When it comes to LGBTQ representation, television can be a bit of a heterosexual wasteland. Even if a show has queer characters, these characters tend to play understudy to their straight counterparts. Queer couples become a subplot. While I agree that representation is important, simply having queer characters on a television show is no longer enough for me. What’s even more important are realistic portrayals of healthy queer relationships. These relationships need to be normalized so that queer young people can watch them and see that being cared for and loved is possible and attainable.
Queer people love, kiss, fuck, and have passionate relationships just like straight people. These complexities need to be showcased. Some shows do a great job of that, while others leave a lot to be desired. Here are some of my favorite queer couples on television right now:
1. Yorkie and Kelly, Black Mirror
If I had any say in the matter, Yorkie and Kelly would have an entire show dedicated to them. Not just a single episode. “San Junipero” manages to fit all of the emotional ups and downs of a relationship, from their initial meet-cute at the bar to the angst of their first fight, into an hour.
2. Amanita and Nomi, Sense8
Amanita is the epitome of “ride or die chick.” If my partner told me that they shared a subconscious with seven other people from around the world…well, I’m not sure how I’d react. Amanita takes it in stride. Nomi is always her first priority and she supports her at all times…even when it means hacking into government databases in order to help members of Nomi’s cluster.
3. Captain Holt and Kevin, Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Captain Holt and his husband Kevin spend their evenings comfortably. They read novels on a couch in their living room, drinking red wine while their dog plays at their feet. If that doesn’t reek of the kind of sophistication and easy domesticity we should all aspire to achieve with our own significant others, then I don’t know what does.
4. Lito and Hernando, Sense8
Hernando loves Lito so much. This is evident in the way he is able to keep their relationship under wraps for years in order to protect Lito’s career and carefully-crafted image as Mexico City’s lothario and resident bad boy. It becomes even more evident in the way he supports Lito when Lito is outed and their life together starts crashing down around them.
5. Even and Isak, Skam
During Even and Isak’s season of Skam, the show’s writers did an amazing job of showing Isak come to terms with his sexuality while also highlighting Even’s struggles with bipolar disorder. Both boys were far from perfect but they were able to be soft and gentle with one another. Their relationship became a vital safe space and source of love and comfort.
6. Magnus and Alec, Shadowhunters
My favorite thing about Magnus and Alec is the communication between the two of them. When a problem arises, they aren’t ever given a chance to sit around and stew until resentment grows. Instead, they talk to about their feelings and actually listen to one other. This results in a specific kind of intimacy that I love watching.
7. Zoe and Rasha, Degrassi
It took a while for Zoe to accept the fact that she was gay. It took even longer for her to find love with Rasha. But once she does, they become one of the most important queer couples of Degrassi High. When they are crowned prom queens during the most recent season, I might have shed a few actual tears.
8. Waverly and Nicole, Wynonna Earp
One of the very first times we’re introduced to Officer Nicole Haught, she is flirting and making Waverly blush. I became heavily invested in their happiness together from that moment on. When Waverly finally leaves her dirtbag boyfriend and gets with Nicole, I shamelessly cheered at my laptop screen.
9. Darryl and White Josh, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
On any other show, Darryl and White Josh might have been a joke couple. They are complete opposites. Darryl is middle-aged, divorced with a kid, and has only recently had his bisexual awakening. White Josh, on the other hand, is young, conventionally attractive, and works as a personal trainer. On paper, the two shouldn’t work together, but somehow they totally do.
This bottom line is: I’m sick of the “tragic gay character” tv trope. I don’t want to watch any more lesbian characters die. I don’t want to watch LGBTQ characters tortured for ratings. I want to watch more queer couple touching and being tender with one another on television.
Queer couples deserve gentle, uncomplicated romance and happy endings.