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Reader's Poll: The 25 Most Important LGBT Television Series

by /bent
June 15, 2014 2:56 PM
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Queer As Folk

June is Pride Month, commemorating the 1969 Stonewall riots and asking all of us to remember how we got where we are today. So we thought it might be fun to start up an annual Pride Month poll here at /bent, asking our readers to tell us the films, television shows, songs and people (both fictional and real) that have been important to them in the past 45 years. 

Check out all the results for every poll here.

Seventy-two people responded, and we'll be sharing the results over the next few weeks, with the third up today: The most important LGBT television series of the last 45 years. Now, before we get to the results: We do realize doing this kind of thing is highly subjective, which is why we're going with "most important" and not "best." We hoped that what resulted was eclectic mix of TV series that have helped shape the queer cultural landscape. And we think it really is. But here are some interesting things to note before you go through the list: 

  • The "points" listed next to each film refers to the way we tabulated things. People voted in top 10 lists, so if the film was #1, it got 10 points, #2 got 9 points, etc. 
  • Newer shows likely fresher in people's minds placed higher than you might expect but overall, it was across the board. Most shows on the list started their runs in the 2000s (11), followed by the 1990s (8) and then the 2010s (4)
  • ABC and HBO tied with the most shows on the list, with 6 each. Showtime was next with 4. CBS was the only of the big 4 networks to not have a show on the list.
  • And in case you're curious, the 10 runner-ups, in order of votes, were: The Wire, Friends, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, As The World Turns, Orphan Black, Family, The Normal Heart, Little Britain, Sex and the City and The Outs 

So without further adieu, we present the 25 most important LGBT TV series, according to you. Definitely use the comments section to discuss your thoughts and/or your own choices, but remember - these were your picks - do don't blame us if your offended about their quality or lack of diversity through the LGBT spectrum.

25. Pretty Little Liars - 37
Network: ABC Family
On Air: 2010-present

Note: Read this essay for more on the queer content of "Pretty Little Liars."

24. Noah's Arc - 38
Network: Logo
On Air: 2005-2006
Note: One of the few (the only?) shows to ever feature a primary cast entirely made up of African-American or Latino LGBT people. It also spun off a movie, "Noah's Arc: Jumping The Broom"

23. An Early Frost - 40
Network: NBC
On Air: 1985

Note: This TV movie was the first -- made for television or otherwise -- to deal with AIDS. It had massive ratings (34 million people), and was nominated for 14 Emmys, winning 3. Really it should be higher on this list in our opinion, but the fact that it's 30 years old probably hurt it. 

22. Oz - 46

Network: HBO
On Air: 1998-2003

Note: The first one hour dramatic series to be produced by HBO (and one of many on this list), the prison-set "Oz" featured multiple gay characters and was absolutely a pioneering series with regard to its explicitly sexual content.

Check out all the results for every poll here.

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  • Amadeus | August 21, 2014 8:55 PMReply

    No Queer Eye for the Straight Guy?! Despite some criticism of portraying gay stereotypes, the critically acclaimed, long-running, highly succesful show played a huge role in the erradication of homophobia among heterosexual males and solidify the concept of metrosexuality (sure, a non-lgbt term technically and perhaps another stereotype) which (just like Will&Grace did for women) made many straight men want a best gay friend... Put this in the top five in instead of Six Feet Under, and with a little shuffling around of those top five, and you have the perfect list! Great job!

  • Sigh | June 24, 2014 9:20 PMReply

    Amazed that L Word is on there and Lip Service is not.

  • robert sportfolio | June 23, 2014 5:39 AMReply

    Nice website, nice movies. I enjoy

  • Darcy | June 22, 2014 6:37 PMReply

    It misses Doccubus from Lost Girl :/

  • Anne | June 21, 2014 12:46 AMReply

    No "Lip Service"?

  • Tomás Conte | June 17, 2014 10:10 PMReply

    OMG. Where is True Blood. It's so amazing and so gay.

  • Candyluv | June 17, 2014 8:32 AMReply

    What about The Naked Civil Servant and Torch Song Trilogy the best Gay films ever

  • Victor | June 17, 2014 12:08 AMReply

    Queer as Folk UK should be number 1, but overall, nice list!

  • Richard | June 17, 2014 10:33 AM

    Queer As Folk US is the only television series on this list that consistently over five years and 83 episodes addressed social and political issues confronting the gay community then, as well as now -- the right to marry, safe sex, crystal meth addiction, gay bashing, parental rejection, religious intolerance, aging men dealing with AIDS, adoption, child abuse, bug chasing, gay vigilantism, conversion therapy. It also represented a broad spectrum of both gay and lesbian characters, whose lives reflected everything from the club scene to marriage and child-raising, from monogamy to promiscuity (which is an honest depiction of many gay men's lives whether one cares to admit it or not) and it did so with humor, heart, and without judging. It deserves to be considered the most important gay series.

  • Toby | June 16, 2014 8:29 PMReply

    This is a great article. Moments like these are the reason I got into directing. And, a decade and a half into my career I finally got a chance to make a new LGBT moment in TV by introducing a gay character on season 3 of CHOSEN - I hope people remember it as fondly as I remember some of these. Google: instinct magazine chosen interview - if you want to read about it.

  • tony Mcfarling-smith | June 16, 2014 7:28 PMReply

    I must say that queer as folk uk and usa should be separated uk being #1 and usa #2. Uk paved the way and is still popular to this day

  • howard | June 16, 2014 5:58 PMReply

    If you don't have That Certain Summer on the list, you don't have a list of the 25 most important glut shows. You just don't.

  • Alu | June 16, 2014 3:22 PMReply

    Where the hell is "Brideshead Revisited"?!

  • Barron | June 16, 2014 10:50 AMReply

    I just finished watching all the seasons of Queer As Folk on Netflix. I absolutely loved it. So GLAD it got the votes. The British version was great, but needed subtitles so folk here could understand what the heck they were saying... we don't speak English here you know.

  • Sadie | June 16, 2014 10:40 AMReply

    Torchwood was what did it for me. I was newly divorced and slowly realizing my best friend was in love with me. Ianto's "It's not men, exactly... it's just.. Jack" made it OK for me to love her back, even though I had always assumed I was straight and being a lesbian definitely wasn't how I'd ever seen myself identifying. I'm a happily out bisexual now and we are raising our kids together and planning to get married soon. :)

  • Robert Landa | June 16, 2014 10:19 AMReply

    Seriously, No UGLY BETTY. You've missed an entire generation without mention of that show.

  • Greg | June 17, 2014 7:57 AM


  • M | June 16, 2014 9:58 AMReply

    No The Fosters? Truly groundbreaking for featuring 2 lesbian moms heading a household. A genuine family show and the two lead actresses have chemistry for days. Same network as Pretty Little Liars but much better show.

  • E | June 16, 2014 9:31 AMReply

    Looking shouldn't even be in this list. It's not much of a clever show, no matter what swayed mass viewers say; and even Hunting Season is better.

  • Peter | June 16, 2014 9:21 AMReply

    No "Brothers". Glaring omission.

  • Kamron | June 16, 2014 9:07 AMReply

    If more people knew about Please Like Me it'd be on here..

  • Mel | June 16, 2014 8:49 AMReply

    The fact that the Fosters is not on this list is absurd! And it should be #1 because it portrays gays as NORMAL, CAPABLE, INTELLIGENT, FAMILY ORIENTED people (unlike many of the other shows listed that give gays a bad name).

  • Heather | June 16, 2014 8:46 AMReply

    I've decided to start a new campaign. Every time I see someone put "without further adieu" instead of the correct "without further ado" I will STOP reading their blog post until they learn how not to make themselves look like idiots. That is all.

  • Net | June 16, 2014 7:52 AMReply

    I'm really surprised The Fosters are not up here. Is the series too new?

  • Jerry | June 16, 2014 4:17 AMReply

    Angels in America and Early Frost are not series, as the headline says.

    Rachel Maddow is a GLBT series? The host of a news show is a lesbian so it's a GLBT show? Why isn't there a newscast with Don Lemmon included then?

    Most of these so-called "GLBT series" are not considered "GLBT series" by anyone but this poll. They are shows with GLBT characters or situations. Dynasty, while campy, was hardly a GLBT show. Ellen was not out on the series until season 4 and then, it didn't really last much longer--for three seasons, at least, there wasn't even GLBT content. The coming out episode might be important, but the series? C'mon. Six Feet Under had gay characters, but how is the series GLBT? Oz had gay characters and man on man sex, but it's hardly a GLBT series.

    I won't go on, but I read the headline, I thought, are there even 25 GLBT series, let alone a top 25? Reading the article proved my initial instincts right. Over and over.

  • Hayley | June 16, 2014 2:28 AMReply

    Where is Lost Girl? The first show with a bisexual protagonist, and no slut shaming. Far more important than Glee or Pretty Little Liars!

  • Uhhhh | June 24, 2014 9:21 PM

    Have you seen Xena? Or Babylon 5? Lost Girl is hardly the first show with a bi protagonist, sorry.

  • Cassidy | June 16, 2014 1:52 AMReply

    I'm so glad to see "Six Feet Under" as high up the list as it is. That first season was very instrumental in my eventual coming out, and it's a damn good show.

  • Neko Cami | June 15, 2014 11:12 PMReply

    Why are you not big fans of the American adaptation of "Queer as Folk"?

  • John | June 15, 2014 3:04 PMReply

    No Golden Girls?

  • Greg | June 17, 2014 7:58 AM

    Year, really!!!!

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