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Would it be too much to admit that the lockdown is getting to me? Thus far, my temporary household has had one panic attack (none of us are neurotypical), two literal cat fights (we have four cats between us because we’re all a gay stereotype), one impromptu hair cut with a pair of craft scissors and a million late night musings about the important things in life.
I’m anxious and scared and continuously weary of how our administration is dealing with an actual global pandemic. They’re actively harming the homeless while privileging the rich! So that’s why I decided to make a list of some of the more underrated queer shows to watch during the lockdown, because as a queer person, good representation is one of the few things keeping me happy during this time.
“Tales of the City”
“Tales of the City” is a revival of Armistead Maupin’s classic serialized novel-turned-’90s TV drama. The series was considered radical for its queer content at the time (conservative groups rallied against it for being “a slick piece of gay propaganda”), and the 2019 show is even more queer, with more queer characters played by actual queer actors getting main storylines (which are honestly better than the storylines of the straight characters in the show). My personal favorite is the one involving Margot (played by May Hong)’s relationship with her boyfriend, Jake (played by nonbinary actor Garcia), who recently transitioned.
A reality TV show about African-American husbands who formed a company that caters to their two separate careers: interior design and celebrity styling! A main thread throughout the first season is them trying to have a son because it’s important for society to see! Taraji P. Henson and Ava DuVernay are both their friends and clients! How are you not watching this yet?
“Mga Batang Poz”
“Mga Batang Poz” is about four queer teens who are HIV-positive and who go on an impromptu road trip together where they learn about each other’s unique struggles (Fino Herrera’s Luis is from a strict, well-to-do Filipino-Chinese family, while Awra Briguela’s Chuchay is part of the urban poor) and create safe spaces for everyone. Aside from depicting a positive portrayal of people living with HIV, it also opens up the conversation about consent and predatory behavior, especially in Chuchay’s standalone episode.
Also, Irma Adlawan is in this and she plays Chuchay’s mom who steals from the church by literally running off with the mass donations. An absolute icon.
“Call Me Tita”
Titas! Who are gay!
Okay, so that’s not what “Call Me Tita” is about (but imagine). Instead, it’s about middle-aged titas (and one “tita-in-training,” played by Angelica Panganiban) who are performatively heterosexual in a way that’s familiar to all “Desperate Houswives” gays out there (we exist). So while none of the main characters are actually gay, I’m adding this for the culture. In any case, it does feature queer rep, as it shows trans actor Ice Seguerra as Mylene Dizon’s love interest (yes, they make out, and yes, it’s everything) and one of Agot Isidro’s main storylines involves her relationship with her gay son.
“Manilennials” follows a group of millennials dealing with the aftermath of “the 2016 global paradigm shift,” which saw so much gains the LGBT+ community have had be taken back, among other things. One of the main characters is a trans woman played by trans actress Mela Habijan—I really wish I didn’t have to point this out since I think trans characters being played by trans actors should be the bare minimum, but this is the society we live in. The show is funny, raw, over-the-top and extremely relevant.
A word of warning: I’m far, far from a prude, but the opening sequence involves Chai Fonacier’s character eating out another woman and I was not prepared for that.
So technically, technically, this isn’t gay, but if you’ve been on queer womyn TV Twitter for the past two years, you’ll know “Miss Sherlock” as the Japanese genderbending adaptation of Sherlock Holmes with two baby gays pining for each other. It might just be me looking too deeply into a dumb show and putting queer subtext where there isn’t any, but this is my list and I’m running with this subtext and no one can stop me.
“Gentleman Jack” is the best historical show about a butch woman who’s very good at flirting out there (if historical dramas about miserable upperclass families who hate each other can be a genre unto itself, so should this). The fact that it’s based on an actual person, English landowner and diarist Anne Lister, makes it even better.
“Angels in America”
“Angels in America,” the 2003 HBO miniseries adaptation of Tony Kushner’s magnum opus about the ’80s HIV-AIDS crisis, is far from underrated, but I included it in this list because you probably didn’t know it was available for streaming. It is! You can watch Prior cry on your phone right now.
“The Gay and Wondrous Life of Caleb Gallo”
When I look at my favorite comedies (“Cougar Town,” “Parks and Rec,” “The Good Place,” among others) one thing that’s common with most of them is that they have a warm, gooey emotional core, with all the characters loving each other, no matter how dysfunctional they may be. This is true of “The Gay and Wondrous Life of Caleb Gallo,” a free, five-episode series on YouTube that’s a surreal trip into the lives of a group of friends in the fringes of Hollywood. It’s probably the most heartwarming show out there with shirtless dance parties acting as denouements.
Books by queer authors you might have missed this year
Ariana Grande, Bella Hadid, Riverdale: Let’s talk about queerbaiting in pop culture
How I relate to bisexual representation on TV