Still crushing the ratings in its 10th season, Grey’s Anatomy has given more screentime to Callie and Arizona than any other network has ever given its LGBT characters, by at least a mile. They enjoy the same lovey-dovey affection as the straight couples on the show and they suffer through the Shonda Rhimes-shaped hardships the same as the straight couples too. They’re just like us, only with ten times as many lightning strikes and plane crashes.
Not just any show could present the nature vs. nurture argument with regards to sexual orientation and make it seem like just another organic conversation between two of its main characters, but Orphan Black did it with ease in its first season. The lesbi-questioning Delphine said to Cosima: “As a scientist I know that sexuality is a spectrum, but social biases codify sexual attraction, contrary to the biological facts” before kissing her right on the mouth. Punching holes in the binary and wondering aloud about the prism of ways, both genetic and social, that people come to embrace their sexual identities. Revolutionary! Plus, Sarah’s gay foster brother Felix became the most lovable character on the show in the first season, to the clones and to the audience.
The way Scandal casually mentioned that the White House Chief of Staff is a married gay man made me think the show was never going to make an issue out of the relationship, which turned out to be the opposite of true: Scandal actually anchored its romantic emotion onto Cyrus and James. While Olivia and Fitz and Mellie ripped each other apart in their tragically Greek way, Cyrus and James remained a beacon of dysfunctional-but-workable love in a really messed up city. Cyrus’ and James’ mutual betrayals of each other packed a more powerful kick to the heart than anything else the show managed to do in three seasons, and it one time showed a woman chewing off her own wrists, so that’s saying something.
It remains the only broadcast network show to feature lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender characters, and while it disappoints us more often than not these days, there’s no denying the role it has played in spreading the It Gets Better to an entire generation of gay teenagers.
The Emmy/Golden Globes darling has spawned half a dozen lookalike sitcoms over the years, but none of them have been able to capture the magic of Modern Family. Cam and Mitchell haven’t always been treated equally when it comes to expressing on-air physical affection, but they remain one of the most adored TV couples on one of the most watched TV shows. And Jesse Tyler Fergsuon has used the fame to lobby for marriage equality around the world.
The most-watched show of 2013′s summer TV season featured an interracial lesbian couple that broke the audience’s heart. While it’s hard not to begrudge the loss of another lesbian character on television, Alice’s death didn’t have any apathetic or homophobic undertones. It was written for pure emotional devastation. And it played out on America’s highest rated, most notoriously conservative network.
We always wondered what it would have been like if Buffy had been bisexual, and Lost Girl finally answered that question for us. The Canadian import aired on Syfy last summer and became one of the most DVR-ed shows of 2014. It showcases a variety of queer female characters and never makes an issue about the sexuality of any of them. It’s the only show on TV that can truly say it allows its gay couples to to get romantic on-screen the same way straight couples do.
Every year, Pretty Little Liars finds new ways to break social media records. It’s the show of the under-30 Twitter generation, and over the course of four seasons it has given us seven queer female characters, a gay bar, and a crew of lesbian and gay writers/directors/producers who are more tapped into what makes their lesbian audience tick than any show in history.
What do you think is the most important LGBT show on TV right now?