In 2004 Ilene Chaiken made history with the release of one of the most progressive depictions of women-loving-women relationships on television at the time. The L Word was groundbreaking for the LGBTQ+ community and started the conversation around what lesbian and women-loving-women (WLW) relationships should look like on-screen.
Now, in the age of streaming, services such as Netflix and Apple TV+, are taking the reigns, and producing some of the best series featuring WLW relationships, both as the entire plot of the series or as a small ingrained aspect. In fact, there are so many now, it’s hard to know where to start. Below are just a few of the many notable shows featuring these relationships.
The Haunting of Bly Manor – 7.4
Stream On Netflix
Those who enjoy being scared out of their seats flocked toward The Haunting of Bly Manor when it was released on Netflix in 2020. The series follows an au pair, Dani, as she accepts a position nannying the children of the Wingrave family in England. At first glance, Bly Manor is beautiful and elegant, but Dani quickly learns its supernatural secrets and dark past.
Once her relationship with the family gardener, Jamie – one of the most likable Bly Manor characters – began to flourish, the LGBTQ+ community congregated around the series and praised it for its fantastic depiction of a WLW relationship set on the backdrop of a horror ghost story.
I Am Not Okay With This – 7.5
Stream On Netflix
I Am Not Okay With This is an adaptation of a comic by the same name. In it, a young girl navigates high school in a new town and a developing romantic interest in her female best friend, Dina, while also discovering that she has telekinetic powers.
For fans of comic book adaptations involving comic of age stories, the supernatural, and a dash of teen romance, this is the show to watch. Sophia Lillis’ performance as Sydney received high praise, and the show received wonderful reviews despite being canceled after just one season. It doesn’t look like there will ever be a season 2, despite the show ending on a cliffhanger, but fans are still hoping.
The L Word (Generation Q) – 7.5
Stream On Hulu
The L Word: Generation Q is the sequel series to the groundbreaking The L Word. Generation Q follows the same plot premise, but creator Ilene Chaiken refreshes the story and takes away some of the more outdated aspects of the original series. Jennifer Beals, Katherine Moennig, and Leisha Hailey return to reprise their roles from The L Word, alongside many new characters.
Like the original, this story follows a group of LGBTQ+ friends as they navigate life, love, personal growth, and their careers in Los Angelos, California. For members of the LGBTQ+ community, The L Word and Generation Q are inclusive viewing experiences, full of WLW relationships and representation.
Feel Good – 7.5
Stream on Netflix
Feel Good does just that, making viewers feel good. The story comes from the heart and mind of Mae Martin, a comedian who is an advocate for the LGBTQ+ community. They created Feel Good as a semi-autobiographical story about two young women who fall in love.
Martin plays Mae, a comedian struggling with addiction who falls in love with George, who struggles to navigate coming out to her family. The show is so successful because of its ability to tell a relatable narrative of LGBTQ+ love. Martin went above and beyond to get their story out there, and to make others in the LGBTQ+ community feel included and understood through Mae and George’s relationship.
Dickinson – 7.6
Stream on Apple TV+
The great mind of Alena Smith created this wonderful period piece about Emily Dickinson. Hailee Steinfeld stars as the introverted and secluded writer. Steinfeld embraced the quirky personality of Emily while using her voice to comment on the constraints of society, gender, and sexuality both in the era of Dickinson and in modern times.
The story is refreshingly fun, full of cheesy one-liners. But even more than all of that, Emily’s quietly romantic relationship with Sue, her best friend, is what has viewers itching for more. Smith perfectly exposed the controversial topic of Dickinson’s sexuality, while making it playful, real, and representative of the realities many still face today. A must-watch if not only for Sue and Emily but for the rest of the uniquely passionate Dickinson Family too.
Wynonna Earp – 7.6
Stream on Netflix
Wynonna Earp is a supernatural Western horror series that follows the life of the great-great-granddaughter of the legendary Wyatt Earp. The show takes viewers along with her as she inherits the power of the “Peacemaker” handgun and sets out to send the souls of reincarnated outlaws, back to Hell.
The show became a hit in the LGBTQ+ community for its depiction of the relationship between Waverly Earp, Wynonna’s younger sister, and the deputy sheriff, Officer Nicole Haught. Their love story melted hearts around the world and they continue to be icons for members of the LGBTQ+ community. For a while, it was one of the top lesbian shows streaming on Netflix and is a must-watch for anyone interested in WLW stories.
Yellowjackets – 8
Stream on Showtime
Yellowjackets is one of Showtime’s newest series and fans have been raving about it since its release. Maybe it’s because of the women-led ensemble cast, the fact that it’s an ode to the ’90s, or its riveting storyline about a soccer team that crashes in the middle of the woods. No matter the reason they love it, viewers and critics alike have been all over this show, and are more than excited to see where the next season will take the characters.
The LGBTQ+ community took to the internet in awe, praise, and idolization of Van and Taissa’s relationship as well as Taissa’s relationship with her wife post-crash, 25 years later. Viewers are left wondering if Van will survive and if she does, why she isn’t still with Taissa. Still, the WLW screen time is a huge step for the LGBTQ+ community, it’s interesting, inclusive, fun, loving, and iconic.
Killing Eve – 8.2
Stream on Hulu
Killing Eve is currently airing its final season. Sandra Oh takes on the ‘James Bond-type’ lead role as Eve Polastri. Her character is a spy for a British intelligence agency and she has an obsession with tracking down and investigating the work of female assassins. Her target and nemesis throughout the series is Villanelle, played by Jodie Comer.
The two are in a constant cat and mouse chance, but the electricity and tension between them and their interactions are extremely intriguing and interesting for viewers. The LGBTQ+ undertones are impossible to ignore, and the relationship between the two has made Killing Eve an LGBTQ+ community favorite. Because the show is created and directed by females, the relationship between Eve and Villanelle is shown through the female gaze, making it all the more representative, accurate, and a must-watch.
Euphoria – 8.5
Stream on HBO Max
Euphoria has stolen the hearts of audiences with its incredibly captivating narrative and the wonderful performances of the actors, including Zendaya. The story follows Rue, as she struggles with anxiety, drugs, and navigating past abuse all while attending high school. The show mainly focuses on her struggle with addiction, but it has also been praised for its more nonchalant exploration of sexuality in many of the characters.
Rue’s sexuality is depicted as very fluid, and as the show progresses, she enters into a relationship with another woman, Jules, who many fans hope Rue ends up with. Although not a main characteristic of the show, seeing LGBTQ+ and WLW representation on screen in this way is extremely important for the community. It creates a scenario where being LGBTQ+ is just part of life and, for lack of a better word, normal.
Wentworth – 8.7
Stream on Netflix
For fans of Orange is the New Black, Wentworth is worth the watch. The show is much darker than OITNB, but accurately portrays the struggles and blurry morals of the inmates at Wentworth Prison. The show focuses mainly on Bae Smith as she navigates prison life on her rise to the top of the hierarchy.
This Australian-based LGBTQ+ prison series is a hit among the community and remains a must-watch lesbian series on Netflix. Each season has different LGBTQ+ women at the forefront, usually alongside Franky, but always makes sure to include the representative relationships. In season 1, fans were more focused on the relationship between Franky and Erica. The tension on-screen was hard to ignore and made for a great viewing experience.