Foreign Affairs: A new column about International LGBT TV


Ahoy, sea dogs, high mile club members, Doras and wanderers! My name is Chen, (it’s probably not pronounced the way you think it is, but that’s a matter for another time) and I’ll be your captain. I was tasked by the editors of this fine establishment, to embark on this wonderful journey of research and international gayness.

Granted, we already have wonderful coverage of some shows from outside the country (such as Orphan Black, Lost Girl, Wentworth, and so on), however, we wanted to give the stage to some other international gems.

Ultimately, this little corner of a webpage, is meant to be a weekly recap of what’s going on on TV around the world, and we’ll get there, but, in the mean time, let’s use our first few meetings to examine representation in different regions of the globe.


Maybe your favorite shows won’t be listed, maybe you’d find that you didn’t know any of these shows, or maybe you knew them all (hopefully not, but if that’s the case, four for you!) Either way, I hope you’ll find this initial four to five-parter informative, and occasionally entertaining, otherwise I’m doing something wrong.

This very first part is just an introduction (with some interesting statistical facts), but in the near future, we’ll get to discuss many a countries, and many a genres, or niches, if you will.

The data presented below is based on both the wonderful information you guys sent me (thanks a bunch, yo) and my own (some would say obsessive) research.

I used it all to create a crazy matrix chart thingy (that’s the professional term, I checked).

True story. Here’s an exhibit:

lbtI call this my BLT characters chart (bisexual/lesbian/transgender). You gotta admit it’s pretty catchy. 

I am going to share some of the interesting things I’ve learned. (Do keep in mind it’s all approximate, and feel free to send me updates so I can put them in this now very useful database.)

Number of female bisexual characters on international TV past and present: 77

Number of lesbian characters on international TV past and present: 127

Number of transgender women characters on international TV past and present: 6

This is where we stand on international visibility these days. We still have a ways to go, but there is hope.

Anni and Jasmin of “Gute Zeiten schlechte Zeiten”IXtn8Hp

The most common genre to have bi/lesbian/transgender women characters, is soap operas. Our silver medal goes to drama, but really, sometimes drama is just a fancier word for soap operas (only they don’t last on the air as long).

Now to clarify, soaps have the biggest amount of BLT characters, probably due to their lengthy runs, but statistically, there are more drama labeled shows with BLT characters in them.

Among the popular settings for shows with these characters, you’ll unsurprisingly find hospital dramas and prison shows. It’s nice to see that supernatural labeled shows, comedies that are set in different, sometimes unexpected places, and science-fictions shows are starting to give us these characters too.

Geographically, UK is definitely on the lead with 32 shows with BLT characters (30 from England, plus two from Scotland), followed by Australia with 13 shows. But I guess that was expected. Canada is next, of course, with nine shows (the majority of which are covered by this very website), Israel has six shows, and Spain and France has four each. These are the top contenders; just some food for thought.

Saving Hopemaggie

Now, for the purpose of our weekly eventual meeting, I’m gonna list down the shows we need to pay attention to. These are only the shows that are still on the air and still have queer characters on them.

Offspring – Kim Akerholt (Australia, on a break)

Wentworth – Frankie Doyle, Maxine Conway (Australia, on a break)

Degrassi: The Next Generation – Imogen Moreno (Canada, Tuesdays)

Lost Girl – Bo, Lauren, Tamsin, Evony (Canada, on a break)

Orphan Black – Cosima, Delpine (Canada, back April 2015)

Rookie Blue – Gail, Holly (Canada, back March 2015)

Strange Empire – Morgan, (Canada, Mondays)

Unite 9 – Michele, Avril, Jeanne, Melissa (Canada, Tuesdays)

Famille d’accueil – Juliette, Celine (France, on a break)

Les Revenants  – Laure, Julie (France, on a break)

Plus Belle La Vie – Celine (France, Mondays)

Gute Zeiten schlechte Zeiten – Jasmine, Andrea (Germany, Monday – Fridays)

30 NIS per hour – Amal (Israel, TBD)

Who Gave You a License? – Riki, Chave, The Blue (Israel , TBD)

Shortland Street – Nicole (New Zealand, Mon – Fri)

A Touch of Cloth – Anne, Gemma, Hope (UK, on a break)

Benidrom – Jacqueline (UK, Fridays through February)

Casualty – Kathleen (UK, Saturdays)

Coronation Street – Maddie, Sophie (UK, two episodes on Mondays and Fridays, one episode on Wednesdays)

Doctor Who – Jenny, Madame Vastra (UK, on a break)

Eastenders – Sonia, Tina, Fiona (UK, Mon – Fri)

Emmerdale – Debbie, Charity, Rubi, Ali (UK, Mon – Fri)

Hollyoaks – Esther, Blessing (UK, Mon – Fri)

Last Tango in Halifax – Caroline (UK, on a break)

Sherlock – Irene Adler (UK, TBD)

Saving Hope – Maggie, Sydney (Canada, Wednesdays)

I shall now leave you to ponder on all of this information, but we will meet again very soon and launch our regional exploration, so pack wisely and don’t forget the sunscreen. One can get mysterious burns in prison, which is where we’re headed first. Please, if you have new information, questions, or you suspect that there are more shows in the countries I mentioned, please contact me here/on Tumblr/Twitter, etc, so I can share with the rest of the class. Thank you for your help!

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