t think anyone can disagree with the inclusion of Willow and Tara (when I rewatched Buffy as a teenager, my obsession with them was what made me question my sexuality).

    Have you considered Sugar Rush? It was a British show about a teenager, Kim, coming to terms with her sexuality and her complete obsession with her unfortunately straight best friend, Sugar. First series was about Sugar and the second focused more on Kim’s first proper girlfriend and her increasing confidence in her identity. It’s a pretty fun show.

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