2018 was a landmark year, with the highest ever number of LGBTQ+ characters represented in TV shows. Here is a look at some of our favourites who have pushed the boundaries of LGBTQ+ representation:
Sophia Berset – Orange is the New Black
Sophia Burset is a trans woman who is imprisoned in the Litchfield Penitentiary, the suffocatin and bruta setting of Orange is the New Black. In the lead up to the fifth season, her past was revealed. In order to finance her operations to transition to a woman, she committed credit card fraud, and it was her son who turned her in as he was having trouble accepting her transition.
Despite being the only trans woman in the prison, thus frequently facing aggressive transphobic comments from fellow inmates, Sophia is generally shown to be kind and upbeat. While working as a hair stylist at a salon in Litchfield, she also works with the limited resources she has and makes herself look as presentable as possible. She’s fierce and stands up for herself, not allowing anyone to mistreat her for being transgender.
Villanelle – Killing Eve
A brutal fictional assassin and open bisexual, Killing Eve’s Villanelle quickly becomes involved with a cat-and-mouse game with titular character Eve. As the series progresses, Villanelle’s backstory is revealed: she is an orphan with a violent reputation, who once developed an obsession for an older, nurturing, female French teacher – and who castrated the instructor’s husband due to her jealous infatuation.
Villanelle has been described as “a manic pixie dream assassin who’s as charming as she is psychopathic”, a “chillingly relatable monster” who takes “fulsome pleasure in a murder well performed.” An innocent exterior hides cold brutality, though she is also exceptionally gifted, completely soulless, rude and funny. She is twisted and conscienceless, but also irrepressible. In other words, a proper psychopath. Author Rachel Monroe wrote that “when a woman commits a crime, she’s not only transgressing laws, she’s transgressing gender roles.”
Darryl Whitefeather – Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
There are many reasons why Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is one of the best shows on television, but its diverse representation of human sexuality is up there. Darryl Whitefeather is the sentimental and clueless owner of a real estate law firm where the main character – Rebecca – works. He is a middle-aged divorcee whose love and devotion to his daughters makes him one of the most endearing characters on the show.
As the series progresses, we see Darryl come to terms with his bisexuality, which leads to one of the best coming out moments to ever grace the small screen. To his
Todd Chavez – BoJack Horseman
In a remarkable first in TV, BoJack Horseman introduced the first canonically asexual character in the form of free-spirited and bumbling Todd Chavez. His revelation about his sexuality, or lack thereof, comes when his close friends tries to come onto him. While he flirts with her, he shows no interest in taking their relationship beyond that. While he is not interested in sex, he does search for love, even coming up with strange, yet ingenious ideas to reach his goal.
It is amazing to see in the televisual medium – one where ‘sex sells’ more often than not – that it is not impossible to portray asexuality in a thoughtful and engaging way. We hope to see more varied and diverse asexual characters in the future.
Rosa Diaz – Brooklyn Nine-Nine
It would be impossible to make this list without including at least one character from Brooklyn Nine-Nine. While Andre Braugher’s groundbreaking turn as Captain Holt, the stoically hilarious captain of the 99th precinct – whose race and sexuality are as much a part of his identity as his intelligence and dry wit – is not to be overlooked, it is Rosa Diaz’s recent arc in season 5 involved her coming out as bisexual to the squad and to her parents.
Her coming out is received with a mix of love and support from her squad, but it leaves her relationship with her parents strained. It was incredible seeing this veritable badass show her vulnerable side, which honestly only makes her cooler in our eyes. With strong messages of choosing your family and embracing your identity, Rosa’s story is more important than ever.
David Rose – Schitt’s Creek
David Rose is the snobbish and sarcastic son of the Rose family—who are forced to move to the town of Schitt’s Creek after losing their vast fortune. This charming and hilarious fish out of water tale derives its heart from the eccentric family’s interactions with the townspeople and with each other. One arc in the first season focuses on David’s sexuality, which is revealed when his father gets high at a luau and expresses his misgivings about his son being pansexual, though he ultimately accepts it and the story moves on.
David’s sexuality is never played for laughs, though it does lead to some laughably uncomfortable situations. What is so refreshing about David’s storyline is that it eschews the homophobia that can be found in small towns in favour of exploring David’s romantic relations in equal parts sweet, awkward, and life-affirming ways.
Caitlin Tilley, Mary Yeh & Jade Verbick
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