The 10 Best Queer Shows of 2022TV Lists best of 2022
2022 has been an incredible year for television. Whether you were more impressed by the quality or by the sheer volume coming out this year, it was memorable nevertheless. Unfortunately, 2022 was not a great year for queer representation on screen though, with numerous LGBTQ shows being canceled or coming to their natural end, and some shows still stuck in limbo.
The fact that we are ending the year with significantly less LGBTQ representation on screen than we did at the start is disappointing and discouraging, especially as it becomes clear that the Peak TV squeeze impacts minority-focused storytelling before it touches these series’ straighter and whiter counterparts. From the fun and schlocky vampire romance First Kill to Prime Video’s survivalist drama The Wilds, through the destruction of The CW network and the cancellations of nearly their entire queer line-up (Batwoman and Tom Swift, to name a few), even Hulu’s Love, Victor bit the dust this year. And while it’s nice that shows like Stranger Things and Vampire Academy included LGBTQ side-plots this season, sometimes you just want to watch a show that really gives the queer community its spotlight.
This list is not exhaustive, but rather meant to highlight some of the best LGBTQ storytelling on screen this year, as well as bring attention to some series that flew under the radar when stacked against the year’s biggest hits. And even though some of these shows are now gone, their impact still remains in making 2022 a memorable year for queer representation on television—for better and for worse. Without further ado, here are our picks for the best queer shows of 2022:
Status: Canceled earlier this year.
The CW’s Charmed reboot is, for lack of a better word, endlessly charming, but never more so than in its fourth season. Despite having to deal with major shifts both in front of and behind the camera (series lead and third Charmed One Madeleine Mantock left after Season 3’s finale, and three new showrunners were brought in ahead of Season 4), Charmed’s final outing was its best season since its first, delivering magical fun and sisterly shenanigans. The series also did right by its queer audience in Season 4, righting some of the series’ previous wrongs by delivering fun and poignant queer stories in its final season; the newest Charmed One, Kaela Danso (Lucy Barrett) is bisexual, which, along with lesbian Charmed One Mel Vera (Melonie Diaz), made two out of three series leads sapphic, and guest star Mareya Salazar provides great trans representation through the Charmed Ones’ cousin, Joséfina Reyes. Even though Charmed met its untimely end with The CW’s wave of cancellations, the series as a whole is still worth seeking out, especially if you’re in the mood for magic and mystery that feels akin to the original Charmed, just with a touch of modern flair.
9. Legends of Tomorrow
Status: Canceled earlier this year.
There might not be a show more queer than Legends of Tomorrow. In its cut-short seven-season run, the series saw multiple lesbian, bisexual, gay, and asexual characters arrive through the Waverider’s revolving doors. Originally assembled by Rip Hunter (Arthur Darvill), the Legends started as a group of heroes from The CW’s Arrowverse whose disappearance from the present would have no impact on the historical timeline; in other words, Rip Hunter gathered up all the nobodies he could find, put them on a timeship, and turned that rag-tag group into bonafide time-traveling superheroes. The show’s first season is notoriously rocky, trying too hard to capture the same essence as its predecessors Arrow and The Flash, but in the show’s second season and beyond, Legends of Tomorrow embraces the weirdness.
In spite of its wackiness, or maybe because of it, the show found its home in the hearts of queer superhero fans across the globe, and then rewarded them by continually adding more and more LGBTQ+ characters until there were 5 queer series regulars at one single time, and they were just a fraction of the total representation seen on the show. Co-captains/wives Sara Lance (Caity Lotz) and Ava Sharpe (Jes Macallan), affectionately known as Avalance, were even about to have a baby together before the show was unceremoniously canceled. Despite the cancelation, Legends of Tomorrow’s focus on telling joyful stories with their abundance of queer characters makes it a stand out in both the superhero genre and in queer representation.
8. The Owl House
Status: Final season in progress.
What do you do when your show is canceled prematurely by Disney? You make it gayer than ever—at least, according to The Owl House’s final, three-episode season. The show comes from the mind of Dana Terrace, and has become somewhat of a cult classic since its premiere in 2020. The series follows Luz (Sarah-Nicole Robles) after she stumbles upon a magical world, stumbling into the arms of the eccentric Owl Lady Eda (Wendie Malick), who promises to teach her how to use magic when she’s unable to return to her home. From the beginning, the series is a genuine delight, filled with incredible heart and just enough cheese to remind you it’s still kids’ programming.
Featuring Disney’s first animated same-sex kiss between leading characters, The Owl House is a trailblazer for LGBTQ+ representation in animation. Following in the footsteps of Netflix’s She-Ra, the storyline between Luz and her girlfriend Amity (Mae Whitman) is nothing short of adorable. The Owl House’s queer storytelling has always been central, since the beginning, but to see Luz and Amity get together before the series is even over (an unfortunate rarity) is incredibly important, truly paving the way for the next wave of animated LGBTQ+ representation. Despite the target audience being on the younger side, The Owl House’s storylines are surprisingly mature and enjoyable for all ages.
7. Our Flag Means Death
Status: Renewed for Season 2.
Midlife crises manifest as many things, and in HBO Max’s Our Flag Means Death, Stede Bonnet (Rhys Darby) checks off all the usual criteria. A flashy new vehicle? Yep. A flashy new relationship? Of sorts. A drastic career change? Well, that’s an understatement. Inspired by the stranger-than-fiction true story, the 10-episode historical adventure comedy follows the aftermath of Bonnet leaving his cushy aristocratic life to become a pirate during the Golden Age of Piracy. “Pirate workplace comedy” provides an entertaining entry point, and Darby serves as the show’s hapless but well-meaning boss, bringing a Ted Lasso-esque mentality to the captain who wants his crew to grow as people, not just pirates. Taika Waititi co-stars as the legendary Blackbeard who’s having a midlife crisis of his own, and poses a perfect foil to Bonnet’s antics. While the first few episodes are uneven, creator David Jenkins ultimately strikes a satisfying balance between exploring Blackbeard and Bonnet’s relationship and adding dimension to supporting players. By the affecting finale, Our Flag Means Death charts its course in the right direction. —Annie Lyons
6. Warrior Nun
Netflix’s Warrior Nun, from Van Helsing creator Simon Barry, is half young-adult TV, half kickass nuns with guns; what more could you ask for? The series follows 19-year old former-quadriplegic Ava Silva (Alba Baptista) as she takes on the role of the Warrior Nun (the leader of a secret sect of demon-fighting nuns called the Order of the Cruciform Sword), following the sect’s sacred halo being shoved into her back, bringing her back from the dead. The first season follows a coming-of-age arc for Ava, as she struggles to accept her newfound duty after getting both her life and her limbs back. In the just-released second season, the series builds on Ava’s newfound heroism, while immersing her further into the lore of the world. Teaming up with her best friend Beatrice (Kristina Tonteri-Young), and rejoining forces with Sisters Camila (Olivia Delcán), Lilith (Lorena Andrea), and Mother Superion (Sylvia De Fanti), Ava and the OCS must save the world from becoming a brainwashed hellscape under the “angel” Adriel’s (William Miller) reign.
While delivering beautiful fight sequences, classic coming-of-age storylines, and a tasteful amount of sacrilege, Warrior Nun also offers a unique type of sapphic catharsis with its queer storytelling. The second season picks up the baton from the first, culminating in a beautiful love story between two women bound by duty and sacrifice, delivering us from queerbait and heartbreak.
Status: Renewed for Seasons 2 and 3
One of Netflix’s biggest break-out hits of the year, Heartstopper is a queer rom-com that follows the love story of outcast Charlie Spring (Joe Locke) and rugby-star Nick Nelson (Kit Connor). The tagline for the series says it all: “Boy meets boy. Boys become friends. Boys fall in love.” And fall in love they do, in eight half-hour long episodes across a vast array of classic high school scenarios. Heartstopper has gotten across-the-board praise for its depiction of queer joy and queer heartbreak, especially through its diverse ensemble cast featuring lesbian characters Tara (Corianna Brown) and Darcy (Kizzy Edgell), and trans character Ellie (Yasmin Finney). It has resonated deeply with audiences, too, as its uniquely heartwarming story gives a whole new meaning to feel-good TV. The series, which is based on the Alice Oseman graphic novels of the same name, was renewed earlier this year for two more seasons, cementing a commitment to this show and its queer audience.
4. The Sex Lives of College Girls
Status: Renewed for Season 3.
The Sex Lives of College Girls is about exactly what it sounds like—but it’s also about so much more. Mindy Kaling’s funny and fresh HBO Max comedy about four college freshmen randomly placed as roommates tackles everything from female friendships to cheating boyfriends, all carried on the shoulders of its hilarious and charming leading women. The show itself is a celebration of its female characters, bringing immense heart to an age most shows won’t dare to touch.
Leighton Murray (Renee Rapp) acts as the show’s foray into lesbian storytelling, using the stereotypical mean-and-blonde trope we’ve seen a million times before. However, Sex Lives’ take on Leighton’s journey, which includes both coming out and self-discovery, still feels fresh and new, especially in its currently-airing second season. While similar teen-focused shows took their sweet time building their queer characters support systems post-coming out, Sex Lives creates connections and bonds for Leighton that offer an incredibly hopeful take on coming out in the 2020’s. Afterall, for most queer people, coming out is still an incredibly tough journey, and Sex Lives understands that, while still allowing Leighton to be more than just her insecurities.
3. High School
Status: No renewal or cancellation announcement yet.
What could possibly be more gay than a show about Canadian band Tegan and Sara, based on their lives growing up queer, co-created by Clea DuVall? Not much, and Amazon Freevee’s High School proves that in spades. Channeling the likes of My So-Called Life for this teen drama adaptation, High School is an intimate and grungy look at the quiet aspects of a queer youth. The series smartly staves off the actual songwriting until half-way through the season, which allows for the characters to become fully formed before they transform into something more resembling the Tegan and Sara we know and love. Starring TikTok stars and TV newcomers Railey and Seazynn Gilliland as Tegan and Sara, respectively, (and quasi-gay icon Cobie Smulders as the twins’ mother), High School’s heartfelt portrayal of teenage girlhood and the loneliness that accompanies queerness, along with its stellar directing, makes this series one of the best of the best of 2022.
2. What We Do in the Shadows
Status: Renewed for Seasons 5 and 6
FX’s monster hit What We Do in the Shadows, a TV remake of Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement’s 2014 film of the same name, follows three vampire roommates mockumentary-style as they navigate undead life on Staten Island. The charm of the series comes from the messy situations the roommates, Nandor (Kayvan Novak), Nadja (Natasia Demetriou), and Lazlo (Matt Berry), find themselves in. Whether it’s claiming George Washington as the first gay president or attending city council meetings, this charmingly cheesy faux-documentary is incapable of being anything but funny.
From the very beginning, What We Do in the Shadows has been unapologetically queer, with the showrunner even confirming to GLAAD for their Where We Are on TV report that all of their characters are “completely pansexual.” However, it’s one thing to say all the characters are queer than it is to show it, but What We Do in the Shadows doesn’t shy away from embracing its queerness. Along with the casual queerness shown throughout the series, Season 4’s portrayal of Guillermo’s journey of coming out and acceptance was a true highlight, allowing actor Harvey Guillén to tell a personal story in the midst of the show’s vampiric shenanigans.
1. A League of Their Own
Status: No renewal or cancellation announcement yet.
A League of Their Own, the Prime Video series from Abbi Jacobson and Will Graham based on the film of the same name, is far and away the best queer show of the year.
Following a fictionalized account of the very real All American Girls Professional Baseball League circa the 1940’s, A League of Their Own splits its time between two central stories. One being that of Jacobson’s Carson Shaw, an AAGPBL hopeful that has run away from her safe and quiet life to follow her dreams. She joins the Rockford Peaches, and navigates her sexuality and identity with the help of teammates Greta (D’arcy Carden), Jo (Melanie Field), Lupe (Roberta Colindrez), and Jess (Kelly McCormack)—all while trying to keep her team, and the league as a whole, afloat. On the other side of the coin is Max (Chante Adams), who also dreams of joining the AAGPBL, but cannot, since the league doesn’t allow Black players. So instead, she turns her sights to the integrated men’s teams, even getting a factory job with her best friend Clance (Gbemisola Ikumelo) in an attempt to join their team. She later goes on her own journey of self-discovery and self-acceptance, especially with the help of her uncle Bert (Lea Robinson), and finds the success she had always dreamt of.
This show, more than any other series this year, highlights a very real part of queer history that was oftentimes erased (even within the original film), while never sacrificing moments of joy and levity. It’s a sports series, yes, but more importantly, it’s a show about finding yourself and your community, and finally coming into your own, even if the world around you puts up every roadblock to stop you from doing so. It’s a love letter to AAGPBL players like Maybelle Blair (who was inspired by the series to come out at 95 years old), a love letter to queer history, and a love letter to queer audiences.
Anna Govert is an entertainment writer based in middle-of-nowhere Indiana. For any and all thoughts about TV, film, and the wonderful insanity of Riverdale, you can follow her @annagovert
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