Amazon Prime Video has become one of the most popular streaming services and boasts a library of original and licensed TV shows, including many with LGBTQ+ characters, relationships, and themes. Queer characters and creators have played a crucial role in Amazon’s streaming growth, with series like Transparent generating early hype for the service. For those with an Amazon Prime subscription looking for queer content to celebrate Pride or any other occasion, Prime Video has plenty to offer.
Queer characters were once scarce on film and television, and when they did appear were often defined by their sexuality or limited to a one-off “special episode.” Only in the 1990s and 2000s did gay and lesbian characters begin to appear regularly on TV. The rise of streaming services like Amazon Prime or Netflix has created more opportunities for queer creators to tell their own stories. Today many shows have members of the LGBTQ+ community behind as well as in front of the cameras, resulting in more honest and inclusive depictions of queer life.
While there are several Amazon Prime series that include LGBTQ+ characters, some of the shows are more noteworthy than others. The series highlighted below are ones that focus on queer culture and themes or where queer characters play central roles. Though many of these titles are recent, there are also some ground-breaking older shows that were important for their representation of queer characters and lives. All of the following series are available to stream on Amazon Prime Video in the US as of May 2021.
Banana Fish was an anime adaptation of one of the most popular “boys’ love” or BL manga and involved Japanese journalist Eiji Okumura being pulled into the New York underworld by the enigmatic Ash Lynx. While the central relationship was not explicitly sexual, it was generally interpreted as homoerotic, and there were candid discussions of homosexuality that were taboo-breaking when the original comic was published. 24 years after its conclusion, Banana Fish was finally made into an anime to acclaim from fans. A crime thriller with plenty of angst and melodrama, Banana Fish was a great gateway for anyone looking to explore the world of BL and yaoi anime and manga.
Danger & Eggs
Danger & Eggs was a family-oriented animated series that has largely gone under the radar since it debuted in 2017. It’s likely to appeal to fans of queer-friendly kids’ cartoons like Steven Universe. Danger & Eggs was co-created by trans woman Shadi Petosky, who commonly described it as starring a “gender-free female lesbian child and her giant large-gamete friend.” Danger & Eggs’ single-season included a non-binary character and a finale set at a Pride festival celebrating chosen family.
The Freeform drama series The Fosters is now streaming on Amazon Prime. The series focused on a lesbian couple and the teenage children they foster and adopt, which included a son who eventually comes out as gay himself. The Fosters had all the soapy appeal of a teen drama but with a very different type of family at its core. The series received critical acclaim and praise from GLAAD and other organizations for its portrayal of a queer, blended family.
Glee was an extraordinarily popular and controversial series during its six-season run that ultimately helped launch Ryan Murphy to mega-producer status. The teen series was about a high school glee club and detailed its members’ turbulent love lives and personal struggles at home. The story was told as a musical through largely a capella arrangements of popular songs. Glee broke ground with multiple LGBTQ+ characters and relationships.
The L Word
The controversial Showtime series The L Word introduced lesbian culture to much of America through a pulpy relationship-driven drama. The show’s reception was mixed among both critics and the LGBTQ+ community. Still, characters like Katherine Moennig’s Shane McCutcheon became iconic, and the series is an important part of the history of LGBTQ+ representation. It was recently revived as a spinoff, Generation Q. Viewers may need a Showtime subscription to watch later seasons of The L Word.
Mr. Robot made an immediate impact when its first season was released as a twisty techno-thriller about a group of hackers looking to bring down society, starring major names like Rami Malek and Christian Slater. The series was also one of the first to feature a recurring trans character on broadcast TV through B. D. Wong’s Whiterose, a mysterious hacker living a double life as a Chinese government agent. Wong won numerous awards for his portrayal, as did the series as a whole.
A co-production with the New York Times, the Amazon Prime original series Modern Love adapts a true story with each episode, exploring the various and complex ways love can form and play out in today’s world. Modern Love‘s romantic storylines are based on installments from the newspaper’s popular, long-running column of the same name, and while not every relationship featured in the series is an LGBTQ+ one, several of the episodes feature authentic portrayals of gay characters with heartwarming depth and fully fleshed-out stories, something many shows often fail at by using token LGBTQ+ characters. All told, then, Modern Love‘s anthology of diverse relationships stands as a fairly solid example of representation. There are two seasons of Modern Love available on Prime so far, and it’s uncertain whether a third is on the way.
One Mississippi was the personal project of Tig Notaro, whose Army of the Dead appearance was a recent break-out role. The series was semi-autobiographical and dealt with her lesbian relationships alongside topics like family trauma and Notaro’s real-life battle with cancer. Notaro co-created One Mississippi with Diablo Cody and starred alongside Noah Harpster, John Rothman, and Stephanie Allynne. The series ran for two seasons of six episodes each.
RuPaul’s Drag Race
One of the hottest reality competition shows around, RuPaul’s Drag Race has brought drag culture into the American mainstream while serving up plenty of iconic looks and moments of drama in the process. The series pits a cadre of male cross-dressers against each other each season, culminating in competitions like Drag Race‘s famous group musical numbers. Select seasons are available on Amazon Prime, providing a sample for anyone looking to check out the popular show.
Queer as Folk
Queer as Folk was another historically important LGBTQ+ show, debuting in the UK in 1999 when it was a rare detailed depiction of gay men’s lives. The story is set in Manchester’s gay village and has a broadly comedic tone, with the characters meant to be gay archetypes. Amazon has both seasons of the British series and the first season of the American adaptation, which aired on Showtime. The UK series helped to launch the careers of actors like The Wire and Game of Thrones‘ Aiden Gillen and Sons of Anarchy‘s Charlie Hunnam.
A Very English Scandal
This British miniseries by former Doctor Who showrunner Russell T. Davies is based on a real-life court case and political scandal from 1970s England. Liberal party leader Jeremy Thorpe’s (Hugh Grant) gay affairs begin to emerge into the public domain, and he is willing to go to any lengths to keep them secret. A Very English Scandal sheds light on some of the dark history of homophobia in Britain, as well as featuring the likably proud and unashamed Norman Scott, played by Ben Whishaw.
Work In Progress
Work in Progress is a semi-autobiographical comedy-drama series created by comedian Abby McEnany. The series follows 45-year-old self-identified “fat, queer dyke” Abby, who finds herself in a transformative new relationship during a time of mental health crisis. The series also features co-stars Karin Anglin, Celeste Pechous, and Julia Sweeney. Executive produced by Matrix co-creator Lilly Wachowski, Work in Progress has also made a point of featuring trans artists both on- and off-camera, with the soundtrack featuring the work of musicians like Backxwash, Quay Dash, Sateen, SuperKnova, and Mel Stone. Work in Progress has two seasons so far, which are available to stream on Amazon Prime with a Showtime extension.
In addition to all these series, there are several TV shows on Amazon Prime Video that feature LGBTQ+ characters in supporting roles, such as The Expanse and The Boys. Not all of these shows are perfect, but the increasing diversity of depictions of queer lives means that the odds are much higher that people will be able to see themselves represented than they were just a decade ago.
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